January 7th, 2009
07:18 PM ET

Scientologist speaks out on Travolta death

Program Note: Watch Randi Kaye's full report tonight on AC360° at 10pm ET.

Jett Travolta died Friday while on vacation with family in the Bahamas.

Jett Travolta died Friday while on vacation with family in the Bahamas.

Randi Kaye | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

So many rumors out there about John Travolta denying his son anti-seizure medication we decided to tackle the subject for tonight’s show!

Here’s the issue. Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston are Scientologists so the blogs have been going nuts with chatter claiming that Scientologists don’t believe in medicine and that Jett Travolta’s parents denied him medication which contributed to the seizure that killed him.

I called the Church of Scientology to find out what is really going on. Tommy Davis, a spokesman for the church, told me, “Scientologists ... get conventional medical treatment for medical conditions" and "use prescription drugs as prescribed by a doctor."

Travolta’s lawyer had said last week that Jett had been on anti-seizure medicine for a few years but it stopped working. The seizures returned.

What Scientologists don’t agree with is psychotropic drugs like anti-depressants. Remember when Tom Cruise, the actor and Scientologist, went off on Matt Lauer on the Today Show about this?

Davis, the church spokesman, told me, “medical diagnoses are based on medical conditions. Psychiatric conditions are subjective."

And that’s true. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association admits there is no conclusive way to test for a chemical imbalance.

We also tackled the issue of Autism. Jett’s parents have always denied their son was autistic. I asked Davis if the church recognizes autism. He told me simply, “the church does not involve itself in diagnosis or classification of any medical condition." That was as far as he would go.

You may have already heard Jett was cremated in the Bahamas. Turns out that cremation is not required by the church. The founder of the Church of Scientology was cremated but other Scientologists, like musician Issac Hayes who recently died, have chosen to be buried.

The church spokesman did tell me that Scientologists believe that “you lived before and that you will live again," and that Jett’s parents, as Scientologists, "believe they’ll see their son again."

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Filed under: Randi Kaye • Religion
soundoff (244 Responses)
  1. Everett Williams

    Jett and John Travolta and family are victims of their belief system, fostered by Scientology to gain the publicity provided by having prominent actors to support the religion. Scientology set up a Hollywood center to bring in young actors, some of whom would later become prominent. Within the religion, they benefit from privileges made available to them by victimizing many other members. And, Scientology does not believe in medication for any mental disorder, and they resist all psychology and psychiatry to the point of causing the death of members of their religion who had severe mental disorders that went untreated. One has only to look at the collision between Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields over her use of medications to treat her post partum problems to understand how ugly this can be. Most will not protest Scientology's abuses, because Scientology's internal policies allow them to attack by any means those they regard as their enemies, and attack they do. They have destroyed the lives of many, harassing them, suing them, threatening them.

    Certainly, let the Travolta's suffer their loss in private, but do not believe anything told by them or any Scientologist about their approach to any but the privileged among them.

    January 9, 2009 at 3:00 am |
  2. Bella

    One never expects to bury one's child.
    I agree with all of the above comments.

    This family needs our prayers, our compassion and our love. That's what will help them at this time.

    And it's what anyone would appreciate after having lost a loved one.

    January 9, 2009 at 2:19 am |
  3. virginia

    We need to step back and look at what is really the issue. The Travolta's lost a son and that is all.
    What ever their decisions were are something between them and not us. Let Jett rest in peace and find his heaven.

    January 9, 2009 at 1:57 am |
  4. Tricia

    Jett appeared to be handicapped, as per the news flick we saw of them in Paris & at the beach. If the scientology church rejects the belief in psychiatric disorders, the parents would have to deny autism or any other mentam disorder...and it would be a shame if this belief lead to a contributing factor in their son's young life...not being on medication...we would only know the answers by speaking with the parents themselves...my condolences to the family.

    January 8, 2009 at 11:15 pm |
  5. scott, iowa

    seizures can be controllled with the right medicine. how do i know that is because i have epilepsy and i been on a lot of different medication when i was a kid when i was 14 they put me on a medication call valproid acid now nown as depakote. and the seizures i had were grandmal seizures and i havent had a seizure in over 27 years because depakote works.what baffles me is why the travoltas didnt try another medication.if your religious beliefs control your health and well being thats not good either. kelly saying that depakote lost it effectiveness is hard to swallow being a person that takes it. the only way to tell if the medicine working or not working is by having a eeg done. and ive had lots of those done. you wont be able to tell me seizure cant be controlled, because i have controlled mine with medication. mr cooper if you read this i would like to tell my insight on seizures and how effective medication is for them.

    January 8, 2009 at 10:16 pm |
  6. Mark

    This story wouldn't be here if people weren't interested. My question is: why are people interested in the death of an actors child. I have nothing against the Travolta's, but what about all of the other families that lost someone on that single day alone? How can the life of one be placed with higher value than another?

