Kirstie Alley's Relationship With Scientology: A Timeline

Kirstie Alley, known for her Emmy award-winning role in "Cheers," died on December 5, 2022 at the age of 71. A statement made by her children, True and Lillie Parker, was shared on Kirstie Alley's Twitter page, remembering her "zest and passion for life" that inspired fans. The statement revealed that she died after a brief bout with cancer that she "fought with great strength."

The infamous actress made a name for herself in the media not only for her iconic comedic roles but for her fair share of controversies. She was known for not holding back on her opinions and worldviews, including her struggles with weight and her religious views, per The Washington Post. One of her most controversial characteristics was her devotion to the church of Scientology. John Travolta, another famous Scientologist, posted a photo of the two of them on Instagram with the caption, "Kirstie was one of the most special relationships I've ever had. I love you Kirstie. I know we will see each other again." Like many other celebrities involved in the organization, Alley faced backlash and criticism throughout her career over the viewpoints she shared due to her involvement in the church.

According to Kirstie Alley, Scientology helped her through her drug addiction

Kirstie Alley has been a proud member of the church of Scientology since 1978, per Newsweek. In her 2012 memoir, she discussed finding the church during her early years as a rising star in Hollywood. She called herself "a drugged out mess" when a friend sent her L. Ron Hubbard's book "Dianetics," introducing her to the world of Scientology. For decades, Alley credited Scientology's rehab program as the reason she was able to become clean from her cocaine addiction and has promoted the religion ever since (via Rolling Stone).

Even with these claims of healing, Scientology and its followers have received criticism since it was founded back in 1953. While the majority of Scientology's teachings remain a mystery to those not involved, many call it a cult that keeps members involved by distributing blackmail if they try to leave, per The Guardian. Former Scientologist turned author Bob Penny published an essay calling the organization "an unusual and dangerous kind of money-making machine" that feeds on predatory ideas and dangerous activities that most members are unaware of.

The actress was a fierce defender of her religion

Many believe this dangerous religion is normalized by celebrities like Kirstie Alley, Elisabeth Moss, John Travolta, and Tom Cruise, who have defended the church's teachings throughout their careers (via Us Magazine).

Over the years, Alley attempted to demystify the teachings of Scientology. She once told Tucker Carlson that psychiatrists ply their clients with drugs to get them hooked. "I don't think you're mentally ill if you're depressed," she also argued, revealing Scientology cured her so-called depression when Alley was recovering from the death of her granddad as a kid (via Radar Online).

In addition to sharing her steadfast beliefs with the public, Kirstie Alley came to the church's defense multiple times. She tried her best to encourage people to remove their judgment from Scientologists, although her brazen approach may not have rubbed people the right way. According to The U.S. Sun, Alley told Howard Stern, "When you decide to blanket statement that Scientology is evil, you are my enemy." She also called "bulls**t" on the rumors that you cannot leave the religion without being "shunned."

The feud between Kirstie Alley and Leah Remini ran deep

Scientology caused Kirstie Alley to lose friends over the years, including long-time friend turned "enemy" Leah Remini. In 2013, Leah Remini left the church of Scientology and became one of its most vocal and prominent critics. She released a book in 2015, followed by a documentary series in 2016 that outlined the terrifying Scientology moments she experienced and the traumatic aftermath that followed her when she finally left. Kirstie Alley was extremely vocal about her disappointment in Remini for her decision to leave the organization and her allegations surrounding Scientology. Alley was frustrated with the narratives Remini was trying to push about "being shunned," per Heavy.

For many years, both parties did not hold back on their distaste for one another, with Remini expressing her frustration for celebrities like Alley who continued to participate in Scientology. Remini told Howard Stern, "I know why [Kirstie Alley] thinks she's angry. But she doesn't really know anything that I'm saying ... [Scientologists] see me as an enemy."

Their feud continued in 2022 when Alley tweeted her thoughts on rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Alley wrote, "I don't know what's real or what is fake in this war. So I won't be commenting. I'll pray instead." Remini responded on Twitter by asking why she has "no comments on these crimes to humanity?" She also called out Alley's religious hypocrisy, tweeting, "Scientologists aren't allowed to believe in anything else other than Scientology. So who is she praying to?"

Are Kirstie Alley's kids involved in Scientology?

Kirstie Alley was not only a hilarious entertainer and a controversial Scientologist but also a loving mother and grandmother. In a 2005 interview with People, Alley spoke out about her pregnancy loss at three months in 1990. She discussed the grief she felt in her body and mind, which motivated her to adopt. According to People, Kirstie Alley and her then-husband ​​Peter Stevenson adopted their son True in 1992 and their daughter Lillie in 1994.

While her two children live mostly private lives, their involvement with Scientology is well-known. In a 2015 interview with Howard Stern, Kirstie Alley revealed that her children are both Scientologists. "When you raise kids in any religion, they either go or they don't go." She tells Stern that Scientology "has really helped them a lot." Whether this is the full truth or they felt compelled to join because of their mother's involvement has not been officially confirmed by True or Lillie, leaving some to speculate that they may leave the church after the loss of their mother. In a statement according to Rolling Stone, Leah Remini shared her love for Alley's two children, saying, "I hope they can, one day, free themselves of this dangerous and toxic organization."

Kirstie Alley remained a loyal member of the church until her passing

In a 2018 interview with "Freewinds," the church of Scientology's magazine, Kirstie Alley revealed that she was promoted to an "Operating Thetan Level Eight," one of the highest rankings that a Scientologist can receive, per Rolling Stone. This ranking essentially symbolizes for believers that they will be immune to danger and disease.

Upon hearing the news of Kirstie Alley's death, many people have spoken out about the relationship between her cancer diagnosis and her religious views. In response to her cause of death, New York Magazine writer Yashar Ali tweeted, "One of the promises that Scientology explicitly makes to members (on paper!) is if you reach the upper levels of Scientology you won't get cancer." According to Newsweek, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard made multiple claims that cancer cells are the body's response to trauma and "sexual upset" upon other claims not backed by any particular science. While fans of Alley did not appreciate the timing of these comments, the contradictions surrounding her death and her religious views continue to raise questions.

Even with these contradictions, Alley remained a loyal follower of Scientology until her passing. According to OK!, a representative of Alley spoke on her behalf in 2019, addressing her knowledge of accusations and rumors surrounding Scientology. They stated that nothing "dampened her commitment" to the church and that Alley was "very appreciative of her continued role within the church."