Apologetics Index

Scientology — Disconnection

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

How Scientology Destroys Families and Friendships

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.

Here is how the destructive cult itself describes the practice:

What is Disconnection in Scientology?

Screenshot of the Scientology Press Office page as archived by the Internet Archive
Screenshot of the Scientology Press Office page as archived by the Internet Archive
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.
Scientology Press Office, captured 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 – a destructive hate group).

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
Scientology Newsroom

How Scientology Destroys People’s Lives

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:

Scientology Disconnection
Scientology Disconnection

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:

Screenshot from The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology, The New Yorker, Feb. 14, 2011
Screenshot from The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology, The New Yorker, Feb. 14, 2011

Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, a fantasist and serial liar, wrote this about disconnection:

Disconnection Is Not A Choice

Tweet posted by Aaron Smith-Levin, Vice President of the Aftermath Foundation. The Aftermath Foundation exists to help those who want to leave Scientology and the Sea Organization, but lack a system of support they can rely on while getting on their feet in the outside world.

That last line reads:

To fail or refuse to disconnect from a suppressive person not only denies the PTS case gain, it is also supportive of the suppressive—in itself a Suppressive Act. And it must be so labeled. 

Note: the website that contains the above quote (in full context) is the Suppressive Person Defense League, operated by former Scientologists Gerry Armstrong and Caroline Letkeman.

Read their description of, and opinion about, Scientology’s Suppressive Person Doctrine.

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.

See also:
SP Profiles, St. Petersburg Times, USA, June 25, 2006.

Scientology Disconnection in Action

Here is a father’s story of how his relationship with his daughter is being held hostage by The Church of Scientology:

A Family Torn Apart by Scientology's Disconnection Policy
A family torn apart by Scientology’s Disconnection Policy
Scientology Disconnection in action
Listen in on a phone call between a brainwashed Scientologist father talking with his daughter.

Scientology Breaks Up Scientology Cult Leader David Miscavige’s Family

Ruthless book
The father of cult leader David Miscavige exposes Scientology’s cruel disconnection policy in his tell-all book, Ruthless.
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.
60 Minutes BOMBSHELL interview Jenna Miscavige speaks out
Jenna Miscavige  talks to ABC Nightline about growing up in Scientology
Jenna Miscavige, niece of Scientology cult leader David Miscavige, talks to ABC Nightline about growing up in Scientology – and why she left.

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)

Even Cult Apologist J. Gorden Melton Says:”The Policy Hurts Everybody”

Even J. Gordon Melton, a religion scholar so notorious for his defense of cults that he is often referred to as a cult apologist, has spoken out against Scientology’s disconnect policy:

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.”

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

Ron Miscavige on ABC's "20/20," 4/29/2016.
ABC “20/20” – April 29, 2016. Ron Miscavige, father of Scientology cult leader David Miscavige, talks with ABC about his son’s rise to power — and how Scientology’s disconnection policy has torn apart his family. Ron Miscavige is the author of Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me

Why Scientology lies about disconnection

Scientology 20-20 Why Scn Lies about Disconnection
As a follow-up on the ABC program with Ron Miscavige, former Scientologist Tory Magoo explains why Scientology lies about its disconnection policy

Scientology’s Manifold Human Rights Violations

Scientology talks a lot about human rights. In our view, that’s nothing more than a PR gimmick. Scientology’s many front groups — including its so-called ‘Citizens Commission on Human Rights — are designed to promote its teachings and to recruit new customers.

Meanwhile, the cult’s practices — such as its disconnection policy — result in countless human rights abuses.

Scientology is always looking for new, paying customers. But as the information presented here shows, the price for signing up could be high: it may costs you your friends and family members.

Scientology's human rights abuses
Becoming a paying customer of the Scientology cult could be costlier than you think. The price you may be the forced loss of your friends and family members.

Research Resources on Scientology’s Disconnection Policy

Read about our approach to research resources
Our color code key

Articles about Scientology’s Disconnection Policy and Practices

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: Clicking on this link takes you to a website operated by the destructive Scientology cult. Article in the “Answers to questions most commonly asked by media” section of Scientology Today — a website of Scientology’s Press Office.

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Books

  • 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

News Archive

Video

Videos about Scientology’s Disconnection Policy

Websites

  • 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

See Also

scientology disconnection poster
Do you have loved ones in the Scientology cult who have disconnected from you? Use these printable posters and flyers.

Article details

Category: Hate Groups, Scientology
Related topic(s): , , ,

First published (or major update) on Wednesday, October 19, 2016.
Last updated on February 24, 2023.

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