    January 8, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  7. Laurie Blaine

    My younger sister has suffered from seizures her whole life. She'd go down at the most unexpected times. This is a hardship some families just have to live with.
    The emotional attatchments formed with any special needs child is so great and the love you feel is profound.
    These seem to be very good people and should be given privacy & respect. during this sad time.

    January 8, 2009 at 8:55 pm |
  8. kaycee

    Autistic disorder (autism) is a treatable psychiatric illness/diagnosis.

    January 8, 2009 at 8:28 pm |
  9. Joanne Cali

    I agree that the chatter should end. The horrible tragedy is felt more by Jett's exceptionally loving parents, than by anyone. The deep love between them and Jett is evident in photos we all can see.
    I have a cousin who has had Multiple Sclerosis since she was 15 years old. She still walks and enjoys life with her devoted husband. She has, 90% of the time, not taken anti-seizure medication, because it had harmful (side) effects on her. An alternative regimen of vitamins and good food has kept her alive long after many people, victims of this disease.
    It was already stated that the Travoltas had Jett taking anti-seizure medication (possibly against their wish they didn't have to), as long as it helped him. No one can judge this, because we were not there, observing side effects and/or problems. And yes, this lovely family deserves our compassion – not our uninformed "judgments", based on some sort of prejudice against their beliefs.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  10. Joann

    I am a Christian and I believe that I will see my deceased loved ones again and my soul will live on for eternity but not in another person hopefully with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
    My heartfelt sympathy to the Travolta family – my prayers are offered for you and your family. Your son is resting in peace now.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:23 pm |
  11. pernordin

    Please, let these people mourn in peace.
    Whatever their or my beliefs may differ or not has no baring when confronted with the premature death of ones child.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:16 pm |
  12. ingrid hohmann

    This is sad reflection of our society today. If anybody has any sense of dignity and respect , they should leave these parents to mourn in their privacy and it is not for anybody to pass judgement over this tragic event. People have lost their compass, clearly, we have to redefine the boundaries, I am repulsed by such vulgarity.
    My deepest sympathy goes for these parents, may they find some comfort of their love ones at this time.

    January 8, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  13. harry s

    Jett was on seizure medications. Parents put their child on risk. They should be prosecuted like other parents who withhold essential treatment. Aboout treatment:Benefit- sezure decreased, risk- person dies. The tragic death could have been avoided. I feel sorry for them.

    January 8, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  14. Rick

    What's the difference between a medical disease and a psychiatric condition? Medical diseases can be diagnosed by a doctor , (blood tests, biopsy, physical exam etc.) . There is no test for ANY psychiatric condition , ( ADD, ADHD, bi-polar , etc. ) – NONE ! In fact , psychiatric , (so called ) , conditions were INVENTED – NOT DISCOVERED – at psychiatric conventions. And guess what, if you get a competent doctor or specialist to do some testing you find the REAL problem , like a poor diet, (high sugar intake or low in nutrition, etc ) or an undiscovered real medical condition. And from this blog what do psychs say – "the American Psychiatric Association admits there is no conclusive way to test for a chemical imbalance. " The greatest money fraud in history is right before your eyes.


    January 8, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  15. Carl Watts

    The Travolta's are parents! I am certain that they were doing the best they could for their child.

    If anyone were in the same position, they would too. The solutions and handling might be different but I can guarantee the actions were the very best they can imagine.

    I wish them well and do understand the loss.

    The future awaits us all. Lets get on to creating a better life for you, me, and the Travoltas!

    January 8, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  16. MerryWanderer

    Randi Kaye!

    Finally, we have a reporter who prefers fact to faction and history over hysteria.

    Thank you for intelligent coverage.

    January 8, 2009 at 1:41 pm |
  17. Ms. Little

    I can not imagine the agony of losing a child, no matter one's religious belief, a loved one is missed in every moment for quite a while. My best to Kelly, Ella, John, the children's support team, family and friends who care about their well being.

    January 8, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  18. donna sherwood

    this is disgusting and so are you. Anti seizure medicines are not always tolerated in children and have serious side effects up to and including liver damage or destruction. As it entirely possible that his medications not only stopped working I read in one article that Mrs. Travolta mentioned his seizures started to recur a very frequent intervals they may also have been damaging his organs. It is also possible the child may have wished to stop and take his chances instead of living like a zombie. The press is out of control and appears to be doing everything in its power to vastly increase emotional suffering of this family by sensationalizing without complete information this story. You should be ashamed of yourselves. I am n ot a Scientologist nor have I ever been.

    January 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  19. Diane

    And thank you Randi Kaye for reporting the truth....we find so little truth in the media sometimes...

