Scientology leader’s niece reveals Church secrets


LOS ANGELES – The Church of Scientology has lashed out at a new book by its leader’s niece, which recounts a stolen childhood and how she was brainwashed and cut off from her family before eventually escaping.

In “Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape,” Jenna Miscavige-Hill — whose uncle David Miscavige runs the secretive group — also claims she was forced to work as a child.

But a spokesman for the Church said her claims were “false” and denounced “efforts to exploit Mr Miscavige’s name.”

“The Church has long respected the family unit while accommodating and helping those raising children,” Karin Pouw, spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology International, told Agence France-Presse.

“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,” she said, accusing Miscavige-Hill of “apostate behavior.”

In the book, published in February, the 29-year-old tells of hard labour she and other children were forced to do in the 1990s in the Ranch, in a remote part of the California desert.

The Ranch, near San Jacinto, 90 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles, was “like a military boot camp, with grueling drills, endless musters, exhaustive inspections, and arduous physical labor that no child should have to do.”

The children saw their parents for only a few hours per week. They did not receive any education in the traditional sense, said Miscavige-Hill, who lived there for six years, until she was 12 years old.

Those interned there until 2000 were the children of the Sea Org, the elite of the Church founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. They worked 14 hours a day, seven days a week for a weekly wage of $45.

The details fit in with another book which came out in January in the United States, “Going Clear” by journalist Lawrence Wright, which the Church described as “so ludicrous it belongs in a supermarket tabloid.”

Among other back-breaking tasks the Scientologist children had to drag enormous rocks to build a wall, or dig irrigation channels under the blazing desert sun, said Miscavige-Hill.

“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 said.

The Church of Scientology’s celebrity members include Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis and the singer Beck.

But the stars were shielded from the dark side of the shadowy organization. “There was never a risk that they would get exposed to child labor or something similar that the Church didn’t want them to see,” said Miscavige-Hill.

“Celebrities wouldn’t know from talking to them (to Sea Org members) or watching them whether they’d been paid their forty-five dollars that week, or if they missed their families.”

The ex-Scientologist, who like Wright and other ex-Church members including Canadian director and screenwriter Paul Haggis — who published an open letter when he left — also criticizes its reported “disconnection” policy.
The rule, which the Church denies having, allegedly bans all Scientologists from any contact with ex-members who criticize the organization.

Its spokeswoman cast doubt on the claims made in Miscavige-Hill’s book.

“Those who decide a religious order isn’t for them are free to move on with their lives, as Ms. Hill did. Every religion has its detractors; there is no faith that can satisfy everyone’s spiritual needs,” she said.

“Revisionist histories are typical of apostate behavior and tabloid tales should always be taken with an enormous grain of salt.”

Protected in the United States by the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion, the Church of Scientology is considered a sect in other countries.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Cardinal Sin

    The Catholic Church is the worst. Their priests molest and sodomize or rape children. They brainwash people everyday.

  • Noel

    It’s not only Scientology but other religious groups like Jehova’s Witnesses as well. In Phl, INC is almost similar to Scientology by treating an immediate family member who’s not a member of INC as outcast if he refuses to be converted.

    • GKLer

      It’s “Jehovah” – which is God’s name (aka. YHWH, Yehowah, Yahweh, יהוה).

  • siegfeil

    In U.S. or even in the Philippines, religion is business….

  • MNLFoodcritic

    Do you really need to have religion in your life? Think for yourself. Do not let anyone tell you what is right or wrong, you should know what is right or wrong but most important do what is right. Keep your beliefs to yourself, share but do not force upon others. Be kind to others. Help those who need help. Share what you have. Pray in private. Think good thoughts and do good deeds. Do all these and there is no need for religion.

    • GKLer

      2 Timothy 3
      3 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

    • Tyril

      True. We need a good Philosophy and Faith in life, not religion. Believing in God is not equivalent to religion, and religion is not equivalent to believing in God. And we should uphold the moral good of mankind, despite what we believe in.

      We will forever argue about religious doctrine and scripture, but arguing about these are useless/pointless because people will always disagree. Scripture is more powerful in action, rather than in saying.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos