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Scientology buys ‘.org’ and ‘.net’ sites to battle anti-disconnection billboard in Los Angeles

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Twice, the Church of Scientology managed to head off Phil and Willie Jones as they attempted to get a billboard put up in Los Angeles about the organization’s toxic “disconnection” policy. The couple, former church members who live in Las Vegas, signed contracts with Outfront Media and Regency Outdoor, but both caved to pressure from Scientology and rescinded the contracts at the last minute.

Phil and Willie pressed ahead, and found a third company, Lamar, that was willing to post their message on a billboard in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles. The billboard was put up Monday morning, and then a media frenzy descended on the couple as they held a dedication ceremony on Wednesday. The billboard simply asks Scientologists to call their loved ones, in defiance of disconnection.

And now, we learn that Scientology had a backup plan while it was trying to keep the billboard from going up. Phil and Willie’s billboard directs people to a website they set up to discuss disconnection. Its URL is StopScientologyDisconnection.com. But last night, Phil realized that Scientology has bought up the same URL — with the suffixes .org and .net — in order to catch web surfers who type in the wrong thing.

Although the ownership of the alternate sites is hidden behind a proxy, the content of the websites makes it clear that it’s Scientology who owns them — they link to the main scientology.org mothership. Both website domains were purchased late in the evening of February 29 — the day the billboard reached its funding goal after we first posted news about the project and our readers helped raise the first $10,000.

The Scientology site mimics the style of the Jones billboard, as you can see above, with portraits of Scientologists and, instead of “Call me,” the words “Meet us.”

Clicking on the portraits takes you to a page at the scientology.org site where you can watch video testimonials that Scientology began making in 2009.

Clicking on the “What is Disconnection” header takes you to a page at scientology.org that lays out Scientology’s argument that disconnection is voluntary, and a sensible thing to do in the face of antagonism from someone.

But hundreds of Scientologists who have left the organization in recent years tell us that disconnection is a ruthless tool used to enforce discipline. If you fall afoul of leader David Miscavige and his dictatorial rule, you may find your family ripped apart as the church demands that members cut off all ties from a person declared “suppressive.”

The examples are voluminous, but one of the best was the document that Sara Goldberg presented to Tampa Bay Times reporter Joe Childs, and then to documentary maker Alex Gibney for his film Going Clear.

Sara’s son, Nick Lister, had been declared suppressive because he had associated with one of the church’s enemies, former spokesman Mike Rinder. But Sara sent a letter to the church’s “International Justice Chief,” Mike Ellis, explaining that her son had problems and she really needed to take care of him. Ellis told her he couldn’t approve it. She would need to disconnect if she wanted to stay in contact with her daughter, who was very loyal to the church. Here, see for yourself…

 
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Let us translate for you: “You cannot see or talk to your own son.”

The Church of Scientology forced Sara Goldberg to choose between her two children. She refused to give up on her son, and so she was declared suppressive, and her daughter then disconnected from her.

Scientologists and their families face this Orwellian nightmare every day. If they dare to question the church in any way, they may find their family ripped apart.

Another amazing example we provided here at the Underground Bunker: You can actually hear it as a woman, Sylvia DeWall, is told that she’s being kicked out of Scientology because she admitted to watching Leah Remini on Dancing with the Stars, and she watched a Lawrence Wright interview. She tells the young ethics officer that getting kicked out of the church will cause her marriage to split up, because her husband was a loyal Scientologist. The young ethics executive tells her she needs to answer for her actions.

These are not unusual cases. They happen in Scientology every day. And that’s why Phil and Willie Jones wanted to raise awareness about disconnection with a billboard not far from the church buildings where young people work around the clock for pennies an hour, cut off from friends and family and the outside world.

Phil tells us he noticed pretty early on that the alternate URLs had been purchased by someone, so he kept checking to see if anything would be done with them…

When I registered the StopScientologyDisconnection.com site I had the thought that I should register the .org and .net as well because it would be just like Scientology to scoop them up for their own opposing use. At the time, though, we were running on fumes, so I just did the .com site. It was only about a week or at most two weeks and the other two were purchased under hidden domain ownership. I kind of figured it must be Scientology but there was no way to know for sure.

I kept checking periodically to see what might be put up there. After a while I thought maybe they just took them so that I couldn’t have them. Then today I did one of my periodic checks and bingo, there was Scientology in all its glory.

As frustrating as it might be I don’t think it really makes much of a difference. The few people who end up going there won’t ever likely go into an Org or join Scientology.

On the other side of the coin it’s just great fodder for us to point out how Scientology spends time and money to try to cover up their dark practices like disconnection.

Scientology’s response to the news explosion this past week isn’t making a difference. Most news sites print the Scientology statement verbatim, but some of them vetted our statements before airing. Even so there isn’t one person who has said, “Well, the Scientology statement sure makes sense. I think I’ll side with them”. All the feedback we’ve gotten has been very positive and supportive. Our message is definitely getting out there.

Here’s what Phil’s actual website looks like…

 
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THE BILLBOARD TIMELINE

January 31: We reveal that Phil Jones — known as “Sid” here in the Bunker — has been working with a TV production company while he tries to reach his disconnected kids.
February 28: We post a notice about Phil’s GoFundMe page to raise money for the billboard. When the story hits at 7 am, there is $70 in the kitty.
February 29: Less than 24 hours after we posted the notice, our readers have helped surpass the original goal of $8,200 — the billboard is funded.
March 2: Phil announces that he’s signed a three-month contract with Outfront Media for the billboard, and he tells us that he’s thinking of having some kind of dedication event.
March 5: Outfront Media’s New York office cancels the contract that its Los Angeles office had signed. Phil vows to find another company.
March 9: Phil tells us that Regency Outdoor has signed a contract and the billboard will be on Hollywood Blvd, just a block from David Miscavige’s personal office and residence.
March 12: We identify Scientology’s media buyer who is trying to derail the billboard.
March 15: Regency Outdoor now caves as well in the face of the pressure being put on by Scientology.
April 4: Lamar Media puts up the billboard on Glendale Avenue in Echo Park.
April 6 is the Wednesday when Phil and Willie hold their dedication ceremony and the press shows up in droves.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on April 9, 2016 at 07:00

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

 

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