Audie Award Finalist, Non-Fiction, 2014
Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org - the church's highest ministry - speaks of her "disconnection" from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.
In this tell-all memoir, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider's profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood's brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
©2013 Jenna Miscavige Hill (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers
Very good book. Well written but horrific life of a Scientology member. I have rethought my admiration of some actors/actresses of Hollywood.
riveting and eerie view of life inside scientology. couldn't stop listening! now I want to read everyone's accounts of this cult! great narration
Yes. It is a good book, but I don't think they would read it.
Jenna. She showed a lot of guts, but not until the end.
Didn't have a favorite.
Was going to stop reading and send it back, but got through it till the end. Seems she was happy where she was. To tell the truth she kept saying how shy she was about the interview and protesting after leaving, but if she did what she said to the auditors by smashing the cans and yelling at them doesn't seem shy to me. Glad she knows she is out.
This was a truly great Audible read. It was well-narrated, and the story is one that will stay with me for a long time. I simply couldn't turn it off. For anyone like me, left with a lingering curiosity about the Scientology cult after reading Leah Remini's book, this is the book for you. Jenna walks us through her life in the cult from a young age until she leaves, and her words will make you laugh, cry and cheer, all the way.
I knew Scientology wasn't good, but I had no idea how bad it could be!!!
Wow, thinking of parents abandoning their children at such a young age just twists my heart into knots!!! Finding out that Scientology views children as small adults lends credence to my view you have to be somewhat damaged to buy into all their doctrine.
And imprisoning adults for not obeying the group rules? Yikes! Wouldn't us regular folks call that kidnapping?
This is an important listen. This girl is telling us her experiences and they are horrendous.
We need to look at the folks who have contributed millions of dollars to this cult as damaged goods. And I'm including all those famous folks like TC and GVS. Do you really want to continue to support this cult by supporting them in their careers? I don't.
Not sure since the author did not read it. I thought maybe the narrators voice was a bit too childlike for authors words and views.
Father, Mother, God - a memoir about Scientology from an outsider. Authors parents were Scientologists but she was not. The authors Mother died from cancer while being taken care of drug-free in a Scientology "home".
Interesting, factual based but influenced by the authors emotions. You wonder why it keeps going on and on, I asked myself why she did not leave sooner when her parents did. It makes Scientology seem like a lot of high school drama.
In the U.S., religion and the freedom to practice it is a kind of shibboleth — because we have enshrined the First Amendment, we are very reluctant to impose any sort of restrictions on religious practice, and even most people who don't care for a religion will be loathe to categorically state any particular religion is wrong, bad, or evil. The exceptions are generally either bigots or folks whose own religious beliefs are so exclusionary that by necessity they must regard all other faiths as antagonistic.
L. Ron Hubbard and his church have taken great advantage of this fact, running what can only be called a pyramid scheme organized like a police state but wearing the trappings of religion. Any objective study of Scientology, its history, and its methods will not allow a reasonable person to come away in doubt as to its nature. And yet we have to put up with Scientologists donning the First Amendment to shield themselves from criticism while engaging in the most despicable dirty tricks against their enemies (who are legion, especially in LRH's paranoid cosmology).
When I read another book about Scientology, "Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion," by Janet Reitman, one of the things I wondered was how do they actually get people to believe this nonsense? And what makes people stay in such an abusive, irrational cult when they could walk away at any time?
That book gave two answers: first, the Internet has not been good for Scientology, which is why their members are generally forbidden to access it. Second: the remaining hardcore "faithful" are basically the children and grandchildren of Scientologists who grew up in the "church" and have never known anything else.
That is the perspective of Jenna Miscavige Hill, who is the niece of the David Miscavige, current leader of Scientology and heir to L. Ron Hubbard's Empire. She was born and raised into Scientology, and even as the surrounding world seeped into her awareness, she was essentially kept in a Scientology bubble until her late teens. Given this, it becomes a little surprising that she rebelled as much as she did.
For anyone who's read other books about Scientology, there won't be much new information here, but Jenna Miscavige Hill gives an unrelentingly grim picture of the "church," without even meaning to, because while in her conclusions, following her escape, she makes it clear that she considers the church and its leaders to be abusive, lying, and unethical, everything she experienced along the way was "normal" for her, so perhaps the full horror of growing up in what amounted to a system of work camps supervised by snitches and political officers ready to take away even the smallest privileges and shut you in a room to be yelled at for hours at the slightest breach of rules, never completely registered with her. She learns, only after leaving the church, how "weird" other people find her upbringing.
For all that she had such an exceptional and scarring upbringing, Hill is personable and clearly a person of integrity (it was her unwillingness to throw friends and family under the bus on demand, which the Church of Scientology demands frequently, that consistently got her into trouble). The church very carefully tiptoes around the law, so most of their practices aren't quite illegal as long as their members voluntarily submit to it - which they do, because the deeper you become immersed in the church, the more it makes up your entire world, and support system, and life, and to be cast out and declared a "Suppressive Person" can leave many of the faithful with literally nowhere else to turn.
Against the background of Scientology, Hill's day to day life is actually pretty mundane, and many of her tribulations are just the normal ones of a slightly mouthy teenager feeling her oats. Even Scientology can't keep kids from being kids, nor can they keep star-crossed lovers apart. Well, actually they can, and do, but not always. They separated Hill from her first love, and almost turned her husband against her while they were still in the church and on the cusp of leaving, but eventually they did leave, still negotiating the church's insane and cumbersome rules so as not to be excluded from ever talking to their families again.
Scientology is strange, perverse, and frankly evil in its execution, an engine for extracting money from its followers and suppressing every independent thought. Like most religions, it comes with doctrines and an origin story and fine-sounding gospel about how to make the world a better place.
Needless to say, Hill and her husband find the discovery of Operation Clambake and the infamous South Park episode on Scientology to be eye-opening.
Hill is a bit too credulous in places, particularly when she praises anonymous for their act of hacking Scientology websites and taking them briefly offline. To her, this was a worldwide movement of activists standing up for her and other victims of the church, when of course anyone familiar with anonymous knows that while they might sometimes seize on a good cause for their shenanigans, they do everything for the lols. She's also frequently (in her retelling of her behavior) whiny and annoying, though given how young she was and what she was being put through, this is understandable.
Jenna Miscavige Hill is really a fairly unexceptional person who grew up in what to most of us is an extreme environment, and came out of it as normal as can be expected. Her memoir will fill you in on the details of Scientology's operations and what it's like to be a Scientologist, and should scare off anyone even remotely considering treating this cult as a legitimate religion or a place to find answers.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.