Book review: Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

Book by Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer


Is this the book that will bring down Scientology? Its power lies partly in the author’s name: Jenna is the niece of David Miscavige, who has been the leader of Scientology since L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986. The rest of the book’s power comes from Jenna’s shocking story of childhood endangerment, parental abandonment and institutional indoctrination.

Born in 1984, Jenna was a third-generation Scientologist. Her parents soon decided to leave their life in New Hampshire and dedicate themselves to the church. They joined an organization of committed Scientologists called the Sea Org in California. That’s when the family unravelled and Jenna was sent to a remote labour camp for kids called the Ranch in Riverside County. Small children were expected to renovate the property, making rock walls, digging trenches and dragging roofing materials. Everyone was supposed to run, not walk, while putting in 35 hours of work a week. Jenna’s broken knee was ignored. The kids’ education, called “Chinese School,” was based on parroting back dogma. Evenings were filled with mandatory staring contests and something called “bull baiting” that supposedly taught emotional control. Children were encouraged to snitch on each other, handing out demerit points with harsh punishments. Meanwhile, Jenna’s parents—like most couples—were kept apart while they rose inside the executive offices of the church.

Life as a teenager inside the Sea Org started to bristle. Jenna began acting out against the public beratings and mind-control tactics and finally left. (Her parents had already quit the organization by that point.)

So will this exposé shake the foundation of Scientology? Nobody in the Sea Org will get to read it, but other Scientologists will be hard-pressed to ignore its content. Certain celebrities should want to distance themselves.

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Book review: Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

  1. I doubt this will change a thing for believers. Other ‘religions’ have been doing this kind of thing to people for centuries, and still there are the devout that don’t catch on and leave.

    Hypnotized? Brainwashed? Just plain stupid?

    I see all of it as child abuse….and eventually it’ll become a legal problem no doubt.

  2. Yeah, I think this is the start of the end. Their usual response of “this is just another disgruntled Scientologist, her claims are outlandish” ploy won’t work this time. The legal flood-gates are wide open now. I don’t care if they believe whacky things, but abuse is abuse and is illegal. Good-bye tax-exempt status (at least in the US) – hello hundred-million dollar class action lawsuits. They think they have big lawyers? They ain’t seen nothing yet!

  3. A bunch of nonsense and subjective over-the-top complaints that she
    “suddenly” thought of a decade later. No much else to say. The school
    she went to has closed in 2000 but still mentions her:

    • I love you Louanne. You know Mike Rinder, Marty Rathbun, Debbie Cook, Jenna and 90% of the entire (past) scientology leadership has left scientology for good don’t you? LOL. Or are you not allowed to ‘know’ about that?

      You will leave one day too Louanne (or whatever your real name is).

      You do not have to work for 50 bucks a week and eat beans and rice every day (and lie about it) Louanne. Your eternity is not at stake. David Miscaviage is not your spiritual boss. You are not infested with alien body thetans Louanne. Hubbard made that up. He was a science fiction writer you know? You are a good and courageous and gifted being. Good luck and god speed to you in your awakening. Thousands are waiting for you just outside the prison walls.

    • Right, so why would a school that closed 13 years ago maintain a nice website about what it WAS? Why, one by the “Church” of Scientology of course, trying to cover its ass with its usual lies. All its PR is lies, because if they only used the truth, there’d be nothing to say, except “Look at our pretty new buildings!” [Never mind that they are never how Hubbard said to expand, were bought with money squeezed out its remaining parishioners, and are largely empty and unable to pay their bills.]

      • Great observation about the school site! That’s another major fail for Scientology’s epically talented PR team. Their mascot may as well be the Footbullet.

    • Louanne [or is that you tiny Davey?]…. you do realise if you blow that you could make quite a few bucks from your stories of being an OSA puppet, internet comments division…. you might be one of those souls who have access to the private Cruise/Miscavige tapes…. they should be worth a fortune!!

      Join us on the outside – it’s way more fun than the pitiful existence you have now.

  4. I was once a member of the cult of Scientology as well. That was the biggest mistake I ever made.
    I thought Jenna Miscavige went easy on them. The whole point of the “church” is to get as much money as possible by selling pseudo-science. When the people have no money Scientology will take them on as “staff”, turning them into something not much different than a slave. Jenna explains what that slaverly was like but spends little time on how people are taken for hundreds of thousands, and in some instances even millions of dollars.

    Right now Scientology is on a downhill slide. Their drug rehab program is under assault from governments and individual lawsuits that suggest it is simply a scam for swindling people. Jenna and others are talking about the child abuse and forced abortion. People who were once respected within the cult, are splitting it into little pieces, citing bad leadership under corporate Scientology. Sadly, many of them are starting up their own little cults, where they say they can more closely follow the teachings of cult founder, liar, madman, bigamist and convicted criminal L.Ron Hubbard. Their marquee member, Tom Cruise, has become a detriment to the cause. The couch jumping and destroyed marriages are gossip column fodder. In a leaked internal video millions have now heard his maniacal laughter, incoherent speech and bizarre claims.

    Good news– it is not a recognized religion in Canada, but is classified as a parareligion. In the last census there were only 1525 Scientologists from sea to sea to sea and the number seems to be dropping. A few years ago on Global Television they claimed 200,000 members. That statement was about as true as most of their other claims.

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