Leah Remini's A&E docuseries Scientology and the Aftermath took a recess this week from its more emotionally charged episodes to break down allegations that the Church of Scientology has scammed people out of billions of dollars.
Remini and co-host Mike Rinder explained that unlike donations in religions such as Christianity, Islam or Judaism, the Church of Scientology doesn't ask for a portion of your income, but assigns fixed prices to different spiritual goals.
Asking for a refund, Rinder said, labels you a suppressive person, or persona non grata in the eyes of the church, and an ironclad legal contract members are forced to sign prevents people from making trouble in the future.
"Why doesn't somebody see this and say this is bullshit?" Remini asked incredulously.
Special guest Mat Pesch, a former Scientologist of 28 years, used to work for the finance department of a Clearwater, Florida, church as a "registrar" for 7 years.
Pesch explained that as a registrar, he and his co-workers were responsible for soliciting donations from all members of the church, regardless of whether they could afford them or not.
The former Scientologist claimed that during his stint in the Florida church, they were bringing in $2 million a week in donations.
Remini recalled registrars would come to her house unannounced and shake her furniture, yelling, "This is nothing!" in attempts to get her to donate more. While the aggressive tactics didn't work on the Kevin Can Wait actress, appealing to her desire to help other people did.
"More heartfelt stuff did work on me," she said. "I guess i knew the system was set up, but i guess i never knew how much."
"It's a machine and it's all set up to get maximum money from you," Pesch said.
Jeffrey Augustine, a former Scientologist, said he's unclear how the government can sit by and allow the Church of Scientology to accept these donations under tax-exempt status.
"What does it take for the IRS to do its job?" he asked.0comments
Viewers on Twitter said they were shocked to hear Remini describe the church's financial practices.
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST on A&E.