Phil and Willie Jones haven’t had contact with their Scientologist children in more than two years — and they are desperate to reach them. In a bid to make contact, the ex–Scientology members erected a giant billboard begging their son, Mike, and daughter, Emily, to give them a call.
Unveiled on Monday, April 4, the sign hangs in Los Angeles’ Echo Park neighborhood, and takes aim at the Church’s alleged policy of disconnection, which some have claimed requires members to cut off all contact from former members. (Scientology’s website states, “There is no policy in Scientology that requires Church members to disconnect from anyone, let alone family and friends who simply have different beliefs.”)
The billboard reads, “to my loved one in Scientology … call me. StopScientologyDisconnection.com.”
The campaign was paid for by a GoFundMe effort that raised nearly $14,000.
Phil and Willie were members of the church for more than 40 years. When they left, they were labeled “Suppressive People.” During an interview with Today on Thursday, April 7, the heartbroken father of two cried remembering his last phone conversation with his son. “[He said], I never want to talk to you,” Phil recalled. “But that’s what they do. It’s a cruel and vindictive organization to do something like that.”
Speaking into Today’s camera, Willie made an emotional plea for her kids to get in touch. “We love you guys so much, and miss you so much,” she said. Added Phil, “And we won’t stop fighting for you, ever, ever.”
According to the New York Post, Emily has worked for Scientology leader David Miscavige and senior Church member Tom Cruise. When Emily got married, “We weren’t told,” Phil told the New York Post. “I don’t even know when they got married.”
The Church of Scientology released a statement about the matter to multiple outlets: “It is shameful that two people desperate for publicity would hook up with a reality TV producer to shamelessly exploit their two children over their choice of faith. It is equally despicable that these individuals would use a private family matter to promote anti-religious hate and bigotry.”
Phil and Willie are working with a documentary filmmaker to share their story.
UPDATE: The Church of Scientology sent Us Weekly the following statement in response to the billboard:
“The billboard in Echo Park is simply the latest in a series of publicity stunts by Phil and Willie Jones to stalk and harass their adult offspring, Mike Jones and Emily Jones, both of whom are members of the Church of Scientology.
Mike and Emily are both married and are in their 40s and 30s respectively and have made this life and religious choice knowingly and as a matter of their absolute free will. They are well satisfied with their choices and the Church stands by their decision.
Phil and Willie Jones raised their children in Scientology and were completely satisfied with the religious choices of their son and daughter. It was only after their own recent expulsion from the faith that the Jones parents launched a vendetta intended to harass their son and daughter into giving up their chosen faith.
For the past several weeks they have been working with a reality TV producer staging stunts intended to bring pressure on Mike and Emily to abandon their faith, including trying to get an LA area billboard company to post their billboard somewhere in the LA area. They finally found a small sign in a rundown area of Echo Park.
Clearly there is no fact checking with billboards. The Church’s response is as we have been saying:
“It is shameful that two people desperate for publicity would hook up with a reality TV producer to shamelessly exploit their two adult children over their choice of faith. It is equally despicable that these individuals would use a private family matter to promote anti-religious hate and bigotry.”