WATCH: Insider's look at Scientology | News
St. Petersburg, Florida-- Behind the bright lights of the big name celebrities, Jenna Miscavige Hill shares what she calls "the dark side of Scientology" saying that "the whole purpose is to raise awareness about what is not some benign religion, but actually a destructive and abusive organization."
She says starting at six-years-old she was forced to do hours of hard labor, memorize ritual chants, and rarely got to see her parents. Jenna and her husband, who also used to be a Scientologist, say they are now experiencing childhood through the eyes of their own children.
Jenna details how she left Scientology after 21 years, in "Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and my Harrowing Escape," and Heather Van Nest had the opportunity to talk to her about the book.
Watch their interview or read the transcript below.
Heather Van Nest: What was the worst thing that happened to you as a Scientologist?
Jenna Miscavige: The worst part, I believe, is the robbing of your education, and taking away your childhood, and taking you away from your parents so you have no one to turn to. You have no one in your corner, and essentially brainwashing you from such an early age.
Heather Van Nest: You talk in your book about your uncle's power over the church and members even fear him. You have even called your uncle 'evil.'Explain why?
Jenna Miscavige: He's the head of this organization- the one responsible for child neglect and abuse, to separating people from their families, to having people work there... 100 hour weeks with little to no time off,and I thought it was about helping people. I thought maybe we have to make some sacrifices in that way, but there are so many things imposed on its members that are pointless. They're not helping anybody. It's just about control and power at this point.
Heather Van Nest: The Church of Scientology says it does not engage in any activities that mistreat, neglect or force children to engage in manual labor. Claims to the contrary are false. What is your reaction to that?
Jenna Miscavige: My reaction is they are lying. There are too many accounts of this for people to actually believe them. How many children at the ranch actually have a high school diploma? They didn't give out diplomas there or issue credits.
Heather Van Nest: Have you reconnected with your parents?
Jenna Miscavige: Yes I have re-connected with my parents and I have had questions. But they are out and my parents helped me get out. Unfortunately, you can't change the past, but they can apologize, and now we are moving on. They are amazing grandparents to my kids so that's all I can hope for.
Here is a portion of the response from the Church of Scientology:
"There is no basis for broadcasting that the leader of the Scientology religion engaged in any alleged neglect or abuse of children-accusations which are commonly understood to be criminal in nature-when the hard evidence clearly shows that no such conduct ever occurred. The school in question, Castile Canyon School, was a religious boarding school for the children of staff members of the Church of Scientology International's religious order, the Sea Organization. It was run by staff of the Church of Scientology International, including Ms. Hill's parents. The school was in an idyllic environment in the foothills of the San Jacinto mountains. Students were taught academic subjects as well as religious instruction in the Scientology faith. Facilities provided for the students included not only classrooms, but recreational facilities including a pool, athletic fields, horse corral, art studio, dance classes. Students also participated in gardening and other chores typical of most children. That these activities rose to the level of "abuse" or "neglect" are absurd."
See full response here: Church of Scientology responds to Hill's book
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