I read somewhere [precisely where I read it I cannot recall] that Scientology exists for the purpose of making Mormonism appear somewhat normal by comparison. It was obviously intended as a joke, but there's more than a sliver of truth to it.
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' recent divorce has brought Scientology to the forefront of the news. Most of what I know about Scientology I learned from watching a South Park episode. Normally a cartoon isn't a great primary source for reliable information about a religion or about anything else, for that matter, but I've been told by people who should know that the episode summed up the religion, quasi-religion, or whatever one would care to call it, fairly accurately. Mormonism is not without its eccentricities, but it at least wasn't made up by a mediocre-at-best science fiction writer. (Joseph Smith may very well have been an author of fiction, but it wasn't science fiction.)
I question the wisdom of having young men interrupt their college educations to go at their own expense to wherever the church wants to send them for two years; it seems to me that if they're going to go at all, it would be wiser for them to go directly after graduating from high school or to wait until they've finished college if they plan to attend college. Still, at least LDS missionaries don't have to sign contracts, symbolic or otherwise, pledging one thousand years of service to the church. That's reportedly what is required of Scientology's SeaOrg work crew.