Beyond Belief : My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape Paperback
Jenna Miscavige Hill was born into the Church of Scientology.
The niece of its current director, David Miscavige, she grew up at the center of this highly controversial organization, strictly adhering to its beliefs and practices.
But at twenty-two, Jenna made a daring break. Now, for the first time, this insider with unprecedented first-hand knowledge pierces the veil of secrecy that has shrouded this religion that has been the subject of fierce debate and speculation worldwide, speaking out about her life, the organization, and her harrowing escape.
In this fast-paced memoir that reads like suspense, Jenna reveals the strange and disturbing details of her childhood, including her disconnection from her parents, and unmasks the inner workings of Scientology's celebrity culture, drawing on her own experiences and those of her husband, a former employee of the famous Scientology Celebrity Centre. From its creation by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1952 to its roster of celebrity acolytes, disturbing questions have swirled around the religion and the organization behind it. Jenna sheds light on some of the most troubling issues surrounding the organization: its infamous disconnection policy and the dissolution of families, alleged forced and child labor practices and reports of exploitative fundraising.
With her unparalleled insight into the inner world of Scientology's highest order, Hill addresses all this and shares true stories that are beyond the wildest imagination.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages, 50-60 Color Photos
- Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Inc
- Publication Date: 11/09/2013
- Category: Autobiography: religious & spiritual
- ISBN: 9780062248480
Showing 1 - 4 of 4 reviews.
Review by adpaton
When Jenna Miscavige was seven, she pledged to serve the Church of Scientology for a billion years, through her present life and all her future incarnations. As the niece of Scientology leader David Miscavige, Jenna was fast tracked for high office, yet 14 years later left in disgrace. This memoir tells a story of child labour, family dissolution, a paranoid church hierarchy, blackmail, lies and systematic brainwashing. As a disgraced former Scientologist Jenna’s revelations may be biased yet she paints a disturbingly convincing picture of mind control and manipulation. The prose is not elegant but this is an unusual view of the cult from the inside.
Review by susan.h.schofield
I'm giving this book four stars for the subject matter - it was fascinating to learn about Scientology. It truly is a cult and I am amazed at what they get away with. However, the writing itself was not very good and really only deserves two stars - but the author's insight and detail make up for what her style lacks.
Review by AnnetteOC
Scientology has always been a bit of a mystery religion to me; that is, a mystery because, to be frank, I know very little about it. Having never actually read any of L. Ron Hubbard’s books (or those of his critics, for that matter) or personally known a self-identified Scientologist, it’s been pretty easy to ignore, despite having actually driven past the church on Sunset Blvd. a number of times. Sure, everyone around me seemed to have an opinion: It’s a dangerous cult. Dianetics is a lot of psychobabble. Et cetera. But what adherents actually believe and practice were never made clear to me.Jenna Miscavige Hill’s “tell-all” memoir <i>Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape</i> (HarperCollins, 2013) has changed some of that. Niece of the current Scientology leader Dave Miscavige and co-founder of ExScientologyKids.com, Hill talks about what life was like for her with both parents in the elite Sea Org and being raised by the system. Even though she was prevented what most of us would call a “normal” childhood, Hill remained committed to Scientology for years, rising up its ranks. Eventually, she had enough: Enough of the E-Meters and auditing sessions designed to root out subversive behavior. Enough of the favoritism and inconsistencies. Enough of authorities keeping her from being with those she loved. In the end, Hill left Scientology kicking and screaming…literally, if I read correctly.While <i>Beyond Belief</i> was certainly an eye-opener into the hidden world of Scientology, I closed the book with mixed feelings. It really was poorly written. Like many other memoirs, the story is weighted down by the author trying to account for absolutely everything, as if it were a courtroom testimony rather than a general retelling of the most important events. There were a number of obvious typos and needless repetitions. The book wasn’t terrible; just sloppy and disorganized. I don’t fault Hill. She isn’t a writer by profession, and any problems can be easily blamed on her inadequate Scientology schooling. However, I do fault Lisa Pulitzer (the “with” co-author) and the editing staff at HarperCollins who all should’ve known better. Hill had an important story to tell, but I really wonder if this book will really help her cause.
Review by ozzieslim
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 it. Essentially it is because the heavy handed rules, security measures and 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 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. 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.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.This woman 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 is 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.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.