Coverups, Conspiracies & “Colonel” Glover

Everyone in the year 2020 has experience living through a global pandemic. We have all seen first hand how the corona virus and the fear of covid-19 have dominated the news and reshaped our lives. Our personal experiences living in the age of the corona virus might help us to put into context a long accepted claim by Mary Baker Eddy that her husband died as a result of a yellow fever epidemic.

Young Mary had only been married six months and was pregnant with their son when her husband George Glover died. In later years Mary Baker Eddy would refer to her first husband as Major Glover or, later on, as Colonel Glover.[1] He died June 27, 1844, just days after Mary Baker Glover wrote toasts demonizing the moderate Whigs and praising pro-slavery southern Democrats. Most biographies of Mrs. Eddy repeat her assertion that her first husband died of yellow fever. Sibyl Wilbur, who worked with Mary Baker Eddy in writing the first positive biography, breathlessly describes the scene: “In Wilmington they [George and Mary] found yellow fever raging and the city in a panic. Mr. Glover endeavored to forward his business for a speedy departure; but he was himself suddenly stricken with the fever and survived but nine days.”[2] Early Christian Science historian William Lyman Johnson describes “the harrowing scenes of suffering she witnessed during this epidemic.”[3] Former Christian Science Monitor editor Richard Nenneman claims, more soberly, in his biography, “Wilmington was having an epidemic of yellow fever, and George became ill with the disease.”[4] Even some of the most critical biographies of the Leader of Christian Science accept the claim that her first husband, Mr. Glover, died of yellow fever in Wilmington, North Carolina in June 1844. But they haven’t necessarily done the checking.

When I lived in North Carolina I had the opportunity to do a little research on this period in Mrs. Eddy’s life and North Carolina history. There was an outbreak of yellow fever in Wilmington in 1821, and then not another outbreak of yellow fever until the outbreak in 1862 that lasted for several months and killed hundreds of people in a city of less than 10,000. If there was a raging epidemic of yellow fever in 1844 which panicked the city, it did not produce enough of a panic to make it into the newspapers and histories of Wilmington. You don’t have to go to the libraries, historical societies, and museums of North Carolina and spend hours researching the subject. A simple Google search of yellow fever in Wilmington will bring up a number of articles about the devastating outbreak of 1862. If you refine the Google search to include a search for yellow fever in Wilmington in 1844 you will either be taken to articles referencing the 1862 outbreak (with 1844 omitted) or you will be taken to stories about the death of George Glover. Perhaps there was a raging epidemic of yellow fever causing widespread scenes of great suffering and the only record we have of the epidemic is the account of George Glover’s death (perhaps he was the sole victim) as recounted by Mary Baker Eddy decades later.

 Yellow fever was certainly a highly feared disease at the time, and so the claim that her husband died of yellow fever amidst a panic-inducing outbreak was certainly a far more sensationalized story than the cause of death given for George Glover in all the newspapers at the time, bilious fever. Bilious fever is associated with excessive bile in the blood stream, leading to jaundice, or a yellow skin tone. The claim that her husband died amidst a highly feared epidemic is far more sensational than the idea that he died from bile entering his blood stream.

The critical Bates-Dittemore biography treats the issue well.

“In the early part of June, Glover was suddenly overcome by a severe attack of bilious fever. He struggled gallantly against it for eleven or twelve days but succumbed on June 27.

“Mrs. Eddy always insisted that her first husband died, more dramatically, during an epidemic of yellow fever. But there was no epidemic of yellow fever recorded in Wilmington that year. Had there been such an epidemic, the public funeral which Glover received would hardly have been permitted. The Wilmington Chronicle, the New Hampshire Patriot, and the Masonic Magazine all attributed his death to billious fever.

“Accepting the yellow-fever myth, Miss Wilbur consistently elaborated it by the statement: ‘During his illness his young wife was excluded by his brother Masons from the perilous task of nursing him’ (p. 39). This is contradicted by Mrs. Glover’s letter to George Sullivan Baker, January 22, 1848. [In that letter, she says ‘day and night I watched alone by the couch of death.’[5]]

“In her ‘Reply to McClure’s Magazine,’ Miscellany, page 312, Mrs. Eddy gave ‘about nine days’ as the duration of Glover’s illness; the obituaries gave twelve, corrected in Mrs. Eddy’s scrapbook to eleven. The last is most probably correct.”[6]

According to Robert Peel: “The contemporary accounts all describe the disease as ‘bilious fever.’ Mrs. Eddy’s explanation was that the authorities wished to cover up the fact that the dreaded yellow fever had appeared.”[7] Perhaps this cover-up was so thorough that although the city was allegedly in a panic due to the alleged raging yellow fever epidemic and consequent harrowing scenes of death and suffering, those covering it up were able to suppress all newspaper accounts and historical records of the outbreak. This claim of a conspiracy is a consistent pattern throughout Mrs. Eddy’s life. While it is certainly possible that George Glover died of yellow fever, and it is certainly possible (though quite implausible) that there was a conspiracy to cover up a yellow fever epidemic, if so then this would be one of a very long line of conspiracies connected to what must arguably be the most conspired-against woman in history.

It may be that Mary Baker Eddy’s claims of a yellow fever epidemic and a subsequent massive cover-up of an unheard of scale are true. But for all of us who have lived through the corona virus pandemic of 2020, we know how it has shaped our lives and how it has been a central part of the news for months. The idea that there was a massive coverup that was able to suppress all news and historical accounts of an epidemic in 1844 (but not in 1821 or 1862) strains credulity. Or perhaps it is possible that George Glover died due to bilious fever, as all the contemporary accounts confirm, and yet in the retelling many decades later Mary Baker Eddy felt the need to attribute his already tragic death to a vastly more sensational yellow fever epidemic, of which there is no evidence beyond her own statements.


Tanner Johnsrud was a fifth generation Christian Scientist and a Journal-listed practitioner for over a decade. He and his wife left Christian Science in 2017 and became Christians. He is currently working on a book on the development of Mary Baker Eddy’s teaching and claims about herself.


[1] Whether or not he ever earned the title of Colonel, or whether Mrs. Eddy later referred to him as Colonel Glover is another matter.

[2] Sibyl Wilbur, p. 41

[3] William Lyman Johnson History of Christian Science Volume 3. p. 304

Johnson, the son of the Clerk of The Mother Church writes “[Mary] was married to George Washington Glover, December 12, 1843. Six months later, her husband passed away in Wilmington, Delaware [sic]. Mrs. Glover returned to her father’s home in Tilton, New Hampshire, and in the following September a son was born, whom she named after his father. The shock of her husband’s illness and death from yellow fever, the harrowing scenes of suffering she witnessed during this epidemic, ant eh coming of a fatherless child, brought about an illness which for a time looked very serious. She was not able to nurse her son, and he was nursed by a Mrs. Morrison, who had given birth to twins a few days previous to the birth of this boy.” pp. 304-305

[4] Nenneman, p. 43

[5] Mary Baker Eddy Library Accession F00035. Quoted in In My True Light and Life, p. 54.

