It’s probably fair to say that almost nobody knows more about Scientology than Ron Miscavige, who was an active member of the Church for over 50 years, and whose son David is its leader. In his frank and shocking Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me, Miscavige describes the practices and attitudes of the controversial sect and holds little back in his allegation that his son is a ruthless leader. What makes Miscavage’s account especially credible is his honesty about himself – the violence in his life, the problems in his marriages, his own rough background and bad behavior. Miscavige talked to us about his life, his family and his book.
Ruthless is a May 2016 selection for Amazon's Best Books of the Month in Biographies & Memoirs.
Amazon Book Review: You were involved with Scientology for many years and out of it for many. Why did you decide to write this book now?
Ron Miscavige: I got involved in Scientology in the late 1960s and left the organization in 2012. My sole reason for writing the book was because I want to add my voice to the growing chorus of voices that oppose the church's policy of "disconnection," which breaks families apart and causes so much heartache. In my mind a book is the way to reach the widest possible audience and is a more permanent form than a blog post or TV interview, though those are also important. But a book will always be there.
ABR: When did you realize that your son would not protect you/you had to get out?
RM: I spent nearly 27 years working for the organization and as time went on things got progressively worse and worse. My son David runs the organization with an iron fist and his management style is very severe and authoritarian. In late 2011 I realized that if I didn't leave my remaining years were going to be very bleak so my wife Becky and I began planning our escape, which we made in March 2012. We've never looked back and are enjoying the lives we have created since.
ABR: You and your son were quite close for some of the early years of his life. Were there any indications that he would become the person he became?
RM: David and I were close during his formative years, as I was with all my children. We had many, many wonderful times together. I supported all my children unconditionally and I think because of that I was blind to some early indicators in his behavior.
ABR: How have other members of your family reacted to your writing this book?
RM: My oldest son Ronnie has supported me in writing the book. He helped me recall details of the story and supplied me with some of the photos we used in the book.
My daughters Denise and Lori are not in contact unfortunately, and this is part of the disconnection I write about in the book. The church has one primary response to anything said about it that is critical or negative: outright denial. More and more people are speaking out about the church's actions, many of which I think deserve to be criticized, and all the church can say in response are things like, "That's not true," "We don't do that," "He is lying," or other such categorical denials.
ABR: Were there any benefits of your experience in the Church? What were they?
RM: I have had many, many benefits from my time in Scientology. The philosophy supplied me with a way to approach my life that was beneficial not only for me but for my family. I'll give you one concrete example. My marriage to my first wife was, honestly, a difficult one. We argued constantly and there were even times when things got physical between us. I regret that it ever happened but the truth is the truth. After I got interested in Scientology and began learning more about myself and how the mind works the level of strife in my marriage went way, way down. I was able to become more introspective and that helped me navigate my personal life in a more positive direction. This, by itself, was a tangible benefit of my involvement in Scientology. There were many others, too, but that was the most significant from my early weeks and months of my involvement.
ABR: What would you say to a young person who was tempted to join the Church?
RM: Simply, I would tell them this: Stay away from the official Church of Scientology. You are opening yourself up to potentially very, very bad experiences. If you find yourself interested in the philosophy of Scientology, and I think that it has a lot to offer, I include suggested references at the end of my book to philosophical writings that I followed, which can lead to a vastly improved life. Most of these were written over 100 years ago and I myself have applied the recommended data in them to my own life with great success. I highly recommend these.
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