John Travolta and Kelly Preston are grieving the loss of their 16 year old son today. While on vacation at their Bahama retreat, the 16 year old went to the bathroom on Jan 1 and was found by his attendant, Jeff Kathrein the next day at 10 AM, after suffering an apparent seizure and hitting his head as he fell. An autopsy is planned.
The only thing that has been revealed by his parents about his health is that he was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease as a toddler. It is a disease of blood vessels and leads to inflammation and heart problems in young children but it is not a chronic condition. Kawasaki disease does not cause epilepsy. John and Kelly blamed household cleaners and fertilizers for the disease and became obsessed about his space being cleaned, John told CNN's Larry King in a 2001 interview. They used their religion, "Scientology", to cleanse his system.
There have been reports for years that young Jett Travolta suffered from autism, although the family has denied it. Autism and other neurologic disorders are not accepted by the Scientology community and they are against medical treatment for neurologic conditions. Scientologists believe that the they are capable of curing themselves, as long as they focus harder on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology in 1954.
This should be a private moment of grieving for the Travoltas, but their religious beliefs will now be open to scrutiny and there is already much criticism of their "denial" of their son's autism. By forgoing treatment or medical evaluation, their Scientology beliefs may have contributed to his death.
I am firmly against religious cults and Scientology has all of the elements of a cult. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines five elements of a cult:
- 1. Formal religious veneration
- 2. A system of religious beliefs and ritual; also: its body of adherents;
- 3. A religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also: its body of adherents;
- 4. A system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator;
- 5. Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book)
- Scientology certainly fulfills these elements and I hope, for the parent's sake, the cause of his death was not tied to their religious beliefs.