Beyond Belief, My Secret life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape.
By Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer. 2013, William Morrow, HC, 404 pages.
There have been an umprccedented number of books written about Scientology in the last few years. At one time the fearsome reputation of Scientology’s lawyers and their sinister use of the courts to persecute authors and publishers was enough to keep all but the most dedicated writers at bay. But the question must be asked as to why anyone would waste ink on such a tiny group of past-life believers in the first place?
The one-word answer is Hollywood. Big name stars like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirsty Alley endorse the brand of Scientology giving it an importance it would not otherwise merit. Every time something happens, good, bad or otherwise to one of these select Scientologists, the pot gets stirred and Scientology is again mentioned. Reporters are often hostile to Scientology since they know, better than anyone, that the followers of Hubbard are economical in their use of truth. The tabloids are often filled with tawdry tales concerning the Scientology stars.
Wherever Scientology is found you will see lawsuits, scandals and mysterious deaths. David Miscavige, the dictator of Scientology, has taken a lot of heat for the oft published abuses that have taken place within Scientology but the truth is such things happened in Hubbard’s time too. Most Scientologists know little about the circumstances of Miscavige’s rise to power after Hubbard died, nor do they seemingly care. Yet the feeling among veteran Scientology watchers is that the crown does not fit securely on the short statured ruler’s head; there are signs of paranoia and doubt . He is very sensitive of criticism, a trait understandable as it is a common finding among all dictators and usurpers.
A number of his family members were Scientologists who were in the Sea Org. His father, his older brother and his wife, as well as their children had all signed their “Billion Year Contact.” One might suppose that he would have taken care of these people and shielded them from the deprivations and abuses that are notorious in the Sea Org. And if he wouldn’t do it for the sake of family obligations he would have done it out of self-interest. After all, how would it look if these people suffered to so much misery that they quit the Sea Org? Or Scientology altogether? What if one of them had endured enough not only to quit but to write her memoirs about it?
Yet that is exactly what David Miscavige did. His brother Ron and his wife Bitty (Elizabeth) were ruthlessly over-worked and exploited. They were separated from each other for long periods of time; a common tactic that he used to prevent and break-up possible combinations against his power. Every action they took was controlled by the ultimate Scientology micromanager David Miscavige.
He made certain that they were kept so busy with Scientology management that they all but abdicated their role as parents. Like other Sea Org fanatics of that time they delivered their children into the care of others who used the “tech” of L. Ron Hubbard to raise children. The result was predictable. Scientology; the prison of the mind then became the jailer of the body as well.
All the cruelties that the Sea Org could boast of was employed to keep these children scared, malleable and totally dependent on Scientology were used on Jenna and her brother. Time spent with parents was limited to begin with but over time the situation deteriorated to the extent that these children were lucky if they saw one of their parents for an hour or two every week.
When normal children were at play Scientology children hauled rocks and dug ditches. Where normal kids got medical treatment when they where ill the Scientology children got ethics treatment and blame. Where ordinary children were given varying degrees of trust as part of growing up the Scientology ratted on each other with spy reports.
I could go on but there are just two points that I want to make. The first is that this is the perfect book if you are looking for first person account of just how evil Scientology is. If you are looking for a scholarly review of Scientology there are other books that could fit the role better than this one.
Lastly, I must say that for me the wonder of the book was not that Jenna escaped from Scientology. No, the wonder is that ANYONE escaped it after being subjected to year after year of indoctrination.
This book gets the full five stars from me !!!