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]

Five Questions: P’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 P, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?

I was born into it. My mother was born and raised in Christian Science, and my father converted to Christian Science when he married my mother.

Why did you stay in it for so long?

I didn’t actually stay for very long. I left at age 16, which is fairly young for a child to renounce his parents’ religion.

What made you decide to leave?

My parents and Sunday School teachers raised me to believe that the universe was literally perfect. They told me that there was no such thing as pain, suffering, or death–there were only dreamlike illusions of pain, suffering, and death. They told me that if we could only stop being fooled by these illusions, they would melt away like a bad dream.

One summer, when I was sixteen years old, I raised my hand in Sunday School and asked “If I’m perfect, how can I be deceived by illusions?”
The teacher said, with no trace of irony, “You’re not. The idea that you’re deceived by illusions is itself an illusion.”
That was the moment when Christian Science stopped making sense to me. Over the next three months, I struggled to maintain a coherent theology, but instead, I just kept coming up with more unanswerable questions. Why do Christian Scientists go to car mechanics, but not doctors? Is there really any difference between real pain and illusory pain, if they both hurt the same? If Christian Scientists are sitting on a great scientific discovery (as they say), why do they just talk about it in church instead of getting it peer-reviewed and published?
Eventually, I came to the conclusion that Christian Science is self-contradictory, and that even if you take out the contradictory parts, everything that’s left is still demonstrably false.
Why would anyone join?
I ask myself sometimes why my father converted to Christian Science. I don’t think that he did it just to marry my mother. I know that my father’s mother (my grandmother) died when my father was still a boy, after wasting away in a hospital, and I suspect that this gave my father a lifelong unconscious resentment of doctors and medicine. Christian Science is a welcoming environment for someone who doesn’t like doctors.
Another reason why someone might join Christian Science is that they’ve been reading books by Louise Hay, Deepak Chopra, or Rhonda Byrne, and they’ve come to believe that their thoughts can directly affect the world. Christian Scientists also believe that their thoughts can directly affect the world, so a person who holds this belief might see a Christian Science church as a community of like-minded individuals. (They might be in for a surprise, though, when they learn about Christian Scientists’ other beliefs!)
Did you really believe? 

Yes. All throughout my childhood, I believed that I was perfect, and that I could make bad things go away if I concentrated on disbelieving them. In hindsight, I can see that my efforts had no effect, but at the time, I never doubted that Christian Science was true. If the ailment that I was praying about happened to resolve on its own, I would see that as a confirmation of Christian Science. If the ailment didn’t resolve, I wouldn’t attribute the failure to Christian Science, I would just assume that I wasn’t praying hard enough. That’s called confirmation bias, and it’s an insidious force.


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

Five Questions: N’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 N, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?

I was raised in it.

Why did you stay in it for so long?

I was too scared to believe anything else. I thought it was logical, and that I had seen proof.

What made you decide to leave?

I felt that it was working against me. I couldn’t be part of a religion that made its adherents feel guilty about trying to seek help. I became increasingly depressed. So for one week, I decided to not pray at all, and to think whatever I wanted to. I felt that for the first time in my life, my thoughts weren’t controlled.

Why would anyone join?

The promise of cheaper and more immediate healthcare, it is promised to be a panacea. Not just for physical but also mental ailments. There’s something comforting about knowing that God is with you at all times and that all evil is an illusion.

Did you really believe? 

Yes.


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

Five Questions: M’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 M, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?
My mother, who was always looking for ‘the answer’, went to a Wednesday evening service at TMC (The Mother Church), and never looked back. I was about ten years old, and my younger sister was born into Christian Science.
Why did you stay in it for so long?
When you’re raised in it, it’s just part of life and you don’t generally question it until you’re older. I didn’t start having doubts until my late 30’s/early 40’s! As an adult I began to have doubts, but would always push them away, figuring it was either ‘personal sense, ‘animal magnetism’, or ‘human will’.
What made you decide to leave?

The decision happened in an instant. I was 45 years old, and I was sitting in The Mother Church on a Sunday morning next to my mother, who was very sick, listening to the first reader drone on and on, and then looking at my mother, (who was) shaking all over, and I just knew that I was done. Done watching her suffer, and done being in this cruel mental prison. After the service, I left and never looked back. I went home, threw all my books, class notes, diaries–all of it, in the garbage…in the rain.

Why would anyone join?

The same reason anyone joins any religion or cult; to feel like you have some sense of control over life or have ‘the answers’.

Did you really believe? 
Absolutely! When I wasn’t doubting it! Most of the time I believed it completely and that it was the answer that would change the world. I was part of of something revolutionary that had ‘the answers’. I never told any of my friends that I was a Christian Scientist though; I don’t know if I was afraid I’d be judged or that on some level I was embarrassed or ashamed.

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

Five Questions: L’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 L, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?

I was born into a Christian Scientist family (on my mother’s side). My sibling and cousins and I made the fourth generation. The fourth generation has now all escaped from Christian Science. Hallelujah!