[6]The Truth and the Tradition – Bates Dittemore biography, p. 36

[7] Peel, Vol. 1 p. 322 n. 138

I was told that I had the Best Life

The following was submitted by Beverly via email. It is shared here with permission.

I was born and raised on both Principia Campuses, Upper School and College, in the late 1940’s.  We lived in a tiny Faculty House, very isolated, on the Prin College Campus where my Dad (WWII Veteran) was a Professor of Political Science.  Both my parents were also raised in C.S. Dysfunctional Families and my Dad’s mom was a very weird, 300 Lbs. overweight C.S. Practitioner.

When I was 9 yrs. old we moved to the Prin Upper School Campus where my Mom taught Pre-School.  Again, very isolated community….you had to be a C.S. to live in our Neighborhood behind the School.

I remember that whenever any of us kids (5) got sick – we were told that we really weren’t sick and often felt guilty just for getting sick.  We got no Medical or Doctor attention (if my folks had gone to the medical, they probably would have lost their jobs at Prin.)  Also, since they didn’t have much money, my parents hardly ever called C.S. Practitioners – we little kids just had to “tough it out” on our own!  We all remember lying in bed with Fevers, etc. and getting no relief or help at all.  They just put on a Record of C.S. Hymns.

When my oldest sister was 10 she contracted Polio, but my folks just thought she had a headache and put her to bed.  They may have called some dinky little practitioner in Elsah for a while…..but nothing was really done for her and she had to endure a lot of pain, screaming at night, on her own.  When she finally got out of bed, one of her legs was withered and she has hobbled with a disfigured leg ever since.  No wheelchair or aides for her!  Now, her leg has deteriorated so much that she really can’t walk at all.

I suffered from periods of Deep Depression when I attended Prin College, but had no idea why.  Then I got my first Flashback and broke down crying, saying “I don’t think I love Mom and Dad any more.”  I had no idea why I was saying that.
Fast forward to my late 40’s.  Again I was very Depressed, and thought maybe it’s because I had left C.S. years ago and maybe I should start studying it again.  As I did…..thru a series of “Higher Power” orchestrated events….it was finally revealed to me that I had been sexually abused by my Dad when I was about 4 or 5 – in my bed at night.  My Mom knew about it, but did nothing, as she needed to stay married to Dad and they needed the money from Prin.

I found Co-Dependents Anonymous and a Fabulous Sponsor which saved my Life!  I’ve been a 12-Stepper every since!  My problem is I still find it difficult to completely leave C.S. and get hooked back into it.  I have done some Therapy, but no Therapist really understands how C.S. works and what it does to you…especially a child!

I’m so grateful to have found this website and could really use the support that is offered here.  

Anyway, that’s basically my story and I still have a hard time believing that I was raised and abused in a Cult – when all the time I was told that I had the Best Life because I was being raised in C.S. and going to Principia!

I never received childhood vaccinations.

By ExCS group contributor Jodi B. This is part of a series of first hand stories about vaccinations and Christian Science.

I never received childhood vaccination. I was religiously exempted by an easily obtained form in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I was protected by herd immunity my whole life and mistakenly thought it was my parents’ prayer (and later, mine), keeping me safe from measles and polio and such “out there.”

At the age of 16, I was away at Cedars Camps in Lebanon, Missouri, and there was a measles outbreak there. The State of Missouri kicked in and said “all those campers need to either be quarantined or go home and be quarantined there at home.”

I wanted to take my stand about staying proud of never having been given a shot. I wanted to go home. My parents wouldn’t let me.

The Missouri Health people came in and gave those of us who stayed, shots for the Measles. Another counselor friend of mine told me “it’s just ‘water in, water out,’ and for some reason, that helped me with my prayers on my fear of getting a measles shot.

I was so afraid I then had the actual measles and I told one of my older campers. She was probably 15 at the time. I didn’t want her to sit by me at dinner lest she get the measles from me. She was so disappointed that I would dare think she wasn’t spiritual enough to resist getting the measles.

I felt sad that I had made her feel disappointed. She sat with me anyway, in an awkward dinner. She never got the measles. I didn’t, either.

5 years later, I was about to graduate from Principia College. It was 1994. A few weeks before graduation. Word came around campus that 3 seniors might have the measles. They had never had the measles shot. There was a measles epidemic on campus. Everyone who had been vaccinated could leave campus – come and go freely. Anyone who had not been vaccinated needed to either go home and be quarantined or be quarantined on campus.

A lot of us had been vaccinated at Cedars Camps. Maybe 30 of us on a campus of maybe 600 students. Principia wrote to Cedars and obtained our vaccination records, because none of us had our own records.

I felt so proud that I could come and go off campus. So I did it just because I could, though I rarely left campus at any other time. I think my friend who had traveled to Korea and had all of her vaccinations and I drove to the store to buy donuts. Just because we could and she had a truck.

The 3 seniors were quarantined in a beautiful, well kept old house on campus that had since been needlessly neglected and then condemned, never got the measles. I was so glad those 3 students didn’t get the measles. We all graduated on time.

After becoming a mom of two elementary school boys, I subsequently left Christian Science due to mounting issues increasing in severity that were most decidedly NOT being healed in Christian Science.

We got one of my kids tested. He was found to be on the autism spectrum.

One of my sisters-in-law is a medical nurse and had a newborn son. I was scared of vaccinating my elementary school boys. She assured me that her newborn was vaccinated and would be given all shots on schedule.

She also taught me that term “herd immunity.” I had been protected by herd immunity and never by prayer.

I got my sons and me vaccinated using an alternative vaccination schedule. My boys’ schedule was set up by their brand new pediatrician. Mine was set up by the Department of Health in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

We have also gotten the flu shot every year too. We all used to get the flu every single year. We haven’t gotten it since starting to get the flu shot (except for this past year when the flu was particularly aggressive, but the shot kept people from dying even if they still got the flu after getting the shot).

I have gotten and continue to get professional help so I can be a better parent to my son on the spectrum. He is thriving now as a person unlike the traumas he was going through while on the spectrum, and attending Christian science Sunday school.

The vaccination had zero affect on either of my boys in regards to autism. And I am so grateful all 3 of us have our complete vaccinations now.

Dear Christian Science Teacher

As the end of the school year winds down, many people are expressing their thanks to the teachers in their children’s lives. This Ex Christian Scientist felt inspired to share her appreciation for all the unexpected lessons her Christian Science Teacher gave her.


Dear Christian Science Teacher, CSB,

It’s teacher appreciation week. So I thought I might share my gratitude to you in this letter.

When I interviewed you, I remember you name dropping all the “famous” people who had taken Class Instruction with you and who attended Association every year. That clinched it for me, that I should go through with you, even though my mom told me she found you to be cold and uncaring.

