Harvard Business School professor and LDS leader, Clayton Christensen is one of the panelists on The Washington Post’s On Faith blog. A recent question was this: Are all religions essentially really the same? Or do they differ substantially one from another?
He answered that it depends on what dimension of the religion you are examining. He said that if you are talking about some aspects of behavior– such as “the commandment to treat each other in a considerate, forgiving and respectful manner”—that is “an ethic that is common to Catholic, Protestant and Mormon Christianity; Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, Confucianism; and many others.”
However, he notes, if you are looking for the degree of adherence to the doctrines of the church:
Disregard for official doctrines and disobedience to behavioral teachings is a malady that all religions have in common. But the extent of adherence is differs greatly across churches. As a Mormon living in a predominantly Catholic and mainstream Protestant community, let me make some general observations. Most of my friends who belong to these churches believe that if they merit heaven in the afterlife, they will enjoy there the companionship of their families, just as they have on this earth – even though their churches explicitly teach that this is will not be the case. Widespread acceptance of abortion and premarital sex, and the practice of convening mass late on Saturday afternoon so that it won’t interfere with CYO basketball games on Sunday also are examples of generally accepted beliefs and behaviors that are at odds with official policies and biblical teachings. Cafeteria-style, many choose which of their church’s teachings they will and won’t accept, based upon whether the concept fits what they want to believe, rather than conforming their lives to the teachings of their church. In contrast, people typically give up their prior practices and beliefs and conform themselves to the teachings of the church when they convert to Mormon Christianity. For better or worse, it tends to be a 24-7, 100% buy-in to a way of life. There are no doctrinal cafeterias. Churches differ markedly along this spectrum of adherence.