Ruthless by Ron Miscavige (with Dan Koon)

So far when looking at the Church of Scientology we have looked at the stories of former Scientologists Marc Headley and Jesse Prince with respect to their time with both the organisation and the Sea Org along with the experiences of members of the media, namely John Sweeney and Paulette Cooper. We have also looked at a biography of L Ron Hubbard. There is one particular book however I’ve come across, that stands out purely due to who wrote it.

Ron Miscavige’s story is unique in that he is the father of the current leader of the Church of Scientology the chairman of the board, David Miscavige.

Ruthless by Ron Miscavige. No prizes for guessing who is on the front cover of the book..

Imagine having someone write about their son, despite how powerful, rich or ‘succesful’ they have become, have gone too far a dark path.

Ruthless is as much David’s story as it is Ron’s. This is not the story of someone who grew up with Scientology or was persuaded to join, this is the story of a man looking out for his family and who introduced Scientology to the current leader to it in the first place.

In Ron’s book we learn of his early years in Mount Carmel in Pennsylvania in a working class neighbourhood, raising his family and his time as a Marine a salesman and musician. Ron tells us how with respect to his introduction to Scientology came about in helping with certain ailments and how it helped his son David with his severe asthma. Little would either of them know that this would change their fates from that point.

Ron is brutally honest in not just what he thinks of Scientology but how he thinks of himself. He admits to his shame that he was involved in some domestic violence with his ex-wife, David’s mother and that they were involved in many rows that David undoubtedly would have been made aware of when he grew up, although Ron’s children were given as good an upbringing as he could give them.

David would join the Sea Org and some years later Ron would join himself after they helped him out with some legal incident he had. Ron would see what his son would become.

Throughout the book I sensed a sadness in that the writer’s son would become the man who others has written about in respect to assaulting members of his staff and would stop at nothing to get what he wants and escape from the Sea Org as well as what he would later think of his own father.

As fascinating as it is, this is a tragic story of a father who has lost his son to what is perceived by many out there as a destructive cult. It has clearly broken his heart. Ron is however, grateful for the good things he has, namely his current family and those that have also distanced themselves from Scientology.

I have read a number of books by former Scientologists and it is interesting to see many write about the same time periods from their own perspective. For example there is talk of the flooding that Gold Base had in 1990 that Marc Headley also writes about in his book.

Ruthless is a book about a man who has lost his son to something really dark and sinister. Not only does he seen become something he does not want him to be but there is a sense of frustration that nothing can be done about it.

In spite of everything Ron forgives his son which he states at the end of the book.

[Silvertail Books, 2016]

[I have also added some more links in the comments about Rin Miscavige.]

The Church of Fear: Inside The Weird World of Scientology by John Sweeney

So far the books related to Scientology I have read have been all written from the perspective of Americans as you’d expect with Scientology being what could be argued something that could only come out of America.

The Church of Scientology although today deemed to be relatively small in number do have a presence in other parts of the world. In Britain it has the base of Saint Hill in West Sussex for esample. After reading about how the Church of Scientology affected the lives of its own members and critics in the United States I wanted to know how people from outside the US perceived them. Should you ever look it up there are many commentaries and observations from other areas. It is the British perspective of Scientology that I would like to take a look at however, mainly for the reason that it is easier for me being British. It appears that for all the good intentions presented by the Church and its well known supporters, there seems to be many more critics. While I’m sure there have been people who have benefited from the Church (Tom Cruise being the most famous), it is hard to avoid the fact that there are many more people out there who have not benefited at all.

Church of Fear by John Sweeney. The cover has a reference to Hubbard’s Dianetics on the cover.

Among the British commentaries, there was a British interview (Links in the comments) of L Ron Hubbard himself done by Granada in the sixties. Louis Theroux made his own documentary about the Scientology and there has been writers such as John Atack who wrote about his time with Scientology.

