On this channel and all over social and news media, Scientology’s toxic practice of disconnection has been discussed. The long litany of personal tragedies, broken families and ruined relationships at the hands of the Church of Scientology is well documented. Only someone whose head is firmly planted in the sand, or a Scientologist, could possibly argue that disconnection policies don’t exist or that they do not have tragic consequences.
Disconnection happens when a Scientologist formerly in good standing steps outside the bounds of whatever the ethics authorities of Scientology consider acceptable behavior. The Church’s ethics officers will demand that the Scientologist recant and change his behavior to conform with what they say the Scientologist is allowed to say, think or do. Because of the rather arbitrary and pernicious character of Scientology’s regulations, infractions can be anything from speaking one’s mind in a public forum about Scientology to just looking at websites the Church disagrees with. Almost every high crime or suppressive act in Scientology’s justice codes have to do with disagreeing with, disparaging or reporting on Scientology outside of the Church itself. In fact, here’s the actual quote from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard on this:
“Suppressive Acts are clearly those covert or overt acts knowingly calculated to reduce or destroy the influence or activities of Scientology or prevent case gains or continued Scientology success and activity on the part of a Scientologist. As persons or groups that would do such a thing act out of self-interest only to the detriment of all others, they cannot be granted the rights and beingness ordinarily accorded rational beings.”
How do you like that last line? Remember Fair Game? That’s the name for the Church of Scientology’s practice of going after anyone who speaks out or criticizes Scientology for any reason and now you see the rationale behind that in Hubbard’s exact words. Scientologists are told and truly believe that their cause is so just, their methods so true and correct and beyond reproach, that anyone who would dare question or criticize them is only acting out of self-interest, is irrational and does not deserve basic human or civil rights. I can’t think of another statement anywhere that better embodies the attitude and world view of a cult member.
So now that we’ve established that criticism is not something Scientologists will ever tolerate, you can see how daring to speak your mind is grounds for being declared a Suppressive Person (or SP for short), meaning you are no longer a Scientologist and are no longer someone who any Scientologist can have any contact with, not even a postcard or an email wishing you a happy birthday.
Disconnection in Scientology has been compared to shunning, disfellowship or excommunication in other religions. I’ve linked a video I made a few years ago in the notes below that goes over how that is not really true. Disconnection in Scientology is more absolute than almost any other religious group in the world. The only group that Scientology’s disconnection compares to is the Amish practice of shunning, but at least the Amish go in to their faith fully informed of the possible consequences if they should decide to part ways and the road back from shunning is not actually very difficult. Neither of these are true in Scientology.
Scientologists are eventually made aware of the practice of disconnection, but it is misrepresented to them as a form of personal rights. That is, Scientologists are told that people who are declared suppressive are anti-social personalities who cravenly fight against Scientology in an effort to do harm to its members and to the world at large. Suppressives are compared to serial killers, psychotics and terrorists. The reasoning in Scientology is that no one would want to willingly be connected with such people, so of course it is the Scientologists’ right to not communicate in any way with them. But if a family member or friend is declared who the Scientologist knows is not a criminal or psychotic, they quickly find out that their right to communicate is actually no right at all, that it is the Church that is dictating who they can and cannot talk to.
For those Scientologists whose friends or family are declared and who choose to side with the Church, the usual refrain from them is to tell the suppressive person to “just do your A-E.” This refers to the steps, labelled A through E, which a declared person is supposed to follow in order to get back in good standing. Most Scientologists don’t realize exactly what this entails and it’s hardly ever been discussed in detail in any videos or talks I’ve seen, so I thought I’d break it down now. As you’ll see, Scientologists telling their family or friends to “just do A-E” is pretty much the equivalent of telling them to “Just go climb Mount Everest and take a selfie.” Sure, it’s easy to say and it is physically possible to do it, but not without incredible hardship and great self-sacrifice.
