Category Archives: RELIGION


Pope Francis: “Leaders must fight plague of terrorism”
Pope Francis urged leaders to work together to fight the “plague of terrorism”, saying in his New Year’s address on Sunday that a bloodstain was covering the world as it started 2017.

Speaking to some 50,000 people in St. Peter’s Square for his traditional noon address, Francis departed from his prepared text to condemn the Istanbul nightclub attack that killed at least 39 people.

“Unfortunately, violence has stricken even in this night of good wishes and hope. Pained, I express my closeness to the Turkish people. I pray for the many victims and for the wounded and for the entire nation in mourning,” he said.

“I ask the Lord to sustain all men of good will to courageously roll up their sleeves to confront the plague of terrorism and this stain of blood that is covering the world with a shadow of fear and a sense of loss,” he said.

He said 2017 will be what people make of it.

“The year will be good in the measure that each one of us, with the help of God, seeks to do good day after day,” he told the crowd on a cold morning.”



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Leah Remini: Tom Cruise Urged Me to Get Leslie Moonves to Kill ’60 Minutes’ Scientology Story
6:30 AM PST 11/29/2016 by Seth Abramovitch
Miller Mobley

As the first episode of her “ballsy” A&E series premieres, the actress/author-turned-investigative reporter reveals what everyone from pal Jennifer Lopez to co-star Kevin James felt about her former religion — and shares the memory of an awkward phone conversation she once had with the CBS chief at the ‘Mission: Impossible’ star’s behest.

A&E’s legal department is no doubt burning the midnight oil to usher its latest series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, on-air. The network has already received multiple threatening letters from the Church of Scientology, in which the show’s host, Leah Remini, is described as a “has-been actress” and “spoiled, entitled diva.” A defiant Remini, meanwhile, responded by having her attorney send a letter to the church demanding it retract the letters and pay her $1.5 million in compensation.

That the church objects to the eight-part series is hardly a surprise. It sees the 46-year-old King of Queens star — who documented her flight from the church in the 2015 best-seller Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology — turn investigative journalist as she documents “shocking stories of abuse, heartbreak and harassment” alleged by former church members.

The Hollywood Reporter spoke to Remini ahead of the show’s premiere Tuesday, addressing everything from church accusations that she is only “in it for the money” (“Are they going to give me back my $3 million?”) to an extremely awkward phone conversation she once had with CBS chief Leslie Moonves at Tom Cruise’s behest.
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‘Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath’: TV Review
A&E received a lot of aggressive pushback from the Church of Scientology regarding Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. How close did the network come to pulling it.

I don’t know how close they came to pulling the show. They certainly weren’t letting on to me that they were thinking about that. But I’m sure that this is the first network that’s ever done a series on the subject and I think that’s pretty ballsy of them. They were really dedicated to the process once they saw the footage and once they saw the stories.

This show feels unprecedented.

I agree, it is. They’re great partners and the executive who’s in charge of my show [Devon Hammonds, vp, nonfiction programming] has gotten on a plane twice for me just to come out and make sure it was OK with me and we were telling the right stories. They’re very invested in it emotionally.

How do you counter accusations from Scientology that you are only in this for the money?

First of all, [my demand of $1.5 million from the church] was a response to the horrific and libelous letters that they sent me. They were trying to stop this show from happening. They were trying to disparage my name and my reputation with 20/20 and ABC and the public at large. So that was my response to what they were doing. I actually haven’t sued them, so I’m not going to see one red cent.

And profits from the show itself or the book?

Would I donate the money from the show? Is the church donating money to any charity or giving back the money they coerced out of people under false pretenses? Are they going to give me back my $3 million?

And that’s how much you’ve given them over the years?

If not more.

Is Scientology a cult? Did the church brainwash you?

Yes. Scientology is a brainwashing proposition from the very first book that you read in [church doctrine] Dianetics, where L. Ron Hubbard positions himself as a college-educated person, which he wasn’t; a nuclear physicist, which he wasn’t; and a decorated military man, which he wasn’t. Also important is that he claims that Scientology and Dianetics is a proven science. So when you’re indoctrinated when you’re very young, as I was, and all the information that you receive is from Scientology, and you’re not allowed to look at other things because you’re penalized for doing that, yes, that is the way cults work. They cut you off from information from the outside world and they start to sequester you by saying everybody else is your enemy. That is another way that cults work. It satisfies all the checkmarks for what a cult is and what brainwashing is.

