[Read by Sandy Rustin]
At once captivating and disturbing, Beyond Belief is an eye-opening exploration of the limits of religion and the lengths to which one woman went to break free. - - Jenna Miscavige Hill was raised to obey. As the niece of the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, she grew up at the center of this highly controversial and powerful organization. But at twenty-one, Jenna made a daring break, risking everything she had ever known and loved to leave Scientology once and for all. Now she speaks out about her life, the church, and her dramatic escape, going deep inside a religion that, for decades, has been the subject of fierce debate and speculation worldwide. - - Piercing the veil of secrecy that has long shrouded the world of Scientology, this insider reveals unprecedented firsthand knowledge of the religion, its obscure rituals, and its mysterious leader - David Miscavige. From her prolonged separation from her parents as a small child to being indoctrinated to serve the greater good of the church, from her lack of personal freedoms to the organization's emphasis on celebrity recruitment, Jenna goes behind the scenes of Scientology's oppressive and alienating culture, detailing an environment rooted in control in which the most devoted followers often face the harshest punishments when they fall out of line. Addressing some of the church's most notorious practices in startling detail, she also describes a childhood of isolation and neglect - a childhood that, painful as it was, prepared her for a tough life in the church's most devoted order, the Sea Org. - - Despite this hardship, it is only when her family approaches dissolution and her world begins to unravel that she is finally able to see the patterns of stifling conformity and psychological control that have ruled her life. Faced with a heartbreaking choice, she mounts a courageous escape, but not before being put through the ultimate test of family, faith, and love.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, February 2013: No one would ever accuse Jenna Miscavige Hill of being an "objective reporter" about Scientology, the religion in which she was raised and from which she escaped in 2005. But unlike other books about the controversial sect, this one offers up personal daily details--sometimes maybe a few more than we want to know--about what it was like to be a seven-, eight-, nine-year-old separated from family (even though her uncle, David Miscavige, is the church's leader, and her parents were, for a time, high up in the organization) and forced to spend days scrubbing bathrooms and pondering "misunderstood words." --Sara Nelson