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After publicly feuding for years over Scientology, Leah Remini -- who left the Church of Scientology in 2013 and has since sought to expose the religion's inner-workings -- is speaking out about Kirstie Alley's sudden death, calling it "very sad."
The King of Queens star told Rolling Stone that, despite their textured history, she takes no pleasure in Alley's death. The Cheers star died Monday after a short battle with colon cancer, her rep confirmed to ET. She was 71. Alley's two children -- True Stevenson, 30, and Lillie Stevenson, 28 -- announced the tragic news Monday on Alley's social media accounts.
"The news of Kirstie Alley's passing is very sad," Remini told the venerable magazine, which also noted that Alley is the third high-profile Scientology celeb to die of cancer in only the last couple of years, joining Kelly Preston (July 2020) and Chick Corea (February 2021).
While Alley's cancer was only recently discovered, Remini conjured up Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's critical view when it came to western medicine.
"While it has been reported that Kirstie sought conventional cancer treatment, which gave her a fighting chance, the majority of Scientologists do not seek treatment until it’s too late," Remini said. "Scientologists are convinced they can cure themselves of diseases like cancer. It’s one of the more sinister things they promise. And because Scientology claims to be an exact science, not a faith, its members are brainwashed into believing these false claims as guarantees."
Remini, 52, also told Rolling Stone that she's thinking about Alley's two children, who are members of the Church of Scientology.
"Although Scientologists don’t believe in prayers, my prayers do go out to her two children, who are now without their mom," she said. "I hope they can, one day, free themselves of this dangerous and toxic organization."
Alley joined the Church of Scientology in 1979. In a 2012 interview with ET, Alley credited the Church of Scientology for helping her kick a cocaine habit, which she referred to as a rampant "compulsion" she picked up a few years before landing her first big break in Hollywood.
"I thought I was going to overdose almost every time," she told ET at the time. "I would do so much at a time. I would snort the coke then I would sit there and take my pulse."
She credited Scientology -- namely Hubbard's 1950 book Dianetics -- as her savior. She had been a staunch supporter of Scientology ever since. In fact, after Remini left the Church of Scientology in July 2013, the two actresses publicly feuded, including when Alley went on The Howard Stern Show in 2013 and called her, among other things, a "bigot."
"First of all, I just want everyone to know: I have hundreds of friends and people that I know that have come into Scientology and left Scientology... You're not shunned; you're not chased. All that's just bulls***," Alley frankly declared. "When you are generalizing and when your goal is to malign and to say things about an entire group... when you decide to blanket statement 'Scientology is evil,' you are my enemy."
In that same interview, Alley revealed she hadn't seen Remini in nearly a decade and even blocked her on Twitter.
"I have blocked her on Twitter," Alley admitted when prompted by Stern, "because she's a bigot... It's not selective. I just won't have people in my life that are that... If somebody's sitting there badmouthing your religion and saying that it's hideous and evil, that's not going to be your friend."
Alley was also critical -- albeit, cryptically -- of Remini's 20/20 interview in 2015, when she expanded on why she left the religion. Nearly a year later, Remini spearheaded the A&E docuseries, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, which aimed to shed light on the church.