So it's not something that L. Ron Hubbard actually advocated?

No, no, no, I don't think so. And I will say that sometimes these quotes come about because someone has a confusion between Scientology and Christian Science, and probably no one who has visited Beliefnet would make that mistake. But my friends at Christian Science have a very different view of medicine and so forth. Scientologists believe in proven, actual medical techniques, and in fact you'll find Scientologists in all brands and all specialties of medicine.

Is there any sort of a birth ceremony for babies born into a Scientology family?

You know, there isn't a birth ceremony, but it's interesting, later on there's a naming ceremony if you like, and you can call it baptism, it serves a similar purpose. But it's done later, after the child and the mother have recovered from the trauma of birth.

How much later?

It really depends a lot, and I've seen it anywhere from a few days to a couple months later.

Does it take place at home or in the church?

No, it can be done informally at home, but usually it's done in a church. It's a very informal sort of affair, and it's both a matter of welcoming the child to this time, this lifetime, if you like, this world, pointing out to him his godparents if he hasn't met them yet, that sort of thing. And one of the interesting parts of this ceremony is that the minister--in this case, myself--would be reminding the parents that this child, as he grows up, will be exposed to Scientology principles and be given tools that he or she can use to make their life better, but it will be up to the child at some point to come to a decision about whether or not they want to be a Scientologist. And the minister reminds the parents during the naming ceremony that any faith, if you like, any religion chosen for oneself is the only true religion and if a religion is forced on someone, it's certainly not Scientology.

Are boys circumcised? Is that acceptable within Scientology or advocated?

Once again, I think that's a medical decision.

So there's no symbolic significance assigned to it?


Do Scientologists tend to advocate a specific kind of pediatric care? Do they go to pediatricians who are themselves Scientologists?

Once again, that really comes down to the decisions of the parents, the mother and father and who they feel comfortable with as a pediatrician. The church does not dictate that.

Are there any precepts or strictures about vaccinations within Scientology?

Not as a religious principle, no, not at all. And I heard some false report about that, too. It's simply not true. Scientologists are pretty independent people, though I will say this: they tend to do a little more research, perhaps, on the effect of various medical procedures or whatever. They make their own decisions, but those aren't decisions that the church tries to influence in any way.

So parents are not likely to consult with their minister on these questions?

L. Ron Hubbard on Raising Children
Not on child care. L. Ron Hubbard, of course, did have plenty to say on the subject of children growing up and being their own people, and he talks about the importance of children. He urges the parent to be the child's friend. I remember him saying that's one of the most important things--the eternal truth is that a child needs friends, he said, and in working with children you should try to find out what a child's problem really is without crushing their solution--you try to help solve those problems. In the Scientology family, of course, there's a great deal of love. A child just doesn't do well without love; most of them have a lot of it to return.

How soon in a child's life does he or she begin to have religious training in Scientology? Formal religious training, or even within the family?

When a Child Starts Religious Training
As I say, there are little things in a child's life where he can learn right away to be able to help themselves and others recover from minor injuries and that sort of thing, and children seem to pick this up as early as four or five. I say religious training, and I think there's at an early age, even before that, parents work with their kids and it's not training. L. Ron Hubbard said that if you want to train a kid, get rid of the kid and get a dog, because you can't really train children. Children can be educated, they can be taught that when they make a decision it's their decision, that when they have a possession they are responsible for it, but it's theirs, and they shouldn't be constantly bombarded with demands that they do this or that with the possession. So in that sense they start out very early with the idea that they should be responsible for their own decisions.

At what age, then, does a Scientologist child begin to participate in an auditing regimen?
When Does a Child Start Auditing?
Good question. Auditing, as many of your people will know, is a process. You could call it counseling, but basically it's asking a person questions that help the person find the source of whatever problems that they're having in their life and, if you like, enable them to find the blocks and solve their own problems, and that's the process of auditing. Children, normally, will begin auditing when they can speak well, because most of what's done is a process of asking questions and getting answers.

Having said that, let me mention that parents find a lot of techniques in Scientology and I should not forget to mention that there is a website, by the way, www.silentbirth.org, where you can find some more information on this whole subject. Scientologists have certain techniques to help a child who is upset, or fretful, or out of touch with their environment, to get back in touch, and to become more alert and happy again. You can often use these techniques with a child who is still an infant.

