MBE’s Lasting Influences & Modern Day Impacts

A non-exhaustive Book List

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Most CS who have been out for a few years have read at least one heart-wrenching former-CS memoir, one eye-opening unauthorized biography, and one book that talks about how CS is a cult (if you haven’t, here’s a book list).

We agree, looking at MBE’s origin story in context is important, and we feel it is equally important to call attention to how MBE (and her teacher PPQ) have helped shape and influence American culture this day. To that end, the ExCS team has compiled a non-exhaustive list of books that discuss how strands of PPQ and MBE’s works have worked their way through New Thought, New Age, Positive Thinking, Prosperity Gospel, Manifesting your Reality, pop psychology and American culture at large.


Each Mind a Kingdom, by Beryl Satter firmly places Ms. Eddy in the historical context of the New Thought movement, as an undeniable student of Quimby, and inspiration for several prominent New Thought leaders (aka renegade students), one of whom, Emma Curtis Hopkins, went on to inspire a much larger group of prominent individuals in the New Thought movement.


One Simple Idea, How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life, by Mitch Horowitz, which charts the history of the positive thinking movement from Quimby and Eddy, to modern day prosperity-gospel televangelists.

Horowitz discusses, at length, the Quimby-Eddy-Dresser triangle over who wrote what and when. Quimby published “almost nothing during his life.” Quimby’s writings were held by the Dresser family after his death, and his “edited notebooks did not begin to see publication until 1921.”



Bright Sided by Barbara Ehrenreich.

Bright-sided discusses the impact of the positive thinking movement on several areas of our lives. The author, Barbara Ehrenreich, is neither optimist nor pessimist but is a realist. She explains the origins of positive thinking as a reaction to Calvinism, while still maintaining the Calvinist belief of “self-examination.” Beginning in the late 19th century, some philosophies and religions began to move towards the idea that regular, intentional positive thought (or prayer) breeds positive experiences. 

Today this idea has been enlarged it to the point it touches practically every aspect of our lives. “Wonderful,” you may say. But as Ehrenreich explains with wry humor and clarity, positive thinking also places responsibility for everything that happens in the hands of those who believe. It’s important to understand the manipulation that exists in these positive thinking methods, and that seems to be the author’s primary goal.


Lingering vestiges of Quimby and Eddyism continue to thrive in modern times. While they may have taken on new terminology, the tangled relationships of social and religious reforms alternative religions and medicine, and psychology persist. Pull at the threads, do a quick search, and you may find the answer is actually repackaged 18th century nonsense, that has been repackaged again several times. Take what works for you (or not), and proceed with care.


Do you know a book or resource that could help make this list more complete? Leave a comment, or if comments are closed, drop us an email!

Seasons Greetings

winter sunset – photo by the author

By Jodi, an Ex-Christian Scientist group contributor.


“The Manual of The Mother Church” written by Mary Baker Eddy, has a guideline about not celebrating Easter. As far as I remember, it has no such thing about Christmas. 

I think each Christian Science family does their own thing about Christmas. Some folks celebrate with meals, family and gifts. Some do a gift exchange, some parents (like my dad) teach their kids that “Santa isn’t real.” My family also did lots of Christmas Cookies, because one of my grandfathers was German, and Christmas cookies are a German tradition.

Every year, my grandmother showed up with at least 5 large tins of Christmas cookies, fudge, sweet squares and candies that she made. Everyone had their favorite cookies. I loved the “Cathedral Window” cookies. They were made with colored marshmallows, chocolate and coconut on the top. Cut in squares to look like pretty glass windows. (Later in this blog, I share my Christmas Cookie recipes link.) 

I was still an active Christian Scientist when I became a mom. We chose to continue the tradition of having a Christmas tree, ornaments, presents on Christmas morning with our kids. I made cinnamon rolls and put them on a Hallmark Christmas tray. Dinner would be a special meal with family coming over or us going to their house, complete with present opening.

Every year, we went to our local Washington, DC area Principia Chapter for the Christmas Sing. (This was usually the weekend preceding Christmas.) People made Christmas cookies and brought savory appetizers for everyone to enjoy. A lot of years, this sing took place at the local Christian Science “nursing” home – called Lynn House of Potomac Valley. The residents there were welcome to come in and sign with us too. I’m not sure that any did. Though the Christmas music was probably piped into their rooms for them to listen to. 

Many years, I did the children’s activity, or played violin for a song during the Sing. Or I was master of ceremonies for it, too. It was always a fun time. I enjoyed the Principia Christmas Sing. The best year was one of the last that I went – my entire family all played a musical instrument and led the group in the song, “Let there be Peace on Earth.” 2 of my family members played piano, I played violin, my dad played harmonica, my step-mom played guitar and I think one of my brothers played ukulele and another may have played recorder. We’d never done any family music performances like that before, and it was fun. 

One year, my dad (who had just been placed on hospice) slipped into a coma on Christmas Eve and died on New Years Eve. The next year, I left Christian Science. I was heart-broken over losing my dad. Christmas time was coming, and I was so deep in grief, I just couldn’t imagine finding Christmas spirit at all. I didn’t want my boys to miss out, though, so I worked hard to find something that would work for me and also for them. 

After leaving Christian Science, I came to terms with the fact that Christian Science isn’t actually Christian. While I had been taught that Christian Science “is the highest form of Christianity,” I had to make peace with the fact that I had never actually been Christian. Eddy, the creator of Christian Science, had taken words like “Christ,” “Holy Ghost,” and other Christian terms and changed their meaning to suit her own interest. I didn’t understand Christianity at that point, but I did know I wasn’t one. I was in an In-Between with my faith, trying to figure out what my next belief system would be. My Sundays had a huge void in them – I was so used to going to church every Sunday morning. I felt like I was flailing about, with no focus, no guidepost. 

I decided to figure out what I actually believed in. After a week or a month of paying attention, I realized I believed in Mother Nature. I loved trees and flowers and rocks and bodies of water and mountains. I decided to honor what I believed in. It was the only truth about my beliefs that I could come up with. 

I tried to see if there was a name for my beliefs. The closest I found was “Pagan,” which, in early days of the word, meant simply, “not Christian.” There are scads of ways people can express being Pagan these days. For me, though, it’s a love of Mother Nature. 

Extending my love of nature, I decided to celebrate the solstice. I learned there is a holiday called “Yule.” Yule is a holiday that dates way back in time. It’s a time that’s after the last harvest (that time is around Halloween. Think: pumpkins and apple cider and corn and warm fresh baked bread). And it’s before Spring, when plantings and sunshine happen. Yule is when the sun is up in the sky the least amount of time. It’s when the nights are longest. The cold weather is here. In ancient times (and even in current times), people knew that the elderly among us may not survive the winter. It’s dark, cold, and can feel very lonely. So people gather together for Yule to share a last big meal with each other, share their warmth, their fire, the company of all the people together, laughing and enjoying, sharing memories and camaraderie. It’s a lovely holiday, steeped in tradition. 