Before we get in to the steps themselves, one thing you need to know is that since the suppressive person has been disconnected, he or she is not able to just go in to any Church of Scientology and start on these steps. They are only allowed to be in direct contact with the International Justice Chief who is located in Hollywood, California. This is Mike Ellis, who as far as I know is still the person holding this post. Phone calls or in-person chats are very rare; more often communication is established by letter or email and according to the information I’ve been given by those who have tried, they were able to get email or mail replies only after months of trying to reach the IJC. They are also allowed to contact one of the IJC’s deputies at a continental level, so for example, here in Colorado if I wanted to do my A-E steps, I would contact the Continental Justice Chief for the Western United States. Since suppressive people are automatically given the least priority of any communications the CJC recieves, it also takes weeks or even months to hear back from him, if he bothers to respond at all. Since every one of these steps requires approval by the CJC and ultimately the IJC, these lines of communication are important. So now let’s go over the steps. The first is:
“A. Tells the person or group to stop committing present time overts and to cease all attacks and suppressions so he, she or they can get a case gain.”
In Scientology, an overt is a harmful act of omission or commission which would be considered destructive in some fashion. Stealing, lying, cheating, kicking the cat – all of these would be overts. Same with failing to act when one should, such as witnessing a crime and not calling the police.
Where this step refers to getting a case gain, what that means is simply showing some kind of improvement or betterment. In Scientology, it’s believed that so long as a person is committing overts or engaged in criminal activity, they are not going to be able to get any mental or spiritual benefit and that is probably true enough.
From the viewpoint of Scientology, step A is simple: stop attacking Scientology or anyone else and just buckle down and do the rest of the steps.
Step B is:
“B. Requires a public announcement to the effect that they realize their actions were ignorant and unfounded and stating, where possible, the influences or motivations which caused them to attempt to suppress or attack Scientology; gets it signed before witnesses and published broadly, particularly to persons directly influenced or formerly associated with the former offender or offenders. The letter should be calculated to expose any conspiracy to suppress Scientology or the preclear or Scientologist if such existed.”
Now things get a little more interesting. In reading this, I can’t help but think of the kind of anti-US statements that US prisoners in China and North Korea have been made to read on camera. Such statements always have to include how the prisoners acted out of ignorance, express sorrow over their misdeeds and plead for forgiveness, usually while stating how evil, horrible or unjust the United States is. Not only are such statements demanded but they are then broadcast on video or television or radio so the maximum number of people can see and hear what the prisoner has to say. While anyone watching fully realizes that such statements are insincere at best, somehow the authoritarians who demand such things be done always seem to believe that if someone says something on their behalf, they must mean it.
I’ll also add that when I was working with the justice authorities in Scientology back in 2013 to try to do these steps, I wrote up a declaration following this step exactly and it was received and approved by one person, only to be disapproved by the next in line. That new person, the Continental Justice Chief for the West US, didn’t like how I’d written my statement and by the time I had his approval, it said almost exactly the opposite of what I had initially written and had approved. So the process of getting approval on this and the other steps we’ll be going over is capricious and wholly unpredictable.
There are two sub-parts to step B:
“B1. Requires that all debts owed to Scientology organizations or missions are paid off.”
Scientologists as a general rule do not go into debt to Scientology organizations since they are not lending institutions, but there is the matter of freeloader debts for staff members of these organizations who for whatever reason do not fulfill their contracts. Getting declared suppressive apparently is not a valid reason to get out of a freeloader debt, so anyone staff member or Sea Org member who is declared has to pay back whatever the Church of Scientology says it is owed for any free Scientology services received by the suppressive when they were a staff member. In some cases, this has run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, so this step could take someone quite a bit of time all by itself.
“B2. May require that, subject to the approval of the International Justice Chief, an Amends Project suitable and commensurate with the severity and extent of the Suppressive Acts committed be completed before further A to E Steps are undertaken.
“Before any such Amends Project is begun, the person must submit an Amends Project Petition to the International Justice Chief…and stating what he proposes to do as amends, and this must be approved by the International Justice Chief to be considered valid. Evidence of genuine ethics change may be required before approval of the Amends Project is given. (Examples of such evidence might be, depending upon the High Crimes committed: the person has obtained an honest job; has paid off all debts owed to others; valid contributions have been made to the community; the person has totally ceased those actions for which he was declared, etc.)
