Lifestyle

I was 'brainwashed' and a 'robot' of Scientology church

JENNA Miscavige Hill lives a quiet life in San Diego with her husband, Dallas, and their two children, three-year-old Archie and 11-month-old Winnie.

But the beginning of her life was anything but ordinary and only now, having written a book about how she lost her childhood to Scientology, is she coming to terms with growing up in a church filled with child labour, cruel punishments, family separation and bullying.

Her revelations are all the more explosive as she is the niece of the movement's leader, David Miscavige.

Jenna was the third generation of Scientologists in her family and grew up on a compound in California. At the age of seven, she was admitted to the "Sea Organisation" (Sea Org) - the executive branch of Scientology's most dedicated followers.

She was made to sign a billion-year contract that bound her immortal spirit (known as the "Thetan") to lifetime after lifetime of dedication to the organisation.

She was also, as camp medical liaison officer, responsible for the health and well-being of her fellow trainees.

"None of this struck me as odd at the time," she says.

"Looking back I feel completely brainwashed. I didn't even know what I liked or what sort of person I was. I was just a robot of the church."

Jenna says that she was made to incur several hours a day of gruelling labour from the age of six until she was 12.

"We wore uniforms and would be digging trench holes for irrigation and rock hauling. We would be doing 25 hours of heavy-duty labour a week. My hands were always full of blisters."

Any dissent from the group could result in a bucket of ice water thrown over their heads or "pigs berthing" - spending the night on an old mattress in a dilapidated room filled with bats.

Those who resisted authority were declared "suppressives" and cast out.

Jenna became isolated from the outside world. She was taught that non-Scientologists (referred to as Wogs - Well and Orderly Gentleman) were ignorant.

Jenna's testimony paints a picture of mistrust and suspicion sowed among the students by the leaders, urging them to tell on each others' misdemeanours or else be considered an "accessory" and face the same punishments.

Jenna explains that any violation of rules could result in offenders being sent to the Orwellian-sounding Rehabilitation Project Force.

"It was like a reprogramming camp for inmates who strayed in an attempt to bring them back into line. Offenders could be sent to a segregated location in the base for at least two years."

Between the ages of 12 and 18, Jenna saw her mother only twice and father four times.

Jenna's parents left the church when she was 16, though she decided to stay on.

"By that time, I didn't know my parents. I thought that my life and world was always going to be the church. The idea of leaving at that time was just scary to me." Jenna stayed on.

In 2001, Jenna met her husband at the Sea Org and they started dating.

Marriage followed soon after and they were sent on an assignment to Australia where, against church rules, they watched TV and searched the internet.

It was here that she first encountered negative comments about her uncle.

Jenna also struck up a friendship with a pregnant woman, which made her start thinking about her own life.

"Scientology rules stated that Sea Org executives couldn't have children. I felt like I could be really missing out. I slowly became more aware of the outside world and started to see how regular people lived."

In 2005, Jenna made the decision to leave the church.

"I realised it wasn't the place I had always thought it was and I could no longer look away from its abuses."

But her husband suddenly had doubts about leaving; the church was trying to persuade him to stay without her.

"They had pulled Dallas aside and were telling him bad things about me and my family and convincing him to stay. They told him that if he left, he wouldn't be able to speak to his family. It all backfired on them and we got out together."

Jenna calls her uncle "evil" for the forced labour and theft of her childhood.

"It's disgusting that they completely take advantage of innocent and vulnerable children," she says.

She feels he doesn't follow any religious creed, but is motivated by the power and authority.

The church issued a statement, in response to Jenna's book, that it does "not engage in any activities that mistreat, neglect or force children to engage in manual labour.

The church follows all laws with respect to children. Claims to the contrary are false."

It says it always respects family units and that Jenna's recollections are at odds with those of many of her contemporaries who are still in the church. Jenna says they are lying.

What does she think about prominent Scientologist celebrities such as Tom Cruise who are proud and in praise of the church?

"Either he doesn't know what's happening or is wilfully ignorant about it. Those inside who know what goes on have a responsibility to speak out against it."

Since leaving, Jenna has rebuilt her relationship with her parents. Jenna says she wrote the book to bring closure to the past.

"I want to turn this horrible episode into something meaningful and in the process show the dark side of a church that presents itself as benign. I hope it will discourage others from joining and convince those on the inside to see it for what it is and leave."

 

>>More Lifestyle News

 

What is Scientology?

  • The Church of Scientology was founded by L Ron Hubbard in 1954 in Los Angeles.
  • "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health", one of many books written by Hubbard during a prolific writing career, established the groundwork for the new religion. "Dianetics", a word derived from Latin, means the study of knowledge.
  • Scientologists believe in man's immortal soul and the application of scientific method to cure irrational sensations, unwanted thoughts and physical illness.
  • Today, the Church has branches all over the world. 2,418 people declared themselves as Scientologists on the 2011 UK census.
  • The Sea Organisation is the former maritime branch of Scientology, it is now a religious order comprised of the church's most devout followers.
  • Scientology has repeatedly had to stave off claims of illegitimacy, as well as allegations of child labour and unwilling converts. In 2009, the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd it as "a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs".
  • David Miscavige currently heads the Church. According to the Scientology website: "No church executive in history ever received more direct communication from L Ron Hubbard than Mr Miscavige."
  • Celebrities who are associated with Scientology include: Tom Cruise, Jason Lee, John Travolta, Priscilla Presley, Elisabeth Moss, Giovanni Ribisi, Sonny Bono and Chick Corea.

