Ever since the death of L. Ron Hubbard in 1986, the Church of Scientology has been led by David Miscavige, one of Hubbard’s former messengers.
Miscavige’s reign atop Scientology has been turbulent. The church successfully gained tax-exempt status in the US when the IRS accepted it was a religion — saving it millions of dollars. And Miscavige brought Tom Cruise, the world’s most famous actor, into his fold.
But Scientology has also been beset by scandal: Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, disappeared from public view in 2006 and has not been seen in public since. Some of Scientology’s most famous adherents, like actress Leah Rimini, and writer/director Paul Haggis, have publicly split with the church. Dozens of former Scientologists have fled the church’s vast “Gold Base” HQ in Gilman Hot Springs, California, claiming they were coerced and abused for years inside its fences. And a book and an HBO documentary, both titled “Going Clear,” painted a brutal picture of intimidation, beatings, imprisonment, and exploitation of Scientology workers. (The church regards these stories as false claims made by disgruntled former members who have personal axes to grind, or unaddressed mental issues.)
Now Miscavige’s father, Ron, has written a book about his life inside the church, titled “Ruthless.” Ron describes David as a dictator, the leader of a “cult” who suppresses any dissent, keeps his flock in poverty, and suggests that he may be a sociopath.
In 2012, Ron and his wife secretly loaded up their car, dodged Scientology’s security guards, and fled Gold Base, never to return. He has not seen his son — or any of the other members of his family still inside the church — since. In 2013, Ron discovered he had been followed for over a year by two heavily armed private investigators. They told police they were paid by Scientology to keep tabs on Ron. The church denies their claims.
Ron Miscavige spoke to Business Insider recently about what it’s like to be the exiled father of the world leader of Scientology, what life is like inside the church, and where he thinks Shelly Miscavige is now. He also gave us a selection of old family photos: They show David as a normal American kid growing up in New Jersey, years before he became the unquestioned dictator of a religion based on the belief that we are all Thetans, brought to the planet Teegeeack by the galactic dictator Xenu, before our home was renamed “Earth.”
At a very early point in David Miscavige's career in the church, he was hospitalised during an asthma attack. During his stay in hospital David had a personal revelation that informed the rest of his life, his father writes: That he should assert control of Scientology, not wait for it to be handed to him.
BI: One of the most interesting parts of your book is where you learn that David, as a young man, has had an asthma attack and goes to the hospital. And then while he's on a hospital bed, he says 'Power is not granted, it is assumed'! Can you tell me more about that incident?
RM: Yeah I'll tell you. The person who took him to the hospital was a guy by the name of Paul Grady, who I know personally and he's a friend of mine. And he had a severe asthmatic attack where they just couldn't handle it with the inhaler you use if you're getting attacked like that. And he was taken to the emergency room. They handle it because they have very much up-to-date medical processes and machines, you know they can handle that type of stuff. But when Paul came to pick him up, he said to Paul: 'I had a cognition.' Now a cognition, just for your readers, would be a new awareness of life that held a lot of truth for you. It would be like Aha! And he said to Paul: 'I just realised power is assumed, it is not granted.'
BI: Why is he having this 'cognition' in the middle of an asthma attack, though?
RM: Well I have no idea, but I guess that was it. They had given him things to quiet him down. They opened up the airways in his lungs to get him breathing and he was just laying there I guess in the state of mind that he began to ponder about life and come up with that cognition, what he said.
BI: Now where were you at the time?
RM: I was back in the Philadelphia area. I hadn't as of yet arrived in the Sea Organisation.
BI: How old was David at this time?
RM: He must have been in his early 20s
BI: What year was that, do you remember, roughly?
RM: Maybe it was '82/'83. It was around that area, but I'll tell you how I know this for an absolute fact. We went on a cruise this prior January in the Caribbean, one of these lines where you go on a cruise for five days, and Paul Grady was there and we were talking about this exact thing and he reminded me, 'I was the one that took him to the hospital' and he said 'yeah I do remember that. That was when David had his new awareness that power is assumed, it is not granted.' He just told me this in January again to corroborate what I had heard earlier in the year from other people.
