(LOS ANGELES) — Actress Leah Remini is breaking her silence on her high-profile split from the Church of Scientology.
“I believe that people should be able to question things. I believe that people should value family, and value friendships, and hold those things sacrosanct,” the actress told People magazine at a charity event last weekend. “That for me, that’s what I’m about.”
Remini, 43, was a longtime Scientologist and friends with some of the church’s most famous members, including Tom Cruise, before announcing earlier this month that she was departing from the controversial church.
Remini, who co-hosted The Talk for one season and starred on the sitcom The King of Queens for nearly nine years, issued a statement at the time through her talent agency that she was, “truly grateful and thankful” for the support of, “the media, my colleagues and fans from around the world.”
The Church of Scientology declined to comment on Remini’s departure, saying in a statement earlier this month to ABC News, “The church respects the privacy of parishioners and has no further comment.”
Remini’s older sister, Nicole Remini, who herself left the church several years ago, previously told People magazine that Leah Remini’s relationship with the church began to sour years ago at the 2006 wedding of Cruise and Katie Holmes in Italy.
Nicole Remini says that her sister was rebuked by church officials after asking the head of the church, David Miscavige, who was Cruises’ best man, where his wife, Shelly, was. Shelly Miscavige has not been seen in public for years.
“According to Leah’s sister, when Leah asked if she could call Shelly Miscavige, she was asked to write a letter and that the church would hand it to her,” People magazine’s Raha Lewis told ABC News July 18. “The church claims that Shelly Miscavige is a private person and just does not like to be seen in public.”
The church has publicly denied the story that Remini confronted David Miscavige at the wedding.
Remini has not confirmed her sister’s account but the outspoken star did tell People magazine that she won’t be kept quiet.
“It wouldn’t matter what it was, simply because no one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to,” Remini said.
Remini, who served one year in the church’s elite “Sea Org” religious order, also told Access Hollywood over the weekend that her family and friends, many of whom she knows from her nearly 35 years of involvement with the church, are staying by her side.
“I’m good,” she told Access Hollywood. “I have my family. My real friends are behind me and I think that says a lot.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Jackie Wattles, CNN