NZ Woman's Weekly

Book Review: Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

Book review Beyond belief, scientologyScientology: it’s a religion shrouded in secrets and made more captivating because of the number of A-list celebrities linked to it – John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Tom Cruise, Lisa Marie Presley,to name but a few.

Jenna Miscavige Hill’s book will answer every question about Scientology, and then some. From the first scene where, at the age of seven, she signs a contract linking her “to the Sea Org for the next billion years”, she gives a bizarre account of a life that is stranger than fiction.

Jenna is the niece of the present leader of the Scientology church, David Miscavige, who was an assistant to the faith’s founder, L Ron Hubbard, and her parents were high-ranking members – she grew up in the heart of Scientology.

While in her preschool years, she was allowed to see her parents for an hour a day. Her family moved to California and then to “The Ranch”, a series of dilapidated buildings owned by Scientology, rumoured to have once been a convent.

Conditions were harsh, with the children spending large portions of their days labouring and being yelled at by the few adults who looked after them – all called “Mr”, regardless of their gender.

The Ranch became like a military boot camp, where the children were subjected to hard labour, “white gloving” (having their rooms inspected with a white glove), receiving “chits” (a written demerit) and shouted commands.

From this start in life, Jenna goes into great detail about the Scientology courses she takes and its belief systems.

It is a compelling insight about people being trained to follow instructions, while learning how to make other people follow theirs.

This is a gripping memoir that will shock, horrify and fascinate – an absolute must-read.

Have you read ‘Beyond Belief’?  Add your views below!

About Marilynn McLachlan

Online editor for the New Zealand Woman's Weekly

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