Thank you for telling me you would give me a 3” 3-ring binder of notes during Class Instruction. I found that material bit of information to be comforting. It is a binder that is chock full of quotes from All The Holy Books Of Top Secret Knowledge.

So, I was vegetarian when I went through Class Instruction with you. I’d been raised to “take no thought for your body what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink.” You told us that you would hire a chef to cook us a special lunch every day. I remember the first few days of lunch – every day it was bacon or ham. Something pig. Every meal. I kept my mouth shut. For 3 days.

I remember holding up a greasy, nearly raw piece of bacon on day 4. I asked my Classmates “do people in this geographical area eat some kind of pig EVERY DAY?” I held up the greasiest, most gross thing I had ever seen, and showed it to my Classmates. None of them seemed to think it was a geographical area thing. This was the moment they realized I was having a hard time with the constant bacon at every goddamned meal. I said, “do you eat this part of the bacon?” One student said, “I would.”

I just couldn’t. In my entire life, I had never liked eating pig. (Isn’t it in the Bible somewhere that we shouldn’t eat pig? Because it’s unclean matter? Is that not a part we spiritually interpret; though? Really, I’m confused. We seem to bow down to iron clad Bible verses and completely ignore other verses.) I never ate so much pig in my life before or after Class Instruction. It is most definitely the thing that stands out to me the most – how many pigs were killed and put on our plates for our personal consumption. What about that whole thing, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” Does that not apply to pigs?

It was Day 14 of 14 days of Class when we were finally served a vegetable heavy meal. I was so excited to finally see GREEN things to eat! I loaded up my plate and joyfully ate all of it! Is that a healing?

Other than the bacon, thank you for the sun tea. I liked the sun tea for lunch that one day.

Let’s see, what else.

Thank you for providing a small, hot, stuffy room, with a fan blowing us from the hallway. Man, that was a hot, stuffy room. Anyone who sat on the couch had a rough time staying awake. It was interesting to see people try to avoid what should have been a comfy seat and opt for the harder chairs. Seriously. You have a huge house. And you picked that room because … it has a desk in it? I mean, that’s a very small room.

I remember that very first thing you did when you walked in to the room. We were all sitting there, and you walked in, looked at your chair, and announced to us in a breathy voice, that you had actually seen Christ Jesus sit there before you. Wow. Then you, what, sat on top of him? I guess I really don’t get this whole matter-isn’t-real thing.

That day of learning to pray with The Lord’s Prayer was riveting. I had apparently never prayed with it before. The day we learned about Animal Magnetism and how it’s not real, but we need to acknowledge then deny it just in case – glad I stayed awake for that lesson!

The most important quote you taught us was undoubtedly: “if you don’t start with god, you won’t end up with god.” See? I remember the important stuff.

Remember that moment after Class Instruction was over, and you gave each of us I think 10-20 minutes alone with you? Thank you for pulling me aside in what was supposedly going to be an extra precious and special time – one on one with my Teacher! It was in this extra holy time I clearly remember you telling me that I needed to “heal this emotionalism.”

Yeah. I tried. I really did. It just got worse because: #ItsNotScience and #HumanityIsActuallyAwesome

Thank you for gaslighting me not only to me, but also to The Mother Church. They called me up 18 months after I applied to be in The Journal, and they said you told them I shouldn’t be Journal listed, even though I had people asking me to give them Treatment before I had ever met you! Oh, and of course when I called you to say, “what was that all about?” You told me it wasn’t what had happened. This still confuses me. They told me you said I wasn’t ready. You said that’s not what you said. Someone’s story isn’t adding up. This is the definition of gaslighting, as far as I can tell.

Thank you for calling me on behalf of The Mother Church that other time, too. I was struggling with something and posted it on Facebook – a new platform for communicating with our friends at the time. I asked people to help me pray about something. Imagine that! Asking for thoughts and prayers on Facebook! Groundbreaking person that I am. My friends were helping me and correcting my thought with gusto! I was so grateful to have my thought corrected so publicly!

Someone must have called The Mother Church and turned me in for sharing my struggle in public! So you called me and told me flat out: “this is a disciplinary phone call.” Hoo boy, good times. I have never again asked for thoughts and prayers on Facebook. I learned my lesson on that one! It must be in The Manual of The Mother Church somewhere never to ask for thoughts and prayers on Facebook. Somehow, I had missed it. Thank you for setting me straight.

Thank you also for chastising me when I called a different practitioner when my son was sick. I ended up taking him to a doctor that time. The poor kid. It turns out that he is special needs and I had no clue. Because you know, he’s actually Perfect. And if he’s not perfect, then it’s my fault, of course.

Thank you for supporting the camp director at that Christian Science camp for yelling at me that time about my special needs son.

You know what happened? Kids were picking on my son. They were bullying him. Wouldn’t stop. My son does everything he can to be kind at all times. And people just come up to him and poke him and tease him mercilessly. Kids are cruel! My son begged this kid to stop. I’ve seen it so many times; kids picking on my son mercilessly until he cracks. The only way these horrible kids will stop is by being physically hit by my son. They clearly won’t listen to his words and won’t let him walk away or run away from their horrible bullying behavior. They follow and chase him and won’t stop! So, he hit that bully kid. And: who got in trouble? The kid who taunted my kid? Nope. He is the grandson of a trustee. He couldn’t ever do anything wrong. No way. It was my kid. The one with special needs and a meek demeanor. The one who keeps his hands to himself and doesn’t like being touched – ever.

That camp director made it abundantly clear that despite the fact that everyone adores my older son, I am truly a lousy parent because my younger son isn’t neurotypical. I obviously hadn’t prayed correctly for 9 months when I was pregnant with him. It feels really great to be forced by a Christian Science Camp Director to Christian Science parenting classes. My husband was especially (not) grateful to be forced to go to these classes. Because, you know, he hates Christian Science and didn’t really know what it was until he married me.

Oh wait – my son IS perfect. He is a perfect human. Perfect with all his imperfections. Just like the rest of us. I love his non-neurotypical brain. Einstein, Leonardo daVinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, George Washington Carver, Rosa Parks, Lucretia Mott, Amelia Earhart, Steve Jobs, and so many others have not been neurotypical, and they didn’t need a healing! They molded the world to their thinking, rather than trying to deny their unique way of thinking and pretend to be like everybody else.

Speaking of which, thank you for the longest, most expensive Association weekends ever! I love spending all day Friday traveling, arriving for a Bible workshop, served with a cookie and decaf coffee! Then spending money on a hotel. Then getting up early. For all day Association. 7:30am-6pm is kind of long. An hour lunch (most of which is used for waiting in line) is kind of short. And the food was greasy. Every year – greasy food. But I didn’t take a thought for it.

