Women & Christian Science

March is Women’s History Month, and as Mary Baker Eddy is a historical figure, we’ve put together a list of popular posts, links and books that help put her in context, as well as contemporary women who are working to share their experiences with Christian Science and help support others.

Contemporary Women who are speaking up and out against Christian Science, sharing their stories and experience and organizing for change!

Katherine Beim-Esche, Director of the Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists

Katherine felt called to reach out to other former Christian Scientists. She realized there was a real need for a ministry working to connect former Christian Scientists and provide resources specifically for people with this background. Members of the Fellowship of former CS are followers of Jesus Christ called to walk together with people with a background in Christian Science.

Peggy Cook, Released: Walking from Blame and Shame into Wholeness

In Released, Peggy gracefully weaves the Christian Science worldview into dialogue as she shares her childhood memories. Christian Scientists believe that the material world is not real, it’s just an illusion. Matter, like our bodies and the world around us, is artificial and not the true reality. Scientists spend copious amounts of time studying the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the religion’s founder, and denying the existence of the material world around them. They deny the five senses and cling to a theology that only good exists and that everything is God; anything not good is not of God and therefore isn’t real.

Lucia Greenhouse, fathermothergod: My Journey Out of Christian Science

A moving, powerful, and beautifully written work. The author convincingly recreates the bizarre dynamics of a Christian Science household: the jargon with its euphemisms and absolutist declarations of Truth, the denial and suppression of facts and feelings, the secrecy, the mistrust directed toward non-CS family members.

Lauren Hunter, Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ

Lauren Hunter grew up in a fourth generation Christian Science home but struggled to understand and implement successful physical healing. Like many who have left Christian Science, she sought out others who had also left to gain clarity. After being out of CS for nearly 20 years, she hoped to help others cross the chasm of leaving this religious cult by sharing her story, as well as the stories of nine others she interviewed.

Linda S. Kramer, Perfect Peril: Christian Science and Mind Control

In this book Linda brings her well-trained scientific mind to the monumental task of reliving and reinterpreting half a lifetime’s experiences and beliefs. Giving full expression to the emotional content while analyzing it with clarity, she has made a powerful case for relegating Christian Science to the category of cults.

Rita Swan, The Last Strawberry

Rita Swan and her husband, Doug, founded the organization Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty (CHILD, www.childrenshealthcare.org) in 1983, which works to stop child abuse and neglect related to religious, cultural, or secular belief systems. Working in coalition with other organizations, CHILD has won improvements in the child-protection laws of more than a dozen states. Rita Swan has testified before legislative committees in fourteen states, spoken at many professional conferences, and published articles in scholarly journals, reference works, and newspapers.

Books by Women that help put things in Historical Perspective

The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science by contemporaries of Eddy, Georgine Milmine and Willa Cather

One of the first major examinations of Eddy’s life and work, along with Sibyl Wilbur’s articles in Human Life magazine, the material initially appeared in McClure’s magazine in 14 installments between January 1907 and June 1908, when Eddy was 85 years old, preceded in December 1906 by a six-page editorial in which McClure’s announced the series as “probably as near absolute accuracy as history ever gets”…. The McClure’s eyewitness accounts and affidavits became key primary sources for many accounts of Eddy and the church’s early history.

Each Mind a Kingdom by Berryl Satter

Satter discusses the social and economic conditions in which these ideas began, and why they were popular with white, upper and middle class women. New Thought provided women a platform with which to make, among other things, social reforms, and economic opportunities through income from faith healing, lectures, pamphlets, and teaching.

God’s Perfect Child by Caroline Fraser

This is the gold standard critique of Christian Science – scholarly, exhaustive, and courageous. Roughly the first half of the book is an unfiltered history Eddy’s life, the early days of the Christian Science movement, and the establishment of the Mother Church. The second half covers the social history of Christian Science in the 20th century, conflicts within the movement, the Board of Directors’ campaigns against dissidents, the censorship and suppression of critical books, the disastrous business decisions made by church executives during the 1980s and 1990s, and the demise of the Monitor, etc., including an unflinching account of the child cases of the 1970s and 1980s and the defensive attitude of the Mother Church. Fraser puts Christian Science in the context of American cultural mythology.