Scientology birthing “controversy”

katie holmesI have a fairly low tolerance for celebrity “news.” I especially disdain with the greatest disgust the current rage regarding celebrity childbirth, as if it were the latest fad or cool thing to try out. And I do not have any sympathy for those birthing the babies (I do feel great sorrow for the babies). The celebrities thrive off celebrity and need it to keep their careers afloat, as much as it is degrading to humanity.

So when I stumbled across this Associated Press story on the religion page of about the birthing plans of Katie Homes and Tom Cruise, I was miffed. What does this gossip piece have to do with religion?

Other than the issue of Scientology — and how it “controversially” forbids any noise during a birth — the article is just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo Hollywood gossip (for more debate on whether Scientology is actually a religion, click here):

Tom Cruise has been practically shouting from the rooftops about his love for his pregnant fiancee, Katie Holmes. But when their much-anticipated baby is born, the superstar dad probably won’t say a word.

Cruise, a longtime Scientologist who introduced Holmes to the faith, is likely to follow Scientology’s practice of quiet birth. Followers believe the absence of talk and other noise in the delivery room is more healthful for mother and baby.

No one’s saying publicly where baby Cruise will enter the world, but if it is at the actor’s Beverly Hills home then noise control might prove a challenge. Buzzing paparazzi are already camped aside the property.

With the little one expected soon, tabloids and gossip Web sites have been rife with chatter about silent birth, spawning much speculation about what it is and isn’t.

The article fails to cite official Scientology authorities, but relies on a “self-professed ‘Scientology mom’” who was quickly contradicted by actress Anne Archer, a 30-year Scientologist who denounced the silent birth speculation as “ridiculous.” Scientologists apparently like to see their children brought into an “environment as calm, quiet and loving as possible.” Isn’t that just peachy. Archer added that “any culture in the world would understand that and any woman who’s given birth would understand that.”

Give me a break. Every culture? All women? Of course I can’t speak for women, or for the cultures of this world, the way Archer can, so I’m going to move on.

The article reads like a press release for the greatness of Scientology. Not that I see anything controversial about keeping a room quite while a baby is born, but if you are going to examine the subject, please talk to more than a few Scientologists and a Beverly Hills obstetrician, whose best comment was “You’re not going to yell at the patient. You may talk to them in a calming fashion and the patient will gain comfort from hearing your voice.”

I’ve only been present at one birth in my life (my own, 24 years ago), but I’m guessing that yelling at a woman giving birth is a bad idea.

How about examining the scientific claims behind L. Ron Hubbard’s writings that said infants should not be touched, spoken to or cleaned for the first 24 hours after birth? Or that mothers should not talk to their kid for 24 hours?

Do Scientologists still believe that today? I’m just dying to know. Oh wait, I really don’t care. Keep these stories to the gossip pages,

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  • Stephen A.

    CNN also did a breathless story which pretty much accepted the group’s claims without question.

    They did interview one doctor who said the claims weren’t “proven,” but he quickly noted of the silent birthing technique that “it can’t hurt.” Strangely similiar to the AP story.

    Why the kid gloves when dealing with this issue? And I’m with Daniel, why is it even being dealt with at all, as if it was important “news”?

  • Cal W.

    Where else can a man tell a woman to be quiet and get away with it? Just asking.

  • Al Buttnor

    The media has definitely sensationalized the issue and the rumours and purported facts are ridiculous. Scientologists have been having quiet or silent births for decades. There are also other methods — the Bradley and Leboyer — which recognize the importance of quiet in the berthing environment so the whole concept has been well accepted for years and years. However, Scientology mothers and fathers love holding and speaking to their children as soon as practical after birth. Contentions otherwise are just ignorance. See or to get the facts.

  • achmed

    I’m a Scientologist. What’s this about “not talking to the baby for 24 hours”? It’s absolute bunk. I have four children who all had normal births in a hospital. The thing to stress is that during moments of extreme pain and duress, you try to keep it as quiet as possible. It’s an enormously traumatic time for the child and the mother, so isn’t this just common sense? This is so overblown it’s ridiculous.

  • D Rathan

    I think something that has been underreported is the -reason- why Scientology prefers “to keep it as quiet as possible”.

    The reason, apparently, is that you run the risk of embedding unwanted “engrams” into the baby. Hubbard believed that the “reactive mind” would later in life remember those “engrams” and act accordingly. The following example sounds gross, but it comes from Hubbard himself: He said that if a husband abused his wife, while yelling at her the words “Take that! Take that!” then the unborn child in her, could run the risk to grow up to be a thief, a kleptomaniac. Indeed, his reactive mind would trigger at one circumstance or another, and he would have an impulse to “take that”, that is, to steal.

    An example:

    A pregnant mother is straining for a bowel movement. This compresses the baby into painful unconsciousness. The mother talks to herself and says, “Oh, this is hell. I am all jammed up inside. I feel so stuffy I can’t think. This is too terrible to be borne.” Later in life the child has frequent colds (“I feel so stuffy. . . .”) An inferiority complex develops because he feels he is “too terrible to be born.”

  • Greg Churilov

    D. Rathan brings up what is probably the most salient point in this issue – that is, that we Scientologists subscribe to the premise presented in Dianetic theory, that semantic content recorded by the “subconscious” or “unconscious” mind (Reactive mind, in Dianetics) can trigger compulsions, inhibitions and unwanted emotions on the individual later in life.

    One of the premises of Dianetics is that this Reactive Mind, a more rudimentary thought process active while a person is under trauma, does not discriminate semantically. Thus, “born can equate borne”, and “can’t stand it can equate trouble standing”, etc.

    If anyone doubts that birth is traumatic for a baby, imagine pushing your head through an extremely tight tube that contracts spasmodically around your ears and squeezes.

    I’d like to add another important point:
    All writings on this topic by L. Ron Hubbard are ADVISORY, not dogma. No mother is “required” nor “prohibited” to do or refrain from doing whatever she pleases during her labor.

    Also, has anyone even bothered to look at the media advisory page on this?

    Greg Churilov