Now the first year I did Yule, I only had about 2 weeks before it happened to cobble together any kind of ritual. It worked out very nicely, though. 

On December 21, Yule, my boys and spouse (at the time I was still married) all went to watch the sunset. I have had a long time passion of collecting pine cones. It reminds me of being a little girl with my grandmother, collecting pine cones by the side of the road. She put these in flower arrangements and even made little table top conical trees with red ribbons from them. So, my family and I each took some tracing paper and wrote our wishes on the paper and rolled them up into the pine cones. 

Then, we went inside to our fire place and put the pine cones stuffed with wishes into the fire. We watched as they burned and carried our wishes up into the air. It felt calming and serene. 

Then, we had some warm apple cider and each of us opened a gift. I got my boys each a nature-themed gift. I gave my one son some clay. He loves to sculpt and make things. And I gave my other son a locally artisan made glass kaleidoscope. (I love that glass is made from sand, a natural element.) 

This small tradition has become only a slightly larger tradition for us in these years hence. We still go out and watch the sunset. One year, it rained, and we watched from our living room window instead of being outside watching it. We got to see a Rainbow that I dubbed a #YuleBow. That was pretty cool. I love rainbows!

Over the years, we have evaluated to find out what is right for our family, and we keep deciding this Yule ritual we do is perfect for us. I also make everyone’s favorite Christmas cookies – I still make the cathedral window cookies because they are so pretty, and I make the green corn flake Holly Berry Drops with red cinnamon candies, and I make a cookie we call “Bird’s Nests.” It’s chow mein noodles with melted chocolate and butterscotch and chopped nuts. That’s my boys’ favorite cookie. And I also love to make gingerbread this time of year too. It’s warm and comforting and full of flavor. You can see my Christmas Cookie Recipes on a blog I used to write – here – http://jodis-recipes.blogspot.com/search/label/christmas%20cookies

Our ritual still includes writing our wishes, things we want more of, things we want to let go of, on tracing paper and rolling it up to put in pine cones. We still have a Yule fire we put the pine cones into. And I still give my boys nature themed gifts. I also give each of them a sketchbook every year for Yule. My older son loves the sketchbooks. My younger son told me last year that he doesn’t like them. I had no idea! So this year I am going to have to figure something else out for him. Maybe I will give him clay again. He really does love to make little figurines and other things out of clay. 

One year, my sons gave me a moonstone necklace. It’s such a beautiful necklace. I wore it every day for years, until it broke. 

There have been years we have added in smoke cleansing to the ritual. (Some people might call this “smudging,” but I am not a Native American and I have not been invited by the Native American people to be able to practice smudging.) I use whatever herbs I find in Mother Nature around me to do smoke cleansing. It’s a way to wash off the previous year and welcome in the new year. This is how we view Yule – it’s our version of a new year, since it’s based on the Solstice. 

One year, I got together with another friend who celebrates Yule, and we made dried orange slices on a string to decorate the windows. They were beautiful! 

These last few years, we haven’t really celebrated Christmas in addition to Yule, because we don’t really feel like we need it. I love the idea of doing what’s right for OUR family, not what we think everyone else does. I love that we talk with each other and figure out what is right for us, from year to year, and are open to changing. I don’t have to make 15 kinds of cookies and decorate the house with things I have to store all year. I don’t have to spend oodles of money I don’t really have, to buy a ton of expensive gifts for my kids that they won’t really play with, that will junk up the house and turn into clutter. 

I do personally love lights on a house, so I have a set of rainbow lights I put up sometime in the Fall and leave up until about Valentine’s Day. They are not Christmas lights to me, but they probably are to my neighborhood. I just like the pretty rainbow lights lighting up my house. 

I love the time after the sunset – it embodies the perfect family bonding time for me. We get time with each other out in the cold, watching the sunset, and going inside where it’s warm and we have a fire and something warm to drink, and gifts to open – to me this is the perfect kind of low key, low stress holiday. 

We usually watch the classic movie, “White Christmas” together while the Yule fire burns, sipping our hot, spiced apple cider. 

I also want to add one other detail: we had a fake Christmas Tree for years that we would decorate and then put away / store for a year, and bring it out every year. One year, we fostered some kittens and their exuberant antics broke our tree. I have done various things to create a Yule tree since then. One time we were at Walt Disney World, so I used hotel towels and draped them from the dresser in such a way as to create an evergreen triangle shape. Another year, I hung ribbons up to make the triangle shape. Several years I have used green construction paper to tape a triangle shape on the wall. My boys have said this is their favorite Christmas tree. We also like that it’s recyclable! We can tape the lighter weight ornaments to the tree and put the heavier ornaments down on the floor in front of the tree. 

A friend of mine has a wooden Christmas tree that she and her family made. I hope to be handy and organized enough to make one of those for my family some year. I love the idea of not doing a traditional Christmas tree, but rather doing something that fits into your own space and fills your own needs. Two years ago, I bought a small, live, table top tree. Last year, we had a foot tall ceramic tree. This year, I bought a small potted rosemary plant, because I am now living in a very small home and have less space than ever. I love to make rosemary bread, and look forward to using fresh rosemary in it this winter. You can see my rosemary bread recipe here – http://jodis-recipes.blogspot.com/2019/12/rosemary-bread-machine-recipe.html 

More than anything, I hope this blog post has given some ideas for any reader(s) having thoughts about what to do with this upcoming season. Also, there are so many other Winter holidays to choose from. You can also create your own, basing it on things that have meaning to you inside your own heart. 

Whatever holiday(s) you choose to celebrate this winter season, I wish you a lovely and love-filled one. I send you the Season’s Greetings and Warm Wishes. 


Admin note: this is the last post of 2021. We at the ExCS Team wish everyone a wonderful holiday season.

Thanksgiving 2021

The Thanksgiving Day service is the only ‘special’ service the Christian Science church offers. The readings from the desk include the Presidential proclamation for Thanksgiving, as well as a few passages from The Bible and Science and Health. The service is then opened to the congregation for them to share ‘testimonies of healing and sharing of experiences in Christian Science.’

The following are testimonies from Ex-Christian Scientists, as they give thanks for having left Christian Science. Thank you all for your contributions!

We at The Ex-Christian Scientist offer no readings, or lengthy proclamations, merely our sincerest thanks for everyone who has contributed to our efforts. We do not advocate any one particular path but acknowledge that there are many legitimate pathways that can be personally and spiritually fulfilling.

