Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was under investigation in multiple countries and lived on a ship supposedly to evade any one country's jurisdiction.
Scientology's former international spokesman Mike Rinder explained that in the early years of Scientology, the church was under investigation for being a cult. In fact, Australia banned the church in 1965 after an investigation.
L. Ron Hubbard lived on a ship called the Apollo. Rinder described it as the "floating headquarters for Scientology." Since he was being investigated by the UK and other countries, Hubbard found that he could sail away into international waters when necessary and away from the jurisdiction of any one country.
David Miscavige rose to lead Scientology by capitalizing on Hubbard's death.
After steadily rising through the ranks and becoming Hubbard's adviser, David Miscavige announced the founder's death in 1986. Hubbard's passing was framed as an intentional decision by him to leave his body to go onto even higher levels of spiritual being.
"The core belief of Scientology is that you are a spiritual being," Remini said. "L. Ron Hubbard had reached, obviously, the highest level of Scientology there was to reach, promoting this idea that there's an afterlife, and he found the answer to it by deciding to discard this body to go explore new OT levels. All of this is bulls---. L. Ron Hubbard died of a stroke."
As Hubbard's closest adviser, Miscavige assumed the leadership of Scientology. His official title is chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center. But according to Rinder, Miscavige likes to refer to himself as "the pope of Scientology."
Miscavige allegedly took on the responsibility of finishing the church's course curriculum, or OT chart, because Hubbard couldn't complete it before his death.
Tom Devocht, who left Scientology in 2005 after 28 years, worked closely with Miscavige. His job was to work with city authorities for Clearwater, Florida, the worldwide headquarters for Scientology. He said he was often dispatched to carry out outrageous requests from the leader.
Devocht said his doubt about the church began after Miscavige divulged that he had Hubbard's various writings and was going to finish the OT chart.
"It suddenly hit me," Devocht said. "Then it's a farce that Miscavige himself was going to finish these off. Hubbard died. He's not some superpower being."
"You have parishioners believing that L. Ron Hubbard obviously reached the highest level of Scientology there was to reach," Remini said. "That he could actually decide to discard his body, because how else was [Miscavige] going to keep Scientology going? What if he came out and said, 'L. Ron Hubbard has died of a stroke'? Then why are we doing all this if we’re just going to die of a stroke?"
Miscavige is allegedly prone to resorting to violence against those who report to him, as well as encouraging violence among his staff.
Jeff Hawkins, who was in charge of church marketing while he was a Scientologist and wrote a book about his experiences called "Counterfeit Dreams," described a violent scene in which Miscavige was unhappy with an infomercial Hawkins wrote, accused him of crimes against the church, then physically assaulted him, he said.
"I was scratched up, my shirt was ripped off," Hawkins said. "Everybody [else in the room] was sitting."
Hawkins said Miscavige assaulted him on at least five occasions.
Devocht said Miscavige assaulted him when Devocht couldn't get the city permits to destroy the sidewalks around the Clearwater headquarters in order to dissuade protestors from standing around the property. Devocht said that even then he blamed himself for failing at the task instead of being angered by what he said was Miscavige's violent reaction.
"It was, 'Man, I f---ed up,'" Devocht said. "That was the level of control and power that [Miscavige] had."
If the leader believed that someone was guilty of "crimes" against the church, he would tell other members to get that person to confess their crimes, the show's insiders say. Often, the other members would resort to using violence on the targeted member, the insiders say.
"It was like 'Lord of the Flies' in there," said Rinder, who detailed his alleged assault by Miscavige on one episode. "I mean, it was insane. It was literally 'I'm going to beat the crap out of you before I get the crap beat out of me.'"
Miscavige is said to maintain extreme levels of security at Scientology's Hemet, California, headquarters to keep people out and church members in.
Miscavige's father, Ron, says he and others were monitored around the clock at the headquarters in Hemet, California. He described locks on doors, sharp spikes on the gates — both facing out and in — being chaperoned by other members when exiting the facility, the internet being severely filtered and monitored, and eavesdropping on all calls.
He decided to leave the church after what he said was a critical error by his son. David Miscavige gave his father an Amazon Kindle, which was connected to the internet and unfettered by the church's filters.
Ron "just Googled 'Scientology,'" Remini said. "And he was hard-pressed to find anything good that the world was saying. He found all the bad things."
In 2011, after 42 years as a Scientology member, Ron left. He and his wife planned their escape for six months. They were finally able to do so during a routine trip across the street to the only refrigerator available to them on the campus. The guards were used to them making the trip and let the couple pass through the gates.
David, Ron's daughters, and their children ended their relationship with Ron and his wife after they left Scientology, part of an alleged church policy about former members called disconnection.
Miscavige allegedly created a grueling detention center called "the Hole."
