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As a parent, it’s impossible not to feel the anguish that John Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, are feeling right now as they mourn the death of their son, Jett. It makes you want to hug your kids a little bit more, keep them close. There are truly no words to describe the sense of loss I am sure they are feeling.
Still, the couple are Scientologists, and all things Scientology seem to ignite controversy, especially on this World Wide Web of ours. It’s not my place or purpose right now to pass judgment on the family, on Scientology, or on those who speak out against it. More than anything, I want to express my sorrow and condolences and remember the life lost. Please add your own prayers and words of support to Beliefnet’s prayer circle in memory of Jett Travolta. You can find it here.
When it comes to Scientology, we tend to hear a lot from the religion’s spokespeople, from bloggers (especially critics), and from the media reporting on the sensational and celebrity angles. It’s not often you hear from or about a practicing Scientology layperson, and so I was fascinated to stumble across a blog by just that sort of person.


He identifies himself just as Grahame, a Clearwater, Fla. (where else?), software developer. I was struck by Grahame’s post reacting to Jett’s death and the way he addressed rumors that Scientology played a role. Here’s part of his post:

It never fails to astound me how people who hate my religion will take any opportunity, no matter how ghoulish, to attack my Church.
You have all probably seen the news about the tragic death of Jett Travolta. He was 16 years-old and suffered from seizures. It seems that on Friday he had a seizure, fell and hit his head on the bath tub. The medical examination has not been completed so it is too early to say exactly what happened.
However, some ghouls have decided to use this tragedy to attack Scientology. Can you imagine what sort of creeps would do something like that? Take a terrible family tragedy and twist it into some perverted attack on the family’s beliefs. That is so sick.
The rumors these sickos have started are now getting into the media (which contains its fair share of ghouls), so the Church of Scientology has had to give out a press release telling the truth about Scientology Members position on medical care.
Just the fact that the Church has had to do that is a sad reflection on our society and the ease with which false rumors can be gotten into the media and circulated world-wide.

I can understand his anger; it’s gotta be hard to see your faith attacked day in and day out in the media.
Contrary to so much of what I’ve seen in the blogosphere, Scientologists do believe in medicine, healthcare, and doctors, as Grahame says in his post.
It’s also true that Scientologists do not believe in psychiatry and psychiatric medicine. I don’t know if Jett Travolta suffered from a mental illness and could have benefited from treatment–but neither does anyone else, aside from the family, their doctors, and whoever else they decided to tell. Certainly not any of the bloggers using this as another opportunity to slam Scientology. While I agree with kris Rasmussen of Idol Chatter that a fuller accounting from the family can help quash rumors and educate the public, that’s their call, and it’s a personal one. For the rest of us, let’s let Jett Travolta rest in peace, and let his family mourn in peace.

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