All Thanksgiving posts are tagged Thanksgiving. Comments are moderated and closed automatically after 30 days.


I am so thankful I left CS in high school. I never really believed, but I couldn’t quite get over the feeling that I was wrong for not being able to hack it in CS. I finally gave up and refused to go to church when I was 17. My father especially was fanatical and probably would have let me die as a child in Mary Baker Eddy’s name if it had ever come to that. I am so grateful that I braved his profound disappointment and left the cult behind. It was scary but the best thing I have ever done. – Becca R


I’m glad I got out. I’m glad I’m reclaiming my life and my self. I’m glad I’m imperfect and don’t need to “heal” that. I’m glad for my body, including the parts I don’t always like. I’m glad I’m human. I’m glad I’m physical. I’m glad for time and space. I’m glad for matter, gravity, energy, atomic force. I’m glad the time for thinkers is over. I’m glad for sensation and feelings. I’m glad the Christian Science church is dying. Not glad in a sadistic way, but glad that others will not be gaslighted the way so many of us were. I’m glad for the ability to stand up to, and to reject, systems of thought control, both religious and political, that are abusive and dictatorial. – Mike Lambert


I am very grateful to be out of CS. I am grateful for the medical care I have received. Without it I would not be alive today. I am also grateful for the Dear Leaders of the Anti-CS Movement, especially the Ex-Christian Scientist,,Katie B of the Ex Christian Scientists for Christ, and Rita and Doug Swan of C.H.I.L.D. Childrens Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, all of which have helped me in my journey out of CS. – CRS


I am grateful this year for proper scientifically-based medical care. It has successfully treated a bladder infection, ear infection, and a severe dislocation of a thumb joint in an accident (and accidents ARE real). No, it doesn’t cure everything, but unlike Christian Science, it doesn’t claim an ability to heal anything it is not proven to heal. I am grateful for doctors, surgeons, nurses, antibiotics, and hospitals. I am also grateful to live in a country that provides universal access to healthcare. – Jeremy


I’ve long suffered from sinus infections. Every cold turned into a sinus infection that would drag on for weeks and weeks. It was miserable and made me dread colds and as I had young kids who started to get colds with frequency, everything seemed worse and worse. As I transitioned out of Christian Science, I began going to a dr and getting treatment for the sinus infections. Antibiotics worked and I was hooked. After weeks of suffering, my nose would clear and I would finally feel better just a day after starting antibiotics.

However, I wasn’t comfortable with how many antibiotics I needed! Why did this happen to me but not my friends around me? My OB recommended that I go see an ENT. I did and I decided to mention that I had been a Christian Scientist and so had not really had medical treatment for this issue though it had been going on my whole life. He asked if I’d had my childhood vaccinations and of course I had not. He mused that it was possible I might need the one that prevents pneumococcal disease. Apparently it’s recommended as a child and again at 65+, but in rare cases, midlife adults need it if they get excessive sinus infections. We did some tests to see if my body had developed resistance to these diseases on its own and indeed it had not. I took the vaccine and retested to find that post vaccine, my body’s resistance to each of these strains had gone up by many 100%.

I have not had another sinus infection since getting that vaccine in the summer of 2019. With covid, I haven’t had as many colds but the number hasn’t been zero, and still, no sinus infections. I can feel it coming when I’m sick but then literally feel my body fight it off. I don’t know if that’s all in my mind, but I’ll take it. I love medicine and the ways that it has helped me live a happier, healthier, more free life. I will be forever grateful to that OB for pushing me to see an ENT and that ENT for thinking critically about my situation. Even though I’ve told them, they don’t really understand how much they improved my life. – Anon.


I want to share my gratitude today for the Ex Christian Science Facebook group, the Ex Christian Science website and all the testimonies shared over the years.

I am also thankful for the discoverers and founders of the Ex Christian Science website and Facebook group.

I am so thankful to have left Christian Science and learned I have a body and that my reflection of my human body is in the mirror.

I no longer live a life of denial. I live in real reality and face my problems head on, instead of ignoring and praying they will go away some day.

Also, I am grateful to have moved out of the house and have my own place with my kids. And our dog. No more spouse. This has been a healing that took a long time, and I am so grateful for it.

Thank you, Ex Christian Scientists, for helping me see what was right in front of me all these years and supporting me while I figured out how to be a human and move on to my own, new life.

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s a Macy’s Day Parade and Dog Show for us kind of day! – Just Jodi


I am super thankful that this year I received the financial support to see a new audiologist and get new hearing aids. The audiologist is awesome: knowledgeable and supportive, and she explains the particulars of hearing loss in a clear and helpful way.

My new hearing aids are a vast improvement: they fit better, they are better adapted to my hearing loss pattern, and in the age of mask-wearing, they don’t get caught up in the straps. My hearing loss and tinnitus began when I was still in Christian Science, but I felt helpless because CS seemed not at all up to the task of healing me. I gave up trying to pray about it. I knew several CSists who wore hearing aids, but there was this weird acceptance/nonacceptance of it. People wore them, but they were supposed to heal themselves eventually. So it was okay not okay and just a topic to avoid.

Now I try to be open about my hearing loss. I told friends and family how excited I was to get new hearing aids. The road is still rough: hearing aids will never completely fix my loss, they will never fix my tinnitus, and the difficulty of having an “invisible disability” is real. But good audiologists and good hearing aids exist, and I can talk about them openly without CS baggage! – Casey B


A decade ago I still believed in magical thinking but since that hadn’t really worked I started down a path of actually healing.

I have complex PTSD, severe anxiety, and have experienced sexual abuse. These complex issues were making my life really difficult to navigate. In addition to being raised in Science, several family members are narcissistic as well. My family appeared highly functional but quite the opposite was and is true. I had no family support as I started relying on Veterans Administration mental health and medical care, because there was zero benefit for my family if I changed, or had a healing. And that pain has been incredibly difficult to understand but typically happens when you unpack and process childhood trauma compounded by Christian Science. My family didn’t want me to change and have not supported my healing journey.

I am grateful for the pandemic because it allowed me the space to become acutely aware of how many times I’ve put my mental health aside just to keep family in my life. So these many months have been spent unpacking all the mythologies and fairy tales I was taught as a child and have carried with me every where I go, these stories have been running in the background, my default, and they’ve kept me from knowing who I truly am and kept me from seeing my worth as a human being.

