Something Can Be Done About It
I thought this one to be quite intriguing — it’s a story about a Christian man who works at a Church of Scientology in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Personally I think it’s an excellent explanation of something I’ve often tried to get across to others — you can be a Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, etc — and still practice Scientology to better your own life. In any case, here’s the story:
|Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG|
Craig Gehring of the Church of Scientology Mission in Baton Rouge records a 15-minute daily radio program on gospel station WTQT, 94.9 FM.Craig Gehring is nearly everything one might expect a Scientologist to be: young, enthusiastic and almost famous.
He is also one thing unexpected: a professing Christian.
Describing him as famous is likely going too far, but the 20-year-old does have his own weekday radio show on a Baton Rouge gospel station, and in 2003 he was profiled in The Advocate after getting a rare perfect score on the ACT.
Instead of turning that score into a successful college career, he pursued immediate opportunities to help others through the Church of Scientology.
Today, he is training to become a minister while serving as a full-time employee at the church’s Baton Rouge mission, where he draws on the apparent contradictions in his own life to explain an often-misunderstood religion.
Gehring grew up Lutheran and still considers himself a Christian, although of a more nondenominational variety.
“Personally, I believe (Jesus is) the son of God — son of man, but like I said, that Scientology doctrine. There isn’t a doctrine about (Jesus) in Scientology.
“It’s something you have to come to on your own, so I don’t speak for the Church of Scientology when I speak my own conviction,” he said. “But you will find a lot of active Christians who are Scientologists — just like you will find active Buddhists or active Hindus.”
The Baton Rouge mission even has its Sunday services at night — 5 p.m. — so as not to conflict with attending other church services in the morning, Gehring said.
That room for other faiths results from the Church of Scientology not being about concepts of God such as those churchgoers usually expect to find on Sunday mornings, he said.
Media “exposés” through the years, including one last year in Rolling Stone Magazine, have described a secret space opera-like mythology complete with extraterrestrials, but church officials have always denied it.
Likewise, Gehring, and Damian Dornier, another young Scientologist on staff at the Baton Rouge mission, said they have never encountered anything like that in their pursuits of the faith.
Rather, they explain, the church is built on spiritual truths or laws discovered by founder L. Ron Hubbard.
From those truths Hubbard developed techniques, called technologies by the church, for addressing such issues as stress, communication, learning, relationships and substance abuse.
They compared it to Buddhism, describing Scientology as a path or walk with Gehring’s explanations sounding a little like those of Khentrul Lodro Thaye Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist lama who sometimes lectures in Baton Rouge on mediation.
In February 2006, Rinpoche responded through an interpreter to a Christian woman’s question. “It’s good that you believe in Jesus, and if you want to meditate on him that’s fine,” the Buddhist told her. “It will work as long as the technique is right.”