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Former Scientologist tells of arduous ordeal as child in forced-labor camp

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 19th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Author Jenna Miscavige Hill is blasting the religious cult Scientology in her new book, "Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape." Miscavige Hill claims that the cult forces children to do back-breaking labor in forced labor camps.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A former member and outspoken critic of the Church of Scientology, Miscavige Hill reveals heretofore unknown secrets and details of the tough conditions for child members of the religious order. A Scientological spokesperson has since denounced the book, calling the claims false.

The estranged niece of powerful church leader David Miscavige, Miscavige Hill claims the church-run "Ranch" in the desert near San Jacinto, California was little more than a child labor camp with deplorable conditions.

"The conditions we worked under would have been tough for a grown man, and yet any complaints, backflashing (Scientology term for talking back), any kind of questioning was instantly met with disciplinary action," she said.

The 29-year-old Miscavige Hill left the group in 2005 but not before spending six years doing hard labor for the shadowy, secretive religious order. She claims she and other offspring of the elite Sea Org members of the Church were sent to the Ranch and worked in the hot summer sun. The children saw their parents only once a week, if that. Sea Org members were the most dedicated, working 14 hours a day, seven days a week.


The Ranch was "like a military boot camp, with grueling drills, endless musters, exhaustive inspections, and arduous physical labor that no child should have to do," the book says.

Church spokeswoman, Karin Pouw, denied the claims and said, "The Church does not engage in any activities that mistreat, neglect or force children to engage in manual labor."

Hill also writes that the many celebrity members of the Church, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta, were shielded from the inhumane treatment of children. She posted a statement on her Web site last year warning Katie Holmes, Cruise's ex-wife, of her hard time with the Church. Holmes and Cruise have a young daughter, Suri.

"My experience in growing up in Scientology is that it is both mentally and at times physically abusive," Miscavige Hill wrote. "As a mother myself, I offer my support to Katie and wish for her all of the strength she will need to do what is best for her and her daughter."

The statement was posted on the Web site "Ex-Scientology Kids," which has the tagline "I was born. I grew up. I escaped."

Pouw, the Scientology spokeswoman, discredited the outspoken Miscavige Hill in a statement.

"Those who decide a religious order isn't for them are free to move on with their lives, as Ms. Miscavige Hill did," she said. "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."

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