In a 2012 BBC interview between John Sweeney and Elder Holland, there was a reference to the Church and the Church of Scientology. It went like this:
Sweeney: What they said to me (the 30 people he had interviewed who had left the church) is that they believe the Mormon Church is a cult. They believe it's like the Church of Scientology but actually it's smarter and more powerful.
I knew nothing about the Church of Scientology, and I highly doubted that it was anything like the Mormon Church. Are these former members of the Church claims true? Is the Church a cult like Scientology but smarter and more powerful? I decided to take a closer look at Scientology, check out what people who had left that Church say about it and its practices. Would I find any similarities?
Let me begin by saying, the ideology behind the two churches is very different, could not be more different! BUT, having said that... I did find some similarities in the way they do things that surprised me. Let me also state upfront, that the Church of Scientology is MUCH harsher in their tactics, then the modern Mormon Church, their tactics border if not cross human right violations. And anyone involved in that Church, excluding their celebrities, is at risk of mental and physical abuse. But I said compared to the modern day Mormon Church, if you compared it to the early Mormon Church, especially during the Reformation in the 1850's, you could definitely find as harsh of treatment, especially when it came to things as outlandish as blood atonement.
So bucket up, let's go on a little exploration together: (I learned about Scientology from places like This, content from that website is paraphrased or quoted from below)
The first thing I noticed is that they both claim to be the "one true church." They both claim to be expanding, and the "fasting growing" church. Somehow that makes them "true" if they are the fastest growing. It reinforces to the members that they are in the right place at the right time, and everyone is awakening to the truth and joining it. Members spend their life promoting the church, Mormons love to promote their church, apparently Scientologist's love to too. Most Scientologist are caring, idealistic people, willing to dedicate their life to that effort, Mormons are too.
For Scientology, "The ultimate sin is dissent. If you leave, you are a suppressive person (SP is a person who has harmful, evil intentions and acts on them)." If you leave the Mormon Church, you are an apostate. Mormons will usually try to help you see the mistake you have made and want you to come back, but you are a dangerous person, who could have a bad influence on other members. Your opinions, especially about the Church are null and void, they carry no weight what so ever. Everything you say or do is analyzed. Anything bad that happens to you is a direct result of your leaving the Church. You most likely left because you could not hack it, you were too weak and perhaps sinning, or wanting to sin. You are definitely wrong, you have lost the Spirit. And your association with your former friends, if you retain one, is more of a project relationship, trying to get you back into the fold.
Scientologist's "expected to have a great expansion, long promised. It isn't happening, but the Church management reports the contrary." Mormon's too expect a great expansion, they think the Gospel will spread to every country and fill the earth. They think there will come a day when the temples dot the earth and will be so busy that they will be open 24 hours a day. They think their numbers are always increasing, but even the great increase of missionaries they received due to lowering the age requirement, the reality is that the conversion rate is only up 4%, if that amount is even correct. Many people are leaving the Church, but the Church controls the information on membership, so the official number remains at 15 million, there are many people who question that number.
Neither church approves of their members looking at material contrary to the church. Mormons are cautioned not to read antimormon literature, anything that isn't from the Church would be considered antimormon. Both churches are being adversely effected by the internet. If you post concerns about the church on the internet, and you gain a large enough following, both churches will try to stop you. If you are a Mormon, you run the risk of excommunication. If you are a Scientologist, the Church becomes very upset and tries to find out who you are if you are posting anonymously, "any threat to it must be stopped at any cost." What's at stake for both Churches? "If Church members in mass start to question it, then it will come apart. It depends on fear of eternal damnation to keep members under control."
"Every Scientologist is taught, and it is drilled into him, that to be critical of L. Ron Hubbard, and/or the Church is to be guilty of hidden crimes." Elder Oaks in a 2007 PBS interview said, "It's wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true." President Hinckley said, "The Church will not dictate to any man, but it will counsel, it will persuade, it will urge, and it will expect loyalty from those who profess membership therein."
When talking with a Scientologist, "they think they know all the answers, thus they really can't communicate with you. A Scientologist thinks L Ron Hubbard knew it all and thus Scientology has all the answers. He is computing in his mind constantly and can never agree with you over anything, which is critical of LRH or Scientology." Mormons love to say, "the Church is perfect, it's members are not." The Church is perfect because it's from God. How could it be anything but perfect? So if you say anything critical about the Mormon Church to a Mormon, they are not going to listen to you. They will not even consider what you're saying. They believe everything about the Church is true and unchanging. That's what Mormon's are taught, that their doctrine is true and it never changes, so if you happen to mention a change that they have made to a Mormon, you get a blank stare from them, it doesn't compute, because it cannot be possible, God's doctrine doesn't change and neither does his Church.
To a Scientologist the success of the Church surpasses everything. To a Mormon the success of the Church surpasses everything. Converting people to the Church, missionary work, spreading the gospel, it's all the same thing and it surpasses everything. Here's a heartbreaking example, but I would say it's fairly typical of a Mormon's way of thinking.
