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.
Jons 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, Jones 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 “expose’s” 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, Jones, 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 Jones’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.”
Scientologists teach their techniques through thousands of courses and lectures available to those who visit the church’s Baton Rouge Mission, 9432 Common St.
“I don’t care if I make a Scientologist or not,” Jones said. “All I care about is if someone walks in, we can help them.”
He also offers life advice weekdays with a 15-minute radio program broadcast at 9:30 a.m. on gospel station WTQT, 94.9 FM.
The church made connections with the station after working with African-American ministers and other leaders in hurricane relief, Jones said. The airtime is paid for with a donation to the station, he added.
His own experience with Scientology began at Baton Rouge Magnet High School when his girlfriend gave him a copy of “Dianetics,” the self-help book by Hubbard on which the Church of Scientology is founded.
From there, he pursued the church’s learning technologies — something he credits with that perfect ACT score.
“All of a sudden I don’t have to fall asleep while studying,” he said. “I don’t have to read the thing over 50 billion times. I don’t have to cram for tests, and I can learn just about anything.”
The girlfriend eventually became his wife, Evelines Jones2, who also works on staff at the mission.
As for his Christian faith, he considers himself more active in it now than he ever was before becoming a Scientologist.
He seeks to partner with Christian ministers in social justice efforts such as hurricane relief, literacy and human rights.
“I believe very much in the Christian message,” he said. Jesus “says time and time again, ‘the kingdom of God is at hand.’€¦ And that is a message you will find any Scientologist working toward.
“Let’s see how we can make a difference now. Let’s see how we can get some results now. That’s why so many volunteer ministers flew in when Katrina happened.”
Original title: BR man finds Scientology enhances his Christianity