Leah Remini claims Scientology pushed her to convert Kevin James

Remini says that James' Catholicism would have doomed any effort to convert him

Published August 30, 2017 11:48AM (EDT)

Leah Remini and Kevin James in "Kevin Can Wait"   (CBS/Jeff Neumann)
Leah Remini and Kevin James in "Kevin Can Wait" (CBS/Jeff Neumann)

According to actress Leah Remini, who's made waves with her acclaimed TV series "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath," the the Church of Scientology pushed her to recruit her "King of Queens" co-star Kevin James.

In an interview with People Magazine, Remini claimed that the church "always tried to get me to, [asking] 'Why is he not in? Why have you not promoted it to him?'" Remini was a devout member of the Church and an advocate for its benefits and its beliefs for many years before leaving its community and turning against its leadership.

According to Remini, however James' Catholicism made conversion a non-starter in her eyes. "I was like, 'Because he’s Catholic. He doesn’t want anything to do with it,'" she said. "They let it go after a while, but usually you’d be expected to recruit, especially with somebody you work with for nine years."

Remini's claims underline and surface a particularly interesting line of thought she alleges the Church holds. She says that representatives of Scientology said to her, "'Yeah, but if you get [James] in, you've got to find out what's ruining his life.'" She claims that she responded, "'There's nothing ruining his life, he's happy. I know it's very hard for you to understand here, but he doesn't want anything to do with it.'"

Representatives for the Church have denied Remini's claims above.

Remini has also depicted James in glowing terms regarding her decision to leave the Church of Scientology, referring to him as one of many "real friends" who supported her during that tough time.

According to Remini, "He reached out to me and said, ‘I’m so proud of you; if you need anything, I’m here.'" The two will soon be starring together again in the comedy "Kevin Can Wait".

Remini's "Scientology and the Aftermath" has made a number of shocking claims about Scientology. These include claiming that Scientology leader David Miscavige physically attacked fellow Church members, that the Church has a detention center called "The Hole" in which members are subjected to various forms of physical and psychological abuse, that every meeting is recorded so that potential defectors can be discredited, that the Church's message is homophobic and that cases of sexual abuse are dealt with inside the church because it is forbidden for one member to prosecute another. The Church denies all of these allegations.

Both Remini and other defectors from the Church claim that the organization also still practices its policy of "Fair Game," which states that it is morally acceptable for current members to destroy individuals who criticize their organization, another thing representatives deny.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He specializes in covering science and history, and is particularly passionate about climate change, animal science, disability rights, plastic pollution and a wide range of political issues. He has interviewed many prominent figures (reflecting his diverse interests) including President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, inventor Ernő Rubik, epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), actress Cady McClain ("All My Children"), Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin (2002-present), comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2") and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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