“Do your kids get to choose their religion? What happens if they want to marry a non-Scientologist?”
In running this website, I’ve gotten questions like this literally hundreds of times. There are a few answers here I’d like to give on the subject.
First, the question of “what happens if your child decides they don’t want to be a Scientologist?”
The short answer is: the right of my children to choose their own religious path is as important to me as any of their other life choices – like who they want to marry, what they want to do for work, and whether or not they want to have a family of their own. If anyone becomes a Scientologist, and then later decides it’s not for them – the church has positively nothing to say about that.
False statements have been made by the media that people who leave Scientology have to disconnect from all their friends and family, and this is simply not true – and worse, is a calculated effort to keep people from befriending, understanding, or even examining the Scientology religion.
I wrote this extensive page on the subject of the Scientology policies on disconnection, citing the actual Scientology policies on the subject, many of which you can read on-line for free. This exhaustive summary of various other religions and their policies on disconnection, shunning and social exclusion should also help.
Scientologist parents did a Q&A with a university study group, also answering up on this subject of religious choice with respect to their children. The relevant question asked was:
Do you have children? If yes, do you believe that your children (and the beliefs of their children) should be kept within the Church of Scientology. Inclusive of who they choose to marry.
- Stephanie C, Texas: Yes, I have 3 children.I don’t feel anyone should be “kept” in the Church. Being a Scientologist and taking part in Scientology services has to be one’s own choice, based on what one believes and what one find works. My husband and I are Scientologists and use it in our daily lives, so obviously my children are being raised around Scientology, exposed to Scientology, and we share Scientology principles with them to help them in their lives or to help them deal with situations. This is much the same as it would be in any religious family of whatever background or denomination. I find Scientology to be very helpful and very useful, and I have gotten immense benefit out of studying and using it, so of course I would like to see my children have the same successes and happiness. However, at some point each of them has to make their own choice about being a Scientologist (or not). I hope they will take advantage of what is available to them in the subject. But I will love them either way.As to whom they marry, that is their choice too of course. I can say that I think marriage is easier when the marriage partners are aligned in their general goals and beliefs and viewpoints about life. Scientologists generally tend to be pretty involved in their religion and pretty dedicated to their pursuit of personal improvement, so if both marriage partners are on the same path to improvement, it probably makes for a smoother, more enjoyable journey. However, as long as both people in the marriage shared some basic ideals and respected the other’s religion or beliefs, it could be a successful, happy marriage. Though not generally the norm, I have known Scientologists with non-Scientology spouses, just as I have known of marriages where one spouse was Jewish and one Christian, or where one spouse was fairly religious and one didn’t practice any religion at all. My husband and I are both Scientologists and met through our church activities.
- Hailley A, Oregon: Yes, I have 2 children.I do plan to raise them with exposure to Scientology, and while I would certainly like them to become Scientologists owing to how it has helped me, what religion they choose to follow is up to them.Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard once wrote, “What is true for you is what you have observed yourself. And when you lose that, you have lost everything.” My feeling is that LRH is actually telling you not to just believe but to go observe and practice Scientology for yourself and know that it is true for you. Scientology is not some esoteric religion that only few can understand. LRH actually means for you to go out and practice his philosophy and see if it works for yourself. I would be a hypocrite if I told my children they have to believe what I believe or marry someone only in the Church.
- Diane N., Florida: I do have two children. I did raise my children teaching them the tenets of my church much as a Catholic or someone of the Jewish Faith or any religion would. And like those others in other religions once my children became adults it became their choice to choose the faith that is most real and workable to them.
- Jamie B, California: I have a four-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl.
When I was growing up, my parents encouraged me to look into all religions and to decide on the subject for myself. I think this was a wonderful approach. I had friends growing up who were Agnostic, Atheists, Jews, Protestants, etc. In fact, my best friend from age 7 on was raised strictly Lutheran. I attended church with her family on many occasions and even helped teach Vacation Bible School in the summer. One of my close friends was Jewish and I attended Torah study with her and participated in her Bat Mitzvah. I chose to become a Scientologist when I found that it was true for me. My parents would have been supportive of any decision I may have made in this area, as it is viewed as a very personal thing. My sister considers herself Agnostic and it would not occur to my parents to object to this.
It is a firm tenant of Scientology that something is not true unless it is true for you. I will definitely expose my kids to Scientology, but I would never assume that they will be Scientologists just because I am.
I think that I will encourage my children to choose a partner who holds similar beliefs to their own. I think that parents need to be of one mind on many issues, and sharing religious beliefs is a huge part of that. That would just be my advice to them. I would support any choice they made, even if it went against that advice.
- Tad R., Oregon: I have three children, 7, 6 and 1.
In terms of their own beliefs, what they believe is up to them. They’re going to be exposed to Scientology quite a bit, for sure – just as the family religious choices would be for any other religion. But they’ll also be encouraged to get exposure with and an understanding of other religions as well, and make their own choices with regard to such. Religion is a deeply personal thing. It’s about YOU. Nobody can enforce upon you how you feel about yourself spiritually, so I’d reject the idea of that being enforced on my kids. Growing up I also read the bible, read a good portion of the Quran, read the Bhagavad-Gita, and went to religious services of other religions in my area so that I could compare & understand them. I’d encourage my kids to do the same, and make their own choices.This extends of course in who they choose to marry. I’d want to make sure they have a good idea of what marriage is, and how long it lasts (a pretty long time), and that whomever one marries should have at least compatible beliefs to yours so that the raising of children and the goals of the family aren’t a constant argument and destructive philosophical melee. But that’d just be my suggestion. My wife is a Scientologist, and we get along great.
- Cindy G., California: Scientology is not something you force children into as a practice. We as parents encourage the application of Scientology principles to enhance their growth but we don’t force it. At least, I don’t and I don’t see anywhere in our texts that says we should.Eventually Scientology will be their choice whether or not they want to further partake in the religion.
As for marriage, that is also their choice. Members of the Scientology religion are tolerant of other beliefs and practices. Scientologists are free to marry the person of their choice. If that were not the case my husband and I would not be married. He was born into a Scientology family. I was not.