Thank you for those sugary snacks and freezing room to help us stay awake. And those plastic bones. That’s right. That one year – it was Halloween weekend and you gave us plastic “dry bones” wrapped in curly ribbon. I wonder which Student had the wonderful task of making all of those trinkets? Those dry bones represented readings from Ezekiel or something about God breathing life into dry bones. You told us to keep those on our desk. So I did. I never knew what else to do with those.

 

Ezekiel 37:1-8 New International Version (NIV)

The Valley of Dry Bones

37:1 The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2 He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3 He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Oh wait, but, in Christian Science, aren’t we taught bones aren’t real?

From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, p. 475:6

 

 

WHAT IS MAN?

Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness. The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit. Man is spiritual and perfect; and because he is spiritual and perfect, he must be so understood in Christian Science.

 

But, this was an important Bible verse with God talking to us about bones rattling and getting tendons… wow. I am so confused. All this contradictory stuff that Christian Science teaches. How on earth can anyone keep all this contradictory “obey this part of the Bible, but not this part, and listen to Mary Baker Eddy when she says bones aren’t real, don’t listen to the Bible when Ezekiel says The Lord made bones to rattle and you can hear it with your ears, because your ears aren’t real. We can’t spiritually interpret that part, so ignore it. And, besides, the five senses aren’t real….” Yikes. It’s a whole lot of gobble-dee-gook if you really look at it.

Oh – and one more thing. Thank you for telling me to be grateful for my husband when I really wanted to divorce him. Yeah. We’re still going strong. He’s most likely an alcoholic but I’m still in denial about that. You made me look for the good in him. I’m still looking. So, definitely thanks for that.

Oh right, you divorced your husband because he had a gambling problem. He had healed it when you first got married? But then, after what, 40 years of marriage it resurfaced again? Wow. Some healing that was. Christian Science sure works really well, doesn’t it? It feels good to stay in denial. For decades. It’s awesome staying in a marriage because – well, that’s what appearances are for, aren’t they?

What I do makes you look good. Or is it bad? I can never figure out which. Either way, I’m probably in the wrong. I know you’ll be happy to correct me!

Thank you for making sure any time I told you that I was having issues with your cold demeanor to me, that I should look at life from your point of view. Because mine didn’t matter. Only your feelings and your emotions matter. I had forgotten that valuable lesson. I guess standing up for myself hurt your feelings. Never mind the fact that you’re a grown ass woman, twice my age. You haven’t learned to heal your own emotionalism? Really? How come?  Don’t you own multiple copies of The Holy Books of Top Secret Knowledge?

Thank you also for completely humiliating me in front of the entire Association by making me stand up as a “prayer warrior” who prayed and a girl who had been kidnapped safely got back home. I did NOT want to stand up and be counted as a prayer warrior on that case. That was completely humiliating. I couldn’t stifle those tears and just snotted in front of everyone. I didn’t have a choice, since “praying for children” had been the topic I had led that previous year. So obviously, it was my leadership that brought that girl home. I cherish the humiliation of being called up in front of the whole Association with my snotty face and everything when I really just wanted to run to the bathroom, clean up, and fly home and hug my kids. That was a personal highlight of my time at Association.

Well, anyway, thank you again for everything you taught me.

I guess the biggest lesson I learned with you is – WORK. Work your ass off for your Christian Science Teacher and make sure to hide all your flaws (like that lipoma on my shoulder we prayed to heal all those years. It put my arm to sleep a lot of the time. Remember that?), and make your Teacher look good.

For heaven’s sake, if you must go to a doctor; remember that it’s your own bad prayers that have made you go there to get that lipoma removed. Eight years of bad prayer sure makes those things bigger than you might think. I am glad I figured out prayers don’t work. The doctors were pretty horrified I’d let it get that bad and hadn’t had it removed when it was much smaller. Any bigger, and I could have lost all feeling in my nerves, and then had to amputate my whole arm!

Thank you that one year when I sent you all my best, most spiritual ideas, and your response to my wide open, vulnerable heart pouring out to you was cold and unfeelingly short. Wow. Your talent to cut someone harshly in as few words as possible is epic. I admire the way you use your icy heart to bluntly hurt people in the name of Jesus.

You know that part where people say the best teachers learn from their students? Well, here’s the part where I impart my own wisdom to you:

I hope someday you wake up and don’t just smell, but also drink the coffee with its caffeine intact.

I hope you will consider embracing the “flaws” in people instead of smothering and denying them. Seriously.

If you embrace people’s so-called “flaws,” you might see that they are just humans, doing their best. No matter how beaten down they may have been, they are kind people doing their best. Some days are good, some days are bad. Like ocean tides – days ebb and flow.

We all learn to embrace each other in the good times and in the bad times. We bring each other food and comfort in the sick times.

Oh yes, and Thank you for your clear bills, letting me know very clearly how much money I owed you each month for praying for me. I loved sending you money I didn’t have, every month, for things I never saw you doing, and never got healings with, and being treated with contempt and spittle.

With sincerest best wishes that you get out of CSBS some day,

Your former student who can’t seem to get off your damn spam list-serve but is living her best life ever, now that’s she DONE with you


Note: According to The Manual of The Mother Church, once a student is taught by a Teacher, that person is their Teacher for LIFE. And they cannot “divorce” them. It’s permanent. I just want to get off the email list and calendar. I have asked them to remove me numerous times, and even submitted their emails as SPAM. And yet, i still get these emails and invitations. It’s probably easier to get off the National Phone Registry list than it is to get off a Christian Science Teacher’s email list.

The “Healing Ministry” of Christian Science Nursing

Christian Science Nursing is often shrouded in mystery, here we share a 60 Minutes interview with a former CS Nurse, as well as information from CS nursing facilities about CS Nursing practices. 

This post has appeared as a guest post at Emerging Gently and on Kindism.org, it is reprinted here with permission and minor edits. 


I was going to write a post comparing and contrasting Christian Science Nursing with modern medical nursing until I came to the Churches own page about the topic and read what Christian Science Nursing actually entails, and my desire to write a polite analysis went out the window and I had an overwhelming desire to smash my head repeatedly into a wall.