Why did you stay in it for so long?

By the time I was ready to leave home for college, I had doubts. My mother told me that as soon as I finished high school, I could decide if I wanted to continue in Sunday School. I think she thought I would keep going, but the Sunday before I graduated was the last time I ever attended. So, that whole summer before I left for college, I slept late on Sunday mornings with no guilt. But four years later, after I married and moved across the state, I began, for the first time, to have health issues that didn’t go away quickly. I still didn’t want to attend church, but my husband and I sometimes went to Wednesday evening services. I struggled. I was half in and half out. Christian Science treatment wasn’t helping me, but I had no experience whatsoever with medical services, and I was away from home and family. I had no idea what to do. Radical reliance in Christian Science had been the only option I had ever had, but now I was an adult and I realized I could make choices.

What made you decide to leave?

I left for good in my late twenties with my first-ever doctor’s visit. Thankfully, that was in time for my first childbirth, in which a C-section and the NICU and modern medicine saved my baby’s and my life. I can’t stand to think about what would have been had I remained, doggedly, in Christian Science, trying to demonstrate my and my children’s way to perfection. Shudder.

I had struggled and attempted to ‘work out a problem’ in Christian Science for several years with the help of various practitioners. One visit to a family practice doctor who prescribed medication and lifestyle suggestions finally cured the problem once and for all. That was enough for me. During this period, I watched my practitioner mother treat her malignant melanoma through radical reliance on Christian Science…and die. To watch this happen, to know what was coming, to attempt to care for her without causing her to believe that my unbelief was hindering her healing, was pure torture. By the time she died, after lying six days in a coma in her home with just her immediate family caring for her (after a Christian Science nurse disappeared without a word), I hated Christian Science with a white-hot passion. Every remaining family member still in Christian Science had seen enough at that point. My mother, the strongest Christian Scientist in the family, had not been able to ‘prove’ that matter was unreal, or that there was no sensation in matter, or that pain and sickness were illusions. Every supposed healing we had had in our family up until that point was easily explained as natural bodily healing…because the body really is quite as remarkable as it is REAL. And there were many other healings that had never come at all. We all stopped pretending and faced life. We embraced humanity. And my sibling and I were traumatized and would face years of undoing the damage Christian Science had done in our lives.

Why would anyone join?

I don’t know why both of my mother’s grandmothers joined Christian Science. I can imagine the appeal back then though, in the early days of the movement, more than I can understand it now. In the nineteenth century, there was much that could not be understood about the human body and the process of illness, and much that could not be fixed medically. Today, I suppose people are attracted to the promise of goodness and light and freedom from pain and suffering. Christian Science is an illusion though. All is not perfect or good, and practitioners cannot metaphysically obliterate the very real disease processes or other ills of humanity. When mortals are confronted with unpleasant reality and turn to it for relief, Christian Science does not deliver in any way.

Did you really believe? 

I think I really believed in the lessons I was taught in Sunday School and at home when I was very young. But by the time I was in middle school, I could easily see that not all of the testimonies my mother told in church on Wednesday evenings were accurate. It wasn’t hard to see either, that my supposedly ‘healed’ stomach virus lasted the same 24 hours as my best friend’s and caused the same symptoms. It wasn’t hard to see that my non-Christian Scientist friend got relief from her sore throats and headaches by turning to her pediatrician and her medicine cabinet, and I just suffered until my body healed itself. By the time I was in my late teens, I could also see that, despite my usually happy childhood, I suffered way more from health-related anxiety and phobias than my friends; and I do to this day.


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

Five Questions: H’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 H, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?

I was born into it, but both of my parents converted as adults.

Why did you stay in it for so long?

(This question is poorly phrased – maybe you weren’t in it very long – regardless – how long were you in, and why didn’t you leave sooner would be fair)

I was in Christian Science until I was 24, and started distancing myself then, but didn’t officially split with the church until I was 28. It’s not that I was actively ‘practicing’ Christian Science until I was 28; it’s an insidious religion where existing is participation and the only way to deviate is to have something wrong with you AND do something non-Christian Science as a solution. But if you don’t know how to go to a doctor, and you don’t know who to ask for help with that–it’s not that you’re IN Christian Science, it’s that you don’t know how to operate outside of it. Without several illnesses that required medical attention, and a strong focus on science in academia, I might still be in. But I would hope not.

What made you decide to leave?

Watching religion seep into politics, even ‘benign’ religious intent was resulting in horrible policy: sure, it wasn’t my religion and therefore I was definitely offended, but if it was my religion? Well, I couldn’t say that my religion had helped people; it actively harmed some, and the point of making informed decisions was… the information. Christian Science claimed to be all about ‘thinkers’ but removed information, options, and self determination from the people it claimed to enlighten. That’s not divine, that’s absurd.

Why would anyone join?

Excellent question. Desperation because you’ve exhausted all other options? Not sure.

Did you really believe? 

