Jett Travolta’s Death: Scientology beliefs might have been the cause, but religious freedom is more important

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The death of Jett Travolta, sad though it may be, has caused Scientology to come under attack.    The group, which is perceived as a money-hungry power cult by many, criticizes the profession of psychiatry and many related disciplines as part of its doctrine.

Jett Travolta’s parents claim that the child suffered from Kawasaki syndrome, a rare condition that usually cures itself by the time a sufferer reaches five years of age.  More recent news reports of the incident suggest that Jett suffered from autism and a seizure disorder.   The controversy surrounding the death of John Travolta’s teenaged sun has caused the controversial faith to come under attack yet again.

As disagreeable as Scientology may be to some of us, no one is force to join it, and in the United States, religious belief, along with freedom of speech are protected by the first amendment. As someone, who like many Americans, considers Scientology a weird yet bizarrely fascinating faith, I must offer my condolences to the Travolta family.  The father and mother suffered a great loss.  The beliefs of the parents may be responsible, but if the press is going to attack Scientology on medical grounds, we must attack other faiths for the same reasons. 

The beliefs of  Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christian Scientists have likely caused more deaths than a Scientologist’s lack of belief in psychiatry.  Some journalists do pursue the groups aggressively, and they at least are consistent.   If the teenager’s parents let Jett Travolta die of a seizure disorder related to autism, such a death should serve as a warning to those who are not Scientologists of the dangers related to Jett’s condition.

We cannot let important rights, such as religious freedom, come under attack just because we dislike a particular group.  At worst, Scientology may have caused Jett Travolta’s death.   As unlikely as it may seem, John Travolta may be telling the truth about his son’s Kawasaki syndrome. The medical evidence to support either theory has not yet reached my desk.

I feel that what John Travolta may have done was wrong and he should have sought medical treatment for his son.  Autism is often a genetic disorder whose basis is not entirely psychological.  On the other hand, the actor and his wife did nothing criminal.    If following Scientology did cause the death of Jett Travolta, they are the ones who have to live with the guilt.   It is easy to forget that freedoms like speech and religion applies even to groups we do not like, and perhaps that is the most valuable lesson that can be learned from this tragedy.


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