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard lived in constant fear of the FBI and the IRS, and he hid aboard a small fleet of ships that roamed the Mediterranean, out of reach of national authorities that had banned the church as a cult. The Commodore's Messenger Organisation was a group of teenagers selected by Hubbard to ferry messages to the rest of the church. Its members later became powerful figures in Scientology after Hubbard's death in 1986.
BI: What was a David's rank or position in the church at that point?
RM: He was in the Commodore's Messengers Org, and he had a direct communication line with L. Ron Hubbard. You know L. Ron Hubbard was in hiding then? I guess he was hiding away from the legal guys. We thought otherwise and we were told otherwise and you believe those things when you're rooted in the church, but any communication that would go to L. Ron Hubbard would go through David, so he had a hold of that communication line which in itself is a point of power. I mean that would be like being assistant to the president of the United States. That person has more use than just saying 'oh well he's an assistant.' No, that person has power, OK! When David joined the Sea Org (the group of elite Scientologists formed by Hubbard aboard his fleet of ships), he was 16 years old. He joined because he was dissatisfied with going to high school. He said: 'Listen all the kids around here are taking drugs. I don't want any part of this. I don't want to do this anymore. I want to go help L. Ron.' And I thought 'well what the hell if you want to do that.' I was only 17 when I decided I wanted to join the United States Marines and that turned out good for me and I thought well, do you really want to do this? And get away from drugs and help with what I thought was the greatest movement of all time. I said 'Young man I'll help you in anyway I can.' And I did. I got him his some clothes, gave him some money, got him a plane ticket for him to go to the Flag Main Base in Clearwater, Florida. Within seven months he was working with L. Ron Hubbard. He was the cameraman. They were shooting videos for movies of the various technical aspects of Scientology, and he actually operated his camera. So he worked right with L. Ron Hubbard then.
BI: I get the impression that even though you're father and son, for long periods of time you're not really in contact.
RM: Well yes, but even while he was in the Sea Org he wrote to me regularly. We were back and forth and occasionally I'd have a phone call with him. I'll tell you something, our relationship was actually excellent at that time. Even as a little kid, I thought he was a bright kid, he was affectionate, we got along great. He was like a little firecracker. He played little league or peewee league American football, and in order for him to make the minimum weight, I had to put a 2.5 pound weight in each of the pockets of his shorts, so he'd weigh at least a minimum amount and he was giving away up to 20 pounds with other kids and he could tackle anybody any size. He was like a little fire cracker, he'd go on with jokes and stuff. I mean he changed. He went from Doctor Jekyll into Mr Hyde. I hate to say that but that's -- I'm telling the truth.
BI: In the book, you hint that David may be a sociopath, but it sounds like you did not think that when he was a kid?
RM: I absolutely did not think that at all because he was bright, he had a great sense of humour. He, when he got into Scientology, trained up to be an auditor. And just for your readers, an auditor is a person who, if I call them a counsellor, it would be incorrect because a counsellor many times will give people advice or steer them in certain directions, but an auditor in Scientology doesn't evaluate the people, they don't invalidate what people are saying. They have specific questions and a certain attitude in conducting themselves that when the person who's getting this auditing comes up with their own conclusions, and the things that are true for them in this way relieve them of a lot of trauma or upsets from the past. And David became quite good at this. He would take people who are adults and they came out of the session bright, and just loving what he did.
BI: What do you think changed him. Was there a specific incident where he changed or where he became different?
RM: I don't know if there was a particular instance but in the 1800s Lord Acton said 'power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely' and I think this is what has happened to David. I think he got a taste of that power and from my perspective, my experience, I think power is like a drug. I've seen other people who have attained power, who change, maybe they don't talk nice to people any more. They stop talking to old friends now they are in new or higher plateaus, and they don't even want to hang around with people of their level. And it's a change of a person, and to me that much power is like taking a drug. Boy, once you taste it you don't want to get out of it.
The fate of Shelly Miscavige, the wife of the Scientology leader who has not been seen in public since 2006.