    January 8, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  20. Vicki

    My condolences to the Travolta's for the loss of their son Jettt. The media should lay off negative publicity and attacks. I am sure as loving parents, they did every thing they could to assist their son in his struggle with his seizures. Its beyond me why anyone would want to wish them ill will and criticize at this time. They need support and prayers instead.

    January 8, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  21. Diane

    Thank goodness someone in the media finally had the sense and integrity to actually ask a Scientologist the questions and report acurate information...In truth, the public should respect the relogion and privacy of the Travoltas during this time.
    Another truth is that Scientology is a body of knowledge that doesn't have a opinion....Scientologists, as anyone else, have their individual beliefs and opinions and whatever anyone attacking them wants to believe, that's just the way it is!

    January 8, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  22. Kathleen O'Leary

    A Child is gone and leave the Travolta's alone, let them find peace in this sad situation....My heart goes out to the family and they will be in my prayers for a long time....May the Perpetual light shine on Jett and may he rest in peace.....Amen.........

    January 8, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  23. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    Faith is sufficient in and of itself. Why are we questioning this? My deepest sympathy to the Travolta family.

    January 8, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  24. monica J. Tazewell, TN

    Since John and Kelly have been in counsel with their attorney from day one, they must be feeling like they could have done more for Jett than what they did. They must be feeling guilty about something because you don't ususally call your attorney when a family member dies except for the reading of the Will, and such legalities that normally take place. They must have a fear of being sued for not giving Jett anti-seizure medication. And to feel that way, they must have made some bad decisions due to their faith. Depakote is not the only medication out there for seizures. There are many other ones as well. Had they ever tried some of the other seizure medications? The only problem with anti-seizure medications, is that they most generally are also prescribed for mental health illinesses which goes against The Church of Scientology. I clearly see this as a case of child abuse that resulted in death. I would feel differently if Jett had died from the fall itself, but he died from the seizure, not the fall.

    January 8, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  25. Pam

    Until one has lost a child it would be difficult if not impossible for them to fathom the anguish, loss and questions that remain. They can, however, pray for the family and for Jett.

    May the Lord God creator of all that is seen and unseen, hold the Travolta family close to His heart, comfort them, sheild them from all harm and kiss their tears away.

    May the Heavenly King who gives grace and peace beyond human understanding welcome Jett into His kingdom. May Jett embrace all the saints who have gone before him and rejoice in his new life.

    January 8, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  26. Linda

    If anyone saw the Scientology Representative on the Today Show this morning, be aware. He is not telling the truth. I worked for a Scientology company in Clearwater and the people there were very much "into" their "religion." I and two others were the only WOGs in the company and were reminded how Scientologists are better than us NON Scientologists. In regards to the "drug" issue, according to the Scientologists that I worked for and whom were very high in the Organization and working their way "over the bridge," you were NOT allowed to take any medication whatsoever, not even for a headache!
    They sought out natural remedies (which are not bad, or course), but are definitely not medical medications. They would perform what they called an "assist", which was suppose to relieve anything that bothered you as you were obviously PTSing. which means Potential Trouble Source...look it up.) Anyway, so when that Representative came on and said that they are allowed to seek medical attention and take medications, that is not the whole truth as from the many that I worked for and came to know (I even had to take COURSES), which were quite a bit, they all frowned upon anything to do with a conventional doctor. We all have the right to believe what we want as we have free will, the problem with Scientology (and there are many) is that they (or at least the ones I know) change their beliefs at any given moment to suit them best (which again a lot of people do, but Scientologists tell you they are not). Anyone wishing to know more should just google Scientology or Xenu and see what you can learn. Very interesting.

    It is very unfortunate about the Travolta Family loss and our hearts go out to them. It is sad that people are taking this time to make light and ill of the situation, but Scientology and its representatives are also using this to again lie to the public and hide behind what they know is the truth about their ways and teachings.

    January 8, 2009 at 9:13 am |
  27. Jen

    I feel terrible for the family that everywhere they turn, someone is talking about the death of a dear loved-one. We should all just let it rest.

    January 8, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  28. lizzie

    Why is it that some people always want to attack Scientology and their followers without thoroughly checking the facts? I was helped immensely by them at a point in my life that I thought I would never recover from. Although I was involved with the church for only a year or so, I will never forget what they did for me and what valuable skills I also learned in handling everyday life. I appreciate that the writer of this article did check the facts directly with the church, most don't unfortunately. That said, medications can infact become ineffective after a time and cease to work at all. I personally have become immune to certain heart meds and various others that either never worked at all or only for a short period of time. The Travolta's had consulted doctors about the meds no longer working and it was the doctor's decision as well to take Jett off of them. I sincerely wish some people would read the true facts instead of just attacking these poor parents or Scientology out of ignorance.

    January 8, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  29. chuck

    It's time to move on.These comics make too much of money and then spend it on drugs thus having children born with all types of diseases.Enough said..

