Disconnection is a practice in Scientology, in which a Scientologist severs all ties between themselves and friends, colleagues and/or family members that are deemed to be antagonistic towards Scientology.
If an individual attempting to improve his life through Scientology is encountering persistent opposition from a close associate, his spiritual advancement is impeded.
In the vast majority of cases, the antagonism is rooted in false information about Scientology and providing the true data ends the matter. As a last resort, when all attempts to sort out such situations have failed, the Scientologist may decide to disconnect from the person until the antagonism ceases.
– Source: What is “disconnection? Scientology Press Office, Scientology Today. See screenshot for version archived by the Internet Archive.
That official explanation used to be posted at Scientology’s Press Office website.
The cult‘s press office tried to compare ‘disconnection’ with the practice of shunning found in some religions, such as the Amish or “certain Orthodox Jewish congregations” and Jehovah’s Witnesses (considered a cult both theologically and sociologically).
Scientology’s PR department concluded that “Disconnection in Scientology is neither new nor strange in the annals of religion.”
It should be noted that shunning is not a Biblical practice. (See: What the Bible Teaches About Shunning). While the Bible does talk about a disciplinary practice currently referred to as excommunication or disfellowshipping, the practice was never meant to be applied in the extreme forms used by some movements.
The official explanation of Scientology’s disconnection policy has been removed from its original URL, but can be seen in the screenshot above). In its place is a wordier version of “What is Disconnection?” now published by the ‘Scientology Newsroom’. (Consumer Alert: That link leads directly to a website operated by Scientology).
It says in part,
There is no policy in Scientology that requires Church members to disconnect from anyone, let alone family and friends who simply have different beliefs. To the contrary, the moral code of Scientology mandates that Scientologists respect the religious beliefs of others. The Church encourages excellent family relationships, Scientologists or not, and family relations routinely improve with Scientology because the Scientologist learns how to increase communication and resolve any problems that may have previously existed.
Unfortunately for Scientology — and the many victims of its disconnection policy — that is not how it works, as documented in countless testimonials, many of which can be viewed at YouTube:
Paul Haggis on Disconnection
When film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis resigned his membership in the Church of Scientology, he did so in a letter to Tommy Davis, who at that time was Scientology’s chief spokesperson.
Among other things, Haggis addressed the disconnection policy:
Scientology destroys families
The practice of shunning, which Scientology used to try and hide behind, was certainly never meant to break up families — as is the case with Scientology’s disconnection policy. Disconnection has sometimes ended marriages and separated children from their parents.
Scientologists declare their outcasts “suppressive persons.”
Another Scientology policy – called “disconnection” – forbids Scientologists from interacting with a suppressive person. No calls, no letters, no contact.
An SP is a pariah. Anyone who communicates with an SP risks being branded an SP himself.
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote the policies four decades ago, church leaders say, not as a tool to oust members but to provide those going astray with a mechanism to return to the church’s good graces. That aligns with Scientology’s tenets of improving communication, strengthening relationships.
But SPs who have felt the sting and other church critics say the suppressive person policy is a sledgehammer to keep marginal members in line – and in the flock.
Whatever Scientology’s motivation, its suppressive person policy results in wrenching pain, say a dozen SPs interviewed by the St. Petersburg Times.
Some have gone years without seeing or talking with sons, daughters, mothers, fathers – all of whom abide by Scientology’s no-contact requirement.
For a Scientologist thinking of forsaking the church, the decision is grueling: stay in or risk being ostracized from loved ones and friends.
– Source: The Unperson, St. Petersburg Times, USA, June 25, 2006
• SP Profiles, St. Petersburg Times, USA
June 25, 2006.
The author of a controversial new biography on celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise has found an unexpected new ally: the niece of Scientology’s current leader, David Miscavige.
In an open letter to a senior Scientology official that has been widely posted on the Internet, Jenna Miscavige Hill described how her own family was broken apart by the movement’s policies.
Hill’s father is Ron Miscavige, the older brother of David Miscavige, the current leader of the Church of Scientology.