There is however, one famous commentator from the UK who was made famous for shouting at a Scientology rep which was filmed and taken advantage of by the Church itself. John Sweeney when doing a documentary for BBC’s Panorama would have his own experience of what it would be like to confront the Church of Scientology. Sweeney’s book is remarkable in that though not at the same level as with Paulette Cooper, we read about the ruthless tactics used to scupper John Sweeney’s making of the documentary and the harassment he received. Other known commentators such Marc and Claire Headley, Russell Miller and Amy Scobee all feature in John Sweeney’s book (for those of you in the loop, these are well known critics/survivors of the Church)

The Church of Fear introduces readers to what Scientology along with how it was founded and how it has affected the lives of its victims. The most fascinating story being John Sweeney’s confrontation with the Scientology reps Tommy Davies and a certain Mike Rinder in 2007. As John would later mention in the book, Mike Rinder himself defects from the Church and becomes one of its biggest critics. There is even an albeit staged interview with a famous celebrity Scientologist who would later work with Mike Rinder on her show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath of which John Sweeney would later appear. It is fascinating that in some way, Sweeney helped in Mike Rinder himself defecting

John Sweeney pulls no punches on what he thinks about Scientology, how they pestered him and there is a real feel that there is no love lost in Sweeney’s passionate style of writing and what he thought of his experiences. For any of you who are familiar with what Scientology is and what it does you will already have an awareness of things John Sweeney is referring to (Narconon for example and the RPF for example) but for everyone else it would be hard to believe that such an organisation with its celebrity followers would be how Sweeney describes them. If you can ever find a copy of John Sweeney’s documentary, give it a watch it will help in picturing what Sweeney is describing in the book.

What must be noted is that though John Sweeney is writing things that may come across as a bit far fetched about the organisation, it is not unprecedented and many more books have been written since that mirror Sweeney’s own observations. Take from that what you will. Although L Ron Hubbard created something at first that people could take solace in, it has become something if not different, incredibly domineering as it has been perceived by many observers.

The Unbreakable Miss Lovely by Tony Ortega

This is the fourth Scientology related book I have made post about so far. This book is about looks mostly at the Hubbard era during the 1970’s (mostly). Previously I have looked at two books from former members which looks at their time with Scientology and a biography of the founder L. Ron Hubbard. The Unbreakable Miss Lovely is about the fascinating life of journalist Paulette Cooper and her confrontations with Scientology itself after writing some works critical of them.

The Unbreakable Miss Lovely is a book written by Tony Ortega who specialises in writing about the goings on within the Church of Scientology in his blog The Underground Bunker. Tony Ortega is now one of the many spiritual successors to the writings of Scientology done by Paulette Cooper and a few former Scientologists. It is not just Paulette’s story relating to Scientology I found interesting, in our current time of the Internet and social media it is fascinating to read about how the journalism was done in the 1970’s. Verifying sources and interviewing providers of potential stories for example.

The Unbreakable Miss Lovely by Tony Ortega (ebook cover)

As the book is about Paulette Cooper’s life there is less focus here on the teachings of Scientology itself although there are some brief details of L. Ron Hubbard and his relationships. What we do see is how Scientology handles critics (Fair Game as it was called by Hubbard) and we read about how Scientology use it too full affect against Paulette Cooper.

Tony Ortega writes about Paulette Cooper’s time as a child and going on to university, both intelligent and attractive, we see how she gets to work in advertising and journalism and of course what happens when she writes about Scientology. We read about how Scientology constantly tried to harass Paulette, to break her because of her critical writings about them. Despite everything they throw at her however, she carries on working, writing and not appearing to break down. At best the measures gone to harass Paulette is petty and at worst is shocking. We read about what affect this has on Paulette both mentally and physically and how she gets betrayed by people she thought were her friends.

This book made me love Paulette Cooper, although I was made aware of her story before reading this book, I couldn’t help but root for her. Even when the sticks were down and she was close to giving in we see her standing up again and not being ground down. If you had no idea about Paulette Cooper and saw this as a work of fiction, you would be forgiven for thinking that the writer is causing too much pain on the main character and that they should tone it down a bit, however as we already know, these events did indeed happen. Regardless of your views on Scientology it is most certainly an inspiring story especially when it comes to keeping your head up when it appears that everything is falling apart. Paulette Cooper is what I would consider to be a true role model.

Expert Witness by Jesse Prince

When I read Marc Headley’s book about his early time in the Sea Org of the Church of Scientology, he writes about how he stumbled across a man not in uniform sitting back reading a magazine when everybody else was working. This man introduces himself as Jesse Prince and little did Marc know at the time, Jesse Prince was not just any slacking Sea Org member, this was once one of the highest ranking Sea Org members. This is Jesse Prince’s experience with the Church.