It's as simple as pointing out a particular object in communication with the infant, and you can point out particular objects--"look at that doorknob," "look at that television screen," "look at that telephone," "look at that chair," and get the child to put his attention on one thing after another in the present environment, and you find the child becoming more in touch with what is going on around them. As long as an individual, including an infant, can pay attention to what's going on around them instead of being stuck in some past trauma or stressful moment, you find that they're brighter, and more alert, and happier.

Is training by a trained auditor likely to happen in childhood? Or in adolescence?

Formal auditing usually begins at- it can begin at five, or six, or seven, and once again it depends on when the child is ready. Even at the time of naming the child, you're establishing with the child that this is a choice that they have, and some kids are not interested, and some kids definitely want to get audited early on, and then even learn how to do so. Even as teenagers, they learn how to be auditors themselves and are capable of doing a great deal for both other teenagers and for adults around them.

If a new Scientologist mother winds up having what we call postpartum depression, how is this approached in Scientology?

These labels, like postpartum depression and so forth, are labels which are foisted on people, if I may say so, by the psychiatric community, which has itself a very bad track record in terms of helping and treating people generally, and the labels of course are worked out for the diagnostic and statistical manual by a conference of psychiatrists who decide by a show of hands, literally, what will be an acceptable label this year and it might be very different from what was last year.

You'll be able to find a staphylococcus germ, a real bacterium that you can see, if you're talking about a medical illness. But if you're talking about a psychiatric illness, you can't find a germ, so you have these people who make the decisions by a show of hands. Homosexuality may be a disease one year, and then the next year homosexuality is not a disease.

Having said that, you're talking about the postpartum--there are problems sometimes, people are depressed, I wouldn't say that it's a disease by any means, but these matters are easily dealt with through Dianetics, and I would urge anyone who wanted to find out whether this worked or whether it would work for them to try it. That's a simple enough thing to do. You can buy a copy of Dianetics at any bookstore, or drop into any Church of Scientology, or if you can only get to a library you can pull out a copy of Dianetics, you can try it, see how well it works.

This is what you would recommend to a Scientologist who came to you and said she was suffering from depression after the birth of a child- you would recommend her reading Dianetics, or you would recommend additional auditing?

As Scientologists, number one, there are certain-an expecting mother, who is at the time not feeling well can find great relief and feel more certain and happier about the upcoming event by getting rid of these earlier incidents in her own reactive mind that would make pregnancy and birth difficult, and those can typically be handled by Dianetics, and typically would be. Then afterwards if there's any--if she feels there's still some trauma or even trauma connected with the birth, the Dianetics would certainly be able to deal with the trauma that she may have experienced since.

Tom Cruise has been quoted in the press as saying that the birth of Katie Holmes' baby is "going to be a blast." Is birth viewed within Scientology as an enjoyable experience? That is, giving birth, not being born.

Well, let's be honest. If you've been at a birth, you know that it's not an easy thing. I mean, that would just be silly, to say that it was an easy thing. But is the end result, in the end, joyous? I think it's got to be. To bring a child into the world, to think that they can do something about whatever situation they may be up against, to bring a child into the world at a time when I think we have huge opportunities available to all of us right now, I think that's got to be an exciting thing. Is it easy? Is it painless? Absolutely not. But you know, life just isn't. Can it be a joy? Can it be exciting? Absolutely, if you make it so.

Another Scientology couple, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, have a son who is apparently autistic. From the Scientology perspective, is there a relationship between his autism and his birth?

It would be really wrong for me to comment on the personal lives of any Scientology member or that of their children. There's nothing for me to say about that.

So autism, per se, is not something Scientologists take a position on?

No, although my understanding is that autism itself is a physical condition rather than a psychiatric one. Again, that's entirely different from any comment somebody would make about someone who they didn't know.

Tom Cruise has been reported in the press today saying he plans to eat the baby's placenta. Does this have any rooting in Scientology practice?

I think that is really the reductio ad absurdum of the preposterous comments being made in the press. I saw him talk about that on television, and come on--give this guy a break. It was a joke. Can't a person make a joke in public?

I think the important thing here is, if we're going to talk about silent birth at all, is about what is good for the mother and the child and the respect that we should be showing the mother and child even in a difficult situation like birth. What can we do to preserve the sanity, the good will, the health of the mother and the child?

These are not principles that just came on the scene yesterday. Dianetics was written in 1950 and since that time it has grown from the work of one man and some people who were helping him with the research to 2,265 church, missions, and groups in 156 countries. The reason why Scientology and Dianetics have grown so much is because it works. The subjects have real answers, real answers that they have applied, that people throughout the world have testified are workable.