Ex-Scientologist story #219, Caroline Brown, Forced disconnection.

 

Scientology is ruthless and cruel; nowhere is that shown more clearly than in the way families are torn apart by these “most ethical persons on the planet.”  If you have a relative, even if it is a son or a daughter, or a spouse or a parent.  You are expected to sever all connection with them if they are critical of Scientology in any way whatsoever.  The following is taken from the St. Petersburg Times, June 25, 2005, 

 The Unperson, Scientologists who cross their religion can be declared suppressive persons, shunned by peers and ostracized by family.  By Robert Farley.

“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.

It left Caroline Brown in Cincinnati, weeping at the sight of a basketball court.

***

Like so many Scientologists, Caroline and her family came to Clearwater in 1991 to escape the “wog” (non-Scientology) world.

By 1998, she was divorced and living with her teenage daughter, Darby ­Zoccali. Her ex-husband and son lived together just a few miles away.

Caroline was unhappy, depressed. Her drinking strained her relationship with Darby.

Mother and daughter agreed Caroline could give her life new purpose by taking a Scientology job in Ohio. As a church staffer, her Scientology counseling would be free.

Darby, who just turned 18, stayed in Clearwater in her own apartment.

But the counseling in Cincinnati didn’t help, Caroline said. Depressed and having anxiety attacks, she was flat broke and crying herself to sleep.

Walking past a basketball court one day, she burst into tears.

Her son played basketball. What was she doing in Cincinnati, working 14 hours a day, seven days a week, a thousand miles away from her son and daughter?

Caroline decided to bolt — from Cincinnati and from Scientology — even though she knew she almost certainly would be declared a suppressive person.

Hers was an “unauthorized departure,” akin to going AWOL. To leave church service in good standing, Scientology staffers must complete “sec checks” — short for security checks.

They are like confessionals. Scientologists spell out transgressions to “feel better about them and take responsibility for them,” Clearwater church spokesman Ben Shaw said. “It is one of the most invigorating experiences you can imagine.”

The process can take months. Fellow church staffers pose questions to the out­going member seeking to discover “crimes” deemed to be the source of suppressive acts.

Questions include whether an SP has made statements against Scientology to friends or to the media, but the sec checks can be extremely personal, according to church documents obtained by the Times. Questions can probe possible drug use, history of theft or nonpayment of taxes, or ask about masturbation or homosexuality.

A staffer who leaves without routing out through sec checks violates a signed church contract, Shaw said, and likely will be declared an SP.

That’s what happened to Caroline. After she returned to Clearwater, the Scientology community turned its back. She bumped into an old Scientology friend at a Dollar Store. Without so much as a hello, the woman said, “Go handle it. You go fix it. Handle it.”

Darby wrote her mother a disconnection letter, and helped her brother, then 14, write one too. The letters are clear: Until you get back on good terms with Scientology, Mom, we’re disconnecting.

Darby says her decision to disconnect from her mother had nothing to do with Scientology. She says her mother doesn’t need to become a Scientologist again for them to have a relationship. But she needs to do the sec checks to remove the SP label.

Her message for her mother: “All you have to do is fix it. So do it. It’s not that horrible.”

Now 23, Darby is a Pilates instructor and a service broker for her boyfriend’s telecom company. She took her first Scientology class when her mother was in Cincinnati.

“Every time I used it, my life got better,” she said. “I’m not going to give that up for someone who created so much pain.”

Her mother knew the consequences of walking away.

“It’s more like she disconnected from me,” Darby said.

When Caroline got her son’s disconnection letter, she called a lawyer. Her parental rights trumped Scientology’s disconnection doctrine. She and the boy met at Cody’s Roadhouse in Clearwater.

“I love you more than any other human being on the planet,” she told her son.

He lit up, she said. She now sees him regularly. But not Darby.

“My heart is still broken about not having my family,” Caroline said. “I’m the one who got her (Darby) in it. I’d like to be the one who gets her out.”

Remarried now, Caroline attends St. Petersburg College, hoping to become an art teacher.

“It’s fun creating a new life,” she said. “I just wish the ones I love more than anyone in the world could be part of it.”

 
To read the rest of this story go here:  http://www.sptimes.com/2006/06/24/Tampabay/The_unperson.shtml
Published in: on July 9, 2011 at 8:40 pm  Leave a Comment