The Expert Witness by Jesse Prince

Unlike Marc who spent most of his time in Golden Era Productions the publishing arm of Scientology (with respect to it media and publications), Jesse was also part of the Religious Technology Centre which saw (and still does) the running of Scientology. Unlike Marc, Jesse did not grow up with Scientology (he tells us briefly of his time in growing up in Illinois with the racism he came across and to put it plainly.. that he had a busy sex life). Jesse gets approached by a young lady promoting Scientology, he listens to what she has to say because he fancies her goes down the rabbit hole of Scientology. He should have been joining the US Navy but instead makes a decision that would change his life for ever. (Not quite  related to this here, I wonder if getting attractive people for recruitment is a deliberate thing. I once met a Latter Day Saints/Mormon missionary in town once and my lord was she attractive, I was seconds away from booking a flight to Salt Lake.. Anyway I digress, back to the blog).

What I found interesting was with respect to Scientology courses and auditing, it is mentioned how the courses and auditing did have a way of making you believe it had some positive effect. Which it may well have. Scientology does appear to give a good first impression and to a point it appears to help people (I wouldn’t know myself I’ve never tried but when people see instant results, you can see how people are enthralled by it).

A young Jesse Prince in Sea Org uniform.

Once Jesse joins the Sea Org, encouraged to so by others and goes through the courses offered by Scientology and becomes an expert in dispensing what Scientology calls ‘Technology’ (like a Scientology priest but not quite, no masses for example), he would become an expert witness for Scientology in court cases. Prince was in the Sea Org during the transition period from L. Ron Hubbard’s time as leader to David Miscavige’s. He saw it all happen. What surprised me is that after reading Marc Headley’s book where David Miscavige is the head, the ‘Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center’ and is portrayed as incredibly unforgiving and ruthless, Jesse Prince writes about an earlier time where Hubbard was still leader and David Miscavige was kinder gentler soul if albeit learning all of Hubbard’s method of leadership after being a Commodore’s Messenger (who acted like Hubbard’s extended eyes, ears and voice). Prince saw Miscavige as like being a younger brother. We see Miscavige as loyal to his friends, a bit more vulnerable but still intense when it comes to being loyal to Scientology. As Jesse writes however this would all change, to Jesse Prince’s and many other’s expense.

When Jesse Prince started at the Sea Org, Hubbard is in hiding and didn’t want to be seen as being the leader of Scientology (tax reasons) but is still defacto leader through messages called ‘advices’. Prince writes how the Hubbard of this time isn’t the Hubbard of the books and courses thinking people are out to get him, purging people he didn’t like out of the Church.

Prince’s book is also a confessional of sorts. He tells us of the times when he was implicit in taking on the Church’s enemies, mostly what Hubbard would call the Squirells (like Scientologist who split from the original Church, Scientology protestants if you will). One of the hardest things to read about was when he was sent to convince Hubbard’s daughter to give her child over Scientology when she wanted to leave. That felt like an awful thing to go through and Jesse Prince’s regret is visible and is quite an emotional thing to read.

What I also found hard to believe is when Prince writes about Hubbard’s death, his situation and the negligence around him at the time. This was meant to be the top man, the messiah and yet he was deteriorating slowly both mentally and physically.

Prince tells us also about the time leading to him leaving (I assume this is when Headley met him not knowing who he truly was). Prince also tells us about how helped others after leaving and seeing the tactics used by Scientology he saw when on the other side.

I was genuinely taken aback by the stories in Prince’s book. How far Hubbard and Miscavige would go to achieve their objectives and how unforgiving they could be. Prince also reminds us however, that there are some genuinely nice people in Scientology as well who would do what is expected of them.

I won’t go on too much about his time after leaving Scientology and his association with the Lisa McPherson Trust, I’ll leave that Jesse Prince himself when you read the book for yourself. I will say that it’s beggars belief that people could be like that (I’m not talking about Jesse here obviously) as well as his life afterwords

Expert Witness has been one of my favourite Scientology related books I’ve read. I would like to know what someone who has never heard of Scientology would think of this book, what I read about particular people in it I have come across in other books about Scientology and I already had some sort of knowledge about them. Marty Rathbun in particular who Jesse Prince does have some opinions about, especially how he compares things differently from Marty. Jesse also avoids ‘Scientology speak’ where at all possible. There is also an appendix showing when Jesse Prince was used as expert witness in Scientology related court cases.