When people outside of Christian Science think of a nurse, they’re probably envisioning someone that fits the description from the American Nurses Association


– Registered Nurses –

  • Perform physical exams and health histories
  • Provide health promotion, counseling and education
  • Administer medications, wound care, and numerous other personalized interventions
  • Interpret patient information and make critical decisions about needed actions
  • Coordinate care, in collaboration with a wide array of healthcare professionals
  • Direct and supervise care delivered by other healthcare personnel like LPNs and nurse aides
  • Conduct research in support of improved practice and patient outcomes 

RNs practice in all healthcare settings: hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices, ambulatory care centers, community health centers, schools, and retail clinics. They also provide health care in more surprising locations such as camps, homeless shelters, prisons, sporting events and tourist destinations. (1)


To call what Christian Science Nurses do “Nursing” is incredibly misleading. The list of what Christian Science Nurses do not do looks startlingly similar to the list of what Registered nurses do. Christian Science nursing care does NOT include the following:

  • Making a medical diagnosis or prognosis;
  • Assuming responsibility for making health care decisions for the patient;
  • Administering medication, drugs or using medicated, herbal, or vitamin-based products and remedies;
  • Using and administering medically oriented techniques or technology;
  • Manipulation, massage, physical therapy;
  • Intravenous or force-feeding;
  • Intruding on the private relationship between the patient and the Christian Science practitioner, or between the patient and his or her family;
  • Giving personal advice and counsel. (2)

Several years ago, CBS TV show 60 MINUTES did a segment entitled By Faith Alone (3), discussing if Medicare should cover Christian Science nursing facilities. They interviewed a former Christian Science Nurse, Leslie Saunders (4) who shed a disturbing light on the practices taking place in the Christian Science nursing facilities: 

Leslie Saunders … stopped working at Medicare-funded Christian Science facilities, agrees [Medicare should not cover CS nursing]. “Medicare pays for medical treatment under given guidelines. For Medicare to involve itself in Christian Science nursing means Medicare is trying to pay for theology,” she tells Safer. She also says the only “treatment” allowed in such facilities is praying; the rules are so strict, she says, even patients short of breath are not given oxygen. (3)

Saunders’ interview stands in stark contrast to the recent “Interview with a CS Nurse” (5) but out by the Chestnut Hill Benevolent association (6) where “Jenny Ferch shares her journey to the BA’s Christian Science Nurses Training School. Her background at Principia Upper School, working as an intern at the Mother Church, and her innate love of caring for others — all pointed her in the direction of the healing ministry of Christian Science nursing.” 

I’m not sure how denying people oxygen and not administering medication or physical therapy is a “healing ministry.” Even the top Google hit for “healing ministry” —  Christian Healing Ministries acknowledges and affirms that there is

“… value of the medical and counseling fields, since they too are ways in which God’s healing power is manifested.” (7)

While Official Church Policy states that Christian Scientists are “free to go to doctors or seek medical care” (8) the idea is laughable. To qualify for participation in Christian Science Nursing Facilities, people must abide by standards requiring them to radically rely on prayer for healing (9).  All Christian Science Nursing Facilities have a policy that clearly states guests must rely on prayer alone.

From a Florida facilities statement about care:

“… non-medical nursing facility offering care to those who actively rely on prayer for metaphysical healing and are working with a Christian Science Journal-listed practitioner. Those who come — for help are the remnant of our Leader’s seed. They are not nominal worshippers. They have set out to preclude the Adam dream by refusing to take the medical route.” (emphasis mine, 10)

From the Chestnut Hill Benevolent Association:

2. What are the requirements for admission?
You must be having treatment from a Christian Science Journal-listed practitioner on a daily basis and relying solely on Christian Science for healing. Each call is considered on an individual basis, according to the request and need, as well as the availability for admission.
(11)

The idea Christian Science refuses to acknowledge any value in the medical field preferring to rely solely on prayer alone comes directly from Ms. Eddy. During the time she was working on her 300+ editions of Science and Health, it may have been safer to wait it out (12), but in 2015 the best course of action is to at least call your doctor’s office (13). Ms. Eddy’s writing on doctors, diagnosis of disease, and perspective on hygiene is not only wrong, it is deadly (14). As Ms. Eddy was the author of numerous volumes, I’ve selected a few passages from Science and Health:

On page 370 of Science and Health, Ms. Eddy writes: “A physical diagnosis of disease, since mortal mind must be the cause of all disease, tends to induce disease.

Whatever teaches man to have other laws and to acknowledge other powers than the divine Mind, is anti-Christian. The good that a poisonous drug seems to do is evil, for it robs man of reliance on God, omnipotent Mind and according to belief, poisons the human system.Science and Health, p. 169-70

It is plain that God does not employ drugs or hygiene, nor provide them for human use; else Jesus would’ve recommended and employed them in his healing… The Divine Mind never called matter medicine, and matter required a material and human belief before it could be considered as medicine.  Mind is the grand creator, and there can be no power except that which is derived from Mind… Inferior and unspiritual methods of healing may try to make Mind and drugs coalesce, but the two will not mingle scientifically.Science and Health, p. 143-4

Christian Science Nursing facilities deny people proper medical care. In September, I had a guest poster, Dr. Spock, describe the House of Horrors Christian Science Nursing Facility were his mother spent her last days (15). I highly recommend reading the entire piece, Spock describes inhumane conditions, unimaginable pain and suffering that would not be permitted in a medical facility or hospice care.

I remember a visit to the House Of Horrors early in childhood when my grandmother worked there as a Christian Science nurse. …. . The only comfort the “nurses” [were] able to offer [was] to shift pillows, offer water or juice, or read from the Bible and/or the writings of Mary Baker Eddy or other Christian Science literature. Not even an aspirin is permitted in these houses of horrors, and people often enter these facilities with advanced cancer or other serious diseases eating away at their bodies. Before Christian Scientists will acquiece even to care at a Christian Science nursing facility, they will often have suffered at home on their own with whatever ailment they’re dealing with for quite some time. Any admission of advancement of a disease is an admission of failure in your practice Christian Science, and many Christian Scientists are loathe to admit such. 

For Christian Science Nursing to use nursing is incredibly misleading. Christian Science Nursing facilities should not be subsidized by tax payer money, and they should be very clear about what care at Christian Science “nursing” actually entails — no relief. Another guest post, My Mothers Turn to Medical Hospice (16) is the story of a Christian Scientist who turned to medical hospice care after being in a Christian Science facility that failed to meet her needs.

Perpetuating the farce that Christian Science facilities provides any level of skilled nursing care is damaging to the patients and their families.  I am horrified that Medicare pays for Christian Science nursing. Medicare pays for medical treatment (17), the Church’s position on Christian Science nursing — and the position taken by Christian Science nursing facilities — make it clear that there are no medical treatments given, means Medicare is paying for religion. The guidelines set up by the Church as to what Christian Science Nurses can and can’t do speak volumes. There is more to nursing than shifting pillows, offering juice, arranging food in a pleasing manner and reading Science and Health.


Continue reading “The “Healing Ministry” of Christian Science Nursing”

Esoteric Christian Science: MBE as the Woman in Revelation

This post covers a lesser-known topic, the idea of Mary Baker Eddy as the Woman in Revelation. Until I started researching Christian Science, MBE and the colorful, often forgotten history of CS, I had never heard of this theory, neither had anyone else on the ExCS Admin Team. The theological debate is less interesting than the drama and intrigue that surrounded some of these decisions and official statements. For those interested in further reading on the issue, there are extensive links — all of them work as of the time of publication. 

This post previously appeared on kindism.org, and has been reprinted with slight modifications and updates to external sources. 


