Disconnection is a Scientology practice of cutting all ties and all communication with someone who is declared a Suppressive Person (evil) by the Church of Scientology. This may include family, friends, loved ones, work associates, acquaintances, or anyone else found Suppressive by the Church.
Disconnection is a very touchy topic among Scientologists and critics both. Scientologists believe that Disconnection is generally a necessary action that, when undertaken, benefits the group as a whole. Critics believe this is an extremely harmful practice akin to emotional blackmail that destroys families and interpersonal relationships.
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Where in Scientology does it actually say that someone has to Disconnect?
From: HCO BULLETIN OF 10 SEPTEMBER 1983 “PTSness and Disconnection”
“A Scientologist can become PTS by reason of being connected to someone that is antagonistic to Scientology or its tenets. In order to resolve the PTS condition, he either HANDLES the other person’s antagonism (as covered in the materials on PTS handling) or, as a last resort when all attempts to handle have failed, he disconnects from the person. He is simply exercising his right to communicate or not to communicate with a particular person.
“With our tech of handle or disconnect, we are, in actual fact, doing nothing different than any society or group or marriage down through thousands of years.”
“WHEN DISCONNECTION IS USED
“An Ethics Officer can encounter a situation where someone is factually connected to a suppressive person, in present time. This is a person whose normal operating basis is one of making others smaller, less able, less powerful. He does not want anyone to get better, at all.
“In truth, an SP is absolutely, completely terrified of anyone becoming more powerful.
“In such an instance the PTS isn’t going to get anywhere trying to “handle” the person. The answer is to sever the connection.”
What are the pro-Disconnection arguments put forth by Scientology?
Interestingly enough, some Scientology spokespeople regularly insist that Disconnection does not exist in Scientology. Others quote the policy listed above, and say that Disconnection is a last resort, only undertaken under extreme circumstances. Others tell us that Disconnection is an individual choice that is entirely the decision of the Scientologist. Some say that every group has a right to protect itself from harm.
Some spokespeople actually liken disconnection to excommunication, though the two are not the same at all. Though people who are excommunicated are not permitted to take any of the sacraments or receive blessings, their families and friends are not pressured to abandon them. In fact, an excommunicated person does not cease to be Christian, as their baptism is not affected.
The reason it is so difficult for anyone to take legal action against Disconnection, is that Scientology management uses threats, coercion, and social isolation to convince the person disconnecting that Disconnection was “their decision”. Therefore, if asked why disconnection was undertaken, the person doing the disconnecting will defend the process, saying that it was necessary to their progress in Scientology.
What things can get you labeled suppressive by the Church of Scientology?
There is no simple explanation of what constitutes a Suppressive Person. Usually, someone is labeled Suppressive if they have committed any of the offenses that appear on Scientology’s list of High Crimes. There are dozens of High Crimes in Scientology, among which are:
“142) Using the trademarks and service marks of Dianetics and Scientology without express permission or license from the owner of the marks or its authorized licensee.
“149) Unauthorized use of the materials of Dianetics and Scientology.
“150) Holding, using, copying, printing or publishing confidential materials of Dianetcis and Scientology without the express permission or license from the author of the materials or his authorized licensee.
“153) Intentional and unauthorized alteration of LRH technology, policy, issues or checksheets.”
Practicing Scientology outside of the Scientology Umbrella Organization
“145) Organizing splinter groups to diverge from Scientology practices still calling it Scientology or calling it something else.
“146) Organizing a splinter group to use Scientology data or any part of it to distract people from standard Scientology.”
145 and 146 are meant to deter people from practicing Scientology outside of the Scientology umbrella organization. This is why members of the Freezone are all declared Suppressive.
Taking Legal Action Against Scientology
“158) Proposing, advising or voting for legislation or ordinances, rules or laws directed toward the suppression of Scientology.
“160) Testifying hostilely before state or public inquiries into Scientology to suppress it.
“161) Reporting or threatening to report Scientology or Scientologists to civil authorities in an effort to suppress Scientology or Scientologists from practicing or receiving standard Scientology.
“162) Bringing civil suit against any Scientology organization or Scientologist, including the nopayment of bills or failure to refund, without first calling the matter to the attention of the International Justice Chief and receiving a reply.
“174) Delivering up the person of a Scientology without justifiable defense or lawful protest to the demands of civil or criminal law.”
Saying Bad Things About Scientology in Public
“156) Public disavowal of Scientology or Scientologists in good standing with Scientology organizations.
“157) Public statements against Scientology or Scientologists but not to Committees of Evidence duly convened.
“159) Pronouncing Scientologists guilty of the practice of standard Scientology.”
“164) Writing anti-Scientology letters to the press or giving anti-Scientology or anti-Scientologist data to the press.”
Asking for your Money Back
“163) Demanding the return of any or all fees paid for standard training or processing actually received or received in part and still available but undelivered only because of departure of the person demanding (the fees must be refunded but this policy applies).”
Talking to or Associating with Other Suppressive People
“166) Continued adherence to a person or group pronounced a suppressive person or group by HCO [editor’s note: HCO is the Hubbard Communications Office].
“167) Failure to handle or disavow and disconnect from a person demonstrably guilty of suppressive acts.”
Telling Anyone That You’re Leaving
“215) Informing fellow staff members and others that one is leaving staff.”
“230) It is a high crime to publicly depart Scientology.”
Why is Disconnection Harmful?
While we do agree that any group does have the right to protect itself from harm, let’s look at how Disconnection actually functions in practice.
Let’s say that someone violates #230 above. They have been a Scientologist for 20 years, and decide they no longer want to be a Scientologist. They tell their mother, father, and friends and associates that they are leaving.
Well, this person has just committed a High Crime, and will probably be declared a Suppressive Person. If their mother, father, friends and associates continue to interact with them in any way, those people will all be held in violation of #167 above, and they may be declared Suppressive themselves if they do not cut all ties with the person who is leaving.
In another example, let’s assume that someone has been urged by their spouse or significant other to give Scientology a try. That person takes 10 Scientology courses, and feels that they did not receive any benefit. They ask for their money back, putting them in violation of #163 above.
The spouse or significant other must then Disconnect from them, or risk violating #167.
Yet another example: A young girl is sexually abused by a Scientologist. She decides to report the molestation to law enforcement, but doing so puts her in violation of #174. Her friends and family must then convince her to drop the charges (Handle) or stop speaking to her (Disconnect).
Now imagine that your friends, relatives, and co-workers all believe that Scientology is the only way that a spirit can be free. When you commit a High Crime like those above, the church presents your friends / family / workmates with the following choice: Disconnect from you, or risk spending their eternity without any chance to become powerful and go free. Disconnect, or risk losing their job. Disconnect, or risk losing their friends. Disconnect, or risk losing their family.
This kind of coercion not only violates the legal and basic human rights of an individual, it is extremely effective in driving many into silence. Most people who leave still have family and friends in Scientology, or they work in a Scientology business environment. Or perhaps their landlord is a Scientologist. After all, when one joins Scientology, one is immediately encouraged to become heavily involved in the community.
What would you do under those circumstances? Lose your job and your home? Lose your mother and father? Or stay quiet?
If you’d like to read personal stories of Disconnection, we invite you to read the testimonials on this site. Additional information about Disconnection, letters of Disconnection and more Disconnection stories can be found here.