Some thoughts on mental health… Things happen to us that we have no control over, or that somehow a negative thought might’ve attracted. There are no quick cures/fixes, but there is acceptance/understanding and growing into a truly compassionate and empathetic person. The healing work/process doesn’t end, there is no magical space where one has no more work to do, where we know it all and can magically deny a thing and then get what we want. Being human takes compassion. Being human takes action, and I mean getting off one’s ass, putting down the books and go do something to create change, rather than sit and pray and then passively, arrogantly do absolutely nothing.

I am grateful for my amazing body that has allowed me to still be here because as I look back and it’s a miracle I survived my childhood!

Being human is messy and we’re meant to live it fully, feeling incredible pain and incredible joy. And to my family I don’t care if I am, never was or never will be “cool” or a good CSer. Instead I am learning to feel the goofiest full belly joy for the first time in my life and my wish is that everyone here is able to experience tremendous joy while being human. Thank you for listening. – KA


Thank you everyone for your Thanksgiving Testimony contributions, this concludes our post. Should inspiration strike, the comment section will remain open for 30 days.

We wish you a wonderful holiday season. The ExCS Admin Team.

Ask A Nurse: A Very Brief Lesson on Medications.

Ask a Nurse The ExCS site has teamed with a registered nurse and paramedic with a background in healthcare education and public health. Married to a former-CS, the Nurse would like to share their experience with the healthcare system, and answer any questions former-CS may have!  The Nurse will NOT get involved in diagnosing or giving medical advice, but if there are questions folks have related to going to a doctor, explaining medical terminology, how to advocate for yourself in healthcare, and so on, they might have a perspective that can help.  


People have been using medications to treat ailments since the beginning of time. For instance, aspirin is essentially the bark of a tree that some person discovered if they chewed, their body stopped aching. That said, medications can be intimidating if you grew up never taking any. I’ve heard stories of people chewing up medicines they probably should’ve swallowed or accidentally overdosing on medicines they felt were safe because they’re sold over the counter (OTC). I’m going to try and give a quick overview of medications. That said, pharmacists go to school for years studying medications. They are a reliable resource and one I use frequently. But here’s a start…

As a quick primer, medications enter the body through several routes.  These routes include: orally (also known as “taken by mouth”), nasally (through the nose), rectally (eww, but it happens), intravenously (IV, meaning directly into a blood vessel), intramuscularly (injection into a muscle, for instance an Epi-Pen for allergic reactions), etc.  There are several other routes, but the important thing to understand is the route can affect how the drug works on your body. For instance, some medications are designed to be ingested, processed by your liver, then released into the blood stream.  This process is called “first-pass metabolism,” meaning the drug is metabolized (or broken down) by the liver first, before being released into your body. Medications specifically designed with this in mind should not be chewed up. By chewing the medications up, some of the medication can absorb faster than intended. If the medication isn’t designed to do that, you may inadvertently overdose on that medication. Of course, with every rule, there are exceptions. Take our friend aspirin, for example.  A 325mg aspirin tablet is typically swallowed, but if a healthcare provider thinks you’re suffering a heart attack (known as myocardial infarction or just MI), they may ask you to chew up the aspirin, so it gets into your bloodstream rapidly and begins acting faster.  (As a side note, never give aspirin to children or anyone with bleeding disorders unless approved by your doctor, it can cause bad things.)  

Some medications like ibuprofen, are deemed safe due to the fact they’re sold OTC.  Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Brufen, etc.) is a common medication used for pain and inflammation but is toxic in large doses and people really should limit how much they take and ensure it’s taken with food.  The big thing ibuprofen causes are stomach ulcers, so I use it sparingly.  Acetaminophen (Tylenol or Panadol depending on where you are in the world), is also toxic in large doses, specifically to the liver.  Again, I try to limit how much acetaminophen I take. One thing to note, common OTC medications are sometimes added to other medications. NyQuil for instance usually has acetaminophen as one of its’ ingredients. It’s really easy to unintentionally overdose yourself if you’re not careful. The label should list “active ingredients” which are typically the ingredients that have an effect on the body. A normal adult shouldn’t take more than 4 grams (4,000mg) of acetaminophen in 24 hours. So if you’re not feeling well and took 1,000mgs of Tylenol every 6 hours, plus a dose of NyQuil before bed, you’d inadvertently overdose on acetaminophen.

Some medications come packed in huge pills, what my mom used to call “horse pills.”  Often these pills are scored and can be cut in half, then you can swallow each half one at a time. 

example of a pill that can be split in half
example of pill that is designed to be split in half – photo provided by the Nurse

One of my central themes is “the patient is their own best advocate.”  You are more likely to be compliant taking the medication if it’s easy for you to take.  So, if a doctor prescribes medications to you, ask how it is administered.  Most medications come in a variety of forms, and there may be other options for you.  If you forget to ask the doctor, when you go to pick up the prescription you can ask the pharmacist for alternatives.  The pharmacist can call the doctor and check.  You might need to wait a bit longer, but better to have something you’re comfortable taking. 

Personally, my feeling is that there’s no need to “tough it out” or “suffer in silence” when there are treatment options.  Medications can be intimidating and they’re not perfect, but they also enable us to have productive lives.  A simple rule is to follow the directions on the medications box or bottle. If you ever have a question though, the pharmacist is a good resource.  


Additional Former-CS-based Resources

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

Lauren Hunter grew up in a fourth generation Christian Science home but struggled to understand and implement successful physical healing. Like many who have left Christian Science, she sought out others who had also left to gain clarity. After being out of CS for nearly 20 years, she hoped to help others cross the chasm of leaving this religious cult by sharing her story, as well as the stories of nine others she interviewed. Her book, Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ, was released in 2020. 

Hunter’s book examines stories from 10 different people who left Christian Science and started walking a Christian path, following Christ Jesus as their guide. 

In the following post, Contributor Jodi interviews Lauren Hunter about her experience writing the book:


Jodi: What compelled you to write a book about various people’s stories of how they left Christian Science? 

Lauren: I’ve always loved the power of story and felt that the impact of pulling away from the Christian Science faith would be stronger as told not only through my own story, but also through the stories of others who left. 

When I first left Christian Science in 2001, I knew no one who was a “former Christian Scientist.” I became a member of the Fellowship of Former Christian Science (FFCS) group in 2015. Through that group, I met so many new friends with incredible stories. Each person’s tale blew me away and encouraged me. I thought, if I can compile a whole book of stories of people who left, there’s a lot of power–all in one book.

Jodi: What kind of power are you talking about here? 

Lauren: It’s easy to shirk off one story of someone who left CS. Followers will often say, “they just couldn’t understand it” of someone who left. They look down on people who leave because there’s this sense of baked in narcissism–that CS is a special knowledge that only they have. I felt there was power in sharing 10 stories of people who all left. There’s no book available with this many exit stories in one place.

