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Next Can Leah Remini: Scientology And The Aftermath Please Talk To A Private Investigator Hired By The Church?

And more questions sparked by 'Golden Era'!

Can Leah Remini please interview a PI the church has hired?

One of the things I appreciate the most about the way this season is structured is how methodically it has explained the ways the church perpetuates its power. It's not with the overwhelming numbers of parishioners pushing back against outside critics: as we learn this week, the church's claims of growth are extremely suspect and based more on the ever-growing square footage of church property than on the number of its human followers. Instead, it's with spokespeople like Mike Rinder who will go on camera and lie to journalists. It's by literally sending members who are wavering in their faith out to see -- as it did with Mary Kahn -- to break them down psychologically and make them doubt reality itself. And as we see this week, a key component of silencing people, like Remini, who are trying to expose the truth about the church is to hire private investigators to keep tabs on them.

In this episode, as soon as Remini and Rinder get off the plane in Denver on their way to see former Sea Org executives Marc and Claire Headley, they know "their journey has been noticed" because there's a guy tailing them -- and not being very subtle about it. As Remini sees his car nosing out of a parking lot so that he can start following them, she suggests to Rinder, who's driving, that he motion the guy to go ahead of them; when the guy refuses to be waved on, Rinder pulls up beside him and asks whom he's working for, hearing "TMZ." (Remini: "Piece of shit.") As she notes, when TMZ follows you, it's because they want a photo or video footage of whatever you're doing; this guy doesn't even have a camera.

But as the episode goes on, it seems like when the Church of Scientology hires you to follow someone, being clandestine about it is explicitly not part of the job. In this case, pretty much everywhere Remini goes, she's accompanied by at least one and often several TV crews: that's got to be a camera operator (doy) and a producer, but possibly an audio technician as well. The guy in the car near the airport has no evident concern about being filmed by the show's camera. Later, when Rinder and Remini return to their hotel, they spot two guys posted up in the lobby with their phone cameras pointed right at their car.

There's a little performance outside the hotel as Rinder confronts one of the guys about who hired him, but stealth does not seem to be part of the brief. So what I want to know is what this gig is like for the PI who gets approached by a church executive and asked to keep tabs on Leah Remini while she's in Denver. I suppose it helps if, as we're told is the case with one of the hotel lobby guys, you started your PI firm after being fired from your job as a cop for misconduct: maybe you have fewer scruples than the average PI, so this is a perfectly acceptable job to take. But are you told to make sure your target sees you, so that just knowing you're around intimidates her? What sorts of behaviours does the church executive who hires you want you to look out for? How far do they expect you to go? What makes a PI who's approached turn down the assignment? What makes a PI take it???

What are the new year's films actually like?

You can thank the YouTube user IAmAnSP for your answer. Here's the 2006 film described in this week's episode of Scientology And The Aftermath.

When Remini talks about how her faith in the church might be wavering until she'd watch one of these films and be won back over by all the descriptions of the good the church does in the world and then you actually see how jank they are and how flimsy their claims, it's important to remember that she -- like many church members -- was indoctrinated as a kid. All the education she got from that point forward was from Scientology's own teaching "technologies" and thus probably a tissue of half-truths; critical thinking and media literacy are obviously not skills the church wants to foster in its members lest they start to look more deeply into the tenets of their faith.

Still? Yikes.

Can the church actually collect "freeloader's debt"?

Freeloader's debt is one of the ways the church controls its members and keeps them from escaping: it's a retroactive bill dropped on Sea Org members who leave, making them pay for all the courses and auditing they got while they were under (billion-year) contract. We're told that this can run into the tens of thousands of dollars (or more, conceivably, given that Remini says she's spent at least $250,000 on courses herself). But what would happen if an ex-Sea Org member just ignored the bill? I mean, I get that the threat of receiving such an invoice might keep a member in good standing with the church, but once a person leaves, doesn't he or she then start to understand that none of the church doctrine is normal or enforceable? Is the church hiring collection agencies to go after lapsed church members? If so, CAN WE TALK TO SUCH A COLLECTION AGENT?!

How much therapy does a couple require to get past the damage done by the church?

Marc Headley tells us how one pivotal beating from David Miscavige made him realize he had to quit the church once and for all. He shared his plans with his wife Claire, who worked more closely with Miscavige's coterie than Marc did, but had it in the back of his mind that she might inform on him, because she had before, EVEN THOUGH she herself had, by this point, been coerced by the church into aborting their child, as is standard among female Sea Org executives. As Marc is telling the story of his flight from their house and his suspicions about Claire's ability to keep his plans secret, the shot frames the two of them together on the couch, and she kind of laughs at what a narc she was in their former life. HA HA...HA?! Of course every marriage has its particular private jokes, but one partner's determination to sell out the other to the leaders of the cult that brought them together seems like kind of a weird one? And, again, that's on top of the trauma and remorse of Claire's unwilling abortion of their first child, even after the births of the three children they have now and the joy they all share as a family. What had to happen to get Marc and Claire to the point where her assumed betrayal is just a cute bump in the road of their marriage? And CAN WE TALK TO THEIR THERAPIST?????

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