Scientology is a religious construct that is mired in controversy, skepticism and mystery. That said, some of the church's alleged secrets are being revealed in a new book that was written by a relative of its leader -- a literary work that likely has Scientology officials on-edge.
Published by Jenna Miscavige-Hill, "Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape," makes some shocking claims about the church's conduct. Miscavige-Hill is the niece of Scientology leader David Miscavige (his official title: Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center).
A description published on Amazon credits the book, which was released last month, with offering an intense look into Miscavige-Hill's personal experience. The author details her exit from the 2005 faith and the experiences she had as a member of the Sea Org, the group's most prominent ministry.
The AFP adds additional details about the book, including claims that Miscavige-Hill, 29, was disconnected from outside family during her time in Scientology and that she was brainwashed. Additionally, the text alleges that she was pushed into forced labor as a child.
The church is calling these claims false.
"The Church has long respected the family unit while accommodating and helping those raising children," spokeswoman Karin Pouw told AFP. "The Church does not engage in any activities that mistreat, neglect or force children to engage in manual labor. The Church follows all laws with respect to children."
1) But the book paints a very different story. Miscavige-Hill recalls hours of hard work in the California desert, as she and other children were implored to toil on the "Ranch" a place she described, as per AFP and her book, as being "like a military boot camp, with grueling drills, endless musters, exhaustive inspections, and arduous physical labor that no child should have to do."
"The conditions we worked under would have been tough for a grown man, and yet any complaints, backflashing (Scientology term for talking back), any kind of questioning was instantly met with disciplinary action," she explained.
2) She also claims that she barely was able to spend time with her parents. In fact, their work hours as members of the Sea Org were so intense that she purportedly interacted with them a couple of hours on the brief occasions she was allowed to see them.
Last month, The Daily Beastoutlined some of the book's most shocking claims, further explaining this scenario:
At a young age, Miscavige Hill found Sea Org all-consuming. Her parents became members, and she would only see them at bedtime. Typical Sea Org members were required to work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, she says, starting at 9 a.m. and ending at 11 p.m., with an hour off each night for “family time.” Miscavige Hill would sleep at the Scientology nursery until her parents were off and could pick her up.
3) In addition to intense work and rarely seeing her parents, Miscavige-Hill claims that she signed a billion-year contract with the Sea Org when she was only seven years old. Considering she left the faith at age 21, it's looking as though she cut that agreement pretty short.
For anyone wondering how a billion-year contract is possible, consider her explanation. At the time, the then-young girl was told, according to the Daily Beast and the text of her book, that she would come back after she died over and over again to fulfill her contract.
Photo Credit: Jenna Miscavige-Hill
4) At age 13, Miscavige-Hill claims she was forced to fill out a very-detailed form about her sexual history. Beyond any sexual encounters that might have happened, she also had to give the church her Social Security number, IDs, credit card information and more, Daily Beast reports.
"I knew I had to do it, but it was hard to understand why the church needed this information," she wrote in the book. "Even though I had nothing to hide, I felt like the church was asking me for information just for the sake of having it, almost asking for material they might blackmail me with that served no Scientologic purpose."
5) While she lived on the Ranch, Miscavige Hill said that she and the other kids were told not to trust people who lived outside of Scientology's realm. Anyone who doesn't embrace the faith, as the Daily Beast notes, was referred to as "Well and Orderly Gentlemen" (Wogs). Because these individuals were considered "unenlightened," members were told to avoid them, as they simply wouldn't understand the religious system.
Want to know more about Miscavige-Hill's life, her marriage and eventual escape? Be sure to read the Daily Beast article, which has five additional informative tidbits about the woman's fascinating life and upbringing.
(H/T: AFP and The Daily Beast)
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