A university study group in Holland was researching the Scientology religion, and wanted to get some direct answers what Scientologists – particularly Scientologist parents – think about their religion, and how their religion impacts some of their life choices.
Tkeisha is a mother from Oregon, who lives in the beautiful coastal hills with her husband and two boys. Her answers to the study group’s questions follow:
1. Can you explain both how and why you became involved with The Church of Scientology?
My parents are Scientologists, so it was something I grew up with. It wasn’t pushed on me though. Actually as a child I was very interested in religion and spirituality. My parent’s supported my interest and encouraged me to decide for myself what I believed. I went to a Christian church for a little while, had a Hindu shrine in my back yard and was fascinated by Buddhism. For a time I called myself a Christian-Hindu-Buddhist-Scientologist.
As I got older, I started to become more interested in Scientology and spent some time at one of the nearby Scientology churches, studying more about how to improve my communication with others. What I loved about Scientology is that you COULD be of another religion and still study Scientology. No one batted an eye at my interest in other religions, and I loved that.
I had probably done about 3-4 course in Scientology by the time I was 13. It was at that time when I began to notice more about the world around me and the pain and suffering, especially in the large city the church was located. I wanted to know how to best help other people. It seemed to me that all religions had in common the basic idea of helping other people. Scientology had that in spades, but it also had very easy to follow courses and steps on how to go about helping people right away. That’s why I decided to focus more on Scientology than on the other religions. Although I still have a great affinity and love for Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism.
2. Can you give a personal summary of what the Church of Scientology is about, and why you find it to be favourable?
For me, the Church has always been about how to know yourself and how to know your fellow man. That opens the door to being able to help others, and I know of no greater joy in life.
As I mentioned earlier, in my studies of world religions I found the driving force of the majority to be helping people. I feel that Scientology has a combined the purpose of helping others with a method of learning so that the knowledge is available to all. Anyone can walk into a church (or even online now) and take one of the simple courses on how to communicate better with others, or learn about how to improve someone else’s life by teaching them about how to get along with their family. It’s all immediately applicable, and VERY useful.
1. Does Scientology impact any decisions you make in terms of education?
In one major way; that I understand the value of Study Technology, which is a method of study that L. Ron Hubbard developed. Study Technology gives you tools to be able to tackle any subject and really empowers children in their education. It’s simple and quite brilliant.
One of the most important tools in Study Technology is making sure you understand what the words mean in what you are studying. Dictionaries are pretty popular in our house. So in whatever school my children are attending, I’d want study technology to be part of that. But another great thing about it is that it’s entirely non-religious, so it’s open to anyone who wants it.
2. Are children provided with a mainstream education? Does a person’s education consist of infant and primary school, lower and upper high school, followed by the option of attending university or continuing on with tertiary education if desired?
Yes, of course. I attended a K-12 school and had the option of college if I wanted it, but decided to go directly into an apprenticeship in the industry I was interested in. Although looking back now, I’d probably choose to go to college for at least a few years.
My children are currently attending a wonderful school, with the youngest in Lower School and my oldest going into Middle School. They are just starting to explore what interests them in life but my oldest at 12 is very interested in college, so I expect that will be part of his plans after he graduates from high school.
3. What is different or the same about the education of Scientologist youths?
I’d say it’s much more of a self-determined approach to education, very non-authoritarian. You can’t force knowledge down a child’s throat. They need to understand for themselves and have their knowledge be real to them.
I’d also say that integrity becomes a part of education, especially with children brought up in Scientology. There is a focus on not just accepting something to be true or right because of what someone told you, but because you know it for yourself. Having the courage to stand up for what you believe and never fearing to question, those are valuable and important lessons.
4. What are the reasons behind this?
It works 🙂
1. What hobbies/interests are common to people who follow Scientology? Is there anything specific which most people partake in?
Well I know a lot of Scientologists and they pretty much all have their own interests, which are vastly varied. I love horses, reading, gardening and the great outdoors. There are all kinds of people from all walks of life that are Scientologists, so I’d have to say that for the most part, there are not common hobbies or interests.
One exception to that might be that many Scientologists enjoy helping other people and therefore their interests might include doing things along that direction. My husband is a Volunteer Minister, and helped at Ground Zero at 9-11. I know many others who are also Volunteer Ministers or engage in other volunteer type activities.