Jodi: How did you come up with the list of people to interview? Did you know all of the people before you approached them to write the book? Were people referred to you? 

Lauren: I worked with Katherine Beim-Esche of the Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists to help me locate people who had various stories to fit the theme of each chapter. I had an idea of what themes to include, but these changed as I did my interviews.  I did preliminary research, short email interviews, then long Zoom recorded interviews for each person’s chapter. It was tricky to pull out distinct themes for each story, but it all came together as I had hoped, which was great. 

Jodi: How did you come up with the questions you asked them, in order for them to tell you their story? 

Lauren: I really love interviewing people. Initially, I made a list of questions asking about the person’s upbringing, history in the Christian Science church, etc., and sent this in advance. When we sat down for the interview, I made sure to ask many of the same questions, but each person had such a unique story that some questions emerged as we were doing the interview. It was a wonderful process and I feel very honored that these individuals would entrust their stories to me. 

Jodi: Are there thread(s) that you see each story sharing? 

Lauren: Great question. I spoke about all these different threads in the recent FFCS presentation I did entitled: “My story, your story, and God’s story.” (YouTube Link Here) Some common threads are:

  • Struggling with the dual reality of having to deny the physical world while living in it. 
  • Guilt and shame over “trying” medicine when healings didn’t happen
  • Shame over imperfections in health as well as imperfections in beauty
  • Dissociation from physical needs including noticing pain, anxiety, or fear
  • Trouble recognizing boundaries, limits, and identifying needs

Jodi: Tell me about the ‘dear one” sections of the book, where you write a comforting letter to the readers of the book. Did that come naturally for you? Was it easy to hear their stories and come up with a comforting letter?

Lauren:  In the “dear one” letters at the end of each chapter, I tried to invoke the kind of gentle and loving mother many of us wished we had growing up in CS. I am a mom, and I can’t imagine watching my kids suffer as many did in their childhoods. It’s really heartbreaking. I had more trouble processing several of the stories because they dealt with issues that hit close to home for me. I really loved writing these ‘dear one’ sections and hope that my concern and care for the reader came through. 

Jodi: How long did it take for you to compile the stories? To write this book? 

Lauren: It took me about two and a half years from idea to publishing. This was my first full-length nonfiction book and I was squeezing it in around running a full-time business (and raising my family). I learned so much during the process and treated it like a learning experience. My second book, due out this winter, is a step-by-step guide to help people write their own stories. 

Jodi: Did any particular story stand out to you as either typical of all the stories, or different in some major way from all of the other stories? Which one? What made it different or the same? 

Lauren: John Andrews’ story about struggling to let go of Mary Baker Eddy as Leader with a capital “L” was something that many people struggled with. In Christian Science, we were taught to put Eddy on a platform above God and Jesus Christ. This is something a lot of people struggled with. 

This is where mind control comes in. The only way followers will do what an organization says is if they buy into the (often narcissistic) leader who proclaims they are a prophet — most of us “drank the Kool-aid,” and believed that Eddy’s words were holier than the Bible. 

Dixie Baker’s story of surviving the measles epidemic at Principia College was so difficult for me to stomach. It was a completely different topic and included physical, emotional, and medical neglect–her account rocked me and was very unique that someone from within was brave enough to detail what happened while under CS nurse care.

Jodi: Is there something you would like to share with people who read our blog, who are looking for a path to leave Christian Science and are scared to do it? 

Lauren: Interestingly, you use the word “scared” in your question. When I was growing up in Christian Science, I felt scared all the time because I never knew what was wrong. So much of the Christian Science belief system deals with allaying fear. Well, we wouldn’t have all been so afraid if we’d gone to the doctor to find out what was wrong! I now feel huge freedom not practicing CS. If I have a medical issue, I email my doctor, get a test done, and figure out a plan. I no longer have massive amounts of fear to deal with surrounding my body. I have to ask questions, look things up, and learn as I go–and I’ve been out of CS for 20 years! I’m just grateful that I left before having my four kids. I can’t fathom dealing with all the childhood illnesses without medical care. 

So I guess my advice is to ditch the fear, allow yourself a care team that includes a good trauma-informed therapist, a former Christian Scientist who has adjusted well, and a good doctor who will listen to you and take you seriously. 

Jodi: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? 

Lauren: I’m working on a new book called Write Your Journey that will help people write their stories about their family, faith, or career. The idea came to me when people read my book and wanted to share their stories with me. Info on this book will be available at https://laurenhunter.net


Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ by Lauren Hunter (Veritable Books, 2020) is available on Amazon

If you have left Christian Science and are seeking others who have taken a Christ-centered path, we highly recommend the Fellowship of Former Christian Scientists.

Ask a Nurse: If you’re concerned, get it checked out!

Ask a Nurse The ExCS site has teamed with a registered nurse and paramedic with a background in healthcare education and public health. Married to a former-CS, the Nurse would like to share their experience with the healthcare system, and answer any questions former-CS may have!  The Nurse will NOT get involved in diagnosing or giving medical advice, but if there are questions folks have related to going to a doctor, explaining medical terminology, how to advocate for yourself in healthcare, and so on, they might have a perspective that can help.  


Thank you everyone for your feedback on our first post! This post is in response to a comment from our first Ask A Nurse Post (slightly edited to protect everyone’s privacy).

From our Facebook group comes the following dilemma:

When I am able to access health care services one of my biggest fears is finding out that I had ailments that would have been preventable had I gone sooner (like in childhood) or that the current ailments that I have have progressed and only gotten worse by going untreated…. Am I being irrational? It makes me nervous, I definitely want to go, I have no hesitations about going, but I’m worried.


Ask A Nurse Responds:

Hi all, the feedback from my first post was really inspiring, building on that I’d like to respond to a comment regarding fear of going to see a doctor. From the sounds of it, it’s not that the person didn’t want to go to the doctor or feared how the doctor might react to hearing the person had never been to a doctor, but what the person might find out by going to see a doctor. *

I can empathize with that. I understand that the fear of discovering you’ve been carrying around a preventable or curable illness could be emotionally overwhelming. I’m not sure how to push someone to overcome those feelings, except to say, many things can be solved if addressed early. That and the idea, the more often you do something, the easier it becomes. Going to the doctor that first time can seem intimidating to the point of panic. It goes against everything you’ve been taught. My concern/fear is, I’ve heard enough horror stories of folks in CS who delayed care for so long, that they go past the point of being able to fix it. More than likely whatever you’re facing is something that can be addressed, but you’ve gotta take that first step and see someone. Again, I’m not here to judge CS, I was never in the religion, I grew up Catholic (Catholicism has its’ own set of issues), and as I like to say, I’m a “recovering Catholic.” But, if you’re concerned about a potential illness or nagging pain, get it checked out. The sooner you can figure out the problem, the sooner you can deal with it. 

