Scientology Defectors: A Timeline - 2017-01-30
The Church of Scientology might be one of the most secretive organizations in the country, but there's one thing it can't seem to keep quiet: defections. Since its creation in 1953, a string of celebrities and higher-ups have left the church. For years, those who defected largely kept quiet about what they'd seen on the inside – but increasingly, that's changed.
In 2009, a St. Petersburg Times series revealed a host of former high-level executives who shared their stories. Then, in 2015, an HBO documentary called Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – based on a 2013 book by journalist and screenwriter Lawrence Wright – told the stories of many of these defectors. Just months after that film was released, sitcom star and former Scientologist Leah Remini wrote a book about her 30 years in the church, and this year, followed it up with her A&E show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, in which she tells her story and interviews fellow defectors.
Now, it seems, Scientology's greatest blessings – its celebrity followers and devoted lifers – have become their biggest liability. But how far back do the defections go? Here, 10 people whose lives revolved around Scientology –then made the conscious decision to leave.