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

January 7, 2015

Book cover for "Beyond Belief" by Jenna Miscavige Hill.Title: Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape

Author: Jenna Miscavige Hill

Narrator: Sandy Rustin

Publication Year: 2013

Pages: 416 (audio length: 12 hours)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com

From the cover:

Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, was raised as a Scientologist but left the controversial religion in 2005. In Beyond Belief, she shares her true story of life inside the upper ranks of the sect, details her experiences as a member Sea Org — the church’s highest ministry, speaks of her “disconnection” from family outside of the organization, and tells the story of her ultimate escape.

In this tell-all memoir, complete with family photographs from her time in the Church, Jenna Miscavige Hill, a prominent critic of Scientology who now helps others leave the organization, offers an insider’s profile of the beliefs, rituals, and secrets of the religion that has captured the fascination of millions, including some of Hollywood’s brightest stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

If I wasn’t already skeptical about Scientology when I started reading this book, it would have completely won me over.

Beyond Belief is a terrifying story about how an organized religion in modern-day America can get away with all kinds of crazy things. I spent the vast majority of my time listening to this book completely outraged. Unlike in Shattered Dreams, I wasn’t finding myself all that frustrated with the narrator; rather, I was pissed off beyond belief (pun not intended) at the adults in her life. I couldn’t understand at all, in any way, how they could treat her and the other children in the book with such disregard. And I totally, completely couldn’t understand how things like that could happen with impunity in today’s day and age.

I completely sympathized with Hill as she recounted her rebellion against “the Church”, and I kept hoping that something miraculous would happen and her family and the others in the org would realize the harm that they were doing. But, of course, it all kept going on, even as she grew up, and regardless of where in the country she was living. It was horrifying.

By the time I reached the end of Beyond Belief, I had no words for how disgusted I was with the Church of Scientology. I never really understood how anyone could fall for a “religion” created by a science fiction author, and after reading this book, I truly believe that there is something very, very wrong happening in countries that allow this cult to continue to operate. I can’t believe that child neglect/abuse and human rights abuses can be happening to this degree right under the noses of so many people, and yet … they are. I hope that Hill’s story, if nothing else, will open the eyes of many more people to the truth of what is happening.

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