The Spice of Life –  Part 1: Before leaving Christian Science

This is Part 1 of a multi-part story of one woman’s journey leaving Christian Science. For all posts seeSpice‘.


I was raised in a Radically Reliant Christian Science Household. I would like to tell you what that was like now that I have completely left the religion, and how easy it would have been for me to have had both a better childhood and adulthood.

I got what I now know is bronchitis almost every year in my memory. Once, I was out of school for a week because of it. I thought it was normal to get sick for two months every spring. I thought it was normal to have snot running down your face and sneeze constantly while talking to a professor. I thought it was just a belief in allergies that caused me to cough so hard and for so long that my back was sore for weeks. Every year. Again and again.

At age seven I got measles at CedarS Camps during the 1989 outbreak. When I started using modern healthcare as an adult, I was shocked and dismayed to learn how much danger I was in as a child over diseases that were completely preventable. Furthermore, rejecting these modern, scientifically derived and proven solutions takes a lot of work on the part of the Radically Reliant anymore, what with religious exemption forms that must be notarized and filed with different schools. When Christian Scientists including me successfully avoid measles vaccinations through these legal means–thinking smugly that it is our First Amendment right to do so–it in fact allows us to become carriers for the disease and transmit it to others, including vulnerable populations who may not be vaccinated. I was horrified to learn that I was at the forefront of the biggest measles outbreak in modern America

When I was 15, four teenagers including myself, were in a car accident. After the accident, I was in and out of consciousness and no one could contact my family. A kind friend’s mother finally got a hold of my mother to let her know I had been in a car accident. When my mom arrived at the Emergency Room, I remember being on the x-ray table and they stopped diagnostic tests because my mom was signing me out of the ER. I realize of course, that was just how she was raised–to Radically Rely on Christian Science. I had badly chipped teeth and probably a pretty bad concussion based the fact that I was fading in and out of consciousness. I don’t remember much, but I definitely remember feeling confused and hurt on behalf of the friend’s mother who was brusquely told “no thanks” when she offered to add me to her church’s prayer list. I remember thinking that it couldn’t hurt, and that this person was so kind to have helped track down my mother.

While I’m very grateful for a roof over my head, a full stomach, and intelligent and loving parents, I moved out of a Radically Reliant Christian Science household feeling very confused about a lot of things. This impacted my jobs, school, friendships, and romantic relationships in ways I am only starting to realize and move past fifteen years later. I will expand upon this in Part 2.

One comment

  • Chris

    Thank you for your post. I really felt for you, in your experiencing the kind-heartedness of your friend’s mother, whose thoughtfulness motivated her to first contact your mother, and to tell her of your situation, and then to offer to put you on her church’s prayer list. Definitely a conscientious and very considerate individual. You felt that from her, and appreciated it.

    And then…to have your mother come in and upend the whole situation so bluntly, hauling you out of the ER, and dismissing the woman’s kind offering in such an insensitive manner.

    This is how some Christian Scientists behave. And the impression of the religion that gives to non-Scientists who come into contact with it has to be incredibly insensitive, and cold, when viewed from the perspective of the outside world.

    The reasons for that kind of behavior, are, of course, familiar to anyone who has, or who has ever been in, Christian Science. The notion that the practices of ANY other religion…whatever they are…even if it’s the kindness of being put on another church’s prayer list, is absolutely detrimental (and harmful) to the practice of Christian Science. She was trying to “protect” you, to get you out of the “impurity” of the surroundings, as fast as possible, where, somehow, you would be better off through Christian Science, instead of modern medicine, and the thoughtful prayers of your friend’s mother’s church.

    I believe you when you say that your parents were intelligent and loving people, despite examples like the one you gave above. They were motivated by reasons that they thought were the best.

    This religion just takes so many twists and turns, and you can be raised in a Christian Science environment that is off the wall, like mine was. I posted about it over at “Emerge Gently” some months back. When I was little, I had buck teeth, and wanted to have braces, like the other kids who needed them. My mother told me I didn’t need braces…”work it out in Christian Science.” Of course, the buck teeth were never “healed” in Christian Science…but I did go through childhood, occasionally being mocked and imitated by other kids. (I had the teeth straightened in my 20’s, and was often in pain, at times excruciating, because of having the teeth straightened on an already formed adult mouth).

    I had a fear of deep water, and was afraid of taking swimming lessons, when was a child, because of my fear of deep water. It was actually a phobia, but I grew up thinking I was a coward, because of my fear of the water. My mother did nothing to assuage that fear. She would always condescendingly point out that I couldn’t swim to anyone who came by the house to visit.

    However, she never mentioned that she never learned to swim herself…

    This is just scratching the surface. My mother did some good things, but in large ways, she wasn’t kind, and used Christian Science as cover to work against me. That’s a lot to deal with, when you’re a kid, but as an adult, as well.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading the further installments of your story. Thank you.

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