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Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape Hardcover – February 5, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,706 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2013: No one would ever accuse Jenna Miscavige Hill of being an "objective reporter" about Scientology, the religion in which she was raised and from which she escaped in 2005. But unlike other books about the controversial sect, this one offers up personal daily details--sometimes maybe a few more than we want to know--about what it was like to be a seven-, eight-, nine-year-old separated from family (even though her uncle, David Miscavige, is the church's leader, and her parents were, for a time, high up in the organization) and forced to spend days scrubbing bathrooms and pondering "misunderstood words." --Sara Nelson

From the Back Cover

Jenna Miscavige Hill was raised to obey. As the niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, she grew up at the center of this highly controversial and powerful organization. But at twenty-one, Jenna made a daring break, risking everything she had ever known and loved to leave Scientology once and for all. Now she speaks out about her life, the Church, and her dramatic escape, going deep inside a religion that, for decades, has been the subject of fierce debate and speculation worldwide.

Piercing the veil of secrecy that has long shrouded the world of Scientology, this insider reveals unprecedented firsthand knowledge of the religion, its obscure rituals, and its mysterious leader—David Miscavige. From her prolonged separation from her parents as a small child to being indoctrinated to serve the greater good of the Church, from her lack of personal freedoms to the organization's emphasis on celebrity recruitment, Jenna goes behind the scenes of Scientology's oppressive and alienating culture, detailing an environment rooted in control in which the most devoted followers often face the harshest punishments when they fall out of line. Addressing some of the Church's most notorious practices in startling detail, she also describes a childhood of isolation and neglect—a childhood that, painful as it was, prepared her for a tough life in the Church's most devoted order, the Sea Org.

Despite this hardship, it is only when her family approaches dissolution and her world begins to unravel that she is finally able to see the patterns of stifling conformity and psychological control that have ruled her life. Faced with a heartbreaking choice, she mounts a courageous escape, but not before being put through the ultimate test of family, faith, and love. At once captivating and disturbing, Beyond Belief is an eye-opening exploration of the limits of religion and the lengths to which one woman went to break free.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (February 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062248472
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062248473
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,706 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,958 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I eagerly awaited the publication of this book, ticking off the days on my calendar until the February 5th release date. Why? Because a story from a niece of the leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, was too good to ignore. While there are numerous books written by high-ranking defectors from the clutches of Scientology, the story of a blood relative of "COB" is unique. And thus, with much expectation, I read this memoir.

Story

Jenna Miscavige Hill, the niece of David Miscavige, was born February 1, 1984, and became a member of the third generation of a family of Scientologists. When she was four her parents gave up their lives as "public Scientologists" and traveled to Los Angeles to join the Sea Org. Since her parents were upper-echelon members of the church, Jenna was raised at the Ranch, a facility where the children of high-ranking Scientologists live. As you can imagine, Jenna did not see her parents often, but as she had no outside experience, this was not odd to her. Nor was signing a Billion-Year Contract to join the Sea Org herself at the young age of 6 viewed as odd. In her own words, she wanted to make her parents proud.

What follows is the story of a woman who saw the inner machinations of the church. Her parents arrived in LA shortly before L. Ron Hubbard died, and while young, she witnessed the rise of her Uncle Dave as the leader of the Church of Scientology. Jenna describes the rigid lifestyle of Sea Org members, detailing the grueling work schedules and harsh punishments for mistakes.

Ultimately Jenna comes to see Scientology as many others do: a cult that has the power to destroy lives.
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I am not now, nor have I ever been, a scientologist. My interest in books such as Jenna’s stems from the fact that I live in Clearwater, FL (Scientology’s Mecca – or whatever the heck they call it). For most of us Clearwater residents, we barely notice the Cult’s presence. If you live outside of Downtown Clearwater, you will rarely if ever see a Cult member. (I’m fairly certain they’re not allowed to go to the beach either – at least not in uniform – I’ve never seen any there in my 20 years of living here. Bummer for them). While most of us accept the fact that our Downtown has been destroyed by the Cult and abandoned by pretty much everyone else, many of us do feel sad that there is absolutely no reason to stop there on the drive between our homes and our beautiful beach. Although they claim to be huge, with millions of members, we on the ground here can tell you that their buildings occupy a few city blocks, and their actual cult members do not appear large in number. The average tourist to our beaches would have no knowledge of their existence, as the drive down 60 from TIA to the beach would not in any way reveal their presence.

That said, their presence here still irritates me, hence my purchasing Jenna’s book (and others like it). Each time I read one of these “escape from the cult” books, I feel ashamed of our local child protective services. I’m saddened that my city’s law enforcement has no balls when it comes to the cult.

Jenna’s experience, like that of most children within the confines of the Cult, is hard for me to fathom. I’ll never understand people like Jenna’s parents, who happily sacrifice their children to a life of labor and servitude, in order to further the Cult’s agenda. An agenda which, is clearly about nothing more than making money.
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If you have any doubt that Scientology is a dangerous cult, this book will dispel that notion.

Brainwashing? Check. In fact, the author, like many others, signed a ONE-BILLION-YEAR contract to serve Scientology's most "elite" division AT THE AGE OF SIX. Near-worship of a charismatic leader (L. R. Hubbard)? Check. Forced isolation from the outside world? Check. False imprisonment and near-slave labor (e.g. $24/week for hard physical labor of 15+ hours a day)? Check. A deliberately cultivated culture of fear and paranoia, including rewarding members for reporting the alleged misdeeds of others? Check.

Separating spouses from each other and parents from children (physically and otherwise)for months or even years at a time? Check. Controlling personal relationships (e.g., who one can or cannot marry and whether one can have children)? Check. Vast differences in the lavish lifestyle of the higher-ups and those lower on the totem pole? Check.

Please note that his book details life of those inside the organization, i.e. those who live and work solely within the world of Scientology, as opposed to "public members," who have outside lives, but must pay to take "courses" that will lead to higher enlightenment. This search for enlightenment can mean an investment of up to $100,000 or more. Still, they are subject to many of the same restrictions. Violation or out-loud questioning of the tenets of Scientology can result in being ostracized as an "SP," Suppressive Person.

Celebrities, however, who are highly prized for their money and ability to recruit more innocent suckers, have a completely different experience - i.e., major ass kissing and no contact with the grunts. No wonder they defend this bogus "religion".

I have never been a Scientologist.
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