How did you break the spell? What was your process to getting out?

My process was to start asking questions to what I was seeing on the internet. I disagreed with my church that I couldn’t be talking to the people that they deemed to be enemies. So I started talking to these people who were making claims of physical abuse. I started looking on the internet. And story after story were stories of abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, fraud. I just couldn’t accept that they were liars, which was what my church was telling me. And so it was a series of things. It wasn’t just one thing. It took me six years to get out and I wanted to make sure that my family was coming with me.

I once read a story that Jennifer Lopez, a close friend of yours, helped and encouraged you to get out. Is that true?

No. She was just supportive of my decision.

What about other celebrities who are still in the church? Have they reached out to you? Criticized you?

Why would they reach out to me? They aren’t allowed to talk to me. That’s the policy of the church. I know Kirstie Alley made a comment about me and I’m sure others will. [In 2013, Alley called Remini a “bigot” on The Howard Stern Show.] But that’s the policy of the church. I understand what their frame of mind is and it’s to oppose anyone who speaks out against the church.

Does it hurt when you hear those words?

I’m hurt for them, because I was one of them and I know how angry they really are despite thinking they are part of the enlightened elite of the world. I know how truly not open they are and how being taken they are. I have sympathy for them.

You made a reference on Ellen to “couch jumping” — in other words, Tom Cruise. How much do you think he contributed to normalizing Scientology doctrine to those still in it?

I don’t think he normalized it at all. I think it’s just the opposite. I think there was a time where maybe Scientology was more accepted and I didn’t particularly find him to be a great example of Scientology — I made that very known to my church. But Tom is very protected in the church and the church will go to any means to ensure that he stays in.

So you think it’s the opposite — that he contributed to an exodus from the church.

Yes. Absolutely. Especially when [church leader] David Miscavige stood up in front of a Scientology event and said that Tom was “the best example of a Scientologist.” And I know the heartbreak of the average person who works day and night to pay a quarter-of-a-million dollars for their “religious freedom” in Scientology. Those people were the example — not somebody who makes $10 to $20 million a picture.

There have been rumors of him leaving or cooling on the church. Do you think that’s true?

No, absolutely not. I highly doubt it. Highly.

Did the church involve itself in your career dealings when you starred on The King of Queens?

You have to go in [to the church] every single day, so yes. It’s always, “Why are you not getting Kevin James in? You’re not setting a good example. You’re not getting the director in.” There was always pressure to make a Scientologist out of the people you were working with.

Did you ever broach the subject with Kevin James at all?


Did he ever suggest to you that you might be better off without Scientology?

No. Kevin was always very respectful of my beliefs and he said just the opposite. People would ask him, “Oh my God, is she trying to get you into that crazy cult?” And he’d say, “No. She’s not like the rest of them.”

Did they ever object to the content of the show?

Yes. They wanted us to take out a reference to Katie Holmes.

Was it a joke about Scientology? Or just a reference to her?

It was just a reference to her name but this was when she was in good graces with the church. Of course they’d have no problem with that once you leave — they’ll try to destroy you and your family. Another time, I got pressure to call Les Moonves at CBS to try and get a 60 Minutes report squashed. I got a call from the church and Tom to call Les Moonves and use my influence to squash the story.

Tom Cruise was on that call?

Yep. So I called Les Moonves, even though I was really uncomfortable with it. And he said, “Listen — you’re not the only one who has called me about this and I have no right to interject my opinion of what I like or don’t like with the news organization of CBS and I will absolutely not engage this conversation. I’ll tell you or anyone else who calls me.” He said, “I don’t give a shit if it’s you, if it’s Tom Cruise, if it’s Jenna Elfman, you’re all going to get the same story from me.” And I said, “OK.” And then I called them back and said, “Hey, I tried.”

What did they say?

They just weren’t happy that I couldn’t squash the story. I said, “I’m just a f—ing actress on television and I can’t demand that my boss take a f—ing report off the air.”

How do you think your experience leaving the church has impacted your career?

I don’t know and I don’t really care, to be honest with you. I’ve got to do what’s right and this is what’s right for me right now, is to help these people who are bravely telling their stories of abuse and fraud. And the church is responding with, “They’re lying.” You have fancy lawyers like Monique Yingling, who makes millions and millions of dollars from the Church of Scientology. She’s not even a Scientologist and she’s going out there trying to discredit people she knows nothing about. I can’t just sit by and watch that happen. I’ve seen it. I’ve witnessed a lot of what they’re saying. I’m going to stand up with them. And if it’s the church or another bully, and I’m passionate about it, I’m going to do something about it if I can. I’m blessed to have a voice and I’m going to use it.

