John Travolta, Jett Travolta

Splash News

Given the sad news about Jett Travolta, I got to wondering: What is a Scientology funeral like?
—Deb, Skokie, Ill.

There are funerary customs specific to Scientology, the longtime religion of John Travolta and his family. (FYI: Other superfamous Scientology adherents include Tom Cruise, Beck and My Name Is Earl castmates Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee.) A hallmark of Scientology is the belief that humans are immortal spirits, beings who have lived many lifetimes and whose potential is unlimited.

A funeral, therefore, focuses on the departed like this... addressing him or her directly during the service, urging the departed to move on to better times. Spokespeople for the church did not return my request for comment, but on the official Scientology website, a news release includes a passage from a typical church funeral service.

If used to memorialize young Jett, it will go like this:

"We do not contest your right to go away. Your debts are paid. This chapter of thy life is shut. Go now, dear Jett, and live once more in happier time and place. Thank you, Jett."

A sociology professor offered more insight to the media today about what might happen at the funeral. According to Stephen Kent of the University of Alberta, quoted by ABC news:

• Someone will likely offer readings from Scientology founder and science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

• The 16-year-old's body may lie in state, or his ashes may be present, or perhaps just a photo will be displayed. The church is flexible on this point, Kent says.

• Nonmembers of the church are not banned. If the funeral is private, the family may extend invitations to people who are not Scientologists.

• Afterward, the mourning Travoltas may be encouraged to undergo evaluation by church officials to purge lingering negative feelings about Jett's untimely death.

• There will be no talk of a heaven, as Scientologists do not believe in it.

As of this morning, a local mortuary in the Bahamas has said that a viewing of the youth's body may take place in Freeport tomorrow, with a funeral service expected later in Ocala, Fla.

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Remembering Jett Travolta photo gallery
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