Phil and Willie Jones, the Las Vegas couple who got a lot of press for raising the money to put up a billboard in Los Angeles bringing attention to Scientology’s “disconnection” policy, have arrived in Florida this week for the unveiling of a new billboard in the town of Clearwater, Scientology’s spiritual headquarters.
Phil and Willie were longtime Scientologists who were drummed out of the organization when Phil’s sister turned them in for harboring doubts. Their two grown children, Mike and Emily, cut off all ties with them once they were kicked out of the church, as is required by the harsh Scientology policy. Mike and Emily both work for the church’s most hardcore group, the Sea Organization, which requires them to sign billion-year contracts and work for pennies an hour.
Phil and Willie have said that they don’t care if their children want to continue their involvement in Scientology, they just want to be a family again. They were motivated to put up billboards in multiple locations, they say, because so many families have been ripped apart by the policy.
But as they were preparing to make the long drive to Florida last week, Phil contacted us with some pretty startling news.
“Emily called,” he told us.
This took place after Emily had written a harsh letter to the Tampa Bay Times, accusing her parents of being deadbeats who were trying to use their opposition to the church in order to make money. Phil denied those allegations, and Willie gave us a response to her daughter for us to publish. And then, on Friday, they heard from Emily herself, the first phone call they had received from her in several years.
“I was shocked and happy at the same time. Scientology must be getting way nervous about what we are doing if they’ve gone to this extent. Anyway, she called and was calm at first, starting off with ‘Hi, this is Emily’,” Phil says.
“She said that if we wanted to have a relationship with her and Michael again I’d need to do three things. One was to stop the billboard in Clearwater from going up. The second was to back out of the television series that we’re going to appear in. And three was to never criticize Scientology or them ever again.”
Phil tells us he told his daughter that he was willing to do those things — but only if Scientology canceled its disconnection policy against all families, and not just their own.
“She said this was just between her and me. I told her no…I could never abandon all of those others who are suffering from Scientology’s disconnection,” Phil says. “It went back and forth like that for a while as she got a bit more heated. I tried to calm her down but in the end she hung up on me.
“As much as we love our kids and want them back, how would I be able to face anyone if I was that selfish as to agree to those terms and leave everyone else behind?” he says. “It was so nice to hear Emily’s voice. It’s been a few years. Sadly, it may be a few more at this point.”
We asked Willie for her thoughts, and she sent us this message…
Wow, a surprise call from Emily! It was a bag of mixed emotions for both of us. On the one hand it was so nice to hear from her, and on the other it went exactly as expected. It was one sided. I have watched this type of interaction play out in the past. Attack, do not defend, lay out the demands and expect compliance. It makes me sad for her because I know this is not who she is but what has become expected of her. Her survival in the organization depends on 100 percent compliance.
What Emily does not realize yet is that when Phil said he would agree to all three demands if disconnection was abolished for all, he was attempting not only to make her life better but for all Scientologists. The church has a stake in keeping disconnection alive because it is the greatest control mechanism they have. If only they could understand that this is what is doing them in.
After the call we cried and held on to each other. It is a highly emotional subject. Maybe some day instead of seeing us as the enemy, they will understand we never gave up on them.
Phil and Willie will be holding their dedication ceremony for the billboard on Saturday. When the billboard goes up in the next few days, we’ll let you know where it is.
No, Scientology did not just disprove the stories about Miscavige and Cruise
We have only a few things to note here. The December story was the Daily Mail pretending that it had an exclusive on material about Tom Cruise and David Miscavige that had actually first appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 2005, and in the St. Petersburg Times in 2009, as well as in Janet Reitman’s 2011 book Inside Scientology and Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book Going Clear. That David Miscavige and Tom Cruise are unusually tight as friends is well established and not controversial. That Miscavige videotaped Cruise’s auditing sessions and played them back later for friends is a claim made consistently by Tom DeVocht, who repeated that claim in Alex Gibney’s 2015 film, Going Clear. Miscavige and the Church of Scientology have never proved these claims to be unfounded, although they pretend that they have.
As we said just a few weeks ago, we had learned from a source at the Daily Mail that the publication has been under a legal onslaught by the church, resulting in some very odd and badly written stories containing total falsehoods about Saint Hill Manor and about the Scientology Media Productions studio in Los Angeles. We were told this was the Daily Mail’s attempt to deal with the legal harassment by the church — by publishing blowjobby fantasies about Tom Cruise and the church. It’s an unfortunate way for the publication to handle the pressure it’s under.
Also, Miscavige complained about the December story to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, a British press watchdog and not something we have here in the U.S. Rather than defend its December article about Miscavige and Cruise, the Daily Mail told IPSO that the piece was reported and written in the U.S. and that it complied with U.S. law.
So IPSO, acting as a court would when one party refuses to present its case, has “found” for Miscavige, even though IPSO itself did not investigate the truth of the claims made in the story — again, stories that had actually been thoroughly reported years earlier here in the U.S.
Miscavige will crow that this proves Tom DeVocht’s stories about him have been officially found to be untrue, but that’s not actually the case. All we’ve learned is that the Daily Mail won’t stand up for its own reporters, and has lately been printing pure garbage about Scientology in order to please its attorneys. Please keep that in mind the next time you see the word “Scientology’ at the Daily Mail website.
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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