Whenever you do decide to go to the doctor, how do you know who to see? This blog has a great description on how to find a primary care doctor, and I would encourage you to review that post. I will add though that if you need a specialist, in the US, most health insurances will require you to start with your primary care doctor and get referred to a specialist (as it sounds, a specialist is someone who focuses on a specific field of medicine). For instance, if you’re concerned about some weird heart palpitations, you’d go see your primary doctor first, and then that doctor would refer you to a cardiologist for further examination. This can be time consuming, but it saves money (at least for the insurance company). 

My biggest piece of advice, and this applies to anyone, anytime you do go to the doctor, bring a friend. Preferably someone you trust and who is familiar with the healthcare system. My mom was a registered nurse, when she was older, even though she was an experienced nurse, my sister and I would take turns going with her to appointments (sometimes we’d both go with her, and other times my sister would conference me in via FaceTime). The advantage to having someone with you is they can think of questions you might not or hear things you might not. Doctors can talk fast; another set of ears helps. Reportedly patients forget 40-80% of what is said during their appointment and 50% of the rest is heard incorrectly. I usually tag along to my spouse’s appointments to help interpret jargon and ask questions. Take notes during the appointment too. Most phones have a notes app or something similar. Old-fashioned pen and paper work well too and it’s less likely to be confused as texting 😉

It’s been pointed out that bringing a friend may be difficult given the pandemic.  At many hospitals and doctors’ offices, visitors are limited and, in some cases, not allowed at all.  My solution for this is simply to phone a friend.  Recently, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with a rare cancer.  The family asked if I could help.  As I couldn’t be with my friend directly, my friend simply called me, put me on speaker and gave verbal permission for the medical team to speak with me (some places might require you to sign a permission form).  The physician and nurse then spoke with my friend while I listened in, took notes, and asked questions.  As long as you, the patient, give permission, the healthcare team should never have an issue with you conferencing a friend in via phone (and if they do have an issue with it, well, that’s a red flag).  

Also, feel free to interview the doctor a bit during that first encounter. I’ve shopped around for different doctors. I ask questions about how long they’ve been practicing, how long they’ve lived in the area, stuff like that. All I’m trying to do is build a rapport. If someone gives me a bad vibe, I find someone else. “Bedside manner” is important, especially if you’re looking for a long-term doctor/patient relationship. I also look for subtle things, how do they treat the nurses and other staff members? If they’re a jerk to their staff, they’re not someone I want to give my business to.   

Regardless, nobody is more invested in your health than you. Nobody knows what you are feeling better than you. Trust those instincts. You are your own best advocate. If something feels off, get it checked. Maybe it’s nothing, but the peace of mind afforded by knowing it’s nothing, or at least something that can be dealt with, is better than carrying around that stress in your head.  

*Quick side note, instead of a doctor, you might see a nurse practitioner (NP), or you might see a physician assistant (PA). I personally have been seen by all of the above and have no qualms being examined by either a doctor, NP, or PA, especially for routine stuff. For clarity in this post, I used the term “doctor,” but that could refer to any of the aforementioned disciplines.


Additional Former-CS-based Resources

The Polarity of Christian Science

This post is a contribution by Chrystal C.


Every Sunday School hour ended with a repetition of “The Scientific Statement of Being” by The Sunday School Superintendent. (Somehow, giving all these things a capital letter made them extra important to the impressionable child that was me as a little girl.)

Question: What is the scientific statement of being?

Answer: There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.

– “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, page 468.

Christian Science says “if it’s not good, it’s not from God, therefore it’s not real.” So – everything – I mean that – EVERYTHING – has to be examined and decided upon whether it’s good and thus from God, or bad and thus from nothing. “It started from nothing and it will go back to the nothing from which it came.” That’s probably a quote from somewhere, probably Eddy, who knows. I just know I heard it a LOT.

In my case, I had an additional polarity thrown at me: my parents divorced because my mom had a long-time boyfriend. You see, my mom was a stripper at a strip club. She was the only white person there at the whole club. Her nickname was “Snowflake.” One time, a guy named “Josh” called her at the house, and my dad answered the phone. “May I please speak to Snowflake?” the caller said. My dad said, “Snowflake! You must have the wrong number, no one here by that name!” My mom quickly came in the room and said, “that’s for me.” That was the moment my dad knew with absolute certainty she was cheating on him. 

My dad would have never divorced her despite so many things that nowadays we would refer to as “red flags” except for Christian Science, which said “you get married for life, and no divorce unless there has been infidelity.” Well, my mom had a long term boyfriend inside the marriage to my dad. 

During the era of time when my parents divorced, women couldn’t get credit cards. Yes, that’s a very recent thing in our world that they can now get credit cards. We can most likely thank Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg for this change. Women not being able to get a credit card. They got paid less, they couldn’t buy things on credit, they couldn’t build credit without a man’s name and signature on the form…. how were they supposed to get any decent paying job and get an apartment or live?

I was also in an unusual situation in that my parents made a mutual agreement that my dad would leave, but he would get me. My mom didn’t want me, she was most decidedly not ready to be a mom. I was not planned for. My parents were poor by anyone’s standards, but she wasn’t ready to take care of a child on her own. 

My mom started to write bad checks and wound up in jail. My dad bailed her out the first time. I think that’s the one day I remember them being together after they had divorced. I don’t remember any other day of them being in the same room until I was in high school, come to think of it. That was the day we all split an order of fast-food-fried-chicken, while we sat in my dad’s little car. 

Well, I then started making connections in my own little child brain. “There is no life in matter. All life is in God.” “Either I grow up as a Christian Scientist like my dad, or i become a stripper at a night club who drinks alcohol, and I wind up in jail. My choice.” 

I am still sorting out all of these bizarre polar experiences. I am a mom with teenage boys, and I still have this whole “everything is polar!” going on in my head. I either go to a certain doctor and love that person, or I quit the whole practice because “that other person at the practice wasn’t good! How can they keep that horrible person at their wonderful practice!” 

When I first left Christian Science, I was so afraid I might now be some kind of extreme heathen. “I have been shown the absolute truth of the entire universe, and now I have completely rejected it! I will burn in hell forever, and apparently I am choosing this path now because it makes more sense than the one that was absolute good!” I saw this as a very black vs. white / light vs. dark experience, and it frightened me to my core. 

I took a timid step forward and said to myself, “let’s try this a little bit and if there is a God who is All Good, such a god would forgive me for trying to figure things out the best I can, using what I have in my thinking and my own experience. It’s just one step, and we will see where it goes.”

