Heartbroken parents make a $14,000 plea to their brainwashed children
April 12, 2016
“I NEVER want to talk to you again.”
Those are the final heartbreaking words Phil Jones heard from his son two years ago, before he and his sister walked away from their family to live with the Church of Scientology forever.
Disconnection: it’s really part of the code of being a Scientologist
Phil and his wife, Willie, have made numerous attempts to get in touch with them — calling on the phone to no avail, being turned away from their places of work — and now, in perhaps their grandest attempt yet, they’ve raised thousands of dollars to spend on a huge billboard they had put up on Glendale Boulevard, in Los Angeles.
It reads: “To my loved one in Scientology ... call me.”
The Hollywood couple paid for the billboard through the help of a GoFundMe campaign, which has to date raised more than $16,000. It is estimated that more than one million people will see it.
In addition to getting in touch with their children, they say they want to “make people more aware of Scientology Disconnection”, as well as encourage all those within the organisation to call their loved ones outside of it.
The Joneses were members of the infamous church for more than four decades, but left because there were too many financial demands. They now describe it as a “cruel and vindictive organisation.”
Phil estimated he had given between $100,000 and $150,000 to the organisation, and even then, he told The Hollywood Reporter, this amount was “a lot less than most Scientologists end up giving”.
“My son and daughter joined the Sea Organisation, which is the full commitment,” he said. “That’s where you sign a billion-year contract ... you work 100 hours a week for 10 cents an hour. It’s just brutal.”
Since their separation, the Jones children have made it clear they want nothing to do with their parents.
It makes me feel terrible
“Scientology is not allowing me to be a mum,” said Willie. “It’s not allowing Phil to be a dad.
“It makes me feel terrible — these are our children.”
The church responded to the Joneses’ billboard in a statement, accusing them of promoting “anti-religious hate and bigotry”.
“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.”
The couple are working with a documentary filmmaker on a feature in which they can tell their story in full.
But who has exploited who? The Joneses’ daughter Emily, 38, who used to work for Tom Cruise and David Miscavige, got married and didn’t bother to tell them.
They put up poster after poster of their son Michael, 42, around his work, hoping to encourage him to get in touch. He never did.
Phil and Willie say their children’s refusal to budge comes from an integral aspect of the church called Disconnection — a practice in which anyone who disagrees with the organisation is shunned completely.
WHAT IS DISCONNECTION?
Disconnection is a practice within Scientology which involves cutting all ties and communication with anyone who has been deemed antagonistic towards the church and its teachings.
The church has previously denied interfering in family relations. Some Scientologists insist there is no such thing as Disconnection, while others claim it is absolutely a last resort.
Scientology actually mandates
Tommy Davis, a former official and chief spokesperson of the church, gave an interview with CNN in 2008 saying: “There’s no such thing as disconnection as (the internet) characterised it”.
“Scientology actually mandates — it’s really part of the code of being a Scientologist — to respect the religious beliefs of others, so certainly a Scientologist is going to respect their family members’ beliefs,” he said.
“There isn’t any such policy in the church dictating who you can and cannot be in communication with, it just doesn’t happen.”
But the practice is readily acknowledged on the church’s own website.
It encourages members to disconnect from so-called “Suppressives” — people who in their eyes viciously attack the church.
“A Scientologist can have trouble making spiritual progress in his auditing or training if he is connected to someone who is suppressive or who is antagonistic to Scientology or its tenets,” it explains.
It explains that this can hinder spiritual development, and that “as a last resort, when all attempts to handle have failed, one ‘disconnects’ from or stops communicating with the person.”
The brainwashing aspect of the practice makes taking legal action a difficult process to enact. Whatever methods are used, the individual is ultimately convinced that disconnecting was “their decision”, and part of their personal progress in Scientology.
The church stresses this, describing disconnection as “self-determined decision made by an individual that he is not going to be connected to another”.
But the Joneses dispute this, saying there is nothing autonomous about the decision. On their website, they wrote: “If they fail to (disconnect) immediately then they will suffer the same fate of losing family, friends, and any business contacts they may have.”
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