In the early 2000s, Miscavige established "the Hole" at Scientology's headquarters in Hemet, California, according to Rinder. It was a detention center for high-ranking members who displeased him.
"Honestly, the reasons for that could be anything from answering a question wrongly, not answering a question, a facial expression that was inappropriate, falling asleep after being up for a couple of days — I mean anything, you're in the Hole," Rinder said.
Rinder said he and as many as 100 people were held in the Hole. He described the conditions — having to eat "slop," security bars on the windows, guards to keep people from leaving. He also said members beat each other up until they confessed their supposed crimes.
Scientology has a detailed and costly course list called "The Bridge to Total Freedom."
"'The Bridge to Total Freedom' are the series of steps that were laid out by L. Ron Hubbard that every Scientologist must follow in order to attain the ultimate in spiritual enlightenment and in spiritual freedom," Rinder said.
Scientology teaches that reaching the top of the "Bridge" means being able to use the mind to do powerful things like "move things, cure cancer in yourself," according to Remini.
Required courses cost about $650 each, Remini said, and a course could require that its members study from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
Despite leaving the church, Remini said that she got something out of the courses.
"There are some useful one-on-one therapeutic things that are being done," she said.
Rinder and Remini both reached level two of the "Bridge," though both say they feel as if they didn't achieve the level's goal of "relief from the hostilities and challenges of life."
Reaching the top of the "Bridge" doesn't mean you're free and clear of further courses and costs.
Mary Kahn was a devout Scientologist for about 40 years and completed all the courses required by the "Bridge."
But like the books, courses are often updated. That means they have to be repeated by members whenever Scientology says there were changes or a mistake was made when a member was taking a course.
"They constantly invent new things," Remini said.
Kahn had to repeat the "Bridge," but she says she became fed up with the constant pressure to pay more exorbitant fees. At one point, she says a fellow Scientologist charged her credit card without her knowing because he needed to meet his financial goal for the church.
Scientologists allegedly spend thousands of dollars to purchase every book written by Hubbard.
Remini showed off a large bookcase in her home filled with Hubbard texts. Remini says there are 12 basic books in Scientology and that the package costs about $4,000. And a member will often have to buy the books multiple times whenever Scientology says they've been updated, she says.
Additionally, Scientology tells members that libraries have a demand for the books and encourages members to buy multiple book packages to donate to libraries, she says.
In addition to books, Remini said Scientologists must buy Hubbard's lectures and various audio CDs, donate to the church's causes, and pay a membership fee.
The low-priced introductory Scientology courses are allegedly ways to bring in new members and don't actually count toward anything.
Remini referred to several $35 introductory courses as "throwaways," which don't really count as credits in the intense list of courses Scientologists are required to take, she says. She said they're meant only to bring in new members and "indoctrinate" them to the church's terms.
In addition to courses, Scientologists must attend auditing — essentially the church's term for therapy, which allegedly costs $800 an hour.
These expensive auditing sessions can last a minimum of two and a half hours each, Remini said. They involve an auditor who listens and helps members "find and handle areas of distress," she said.
They're done with what's called an E-meter, which measures electrical activity on the skin. According to the church, it aids the auditor in their work.
Audits could be administered to children as young as six years old, Remini said.
There's an alleged dark side to auditing, called "security checks," that are also at the member's expense.
According to the show's contributors, "security checks," or "sec checks," are administered on members who are suspected of breaking a church rule or having doubts about the organization. They can be grueling, long, and pressure-filled experiences as the auditor tries to get the member to confess to some sort of wrongdoing.
"Many times, an interrogator will try to get what they believe is the truth out, and the subject will finally just tell them what they want to hear," Rinder said.
"Sec check" sessions are also paid for by the member being interrogated, according to the contributors.
Every meeting is recorded and videotaped to use against members if they decide to speak out, Remini said.
"Every 'therapy room' is equipped with cameras and listening devices, as admitted by the church," she said. "Do they use it for blackmail? No, they use it to discredit you when you speak out."
To officially complete the "Bridge," members allegedly have to live on a ship called the Freewinds for as long as the church deems necessary.
Kahn went to live on the ship a second time and said she was subjected to intense "sec checks" that lasted hours and sent her back to her room crying.
"Every second was hell," she said. She vowed never to do another E-meter audit.
Scientology allegedly justifies its extreme actions against enemies of the church with a policy called "fair game."
"Fair game" is the idea that any enemy or critic of Scientology can have anything done to them because the ends justify the means, according to Rinder.
Basically, it allows members to push the boundaries of legality when it comes to shutting up and destroying the organization's detractors without fear of punishment from the church.
The church says the "fair game" doctrine has been canceled, but Rinder, Remini, and other ex-Scientologists say it's alive and well.
