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

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  21,448 Ratings  ·  2,485 Reviews
Jenna Miscavige was raised to obey. As niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, she grew up at the center of this controversial organization. At 21, she made a break, risking everything she'd ever known and loved to leave Scientology once and for all. Now she speaks out about her life, the Church, her escape, going deep inside a religion that, for decad ...more
Hardcover, 402 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by William Morrow/HarperCollins (NYC)
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Peter Orvetti "Public Scientologists" -- that is, those who do not work professionally for Scientology -- pay high fees for courses, and are expected to contribute…more"Public Scientologists" -- that is, those who do not work professionally for Scientology -- pay high fees for courses, and are expected to contribute liberally. The higher up the "Bridge" of Scientology study one goes, the more the courses cost. They are also expected to purchase Scientology books and videos.

This is where the money comes from. As you note, Sea Org members and other employees receive low pay.(less)
Renee About a young woman who was raised in Scientology, 3rd generation, and her experiences that lead her to leave. Quite informative.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Karen
I don't normally read memoirs of celebrities or other people who were made known by public media. I feel that a person’s memoir shouldn’t be read as an entertainment, but as something that one could learn a few life lessons from. But, I need to read the newest Scientology Book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief for a group discussion, and figured that this newly published memoir written in a first person account by a previous Scientologist would be a great complement t ...more
Alison
May 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was so boring! I admire the courage this young woman mustered up to not only leave the church, but also to publicly tell her story, considering all the threats and coercion sanctioned by her uncle. And if everything she says is true, she did a wonderful thing by exposing the human rights violations and child abuse hidden within the upper ranks of the church. But the prose style is so flat and straightforward, I don't know how or why I stayed with this book -- I guess I just really, rea ...more
Matt
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mariah
Recommended to Matt by: BAM The Bibliomaniac
Shelves: audiobook
In my time reading biographies (both this current run and in general), I have come across a number of subjects and themes. Many have been political in nature, while others tell of the life and times of a person whose name recognition makes them a household name. It seems my latest topic of interest is the personal struggle, which will surely open up avenues of angst and some painful revelations. This brought me to the piece by Jenna Miscavige Hill, whose entire childhood was shaped by the Church ...more
Pouting Always
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jenna was raised with Scientology and stayed with the church until 2005. The writing was pretty good for a memoir and I really enjoyed reading it. I think a lot of people who didn't like it were people who expected something dramatic, which I guess the title doesn't help, but the whole point was to reveal what it was really like growing up in the church and the way they brain wash people basically into believing all those things. Jenna did a good job of showing her slow but steady disillusionmen ...more
Arah-Lynda
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said, lets-get-real
Jenna was raised to obey.

She is the niece of the leader (David Miscavige) of The Church of Scientology. While still a toddler, Jenna’s parents became members of The Sea Organization, the church’s, elite, inner clergy. Such membership demanded all of their time and attention, leaving Jenna and her brother to be raised by other caretaker members of the Church, until their formal education at “the Ranch” began at the age of seven.

The clocks do not strike thirteen in Jenna’s world and this is not
...more
Mariah
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mariah by: Matt
I chose this book because a friend of mine on Goodreads read it and loved it. Also, I love learning about different religions, especially when people take religion to the extreme. Like in Jenna's situation. She was born into a extreme situation of Scientology.

Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige. This gave her a different perspective and experience growing up then the other scientologist around her. THis helped her in the beginning to get some s
...more
Esil
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I listened to the audio of Beyond Belief. I could have been listening to some kind of scary fiction, but I was hearing the author's story of her life growing up in the church of Scientology. I didn't know much about Scientology before starting other than it seems to attract a bunch of celebrities and it is based on the sci-fi thoughts of L. Ron Hubbard. Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece of the leader who succeeded Hubbard. Her parents moved onto one of the church's bases when she was two years o ...more
Kelli
May 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio
Scientology reminds me of Stalinism. What is described in this book is a terrifying combination of abuse, nonsensical rules, extreme control, brainwashing, punishment, hard labor, and isolation. Jenna deserves 5 million stars for being born into Scientology, raised on a compound surrounded by and submerged in Scientology doctrine, and somehow getting both herself and her husband out, despite being the niece of the pack leader. This is an unbelievable show of bravery, strength, and what else... ...more
Krycek
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auto-bio-memoir
THIS IS THE REVIEW!

