I was going to blather on about food books the rest of this week, but I've changed my mind. As I sit here, we have on the television Leah Remini's A&E series about Scientology and the damage it does to individuals, to families, and to our society. Her bravery has inspired me. In the last year or two, I've read some books about Scientology, and I'm going to spend the rest of the week talking about them. If you have an interest in this topic, watch her series, read, educate yourself on this cult or other cults, and help those you know who might be involved in any kind of oppressive relationship. It happens more than you realize.
First, I'm going to talk about the book I read first, Beyond Belief. This is the story of Jenna Miscavige Hill. Jenna is the niece of the current leader of Scientology, David Miscavige. When she was only two, her parents joined Scientology's Sea Org, the highest order of Scientology, where members have to sign a billion-year contract to join. Sea Org members work long hours, so Jenna hardly got to see her parents through these early years.
At six, she was sent away to school, where she had to do her schoolwork as well as "religious" instruction and manual labor. And that was her life for many years. At eight, she signed her own contract with the Sea Org, and when she was still a young teenager, she began her official Sea Org training, working her own long hours for almost no pay. Eventually her parents decided to leave the Sea Org, and she was forbidden to speak with them anymore. It wasn't until she fell in love and had to fight the church to stay with her husband that she finally made the decision to leave the church. Now, she works with others who have grew up in and have since left Scientology (http://exscientologykids.com/).
These are the facts, just the facts, as they say. Here's the rest: this book is horrific to read. It's beautifully written, but it's filled with so much suffering, so much abuse of power, so much isolation and betrayal and untruth. It is harsh to hear about what Scientology does to adults. It is ten times worse to hear what they did to Jenna and the other children. This story is absolutely heart-breaking. The years she spent isolated from her family, working so hard for what she believed in, only to be so brutally betrayed, to have everything she worked for taken from her, is painful. It is painful, and it is important. If you really want to know what it's like inside of Scientology, this is the book to read. Just know that you will never be the same.