Ex-Scientology Official Details Breaking Free of 'Mind Prison'

Mike Rinder hopes to reach his adult children with his book
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2022 6:55 AM CST
Mike Rinder Details 'Escape' From the Top of Scientology
Mike Rinder, left, and Leah Remini arrive at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2019 in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Mike Rinder says he'd probably have never left Scientology if its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, were still alive. For Rinder, who grew up in the church and became one of its top executives, life in Scientology changed when David Miscavige took over in 1987 after Hubbard's death. The new boss assaulted Rinder, he says, and meted out punishments, sometimes for unstated reasons, the Guardian reports. For what his boss called "evil intentions," Rinder says he was forced to clean a sewage retention pit and endure mocking by a ventriloquist's doll.

And he claims he was twice placed in a kind of prison camp for church officials, kept under 24-hour guard and cut off from the rest of the world, once because he didn't successfully block a BBC show from running an episode on Scientology. Those accounts, and how he broke free of the church, are told in Rinder's book, A Billion Years: My Escape from a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology. In 2007, Rinder left behind Scientology, the control, and the birthday presents from Tom Cruise by walking out the door of the church's London office.

He had his passport, about $200 in cash, and a credit card. Rinder had tracked down people who'd left, so he knew what to do: "get out of sight, remove the batteries from my phones, use only cash and stay on the move." He still think private investigators are watching him, and the church has remained on his mind: He produces a podcast with actress Leah Remini, "Scientology and the Aftermath," and writes a post-Scientology blog. The people he wants most to reach with his book are his two adult children, who are still in the church and have publicly disowned him. (Read the full Guardian piece here.)

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