Actress Leah Remini has thanked her fans and the media after her very public break from the Church of Scientology.
“I wish to share my sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the overwhelming positive response I have received from the media, my colleagues and fans from around the world,” she said in a statement issued Thursday by her talent agency, APA. “I am truly grateful and thankful for all your support.”
Remini, 43, has been a longtime member of the church and friends with some of its high-profile members, including Tom Cruise. In 2006, Remini was one of the first people to speak publicly about Cruise’s then-newborn daughter, Suri, with his then-wife Katie Holmes.
“Tom and Kate … want to have a life and raise their baby,” Remini told Us Weekly magazine at the time. “They’re normal parents.”
Remini, who co-hosted “The Talk” for one season and starred on the sitcom “The King of Queens” for nearly nine years, is not the first celebrity to break from the Church of Scientology, – “Crash” director Paul Haggis left the church in 2009 – but her split is seen as a bold move.
“She is one of the most high-profile celebrities to break with the church,” said Matthew Belloni, executive editor of The Hollywood Reporter. “Often these things are handled very quietly but this seems to be a very clear break.”
Remini’s statement did not include a reason for her departure.
The Church of Scientology declined to comment about Remini to ABC News, saying in a statement, “The church respects the privacy of parishioners and has no further comment.”
In addition to celebrities like Remini and Haggis, the church has also seen prominent executives from within its own leadership leave in recent years. At least one of the executives has accused the head of the church, David Miscavige, of being controlling and abusive.
Debbie Cook, who was a high-ranking official at the church’s Florida headquarters for 17 years before leaving her post in 2007, testified in court that she witnessed Miscavige punching other executives. She also says Miscavige ordered his secretary to hit her.
“Because, you know, he was displeased about how I was answering a question,” Cook told ABC News’ Dan Harris last year.
The church denies claims that Miscavige punched or slapped anyone and calls Cook a “defrocked apostate who is defaming the church.”