Scientologists Sponsor the Drug Free Ambassadors of Australia
We have seen constantly repeated in the press these last days the following assertions:
- Scientology does not allow medical treatment or the use of medical drugs
- Scientology does not recognizes autism
- Scientology is against the use of drugs for the treatment of seizure
The assertion that Scientology does not allow medical treatment is easily proven false. The Church of Scientology always had clear statements to this effect on its web site:
In the meantime, it also issued an official statement that basically repeats what was posted on the addresses above already (though I wonder why they don't publish it on their own web site).
Tommy Davis, spokesman for Scientology International, and Frank Flinn, religious studies professor at Washington University, have both made comments to that effect as well.
While it is true that Scientology does not approve of the use of drugs for the treatment of mental conditions, they have no such directive whatsoever towards drugs for the treatment of physical ailments. See the above references for confirmation, or this paragraph from the official statement:
"Scientologists use medical drugs and prescription medication when physically ill and also rely on the advice and treatment of medical doctors. Scientologists do not take street drugs or mind altering psychiatric drugs of any kind."
Neither I nor the Scientologists I inquired with ever heard of any rule or position regarding autism from the CoS. One has to wonder, then, where anti-Scientologists and the press who repeated their false and fallacious assertions got the idea from.
While it is true that the Scientology does not believe in the treatment of mental illnesses through drugs, autism is not a mental illness. It is a neurological based condition, thus a medical condition. It would therefore fall under the medical treatment rule as above.
However, there is no medicine to treat autism. Nor is there any cure for it. Nor is it lethal on its own (the seizures being only a co-morbid conditions and not part of the syndrome).
Those who have taken pride about "predicting" the death of Jett if his supposed autism condition was not treated have in fact spoken from the top of their head and only displayed their ignorance and prejudice.
Being without clear directive from the CoS regarding this question, the two Scientologists to whom I put the question simply extended the existing rules to the case:
"There are no claims whether “autism” exists or not and I don’t think the Church has any official policy about autism. Whatever that condition may be, any physical component (like brain damage, seizures etc) would certainly be treated medically."Grahame:
"The truth is that autism is a physical problem and is therefore addressed by physical means. If by "Scientology" they mean the subject itself, then in my study of the subject I have never seen any mention of this condition, probably because it's a physical condition and Scientology deals with the spiritual."
There is something else you need to know about autism. Autism is not a condition you can diagnose "on sight", as Tim Kenny, Travolta's neighbor, did, and which was readily reported as if his amateur diagnostic was an established fact. Check this out:
"The process for diagnosing autism is complex and generally requires not just one professional, but often multiple professionals.Is there any reason to doubt that Travolta and Preston would not have the resources to avail the best medical opinion there is? I believe that if they have been "in denial" about the fact that Jett suffered from autism, it simply was because he wasn't. I am quite confident that if the doctors they consulted had made this diagnostic, they would have deployed all the means at their disposal to give Jett the best treatment there was, even if none could cure him. And no non-existent Church policy would have stopped them, contrary to what critics said about them supposedly putting their religion before the wellness of their children.
Almost all of the symptoms of autism which must be established also occur in other, similar disorders, so all these other possible diagnoses need to be eliminated as well. There are also many marginal cases where something could be autism or something else, and it isn't easy to decide even after gathering all appropriate diagnostic information.
A diagnosis of autism is something which follows someone for life. No competent medical professional would just look at someone and make a snap diagnosis. "
Now this does not mean that Jett did not suffer from another neurological based condition. As people noted, he did give the appearance of it and I believe that claim to be valid, though nobody, including John and Kelly, seem to know what it was exactly. The important point, though, were the seizures, and these were fully taken into account.
Even admitting that the Travoltas were in denial of an existing autism condition, it would not have changed a thing, since it is not lethal, does not have a cure, does not have drug or medicine. Some people said Jett would have had a better quality of life if the family acknowledged Jett's autistic condition, but I doubt anybody suffering from a neurological disorder, whatever the name, could have had a better quality of life than Jett.
The important thing is this: Jett had a history of seizure, and this was fully acknowledged by the family. They certainly were not in denial about what was the dangerous aspect of whatever neurological disorder Jett may have had - the seizures, that eventually killed him, which is our last point.
In its press release, the CoS explicitly addressed seizures, aligning it with medical conditions, and thereby making it fall under the rule of medical treatment. It also is false to claim that Scientology would be against the use of drugs to treat seizure. Again, whoever spread that rumor was either misinformed or malicious, or both.
However, there is a catch:
"The majority of seizure medications out there are also used as psychiatric medications - Tegretol and Depakote are used for bipolar illness, Klonopin and Valium for anxiety, Lamictal for depression, and so on. "That would probably be a dilemma for many Scientologists, but at the end of the day, they don't have much choice. From what I understand, as long as these drugs are being used to threat medical ailments and not mental symptoms, Scientology would not object and would consider it a personal matter, leaving to the parents and individuals affected to decide.
This is also confirmed by the to Scientologists I consulted:
First of all, a Scientologist is not "instructed" to seek medical advice or any other kind of advice by the Church. You write as if the Church runs our entire lives. When my friends' little girl first had a seizure they called an ambulance. They didn't call the Church and ask what to do.More Grahame:
Physical problems like seizures need to be addressed with the appropriate physical handling. If a drug that handles seizures can also be used for other purposes then I don't think that is important. It is up to the person or parent to get the facts and make a decision based on their own due diligence and the advice of their medical practitioner.Louanne:
Seizures are a medical problem and certainly anti-seizure medication is ok in the Church’s book. I can add some personal experience to this, namely from knowing two epileptics and Scientologists who are taking their medicine regularly. Such medication is absolutely part of some Scientologists life and the Church of Scientology does not interfere in that.And of course, we also know now that the Travoltas have been using Depakote for many years, all the while being in perfectly good standing with the Church of Scientology.
As it turn out, thus, the truth is that:
- Scientology does allow medical treatment or the use of drugs
- Scientology does recognizes neurological conditions as medical conditions
- Scientology is not against the use of drugs for the treatment of seizure
At the end of the day, more than something that badly reflects against Scientology, it turns out to be something that badly reflects against critics.
They have called this upon themselves by prematurely jumping to conclusions before all the facts were known, making demeaning and hurtful comments towards a family deeply in pain, and failing to display any measure of true critical thinking, something they supposedly possess in great abundance...
This obviously is no surprise to me, as I have reported many other instances of such behavior over the years on my web site.
Not all critics did engage in such a fanatical and de-humanized behavior, though. Some did put the human aspect before their personal engagement, to wit, Mark Bunker and Howard Stern, but what the public have seen in the news comment is the impression they will retain, the end result being more sympathy for the Scientologists and less credibility for their critics.
Those critics who have jumped to conclusions and blame have now switched tactic. They can't find any valid argument to blame Scientology for Jett's death anymore, so they just use innuendos to give the impression that similar deaths plague Scientology's history. But this is another story, another of their countless myths.