CDC Studies & The Principia Schools/College

CDC logo via wikipediaCompiled by the Ex-Christian Scientist editors.

The Christian Science church often uses the fact that it has obtained religious exemption laws as evidence that Christian Science can heal all diseases as effectively as medical care. However, studies and statistics from the Surveillance and Epidemiology, Epidemiology Program Office, CDC tell a different story.

Many of these studies and statistics center around the Principia Schools and College, as that is where there is a large enough cluster of Christian Scientists to enable the effective study of the impact of their decisions.

Christian Scientists’ high mortality rate

Principia College / Loma Linda University Case Study

A long-term study (1945 – 1983) between the population of graduates of Principia College (PC), a college for Christian Scientists, and Loma Linda University (LLU), a Seventh-day Adventist-affiliated university showed:

“Overall mortality was higher for PC graduates than for LLU graduates (for men, 40 per 1000 and 22 per 1000, respectively… and for women, 27 per 1000 and 12 per 1000, respectively (p=0.001)). Total mortality was higher among PC graduates in 22 (85%) of the 26 cohorts.”

“The doctrines of both religious groups require abstinence from alcohol consumption and smoking. …. The groups also differ in that Christian Scientists reject medical healing in favor of spiritual healing alone, whereas Seventh-day Adventists accept both spiritual and medical healing.”

Reported by: WF Simpson, PhD, Emporia State Univ, Emporia, Kansas. Div of Surveillance and Epidemiology, Epidemiology Program Office, CDC.1


1Comparative Mortality of Two College Groups, 1945 – 1983.MMWR. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 23 Aug. 1991. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

Further Reading:

Christian Science & Religious Exemptions

Measles outbreaks at Principia College

  • In 1985, three Christian Scientists affiliated with Principia College in Elsah, Illinois died; and 712 students were quarantined on campus, when an outbreak of measles sickened more than 100 people.
  • In 1989, another measles outbreak at Principia sickened nearly 100 people, including some off campus, not affiliated with the school.
  • In 1994, another outbreak spread to the Principia, which serves students pre-K through senior high in St. Louis County, Missouri; nearly 200 people contracted measles.1

The [1985 outbreak’s] high attack rate (15.9%) at Principia College is undoubtedly due to these students’ very low immunization levels. The outbreak illustrates the potential severity of measles and the rapidity of spread in an unvaccinated population. The very high apparent death-to-case ratio (2.3%) is unusual in the United States, which usually has a reported death-to-case ratio of 0.1% or lower.2


1 Townsend, Tim. “Prayer or inoculation? H1N1 is newest dilemma Members of religious groups who forgo vaccines may put neighbors at risk, threaten common St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 06 Dec. 2009. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

2Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Multiple Measles Outbreaks on College Campuses–Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois.MMWR. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 Mar. 1985. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

6 Replies to “CDC Studies & The Principia Schools/College”

  1. Well, any Christian Scientist who got sick with any ailment and then recovered would credit their recovery to Christian Science prayer, whether the prayer had anything to do with their recovery or not. That was the way I was raised, and would certainly have been what I would have done when I was a Christian Scientist.

  2. I am so glad this post exists on this forum. Thank you.

    I was caught in a Measles Outbreak at a Christian Science camp not too far away from Principia.

    I was caught again at one of the Principia Measles outbreaks.

    Both were horrible.

    The first hand story / blog post on this site telling of being in the dorm at Principia and having the wash cloth taken away – I wasn’t in that outbreak. But that story gives me nightmares.

    I love Jay Church’s innocent comment asking if anyone was healed of the Measles in Christian Science.

    No. They weren’t. I have learned it’s a virus like the flu is a virus. A person just sticks it out & gets better. Or they die. That’s it.

    I also agree with C.C.’s comment – that anyone who survived the Measles – would absolutely attribute it to Christian Science as a healing.

    One more thing – one of my siblings contracted what he told his practitioner was “malaria.”

    I have told the symptoms he had to a few people who know about such things.

    It turns out – he says he was healed of malaria in Christian Science. But – he never had malaria to begin with.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if there are folks who profess to have been healed of Measles thanks to Christian Science.

    It is more likely they had like acne or something. And called it Measles. I wish I was joking or exaggerating.

  3. I second Chrystal’s comment about her sibling believing he’d been healed of a disease he’d never really had. I’ve witnessed that sort of thing firsthand.
    My mother tells the story of how she fell down the stairs when I was a baby, sprained her ankle, and Christian Science healed her. I vividly remember being in junior high school and hearing my mother say: “You know, that time I fell down the stairs, I think I broke my leg.” From that moment on — I kid you not — every time she tells the story of her fall, she claims CS healed her of a broken leg . Of course, her leg was never broken in the first place.

  4. Oh my gosh! C.C’s comment is so true!

    Wow. This reminds me of the time I told everyone I was healed of a broken hand!!

    Here is what actually happened:

    I woke up one morning with severe pain in my left hand. It’s possible that in my sleep I had hit my nightstand (antique, with a marble top) with it. But there were no bruises. I don’t know tons of body chemistry, but I am wondering if it’s more likely I probably had like iron deficiency? Something?

    I got dressed very carefully. It was Fall season. And I put on a hoodie with a pocket. And put my hand very carefully in to my pocket. My version of a “sling.”

    I prayed a bit. I was a mom of an elementary school child and a preschool child at this time.

    I took my younger son to preschool, and told someone there “I broke my hand.” (This person was also a Christian Scientist and looked at me like, oh, ok! They said they were glad my son was with them to give me time to pray.

    My hand was in my pocket. Clearly I didn’t have a cast or anything. But they completely took me at my word!! #BrainwashedMuch?

    I walked away and had a phone call with my practitioner. She and I were actually working towards becoming Journal-listed Practitioners together. (I did get listed – my story is on this site), as far as I know, she is still working on it … and … we’ll see what happens.)

    The rest of the story, as I told it, goes like this –

    “As my practitioner talked, I don’t even know what she said, I got a clear vision of crossing the street with my dad from when I was a kid. He would take my hand and we would cross the street. In my vision, I clearly saw god as my dad.

    “I felt a click, and my hand was healed. No more pain, no more issues. Good thing, too, because Thanksgiving was 2 days away and I was able to cook a duck AND a turkey that year – lifting heavy, cast-iron roasting pans easily.”

    So – here is what I always told Christian Scientists about what happened:

    “I woke up one morning with a broken hand. I got dressed very carefully, put my hand in the pocket of my hoodie and went about my day. I took my son to preschool, and called my practitioner……”

    The rest is up there.

    I don’t think I typed this up as clearly as I would have liked – telling the 2 versions. But I do think it was hopefully clear enough.

    I never had a broken hand. I was mostly convinced I did. That’s why – that’s what we prayed about. It’s the belief that’s important, not the actual problem.

    I could believe I had a broken hand, even if I didn’t have one. Christian Science reaches its people to “handle the belief.”

    I wonder if this is why testimonies used to always start:
    “I believed I had a cold,” or, “I had a seeming belief of the flu….” etc. Woah. Puts this in to a new perspective for me.

Comments are closed.