I know you're wondering why I'm shouting at you. I thought it'd be a nice way to start the review after reading this:
"Are you hungry?" Diane asked.
"No," I replied.
"Good," Diane said as she marked my answer on her worksheet. "Are you tired?" she asked next.
"No," I replied.
"Good." She marked this on her worksheet as well. These were the questions that started off every auditing session. "Is there any reason not to start this session?" she asked.
"We're doing a session?" I asked,
...more
Rob
Feb 08, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a word, horrifying.

This was a rare nonfiction read for me, brought to my attention as an Amazon.com editor's pick. It pains me to tick the "nonfiction" box on my Goodreads shelf, and so acknowledge that this really happened to someone -- in fact, to a lot of someones. And it continues to happen to more of them, and most of them don't get out.

The basics: This is a memoir by Jenna Miscavige Hill, about her upbringing in the Church of Scientology and her escape from it. You may recognize the nam
...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
In the book 'Beyond Belief' Jenna Miscavage Hill describes in detail how the Scientology Church worked. Her descriptions of the church actually fits every line of the list on how to run a mind-control cult, using the proven indoctrination methods of authoritarian regimes, prisons, religious cults and military units the world over.

She discusses what happened to her in which she was made to accept the teaching of Scientology from early childhood to her adult life. The only thing benign about what
...more
David
Nov 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Battlefield Earth, people who want to give all their money to a cult
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 an ...more
Grglstr
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been interested in the high weirdness behind Scientology since first seeing the Dianetics advertisements in the '80s (Volcanoes! Mountain climbing!) and reading a copy from a yard sale (it reads like the mid-century pop-psych that it is). My curiosity was further piqued when I came across Operation Clambake in the late 90s ( xenu.net) and biographies of L. Ron Hubbard, such as Jon Atack's A Piece of Blue Sky and Russell Miller's Bare-faced Messiah. I became fascinated how Hubbard served the ...more
Mark
Mar 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
This in an depth account of life inside Scientology from one so close to the 'top of the tree'. Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece of David Miscavige, the current leader of the Church (I use the term lightly). Indeed David took over as leader when the founder - L. Ron. Hubbard died, or "dropped his body" as they term it meaning he has outlived its use and will surface one day in another (try not to giggle).

I know "dropping the body" sounds ridiculous but that is the sort of thing dealt with daily
...more
Catherine Howard
Mar 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
(4.5 stars)

Having just finished Lawrence Wright's GOING CLEAR, I found BEYOND BELIEF to be as equally riveting as it was disturbing. The niece of Scientology head honcho (and Tom Cruise BFF) David Miscavige, Jenna Hill grew up in the Church which, as you'll learn in this book, is like a different planet compared to what "public Scientologists" (and celebrities are included in that) experience as The Church of Scientology.

The thing with BEYOND BELIEF is that it's Jenna's own words, own experienc
...more
El
I will say up front that I view Scientology much the same way I view organized religion as a whole, which is offensive to many. That is okay. To each their own.

What makes Scientology so fascinating to me is that so many people are taken in by their beliefs and yet it is so separate from the rest of society. It seems most people are born into it, and indoctrinated from a very young age, so they don't know any better. I guess all religions are that way, really, but Scientology takes their beliefs
...more
Hannah
Oct 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Rating Clarification: 4.5 Stars

Rating not based on the actual writing per se (it is clear from the often times non-focused and badly edited narrative that Jenna Miscavige Hill is not a professional writer), but on her story about growing up in the wacked-out cult religion of Scientology as the niece of current leader Dave Miscavige from age two until she finally escaped left around age 21.

Kudos to her for speaking up and speaking out. I wish her and her family well in her new life among the "Wog
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I still haven't read Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief although I have seen the documentary based on it. Many of the names that come up in this memoir of growing up inside Scientology are the same, because the author is the niece of the current leader of the church. It should be noted that her grandparents, parents, husband, and siblings have all also left the church.

People who grow up in fundamentalist sects or cults are endlessly fascinating to me, perhaps because I
...more
Michelle
Jul 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am a bit ashamed to admit that I read this book, but I wanted to learn more about the insides of scientology and needed a "lighthearted" summer book.
First of all, let me say that I simply could not get past Hill's atrocious writing. Her ideas moved rapidly from one place to another and left me confused. I often had to read passages aloud to my husband because I simply did not understand them or simply could not believe an editor would approve it being published! Towards the end of the book I c
...more
Sandy
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great. Jenna tells her story as only she can. I was angry and in tears for the way these kids were treated. Their childhood was basically taken from them. How can our government not investigate this so called church for neglect and abuse that I'm sure are still going on today.
Louise
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography, cults
This is far from the first, but unfortunately not the last, indictment against the "Church" of Scientology. How can this still be happening? Is there not some fair labor or child labor/abuse statute violated here? How can this be?

