January 6, 2009 / 1:53 AM / 11 years ago

Jett Travolta has immortal spirit, Scientology says

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - John Travolta’s son Jett, who died of a seizure last week at age 16, will live on as an immortal spiritual being, according to the beliefs of the Church of Scientology which counts the actor and his wife as prominent supporters.

Actor John Travolta is pictured with his son Jett (L) in this undated photograph, released January 4, 2009. REUTERS/Courtesy of the Travolta family/Rogers & Cowan/Handout

Jett Travolta is expected to be given a Scientology service on Tuesday or Wednesday upon his family’s return to their Florida home. An autopsy was performed on Monday, but officials in the Bahamas where he died did not release the results.

Celebrity television show Entertainment Tonight said the body was cremated late on Monday prior to the journey back to Florida, but that could not be immediately confirmed.

Outwardly, a Scientology funeral consists of practices including eulogies, music, and burial or cremation associated with other mainstream religions, a spokesman at the Church of Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles told Reuters.

But Scientologists do not believe in heaven or hell, although a central belief is the idea that individuals have lived before and will live again, spokesman Tommy Davis said.

“There is no concept of heaven and hell. (But) a Scientologist is interested in the future, and in future generations and making a world that is better,” Davis said.

“The person (himself) is not gone. There is the loss of the immediate presence of that person in that body and that lifetime, but they go on. The spirit (known in Scientology as the Thetan) does not die,” Davis said.

Travolta, star of movies ranging from “Saturday Night Fever” to “Pulp Fiction” and “Bolt”, and his actress wife Kelly Preston are leading members of the Church of Scientology, which was founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

Ministers of the Church are authorized worldwide to conduct funerals, weddings and other rituals for adherents.

Davis said Hubbard, who died in 1986, wrote several memorial services that communicate Scientology ideals and “celebrate the life of the person who has departed his body.”

“Friends and family have the opportunity to say goodbye, to acknowledge and thank the person for what he or she has done in this lifetime, and to wish them well as they move on to their next lifetime,” Davis said.

The concept is similar to reincarnation, but Scientologists believe that one begins a new life with a new body, rather than returning as perhaps an animal or an object.

Stephen Kent, professor of the sociology of religion at the University of Alberta, Canada, said Scientologist funerals were marked by the belief in Thetans.

“Scientology funerals give thanks for the person’s life but also wish the Thetan well as it detaches from the body and begins its process of reattachment to a future body,” Kent told Reuters.

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