Niece of Scientology's leader goes public with criticism

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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The niece of the Church of Scientology's top leader David Miscavige has come forward publicly with criticism of the organization and of Scientology practices. Jenna Miscavige Hill, daughter of David Miscavige's older brother Ron Miscavige, described Scientology policies which broke apart her family and continue to keep members of her family from talking to each other. Hill criticized Scientology practices in a letter to a public relations spokeswoman for the Church of Scientology and in a broadcast of the television program Inside Edition which aired Tuesday, and was interviewed by an investigative journalist for the New York Post.

Hill wrote an open letter addressed to Karin Pouw, Public Affairs Director of the Church of Scientology International, in response to a 15-page statement issued by Pouw on January 14 which was highly critical of Andrew Morton's new book on prominent Scientologist Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography. Hill's letter was posted to the Internet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology on January 25, and has since been widely posted on other Internet message boards.

Cquote1.svg I am absolutely shocked at how vehemently you insist upon not only denying the truths that have been stated about the church in that biography, but then take it a step further and tell outright lies. Cquote2.svg

—Jenna Miscavige Hill

In Pouw's statement on Morton's book, she called it a "bigoted defamatory assault replete with lies". In her letter to Pouw, Hill responded "I am absolutely shocked at how vehemently you insist upon not only denying the truths that have been stated about the church in that biography, but then take it a step further and tell outright lies." Specifically, Hill rebuked the Church of Scientology's denial of a practice called "disconnection", where members are instructed to sever all ties with friends and family who are critical of Scientology and deemed a "Suppressive Person", or SP.

Hill wrote that it was this particular policy which broke up her family when she was 16, going on to detail how the Church of Scientology restricted her communications with her parents: "Not only was I not allowed to speak to them, I was not allowed to answer a phone for well over a year, in case it was them calling me."

Cquote1.svg The church does not respond to newsgroup postings. Cquote2.svg

—Karin Pouw

When contacted for a comment on Hill's letter, Karin Pouw told the Agence France-Presse: "The church stands by its statement of 14 January. The church does not respond to newsgroup postings." Hill explained her motivation for writing the letter to the Agence France-Presse: "My intention is to put it on a public forum so they are pressured into changing their ways -- even if it is just to cover for themselves."

In a broadcast of the television program Inside Edition which aired Tuesday, Hill spoke with reporter Les Trent about Scientology's disconnection policy. Hill described a pregnant friend whose parents are still members of the Church of Scientology; but will not speak with her: "She lives in L.A. - her parents live right around the hill from her, you know she tried to call them when she was having her first child, and they were like: 'No, sorry, I can't speak to you.'" The Church of Scientology told Inside Edition that the allegation made by Hill is "the opposite of what the church believes and practices." Hill last spoke to her uncle David Miscavige four years ago, around the same time that she viewed a promotional video featuring Tom Cruise, at an awards ceremony. This video was recently leaked to the Internet and appeared on the video sharing site YouTube. YouTube took the video down due to a legal complaint from the Church of Scientology, but though the website Gawker.com received a similar legal complaint, Gawker has stated that the video is newsworthy and will not be removed.

Cquote1.svg Just as L. Ron Hubbard’s family was rocked with turmoil, so it seems is Miscavige’s. Cquote2.svg

Mark Bunker

Prominent free speech activist and critic of Scientology David S. Touretzky commented on these recent developments, in an interview Wednesday with Wikinews reporter Nicholas Turnbull: "She has nothing to do with Chanology [the recent anti-Scientology movement that has gathered on Internet message boards], but what we're seeing here is a "perfect storm" of entheta [material considered negative by Scientology]. It's all coming together in a chain reaction: The Tom Cruise video, Andrew Morton's bio, Kirstie Alley's craziness, Kimora Lee Simmons, Jenna Miscavige, and there's more to come!" Another critic of Scientology, Mark Bunker of the website XenuTV.com, compared the recent revelations to troubles in Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's family: "Just as L. Ron Hubbard’s family was rocked with turmoil, so it seems is Miscavige’s." Bunker commented on the Inside Edition piece: "This is a jaw-dropping TV segment — although Inside Edition clearly didn’t understand just how important a story they had."

In an interview published Wednesday in the New York Post, Hill stated that she has been harassed by the Church of Scientology for speaking out against the organization: "The church has contacted several of my friends, telling them that I am smearing the church and I am going to be declared a suppressive person and asking my friends if they would disconnect from me and, in at least one case, insisting that they do." The New York Post attempted to contact Karin Pouw for a comment, but she did not respond in time for their publication.


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