What a way to celebrate Leap Day. Early this morning, Phil and Willie Jones’ project to put an anti-disconnection billboard on Hollywood Boulevard reached its funding goal, and now Phil tells us that he’ll quickly get the papers filed to make the sign a reality.
Let us back up just a little so we can savor this moment. Saturday night, late, we were putting the finishing touches on a story here in the Underground Bunker that we were very excited about. Rod Keller had submitted the first of what we think will be a terrific series about Scientologists and social media, and we had spent a couple of days with him getting the details set. Then, out of the blue, we got an email from Phil Jones.
It turns out that he’d been working with The Hole Does Not Exist, Artoo, and others to come up with the billboard idea. They’d already come up with a design, and they’d even put together a website and a GoFundMe page. And what an idea. Right there in Hollywood, in the middle of territory Scientology considers its own, Willie and Phil are going to unveil a sign that will be eye-catching and controversial. It may garner a lot of press as well as eyeballs to the website, StopScientologyDisconnection.com. We could see immediately that it was a project with huge potential.
So we hastily wrote a quick story about it and added it to the end of Rod’s post. With the GoFundMe already live — but with only $70 pledged — we couldn’t afford to wait to make a post just about the billboard.
Then, at 7 am on Sunday, the story hit, and you, our readers, took over. By mid-morning, someone had anonymously donated $1,000 as the money poured in. And what fun it was to keep refreshing to see how high it had reached.
“I am so grateful to so many people, all of whom care so much, and many who are embroiled in their own disconnection situations,” Phil tells us. “One thing I learned, of myself, is that this has grown bigger than Willie and me. Someone asked what we’d do if we got a call saying the kids would reconnect if we dropped the billboard. As heartbreaking as all of this has been I would not be able to desert the others. I didn’t hesitate. I would not accept any terms on this other than that which would include ALL of those who suffer from the abuse of Scientology disconnection. We are in it to the end.”
We hope the amount keeps growing. Phil pointed out to us that GoFundMe takes a cut, so they actually need to raise more than $8,200. But we assume the number will continue to grow. And thanks to the readers of the Underground Bunker for setting off this funding frenzy.
And one more minor detail we wanted to point out. For us, there was something very poignant and sad that underscored yesterday’s success. Purely by accident, one of the photos that Rod Keller had gathered for us happened to feature Emily Jones, Phil and Willie’s daughter, a Sea Org member who works for Author Services Inc., Scientology’s literary agency for L. Ron Hubbard.
She was one of three women pictured at the Long Beach Comic Expo recently selling Hubbard’s 1982 science fiction turd Battlefield Earth while wearing T-shirts with a phrase from the book, “Where the Crap Nebula?!”
Emily is the one in the middle.
Said Phil in the comments yesterday: “I had tears of joy when I saw how much support we’re getting on the billboard, and had a bit of a lump in my throat when I saw Emily in the photo from the Long Beach Comic Expo post. I wish I would have known she was there. I’d have gone to try to see her. Well, the billboard, and other things in the works, and we’ll make some noise. Maybe they’ll hear us.”
Bonus items from our tipsters
Mark Bunker explains today’s lost gem from the XENU TV archives: “One of my favorite Scientologists delayed me and Stacy Brooks from joining a picket with Bob Minton and others at the Fort Harrison. We always felt we were purposely being detained because while we had been talking to Steve, Scientology had goaded Bob into an ‘assault’ for which Bob had to stand trial. This clip is another fine example of Scientology bullbaiting.”
Our favorite Scientology poet, Eduardo Galan, hands out anti-drug literature in Quito.
Narconon Turkey shutting down its social media feeds? Does this mean the clinic is shutting down too after its ED was busted for drugs?
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield