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Jerome Taylor

Jerome Taylor first came to The Independent in 2005 and joined the Foreign Desk. He is now a news reporter and The Independent's religious affairs correspondent. He will be exploring the issues affecting Britain's religious and ethnic minority communities on Minority Report

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Lisa Marie, Scientology and a little more transparency

Posted by Jerome Taylor
  • Wednesday, 7 January 2009 at 12:09 pm
Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis, has written a blog on her Myspace page defending fellow Scientologist and friend John Travolta, saying the controversial religion had nothing to do with the recent death of Travolta's son Jett.  

Since Jett's tragic death from a seizure in a bathroom in the Bahamas the internet has been awash with rumours that Scientology's opposition to the medical treatment of brain-related diagnoses like depression and epilepsy may have contributed to Jett's death. Jett suffered from Kawasaki syndrome, an inflammatory auto-immune disorder that can lead to seizures. 

The results from the autopsy on Jett's body have not been released publicly but Travolta's lawyer Michael Ossi told TMZ that the 16-year-old died after hitting his head on the side of a bathtub in the Bahamas following a seizure. 

Critics of Scientology - particularly the group Anonymous - have seized on the death and blamed the religion for being sceptical of modern medicine - something that Ms Presley in her Myspace blog is an incorrect assumption. 

She writes: "It is not true that Scientologist's [sic] "don't believe in" medical care, medicine or medical Doctors and that may have something to do with this terrible tragedy. Just like anyone else, If one is sick, they go to the doctor, If a medication will make it better they take it. If they don't then they are an idiot and you can't blame their religion."

Anonymous have quickly fired back with a "Letter to Lisa Marie" saying that many ex-members of the Church who suffered from seizures themselves were told by the heirarchy to come off their medication. 

Despite the untimely and perhaps not particularly sensitive mudslinging by Scientology's critics this is essentially a debate about a religion's approach to preventing death - something that Judaism, Catholicism and Jehovah's Witnesses, for instance, have all had and continue to have.

The problem here is that doctrine of Scientology is so shrouded in secrecy it's very difficult to know exactly what the Church believes about these subjects. Perhaps if Scientology became more publicly transparent about exactly what it does believe then there would be less room for speculation?


rmarsden wrote:
Wednesday, 7 January 2009 at 01:11 pm (UTC)
This post goes into some detail about why the whole Kawasaki syndrome discussions are themselves unhelpful.

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