In April, 1938, a six-member committee of editors and former editors of CS periodicals was assembled “to discover just what Mrs. Eddy believed concerning herself with respect to Scriptural prophecy.” The committee was given access to Mrs. Eddy’s private correspondence, and published writings. After five years and 57 typewritten pages, the Board of Directors published a statement Mrs. Eddy regarded herself as having fulfilled Bible prophecy in the July 1943 issue of the Christian Science Journal. (1)

I am not an expert on the Book of Revelation, Ms. Eddy’s views, or the finer points of the controversy that followed the Board’s 1943 decision to announce to the world Ms. Eddy’s place in Scriptural prophecy. I was never taught about Ms. Eddy’s views on the topic, and the book of Revelation was not mentioned much in my Sunday School classes. I was only vaguely aware of any controversy in the 1990s over TMC’s media empire and the Bliss Knapp book, and had only read little bits here and there in very unauthorized literature.

Did Ms. Eddy consider herself to be the woman in Revelation? In Science & Health she has an entire chapter dedicated to the Apocalypse, and she tells the reader,

Mortals, obey the heavenly evangel. Take divine Science. Read this book from beginning to end. Study it, ponder it.   (emphasis mine)

I don’t think it is too much of a leap to read “divine Science” and “this book” as referring to Science & Health. As for any blatant statement that she is the woman in Revelation, to the best of my knowledge she never makes such a statement in S&H (2).

Bliss Knapp is one of the better known perpetrators of this idea. His foundation has made extended documentation available to substantiate these views. The main one, titled Historical Facts Regarding Mary Baker Eddy’s Student, Bliss Knapp, has extensive citations from Miscellaneous Writings. On page 15 of these Historical Facts the heading of Fulfillment of Prophecy is discussed:

  • The Destiny of The Mother Church places on record our Leader’s spiritual life story and how she fulfills Bible prophecy. It has also brought out into the open the division in teaching about our Leader which began at the time of the Woodbury trial. After the trial, one group of teachers took Mrs. Eddy’s statement quite literally that ” … a little white-haired, old lady couldn’t be the woman in the Apocalypse.” (3) In this line of teaching, she was just Mark Baker’s daughter who had an unusual spiritual gift. However, her own faithful students accepted her as God’s chosen Messenger bringing the promised Comforter, — the woman with the leaven foretold by Jesus and spiritually identified with his prophecy to John. (Mrs. Eddy refers to 15 Jesus’ parable of the leaven in Science and Health page 117:29 and also in Miscellaneous Writings page 174:30.)

So where does that leave us today? Official Church Doctrine – at least as I was taught it, does not mention Ms. Eddy as the woman in Revelation. A few of my Sunday School teachers mentioned that the second coming of Christ had occurred, and was embodied in Christian Science, but they never really elaborated on these ideas.

I don’t really have an opinion on Ms. Eddy’s place as the woman in Revelation but the intrigue and infighting among the church makes for interesting reading.


Bible Resources on Revelation

Books & News paper articles which deal with the issue on some level

Destiny of the Mother Church Controversy & Financial Crisis


  1. http://www.endtime.org/2ndcoming/2ndcoming.html, I am still looking for the actual CSJournal article
  2. I may be wrong about this, please let me know if I am and send the citation!
  3. On p. 8 of Historical FactsIra Knapp had explained to his family, that he could not say in court that she was the woman in the Apocalypse, because he knew of Mrs. Woodbury’s intent to bring Mrs. Eddy into court to make her publicly declare she was “the Woman”. This would not have been acceptable to other Christians at that time.No kidding.

Hindsight is 20/20

This is Part 2 of a multi-part story of one woman’s journey leaving Christian Science. For all posts see ‘Spice‘.


File:Refraction through glasses 090306.jpg From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

I have been unable to see properly for at least half of my life.

While a lot of modern day Christian Scientists don’t go to doctors, many of them do go to eye doctors, because Mary Baker Eddy herself went to eye doctors. Eye doctors and dentists are exceptions to the rule of not seeking medical care — but that’s a whole ‘nother article. For now we’ll just leave it with the concept that Christian Scientists are allowed, under religious doctrine, to go to eye doctors and get and wear glasses.

Even though both of my Christian Scientist parents wore glasses, they didn’t know how to help me navigate what I feel is the labyrinth of optometry.

I first found out that I needed glasses at the DMV, testing for my driver’s license at age 16. Having been raised by Christian Scientists, I was exempt from vision screening in school. I was also exempt from health class, scoliosis screening, hearing screenings, and vaccinations.

I was at the DMV after a rough driver’s ed experience in school. I didn’t pass the course and needed additional hours with the instructor which took additional time, cost additional money, and further inconvenienced my parents who had to transport me. Within my family, I got a reputation as being a bad driver.

After the DMV, my mother took me to Wal-Mart for an eye exam and to buy a pair of glasses. I remember being scared and frustrated and crying during the exam, because he was asking me which lens I “liked” better, and I didn’t know. I didn’t know by what criteria I should like one lens over another, and I was very scared at my first experience at a doctor’s office. I remember when I first put them on and looked across the big store, I could now read the signs across the ceiling. The first time I wore them outside I reveled in the ability to see each individual leaf on a tree. Being able to see was amazing, and driving became much easier.

I don’t think I got another pair of glasses until I was away at college, a couple of years later. Why would a good Christian Scientist get their eyes checked every year? That would be acknowledging the idea of mortal decay and giving it power. Well, I accidentally left my glasses on a desk in a classroom and never found them. In a panic, I had to figure out how to get — and pay for — another pair of glasses. And why would a good Christian Scientist have a backup pair of glasses? That would be acknowledging that things can be lost, which is error.

From Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy, “Recapitulation,” p. 472:

 

Question. — What is error?
Answer. —

Error is a supposition that pleasure and pain, that intelligence,
substance, life, are existent in matter. Error is neither Mind nor one of Mind’s
faculties. Error is the contradiction of Truth. Error is a belief without
understanding. Error is unreal because untrue. It is that which seemeth to be and is not.If error were true, its truth would be error, and we should have a
self-evident absurdity — namely, erroneous truth.Thus we should continue to
lose the standard of Truth.

 

I found a coupon in the newspaper for a $25 exam, which sounded great to me, being on my own financially. I went to Wal-Mart to pick out a pair of frames and get an idea of the price. (After all, my mom had taken me to Wal-Mart for glasses. Isn’t that where everyone gets glasses?) Then I went to the optician designated on the coupon for my eye exam. Afterward they asked if I’d like to look at frames, and I said I could not afford the glasses that they sold there, and that I needed my prescription to take to Wal-Mart. They did not want to release my prescription, and I didn’t know how to advocate for myself or the law stating they were required to give it to me. So I bought from them glasses that were out of my budget even after discounting. (The coating wore off of those glasses before my year warranty was up, and those bastards charged me for “shipping” to replace/recoat the lenses.) I was at this shady place because I didn’t know about medical insurance, what I had access to via my parents or the university while in college, or that I could have had a proper exam from a non-swindling eye doctor. I didn’t know that non-swindling eye doctors existed until several years later, and I hated “the glasses racket” and treated it with proper disgust and distrust.

