Ronald Miscavige is releasing a memoir, Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me, on May 3

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
April 28, 2016 11:40 AM
Inset: Getty

As David Miscavige‘s father prepares to release a scathing memoir about his son, Ron Miscavige says in a new interview that David became more “authoritarian” as he rose through the Scientology ranks to become leader of the controversial religion – and increasingly distant from the man who introduced him to the religion as a boy.

“I saw him walking, oh about 20 yards from me,” Ron Miscavige tells ABC News’ 20/20 in an interview to air Friday evening.” “I say, ‘Hey Dave.’ And he turned to me and he looked at me like, ‘Who are you talking to?’ No words were said but that glance told me those days were over. I would never, I could never do that as a father to a son.”

The elder Miscavige is set to release Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me on May 3 – a book a Scientology lawyer dismissed as a “literary forgery” to 20/20 – and tells the news program he observed that his son’s management style reflected his short temper.

Ron Miscavige, a musician and businessman who introduced his young family to Scientology in the late ’60s, says he initially enjoyed his immersion in the religion and his role as a musician and composer with the church’s Golden Era Productions. But, per 20/20, he recounted an incident in which David allegedly yelled at him at a music event for more than an hour.

“I’m the one that got him into Scientology. I raised him, good or bad,” Miscavige says. “And to come to this? What the hell is this? This is nuts.”

The church tells the news program Ron doesn’t know much about David’s management style because they didn’t spend much time together.

Although David Miscavige has not commented on the book directly, Monique Yingling, an attorney representing the church, spoke to 20/20 for the show airing Friday and commented on the book: “On a personal level, I think he [David] is probably very, very sad that his father would do this,” she said while also calling the book a “literary forgery.”

“There seems to be no explanation except that his father is trying to make a buck off his name,” she continued. “So I think there’s that level of sadness and I’m sure a sense of betrayal.”

On Thursday, ex-Scientologist and actress Leah Remini defended Ron Miscavige on Good Morning America, and said she “encouraged” him to write the book.

Ron tells 20/20 he took a 9-year-old David to his first “auditing” session – a kind of Scientology counseling session – in 1969, and the boy who suffered severe asthma attacks and often got into fistfights connected with the religion immediately.

The elder Miscavige also tells 20/20 that David was 15 when he was ready to fully commit to the church.

“He says, ‘I want to go and help L. Ron Hubbard,’ ” Ron Miscavige recalls. “And I thought to myself … I would be pretty proud of him … So, I said, ‘Okay, I’ll help you, whatever I can.’ ”

With his father’s blessing, David left home and school at 16 to join “Sea Org,” a group of Scientology’s most dedicated members. His training took place at the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida, Scientology’s spiritual headquarters.

He worked his way up to the top quickly, and became leader of the church while still in his mid-20s after L. Ron Hubbard’s death in 1986.

“There were no checks and balances on him, at a certain point, where he could just go ahead,” Ron Miscavige tells ABC News’ 20/20. “He just assumed that power. And he had an authoritarian figure. He was a great talker … He used to say, ‘You have power if people will listen to you.’ And people did listen to him.”