The following question was posed by a college student doing a research paper on Scientology:
What makes Scientology different than any other religion?
The following are answers, from everyday Scientologists from around the world:
Natalie, mother & artist: For one thing, you are not asked to “believe in” anything. Nothing is taken on faith. You study and look for yourself at how it applies to your life, use the tools you learn and see how it works.
The counseling that is done in Scientology is something that is very different from any other religion and gives you a way to strip off all the mental things that are holding you back from just being you.
Dan, martial arts instructor: Here is where the rubber meets the road. This is an excerpt from my memoirs, “Super Dan – A Martial Arts Memoir”:
“What was it about Scientology I liked? Simple. By definition Scientology is an applied religious technology. The key word for me here is applied. I‘m a martial artist. All the wonderful theories and possibilities of martial arts don‘t mean a thing if you can‘t apply them. I want something as real as a punch in the nose. Well, Scientology is my spiritual punch in the nose, so to speak. You apply it and apply it correctly, it works.
Now this isn‘t me being dogmatic. This is me being tried and true. L. Ron Hubbard wrote in 20 May 1969:
“IF IT ISN‘T WORKING, IT IS BEING MISAPPLIED.” – LRH
I have found that to be uniquely true. That has been the doggonedest thing that I have not found elsewhere. If you apply something in the manner it is supposed to be applied, it works every time. It is fascinating but I have actually found that to be the fact. L. Ron Hubbard wrote this in an article called Personal Integrity in February 1961 and I quote in part:
“WHAT IS TRUE FOR YOU is what you have observed for yourself. Nothing in Dianetics and Scientology is true for you unless you have observed it and it is true according to your observation. That is all.” – LRH
This is what is true for me.
One of the other things I like about Scientology is there are all sorts of secular (outside of religious) applications of it. Some are so common and in your face that they whiz right over the heads of most people. An excellent example is the study technology. One of the barriers to study is the misunderstood word. A phenomenon of going past a misunderstood word in what you are studying is that it will cause the following area to go blank. Utterly simple. You don‘t understand a word in what you are reading and you don‘t fully understand the subject. What‘s the handle? Look up the word in a dictionary and clear it up. One can‘t get much more of a simple handle than that yet how many of you dive to a dictionary when you don‘t understand a particular word in what you are reading? Or go looking for a word you don‘t understand if what you are reading seems incomprehensible to you? There is a whole technology of study in Scientology behind this. This is one such example of simple secular application of an aspect of Scientology.”
Scientology is something I do rather than something I believe in. There is a huge difference in how I approach Scientology than how I had approached other religions and it works for me beautifully.
Rosalyn, Scientology mother & grandmother: One thing that makes Scientology different for me is that it’s inclusive. Anyone can study and practice Scientology, even while remaining and active member of another faith group. Actually, Scientology has more in common with other religions than it has differences.
Rebecca, Alaskan mother of 4: For me, it’s about Dogma. I grew up Christian and I didn’t even know that the religion that I followed when I was younger had certain rules and restrictions regarding behavior or activities. Scientology doesn’t really tell you what to do. It gives you the tools to help you do those things that increase your survival for yourself and others.
Michelle, educator: Scientology is a religion that is meant to be practiced in day to day life. It is something you live. It gives you tools to help you live happier and more successfully. It isn’t about just having faith and hoping for divine intervention. It is using those tools to improve your own situations. It is the epitome of “The lord helps those who help themselves.” Another thing that is different is that Mr. Hubbard says, “It is only true if it is true for you.” So it is up to you to read, and study things and decide for yourself if it is true. I know when I was younger there were things that didn’t make sense to me, or that I didn’t really believe at the time. But as I have gotten older and learned more, whether in life or in Scientology studies, I have usually seen how those things were true or how they could apply. Finally, Scientology is non-denominational. I have met Scientologists who are Jewish, Muslim, Baptist, Catholic, Sikh, etc. Scientology does not tell you how to worship God, but how to improve your own spirit or soul.
Cristal, non-profit director: That it’s experience and fact based (despite what the media would have you believe) and not faith based.
It’s hard to describe, but in a nutshell, Scientology is set up to provide you with tools and knowledge in a very neutral way that doesn’t make any assumptions or evaluations of your own truths or experiences. Once the individual has the knowledge, he makes his own decisions and assumptions. The opposite of this would be going to a shrink so he can ask you questions and then more or less tell you what’s wrong.
