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DISCONNECTION: A Double Dose of Scientology’s Toxic Use of “Leverage”

Lori Hodgson

Lori Hodgson

Leah Remini’s defection from Scientology put into stark relief one of the church’s most toxic policies: Disconnection. Because Remini and her family dared to walk away, their longtime Scientology friends were told to cut off ties with them as quickly as possible.

The church put out a statement, denying that its members are forced to disconnect, but we asked our readers for examples that prove the policy is still in force and is quite common. Mike Rinder and other former Scientology officials tell us that the church uses Disconnection as a way to have “leverage” over its members and keep them controlled. After we made our call for entries, we received a remarkable outpouring of stories, but some came in later and we wanted to highlight a couple of them today.

We’re starting off with a letter from Lori Hodgson, a woman we’ve written about before. The last time we checked in with her, she had made a trip to Texas to surprise her son for Mother’s Day.

Now, she’s given us this open letter to Scientology’s leader. We hope he sees it.

David Miscavige,

My name is Lori Hodgson. I am a mother to two adult children, Jessica and Jeremy Leake.


I resigned from The Church of Scientology on August 30, 2010. Because I spoke publicly about the abuses that my children and I endured, the church, under your authority, applied its “disconnection” policy, tearing apart our family.

“Disconnection” is a policy written by Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard. He later appeared to cancel it, but the practice never actually stopped. And now it appears you’ve taken its cruel effects to a more destructive level.

I’m appealing to your sense of decency as a human being. How would it feel to have those dearest to you taken away? Imagine being ripped apart from those you love most. This is what disconnection does.

You lead a group that claims to be the most ethical people on the planet, yet you’re responsible for splitting apart so many people.

I hold you responsible for breaking up my family. I have been disconnected from my daughter Jessica and my son Jeremy since Feb 6, 2011. I miss my children terribly and what you have done is beyond cruel.

I’m not only speaking for my own situation, but for all of the families that have been destroyed by this practice.

I’m asking you to find some human decency within yourself to end disconnection once and for all.

All you have to do is make one phone call to your executives and tell them you’ve called off the policy and that you’ll allow disconnected families to reunite again.

Please do what is right.

I await your reply.

Lori Hodgson

We received many other examples of how disconnection tears apart families in Scientology. And none of them hit us quite as hard as the following account. We want to thank Jan’s friend, who helped her type up and submit it.

My name is Jan Sherrie Woods. This is an account of my firsthand experience of “disconnection,” the toxic policy that is the Church of Scientology’s version of shunning.

I got involved in Scientology in the 1960’s, and I introduced my sister into it not long after. She immediately joined the Sea Org, while I joined staff at a mission, followed by a stint on staff at the LA Org. After my staff experience, I remained a public Scientologist until the early 1980’s.

I left the official Church when the Religious Technology Center and David Miscavage took over Scientology in 1984. I continued to practice independently and did OT 3 in the field. By 1987 I had left Scientology behind, independent or otherwise.

In 1993 the Church rediscovered me. I had a small amount of money on account at the Advanced Organization and I was being hounded to donate more money to buy Scientology services. I finally got fed up with the barrage of calls, and after some ranting and raving like a lunatic and demands for a return of the money, I was refunded the $66.00 (yes, really, $66) and I was declared a “suppressive person.”

My sister continued in Scientology all these years. She remained in the Sea Org for seventeen years and after leaving the SO continued as a public Scientologist. In spite of our different paths we maintained a good relationship. We each respected the other’s freedom of choice.

In 2003, I was declared legally blind. I was born with Glaucoma, and while one can manage the disease and stave off blindness if one follows medical advice and takes advantage of available treatments, I had not done so. During my many active years with Dianetics and Scientology I attempted to “handle” my Glaucoma with L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology.” Scientologists believe that Hubbard’s procedures are vastly superior to “wog” medicine, and will often neglect standard medicine. If it were not for those years of medical neglect, I might still have my sight. The deterioration of my sight escalated in the late 1990’s and I was in and out of surgery and various treatments — all to no avail.