    January 8, 2009 at 8:12 am |
  30. Julie

    I agree that they should be left alone to grieve the way they need to. Wether or not Jett was autistic dosent matter anymore. What does matter is that these 2 people at the end of the day and human, they lost their son. Lets put ourselves in the comminity to show John and Kelly that we support them and will do what we can to help them, and let the rest go. Speculation is all the "jabber" is, means nothing but is very hurtful to the family. John and Kelly, if you see this know that me and my family support you and hope that you are at peace so that Jett can be at peace also. Keep looking at Ella and being thankful that you still have a beautiful girl! My god bless you all!

    January 8, 2009 at 8:09 am |
  31. Patricia Ann Mitchell, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    Why should the Travolta family endure the microscope of the general public or the media at such a catastrophic moment. I find it reprehensible that anyone should speak of the death of a child in relation to the religion of the parents and cast blame. Shakespeare was correct when he said "Each substance of a grief hath twenty shadows." The fact that they loved Jett is without question, and it is a family matter and a private grief. Let us pray for this family as if it were our child and stop this distasteful analysis of why. Only God knows.

    January 8, 2009 at 8:08 am |
  32. Laura

    Let us all understand that Jeff is with our Almighty God, and may the parents gain peace in knowing that he is in a much better place.

    The public should attend to their own house before interfering with someone else's. Give the family the respect they deserve and let them mourn for their son in peace.

    January 8, 2009 at 8:03 am |
  33. Evonne Johnson, Waterville, Ohio

    In my opinion, The Travolta family has always lived a normal life...even though they are stars and in the media....you never hear any of the bad gossip, having affairs etc...they work hard at their family and take their vows seriously...The world, and espically the media need to let them have their time to grieve. Unless you have lost a child....you could hardly understand what they are feeling or going through.

    My thoughts and prayers are with them...lets respect what they believe in!

    January 8, 2009 at 7:58 am |
  34. Rosemary in Ocala, Florida

    We don't know all the answers as to why things happen in the order that they do. Although it seems out of the natural order, it may be that Jett trying to survive his father's death would've been more horrific for him than his dad trying to survive his death.
    My youngest son is exactly like Jett and very close to me and dependant on me, more so than my typically developing son.
    Regardless of the religious faith, almost all cultures and religions have throughout the history of time taught and believed in the spirit or soul to survive this human existence and return to another existenece, either a spiritual being like an angel or a new fleshly being like a human again.
    Kelly, John and sweet Ella are protected here, they fly in and out without having to access the regular streets and that's one reason why this is their home. And right now that privacy will serve them well.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:57 am |
  35. Sarah

    I feel like the "scientology chatter" is taking away from the real issue here. A young man has died. A mother and father are grieving their son. A young girl is without her big brother. There are grandaprents racked with grief, aunts and uncles missing their nephew and cousins trying to understand this loss of their beloved Jett. Have a heart, leave the criticism to another time and place. Should the Travoltas get special treatment because they are famous? No. Should human emotion and kindness cross all lines of division, absolutely. As a parent, my fear is to bury one of my children. That same horror faces each parent, famous or obscure. My thoughts and prayers are with their family, may they find peace and understanding in this tragic time.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  36. Jeff W.

    Jett was obviously autistic, I don't know why Travolta always resisted the label. This disease he claims his son had makes no sense whatsoever if you do the research on it. What does Travolta think autism is? It's a shame that people like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, both who never finished high school, speak with authority on things they don't understand. Like all religions, scientologists use magical thinking to guide their lives, which is really scary.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  37. monica J. Tazewell, TN

    Depakote is not the only anti-seizure medication out there. There are many of them to choose from. Had they tried any of the other ones? If not, why so?

    January 8, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  38. JoD

    I'm disappointed in you. There are so many important issues going on, that effect us all. This does not. It's a private matter. You are so tabloid.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  39. Donna

    Leave them all in peace.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  40. Brett Decker

    Somebody called the Church of Scientology and expected to get straight answers? LOL!

    January 8, 2009 at 7:47 am |
  41. bryant kidd

    I am so sadly sorry for your loss ,so sorry, man, the pain must be beyond describable comprehension, to even speak of this tragedy for mr Travolta and his wife must bring tearful emotion that few of us can imagine.
    again my heart goes to you and your wife, god bless you

    January 8, 2009 at 7:46 am |
  42. David

    The confusion comes because it is true Christian Scientists that refuse to take medicine, not Scientologists. They are 2 completely different beliefs.

    January 8, 2009 at 7:45 am |
  43. Tami

    PLEASE let the poor family grieve in peace!!
    It is NO one's business if he had medication or if he was autistic... this CHILD is no longer with them to bring them joy and that is sad.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the family ...

    January 8, 2009 at 7:44 am |
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