How Scientology costs members up to millions of dollars, according to Leah Remini’s show

source
“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”/ A&E

So far, the A&E docuseries “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” has primarily focused on the alleged emotional and physical costs of being a member of Scientology. On Tuesday’s episode, it focused on the actual financial commitments one makes as a member.

Hint: They’re steep.

“There is no other religion that I know of that requires two and a half hours of your day, a quarter of a million dollars minimum, and at least 40 years of your life,” host and former Scientologist Leah Remini said.

Remini claims she spent “millions” during her 35 years with the church.

The episode focused on the course requirements of the religion and the alleged ways the religion pressures its members into continually giving above and beyond the course costs.

For the record, the church has declined to take part in the series. It contends that the statements Remini and the other contributors to the show have made about Scientology are false and are driven by a desire to profit or gain publicity from their time in the religion.

Here’s how Scientology could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for its followers, according to former members:


Scientologists allegedly spend thousands of dollars to purchase every book written by founder L. Ron Hubbard.

caption
Leah Remini shows a producer her bookcase filled with Scientology books.
source
“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”/A&E

Remini showed off a large bookcase in her home filled with L. Ron Hubbard texts. One wouldn’t think that books for church membership could cost thousands of dollars, but Remini explained that there are 12 basic books in Scientology, and the package costs about $4,000. And a member will often have to buy the books multiple times whenever Scientology says they’ve been updated.

Additionally, Scientology allegedly tells members that libraries have a demand for the books and encourages members to buy multiple book packages to donate to libraries.

In addition to books, Remini said that Scientologists must buy Hubbard’s lectures, various audio CDs, donate to the church’s causes, and pay a membership fee.


The low-priced introductory Scientology courses are allegedly just ways to bring in new members and don’t actually count toward anything.

Remini referred to several $35 introductory courses as “throwaways,” which don’t really count as credits in the intense list of courses Scientologists are required to take. She said they were only meant to bring in new members and “indoctrinate” them to the Church’s terms.


Scientology has a detailed and costly course list called “The Bridge to Total Freedom.”

caption
Scientology’s course list, “The Bridge to Total Freedom.”
source
“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”/A&E

“The Bridge to Total Freedom” is the list of courses required to reach spiritual actualization.

“‘The Bridge to Total Freedom’ are the series of steps that were laid out by L. Ron Hubbard that every Scientologist must follow in order to attain the ultimate in spiritual enlightenment and in spiritual freedom,” Scientology’s former international spokesperson Mike Rinder explained.

Scientology teaches that reaching the top of the Bridge means one should be able to use their mind to do powerful things like “move things, cure cancer in yourself,” according to Remini.

Required courses cost about $650 each, Remini claimed. A course could require that its members study from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Remini admitted that she got something out of the courses.

“There are some useful one-on-one therapeutic things that are being done,” she said.

Rinder and Remini both reached level two of the Bridge, though both feel as if they didn’t achieve the level’s goal of “relief from the hostilities and challenges of life.”


In addition to courses, Scientologists must attend auditing, essentially the church’s term for therapy, which costs $800 an hour.

caption
A Scientology E-meter.
source
“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”/A&E

These expensive auditing sessions can last a minimum of two and a half hours each, Remini said. They involve an auditor who listens and helps members “find and handle areas of distress.”

It’s done with what’s called an “E-meter,” which measures electrical activity on a human being’s skin. According to the church, it aids the auditor in his or her work.

Audits could be administered to children as young as six years old, Remini said.


There’s a dark side to auditing called “Security Checks,” which are also at the member’s expense.

According to the show’s contributors, “Security Checks” or “Sec Checks” are administered on members who are suspected of breaking a church rule or having doubts about the organization. They can be grueling, long, and pressure-filled experiences as the auditor tries to get the member to confess to some sort of wrongdoing.

“Many times, an interrogator will try to get what they believe is the truth out and the subject will finally just tell them what they want to hear,” Rinder said.

“Sec Check” sessions are also paid for by the member being interrogated.


Reaching the top of “The Bridge” doesn’t mean you’re free and clear of further courses and costs.

caption
Mary Kahn successfully completed Scientology’s “The Bridge” — twice.
source
“Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath”/A&E

Remini and Rinder visited another former Scientology member, Mary Kahn, who was a devout Scientologist for about 40 years and had completed all the courses required by “The Bridge.”

But like the books, courses are often updated. That means they have to be repeated by members whenever Scientology claims there have been changes or that a mistake was made when a member was taking the course.

“They constantly invent new things,” Remini said.

Kahn had to repeat “The Bridge” herself, but she became fed up with the constant pressure to pay more exorbitant fees. At one point, she alleged a fellow Scientologist charged her credit card without her knowing and said he did it because he needed to meet his financial goal for the church.

She then began to search out information about the organization from outside news sources and books. Her doubts piled up to the point that she was simply “toeing the line” in order stay in Scientology and keep her family together. As discussed in previous episodes, Scientology allegedly has a policy of disconnection from former members, including relatives.


To officially complete “The Bridge,” members allegedly have to live on a ship called the Freewinds for as long as the church deems necessary.

source
Mary Kahn’s son disconnected from her after she left Scientology.

Kahn went to live on the ship for a second time and claimed she was subjected to intense “Sec Checks” that lasted hours and sent her back to her room crying.

“Every second was hell,” she said of the experience. She vowed never to do another E-meter audit.

Upon returning, her doubts about the church became hard to keep to herself. She finally told her husband, who then ratted her out to Scientology officials. Kahn was called in for a “Sec Check” and refused to do it with an E-meter. It was at that point that she reached her limit and decided to leave the building and the church. She said she was barred from opening a backdoor to escape and decided to go out the front door. Scientology members allegedly followed her to the street, but she knew they wouldn’t continue past the street because they didn’t want to create a public scene.

In the end, her husband, who claims he was being pressured to divorce her, left Scientology, too. They have two adult children, one of whom – the youngest, Sammy – has allegedly disconnected from them, and they say they haven’t seen him in about three years.

Sammy, however, told producers that his decision to disconnect from his family wasn’t the result of Scientology pressure.