“Hell, if Scientology can’t keep his family together — then why on earth should anyone believe the church helps brings families together!” she wrote.
In particular she challenges Scientology’s denial that it puts pressure on members to break all contact with relatives who do not support the movement — a practice known as disconnection.
Hill said it was this policy that broke up her own family.
“As you well know, my parents officially left the church when I was 16 in 2000,” she wrote. Having been separated from them since the age of 12, she decided not to go with them.
But she added: “Not only was I not allowed to speak to them, I was not allowed to answer a phone for well over a year, in case it was them calling me.”
Hill goes on to detail how Scientology officials intercepted letters from her parents and her friends.
She was only allowed to visit her parents once a year for a maximum of four days, she wrote — and then only after her parents threatened legal action to get access.
When she returned from these visits, she was questioned to see if her parents had said anything bad about the movement.
– Source: Niece of Top Scientology leader backs Cruise biography, AFP (France), Jan. 28, 2008
Predictably, after speaking out on Scientology, Jenna Miscavige became the target of another long-time Scientology practice: harassment. Such unethical behavior is based on the writings (i.e. ‘scripture’) of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. (See: Dead Agenting and Fair Game)
“The policy hurts everybody”
Extreme? Perhaps. Effective? Definitely.
That’s the view of many religious scholars who say the motive behind Scientology’s suppressive person doctrine is clear: keep members from breaking ranks.
“That’s the way the church keeps discipline,” said J. Gordon Melton, director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, a think tank in Santa Barbara, Calif., that focuses on smaller groups. “For them, that’s an internal control mechanism.”
Scientology’s disconnection requirement is far more extreme than the severing practices of most modern religions, Melton said.
“I just think it would be better for all concerned if they just let them go ahead and get out and everyone goes their own way, and not make such a big deal of it,” said Melton. “The policy hurts everybody.”
– Source: The Unperson, St. Petersburg Times, USA, June 25, 2006
Scientology: a destructive cult
Scientology’s disconnection policy is but one of many aspects that make the movement a destructive cult.
Father of Scientology’s cult leader on disconnection
Why Scientology lies about disconnection
- Scientology Disconnect Policy Destroying Families Documentation of the practice and effect of Scientology’s disconnection policy.
- Scientology rips apart families with its ‘disconnection’ policy — but why? [Contra] By Tony Ortega
- Scientology Scandals: Disconnection [Contra]
- The Unperson [Newspaper] Robert Farley, St. Petersburg Times, USA, June 25, 2006. “Scientologists who cross their religion can be declared suppressive persons, shunned by peers and ostracized by family.” See also: SP Profiles This sidebar to the above article takes a brief look at three people declared ‘Suppressive Persons’ by Scientology.
- What is “disconnection?” [Pro] Consumer Alert: Connects to a website operated by Scientology. Article in the “Answers to questions most commonly asked by media” section of Scientology Today — a website of Scientology’s Press Office.
- Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me, by Ron Miscavige. In this #1 New York Times beststeller, Miscavige reveaisl the origins of Scientology’s current leader — his son, David Miscavige. Ron Miscavige escaped from the Church of Scientology’s international headquarters outside Hemet, California, on March 25, 2012
- Items about the disconnection policy, at Religion News Blog
- Disconnection Collection of articles at the Scientology Lies website documenting the cult’s disconnection policy.
- Disconnection Hurts [Contra] Stories from people who have been victimized by Scientology’s disconnection policy
- Stop Disconnection [Contra] this website documents “Scientology’s practice of disconnection – destroying families in order to keep its members subdued, controlled and leveraged.”
- Stop Scientology Disconnection [Contra] Read the story behind this website’s billboard in Los Angeles
- Wikipedia entry on Disconnection [Encyclopedic]
- More information about Scientology
- Why we view Scientology as a hate group
- Cult FAQ – Frequently-Asked Questions about cults
- Escape – Helping Families Under Scientology Stress
- Scientology’s Disconnection Collection of quotes from articles and newspaper reports, documenting and illustrating the extent of Scientology’s disconnection policy