Prince should be proud of what he has written. He comes across as a genuine no nonsense guy and I imagine it was hard for him to bring back old memories of his time associated with the Church and to put it in this book. A marvellous achievement.

Bare Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russel Miller

I’m going to look at a number of books related to Scientology. I’ve already looked at Blown For Good by Marc Headley and I have a couple of science fiction books of L. Ron Hubbard’s in my queue which I will get to looking at eventually.

You can divide the history of the Church of Scientology into two sections. During the life of it’s founder and after it which is still on going (Marc Headley writes about the latter in his book) I thought I would do a post on the founder himself by looking at a biography of his life.

Bare-faced Messiah by Russel Miller

Bared-faced Messiah is an overly detailed and very honest look at L. Ron Hubbard’s life (The Church of Scientology itself thought it was too honest and hated the book).

Miller goes into detail about Hubbard’s early life when he was travelling because his father was in the navy, his work as a science fiction author, his time in the Navy during the Second World War, his early interest in the occult, how he created his own religion with the process of doing that along with details of his private life. We also see how far Hubbard would go to get what he wants.

If Miller had not written it backed up with his sources, you would find some of it hard to believe, Hubbard does come across a remarkable individual but also someone with a lot of flaws and alarmingly ruthless. Russell writes how Hubbard was not the most caring man to his wives (his second one in particular) to how he created a book based on a way of thinking and self improvement and finding his own religion. Hubbard comes across as a man who could lie to justify his points and to get ahead. We read about how people were captivated by him, his charisma and we also read about how many saw him as mentally unhinged, towards the end of his life it looked like everything he created to make people ‘clear’ and better, never worked on himself.

L. Ron Hubbard created something that did not just have an affect on his own life but on his family’s lives and that of his follower’s even after his death. Some would say it had a positive affect, others of course would say otherwise.

There is the suggestion and theory (not just by Miller) that Hubbard must have had some mental health problems. These however, were never diagnosed but can definitely be inferred from distant observation (you can say this about a lot people to be fair). Towards the end of his life, he was getting paranoid that his supporters were trying to go against him and everything he created.

As stated above I do think Bare Faced Messiah is an overly detailed in some chapters on Hubbard’s life (which though may leave you thinking is a bit ponderous) it shows how Hubbard shaped himself into the man he became. L. Ron Hubbard clearly had some talent and I think if he had someone who could have pushed him in the right direction he could have been someone completely different. Although unflattering Bare-faced Messiah is a fascinating insight of a twentieth century man who managed create a significant impact on people’s lives and his legacy is still preserved within the Church of Scientology today. 

Blown for Good by Marc Headley

This is a book about a man and his time working and being part of the Church of Scientology. Many call them a religion, others call them a cult. Regardless of what you think of them however, this is a fascinating and remarkable tale about Marc’s life up until he escaped from the group (or ‘blew’ as it’s called hence the title) .

Blown for Good by Marc Headley

Marc is a natural storyteller and we see what it was like to be brought up following Scientology (he wasn’t a direct convert himself) and being part of the ‘clergy’ of the Church. In Marc’s case, he was a technician. We see how they thought, the vocabulary used by members, how they are educated, the obsession with stats and performance and the punishments for not delivering on them. If it wasn’t that a number of the things written have been verified by other former members, it would be hard to believe. As you’d expect of course, the Church of Scientology have discredited and dismissed what has been said in this book.

Marc tells us about his interactions with the head members of the organisation and how they acted and behaved along with his meeting with a significant Hollywood celebrity and member of the Church.

I was fortunate enough to get a signed copy of both Marc and his wife Claire who appears prominently in this book also.

What helps with the narration is that Marc himself genuinely comes across as a genuinely nice guy and in some respects a natural rebel who has a good sense of right and wrong.

This is not so much a book about Scientology itself but Marc’s own experiences. A quick search on the Internet or book stores will show you books about the history of the Church and what other former members experienced at different times and years of being there.

Out of all them however I found this one the easiest to read as Marc keeps you gripped with each chapter with what is happening.