Anti-Religious Hate Crimes Should Be No Smirking Matter for A&E, Leah Remini and Mike Rinder

An A&E series produced by Slauson Productions allowing avowed anti-Scientologists Leah Remini and Mike Rinder to smirk and strut their way through a maze of fiction and farce about Scientology has incited hundreds of hate messages and threats directed at the Church of Scientology and Scientologists.

While vigilance and rapid action by police have so far averted tragedy, A&E and all connected with this fictional travesty should be ashamed—and alarmed. We are not talking about simple “disrespect” here. These are hate threats with deadly potential. The Los Angeles Police Department certainly takes them seriously, logging them for investigation and handling. A sample: “I will literally assassinate the Scientology leader…” and “literally gonna torch down every Scientology center.”

The Pikes County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office logged three identical emails on December 1 and December 5 of 2016 as “terrorist threat via computer” and “harassing communication: “You should all terminate yourselves. Or come to my neighborhood and let me do it for you.”

An individual posting on Tony Ortega’s hate blog says that after a particular upcoming episode, “The pitchforks and torches will be distributed then.”

While the series was in production, A&E and Slauson Productions were thoroughly briefed by Church representatives on previous hate crimes inspired by Remini and others of her ilk on similar irresponsible forums.

A&E and Slauson response? A yawning silence. Now new threats arise. Would actual casualties cause them to wake up, or would injured or dead people simply be a “cost of doing business” in their world?

These organizations are made up of individuals, and these individuals are immersed in this profiteering are doing so at the expense of a religion and its members who now must deal with the ugly face of religious bigotry and threatened violence in their communities and workplaces.

This goes far beyond irresponsible. The actions of those connected with this reality TV series are reprehensible. This is nothing short of condoning a criminal act and should be treated as such by the general public and by law enforcement.

And each and every player in this ignoble project should face up to the realities of their actions.

Alicia Selverson
Alicia Selverson is a writer, artist and model from New York. She is also a third-generation Scientologist and mother of two.