LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – A billboard that went up in Echo Park Monday is asking members of the Church of Scientology to reconnect with their estranged loved ones.
“To my loved ones in Scientology … call me,” the billboard says.
The billboard is an effort to call attention to the church’s policy of disconnection, in which church members sever ties from non-church members who are “suppressive or … antagonistic to Scientology or its tenets.”
The billboard was paid for by a GoFundMe crowdfunding effort spearheaded by Las Vegas couple Phil and Willie Jones that has raised nearly $14,000.
The two were members of the church for 40 years, but decided to leave the church.
“… Heavy pressure to donate money. We were just not interested in that anymore,” Willie Jones said.
For the past three years, they’ve been estranged from their two grown children, Mike and Emily. Mike and Emily are still involved with the church and are employees of the church’s Sea Org, which reportedly pays meager wages and comes with a billion-year commitment.
“We know people who’ve had kids in Scientology, or people with family in Scientology who’ve died before they ever got to see them. So we don’t want to be in that situation,” Phil Jones said.
The couple originally planned to put the billboard up closer to the Hollywood offices of church leader David Miscavige, but outdoor advertising companies Regency Outdoor Advertising and Outfront Media pulled out of the deal, according to Scientology blog Underground Bunker.
The Echo Park billboard went up through Lamar Media.
The Joneses said they are working on a documentary about their experiences, and they regret raising their children as Scientologists.
In a written statement, Linda Wieland, a representative of the church said, “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,”