Tad, Oregon: The part which, to me, makes it different is the focus on techniques for application. Most faiths have a moral code, and this (I think) is one of their most important aspects, and is something that’s no different in Scientology in that we have a moral code and a code of ethics, things that are right and wrong and define really what it’s like to “live as a Scientologist”. The core of that, you can read online as it’s encapsulated in The Way to Happiness.
However, the fact of Scientology’s tenets and techniques being expected to be applied, each of them having exact and repeatable results – this is what I feel sets Scientology apart from more traditional faiths.
And it’s because of the fact that there are repeatable results that can be attained by anyone, that I love being involved in Scientology so much. I know that whatever I have going on in my life, whatever part of it that I feel I’m not excelling at or feel needs to be better, I know has a workable, usable solution in Scientology. Most of my site here is filled with specifics on that, as it pertains to parenting, but obviously there’s so much else to life. Whether it’s personal happiness (or depression), personal honesty (or lack of it), being able to effectively communicate in a business setting, or simply being able to organize life so that one can achieve one’s goals, I know that there are workable ways I can improve these things to my satisfaction in Scientology.
Fio, Florida: I have been raised Catholic. I know the various kinds of practices and beliefs and some actually, are similar to ours (Try to treat others as you would want them to treat you, don’t be promiscuous, Take care of yourself, honor and help your parents, etc.. You can find out more about this in The Way To Happiness. It’s a very simple book with a lot of our beliefs ). As a life philosophy, however, Catholicism didn’t work out for me.
However, I stumbled upon Scientology, and it was different. There was a lot of practicality to it. You had to do something to see some results in your life. You had to change something and improve to see improvements in your business, family or group.
Another difference, a BIG difference, is that there is science connected to it. ACTUAL science. I am very big on the sciences and the fact that Scientology can prove all it’s beliefs using science, completely amazes me.
Erin, mother: What makes Scientology different from other religions for me is that it is not about a specific belief but it is about handling the negative internal aspects that we all deal with so that we can operate more rationally. What I have observed (and one of the main tenets of Scientology ) is that we all have an analytical mind and a reactive mind. The analytical mind is the one that is aware of what is going on and helps us make rational decisions. The reactive mind is not so aware of what is going on in a rational way but that at times takes over our decision making or our behavior to cause us to act in really negative ways.
A simple example would be a woman who met someone who reminded her of someone in her past who treated her really badly. This person she met has brought up old, painful recordings in her reactive mind and she is now not operating very rationally. She is trying to get her child ready to leave the house and the child does something silly like dropping their shoe. Instead of just asking the child to pick up the shoe, the woman gets really mad and yells at the child for dropping the shoe. The woman’s reactive mind is effecting her actions at that point. It doesn’t in any way excuse her behavior, because we all are responsible for our behavior. But if the reactive mind hadn’t been effecting her at that point, she would have handled the situation in a much more rational, logical way. So the goal of Scientology is to help the person handle the reactive mind. For me, that is a really worthwhile goal- to make more analytical choices and reactions rather than reactions that are motivated by something I’m not really even aware of.
Kate, church staff member: What I see is that it is a very individual religion, in that you can apply as much or as little of it to your life as you would like.
I have been in Scientology all of my life though, so I would not be able to make a fair judgment between it and another religion. I feel there many similarities between Scientology and other religions… the main one being that it is meant to uplift and enlighten people to greater states of being.
Shaina, Scientology auditor: For me, what makes it different is that no one forces you to believe anything. You’re allowed to study it at your own pace, and you only have to believe what’s true for you. One of the main tenets of this religion is that if it isn’t true for you, it isn’t true! There’s also the aspect that there isn’t anything forced on you about “being punished for your sins.” It is expected as a Scientologist that you follow the rules of the church, but these are basic things that would be expected anywhere, such as not stealing, performing illegal actions, or doing some other practice and calling it Scientology. But there’s no sort of “you will burn for thinking an uncharitable thought” type of mindset. In fact, there is a person in every Scientology church who is there to help people handle things they’ve done that they feel were wrong, by figuring out how they could have done it differently and often doing something to make amends to the person they’ve hurt, but there’s never any punishment for it.