Religions Explained

The Church of Scientology

The Church of Scientology was founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1954 making it one of the only major religions of the 20th century. Much of society believes Scientology to be a cult.

On entrance of The Church of Scientology of Twin Cities they do not allow you to record or take pictures and you are directed to a video monitor explaining the life of L. Ron Hubbard and why they believe he is credible.

Lisa Doescher, one of the volunteers at the church, informed us that Scientology has many different pamphlets, books and programs for people. “We consider ourselves a toolbox. You have a problem, we have a tool,” Doescher said.

The Church of Scientology does not use medication to treat illnesses as they believe that it adds toxicity to the body. Instead, they practice healing through alternative means such as channeling energy into the sick part of the body.

Doescher said that one of these books is for helping people in that are in a coma. This practice involves talking to the person while also engaging with them physically. Doescher gave the example of touching the bar of a hospital bed, explaining what you are doing to the patient and then putting their hand on the bar while using positive re-enforcement.

Another example of channeling energy is for cancer patients. She said one way to help children with cancer is to train them to channel their energy to attack the cancer.

The programs that they offer range from human rights, to schooling and “Criminon” programs, a program that is taught in prison in which they claim that after the program only two percent of inmates return to prisons in comparison to 90 percent that do not go through the program.

When asked why she believed why some people perceive the Church of Scientology as a cult Doescher said that people misunderstand them.

Orthodox Judaism 

The Jewish faith is contains several sects of the religion; Orthodox, Conservative and Reform are all sub sects of Judaism that range in observance of traditions and laws within the religion. Orthodox Judaism is typically recognized as the most observant sect of Judaism. They follow as many laws from the Torah (old testament) as they can including refraining shaving close to the corners of their face, dressing modestly, following dietary laws,also known as keeping kosher and any other laws they feel they have the ability to follow.

Despite the different levels of observance, Rabbi Asher Zeilingold, from the Orthodox Synagogue Adath Israel in St. Paul Minnesota, says that no sect is more Jewish than another. The title of Judaism you practice does not make you more or less of a Jew, it’s exactly that, a title.

Some of the beliefs that Jews hold are a belief in God, and that the messiah will come and bring happiness and joy to the world.

They believe that the Torah was given from God and they understand some reasons behind the practices they follow, but they do not have a complete understanding but they keep all their practices. To them, the Torah is the source of life and the focus of what they do.

There is a practice within Judaism where people can not touch members of the opposite sex outside of their immediate family, including their spouse. This is a special standard to retain full respect of relationships. Additionally, once a woman is married she must cover her hair as that is a private area saved for her and her husband.

Rabbi Zeilingold also highlighted some laws that are no longer applicable in this day like laws that would have applied in the holy land predating the destruction of the first holy temple. The western wall that we know today is what’s left from the second holy temple that was built in Jerusalem. The third temple that will be built will be built when the Messiah comes.

Other things that are no longer practices are ritual animal sacrifices and kings.

The message Rabbi Zeilingold would like to leave with the North Dakota State community is this; “The world is a scale in perfect sync, try to tip that scale in the direction of good,” he wishes that people would work hard to turn the world around to bring happiness and joy.

Thai Buddhism

The Wat Promwachirayan temple was seemingly excited to have to opportunity to share their culture with others. They had a monk present with a translator, along with three other people showing up.

Phar Nathapong Moollee is the monk of the Wat Promwachirayan temple in St. Louis Park, MN. Moollee has been in the United States for three years and has resided in three different cities over that time. This is unusual for Buddhist monks because the majority of them move here from Thailand on a six-month to a year visa.

Moollee started his practices as a monk at the age of 13 as a probationary period to see if he would like to continue. At the age of 18 he decided that he wanted to be a monk forever.

Making this decision means that Moollee will never be allowed to see or speak of his family again. It also means that he is never allowed to touch a woman again.

Another sacrifice that monks make is that they are not to eat after noon. Their meals generally consist of one meal at 9 a.m. and another at 11 a.m. These are traditions that pre-date 2,000 years.

Moollee’s translator said that there are over 40 ways to reach Nirvana.

When talking about meditation, Mollee’s translator said that “there is no this way better than that way, someone like the quiet, some like the music, some sit during meditation, some like to walk or some like forrest it depends on people.”

There are many different types of buddhist’s including Lao, Cambodia, Vietnamese, Burma, India and Tibetan, with many of the buddhist people in the U.S. being Thai.

In the Temple that Moollee lives, there is one large Buddha weighing several hundred pounds that is the focal point of the room. There are many other smaller Buddha statues surrounding the inside of the temple and donations of food, money and supplies off to the side of the temple because the monks live solely off those donations.

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