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Can Scientologists Be Good Parents?

I must admit, I'm intrigued by Scientology. I mean intrigued in the "what really happens?" kind of way. I have the same feeling about bachelor parties. I don't want to attend one, but I do want to know what really happens at one.

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In general, I don't have a thing against Scientology the way others seem to. It's not my place to judge what makes someone happy. But when I read the recent BuzzFeed interview with actress, funny lady and former Scientologist Leah Remini, my ambivalence toward the religion changed to concern.

When asked why she left the church after a lifetime commitment, Remini said, "In my house, it's family first—but I was spending most of my time at the church. So, I was saying 'family first,' but I wasn't showing that. I didn't like the message that sent my daughter."

Remini also says the timing came about because her daughter Sofia (now 9) is getting to the age where she would start being an active member of the church. That means Sofia would be subjected to what the church calls auditing sessions, which can become intense interrogations that Remini remembers being traumatized by as a child.

I've always thought Leah Remini was funny and talented, but now I see just what a great mom she is as well. Scientology seems to be all encompassing, especially with its belief that nonbelievers should be excommunicated from one's life.

I can't help but question the parenting choices of Scientologists.

Leah Remini's entire world was probably based in the church. To give it all up is a big deal and a big loss. Most parents say they'll do anything for their kids, but when push comes to shove it doesn't always happen. Leah Remini gave up her entire identity and community for her daughter. It was undoubtedly a terribly difficult decision, one that has and will cost her connections and credibility down the line judging by the fallout already coming her way.

If Leah Remini left the church out of concern for her daughter, I can't help but wonder why other parents would force their young kids to stay. As I read Remini's BuzzFeed interview as well as director Paul Haggis's famed letter published in The New Yorker in 2009, I can't help but question the parenting choices of Scientologists. Both articles and interviews outline concerning tactics of the church—including separation from one's family, homophobia, unorthodox medical techniques and abuse. I can't help but question any parent who doesn't pull her kid out of Scientology.

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To be fair, many supporters claim Scientology not only changed their lives, but that it also saved their lives. Tom Cruise has been quoted as saying the religion cured him of dyslexia. Actress Kirstie Alley has been quoted as saying, "Without Scientology, I'd be dead." But since neither are little kids themselves, they can make educated and informed decisions about their religion. Little kids, on the other hand, can't.

Leah Remini made an admirable and difficult choice for her daughter. Hopefully, her star power and her fearless openness, will cause other Scientology parents to do the same.

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