Dec 8, 2016

'Leah Remini: Scientology' accuses church of harassment

Erin Jensen
December 7, 2016

This week, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath took us to Clearwater, Fla., where a former Scientologist claimed to be on the receiving end of treatment he previously dished out to enemies of the Church.

Leah Remini, the executive producer, sat down with Mike Rinder and his current wife, Christie. Rinder, identified as a former International Church spokesman, said he was tasked with trying to “discredit and destroy critics who spoke out against the Church."

“If the Church believed that someone was an enemy that needed to be silenced or destroyed, it was my job and I did it," Rinder said. "If I was told to follow someone, I made it happen. If I was told to discredit someone, dig up dirt on them, get their backgrounds investigated I made it happen."

Rinder departed from the Church in 2007, leaving behind his two children, a wife of 31 years, his mother and his brother.

Two years later, Rinder did an interview with the St. Petersburg Times for a series of articles on the Church. He said he knew his family would want nothing to do with him after that, but claimed the decision also made him a “public enemy” to the Church.

Rinder alleged he was subsequently subjected to the same takedown strategy he claims to have used as Church spokesman. He believed it was part of the "fair game" policy, which Remini's series described as policy stating Church enemies "may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed."

The Church of Scientology's website refers to "fair game" as a policy that prohibits people who renounce the Church from taking refuge under the Church's internal ethics or justice codes. The Church claims it was canceled in 1968 because it was constantly misinterpreted and misused by apostates trying to defame Scientologists.

Among the other allegations: Rinder said he was being followed so often that it led to a car accident. He claimed that one of his neighbors turned out to be a private investigator tasked with befriending and spying on them. In another case, he said, he found a birdfeeder with a camera inside, positioned toward his house.

“I know that there is going to be people who will say things that are just outrageous made up lies in order to try and discredit me,” Rinder said in an interview. “That’s the standard policy of Scientology. I know that there will be efforts to get inside my head and intimidate me into not speaking out by putting up websites.”

Rinder’s current wife, Christie, backed up Rinder's claims. She said a trash man told her he was being paid by a private investigator to steal their trash.

In the interview, Remini said, “the church of Scientology will hire private investigators at $10,000 a week."

Videos of family members, purportedly recorded for Scientology, characterize Rinder in a different light.

His daughter, Taryn Kelly, said when she needed her father “in any situation, he was never there.” In another clip, Rinder’s brother, Andrew Rinder, is seen calling him “quite evil.”

In a letter about Rinder, the Church wrote that the ex-Scientologist's account was an attempt to push false allegations of violence against the Church, the type of claims he once rejected.

“Rinder’s dishonesty and malfeasance caused the Church numerous problems that took years and millions of dollars to correct," the Church said in a letter to series producers. "Ultimately, the intervention of the ecclesiastical leader was needed to clean up Rinder’s final and greatest mess, resulting in his removal in disgrace in 2002. Years later, he remains bitter and angry for the humiliation he endured as a result and refuses to accept personal responsibility for any of his actions.”

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