David's wife, Shelly Miscavige, disappeared from public view in 2006. Most Scientologists believe she now lives at the Religious Technology Center near Big Bear, California -- a mysterious forest compound surrounded by a metal fence with spikes that face inward. It is inaccessible to non-Scientologists. The church says she lives there 'working non-stop in the Church' but some wonder why she hasn't been seen by anyone outside in a decade.
BJ: OK let's talk now about David's wife, Shelly Miscavige, who's a figure that fascinates me. She basically disappeared from public life several years ago, but you met her before that happened, right?
RM: Oh, I would meet her quite frequently yeah. I mean she was David's wife.
BI: She still is right, as far as we know?
RM: As far as I know also, she's still his wife. Now when you've joined the Sea Org, you are considered a member of that group. A staff member. First and foremost. You're not a father or a brother or a sister or any of the familial titles that you would have from growing up with a family. David, when we would talk, when I was at the international (Gold) base in California, would call me Ron, he'd never call me dad. I was considered to be a staff member to him. That was the way it was with Shelly. Somewhat less severe because there was one time she said to me, 'Listen Ron, we don't believe in nepotism, so you are a staff member here.' But still there would be times when we would talk and, you know, very friendly, never really close, but friendly OK? Very friendly. The way this came about, is my birthday is January 18th. Her birthday is January 19th. So I would always send her a gift on her birthday and I'd get an answer the next day, no matter what, no matter where she was. Because anything sent to Shelly or David was fast. Any messages, any communication, any gifts, would get to them very fast. Then in about 2005 I sent her a gift and I noticed I didn't get an answer from her for about 2 or 3 days. Now at that point my antenna went up but I said OK maybe she's off some place doing a mission. People would go to the base and go to remote areas, whether it was the East Coast or maybe England or whatever.
BI: At this time just to be clear, you thought they were both living on Gold Base right?
RM: Yes she was, but I thought she could possibly be in LA working on something. Now the next year the same thing happened. I also realised in 2005 I hadn't seen her around the base, so that then made me more think she's off doing something that I'm not supposed to know about so I'm not even going to ask. Because that's the way it is on the base. If somebody's not around, if it's someone like David or Shelly, you don't ask 'where are they?' That's beyond protocol. No matter the fact that I was his father. You just didn't ask that question. Then when I got out, when I escaped in 2012, I rekindled my friendship with a person who works in the Religious Technology Centre, RTC, in the communications office, and I asked him if he had any idea where Shelly was. and he said yes I know where she is. I said to him I'd send her a gift and I wouldn't get a reply. He said, 'Ron, when your gift came in, I'd put it in the pigeonhole that would go to Big Bear (California) and that's where she is.' So that's how I found out where she is.
BJ: And do you know why? Do you think she is free to leave?
RM: Well for me to answer that question correctly, I have to tell you the state of mind of the people on that base. If you were to go on that base today with a big bus and said to everybody 'you get on this bus, we'll take you to your freedom, we'll give you some money to start you off, we'll get you a job, we'll get you a place to stay.' I'm telling you something, I don't know if you'd get any takers. I swear to god, the people who are there are convinced that what they are doing is the most important thing they could be doing, regardless of the conditions under which they are doing it. That is the state of mind. And I know that Shelly, let's face it she was a Commodore's Messenger when she was a little girl. She owed her allegiance to L. Ron Hubbard, to carry out his work. You can say that she's being kept their against her will, and that may be true because that facility has a fence around it and security guards and everything, but if you were to say: here, you can go. I don't think she would go.
Dozens of Scientologists who have displeased David Miscavige over the years have been kept inside 'The Hole,' which is a kind of internal rehab prison for wayward Scientologists. At Gold Base, where Ron lived, The Hole consisting of bare-bones accommodation inside a set of trailers formerly used as offices. As many as 100 people have been kept inside The Hole, where they are expected to confess their transgressions against the church, for months at a time. (Business Insider published an in-depth account of life inside The Hole in Hollywood, back in 2012.)
BI: Did you ever see inside The Hole?