2. Do your Scientology beliefs impact the medical choices you make in your life?
To some degree, but that’s less Scientology tenets and more that I’m interested in non-traditional methods of healing the body, and not just drugs. Western medicine isn’t the end-all authority on this subject, so I’m willing to explore alternative routes of handling body problems, if it makes sense to do so. That being said, I have a traditional doctor I bring my children to, as well as a nutritionist. I see both a couple times a year as needed, sometimes more.
If one of my kids has an illness or a fever that won’t come down, of course I’m going to give Tylenol or whatever makes sense to give. I’ve taken my kids to the hospital for various childhood bumps, and am very glad to have one not that far from me (I have two very active boys).
3. 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.
I have two boys, age 12 and 6. I would like to allow them to explore and look at Scientology just as they would look into other religions. My older son has been to a daycare that is run by nuns, so has been exposed to teachings of Jesus and Christianity. I am glad of that. I hope to find more ways for him to learn about other religions.
Ultimately, the decision about religion and beliefs is a very personal one, and I’d not want to violate that with my children. They know about Scientology and I try to involve them in the Church a few times a month, but as I said, it’s their choice and sometimes they just want to play, which is fine with me. I want them to feel like they can ask me anything and be accepted for whatever religion the choose or not choose.
Who they decide to marry is entirely their own choice. As a mother, I’d just want them to love each other and understand the importance of communication and patience in a marriage.
4. Do your beliefs impact who you form social relationships with?
I’ve not thought of it that way, but probably to some degree – definitely not exclusively. I have friends who are Scientologists and some who are not. I enjoy hanging out and interacting with all of them. Maybe it’s that most Scientologists are inclined to avoid getting drunk, doing illegal drugs and other things like that, so there is that expectation of morality, which I really value.
1. Do harsh comments/perceptions about the Scientology religion affect you and your everyday life? How? Do you ever feel that you should hide your religion because of it?
Honestly, it used to really upset me. When I was younger, I would engage in an argument with anyone who tried to put down my religious beliefs and would many times end up in tears. But as I got a bit older, I started to realize that most of those people had been fed false information online by sensationalist tabloids or former members with an ax to grind. Now, if someone questions my religion, I try to calmly address any of their confusions and welcome them to come tour the local church.
I don’t want to have to hide my religion, but the reception I have received because of it has sometimes not made me feel welcome. I hope that will change with more people being willing to look into Scientology (or really, anyone with non-traditional beliefs) themselves and decide based on first-hand knowledge – and not an Internet story written by someone who likely never stepped into a Church of Scientology.
2. Do you believe Scientology is a culture/sub-culture and how do you think the constructs of a culture potentially affect the Church’s ability to be recognized as a religion?
Wow, never looked at it like that. No, it’s always been a religion to me, just as all other religions. I really don’t understand how it could be viewed any differently. I think whoever is saying it’s a culture/sub-culture and not a religion has probably never been into a Church of Scientology and studied first hand what it’s all about.
3. Scientology is legally viewed as a commercial enterprise in Switzerland. Do you think this is rational, plausible and fair? Why/why not?
No, I don’t. It does not make sense to me, but I don’t know if they are singling out Scientology, or if they do this to all religions. If they are singling out my church, then I think they are misinformed or have some kind of an agenda that does not have to do with the truth.
4. How are those who chose to leave the Church of Scientology treated upon departure and once they have left? Reasons behind this? Do you agree with it?
I think this depends on how they leave. I have known people who just decide it’s not for them, and it’s totally fine, no issues at all. They move on in life. But then there are the few that leave because they were doing things that were illegal or very harmful to the Church. When they leave it tends to be with lots of drama and for those people, I don’t have a lot of love. They made their decision to take that path and usually hurt quite a few people while doing it. That’s not ok with me, so no, I’d not be too friendly with them. But in that case, religion is not really the issue, it’s how they treated others that would make be not want to be their friend.
5. Scientology is often viewed as demonstrating a cult-like culture. Why do you think this is so?
I think this is because it’s a newer religion and not understood by many. It’s not hard to understand though. I always recommend coming into a Church of Scientology and getting a tour, reading some of the books, and just seeing for yourself.
6. Something about celebrities and their endorsement of Scientology. Do members of the Church agree or disagree with this? Why or why not?
I can’t say that I’ve ever discussed with any Scientologists if they agree or disagree with celebrities endorsing Scientology. Personally, I think Tom Cruise and John Travolta are lovely people and it’s great that they love their religion. One benefit I do see to celebrities talking about Scientology as their religion, is that they can help clear up lingering confusions about our beliefs. So that’s good.