"I'm no longer practicing Scientology," the "That '70s Show" star told PEOPLE. "I've always been very open-minded, even since I was a child. I was raised Catholic and Jewish. I've prayed in churches, meditated in temples. I've studied Chinese meridian theory. I haven't practiced Scientology in close to five years and it's no longer part of my life."
She didn't get into the specifics of why she left Scientology behind, but spoke generally about how her life has evolved since becoming a mother. She and husband Ben Foster share two children; daughter Ella, 4, and a 16-month-old son.
"If motherhood has taught me anything so far, it's that something can work out for a period of time and then you move on and evolve from that," she said. "As a new mom, I was riddled with anxiety that I had never experienced before. My friends who were mothers with older kids said, 'Laura, this is a phase, you'll move on and then it will be something different.' And that has transcended into other parts of my life. We're all evolving. I always see that with my kids."
As she started to trend on Tuesday, many wondered what Leah Remini -- the celebrity who has spoken out the most about the church after breaking from it herself -- thought about Prepon's decision. Scientology critic Tony Ortega tweeted he was trying to reach her for her comments, but she was busy filming People Puzzler for Game Show Network all day. He did, however, hear from Mike Rinder, her cohost on the A&E documentary series "Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath" and their "Scientology: Fair Game" podcast.
"It's a fairly significant step in the world of Scientology to make a statement like that. You don't do that lightly because of the potential ramifications," Rinder told Ortega. "It may serve an ulterior purpose of distancing herself from the Masterson case, or it may be happening thanks to you and Yashar Ali and Leah Remini constantly bringing it up, and there is more pressure on celebrities these days and reporters are asking questions, and uncomfortable questions."
Prepon's announcement that she stepped away from the church comes as her former "That '70s Show" costar and noted Scientologist Danny Masterson faces three counts of rape by force or fear in connection with alleged assaults between 2001 and 2003. In June 2021, Masterson pled not guilty to the charges.
"Whether it's a calculated PR move or not, it's a very damaging blow to Scientology to have another one of their mainline celebrities publicly say they are no longer a Scientologist," added Rinder. "That's like panic stations at HQ."
"I think it's a real reflection of the public perception of Scientology these days that someone feels they need to say and do that," he continued, adding that he understands some might be "skeptical" of her decision -- but, "in the overall scheme of things, for Scientology this is a catastrophic turn of events."
So far, Scientology hasn't commented on her exit.
Prepon also received some praise from "Homeland" star Nazanin Boniadi, a former Scientologist who was often talked about in Alex Gibney's "Going Clear" documentary. Though Boniadi doesn't speak publicly about her time in the organization, she simply tweeted, "Thank you, @LauraPrepon. That's all. That's the tweet."