To give a quick summary, a “suppressive” is, according to L. Ron Hubbard, someone who is still fighting a long-ago and long-lost battle. The suppressive is trying to destroy rather than help. And a suppressive wants to stop people from getting better.
Hubbard estimated that the number of suppressives was some 2½% of the population. At another time, he said that the number of true suppressives in the world were quite few, less than a dozen.
That’s “suppressive” with a small “s”.
After Hubbard defined “suppressive”, he then created a long list of “crimes” against the Church of Scientology, or against himself, which, if someone was found guilty of committing one or more of them, they would be “declared Suppressive.” Meaning that the church considered that person “suppressive”. They didn’t actually have to exactly fit the definition of “suppressive” but they were labeled “Suppressive”.
That’s “Suppressive” with a capital “S”.
So, you have two different things here: A type of destructive personality, called, by Hubbard, “suppressive” and a Church of Scientology label called “Suppressive”.
It is important to understand that these are not the same thing. Originally, perhaps, the intention was that they were related, but as time went on, they became completely disassociated.
Over time, the list of Suppressive acts has been greatly increased and the added entries have been worded so generally that, well, pretty much anyone can now be considered, and labeled, Suppressive if the church so desires. In practice, a Suppressive is whoever Miscavige or the church says is one. They can decide to declare someone any time for any reason, or no reason—then cherry-pick from the list any of a number of very generally worded “crimes” to justify it. Because these “crimes” are so awfully general, they can never be disproved.
The practice of declaring someone Suppressive has simply become a way to keep the faithful in line. The threat of declaring a true-believer “Suppressive” is to threaten to take away what they believe is their one chance for eternal salvation. It is also a threat to cut them off from any family members or friends who are still in Scientology. For those who work for a Scientologist, being declared Suppressive means they will lose their job. For those business owners who have Scientology clients, it means losing their clients and, possibly, going out of business.
This is not a mild punishment. Being declared Suppressive by the Church of Scientology can, literally, ruin a person’s life.
And understand, it is done without “due process”, without any strict “rules of evidence” and is usually done in secret. The accused is usually not present. If the accused does attend and tries to bring a lawyer to the proceedings, the Suppressive declare is immediate and automatic. Or, to put it more bluntly, if the church wants to declare someone Suppressive, there is no defense, no way to stop them.
In addition, if a church staff member or a parishioner uncovers information the church is trying to cover up, the church declares them Suppressive to ensure that they cannot talk with any other Scientologist. Therefore, it has become standard practice at the International Management compound to quickly declare anyone who leaves the compound, a Suppressive. This is to ensure that the things that go on at International Management cannot be disclosed to other Scientologists.
As a result, the number of people “declared Suppressive” by the Church of Scientology is now estimated to exceed the number of all Scientologists currently in “good standing”!
It is reported that Miscavige has said privately that all “wogs” (non-Scientologists) are suppressive, all Scientologists who are not on staff are suppressive, and, further, that all Scientology staff outside of his core group at International Management, are suppressive as well. And he has made it abundantly clear, many times, that he’s not too sure about that core group either—most of those who have worked directly for Miscavige over the years have been declared Suppressive.
In fact, the only person in the whole world that Miscavige is positive is not a suppressive is himself.
Today, people can be, and are, declared Suppressive for these types of “crimes”:
- Reading the “wrong” book, article, or blog,
- Saying the “wrong” thing,
- Listening to the “wrong” things,
- Associating with the “wrong” people,
- Thinking the “wrong” thoughts (yes “thinking”), as discovered in auditing sessions,
- Mentioning that Miscavige’s recent tech alterations violate “Keeping Scientology Working”,
- Complaining about Hubbard being removed from Scientology.
Note that none of these include actually harming anyone or anything. The crimes here are for speaking, listening or thinking, not for actually doing anything.
In the Sea Org, at the level of International Management, the unofficial list has been expanded to include:
- Getting pregnant and refusing to get an abortion,
- Being married and refusing to get divorced when ordered to,
- Trying to get more sleep than the four hours allotted,
- Having the wrong “look” on your face when Miscavige is speaking (I’m not kidding),
- Being at the wrong location at the wrong time when Miscavige is angry,
- Defending yourself when a senior executive is beating you,
- Refusing to violate LRH standard tech when ordered to,
- Refusing to violate LRH standard policy when ordered to.
All these declarations, of course, have a domino-effect, because one of the most serious crimes in the Church of Scientology is “continued association with a declared Suppressive”. Every Scientologist, in order to stay in “good standing” with the church, is regularly faced with the requirement that they must “disconnect” (cut all contact) from parents, children, brothers, sisters, other family members and friends. Sadly, many do.
If a person refuses to stop talking with their declared parents, if they refuse to stop talking with their declared children or whoever, they are quickly declared Suppressive themselves.
Today, as a result of all this, those people labeled “Suppressive” by Miscavige and the Church of Scientology, consider it a badge of honor. These are the people who stood against tyranny. These are the people who stood up for what was right and good. These are the people who did what they knew to be the right thing despite heavy pressure by the church and by Miscavige against it.
That’s what a Church of Scientology declared “Suppressive” is today: A hero.