La Repubblica, Italy
Coercion, Blackmail and Violence:
My Life in Scientology
By Angelo Aquaro
Translated By Linda Merlo
7 February, 2013
Edited by Rachel Smith
Italy - La Repubblica - Original Article (Italian)
At seven years old, she was the heir to the throne. She was the rebel at 16. At 24, she was the traitor. And now, the niece of the supreme leader writes, “Scientology is a dangerous organization whose values permit them to commit crimes against humanity. Do you want to know if I'm scared? No, I'm no longer afraid; I no longer belong to them. It's true, they've tried to get us every which way. My husband and I fled together and we were tormented, provoked, chased. But now, what more can they do?”*
Jenna Miscavige Hill tells it all too well: “Forced labor, brainwashing.” More than a confession, this book on Scientology is a bomb that's over 400 pages long. And the niece of David Miscavige, the very powerful successor to L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer and founder of the church, already triggers the bomb with the caption, “I was born there. I grew up. I ran away.”* And it's a bomb that's exploding in the United States, with the rumble of denials, just as the church of Tom Cruise and John Travolta uses the showcase of the Super Bowl, the most widely-viewed television event in the world, with 108 million viewers and $4 million for every 30 seconds of advertising, to launch their latest ad.
It's understandable that Scientology is unfurling its stars. But how do you explain so many celebrities being attracted to Scientology? “Artists live lives of introspection almost by definition. And here comes this religion that promises to develop the mind, enhance your skills. Not to mention all the people who are ready to tell you how good you are.”* She did her rites of purification with Lisa Marie Presley, but no one looked after her, she writes, because they were all surrounding Elvis's daughter. “The Celebrity Center of Scientology there in Los Angeles is its own separate world in an already separate world.”*
Is she saying that the stars don't know what Scientology really is? “No star in there will ever come across a believer in trouble or anyone in detention or forced into special treatment. But it's willful ignorance. By now, there's so much information available out there. And aren't people who publicly devote themselves to an organization obliged to first know the truth?” They say that Katie Holmes told Tom, “Enough!” with Scientology because she didn't want to entrust Suri to the church. “Did I ever cheer her along! Be brave. Get out of there.”*
Did she see herself in that child? Her mother and her father, Ron, David's childless brother, got her to enter Sea Org at the age of seven. Sea Org is the elite group of priests where her parents were already active. She was there until, as a teenager, her eyes were opened thanks to an Italian boy. “I grew up thinking it was normal to live away from your parents. My mother was always on a mission, and my father, too. But Italians are so attached to their family. Martino said, 'I would die here without my mother.'”*
Did she ever see him again? “The last time, I was 16. He's the one who taught me to ask so many questions, then they separated us. I hope he didn't become a robot like all the others.” It was his grandfather, with a strict Catholic education, who brought the family to the theories of L. Ron Hubbard. It was the end of the '50s. “It must've been a liberating idea: a religion without God. In Scientology, in practice, each person is god of himself. For his grandfather, at the beginning, it was a method of self-help: self-improvement. Indeed. They say they teach you to take control of your life, but in the end they're the ones who take control of you.”*
Paul Thomas Anderson's film, inspired by L. Ron Hubbard, is even called The Master. “And I even liked it. It depicts the reality of the early years well. Of course a lot's changed, the organization has become more complicated.”*
There are those who believe that her uncle, David Miscavige, betrayed Hubbard's legacy. “No, he didn't do that. It was all there already: the method, the treatment, the punishments. Scientology itself is not working.”* But she wrote that Miscavige came to power and preserved his power by methods that were, shall we say, unorthodox.
Will Scientology survive without his iron fist? “People are starting to argue, they're throwing out the truth. However, it can't remain such a powerful organization.” It took her five years after her escape to write this book. Now what? “I look at my son Archie, who turns four on Saturday, and Winnie, who's just 11 months old. I was seven years old when it all started; Scientology has taken my life. Enough. Now I want to look forward.”*
And what does she believe in now, the former girl who dreamed of the throne? “Only what my eyes can see.”*
*Editor’s Note: These quotations, while accurately translated, could not be verified.
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