A student wrote in, asking:
In your personal opinion, how do you think Scientology is different from other religions ex: Christianity, Catholic, Islam, when it comes to day to day living?
This is a question that I’ve been asked enough that I figured merited posting, so as to gather other similar responses. I’ll post my answers here, but the answers to this question will likely be as different as the people who practice the religion. That being said, there are a lot of ways that Scientologists treat their beliefs similarly to other religions, in terms of the religion providing some direction, focus, and (most importantly) moral compass to use to go about day to day life.
The differences, I’d say, are:
(1) By and large, I’d say that Scientologists actively participate a bit more in their religion than many other faiths. By that, I mean that there’s a good bit of religious study and counseling that is intrinsic to the faith, and as such it’s not uncommon to spend a few days a week in your local church, or even take a few weeks for intensive study every so often. I usually spend 10-12 hours/week in my local church, for example. It generally isn’t just a religion where the expectation is that you go to church on Sunday, hear a sermon, and then that concludes your participation. I know that many Judeo-Christian faiths have much more involved participation than just that, but by and large, Scientologists do tend to be quite present at their Church.
If you read down some of the interviews I’ve put up here you’ll get some other takes of how much time & involvement folks have in their churches, to give you a better idea of what the norm is.
(2) I’d say another difference with some (but certainly not all) faiths is the degree to which many Scientologists are active in social outreach programs. Most Scientologists I know are active to some degree in church-sponsored or related activities, doing anti-drug education, human rights education, tutoring, etc. While it’s not a requirement for being a Scientologist, such activities are very much encouraged.