Last July, we told you the complex saga of Brian Sheen, a Florida man whose grown daughter cut him out of her life on instructions of the Church of Scientology for reasons that were maddeningly murky.
Sheen had been very active in Scientology decades ago, but had left it in 1979. Since then, he’d never been antagonistic toward the organization, and he never discouraged his daughter Springsong from being a member. In 2014, he happily attended as Springsong married into a wealthy Scientology family — the Atkinson-Bakers, who own a national court-reporting business.
So when Sheen got a letter last April informing him that he had been declared a “suppressive person” by the Church of Scientology and would need to perform an amends project in order to get back into the good graces of the organization, he says he was completely taken by surprise. But more importantly, he soon heard from his daughter, who told him that until he completed the project, she couldn’t have anything to do with him. She was disconnecting.
Sheen has fought back in interesting ways. He filed a civil rights complaint to a Florida commission which was denied, and he created a website trying to raise awareness about Scientology’s policy that rips apart families.
And now that it’s been a year since he was declared, Sheen wanted to share with us what he’s been doing since we last wrote about him.
“I saw my daughter,” he told us, and that definitely got our attention. He said he went to see her on March 28. What happened? we asked him.
“I was out in California, and I went to her place and knocked on the door,” he said. And?
“I didn’t have any idea of what would happen. But it was very clear that she was really stressed out to see me, that’s for sure.”
So she wasn’t cooperative?
“The question she kept asking was, why are you here?”
When we wrote about Brian last July, we managed to get Springsong on the phone and talked to her for several minutes. Our conversation tended to bolster what Sheen had told us, that he believed she was disconnecting from him on instructions from the church and not because she really wanted to turn away from her own father. “I love my dad very much and I want him to sort things out. And he knows what he needs to do,” she told us.
But this time, Sheen says, things had changed.
“It’s clear that she looks at me like now I really am an enemy to the church, and therefore to her. And even though I tried to bring in information about what a fraud L. Ron Hubbard was, and why I’ve taken the position I have, it was just really weird,” he said. “It was like my daughter, who loves me, who I always had a loving relationship with, now it was dad, you need to go to the church and you need to do your ‘a to e.’ I told her there’s no way I’d submit myself to this church I call evil. They don’t follow their own policies, why should I pay them a few thousand dollars to get in good standing? They need to make amends to me.
“It didn’t go very well,” he added.
“At one point she said, ‘I’m not brainwashed. I’m not a robot.’ It’s clear to me they have spent a lot of time detailing to her what my ‘high crimes’ are supposed to be. She knows about my website. The TV spots. Your story about it.”
She may also have been told about a visit Sheen made in January to Scientology’s Flag Land Base in Clearwater.
“I wanted to see the Master at Arms. I wanted to see my file. Instead, they escorted me off the property and put a private investigator on me who followed me around Clearwater,” he said.
In an act of protest, Sheen posted a document at the Fort Harrison Hotel in the style of Martin Luther. Sheen’s “95 Theses” contained his indictments of Scientology, but they were quickly torn down by Scientologists who called the police on him.
“They wanted me arrested for trespassing. They ripped down what I’d posted,” he said.
But he’s undaunted. Since he made news last summer, he’s gathered strength from the people he’s met who have also been declared and were subjected to disconnection. He also met Paulette Cooper, the subject of our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely.
“The community of people opposing this organization and its policies is getting stronger every day. Just look at Phil’s billboard. It’s incredible,” Sheen said.
We thanked him for the update, and we told him we expect to hear a lot more from him in the coming months.
Nora Crest sits down with Allison Hope Weiner
Once again, Nora spins a spellbinding tale, this time for our own LipTV…
GoFundMe gives Fauteux family money that was stolen from them
“GoFundMe is providing the family of Tab[a]tha Fauteux with the money raised on her behalf,” a company spokesperson said in an email. “We want to make sure they receive the help they need during this distressing time.”
“Fraud is very rare on the GoFundMe platform, but when it does happen, we do everything we can to make sure that those affected get the help they need,” the spokesman added.
We’ll see if we can get a word about it from Guy Fauteux later today.
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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