“It is also within the power of the International Justice Chief, when approving an Amends Project Petition, to require, as a protector of the Church and its tenets and membership, that such Amends Project be carried out entirely off any Scientology organization, mission or network lines, and to require, before the Amends Project may be considered complete, extensive evidence over a protracted period of time that the person has, beyond any doubt, ceased his or her suppressive actions, has created no problems for the Church or any member of the Church in any way on any line, and has undertaken and completed an action which is clearly and undeniably of benefit to Mankind.”
Now this is the big step, the one that usually takes at least a few years to complete and will almost certainly involve making large financial donations to Scientology in addition to whatever other amends actions the suppressive person undertakes. One way an SP could be hit up for money is when someone wants to join the Sea Organization. New Sea Org members can’t come in with big financial debt, because they only make $45 a week and have no way to pay credit cards, student loans, mortagages, car payments, etc. If they don’t have the resources to zero out their debt, then local Scientologists will often be hit up to help pay the debt off or even buy them plane fare to fly out from wherever they are to the Sea Org base where they will be working. Scientologists doing amends such as this are often the first ones hit up for this money and if they refuse, it could set them back months or years on their amends project.
Amends projects are varied and different from person to person and really could involve almost anything that would be considered charity work, preferably utilizing Scientology methods and principles to not just help people out but to forward the good name of Scientology as well. For example, someone could go out and mentor teens or help with illiteracy projects or help organize food distribution at homeless shelters. Oddly enough, since the amends work has to be done totally off the Church properties and without any help from the Church, these kinds of amends actually tend to be things that are truly helpful to the community and society in general, unlike the kind of Scientology-centric activities that Scientologists tend to get involved in when they are doing local community work whose main purpose is to only make Scientology itself look good.
Depending on the suppressive person’s location, the ease with which he or she can establish communication with the CJC and/or IJC and whether or not they approve of the things the SP is doing, it can take quite some time to complete this step. Ultimately, it’s up to the whim of the Scientologists to decide when the amends is done.
Once steps A and B are completed, the SP is now allowed to go into a Scientology organization so he can begin the next step:
“C. Requires training beginning at the lowest level of the Bridge at their expense if executives in charge of training will have the person or the group members.”
All earlier training steps or courses the person did are basically cancelled, so it’s back to the beginning. I think the theory here is that if someone is doing things Scientology considers antipathetic to its causes, then the person never understood what it was all about in the first place. This idea, of course, assumes that Scientology is just and fair and good in all things, which we’ve seen is not the case at all. And of course, with all the re-releases of Scientology basic courses and books and lectures, all Scientologists in good standing were already sent back down to the bottom of the Scientology Grade Chart. So in a way, Scientology leader David Miscavge is treating everyone in Scientology as though they were a suppressive person.
“D. Makes a note of all of the above matters with copies of the statement and files in the Ethics Files of those concerned.
“E. Informs the International Justice Chief and forwards a duplicate of the original statements which show signatures.”
These last two are simply administrative steps to get the paperwork of everything that has been done filed in the proper places and sent to the IJC so he or she can give final approval and lift the suppressive person declare.
I’ve said before that Scientology disconnection and suppressive person declarations are unlike most other religious group in the world in the degree of harshness and separation that is enforced. Short of outright killing an apostate, as is done in extremist Islamic cults, there is little that you can do to make a suppressive person’s life more difficult than the kinds of things Scientology does to people it’s declared. The same holds true for these steps of redemption, which are certainly harsher and more difficult than any other destructive cult or religious group I have so far encountered. Even with the Amish, one only has to ask for forgiveness and can pretty easily be accepted back into the community. Scientology demands a much higher level of repentence.
I hope this video has helped clarify a few things and show, once again, how the Church of Scientology’s policies really are about reinforcing its cloistered and authoritarian culture, free from any elements that could introduce critical thinking or freedom of thought and speech.
Thank you for watching.