In semi-defense of Scientology

After perusing the ‘net and reading some of the completely uninformed and agenda-driven "guesses" as to what caused the death of the son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston (and, very often, accusations that the death was a direct result of the family's practice of Scientology), I can do nothing but pity the accusers.

Nobody knows what happened or why it happened, so let's stop pretending that their "religion" or "cult" or whatever you want to call it had something to do with Jett Travolta's death just because people might think Scientology is an oddball, quacky cult that's followed by celebrity dingbats.

But first, here's a bit of full disclosure: my wife and I know a couple who follow Scientology and they're normal, conservative politically, not celebrities, and aren't dingbats. One of them is even much brighter than me, but for the sake of maintaining the integrity of our next cocktail party, I decline to say which. We disagree on the subject of certain immunizations, but, for the sake of sticking to the subject of the criticism of Travolta and Preston, I won't go into that right now.

True, Scientologists have an aversion to psychosomatic drugs, but from all indications, Jett Travolta had been receiving medication for his seizure condition. Besides, the rest of the world should have but a fraction of the aversion to these drugs that Scientologists do. Anybody who's ever been in a school classroom where a good half of the kids are as doped up as Keith Richards circa 1975 can readily understand this. If a happy medium for medicating children exists, it lies somewhere between the Scientologist's belief of zero medication, and that distant, pill-popping perma-frost stare that the rest of society has come to recognize as "normal" behavior for some kids.

Adding to the criticism is the mystique of Scientology itself. For some reason, Scientology seems to scare a lot of people. This is completely understandable. I mean, I'm a Protestant and there are a lot of Protestants who scare me, so you can only imagine what effect a goofy Scientologist and their "purification rundowns" can have on a Protestant who's even scared of his own.

I wish as many people in the country got as freaked out about some large religious movements and cults that actually threaten our way of life as they do about Scien-friggin-tologists. There are, what, a few thousand Scientologists? A hundred thousand? Even if they all stage an uprising, I think we can take ‘em.

I don't fear Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley. I just don't. Maybe they're laying in wait to take over the world, but I don't see it. If I'm wrong, my bad -- but so far I see no credible threat from Scientology, save perhaps for one (see "immunizations").

Scientology isn't my kind of thing, but I'm one of those people who doesn't want anybody telling me what my kind of thing should be, which no Scientologist has ever done, so I'm just returning the favor. It seems to work out well for both of us.

All I'd like is for everybody to have a little perspective when it comes to which religions and cults to lose sleep over. A Scientologist has never strapped a bomb to him or herself and blown it up in a crowded mall in the name of Scientology. Scientologists have never had their equivalent of the Crusades or the Reconquista, and Scientologists don't have jihads - at least not that I'm aware of.

If we're going to worry about a religion or a cult, let's pick one we should really worry about and leave John Travolta's family alone. People from non-Scientology families have lost children to rare disorders too - this I know - so, unlike some, I'm not willing to pin the tragic death of somebody's child on something that could have happened to almost anybody, but for the grace of ... uh... L. Ron Hubbard.