“Beyond Belief – My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape” by Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer

Jenna M Hill is young, born in 1984, but her detailed and highly personal autobiography reads like the work of someone wise, maybe old and wise. 

Scientology claims to be a religion. One way to judge a religion is by how it treats (or mistreats) its children. Adults in the inner circles of Scientology often send their children to boarding schools, because the work they do, involving very long hours, is judged too important to let parenting interfere. Married couples are often separated for the same reason. It is far from being “family friendly”.

Ms Hill provides a child’s eye view of the ranch-like boarding school she attended. To a large extent, the children took care of each other. They did hours of physical labor each day and received an education that emphasized Scientology and slighted standard academic subjects. Time and activities were highly regimented.

Ms Hill was not your “average” child in that setting. Her parents were high ranking Scientologists, which had advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, her parents transgressed and were ejected from the group. Ms Hill’s life became a series of crises, as the church tried to avoid legal issues (Ms Hill was a minor) and bad PR. Ms Hill grew up fast. She fell in love at age 18, married (against the wishes of the church) and left at age 21. She used every weapon she could muster (including the threat of suicide) against the manipulations of the Scientology leadership. I was awestruck by her strength and persistence.

Ms Hill has become a leading spokesperson for disenchanted Scientologists and a public critic of the organization.

Ms Hill’s final analysis is that Scientology is not, as is claims to be, about saving the human race, but rather is about power and control. My thanks go to her for choosing to share her story. She deserves a fulfilling future.

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