How Hollywood Stars, Trump and Scientologists Inflame the Vaccine Wars: "It's Spurious but Effective" - 2016-08-31
A notable number of the highest-profile immunization dissenters are Scientologists, from Masterson and Juliette Lewis to Jenna Elfman and Kirstie Alley. In a statement to THR, the Church of Scientology, which has a troubled public relationship with many established mental health treatments, insists it "takes no position one way or the other on this issue." (Tabloid stories were written after the death of church member John Travolta's 16-year-old son Jett, who was said to have been improperly treated for autism.) Yet Scientology did host a June 2015 event at one of its Los Angeles community centers where issue activists Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and biochemist Brian Hooker, Ph.D., promulgated their views ahead of California Gov. Brown's signing of SB 277 weeks later.
Ex-Scientologist critics observe that a mistrust of immunization, while not official doctrine, is an unsurprising consequence of members' credence for the principles surrounding the church's controversial cleansing "purification rundown" program, which allegedly treats drug abuse and toxic exposure. "In that school of thought, vaccines could potentially be hurtful too," says Claire Headley. In addition, they note, members find familiarity and even righteousness in the experience of holding lonely, lambasted views. "Smugness is an understatement," says Spanky Taylor. "It's an arrogance."
What everyone in the vaccine-wary community appears to have in common is a severely held sincerity that is frequently underscored by an intimate proffered narrative of domestic trauma involving a loved one, most often their own child. Exhibit A is Quinn, who insists his daughter only began exhibiting signs of autism after a 106-degree fever immediately followed her measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) injection at 14 months in 1990. (Neuroscientists and neurologists note that the disorder often begins to manifest itself in a previously "normal" child after the age of 1.) "For me it's extremely important to speak up, when I see someone is having a child, or have a chance to talk in the media, to tell the truth," he says, adding: "I get nothing out of this — I get to be made fun of and castigated and called crazy, even by some of my best friends who can't open their minds — except the fervent hope that others won't have to live through what my family has to live through."