How The Leader Of Scientology, David Miscavige, Rose To Power

David Miscavige is the leader of the Church of Scientology. According to the Scientology website, he rose to the position after being hand-picked for several high-ranking positions over the years by the founder of the church, science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard's book "Dianetics" would become what amounts to the bible of the Church of Scientology. 

Miscavige was brought into the Church of Scientology when he was 9 years old by his father, Ron Miscavige, according to The Tampa Bay Times (TBT). It was 1969 and Ron Miscavige met a Scientologist in the course of his work and was told that the church might be able to help cure David's asthma through one of the church's practices called "auditing," a sort of counseling session. According to the TBT, the family felt that it worked and they continued to be involved with the church. 

By 12 years old, Miscavige became the youngest professional auditor for the organization, per Scientology.  At 16, he joined the church's religious order for the most "dedicated" Scientologists, Stand League reported, and as such he was personally chosen to work with Hubbard who instructed him on how to make training films and then made him Director of Photography for the films at just 17.

According to Scientology, "by the age of 18, David Miscavige had become the individual L. Ron Hubbard called upon to carry out the most important assignments. No Church executive in history ever received more direct communication from L. Ron Hubbard than Mr. Miscavige."

The Church of Scientology faces a lot of criticism but Miscavige holds steady

Clearly, the way the Scientology website spins it, David Miscavige was something like a right-hand man to the church's guru, L. Ron Hubbard, and that gives him a lot of clout. In the 1980s, Hubbard appointed Miscavige to Trustee of the Religious Technology Center, a place where Hubbard's teachings would be "preserved, maintained and protected." 

According to The Baltimore Sun, Hubbard went into hiding in 1980 but used Miscavige as a go-between for himself and other church leaders, so when Hubbard died in 1986 Miscavige filled the vacuum of the loss of leadership — not without a power struggle between a couple of other of Hubbard's closest executives. Still, Miscavige muscled his way into the leadership role, which he has maintained ever since. 

Miscavige wasn't just Hubbard's pet student though. He's been described as an "initiator," as a hard-working, "no-nonsense" leader who is working hard to grow the church. He's also been described as a "ruthless infighter with a volatile temper," per The Baltimore Sun. According to Scientology, it was Miscavige who steered the organization into its tax-exempt status by earning the church legal recognition in the U.S.

Today Miscavige, a high school dropout, continues to try to grow the church globally, even as more and more prominent or celebrity members of the church — including David's late father, Ron — have defected, sharing their stories about the allegedly shady inner-workings of the organization, casting a negative light on Scientology. Still, "Miscavige continues to steadfastly carry forth L. Ron Hubbard's legacy," per Scientology.