1. My Mormon neighbors invited me to a Christmas service. Of course I accepted the invitation.
2. And an article came out claiming that the Mormons have squirreled away some 100 billion dollars for charitable purposes. And holy moly good on them. That’s 100 billion ways that they are able to HELP people.
Here’s what I know about being a Scientologist living in a Mormon community in Utah.
They’re nice people. They’re helpful people. They go the extra mile to be good neighbors, and the bigotry and the jokes about them are absolutely gross. I’ll give you some examples: When it snows, our driveway is plowed and our stairs cleared of snow before we are even out of bed. We suspect it’s either our next-door neighbor or the one across the street. No one has fessed up in all the years we’ve lived here.
Another neighbor goes out of her way to ensure we are included in social events such as the spring picnic in the park by our house, or the Boy Scouts meetings that happen at another neighbor’s home. These events aren’t necessarily church-centric, but definitely community-based. And when that community is a religious one (as it is in our town), we actually expected we’d be excluded. Not so.
When we first moved into our neighborhood, we had five people arrive at our moving truck and offer to help us unload. It was extraordinary. After living in Los Angeles for so many years, my husband and I were used to being treated with callous disregard, and we had very few interactions with our neighbors. In fact, for years we didn’t even know most of our neighbors’ names. Now we know all our neighbors. And that is not because we made some great effort to meet them. Rather they made a great effort to make us feel welcome and included, and to get to know the family moving into that corner house on their street.
And boy am I grateful they saw me as a neighbor—as someone to know.
My kids are curious about their friends’ religion. What better way to educate them about another’s beliefs than by taking a minute and really participating in their ceremonies and services?
A friend asked if they thought our Mormon neighbors were just being nice so they could then proselytize. That hasn’t been my experience at all.
But wait... didn’t one of them INVITE me to their Christmas service? Yes. At my request. My kids are curious about their friends’ religion. What better way to educate them about another’s beliefs than by taking a minute and really participating in their ceremonies and services? And what better service to attend than the one that anchors all of Christianity?
It’s simple. I’m not an expert on Mormonism, and I wouldn’t want a non-Scientologist trying to explain Scientology to their kids not having any experience with MY religion. So I won’t do that to my Mormon friends. They have the right to share their beliefs.
Which brings me now to the second inspiration for this blog: the 100 billion they’ve allegedly secured from tithes. I don’t know what is in their accounts. I super duper do not care. Why? Because that money IS put to good use to help humankind and THAT is the important thing.
How do I know this? Because I see the effort their church puts into giving back to the community, on a small and large scale.
On a small scale, that money goes to helping out members who are down on their luck, or out of work. The church goes to great lengths to ensure their congregation has the essentials to keep body and soul together. It is tangible help in the form of food, welfare, healthcare, and from what I’ve heard, even some bills paid. That’s a pretty good use of funds.
On a large scale, my mom works in the field of disaster response. She’s a Scientology Volunteer Minister. Whenever there is a disaster of any kind, be it local or global, Mormons are the first to join forces with our Volunteer Ministers. And it is an AWESOME partnership. In Haiti, when the earthquake wiped out that nation, Scientologists raised money to fund planes to Port-au-Prince and Mormons cleared out their warehouses to pack the planes with all kinds of supplies, quilted blankets, canned food, water purifiers, you name it. If they had it, they supplied it. We chartered six planes to Port-au-Prince, and Mormons loaded every single one of them.
This is where religions really shine. Because beyond the Red Cross, there is no greater force of humanitarian aid than the diverse religions who unite to bring hope and help to those in need.
And Mormons do that, as do the Baptists, the Lutherans, the Catholics, Muslims, and Jews. And of course we Scientologists are always out there doing what we can to make this world better.
But it does take the combined effort of all of us to truly make a difference. So unless you are out there really working to effect a change, you have no right to attack what a humanitarian group does with its resources. Unless you’re on the front lines, go sit down in the back.
You’re in the way of progress.