I am just starting, now, to figure out that the world is not this polar opposite place. There is so much more to life than “left vs. right,” “hot vs. cold,” “black vs. white,” “light vs. dark,” “up vs. down.” …

I am so grateful to have left Christian Science, because it’s the only way I would find out that the world is not this polar place where you can ONLY be “good” or “bad!” There are many shades of emotions, temperatures, light degrees (just ask a photographer), colors, directions (North, South, East, West, North East, South-South-West…)

I love the way this “non-polarity is an actual thing” conversation is shown in Star Trek’s “Deep Space Nine” when Lt. Commander Worf comes on board. Initially, Worf has trouble undering the Space Station, because it’s not “all good” the way the Starship Enterprise that he came from was “all good.” Worf sees things in a very polar way when he first arrives at the Space Station. Commander Benjamin Sisko and Lt Cdr Worf are having a conversation about a troublemaker on the station – a Ferengi named Quark. 

Captain Sisko: Starfleet officers often have trouble learning the unofficial rules of [this] station. There’s no manual to study. You have to learn things as you go. A little different than… life on a starship.

Lt. Commander Worf: When I served aboard the Enterprise, I always knew who were my allies, and who were my enemies.

Captain Sisko: Let’s just say, DS9 has more shades of gray. And Quark definitely is a shade of… gray. He has his own set of rules, and he follows them diligently. Once you understand them, you understand Quark. I’d say that’s true for… everyone here.

[he offers Worf a glass of raktajino]

Captain Sisko: You’ll fit in, Commander. Just give it time.

I have my own path I walk now. I feel light, free, happy. I also cuss when I have big emotions about something that is important to me. Sometimes I even go so far as to stamp my feet! Imagine that! It helps get the emotions flowing in my body instead of staying stuck, and eating up my very inner light fire. (Take those last few sentences in the best possible way. Some people draw heavily with crayon to get their emotions out, some people chop wood, some people might drive really fast on the highway. I say cuss-words in the privacy of my own home when no one’s around. There are definitely worse things I could do. For now, this is where I am, and I am good with it.)

I guess this is my own shade of gray, for one of the places in my life that is full of shades of gray, shades of light. If you used to be a Christian Scientist, do you feel you were taught the world was an all-or-nothing kind of place? Looking back, do you see “shades of gray” now that were perhaps perceived as “hypocritical” at the time, or something like that? Thank you for reading. 

Ask a Nurse: What to expect when calling 911

Ask a Nurse The ExCS site has teamed with a registered nurse and paramedic with a background in healthcare education and public health. Married to a former-CS, the Nurse would like to share their experience with the healthcare system, and answer any questions former-CS may have!  The Nurse will NOT get involved in diagnosing or giving medical advice, but if there are questions folks have related to going to a doctor, explaining medical terminology, how to advocate for yourself in healthcare, and so on, they might have a perspective that can help.  


Navigating the intricacies of the healthcare world can be difficult, and that’s for those of us who work in the healthcare system! For people who aren’t employed in healthcare but have a fundamental understanding of the system, especially in the US, it can still be daunting.  For those folks who may have never interacted with, (or worse, been made to fear), the healthcare world, it can be downright overwhelming.  I’m a registered nurse and paramedic, though I didn’t grow up in CS, I’m married to someone who did.  As we dated and eventually married, I discovered just how ill-informed and unfamiliar she was with the healthcare world.  Ironically, the healthcare world is very ill-informed and unfamiliar with CS.  In nursing and paramedic school I learned all about Jehovah’s Witnesses, but I had never even heard of Christian Scientists until I met my wife, at which point I had been working in healthcare for nearly a decade. When I would ask friends and colleagues if they had ever heard of Christian Science, many of them would say, “Of course! Isn’t Tom Cruise a Christian Scientist?”  

I’m hoping to use this forum to bridge this knowledge gap and provide a conduit for ex-CS’ers to have a safe space to ask healthcare related questions and get accurate and reliable answers.  I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’m experienced in the healthcare field, I understand the lingo, and I definitely have access to experts.  One thing I can’t do is diagnose or give much medical advice beyond telling you to go see a doctor.  That said, I can help with terminology, how to speak with medical providers, and help you find your way through this crazy system.  

As a new contributor, I want to make this as useful and relevant as I can.  In addition to being a nurse and paramedic, I also have a master’s degree in nursing with a focus on public health.  Having met several ex-CS folks and having read several books and articles on Christian Science, I realized the value of having someone who can help guide those less familiar through the healthcare system.  Questions posted through the site will be routed to me and I’ll answer them.  Of course, this is not a rapid system, if you have a healthcare concern you think requires immediate assistance, go to the hospital or call 911, speaking of, what happens when you call 911?


What to expect when calling 911

Calling an ambulance can bring on a fair amount of anxiety.  With rare exceptions, most people don’t call an ambulance very often in their lives.  When they do, it’s because they need emergency care for themselves, or a loved one.  Now when you dial those three numbers, like you’ve probably seen on TV, someone answers the line asking “911 what’s your emergency?”  After ascertaining the nature of the emergency, other dispatchers will begin to direct the appropriate ambulance to your location.  Once the ambulance arrives, the responders will begin asking you questions.  Most will be pretty easy to answer.  Obviously, they are going to ask why you called 911, they’ll ask for your name, date of birth/age, and, (now we get into the tricky part), if you have any medical history (which you may or may not know).  They’re also going to ask if you have allergies to any foods or medicines (which again, you may or may not know).  They’re going to ask if you take any medicines routinely. As you’re already in a vulnerable state, a ton of emotions are probably flowing through you.  Fear, pain, embarrassment, & shame are all possible emotions and feelings you may have.  You also may not want to get into the intricacies of CS and Mary Baker Eddy.  So, if you don’t know your medical history, the easiest thing to do is tell the EMS providers that you grew up in a family that didn’t use medicine, and you either don’t know or are unsure of your medical history or allergies.  They might raise an eyebrow for a second, but believe me, we’ve encountered stranger things (I won’t mention the guy I picked up once, with the thing, in the place, it shouldn’t be), so not knowing your medical history won’t shock us.  

There are some patients that believe calling an ambulance will speed up the process to see a doctor.  I can tell you for a fact, this isn’t true.  I have definitely brought patients into an ER, via my ambulance, and been told to bring those patients to a chair in the waiting room.   Others may believe if they call 911 for a loved one, the ambulance has to take them to the hospital, also not true.  If you call an ambulance for a loved one, and the person is over 18 years of age and of sound mind, if they tell the EMS providers they don’t want to go to the hospital, they can’t take them.  They may be bleeding out all over the street, but if they say they don’t want to go, and EMS takes them against their will, that’s kidnapping.  Legally, the EMS providers can be arrested and charged.  Now, this isn’t to discourage you from calling 911 if you need it.  You should absolutely call 911 if you think you need help. 

