Wearing masks, sunglasses, hooded sweatshirts and bandanas, protestors rallied for the third time in three months outside the Church of Scientology in Dupont Circle on Saturday to raise awareness of the church’s practices.

Numbering 40 to 50, members of the leaderless online group Anonymous met at Dupont Circle at 11 a.m. and marched up to the red-bricked Founding Church of Scientology on 20th Street. At the same time, Anonymous groups in cities including Philadelphia, Boston and Madison, Wis., held similar protests at local Scientology sites.

Protestors toted signs reading “Reconnect” and “Scientology destroys lives!” to protest “disconnection,” which they claimed is a policy in which Scientologists are cut off from family members and friends who are seen as antagonistic toward the church.

“If a family member of a Scientologist say, sees something on the news or reads something on the Internet and tries to dissuade the Scientologist, then the Church labels that family member a `suppressive person’ and that Scientologist breaks off all contact,” said Arnie Lerma, one of the protestors and an ex-Scientologist of 30 years.

But Rev. Susan Taylor, president of the Founding Church of Scientology, said that disconnection does not exist as a policy and maintained that the Church of Scientology supports healthy relationships between members and their friends and family.

“If I have problems with my son or parents, I am encouraged to solve these problems. We even have trained ministers who are working to help restore these relations,” Taylor said. “A `suppressive person’ is an antisocial personality that constantly invalidates another person, holding them down.”

Lerma, however, pointed to the case of Jenna Miscavige, the niece of Scientologist leader David Miscavige. According to a letter posted on Lerma’s Web site, at age 16, Jenna stayed in the Church of Scientology when her parents left. She wrote that during this period, all contact with her parents was cut.

“Not only was I not allowed to speak to them,” wrote Jenna, “I was not allowed to answer a phone for well over a year, in case it was them calling me.”

Protestors for Anonymous wear masks and refuse to give out names to protect themselves from retribution from Scientologists.

“If the church physically identifies a person, it will threaten, harass or sue,” said one protestor who did not give her name and who covered her face with a speckled black-and-white bandana and darkly tinted glasses.

Anonymous plans to protest Scientology once a month for the foreseeable future, according to the Web site whatisanonymous.org.

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