Later in college, I lost my glasses while out dancing. Of course I blamed myself horribly for losing them, because Christian Science teaches that “nothing is lost in God’s Kingdom.” This is probably based on the phrase, “thy kingdom come,” found in “The Daily Prayer” from The Manual of The Mother Church, Eddy:

Daily Prayer. Sect. 4. It shall be the duty
of every member of this Church to pray each
day: “Thy kingdom come;” let the reign of
divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in
me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy
Word enrich the affections of all mankind,
and govern them!

In reality, people lose or break glasses all the time. It’s so common that it is normal to have a “backup pair” of glasses so that this exact situation does not happen. My prescription was expired, so I had to do another “fire drill” to get replacement glasses in a hurry. You can bet I didn’t go back to those bastards for a $25 eye exam.

After graduating college, I had a reimbursable cash incentive from my employer for medical expenses. Because I was driving slowly when approaching signs, the coworkers I was on a business trip with suggested that it was time for new glasses, which was embarrassing. I found an independent eye doctor and got an exam. He suggested that I get my eyes checked every year. I didn’t even know that was a thing.

I got eye exams every year for the four years that I had that job because of this reimbursable cash account. The next time I went to this doctor for an eye exam, he said that my prescription had changed only slightly and started to write a new one. I begged him not to change my prescription if it was only slightly different, because new prescriptions gave me horrible headaches. I remember the look he gave me, like I had just asked him to commit a felony. I didn’t learn until 10 years later that headaches upon getting a new glasses prescription is not uncommon, but in the meantime this reinforced my disgust and distrust in what I perceived as being “the glasses racket”.

After that I went to graduate school, which is very reading-intensive. I knew the signs that my vision was going by now, so I went to an independent eye doctor for a prescription and went along just fine. After a couple of years the lenses became crazed, and I needed to replace these glasses. I was so frustrated and did not have the time, money, or patience to deal with it. Since I felt like I could see just fine and had a deep distrust in “the glasses racket”, I decided not to play their game this time. In the state where I lived then, a glasses prescription was good for 2 years, instead of 1 year, which had been the case where I lived previously. Well, if 2 was just as good as 1, then why not 3? I felt like it was all bullshit anyway, just designed to make eye doctors money. So I did a forensic copy job on my prescription and extended it for a year so that an unnamed optical provider would make me another pair of glasses. (Thankfully, the statute of limitations has expired on this. I did not know at the time that this is very, very illegal, but that is no excuse.)

After I graduated and started my next job, the first thing I did was to get Lasik. It had been about four years since I had had an eye exam and gotten new glasses, and the doctor thought that my prescription was stable. Lasik was a terrifying experience, but was well worth the emotional upheaval. I remember seeing every individual snowflake falling outside the window the next morning with my naked eyes. I proudly went to the DMV with my Lasik letter to get the corrective lens restriction removed from my license. I could see as soon as I woke up everyday! Life without glasses was SO FINE.

A little over a year later, I was in an accident that caused a vision problem called Purtcher’s Retinopathy. It took a while to diagnose and affects the retina — a different part of the eye than Lasik fixes and which glasses corrects (the cornea). While signing myself into the ER after the accident, I asked if the pen worked because I couldn’t see my signature on the admittance paperwork. The ceiling tiles were also fuzzy as I laid in the ER bed. But, we had much bigger fish to fry (injuries to treat), and the doctor said that the accident probably kicked up floaters, that my body was under stress, and that it would clear up.

Two days later I was following up with my primary care doctor, and they were asking me for all kinds of information for the insurance claim. I couldn’t read well enough to get insurance info from my email on my phone. I successfully advocated for myself at that appointment and begrudgingly got orders for a CT scan, which did not show any abnormalities. (By this point, I had been getting medical care for 10 years.) Purtcher’s Retinopathy takes two days to fully present. That night, I picked up a plate full of liquid that I couldn’t see, and splashed the liquid all over myself. After watching me do this, my husband took me to the ER at a hospital with a well-known eye center. My intake eye exam (which I cried through) revealed my vision was only 20/200. The ER resident was able to confirm that there was nothing wrong with my Lasik flap,and that my optic nerve looked fine, and agreed my problem must be caused by floaters. I pushed back and said that I felt like I was looking through snow on an analog TV and the interference stayed in the same place wherever I looked, which is not explained by floaters. I ended up seeing a total of six eye doctors over four months before getting definitive test results proving that I had a vision problem. Every time they gave me the same stupid exam, and every
time I bawled my eyes out because I couldn’t see.

Fun fact: there are no criteria for a doctor clearing you to drive after you have vision problems. I asked about the fact that it took me 10 seconds sometimes to make out a letter and the several times that, as a passenger, I did not see a scooter, small, neutral-colored car, or pedestrian. They said to just “use my judgement.” My husband drove me to all of my appointments and to work for six weeks. Then he needed to go on a business trip, so I started driving again. I got a new GPS and used voice prompts and drove slowly. By the 4-month point, I was testing at 20/35, which was close enough to 20/30, the legal requirement for driving. This should scare the hell out of you. It scared the hell out of me.

A year after the accident, I passed a DMV vision test and my retinologist said that my retinas looked just as good as any adult’s off the street.

Life went on for a couple more years. I started treatment for migraines that included medication. I didn’t feel like I could see very well and blamed it on the meds, like a good semi-pseudo-sorta-former Christian Scientist. In fact, after a few days on one medication, I almost missed a school crossing guard, and immediately quit taking that medication. It got so bad that I avoided driving at night as much as possible and drove very slowly on exits and when taking turns. I thought to myself: ”I am too young to be having these kinds of vision problems and limitations.” I read about blurred vision in my medication side effects. (Spoiler alert: they ALL say this.) I discussed this with my doctor, and we slowly reduced the medication until I no longer took it. My vision improved slightly, but was still so bad that I couldn’t read signs across the room. My husband told me to try on his glasses. Goddamnit, it was time for new glasses. AGAIN.

At this point, it had been 4 years since I got Lasik, and my eyes kept deteriorating. I’m sure that some of my Christian Science family members blame my having gotten Lasik for needing to wear glasses again. I didn’t solve my vision the “right” way, through prayer. Yeah, ok.

So it turns out that I will not achieve my goal of cutting the glasses industry out of my life. But now (I think) I know how to deal with it like a rational adult. I now have not only one pair of backup glasses, but also a fashion pair, plus prescription sunglasses. This feels like pure luxury.