In 2002, my sister, now living in Southern California and still a Church member, contacted me and informed me that she was flying into Portland to meet me. She had been at Flag, Scientology’s main service center in Clearwater, Florida, trying to get onto the upper level Scientology step “OT 7.” She was not able to because her sister was an “SP.” She was instructed to immediately “handle or disconnect,” and flew directly from Clearwater to Portland. She requested that I meet her in her hotel room. When I arrived, I was shocked to see not only my sister, but also an executive staff member of the local Scientology Org waiting for me. I had been ambushed.

“Handling” me meant that they wanted me back in the Church. They wanted me to do the steps required to get back into the good graces of Scientology, which included a massive “amends project” to make up for the “harm” I had done. Then, I would be required to re-do all of my Scientology training from the bottom up — at my own expense of course (many thousands of dollars).

My sister remained in Portland for a few days – days of constant browbeating, invalidation, and intimidation by her and the local Scientology ambassador. It was a horrible and emotional experience. I thought of suicide at one point. I even paid back the $66 refund, the official “crime” for which I had been expelled. Ultimately, despite my love for my sister, I could not force myself to bow to their unreasonable demands and cave in to the cult. So I was not “handled,” and my sister had to disconnect from me. She could no longer be in touch with me in any way, according to the dictates of Scientology.

By 2007, I was blind and living on disability in Portland Oregon. I was also attempting to care for our mother, who had developed Alzheimer’s. This required many trips to and from Florida where our mother lived. Traveling and handling affairs of this nature was made even more complicated by my blindness. My sister continued to refuse to speak to me. In fact, she had hired a firm to mediate between us. This way, important legal matters would be negotiated by a third party, and she would not have to have any actual contact with me, the horrible “SP.”

As our mother’s illness progressed, it became obvious that she would need to be moved to a “Memory Care” facility. Via the mediation firm, I asked my sister to please find a place for my mother in the area where my sister lived. My mother loved the California weather and disliked Portland. My sister refused to do this, so I had our mother moved to a facility in Oregon for the final months of her life.

My sister never spoke to me or our mother again. Apparently she had disconnected from our mother as well. My sister never came to Portland to see her or to help in any way. Our mother passed away a few years ago. My sister did not come to the funeral. There was no more mediation firm. It was over.

I love my sister and always will. But I despair of ever seeing her or talking to her again, as long as she remains in the grip of the Church of Scientology and its evil policies that tear families apart. I hope that someday she finds her way to break free.

Thank you, Jan, for sharing your story with us.


Bella_CruiseBella Cruise Out of Scientology? Not According to Our Sources

We love Woman’s Day, Australia’s largest magazine, which has teamed up in the past with the Underground Bunker for several stories, most recently on a piece involving former church member Joe Reaiche.

But this time, we think the magazine is getting ahead of itself by declaring that Bella Cruise has left Scientology. We were the first to break the news last year that Bella — Tom’s daughter — was facing a tough choice when the man she’d been living with, Eddie Frencher, joined Scientology’s “Sea Org.” We had multiple sources who told us that Bella was seriously considering joining the Sea Org herself so she could stay near him. Instead, her dad whisked her to London, which appeared to us a clear sign that he didn’t want her to join the SO, Scientology’s restrictive inner corps.

Frencher himself only lasted a short time in the Sea Org, and after he routed out the two kids were reunited, we reported. We had even heard that they were engaged. But new information convinces us that they’ve grown apart. Frencher recently said on his newest Facebook account that he was relieved to be “back” after seven months away, and we take that to mean that he’s home in Los Angeles and no longer involved with Bella.

Some news organizations for some reason would love to report that Bella has rebelled against her father and left Scientology, but none of our sources tell us that’s true. In fact, some things we’ve heard about Bella attending school in London convince us that she’s not only in the church but that the church is making a concerted effort to keep her in the fold.

We think Woman’s Day is correct in breaking the news that Bella and Eddie are over, but we don’t think she’s left the church. That’s just our two cents.


Karen de la Carriere on OSA’s Smear Websites

Another strong video from Karen and the Angry Gay Pope.



Posted by Tony Ortega on July 22, 2013 at 07:00

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