This book comes from a very important person and place. This is the niece of David Miscavige who took the reins of Scientology upon the death of its founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The writer, Lisa Pulitzer, has given Jenna a genuine voice. In simple prose you discover Scientolo
...more
Diane Yannick
Feb 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really tough for me to rate this book. Jenna Hill does an amazing job of describing her life as a kid born into the upper echelon of Scientology. I was amazed at some of the crap that occurred in the name of religion. Young children were separated and alienated from their parents. Children from age 5-12 were forced to write down their transgressions so that they could be checked out with an electropsychometer , a machine used to indicate "whether or not a person has been relieved from spiritual ...more
Neja
Dec 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: true-stories
I always saw Scientology as a cult that uses unstable people for manipulation. This book proves it. I believe every word and I can't believe people use other people to brainwash them and I can't believe that people allow that. It's really sad. What a bunch of sickos. Really good book.
Rae
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm at a loss for words as I finish this [definitely] harrowing escape from this heinous cult. I pity anyone who is a prisoner of the Scientology Church.
Marnie
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It really is wild to think how brainwashing happens. And it is so frustrating to watch the product of it. The people who are critical of this book and of Jenna saying things like she could have left far earlier had she wanted to probably don't understand the power of brainwashing. In Jenna's case, it was what she was born into and the only way of life she knew. So while it is easy for us on the outside to look in and be frustrated that she didn't do something sooner, it is also pretty unfair of ...more
Rachel
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Despite some inconsistencies in the editing of this book (a recollection from Jenna's childhood is dated as the spring of 1999, instead of 1989, etc.) I could not put it down. It is completely unsettling to me that Scientology is clearly and undeniably brainwashing people on a regular basis.. I feel so bad for the people who buy in - and that is exactly what they do, BUY in, with either large amounts of money or sweat equity - to these fictional concepts and spend their lives defending it with t ...more
Mara
Dec 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
Pretty boring as it turns out- I'm just so easily duped into thinking that because something's secretive it must also be interesting. Really it's just your typical brainwashing b.s., but between it being free and my being sick in bed, I guess it wasn't a total waste of a few hours.
BAM The Bibliomaniac
I'm not sure how I feel about this memoir. Sometimes the Church of Scientology sounds likes an extremely strict parent; sometimes like Big Brother. Sometimes the author sounds like a petulant child; sometimes a brainwashed automaton. It's obvious life is not copacetic at the flagship going back to the found by the conman, LRH. The author screams loss of human rights. I suppose that's all relative. I've read some extreme cases of abuse and violence perpetrated in the name of a church. She was yel ...more
Den
Jul 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book on the Church of Scientology that I've read this year. Unlike the previous books, Going Clear and Church of Fear, Beyond Belief is an insider's account of life growing up in the church built by L. Ron Hubbard.

Jenna Miscavige Hill is the niece, David Miscavige, the current head of the Church of Scientology. You would think that this would offer her a position of privilege in the organization. Instead, Miscavige-Hill begins her narrative at the point where her parents made t
...more
JoJo
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I really do NOT like Scientology. It's the only religion I hate. It's beliefs are ridiculous for a start, but it is a controlling, brain-washing, blackmailing, money-hungry, slave-driving "religion" who keeps parents away from their children, ridicule, humiliate publicly and blackmail people to get what they want, make people spend millions of dollars they can barely afford for useless courses, the list goes on. Aagh, it makes me angry lol. It was a definite eye-opener.
One weird thing I thought
...more
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Jenna is the niece of David Miscavige, current leader of Scientology. She grew up as a member of the Sea Organization, and was disconnected from her parents at a young age. She left in 2005, and is now happily married, living a fulfilling life outside the church. Jenna has been an active opponent of Scientology abuses, and hopes that her work can help educate others about the dangers of Scientolog ...more
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“Scientology always has been a game of power and control. L. Ron Hubbard was the ultimate con man, and it's hard to figure out how much of Scientology was an experiment in brainwashing and controlling people, and how much of it was truly intended to help people.” 6 likes
“enturbulating” 1 likes
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