Because I was raised as a Christian Scientist, I got the reputation for being a bad driver during my formative years and felt guilty for needing glasses and for not being “God’s perfect child.” I did not get eye exams every year or even every two years while in high school and college — the prime age range for getting into a car accident for non-vision-related reasons. My lack of knowledge about eye doctors and the glasses industry made correcting my eyesight a very painful and expensive process — not to mention incredibly dangerous, because without a backup pair of glasses, I was out on the open road unable to see properly. All of this stress occurred during the most important years of my education. As an adult, I unwittingly committed a felony by changing the date on my prescription, because I was sure I knew better than these swindling, glasses-hawking eye doctors. Finally I blamed my vision problems on meds and did
not have the self-awareness — or body-awareness — to recognize that I had needed new
glasses for over 8 months.

“​My lack of knowledge about eye doctors and the glasses industry made correcting my eyesight a very painful and expensive process — not to mention incredibly dangerous…”

I have major emotional baggage when it comes to glasses and vision. What I went through was completely unnecessary thanks to 14th century technology (glasses) and middle-class means (the ability buy a backup pair) during modern times when vision screening is mandatory during elementary school (unless you have a religious exemption). I have been terrified of driving, made to feel like it was my own fault that I couldn’t see, felt swindled, despaired that I would never be able to see again, and I committed a felony. My troubles didn’t occur in 1900 — this was Anno Domini 2000+. Except that for Christian Scientists, it may as well have been 1900s — medically speaking.


image via https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Refraction_through_glasses_090306.jpg

Elizabeth’s Story: Everything is always in its right place

This is Part of Elizabeth’s story about ‘Believing Christian Science’.


It’s 1993, and I’m nineteen years old. I am a Christian Scientist–something that is very important to me. I live with my family, and I’m driving to my college class. I am looking at the road ahead of me, and the familiar traffic light is green, which it never is, and I’m pleasantly surprised but sure it will turn red before I get to it. For some reason there is plenty of time today; I’m at the intersection and it’s just turned yellow. I maintain my speed just under the limit of 50 mph. I’m not wearing my seat belt.

Everything is always in its right place.

I see the black car then. It had been stopped at the intersection, but it starts to turn in front of me. “Why is he turning, what is he doing?” I stomp on the brakes but this won’t happen, I will not be in a car accident, God will stop this, and I scream “ahhhhhhhOOH” as I’m thrown forward and my head cracks the windshield, but I don’t even realize what has happened to me until afterwards, at that instant, all I know is impact, a jerk, a smack!

When I wake I look in the rearview mirror and see my forehead growing visibly, all purply-blue and rounded like a china doll’s forehead, with one scary wet reddish mark in the middle, off-center to the left. My vision is affected, trails stream behind everything I look at. Now I am aware that my knees hurt. My ribs hurt. It feels like my body is coming back to life from somewhere far away. Continue reading “Elizabeth’s Story: Everything is always in its right place”

The mortals at school would think that they were seeing an injury.

By Elizabeth, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

When I was five years old, I fell on my face onto concrete while running and destroyed my upper lip. My mom did a nice job of hiding her terror from me and calming herself and me down. There was lots and lots of blood which wouldn’t stop. My mouth and nose were cleaned with water and a washcloth, no dressings were used and I don’t know that anyone other than a medical professional would have been capable of dressing it.

I was told I would not be going to school for a few days, not because I had been injured, but because the mortals at school would think that they were seeing an injury, and we had to protect the healing, which had already occurred, because in Divine Science, the injury never occurred. I never fell from God’s arms. We sang the hymn, “Everlasting arms of love, are beneath, around, above.” My face hurt a lot from my chin to my nose and eyes to my forehead and the top of my head.

I was not supposed to look in the mirror because that would reinforce the material picture, and I was praised repeatedly for not looking in the mirror. Meanwhile I was sneaking into the bathroom to stare at myself every chance I got, because holy crap the top of my mouth was missing! I was absolutely transfixed at my horrible appearance. It was thrilling. Not the injury, but the looking; the possessing of the information regarding my injury, illicitly. I think in that climate where injury was not properly acknowledged, it became an absolute high to observe and acknowledge my own damage.

For a long time I had this experience filed under a legitimate Christian Science healing. My mother and I wrote a joint testimony about it which was published in the Christian Science Sentinel, and this made quite an impression on me. But in retrospect, the evidence contrary to a Christian Science healing is much stronger:

  • It took a normal amount of time to heal. It’s indisputable that my lip and mouth needed stitches and it sure is nice that things healed up as well as they did.
  • My upper lip changes appearance in childhood photos after this incident. Luckily it works for me and my upper lip is still cute in a different way.
  • The frenulum of the upper gum was ripped and did not repair. Mine just hangs there and my upper lip is not connected to my gums. It’s the thin connector way up top above and in front of your front teeth; you can find it with your tongue easily.

This incident is at the root of my personal version of the ‘I’m a fraud’ worries all humans have to varying degrees. And possibly the beginning of my doubts about Christian Science, but I suppressed them deeply.

Five Questions: S’s Answers


When people leave Christian Science there are five questions that pop up again and again. We can only answer these questions for ourselves. By sharing these answers, we hope to shed a little light into the murky depths of Christian Science. Find all the answers to the Five Questions on the FiveQuestions tag.

The following answers are from S, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?

I was really born into it.  My mother converted when I was just an infant so I don’t remember anything else. I was probably 6 months old or so because I know she had me baptized in the Presbyterian church. I never went to any other church.

Why did you stay in it for so long?

Probably a couple of reasons:  (1) My mother’s control and (2)  my own desire for it to be true and work for me.

What made you decide to leave?

Leaving was a gradual thing for me. I continued to attend church into my adulthood, send my children to Sunday School, and try my best to make Christian Science work. But, I did take my kids to the doctor and to get their vaccinations. I could not abide having them ill. Every illness they had caused me to experience unreasonable fear. I was scared to death something terrible would happen to them and scared to death that my own thinking about it would cause it.

Why would anyone join?

I have no idea at this point, maybe out of a sense of desperation because of an illness, maybe because they are generational Christian Scientists. I joined when I was 12 years old so I could usher because I thought it was ‘cool’.

Did you really believe? 

I think I did believe as a young child. But I had an experience with a broken leg as a young teenager that made me realize that I was really afraid to depend on Christian Science. The leg was set using what they called back then an ‘Open set’ which means the doctor actually did an incision for both bones that were broken and set them. Back then suing a doctor was unheard of and they seemed not to be afraid of saying if they screwed up because no one did anything to them. This doctor reached in to set my tibia and used too much force, tearing all the muscle, the ligaments, the nerves and the blood vessels to the area. The result was that I had an open wound and exposed bone for over a year. It developed gangrene. Now, I just have scar on bone. This gave my mother the opportunity to say, “see what materea medica does to you?” and she asked me if I would quit going to the doctor to treat my leg and rely just on Christian Science.  I remember I told her that I was afraid to do that because I was afraid I would lose my leg. Surprisingly, she didn’t make me quit and continued to take me over to the doctor and have my dressings changed.

So, I guess at that point I began to question Christian Science, but it was many years before I actually left.


If you would like to contribute your experiences to The Ex-Christian Scientist, you can email us at [email protected]