R: Yes, listen, I was in there several times to talk to people about various things. One time I was in there to see a guy I worked with, another musician, Peter Schless. And when you walk in on the left-hand side, there is a security guard that would ask you what you're doing there, what do you want and he would have somebody in the back who would go and get the person for you and you would talk to them out front. Earlier, you could go back and speak to them, but then it got to the point where they had to come up front and listen there were bars in those windows. The put a security guard at the gate, these guys were sequestered.
BI: Let me challenge you on that. Why don't you go to the police or the FBI and say 'hey, these people are being imprisoned against their will. I think it's a crime. Go check it out.'
RM: Because I didn't think of it that way when I was there. I thought this was like a form of (rehabilitation), where you go and you get auditing and you kind of mend your ways. That's how I looked at it in those days. Now that I look back, hey everybody has 20-20 revision. I realised then, Jesus Christ, wait a minute, there's a security guard at the gate. I was used to having a security guard at the gate to go off the base. So, to me, it wasn't that much of an out point. You follow that?
BI: Yeah, yeah I see.
RM: I realised wait a minute these people are sent beyond the walls. Now I thought OK, they're in there, they're going to get rehabilitated, when they get out they're going to be OK, they're going to be back on post. You accept that this is just an everyday part of your life, when you're there. Now you look at it and with 20/20 vision you say why didn't I see that then? Well OK because that's the state of mind that I describe in the book that you'll get into living that type of life.
BI: The Hole really is a kind of prison and even though people might not want to leave the base as a whole, they'd certainly like to go back to their regular rooms or their apartments on the base. So why are the police or the FBI never called to raid these bases and ask the people: 'do you want to get on the bus and leave?'
RM: Well first of all, who would call them?
It's only in recent years that the story of The Hole has come out and a lot of people are afraid to go to the chief of the church because of the repercussions.
BI: A relative or a friend.
RM: Well, people who are on that base give what they call a 'shore story' to people who aren't on the base and it's all good roads and fair weather. Now if I were to send out a letter, put it in an opened envelope, security guards would read it and if there was anything in there you shouldn't be sending, it would be sent back and I'd have to re-write it so it would be OK to send. You don't have a cell phone in order for you to make a phone call. You have to go through reception and that receptionist, if you're calling a friend or family, they will have another person on the extension listening to what you were saying and they will ask you - why did you want to call them? Your life is monitored, there's no way to call the police or the FBI, as you're presenting it as a scenario. There's no way to do it.
BI: But what about friends and family of people who are not Scientologists but are people who have lost friends or family inside the base? Why can't they call?
RM: Well I guess in many cases, they hear their friend or their family member is OK. It's only in recent years that the story of The Hole has come out and a lot of people are afraid to go to the chief of the church because of the repercussions. It's a very vengeful organisation.
After Ron left the church, he was followed for more than a year by two private investigators. They were eventually detained by police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2013. They told police they had been hired by the Church of Scientology.
BI: David had you followed for a year, right?
RM: I can read you some of the policies right now that they have for dealing with things like this. Would you like to hear that?
BI: Sure, just give me one.
RM: OK, I'm going to give you the worst one which is called 'fair game.' This is in Hubbard's communications office policy letter, and it's dated 18th October 1967, and it's entitled 'penalties for lower conditions.' Now a lower condition would be something that's not optimum as far as you are concerned in church life. You could be in treason to them or you could be a liability and they would have a penalty in there that you would have to apply or would be applied to you because of you being in that condition and you are considered to be an enemy to the church. It says SP order, which means 'suppressive person order'. You know the suppressive person -- that's someone perceived with something against Scientology. 'Fair game may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued, or lied to or destroyed.'
BI: OK and this policy was used against people like you, right?
RM: Yeah. And of course they're going to claim, well this was rescinded, it was taken back. But hey, I had two PIs follow me around for 18 months before they were caught, and when they were caught, in the trunk of the car, there was about five hand guns, five licence plates from different states, a stun gun, an 18 millimetre rifle, a 22 calibre rifle, fitted out with a silencer and over a thousand rounds of ammunition. Now what are you doing carrying that stuff in the trunk of a car and you're following around the father of the church of Scientology?
