A&E docuseries “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” examined how David Miscavige rose to power to become the leader of Scientology.
In order to tell the story of David Miscavige’s rise, the series introduced us to former Scientologists with intimate knowledge of the man, including his father Ron Miscavige.
“He rose up through the ranks,” Ron, a former Scientologist and author of the book about his relationship with his son, “Ruthless,” said on the show.
“He’s a tough kid and smart,” he continued. “Once [Scientology founder] L.Ron Hubbard died, he saw his opportunity and he moved right up and took power.”
For the record, the church has declined to take part in the series. It contends that the statements Remini and the other contributors to the show have made about Scientology are false and are driven by a desire to profit or gain publicity from their time in the religion.
Here’s what we learned about David Miscavige from Tuesday’s episode:
David Miscavige was a young man with a lot of ambition.
Ron Miscavige and his family joined Scientology in 1971. At 16, David Miscavige dropped out of high school and moved to the Scientology campus in Clearwater, Florida and joined the church’s elite SEA Organization. Ron said that within six months, David was working alongside church founder L. Ron Hubbard as a cameraman on the church’s films.
“David Miscavige got himself into a position where he had communication with L. Ron Hubbard that nobody else had,” Mike Rinder, Scientology’s former international spokesperson, said. “And it gave him enormous authority to be telling L. Ron Hubbard that people were doing things, that this was happening, and couching everything in the framework that made him look good and anybody who he felt was a rival look bad.”
L. Ron Hubbard’s death and David Miscavige’s rise to power.
After steadily rising through the ranks and becoming Hubbard’s most trusted advisor, David Miscavige announced the founder’s death in 1986. Hubbard’s passing was framed as an intentional decision by him to leave his body in order to go on to even higher levels of spiritual being.
“The core belief of Scientology is that you are a spiritual being,” show host Leah Remini explained. “L. Ron Hubbard had reached, obviously, the highest level of Scientology there was to reach, promoting this idea that there’s an afterlife, and he found the answer to it by deciding to discard this body to go explore new OT levels. All of this is bulls–t. L. Ron Hubbard died of a stroke.”
As Hubbard’s closest advisor, David assumed the leadership of Scientology. His official title is Chairman of the Board, Religious Technology Center. But according to Mike Rinder, David liked to refer to himself as “the pope of Scientology.”
David Miscavige allegedly took on the responsibility of finishing the church’s course curriculum, or OT chart, because L. Ron Hubbard wasn’t able to complete it before his death.
Tom Devocht, who left Scientology in 2005 after 28 years, worked closely for David Miscavige. His job was to work with city authorities for Clearwater, Florida. He said he was often dispatched to carry out outrageous requests from the leader.
Devocht said that his doubt of the church began after David allegedly divulged that he had L. Ron Hubbard’s various writings and was going to finish the OT chart.
“It suddenly hit me,” Devocht recalled. “Then, it’s a farce that Miscavige himself was going to finish these off. Hubbard died. He’s not some superpower being.”
“You have parishioners believing that L. Ron Hubbard obviously reached the highest level of Scientology there was to reach,” Remini said, “that he could actually decide to discard his body, because how else was [David] going to keep Scientology going? What if he came out and said, ‘L. Ron Hubbard has died of a stroke.’ Then, why are we doing all this if we’re just going to die of a stroke?”