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A Billion Years: My Escape from a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology

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Anyone who has grown up in a “prison of belief” will relate to one of his first descriptions of the experience: It is always so sad to read about other people's negative experiences with religion. The truth is that there are terrible people with terrible power in this world, and religion can give some of these people the platform they crave to wreak as much havoc as possible on the lives of others. Mike Rinder's experience with scientology (I would call it a cult before I call it an actual religion) was terribly abusive, manipulative, and terror inducing, and reading his story made me so appreciative of the life I have led so far. I have freedom. Mike did not. Just reading about how he started sleeping 8 hours a night for the first time, and how he was able to visit a park and be able to take time to enjoy it for the first time after leaving scientology, was illuminating. I wish Mike Rinder and all other victims of abuse in scientology peace and comfort. One of the punishments for those who messed up in the RPF [Rehabilitation Project Force] was assignment to the RPF's RPF. You slept and ate separately from and were not allowed to even talk to the other RPFers." (p. 106) [You know things are bad when there are punishments within punishments] I’ve witnessed him do this time and again (in the A&E series and on the podcast), and I… ugh… I just love him for it. Rinder wrote this memoir for his two children who are still entrenched in Scientology, in the hopes they’ll someday read it and begin to question. He carefully recounts for them, and us, his story of being brought into the cult by his parents at a young age, being groomed for cult leadership, and ultimately being crushed to discover the whole thing is a lie.

You could never predict whether you would be in or out with Misavige. I think this was deliberate. It was a tactic famously used by Stalin - keep your subordinates divided, fearful, confused, and off-balance. No cabal to overthrow the king can form if no one at court is certain of their position. One minute I was digging ditches and the next I was heading up external affairs for all of scientology." (p. 147) I was not thrilled that I was missing out on the excitement of being front and center in the crowd..." Next, fifteen years after leaving Scientology Rinder suddenly emerges now as the cause of Scientology's tax exemption. He was mum on the subject for fifteen years - rightly deferring to me on that subject - precisely because he had little to nothing to do with the dozens of court struggles and 1992 - let alone involved in the IRS, Scientology struggle - it could not have escaped him that the IRS was having its head handed to it on a daily basis in that trial. As each day progressed it became more clear to even Scientology-suspicious observers (e.g., editors of Tax Notes) that a) Scientology parishioner donations would be recognized as exempt and b) the IRS would likely be nailed to the cross for discriminatory practices in a fashion no federal agency had been since the His [LRH] demise also raised one of the most puzzling inconsistencies: though he'd had the time and foresight to clearly specify he did not want an autopsy done and wished to be cremated immediately, and though his elaborate estate planning had detailed precisely where his money was to go, he had not provided instructions or even a briefing for scientologists on what was to happen to the organization and who was to be his successor. This was the man who wrote millions of words and delivered thousands of lectures explaining everything from how to wash windows to how to cure yourself of cancer...Despite his supposed 'causative departure' from this earth as he 'discarded his body,' he neither spoke nor wrote anything that laid out his plans for the future or who would be in charge after he left or how long he was planning on being gone. To not have anything from Ron was an enormous omission that should have been a signal flare to every scientologist." (p. 117)

Rinder goes on to elaborate on “the wall” around Scientologists, his personal story of 45 years in the cult, and his eventual escape from crazy-town. I won’t spoil the book by telling all his stories, but things get more weird, and more overtly abusive, than you can probably imagine. Very, very Lord of the Flies. negotiations and historically in-depth IRS audits that culminated in tax exemption. Even with my detailed descriptions over the past several years publicly available, Rinder's new fiction betrays a remarkable degree of ignorance about Scientology's history vis a vis the IRS. The first obstacle was that the Supreme Court had ruled Scientology donations were not tax-deductible. The second was a Federal Court ruling on Church of Spiritual Technology's (CST) tax exemption application. The latter was so critical that he quotes an entire paragraph from the

Thus, Rinder carefully deep sixes any pesky facts that might contradict what Rinder would like to fancy about his history. And that paves the way for the creation of a brand-new then-Rinder: a super hero (the narcissist leg of victim narcissist). To demonstrate the depth of outright fact As for the content of the book itself, this was a massive undertaking by Mike Rinder to consolidate 42 years of Scientology plus the years of the aftermath after leaving into a single book, and do it well. I had brief feelings of disappointment in content that I know was omitted in this book, but I also understand that it would be an impossible task to include it all. His blog is an excellent source of extra information, especially the stories of other scientologists that are not really his to tell in his book anyways.Mike has a unique perspective on Scientology. He not only grew up in the “church” but rose to its highest ranks, working directly with self-appointed leader David Miscavige, Tom Cruise, and in his early years as a teen, founder L Ron Hubbard himself. Please allow me one more gush before I quit, okay? Just knowing Mike Rinder exists: that someone brought up in Scientology, which is hellbent on beating the human warmth out of people, can come out the other side twice as tender and emotionally adept as the average person … Rinder's book makes it clear that he thinks it is better than good to be the king. I imagine it must be simply "thrilling" and "intoxicating" being at the "pinnacle of achievement," "front and center in the crowd" (sandwiched between Toby McGuire and Alec Baldwin no less). It sounds as if he has even developed a sense of "invincibility." The victim is really a hero? Or is the hero a victim? Germany to this day have issues with Scientology, according to Mike. There are other countries as well, I just cannot remember right now.

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