John Travolta is bringing much-needed supplies to Haiti. The problem? He's also bringing L. Ron Hubbard
In the wake of the spectacular outpouring of relief to the people of Haiti, a number of generous benefactors have emerged. But few are alighting upon Port-au-Prince with quite as much baggage – for good and otherwise – as John Travolta.
Yesterday the 55-year-old actor did something extraordinary: He got off his ass and flew his own Boeing 707 from Florida down to Haiti with an astonishing four tons of ready-to-eat military rations and medical supplies. It is a gesture no one would look askance at in and of itself, particularly at a time when relief organizations like Doctors Without Borders have been having persistent problems getting into the beleaguered country. We may raise a skeptical eyebrow at the fact that the famous movie star – and his lovely wife, Kelly Preston – just happened to arrive prepared for a camera-ready scene of unloading cargo, but it’s doubtful anyone in Haiti right now is saying, “Medical supplies? We would, but you really sucked in ‘Old Dogs.’”
Nevertheless, you can’t say “Travolta” without adding “outspoken Scientologist,” and that, inevitably, is where the story gets murky. Because along with all those desperately needed supplies that the dude graciously hauled down there, Travolta also packed something else – a phalanx of Scientology ministers.
This isn’t the first time a high-profile member of L. Ron Hubbard’s religion has rushed to the scene of disaster. Tom Cruise deployed himself to New York City after the 9/11 attacks — and eventually used his mission there as an opportunity to call the Environmental Protection Agency a bunch of “liars” for their cleanup efforts. Scientology stayed on to help create the auspicious-sounding New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, treating firefighters who’d survived the attacks – and their lingering physical effects — through a “purification” program with no scientific credibility and for which some firefighters allegedly were asked to fork over as much as 5 grand. That’s why people get a little creeped out when Scientologists come to the rescue.
And knowing that when Travolta made a similarly swift and generous gesture toward the people of New Orleans after Katrina, the church similarly hustled off to the Gulf Coast to counsel survivors, one gets a sense that the shell-shocked victims of January’s quakes may be in for at the very least some old-fashioned Thetan dogma.
A U.N. spokeswoman told the Associated Press last week that at least 800 relief planes have been on a waiting list to get in to Haiti, which can only handle about 130 flights a day. So when Travolta told reporters, “We have the ability to actually help make a difference in the situation in Haiti and I just can’t see not using this plane to help,” it’s hard to believe the impulse is coming from anything but a truly decent and altruistic place. (It also makes one wonder how he swung it.)
But missionary work almost always comes with a mix of well-intentioned altruism and occasionally flat-out troubling proselytizing. And spreading good works can also mean spreading some dubious philosophies — along with some troubling “cures.” And it’ll be interesting to see what Scientology, which has long been associated with celebrities who can afford the high cost of becoming “clear” will do in a country that was already the poorest in the Western hemisphere before an incalculable disaster.
The bottom line is, unless you’ve personally flown four tons of supplies to Haiti today, John Travolta has done more for its people and their immediate, life-or-death needs than you or I have or ever will. It also doesn’t change that hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck sense of dread that come from watching a gift bestowed with what sure look like a whole pack of yellow-shirted “volunteer minister” strings attached.
More Related Stories
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
- Horrifying new trend: Posting rapes to Facebook
- Corporate greed is poisoning America -- literally
- The new geography of poverty
- Childhood ADHD linked to obesity in adulthood
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
- Chicago man breaks world record with 48-hour Ferris wheel ride
- I will never be able to afford Angelina Jolie's mastectomy
- GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- GOP actually bullies an anti-bullying bill
- Georgian police slow to react to mob violence at gay rights march
- 1 killed in Oklahoma tornado
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11