Rinder said actions could include stalking, digging up dirt, checking out people's background, vilifying them in the media and on the internet, and hiring private investigators to surveil them.
The church has little regard for children's relationships with their parents and other family members, Remini says.
Remini said that the belief in reincarnation means Scientology places very little significance on family relationships and marriages — a person's mother is just their mother currently, and the child has many, many mothers over the span of their life.
There are at least two mansions in California that are maintained, staffed, and stocked with food in the event of Hubbard’s return, Wright says.
Scientologists believe Hubbard chose to leave his body to continue his research into the higher levels of being. Hubbard died in 1986 after having a stroke.
But in the event that he returns, there are at least two fully staffed and stocked mansions maintained in California, in the cities of Hemet and Creston.
According to Wright, the houses contain Hubbard's "favorite cigarettes, the Kool cigarettes are there for him; Tom McCann sandals by the shower door; Louis L'Amour novels by the bedside table; and a table setting for one."
Recruiting celebrities to Scientology is one of the faith's highest missions.
"Scientology concentrates on collecting celebrities," said Amy Scobee, a former high-ranking Scientology executive assigned to the religion's Celebrity Centre.
She said the goal was to make celebrities "walking success stories of Scientology."
Remini added: "The Church of Scientology is a business. And like any business, they like to have a celebrity selling it."
Celebrity members allegedly receive great levels of preferential treatment, sometimes at the expense of other church members.
"We had special course rooms in separate parts of the buildings," Remini said in an AMA chat on Reddit.
"Any complaint we had about the outside world was met with agreement from the church. We were serviced differently, we had supervisors doing courses in our homes, giving special schedules to celebrities," she continued. "Staff was interrogated by the church. Oftentimes, there were Sea Org members working for celebrities in their homes, personally working for them. I know of one celeb who had a Sea Org member working in their home and Sea Org members were averaging $25/week. The labor laws don't apply to any church, therefore they were made to work ungodly hours, forced into interrogations if making human mistakes around the celebrity."
Scientology allegedly surrounded Tom Cruise with Scientologists to minimize his exposure to outside influences.
Scobee, who said her main job was to work with Tom Cruise, said she had to hire everyone from house managers to cooks and maids who were all Scientologists to surround Cruise.
According to Remini, the church considers the "Mission Impossible" star its "messiah."
"Parishioners believe that [Cruise] is single-handedly changing the planet, because that is what the church is telling them," she said.
Remini says Scientology pressured her into recruiting "King of Queens" costar Kevin James to the church.
"Kevin was very loyal to his religion," Remini said. "There's no in, and I was asked that many times."
In order to bring him into the organization, Remini says she was asked by other Scientologists if he had any weak places in his life, including a "failed purpose" and "relationship problems."
"He even said to me once, 'Don't try to get me in your Tom Cruise glare, man,'" Remini said. "There was no in, and I didn't feel right about doing it. I didn't ever feel right about telling somebody that they were lost and they needed Scientology."
The high-level group of Scientologists, called the Sea Organization, allegedly recruited children between the ages of 12 and 18.
Though the children had to get their parents' permission to join, Scobee said the organization lied to her father, who wasn't a Scientologist, to get his permission, saying she was going to Europe to model. Parents sign away all their parental rights, she says.
Upon joining the Sea Organization, members sign a billion-year contract, as they're expected to remain a lifetime member or allegedly face harsh punishment.
Scientologists don't believe in mental illnesses.
"The church doctrine thinks that fields of psychology and psychiatry are a sham," Remini said. "They deny mental illness and afflictions. They promote that you can heal your psychosomatic issues with their 'technology.' They will get in the way of people taking medications. They will prevent people from getting the real medical help that they need. And in some cases, have caused suicides because of it. Scientology is mentally abusive because we are all taught that we are responsible for everything."
Scientologists are allegedly banned from seeking legal justice against another member, even in cases of abuse.
"When I was 16 and working for a senior Scientologist who was in his late 30s, he had sex with a 16-year-old friend of ours," Remini said. "And the church handled it internally. All abuses are dealt [with] within the church, as it is an enemy act in the church to prosecute another member."
Scientology believes homosexuality is a sexual perversion, according to Remini and Rinder.
Publicly, the church says it has no position on homosexuality. According to Remini and Rinder, that's not true internally.
Remini said the church has "a chart of human evaluation" from Hubbard that helps Scientologists discern who they should have in their life. A 1.1 is the lowest on the scale and includes people who need a lot of help but aren't worth helping, Remini said. That rank includes gay people.
"Internally and for Scientologists, the position is there is something very wrong with a deviant behavior that needs to be dealt with with Scientology," Rinder said of the church's internal stance on homosexuality.
"Meaning as a person gets to the upper levels of Scientology, the 'gayness' will be audited out," Remini added.