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Addresses Questions About Church Spreading Since Jett Travolta Died; 

Explains Views On Afterlife, Grieving, Autism, More

(CBS) Since the sudden death last weekend of John Travolta’s son, many questions have been raised about the views of the Church of Scientology about treating illnesses.

The Travoltas are among the best-known Scientologists.

Jett Travolta died at the family’s vacation home in the Bahamas of what an autopsy showed was a seizure disorder. He was 16.

On The Early Show Thursday, co-anchor Julie Chen asked Scientologist spokesman Tommy Davis to comment on many of the notions about the church that have been raised by its critics in the days since Jett passed away, and to explain some of the church’s basic beliefs.

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Comments & resources by ReligionNewsBlog.comDavis, who says he’s known the Travolta family for more than 18 years, told Chen, “The thing you have to understand is Scientologists, like many people, like anybody, we go to doctors if somebody’s sick, some sort of physical ailment. We go to the doctor. You get a prescription. You know, whatever the course of treatment that would be recommended by a doctor, you’re gonna do that. You know, it’s very important. It’s not — I mean, really, it’s actually something that’s mandatory from the church’s viewpoint. If someone has some sort of physical difficulty or problem, something’s happening with them, they’re ill, go to a doctor. Get it checked out. Find out what’s going on. If it involves a prescription, or whatever treatment the doctor recommends, they’re gonna do that.”

What about psychiatric drugs?

“There’s a difference. We’re talking about a medical condition. When you have a medical condition and there’s something happening with the body, there’s some sort of illness going on…”

“But people think,” Chen pointed out, “you know, a medical condition can be a chemical imbalance, take antidepressants, but Scientology doesn’t think that’s a medical condition?”

“That’s not even a viewpoint as far as Scientologists are concerned,” Davis responded. “That’s something that’s really clear, you know, just even in the medical community. You have physical ailments, there’s something wrong with the body. There’s something happening. That can even involve, you know, malfunctions of the brain or these kinds of things. And those things are treated. Like seizures, for example, you’re gonna, if there’s an anti-seizure medication recommended by a doctor, you’re gonna do that.”

Research resources on Scientology
Comments & resources by ReligionNewsBlog.comChen asked about the notion that Scientology doesn’t acknowledge there is such a thing as autism, and Davis replied, “To the degree you have a medical condition, like there’s something going on like, you know, seizures or some sort of physical problem that’s happening with the body, you know, that’s gonna get treated by a doctor. But the church doesn’t involve itself in diagnosing or classifying medical conditions. I mean, it’s just not — as a church, we deal with the spirit. In terms of bodies, and the handling of physical problems, that’s something for the medical community.”

“But,” Chen pressed on, “will you acknowledge that autism does exist in the world, not so much, you know, I’m not saying you’ll diagnose it, but is there such a thing as autism in the world of Scientology?”

“I mean, yeah, to the degree that you have the medical community acknowledging that there is this thing called autism and that it requires treatment and doctors treat it and so on and so forth, yeah, absolutely,” Davis said. “I think I would go the other way from it. There’s this misconception or this thing that I’ve certainly seen, that the church doesn’t, quote, unquote, recognize autism. It’s just not true. It’s not — we don’t recognize or not recognize anything. I mean, we’re a church. And if you’re dealing with medical conditions, that’s doctors. Doctors do that. We tell Scientologists, you have something going on physically, you have to go to a doctor, you have to get that properly treated.”

At that point, Chen turned to Scientologist views on the hereafter.

“The best way to understand that,” Davis explained, “is, in Scientology, you, the individual, are an immortal spiritual being. … living forever. It’s like you don’t have a soul or a spirit. You are an immortal spiritual being. That is who you are. So you lived before. You’ll live again. The concept of past lives. And it’s really in the older, you know, Asian sense in terms of that, in terms of Buddhism or Hinduism. Different from reincarnation, because that gets into what you’re gonna come back as. It’s really a much simpler process, you know. You inhabit a body, but you aren’t your body. So, as a spiritual being, you’re gonna come back in a new body. You’ve had lives before, you’ll have lives in the future.”

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