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The Cult That Keeps His Loyalty

Daily Mail on Monday August 19, 1996

The following is part of an abridged extract from "Fever: The Biography Of John Travolta" by Douglas Thompson (published by Boxtree), which appeared in the Daily Mail on Monday August 19, 1996:

Unlike some adherents of a controversial, often criticised creed, John Travolta makes no secret of his faith in Scientology. At this year's Golden Globes awards- he won a trophy for the hit movie Get Shorty -he went out of his way to thank Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Actress Joan Prather converted him to the cult during location shooting in Mexico on The Devil's Rain, a 1975 horror film giving him his big-screen debut in a minor role.

When he went down with a heavy cold and sore throat, she used Scientology's "touch assist" technique which is supposed to speed healing. "The sore throat went away," he recalled more than 20 years later. "So then I know something was really working here... I needed to find out more about it."

His mother's death in 1977 increased his reliance on Scientology. "It helped me so much, back then. I don't know why people are afraid of it," he said. "It's given me a better quality of life and a hope for mankind... a better sense of survival."

There's another viewpoint, expressed in a Time magazine cover story of 1991, branding L. Ron Hubbard as a charlatan and alleging that Scientology, "portraying itself as a religion, is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner."

Although Travolta was quoted defending the cult, the magazine stated: "High-level defectors claim that he has long feared that if he defected, details of his sexual life would be made public."

One such defector, Scientology's former board chairman William Franks, contended: "No outright threats were made but it was implicit. If you leave they immediately start digging up everything."

The Scientology organisation challenged only one claim made by Time magazine -dismissing the "sexual blackmail" story about Travolta as "absolutely false" and threatening legal action, although that did not materialise.

Travolta said that he and other Hollywood Scientologists such as Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley were "too bold" to be manipulated or pressured.

"It's more like that it works so good and you feel so much better that you want to stick around," he maintained.

A Scientology minister was flown from Florida to conduct Travolta and Kelly Preston's midnight marriage service in Paris in 1991.

And the following year their baby son, Jett, was delivered in a birthing method advocated by Ron Hubbard, decreeing virtual silence because - the proud father explained- "verbal statements are recorded in the mind of the baby and later that could cause fears, neuroses or even psychosomatic illnesses."

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