BI: That must have been terrifying for you
RM: No it wasn't. It angered me, to no end. Listen, remember. I'm a United States Marine veteran. Somebody comes after me like that, I'm not going to run and put my tail between my legs. I'll confront you and say hey man, what the hell is up? And that's what I did. I tried calling David. I was never put through to him and the person that comes on the phone to answer the call says that David doesn't want to speak to you because he didn't feel he could trust you. He doesn't think that he can trust me. Jesus Christ man. I'm being followed by guys who have a goddamn rifle with a silencer on it.
BI: When was your last meaningful contact with David?
RM: It was before we left in 2012. and I'll tell you something, even then, you've got to realise, this is a culmination of years of being sequestered. Not being able to see my family. I worked in the music department and we had a new music manager who invalidated and just disapproved of anything I wrote, which went on for weeks and months. Just a terrible life. You can't talk on the phone. You can't go out of the base to buy some shaving cream, you have to buy it on the base. Your time is not your own, you can't see your family. Yeah, many people could see their family, I couldn't. I was disallowed to visit my kids. That was one of the cracking points by the way. It was my grandson's wedding and I couldn't get off two days to attend.
BI: You didn't see your brother when his wife died either, right?
RM: That's correct, and that would have been the last time I saw him alive because about a year later, I get a call from my nephew said 'hey, dad died' and Jesus Christ man, I'm on the phone and I have another person listening in on the extension. That was really, that was not OK with me.
BI: What year was that?
RM: Oh, I guess he died in 2011. It's just a blur, you know. I was allowed to go to that and even with the way things were on the base, the director of security there wanted me to be interrogated as to whether I was going off the base for ulterior motives. In other words: my brother died and I want to go to his funeral and I was going to be questioned like: do you have any plans of leaving unauthorised or do you have any other reasons for going? I mean you talk about insanity.
BI: So why didn't you just leave? If you had just said you know what, I don't believe this anymore, I'm leaving, do they forcibly keep you on the base? How does it work?
RM: In a word yes. They're going to claim otherwise. They're a bunch of liars. There is a fence around that place with barbed wire, sensors. You're under 24-hour watch. For me to go to the gate and say 'I'm leaving.' Forget it. You're out of your mind. You're not going any place man. You're going to go into a security check now because you are saying things that you shouldn't be saying. And that will be sitting down with an officer and an auditor, interrogated as to why you want to leave.
BI: Could you refuse to do those things?
RM: No, you can't refuse to do that. You just, boy, it's hard to put across the state of mind you get in when you've been in that situation like that. Look I was in that organisation, in the Sea Organisation, for 26.5 years. You have a mindset. And if you were in that state of mind you wouldn't dare say something like that, it's just the way it is. And so we planned our escape for almost six months and the escape itself. I've re-read the book I don't know how many times and I say 'Jesus Christ did I actually do that?'
'Listen honey, we've got to get out of here. We're living in a goddamn prison man, this is no way to live life.'
BI: OK and when you were on Gold Base together, did you talk to him every day or just once a week or what?
RM: I was never apart from him. I mean we were, from the time he went in the Sea Org, we were in communication all the time, either by letter or an occasional phone call. It was infrequent. When I first got to Gold, I had an experience, where I walked out of the music studio and he was walking with his entourage and I yelled 'Hey David' and he turned around and gave me a look that said 'you better not do that again man, you don't talk to me that way.' That was a moment of comeuppance on my part. And I thought I'm not his father here, I'm another staff member and I don't do that. But regardless there were times when we would get together, shoot the breeze, have fun times. And my earlier years, even though I was incarcerated. You don't look at it as if you are incarcerated but you are as a matter of fact. I had some fun times and it just slowly, slowly but surely me being in a state of mind that I felt I had to stay there no matter what the condition was. And then of course when it got so bad, I spoke to my wife: 'Listen honey, we've got to get out of here. We're living in a goddamn prison man, this is no way to live life.'
BI: In 1985 someone filed a false rape accusation against you, and David helped you, and this seems to be an incident which drives you back to him. What was your relationship with David like at that time?