A FURTHER RESPONSE FROM THE CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA

The Church will not discuss private matters involving Ms. Hill or family, nor any of the efforts to exploit Mr. Miscavige's name.

We note that recollections in Ms. Hill's book about her schooling are dramatically at odds with the recollections of 30 of her classmates.

Their personal memories describe the exact same school at the exact same time as an idyllic summer camp and boarding school-like environment with a swimming pool, basketball courts, football fields, horse stables, citrus orchards and organic gardens as well as facilities to study academics and the arts.

These former classmates have gone on to further the Church's social and humanitarian goals, to enjoy successful careers of their own and to start families.

Far from expressing inconveniences, annoyances and bitterness, they describe experiences leading to lifelong friendships while obtaining an educational and spiritual foundation that continues to enrich their lives today.

Because they have been frustrated that Ms. Hill has been making the same complaints for years to the media, they wanted to share their stories at www.castilecanyonschool.org.

The Church has long respected the family unit while accommodating and helping those raising children.

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. Claims to the contrary are false.

It should also be noted that Ms. Hill as an adult voluntarily chose to continue in the Church's religious order.

However, those who successfully devote themselves to any rigorous religious order do so with full commitment, without any sense of entitlement and without any expectation of preferential treatment.

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.

Revisionist histories are typical of apostate behavior and tabloid tales should always be taken with an enormous grain of salt. The real story on the Scientology religion, its beliefs and practices can be found at www.scientology.org.

Topics:  editors picks scientology



How to do Eat Street the right way

EVERYTHING you need to know to get the most out of your Eat Street experience and to avoid a food coma when you’re only one stall deep.

Don’t go chasing waterfalls…find them on these drives!

The Scenic Rim is just one place nearby that you'll love.

BRISBANE isn’t all bright lights and city slickers.

Science Festival seriously awesome

Don't miss the World Science Festival Brisbane!

CALLING everyone who wants to see something totally cool.

Drink where the cool kids do this summer

There are a bunch of new bars open in Brisbane, make sure you're there!

CHECK out these new funky bars.

Discover Brisbane’s laneway gems

Brisbane's laneways will surprise you.

NOT all of Brisbane City is as it seems…

Top five things to experience this summer in Brisbane

Tangalooma is amazing if you're keen for a dive, kayak or swim.

THIS summer get out and explore your capital city.

Your boots are made for walking these tours

Brisbane Greeters tours are a great way to learn the local history of the city.

YOU don’t need a bike or bus for a seriously good tour of Brisbane.

Assault, crash; Gympie emergency services busy 24 hours

A car crash, an assault, and public nuisance were some of the call-outs for Gympie's responders in the past 24 hours.

Emergency responders kept busy by crash, assault in the region.

Record number of enrolments for USC

More than 4800 students have enrolled to start at USC this semester, a record number.

Almost 4800 students will start this semester.

Local Partners

Gympie naturalist club weeds out feral plants

SINCE coming to live at Brooloo Allan and Dianne Pratt have devoted most of their time to removing and getting rid of a huge amount of feral plants.


What's on in Gympie this weekend?

KEEP ROLLING: The long-awaited opening of Gympie's Skatezone is this weekend.

From roller skating to community expos, there's plenty on.

Red Hatters raise a stir in Widgee

News

Widgee community always has plenty happening

REVIEW: Under the Gun doco looks at right to bear arms

ARMED: A still from the 2016 documentary film Under the Gun by Stephanie Soechtig.

An in-depth look into America's gun culture.

Un-American tale makes Lion weakest link in Oscars line-up

PSYCHOLOGY researchers find US films and actors most likely to win accolades at the Oscars.

Can rightful winner Midnight take out golden Gosling in Oscars?

Can Lion pip La La Land at the post in this year's Oscars? Sunny Pawar (pictured) helped bring a powerful film to the big screen.

WILL Aussie film Lion triumph or will popular La La Land prevail?

Living End, Grinspoon stars hit stage for American Idiot

Chris Cheney of The Living End stars in the Australian production of Green Days musical American Idiot at Brisbane's QPAC Theatre.

TAKE a look behind the scenes of Green Day's American Idiot musical

Samuel L Jackson dismisses La La Land ahead of Oscars

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in a scene from the movie La La Land.

Hollywood actor and Oscars voter says Denzel should win top gong

Live performance of Sci-fi classic to open Science Festival

Qld Symphony Orchestra perform live to 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Festival will host A Live Presentation of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Agent: Mary Valley in 'happy place' after Imbil mega auction

Auctioneer Gordon Macdonald (left) with Ron Jeffery front the crowd in preparation to start Ron Jeffery's record largest auction.

Two sold, more in negotiations following Imbil mega auction.

'Why we drove 800km to buy a treehouse with a disco ball'

The new owners have planned a few updates, but will stick with much of the original design.

A couple travelled almost 800km for the home of their dreams.

The trick homeowners are using to buy more properties

Chantelle Subritzky leaves her home each week for Airbnb guests.

Queenslanders are going down this path to help pay their mortgages

Stunning home blends South Pacific beauty with Orient style

Immaculate residence with two outdoor living areas

15 houses for sale in Gympie under $200,000

9 Norman St Gympie: $179,000

First home-buyer or investor? Take a look at these bargains.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!