A Scientology representative responds:

“Leah Remini is in it for the money and now tries to pretend otherwise. Her claim on Today that, ‘I’m not going to get a dime,’ as executive producer of her new reality TV show is disingenuous. Ms. Remini obviously is being compensated for this show, just as she profited from her book. In addition, she recently attempted to extort the Church by first demanding $500,000, followed by an additional $1 million, because the Church invoked its First Amendment right to respond to her false claims with the truth. This shows the extent Leah Remini is willing to go to in order to distort the truth about Scientology.

“Further, her claim that she doesn’t like ‘bullies’ is hypocritical because she has aligned herself with a handful of self-admitted violent bullies still bitter after having been expelled from the Church years ago. Like Ms. Remini, these individuals also seek to exploit their former religion to make a buck. For the truth, go to”


The Tomb of Christ Jesus

Jesus Christ’s tomb opened for the first time in 500 years

For decades debate has raged over whether the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem really is the site of the most famous miracle of all.

The shrine is supposed to contain the tomb where Jesus Christ ’s body lay for three days after his crucifixion.

The tomb has been sealed in marble since at least 1555 – and possibly centuries longer – to protect it from pilgrims who kept stealing pieces as holy relics.

But over the preceding centuries the church had been destroyed and rebuilt so many times there were doubts about what it contained.

Now the tomb’s marble lid has been removed for the first time in five centuries – revealing a miraculous discovery.

There, unseen for half a millennium, was the limestone shelf where Christ’s body is thought to have been placed.

The researchers also discovered a second grey marble slab no one knew existed, engraved with a cross they believe was carved in the 12th century by the Crusaders.

Archaeologist Fredrik Hiebert of National Geographic, which was a partner in the project, says: “The most amazing thing for me was when we removed the first layer of dust and found a second piece of marble.

“This one was grey, not creamy white like the exterior, and right in the middle of it was a beautifully inscribed cross. We had no idea that was there.

Jesus Christ’s body is supposed to have laid in the tomb for three days after his crucifixion .
“The shrine has been destroyed many times by fire, earthquakes, and invasions over the centuries. We didn’t really know if they had built it in exactly the same place every time.

“But this seems to be visible proof that the spot the pilgrims worship today really is the same tomb the Roman Emperor Constantine found in the 4th century and the Crusaders revered. It’s amazing.

“When we realised what we had found my knees were shaking a little bit.”

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalems Old City .
It was opened in the presence of leaders from the Greek and Armenian Orthodox churches and the Franciscan monks, who share responsibility for the church.

Fredrik adds: “They let the patriarchs of the three churches go in first. They came out with big smiles on their face. Then the monks went in and they were all smiling.

“We were all getting really curious. Then we went in, looked into the tomb, and saw a lot of rubble. So it wasn’t empty, even though there were no artefacts or bones.”

Negotiations to open the tomb for vital repairs began in 1959 but all decisions must be agreed by a “status quo committee” of the three religious leaders.

The committee often struggles to agree, making any changes or repairs notoriously slow and difficult.

The key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is kept by a Muslim family who have unlocked the building every morning for the last 500 years.

Fredrik says: “Everything has to be approved by the committee, so even changing a candle takes a long time.

“There is a ladder by the main entrance to the church that hasn’t moved in 240 years and they still haven’t reached a decision. It’s called the immovable ladder. So the fact we were finally allowed to carry out this work is a triumph of negotiation.”

The tomb attracts thousands of pilgrims every day so the team got less than three days to clean and explore it.

They used ground penetrating radar and thermographic scanners to record as much information as possible beforehand. It took 35 conservation experts 60 hours to remove the dirt, documenting every step.

They eventually found the limestone burial bed just hours before they had to reseal the tomb.

The team gathered so much data it will take months to analyse, after which they will have enough information to create a virtual reconstruction of the tomb that anyone can view. Fredrick says: “Often in archaeology the eureka moment doesn’t happen in the field.

“It comes when you get home and examine all the data you’ve collected. Who knows what that will tell us.

“Without bones or artefacts we’ll never be able to say for sure this was the tomb of Christ.

“That is a matter of faith. It always has been and it probably always will be.”