RM: It didn't drive us back together but it solidified my idea, or that's the wrong word, not solidified. It gave weight to the idea that maybe I should help in the Sea Organisation because I looked at the people who joined that as the real, new, forerunners of the new civilisation. That's where you go to dedicate your life to getting this technology from L. Ron Hubbard out to every man, woman and child on the planet to improve their life. He provided me with an attorney, with bail in case I needed it, which we didn't because I never had any criminal record. So I was not incarcerated or put under bail and, as soon as the girl came into the courtroom, she said, 'no I'm not sure that's him.' The judge says 'Do you have identification? No identification.' That was the end of it. At that point I thought, you know what, I think I better go and help David and join the Sea Org.
'You run around that pole for like five hours a day ... it also used to be administered as punishment.'
BI: There's another interesting thing that happens on Gold Base, or did happen in the past, that I'm very interested in, but I don't think you discuss this in the book. And it involves a kind of punishment, where there's a palm tree with a circle of sand around it and people are made to run around the palm tree for a long, long time, in the heat. Did you ever see anything like that at Gold?
RM: Absolutely, that's right, the running. The way it originated is that L. Ron Hubbard said there was one particular thing that, many many years ago Thetans would run around a pole or just kind of float around it as a way of making them more sane. This has been translated into you, and you're not running on sand, you're running on straight ground. I don't know where the idea of sand came in there.
BI: Well I've seen a photograph of it and the dirt looks like yellow sand, but maybe it's just hard-packed yellow dirt?
RM: Yeah that's exactly what it was, because there's not sand there. You run around that pole for like five hours a day and that unbelievably, there are people that have what they consider to be life-changing experiences doing it and that's all I can say about it, but that's where it came from and that's where it translated into people doing. But it also used to be administered as punishment. Somebody if they came up with some wayward or not too optimum remark, or failed at something, they'd be ordered to go and run around the pole until they came to their senses.
BI: Wow, and were people injured or was their health endangered by running around this pole? And by the way I thought it was on Gold Base, I thought it was around a palm tree?
RM: I think originally it was. I think originally it was a palm tree but then it was any pole and this service is actually called the 'cause resurgence rundown.'
BI: It can get very hot at Gold Base and people's health might be endangered from being out in the sun, running around this pole or this palm tree, for hours on end.
RM: (Sarcastically) I don't know where you've got the idea that this is hot. I don't think 110 or 115 degrees is hot, do you?
BI: Come on, you're a Marine!
RM: Are you kidding me? Jesus Christ man, you go out in that weather, about the only thing you can successfully do is have a stroke as far as I'm concerned. But no, if there was anything untoward regarding your health, you wouldn't be able to do it because that would be a major flap. If somebody had a heart attack and died doing it on that base -- the PR is the most important thing -- so you would not even be allowed to do it if that were the case. But the people who do it drink a lot of water and it's still not a picnic I can tell you, but people do it. I couldn't possibly have done it. At my age I would have refused, but they wouldn't have even asked me to do it, but it does get that hot 110, 115. It is miserable.
BI: I also get the impression from your book that David engages in a lot of surveillance and he must spend an enormous amount of time looking at closed circuit cameras and reviewing video and looking through people's auditing files and stuff like that.
RM: Well I don't know if he spends an enormous amount of time doing it but I know that he does it and I know that you are getting a confessional or auditing, your voice is being recorded and there's a video camera on you.
BI: It's like a Catholic confession?
RM: Now at the end of that the priest says OK, here's your penance. Say that and you're forgiven. That priest doesn't have a voice recorder and a video camera pointed at you and then say to you OK you're forgiven but if you ever go against us or say anything bad, we're going to use what you just said against you. That is what the Church of Scientology does. Many of these sessions would be when David was at the Flag Land Base. From what people have told me -- because I haven't seen him sitting there doing this -- but he would look in at these sessions to make sure that the procedure was being carried out exactly right.
How could you be Tom Cruise and not out of curiosity maybe once or twice look at the internet and see this?
