Beyond Belief: My secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill

Beyond Belief is an interesting read. The four star rating is for content. This is not a perfectly authored book but it is an incredibly honest and detailed look at the cult of Scientology. I would add this statement as a rider: if you are a Scientologist, you can consider me a suppressed person and not bother to email me a litany of verbal abuse about my opinion and your support of Scientology. I fully admit to not only not believing in it but viewing it as a pernicious abusive cult.

One thing this book cleared up for me was why celebrities seem to be attracted to Scientology. Essentially it is because of the heavy handed rules, security measures and that the abuses don’t happen to them because of the huge amounts of money they donate to the cause and the celebrity Scientology center which is a long way from what the average member sees and experiences.

Sadly, the woman brought up in this cult, Jenna Miscavige Hill, started out as a child in Scientology when her parents and grandparents became heavy Scientologists in the early 1970’s. She is also the niece of David Miscavige, who was mentored by L. Ron Hubbard and is currently the head of Scientology.

Although they call this a church, I am of the firm belief that their 501 status should be revoked immediately. They basically get as much money as possible and those in the upper echelons of the cult live high on the hog while those below live in substandard conditions – food, shelter and clothing and even those at barely subsistence level. They are grossly underpaid for the work they do and that work is not just foisted on the adults but on the children as well. Incredibly, this woman worked as the medical officer at what Scientologists called “The Ranch” but which was essentially a child labor camp. She was seven years old.

The inner workings are exposed in this book and they are bizarre to say the least. Everything from addressing both males and females as Mr. and Sir, to splitting up families – parents from children and husbands from wives. Classic brainwashing tactics. Divide and conquer.  There is hard labor and physical abuse as punishments, endless auditing sessions which are really used to obtain secrets about individuals to be used at a later date when individuals start to realize what is actually happening and attempt to pull away from the cult.

Indirectly, it even explains what happened with Tom Cruise and his two marriages. When the upper echelons of Scientology realized that Nicole Kidman, whose father was a psychologist, started to succeed in the deprogramming of Tom Cruise, he was immediately grabbed by David Miscavige and his marriage was dissolved and the children they adopted, taken, and brought into Scientology to be influenced to stay away from her. The same thing was happening to Katie Holmes who contacted her father to remove she and her daughter from the clutches of the cult.

Jenna Miscavige Hill went through hell and it took her years to separate from the cult even though they made every attempt to keep her there. Her parents, siblings and grandparents have all left Scientology and after she was gone with her husband, whose parents are still public Scientologists, she was informed of many of the abuses and the controls she was subjected to by her uncle and others in the cult.

The book contains an intricate glossary of Scientology terms as well. There are some that are made up words and sound ridiculous when rolled around on the tongue. My favorite was “enturbulated” which supposedly equates with being upset. The glossary goes from the sublime to the ridiculous. It would be highly comedic if it weren’t so sad.

I can certainly say this after reading this book: L Ron Hubbard was an amazing cult leader and con man. He was able to invent the craziest movement ever, get it a nonprofit status and call it a church (which it bears no resemblance to whatsoever) and keep it going long after his death by telling members he would be back in a new body and that they needed to sign a contract for a billion years. I feel terrible for those whose lives have become enmeshed with this cult and who have lost family members and friends to it.

Good has come out of it. Jenna, her husband and others who have successfully left, have started speaking out and providing support for others. Those folks are going to need it. This book is a great insight and for those who who saw Going Clear this is a wonderful bookend.

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