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Author Mike Rinder

For more than 40 years, Mike Rinder dedicated his life to Scientology. Introduced to the organization by his parents, he rose through the ranks of leadership to become Scientology’s international spokesperson and the head of its powerful Office of Special Affairs. He helped negotiate Scientology’s pivotal tax exemption from the IRS and engaged with the organization’s prominent celebrity members, including Tom Cruise, Lisa Marie Presley, and John Travolta.

However, through the years he started to become disillusioned with the organization and the promises of its founder L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction author. After Hubbard’s death, his successor, David Miscavige, ruled with an iron fist—often confining members, including Rinder, to a makeshift prison known as the “Hole.”

Eventually, at age 52, Rinder decided to leave Scientology. Overnight, he became one of the organization’s biggest public enemies. He was followed, hacked, spied on, and tracked. He also lost family members, including his children, who “disconnected” from him, a practice among members of Scientology that discourages relationships with anyone who leaves the organization.

This week on Watching America, he talks with host Dr. Alan Campbell about his time in Scientology and the backlash he has faced since leaving. In his new memoir, A Billion Years: My Escape From a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology, he exposes the secret inner workings of the powerful organization and shares his story of personal resilience.

Since leaving the organization in 2007, Rinder has become a prominent whistleblower against abuses within Scientology. He appeared in the HBO documentary Going Clear and cohosted all three seasons of the Emmy Award–winning show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath on A&E. He and Remini currently cohost the podcast Scientology: Fair Game.

Find Rinder at his website where he blogs about Scientology. 

Listen to the interview.