Tuesday, December 29, 2015
Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape
Rating: 5 Stars
I don't even know where to begin. At 7% in I was thinking how batshit insane this all was, how this amounted to nothing more than straight up child abuse. This is not religion, this is not faith, this a money-making scheme built on the backs of children - from those who were unfortunate enough to be born to Sea Org members (the most highly committed Scientology members) and separated from their families for months or years at a time, to others who did forced manual labor to build The Ranch, all while receiving no actual education in anything but the doctrine of LRH (L. Ron Hubbard). There is no way on earth that I could ever be separated from Eleanor in that way for so long. No job or commitment is worth that. Ever. Nothing. Yet without batting an eye Jenna's parents relocated away from Justin (her brother) and Jenna WITHOUT TELLING THEM. The siblings found out from the family living with them what was happening, and by then their parents were already gone. I can't even.
It absolutely breaks my heart to even look at this cover and see this sweet face, and to know that her childhood was completely destroyed by these monsters - her own family being among the perpetrators. Worse still, to know that there are so many who went through and continue to go through the exact same thing she did - the psychological torture, the emotional abuse, even physical abuse. Heartbreaking is the only way to describe it.
Prior to reading this book I had very little knowledge of Scientology. I know it is a super expensive, super secret
cult 'religion' that does not believe in pain medication or psychiatry. And it makes Tom Cruise jump around on couches acting like a damn fool. I mean really, would he have done that BEFORE becoming more involved with the cult 'Church'? No. Before that, when he was still married to Nicole, he was normal. There are still many, many things I do not understand (like why are adults called Mr. regardless of gender?) and so I am no expert, but I know what the experience was like for THIS child. I also do not understand why, at the age of seven, Jenna's job at The Ranch was to be the health monitor, keep track of all the illnesses the other children had, and to administer vitamins and help those who were injured. I also do not understand why when books like this come out, these abuses and allegations are not looked into by the authorities. Jenna, however, made a good point after her parents had left the cult 'Church' and didn't talk bad to Jenna about it at all, who was still very much involved. She made the statement that you can't tell a brainwashed person that they are brainwashed, they won't believe it. Perhaps this is why even if any authorities were to look into the allegations, they would come up with nothing, or very uncooperative people who do not see anything wrong with the way they and those around them are treated.
This was a very engaging, horribly heartbreaking story. Ultimately though, Jenna escapes (as the subtitle states, so no spoilers here) and has gone on to speak out against the
cult 'Church'. I hope that now that she is free, raising a family of her own, that she can really put her life back together and find peace and happiness that she certainly never would have had if she had remained. Highly recommended.