Of course. The testimonies of healings and the tiny bits of finding your misplaced items seemed like evidence enough that good things happen, and it’s a nudge of aligning your thoughts with God. It’s a very effective religion if there’s nothing at all wrong with you or your life. But when things start to unravel, and you try to grasp it more firmly, it falls apart under pressure. It has no substance. It turns all of your problems back on you because you’re just not as good as God. But when you’re born into it and that’s all you know, it shapes your world view and your comprehension of reality.


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

Five Questions: C’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 C, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?

I was raised in Christian Science. My dad’s mother converted around the time he was born, from what I understand. My mom’s maternal grandmother was the convert on that side. My parents met at their Association.

Why did you stay in it for so long?

I stayed until I was about 24. I felt a lot of pressure from my family, especially my maternal grandmother, to be in Christian Science. She took me to Summer Session at Principia College a couple of times while I was in high school. I fell in love with the campus and didn’t apply anywhere else. I met my first husband when he came to visit a roommate of mine at Prin. He and I made the decision together to leave Christian Science a couple of years after I graduated, when we mutually realized we were just going through the motions of attending church.

What made you decide to leave?

My then-husband and I decided that the fact that we were dragging ourselves to services and falling asleep during the readings meant that we really didn’t want to be there. After that, we had a few discussions about our developing understandings of spirituality, but went in different directions. I slowly came to realize that I had never really had faith in Christian Science or God, but I had viewed it as an intellectual challenge. I thought that it was a method to empirically understand God. Once I realized this was false, I became atheist.

Why would anyone join?

I honestly never understood this. I was so mystified by Christian Science theology, even while I was in it, I never saw what would attract someone to it.

Did you really believe? 

I believed that there must be something to it because everyone at church was so sincere and intelligent. I believed that I just hadn’t figured it out yet, that my Sunday School teachers knew something I didn’t. I didn’t see any healings or have any other experiences that made me have faith in Christian Science.


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

Five Questions: A’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 A, a member of the Ex-Christian Science Facebook community.


How did you get into Christian Science?

I was born into it.

Why did you stay in it for so long?

I am a ‘parent pleaser’. Adherence to Christian Science made my parents happy, and it took until I was about 25 to openly admit that I wasn’t practicing it, and that I didn’t want to pretend I was anymore.

What made you decide to leave?

As I became an adult the culture of the church bothered me more and more, beyond just the dogma. It was narrow minded, ‘tunnel visioned’, and often just uninspiring. The culture really seemed to discourage human feelings and normal stages of development. There were wonderful things about it that I consider part of my spiritual and personal development–the ability to listen to instinct (still small voice); the power of Love, Truth, and goodness; for example. There are many more aspects that are just wishful, hopelessly ignorant, outdated, and fear-based. As I grew older, the idea that all these people, many of them privileged and well educated, were following the ‘teachings’ of this clearly unstable 19th century woman became more shocking to me.

Why would anyone join?
Virtually everyone I’ve ever known in the church was born into it. I don’t think there is much meaningful conversion happening beyond the occasional person who marries into it, and it sounds like they are doing outreach in Africa that seems to be effective. It certainly isn’t for the fellowship, as in my experience Christian Scientists are generally pretty snobby and aloof, and the church communities not particularly welcoming beyond the surface. I think the demographics intersect with upper middle class white culture, especially in New England, which is ‘play by the rules’ and somewhat conformist. Add to that the fact that some people get drawn into networks of camp, school, Prin, etc. and either don’t realize how insulated they are or feel afraid of being isolated from what they know.
Did you really believe? 

I’m really not sure. I probably did for some time, as an elementary age kid, as much as I was capable of it. I really wanted to, and my Mom really wanted me to, and I respected her very much growing up so I believed what she told me. I also had one beloved practitioner who is still one of my favorite people. But the overwhelming feeling is one of wanting to be seen as good by those whose approval I wanted, more than anything else. There was always the message “if you would just read the lesson every day, you wouldn’t have such and such a problem.”

I still think of Christian Science phrases and concepts often as they become relevant in something I’m experiencing. There are pieces of it–like certain wonderful hymns–that are very comforting and beautiful still. There are many other pieces that are just laughably insane and I can’t believe I went along with it into adulthood. I feel strongly that you can take what is useful to you and move past the rest, and be better off for it. The fear of acknowledging physical evidence, and inability to take charge of what is happening in your body, and be informed is just crazy. I feel so sorry for people who are trapped in that, and remember the helplessness of it–the feeling of, “I am having this problem because there is something wrong with my thought–what is it?!? How do I know to stop doing it?! There must be something!” No…sometimes a cold is just a cold. Take a nap and some sudafed and let it pass. Looking back on the time I wasted worrying about that, makes me grateful that I was able to move on and that my family supported me, or at least didn’t fight me, in doing so.


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

Five Questions


When people leave Christian Science there are five questions that pop up again and again.

  1. How did you get into Christian Science?
  2. Why did you stay in for so long?
  3. What made you decide to leave?
  4. Why would anyone join?
  5. Did you really believe?

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

If you would like to contribute your experiences, or answer the Five Questions, email us at [email protected]