BI: That's amazing. So presumably inside Gold Base, there are videotapes and records of Tom Cruise's auditing?
RM: Yes and that was told to me by me by ... just put it this way. It was told to me by somebody who would know.
BI: A Scientologist I presume?
RM: Oh yeah another Scientologist who was there who since has left.
BI: Do you think that Tom Cruise is aware of that? I mean that is potentially a gold mine for the tabloids if they ever get their hands on it.
RM: I can only give you an opinion and I can tell you this: David looks up to Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise looks up to David. OK? Tom Cruise considers David to be the top spiritual being on this planet and of course he considers himself to be just below David. So they have a very tight friendship and personally I don't ever see David throwing Tom Cruise under the bus, no matter what Tom did. I just don't think he would do it. But as far as Tom Cruise being aware of it. How could you be Tom Cruise and not out of curiosity maybe once or twice look at the internet and see this? So he's got to be aware of this fact, and now I don't know if that would 'keep him in line.'
BI: Tell me about when you met Tom Cruise.
RM: He's a nice guy. I mean I met him at his birthday on his ship when I played in the band, the entertainment, you know back in the 2000s. I met him at other events and he just came across as a very nice person, you know what I mean. You read other things about him but when I met him he was very affable very friendly, very nice person. Same thing with Katie. you know I met her and I thought she was a very nice person and Leah Remini of course is a very close friend of mine, from the Celebrity Centre (in Los Angeles). And you know, we were equal.
BI: So eventually you found out the very final level of knowledge in Scientology. My understanding is -- correct me if I'm wrong -- there's this final level where you learn the true history of the Earth, and it's the story of Xenu, a dictator of the 'Galactic Confederacy' who 75 million years ago brings billions people to Earth, puts them around a volcano and blows them up with nuclear weapons. And the Thetans inside these dead beings live on through us. It's a very crazy sci-fi story. What was your reaction when you first learned that?
RM: When I read it, here's what my question was: In that story, there's 76 nearby planets around us. The problem was overpopulation. Average of 150 billion people per planet. These people were called in for a tax audit and then they were killed and put into these packages and sent to Earth. 150 billion people. How are you going to get a portion of these people into spaceships that look like DC-8s, and get them to Earth? I couldn't see the logistics of this being even possible, but because I was in so far, I thought OK I gotta accept this and I'm going to try and that's how it felt. But my logical instinct was: I don't see how all these people could have even gotten here. As foolish as that may seem rather than looking at it and saying What the hell is this man? Which is what (the Hollywood screenwriter) Paul Haggis said (when he learned the final stage), that this is nuts, you know. No I accepted it at the time as OK, well you know that's like the Catholics saying there's a virgin birth. Well I'm going to accept this and see how it works.
BI: Paul Haggis thought it was a trick to test his faith, he thought it was a test. He didn't know whether you passed by saying you agreed with it or you passed by saying 'this is ridiculous, show me the real knowledge.'
R: Yeah, I know, it's ridiculous.
'I don't have a family anymore. My daughters are gone. My grandchildren. My great grandchildren, who I've never met. And I think it's terrible.'
BI: Does the church still practice 'disconnection,' a policy where anyone who leaves is completely shunned by all other Scientologists?
RM: The entire point of the reason I wrote the book was to do anything I could possibly do to stop the policy of disconnection. I don't have a vendetta in my heart. I don't, I'm not looking to get even with anybody or screw them over or throw them under the bus. I want to see disconnection discontinued, so that families can talk to each other again. Look I don't have a family anymore. My daughters are gone. My grandchildren. My great grandchildren, who I've never met. And I think it's terrible. That's the reason I wrote the book to do whatever I could out of duty more than anything.
BI: How many people do you think are affected by disconnection?
RM: Hundreds. I think there are hundreds of people and these people are in fear. Many of them are in fear of doing anything because of the retribution they will get from the church. That's the thing. Oh I can't go against them because they will come after me, they will do this and that, but, I'll tell you something, you are never going to win anything by beating up somebody's face, excuse me. You're not going to win by having your face beat up the person's fists. You get my point?
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