A silent birth..lie detector testing..spying on school friends.. Could this be the strange, strange world of baby cruise?
Even by Hollywood’s skewed standards, the birth of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ baby is set to be decidedly odd.
When the 27-year-old actress is wheeled into the delivery room, she will be under strict instructions not to cry or scream out, no matter how painful her labour.
The Dawson’s Creek star has agreed to convert to her fiance’s Church of Scientology, which insists on “silent births” to avoid traumatising newborn babies.
And that is only the start of the sect‘s unique take on how to bring up children.
Youngsters are given lie-detector tests, asked to spy on their classmates and face cutting themselves off from family members if they are non-believers.
The revelations are sure to worry Katie’s close-knit family and friends who were reported to be “uncomfortable” with her whirlwind romance with the twice-married Mission Impossible hunk.
Mike Sitter, 49, a parishioner at Christ the King Catholic Church in Toledo, Ohio, where Katie’s family regularly worship, said: “Katie’s uncle Fritz approached me and said, ‘So what do you make of this Tom and Katie business? I think Tom seems like a real jerk’. Nobody thinks it will last.”
Established by American science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1952, Scientology followers believe humans are riddled with the ghosts of dead aliens.
Before his death in 1986, Hubbard produced a series of controversial papers on how to raise children.
Many of the 50,000 members have adopted his rules, which will discourage Tom and Katie from comforting or nurturing their child.
If it knocks its head against a door while learning to walk, the superstar parents will not give it a cuddle and kiss it better. Instead they are supposed to gently place the baby’s head against the door in the belief that the pain will flow back into the object.
Astra Woodcraft, a British-born Scientologist, was in the church from the age of three to 22.
Now 28, she said: “If I was ill my mother would give me a ‘touch assist’ – I would lie down and she would touch me with her finger. She would say, ‘Feel my finger’. She wouldn’t stop until I felt better, so to stop her prodding me I’d say I felt better.”
Since Tom, 43, proposed to Katie on top of the Eiffel Tower in June, she has made no secret of her willingness to embrace Scientology and even has her own minder from the church, Jessica Rodriguez, who accompanies her everywhere.
And while the church insists its practices make for bright and happy children, some ex-members are urging Katie – who had vowed to stay a virgin until her wedding night – to think twice before embracing it.
– Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia, quoted at What judges have to say about Scientology
Teresa Summers, 47, who was a member for 20 years, said: “Mothers who have raised children in the Church of Scientology and come out have a terrible sense of guilt over what our children went through.
“Teachers don’t have college degrees. They are trained in Scientology method. They don’t explain. They don’t help.” The sect runs a network of private schools around the world, including one in Britain, and members are encouraged to enrol their children.
One recent flier warned against state education, saying: “If you turn your kids over to the enemy all day for 12 to 15 years, which side do you think they will come out on?”
At the schools, children may use a “learning accelerator” device that detects small amounts of electrical resistance in the palms of their hands. The child holds two electrodes and answers questions – with a needle on the device indicating if they are lying.
Hubbard also designed a 60-question test to be used on children as young as six, including “Have you spoiled things for people?”
ASTRA, who lives in California, said when she was five or six years old, she was put through a series of bizarre tests.
“It was like a drill where I was told, ‘Look at the wall, walk to the wall, touch the wall, walk away from the wall’.
“Other times I would be told to follow someone’s hand movements with my eyes. It was supposed to calm you down and help you see the world clearly, it was hypnotic.”
Teresa also says children are asked to spy on each other and subjected to laborious punishments. “It’s called making amends,” she explained. “My daughter was made to scrub poles, paint walls, report on her friends. I let her do all that.”
But Graeme Wilson, spokesman for the church, said: “You will find children of Scientologists to be well cared for and given the room and opportunity to grow, to learn and to take responsibility.” It has been rumoured, though, that Tom split from his second wife Nicole Kidman after she objected to raising their two adopted children, Connor, now 10, and Isabella, 12, according to Scientology methods.
Life will be very different for baby Cruise who will be engulfed in the sect’s beliefs from birth while living in a world of unimaginable wealth. Tom commands £14million a movie plus a slice of the profits, making a staggering $75million for Mission Impossible II.
He has homes on three continents, including a £5million Beverly Hills mansion, and flies between them in his own Lear jet.
It is believed Tom and Katie will set up home in a new £15million pad in an upmarket suburb of Montecito, California. Boasting four bedrooms – and a nursery – pool and tennis courts, their neighbours will include Kevin Costner and Oprah Winfrey.
There is certainly no doubt how much Tom wants the child.
After he split from first wife Mimi Rogers in 1990 following a childless marriage, he said: “I have cried tears of frustration. I would turn down an Oscar to see my boy at a baseball game or my girl at a song recital.”