Erika Christensen is opening up about being a Scientologist.
The 35-year-old actor appeared on her former Parenthood co-star Dax Shepard's podcast, Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard, when she talked about being part of the controversial religion. Christensen was raised a Scientologist by her parents -- she started taking introductory classes at 12 -- but stresses that she made her own decisions when it comes to being part of the religion. Christensen credits Scientology with giving her structure growing up, while still "fostering independent thought and freedom of personality."
"Various things like drinking and drugs and stuff like that, we basically think it's counterproductive," she says of one of the religion's tenets, though points out that drinking alcohol is allowed in Scientology. "As the action of Scientology, when you are picking apart the chronology of your life and its effects upon you, it really helps to have that lucidity."
"It's almost just selfish on my part, I want to be able to remember everything," she adds. "I want to be smart, and I want to consider that I'm driving towards my best life."
Christensen says she doesn't watch programs critical of the religion, such as former Scientologist Leah Remini's A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath.
"I don't think it comes from critical thinking," she also says of recent programs criticizing the religion. "I think it comes from more the phenomena we're talking about of being threatened."
She specifically talks about the 2015 HBO documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, and questions its validity.
"It doesn't have anything to do with…anything that I've ever learned about the group or organization," she says. "To be specific, if somebody has read a book, read Dianetics or some Scientology book and wants to philosophically tell me what they disagree with, cool. That is a totally different thing. But specifically with that documentary, the documentary was based on a book. The book was not even published in some English-speaking countries because the libel laws are stricter than they are here. There's so much that is actually…talking about sources. They have proved themselves to be irrelevant…There's no relevance in what they're saying."
Christensen praises Shepard for keeping an open mind, and stresses that she isn't trying to convert anyone.
"It's kind of what [Scientology founder] L. Ron Hubbard is saying throughout Dianetics, throughout a lot of his books," she notes. "He's saying, 'You don't have to believe this, but this keeps happening, so it seems to be true' ... because I know it sounds crazy and a bunch of people that were doing it in 1950 when he wrote the book were like, 'What are you talking about?' And he's like, 'Look, it works when you do it this way.' That's what I'm telling you. You don't have to believe it."