Several years ago, our neighbors, who are members of the Church, their little 3 year old daughter was run over, and killed. The mother was out of town, the father who is in construction, had taken the little girl with him to a job site and one of the subs didn't see her and hit her with his truck. It was awful, everyone was devastated by the accident. I was talking with the mother, not long after it happened. She told me that the man driving the truck was an inactive member, and maybe this tragedy would bring him back to church. I remember being dumbfounded by this remark. How could anyone think like that? Only a Mormon. It was such a bizarre thing to hear from her, that I remember thinking to myself, no wonder people think Mormon's are weird, because they are, so weird. To think that someone converting to the church or becoming active again, might be a valid reason for your daughter's death, or at least a consolation prize. The Church dominates everything, even the mourning of your child, to the point that you can't even think like a normal person, or mourn like one. The church always has to be the central focus of everything, even death, especially death. By the way, that driver didn't become active again. But Mormon's never notice things like that.
In Scientology, the small local churches are called Missions; "Hubbard had set the Missions up to be somewhat autonomous. They were flourishing and expanding. They were less set in ridged adherence, they also had more money." David Miscaviage, Hubbard's predecessor, and "his finance police wiped out the Mission network in the early 1980's. He striped them of their assets and much of their power." A similar change also took place within the Mormon Church. Wards, used to be more autonomous, they had their own building funds, and fundraisers. We used to cut and dry apricots when I was a youth, and we had Spanish dinners once a month to raise money for our ward. I have lots of fun memories of those fundraisers. The ward kept their money, and the ward was able to make a lot more decisions on their own, without so much oversight from the top. But a thing called Correlation was created, and now everything is controlled centrally by the leaders in SLC. They collect the tithing and fast offering money and then portion it back to the ward on conditions of attendance and tithing payers, etc. In other wards they are like the government, they collect your money and then give a portion back to you because they know best how to use the money, and they don't tell you where the money is going or how much they have.
I'm no expert on Scientology, in fact I know very little about it, but if I understand correctly, the Missions are run by Orgs, which is short for church organizations, which are run by non-Sea Org members. The Sea Org is over the Orgs, they are those who have signed a billion year contract (I kid you not) and they are management. "The Orgs get detailed management programs from the Sea Org. The amount of control exerted by Senior Sea Org Management over the Orgs is overwhelming, statistics are kept of production levels." The Mormon Church has its lay clergy. Everything is voluntary. The Bishop is head of the ward (congregations). The Stake President is over a group of wards, usually 6 to 12 wards. Then there are several stakes that make up an Area, and there is an Area leader called a Seventy. He is a General Authority, they are called to their position by the Apostles. When they come to visit a stake, usually at Stake Conference, they bring all the latest rules for procedure from SLC, and what they say is strictly adhered to. No questions asked, it's the "law". Everything is said and done in a nice way, unlike Scientology, but it is strictly adhered to. And they too are very interested in statistics, especially tithing and membership statistics. They want to make sure those dollars are coming in and people are being baptized.
In Scientology, "the indoctrination of your mind is subtle, it doesn't happen overnight. The early courses are pleasant, cheap, and the staff is easy on you. You feel that you have found real friends. Slowly you are being fed Scientology. It is the sad truth that the church must hide its real self until a person gets hooked." Mormonism is also presented in doses. Most members are either born into the church or are converted by the missionaries. If you are born into the church, everything seems normal, you have been raised in it. I was, and nothing seemed more normal to me than the church. But converts are only told the wonderful things at first, Christ's church has been restored and there is a prophet of God on the earth receiving revelation from God. Your family can be together forever. What two things could be more appealing to someone. You are now with God's very own church and your family is going to be together in Heaven. These are the two things that keep people in the church, more than anything else, and what you are taught about by the missionaries. They want you to gain a testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet of God.
Mormons tell a lovely story of a farm boy who wanted to join a church, but didn't know which one to join. He read James 1:5 "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." Joseph thought to himself, if anyone needs wisdom it is me. This scripture was the catalyst that lead to his praying in the Sacred Grove and seeing the First Vision of God the Father, and His Son Jesus Christ, in which he was told to join none of the churches. Of course what most Mormons don't realize is that the First Vision account that they all love so dearly is not the first version of the First Vision. They don't know that Joseph Smith didn't tell it this way in the beginning. He actually didn't tell it at all in the beginning! It was first written 12 years after it occurred, and shockingly that account only tells of one heavenly being visiting him. For details about this click here . This wonderful picture of a humble prophet of God, restoring Christ's Church in the latter days, is such a beautiful story! Unfortunately, the prophet that is painted by the church, simply doesn't exist. The man existed, but the image that is portrayed by the church, that man did not exist. But if he had, and it were all true that would be awesome!