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The ex-wife of a celebrity Scientologist has penned an essay on why she left the church.

“No one imagines themselves as so fragile to ever let something as sinister as a cult take control of their minds.”

The ex-wife of actor and 90s heartthrob Jason Lee has penned a scathing essay about life inside the Church of Scientology and blamed it for the demise of their relationship.

Carmen Llywelyn, who is an actor and photographer in her own right, was married to Lee from 1995 until 2001 and chronicles the ways in which the church drove the pair apart, eventually leading to their divorce.

jason lee and wife feature
Llywelyn with her then-husband Jason Lee. Image via Getty.

Llywelyn explains that although she identified as a Scientologist for eight years, she didn’t fully understand what that membership entailed until several years after she was first indoctrinated.

“The reality of Scientology is deceptively hidden and cleverly disguised,” she writes for Gawker.

When I look at Scientology today, I have to forgive myself for not seeing through the manipulation sooner. I’ve spent the last 13 years keeping Scientology out of my life. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve realized that the religion is built on a foundation of violence. I’m proud to add my voice to the many who, despite fear of retribution and humiliation, have come forward to tell of our experiences.”

At 19 — the age she moved to California and first met Lee — Llywelyn could be forgiven for not understanding the full extent of what she was getting herself into.

“When I think back, I believe a part of me knew if I didn’t accept Scientology the marriage would be over before it even started,” she writes.

“That may sound somewhat superficial and at that age, maybe it was. But in truth, regardless of how different I feel about Jason and Scientology today, I was very much in love with the guy and wanted our marriage to work.”

A recent photo of Carmen. Via Instagram.

And becoming a Scientologist was all too easy. In no small part due to the barrage of famous faces who welcomed her to the church, the young woman into the church.

“I learned a lot through them, but at 20 years old, there was no one in my life who wasn’t a Scientologist,” she says.

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Eventually, she began to feel as though Lee was forcing his beliefs on her; even when she was becoming uncomfortable about her involvement in the church:

“He would never stop talking about it. It became a source of contention and I realized that unless I accepted Scientology the way he did and the way he wanted me to, we would most likely cease to know each another.”

More from Carmen: “Scientology broke my heart”

Unsurprisingly, being a Scientologist also doesn’t come cheap.

Llywelyn struggled to put a dollar value on it, but with all the courses, books and membership costs, she pegged the total cost at more than US$50,000.

“To me, Scientology seemed more of a surreal lifestyle for the privileged than a kind of belief system,” she explains.

“Most of the focus was on ways things appeared. It confusing to me that a church was called the Celebrity Centre. I didn’t like having class systems mixed into my religion. It just didn’t seem right.”

Within a few days of announcing her decision to leabe she received a paragraph-long dismissal letter from Lee and was dropped by her talent agency.

In the following months, former close friends, including Jenna Elfman, spread vicious rumours about her, many of which were based on information she had shared in what she believed were private auditing sessions.

Jason Lee and Jenna Elfman remained in the church and refused to support Carmen. Images via Getty.

Llywelyn lost everything.

Her career, her husband, her friends — and her mental health suffered immeasurably as a result.

The Church labelled her a ‘Suppressive Person’ — one of the worst things you can be to a Scientologist.

“This label is reserved for anyone who is opposed to, speaks out about, or leaves the religion,” he explains.

“Scientologists believe that such a person, like an ex-Scientologist who speaks out about their former beliefs and/or who doesn’t disconnect from one who has, will make everyone around them sick.

“According to the written doctrine of Scientology, Suppressive Persons must be destroyed if the religion is to continue saving the world.”

A picture from Carmen’s Instagram.

Llywelyn’s relief to be free of the church is palpable, but says she it was a struggle to relearn how to think for herself.

“No one imagines themselves as so fragile to ever let something as sinister as a cult take control of their minds. I didn’t think anyone would ever tell me how to think and when to think it. We all believe we’re above such things and only stupid people could fall for that,” she says.

“But there are no choices in Scientology. There never were. It is all a ruse. In truth, after I left Scientology, I had to learn how to think for myself again, to speak for myself again.”

You can read her essay in its entirety here.

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