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Jenna Miscavige Hill Talks to Us As Her Book Comes Out in Paperback

When Jenna and Dallas were in New York in February, we got to see the whole family

When Jenna and Dallas were in New York in February, we got to see the whole family

The paperback version of Jenna Miscavige Hill’s memoir comes out today, so we thought we’d give her a call to talk about several different things.

Back in February, when her book, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape, first came out, we called it “one of the most complete and compelling narratives of how someone grows up in, and falls under the spell of, this organization which wields so much power over its members through interrogation, intimidation, and control.”

At the time, Jenna was just beginning an extensive publicity campaign that has hardly let up in the seven months since. We asked her about that, and about some recent news stories that she says were exaggerations of what she told reporters.

THE BUNKER: Jenna, your book came out about the same time that Lawrence Wright’s excellent history, Going Clear, did, but it seemed like his publicity caravan didn’t last nearly as long as yours. You’ve been going pretty much nonstop since your book came out on February 5.

JENNA: I think in part that’s because of all the foreign editions that have been coming out. Right after the English edition, then the Italian one came out. Then French, Dutch, German, Swedish, and now, Polish.

THE BUNKER: Wow! We had no idea.


JENNA: That’s why I kept doing the interviews. I wanted to do right by those publishers that are putting the effort to come out with those editions. We’re going to Poland the first week of October for that edition. The whole family is going.

THE BUNKER: That’s amazing. A lot has happened this year since your book came out. For you, what’s changed in the world of Scientology?

JENNA: It’s so much different. Since the book came out, and Lawrence Wright’s book, there was Leah Remini leaving, and then all the Shelly Miscavige stuff came up. It seems completely different than it was a few years ago when we left. People are talking about Scientology openly, and there’s truth out there now. It’s pretty cool.

THE BUNKER: And even more change is on the way. What do you think about your uncle finally opening the Super Power Building on October 6?

JENNA: It will be interesting. I wonder, you know, they can only keep up with so many claims that they’re making for Super Power. It will be interesting to see what comes with it. How many people will be turned off to it.

THE BUNKER: Here in the Underground Bunker we got wind that you weren’t really very happy with some recent news coverage that was attributed to you.

JENNA: How did you hear about that?

THE BUNKER: One of the cats, working the deep underchannel circuits. Nothing escapes them.

JENNA: Well, I was just really surprised when I saw those articles. I thought it made me look trashy, and that I would say anything to get news coverage. The truth is, on Fridays, I ask my mother-in-law to look after the kids so I can sell the book. And I talked to a reporter for several hours about the book.

THE BUNKER: And you were surprised how things came out after that interview?

JENNA: Yeah. I shared with him some things I’d been told, you know, like second or third hand, stuff I wouldn’t put in the book because I didn’t have confirmation of them. But that was suddenly on the Internet like the next day.

THE BUNKER: For example?

JENNA: For example, my mom once told me she saw Brad Pitt at the Celebrity Centre, and that she’d seen him in the Purification Rundown area. But I didn’t say he was there to detox from drugs. I had no way of knowing that. But that’s how it was reported — that I was saying Brad Pitt went to the Celebrity Centre to get clean from drugs. I would never say that. I don’t have that information.


JENNA: I said that I’d heard that Bono had been audited, but I didn’t have any direct information about it. But then it was written with me saying Bono was “heavily audited under the direction of my uncle.” The problem, Tony, is that they never put in the questions they ask in there. They just act like you’re volunteering things.

THE BUNKER: So it’s made to look like you had personal information about these things, when you had only been told things you never confirmed. We can see how frustrating that would be.

JENNA: I never had an important job in Scientology. I didn’t have access to that kind of information. My story is more about how children were treated. In fact, the whole reason I wrote the book was that when I first started talking publicly, what happened to me would be reported, but it would always be said in relation to “Tom Cruise this and Tom Cruise that.” That was the point of writing the book. The Scientology story is not all about Tom Cruise. That’s what I was trying to show. And so it’s very frustrating for these stories to come out now that use me to make it all about the celebrities again.

THE BUNKER: You certainly did put the focus on kids in Scientology, not only with your Nightline appearance in 2008, but with your website Ex-Scientology Kids, and now your book. Is there anything else you wanted to add?

JENNA: I think if I had anything else to say it would just be to thank everyone who read my book or who has spread the word about it and supported me and been an ally and a friend in speaking out about the abuses of Scientology. Also to thank everyone who is speaking out, sharing their own stories, raising awareness, and making Scientology answer for its crimes by making it more and more difficult for them to get away with evil and abuse. You are all heroes.


Scientology’s Toxic Policy of “Disconnection” and Mike Rinder

Yesterday, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder posted a moving tribute to his mother, whose death was revealed to him earlier in the day by a former Scientologist in Australia. Rinder explained that his mother in 2009 had been forced to make a choice by the church because Rinder had defected: either continue to stay in communication with Mike’s brother, who lived near her in Melbourne, or she would have to go to the U.S. and live with Mike, who had left the church. She was too frail to travel, so she was forced to “disconnect” from Rinder. He never spoke to her again.

We knew that Mike had lost connection to his two children when he left the church, but we didn’t know about his mother. In fact, he explained that he was originally reluctant to take part in the 2009 St. Petersburg Times investigation, “The Truth Rundown,” because he thought his involvement might affect her health.

If you read Rinder’s blog, you know that nothing raises his ire more than Scientology’s efforts to split up families. Like so many others, he knows about disconnection’s toxicity through his own experience.


Tampa Bay Times Trying to Hold Clearwater’s Feet to Fire About Scientology Permitting

We have to hand it to Tampa Bay Times reporter Charlie Frago, who keeps nagging Clearwater, Florida officials about Scientology’s lack of information about its rapidly approaching big events on October 6 and November 8-9.

In Frago’s latest story, he points out that Scientology has so far ignored the city’s request for more information about the October 6 event before granting it permits to close down streets and sidewalks. On that date, Scientology says it’s bringing in 10,000 people for the long-awaited opening of its “Flag Building,” more informally known as the Super Power Building, which has been under construction for 15 years. (If the recent event in Portland is a guide, that figure of 10,000 will probably be closer to 2,000.)

Frago got a city official to admit that even if Scientology blows another deadline to turn over information about the event, the city might not really do a whole lot. But then, nearly 40 years after L. Ron Hubbard’s organization invaded the town, it may be a little late to expect Clearwater to grow a backbone.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 17, 2013 at 07:00

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