Getting To Know David Miscavige

Sunday’s HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief will shine a spotlight on the Church of Scientology. Scientology’s leader David Miscavige, however, has long avoided the kind of attention that's about to be cast on the church he oversees. Miscavige rarely speaks publicly and tends to steer clear of the media but — on occasion — he gives a glimpse into both the Church of Scientology and himself.

Miscavige’s official title is the Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center (RTC), which was created to protect and preserve the Scientology religion, and he is considered the ecclesiastical leader of the church. According to Miscavige's biography on the Religious Technology Center’s website, he's held that position since 1987, and has been an active Scientologist most of his life.

As a young man, he studied to become a Scientology minister, and he provided spiritual counseling. He first became a member of the church staff in 1976. During that time, he worked closely with Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, to create instructional materials and videos.

Miscavige gave what he says is his first-ever interview on ABC News in Feb. 14, 1992, with Nightline host Ted Koppel. That interview went down in broadcast journalism history. While it was originally slated to last 30 minutes, the interview was extended to a full hour and a half. There were no commercial interruptions and all paid commercials got cancelled, reported Freedom Magazine, a Church of Scientology publication. The interview earned an Emmy. Here's the interview:

And some of Miscavige's key quotes from the interview, pulled from the full transcript:

I can give you a hundred thousand Scientologists who will say unbelievably positive things about their church to every one you add on there, and I not only am upset about those people not being interviewed, they are, too. And the funny thing about it, and why you find this not really being that one who speaks in the media, is because not just myself, any Scientologist, will open up a paper, will watch this program, they're probably laughing right now, saying, "That isn't Scientology." That's what makes media. Media is controversy. I understand that. And if you really looked at the big picture of what's happening in Scientology, it isn't really controversial, certainly to a Scientologist.

He continued:

This is the right religion for anybody. In Scientology, you're dealing with yourself, you see. Here, we have this in common with all religions of earth. All religions of earth try to help man to be better, and to cause him spiritual improvement. Now, most-- In the Judeo-Christian society, they say if you have faith and you live your life that you'll achieve spiritual salvation in the afterlife. We believe in spiritual salvation, but in the here and now. And that's what we deal with.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Outside of this landmark interview, however, Miscavige’s appearances have been few and far between. He has appeared at Church of Scientology openings, and he served as the best man in his friend Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes. The Daily Mail reported last January that Miscavige allegedly cursed out employees while he tried to put a stop to a documentary that was being filmed about the church.

While glimpses of Miscavige in action aren't all that common, there are some videos in existence of Miscavige giving brief speeches. Here is one such video of Miscavige, where he is giving a lecture about the “golden age of knowledge.”

But despite the world’s curiosity — as evidenced by just how viral Miscavige’s 1992 ABC interview went — there isn’t much to be found on the man. Here’s hoping Sunday’s HBO documentary lives up to the hype, and finally sheds some more light on the man behind Scientology who has long been an enigma.

UPDATE: The Church of Scientology has reached out to Bustle, stating: "The accusations made in the film are entirely false and alleged without ever asking the Church."

Images: Getty Images (2)