Point is, most of us who got into healthcare did so because we genuinely want to help people.  So, when you tell us you’re not sure of your medical history, most healthcare providers are simply going to note that fact, and continue treating you.  One thing to never do, is be afraid to ask questions.  If a provider is saying something that doesn’t make sense or is unclear, ask them to clarify.  Tell them to explain it to you like you’re a 5th grader.  We throw around jargon almost as badly as the military (the first time I worked in an ER someone had written next to the patient’s name “SOB,” which I thought was a bad attempt to warn staff of a difficult patient, actually it means “short of breath”).  

As intimidating as it might be, do your best to get clarification if you don’t understand something.  Providers may get frustrated, especially if they believe they already clarified something, but as I tell my wife, push the person to give you an answer that you understand.  Some ex-CS’ers I know never attended biology class or sex education in high school or college.  There may be things we in healthcare assume everyone knows, but if you haven’t even taken a high school biology class, you may have a severe blind spot.  

Truth is, even though you’ve called 911 for an emergency, rarely is something such an emergency that providers don’t have time to answer questions.  I once treated a patient who was CS, and was as close to dead as you can get while still alive.  The patient’s spouse allowed me to treat their loved one, and despite how sick this person was, I was still able to provide the necessary care while explaining everything to the spouse and ensuring they were comfortable with the treatment I was providing. 

In any case, calling EMS can provoke some anxiety, but it’s better to call them and find out later you didn’t need to, than to not call them, but realize later you should have.  To quickly summarize:

  1. Understand the EMS provider may be a little thrown when you mention your background.
  2. Despite that, they should still treat you respectfully and with compassion.  
  3. Get clarification and ask questions.  

I hope this quick snapshot was helpful.  If it was, leave a comment and feel free to ask me questions.  Like I said in the beginning, I want to make this as relevant and helpful as I can for you; so, if there are questions or specific topics you’d like to be covered, let me know.  

FAQ About Christian Science (CS), and the CS Experience

ExChristianScience.com is dedicated to helping those who left, but we often find that friends and family reach out to us with concerns and questions about Christian Science (CS), hopefully this is a starting point.  

As former Christian Scientists whose mission is to help those who have left/are leaving Christian Science, we will do our best to broach this topic without too much bias and personal prejudice, but we’re not going to make any promises. We do not speak for every CS, or former-CS, but we can highlight some common themes and trends we have seen over the years, in our Facebook support groups, and from emails to our website. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and we strongly encourage everyone to check out the additional links and resources.


This FAQ addresses the following:

  • What is Christian Science?
  • What do Christian Scientists believe?
  • Why do people join Christian Science?
  • Why might someone join Christian Science today?
  • Why might someone have joined Christian Science in the late 1800s/early 1900s?
  • Why do people stay in Christian Science?
  • Why do people leave Christian Science? 
  • Can you actually ever truly leave Christian Science?
  • Is Christian Science a Cult?
  • Is Christian Science the same as Scientology? 
  • Is Christian Science a Bible-based Christian religion?
  • What is the Christian Science stance on medical care and vaccinations? 
  • I have a friend or loved one that I care about who is deeply into Christian Science and I don’t know what to do and could use some support!
  • I am a former Christian Scientist and I could use some support! 
  • I have so many more questions!
  • I have a question that was not answered here!
Continue reading “FAQ About Christian Science (CS), and the CS Experience”

Elitism and Religious Superiority in Christian Science

Often, long after leaving Christian Science, the aura of elitism or superiority lingers…

“The time for thinkers has come.” In its Genesis-like proclamation, Mary Baker Eddy reveals her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, intended to initiate a new system of higher thinking to overcome all challenges.

“Contentment with the past and the cold conventionality of materialism are crumbling away. Ignorance of God is no longer the stepping-stone to faith (Science and Health vii).”

With this edict, she sets the stage for a brand-new religion that bucks historical Christianity. 

Eddy reveals the keys to undiscovered forces, a special knowledge she claims she was “divinely authorized” to share. With a recipe for successful religious elitism and superiority, Eddy begins with a base of Gnosticism, adds in a heaping amount of mind control, tosses in confusing metaphysical theories, sprinkles in some mesmerism, and finishes with a splash of good ‘ole superstition.

Mind Control: Indoctrination from an Early Age

From the time most of us began attending Sunday school, we were spoon-fed that Christian Science is special and unique. My mother repeatedly told me that “the best gift she could ever give me was Christian Science.” Instead of being told I was special because I was unique, loved, and treasured, I heard the message that I was special because I had been given the gift of Christian Science. From an early age, I was skeptical. In looking around, it didn’t feel like I was all that special to go to an unusual church, not have access to medical treatment, and experience shame around unresolved physical problems when my friends asked why I was at school when clearly, I was sick. 

Every effective cult (or destructive religious group that deviates from religious norms) employs mind control techniques.

In his book, Combating Cult Mind Control, Steve Hassan states, “Information control is the second component of mind control. Information provides the tools with which we think and understand reality. Without accurate, up-to-date information, we can easily be manipulated and controlled. Deny a person the information they require to make sound judgments and they will become incapable of doing so.”  Hassan goes on to argue that “deception is the biggest tool of information control, because it robs people of the ability to make informed decisions.” 

Further, distorting information becomes an essential strategy to hold members in place. Since all Christian Science children are taught that they are a “perfect child of God” and that they have access to a “special system of healing,” it is inevitable for a sense of superiority to creep in. After all, we were indoctrinated to believe that we had special knowledge that was far superior to all our non-Christian Science friends.

Narcissism: Leader, Individual, and Group

Many people, after leaving Christian Science, have noticed or read about Eddy’s narcissistic tendencies. In support groups, we’ve also noticed the thread of narcissism as we talk about our parents and relatives still practicing Christian Science.

The American Psychiatric Association defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder as having the following traits: “Grandiosity, or feelings of entitlement, either overt or covert; self-centeredness; firmly holding to the belief that one is better than others; condescending toward others; attention-seeking. These impairments must be relatively stable and evident over long stretches of time for a person to be recognized and diagnosed.”

Most of us heard the metaphor that regular Christians had the “kindergarten” version of Christianity; we Christian Scientists had the “graduate school” version. I’ve heard this many times over the years as a means to explain away the vastly different theology that didn’t match up with anything recognizable within mainstream Christianity. This statement is a destructive, false statement that breeds intense individual religious superiority in mass quantities. And, it couldn’t be further from the truth. 

It’s almost as if Eddy injected Christian Science with a recipe for producing a whole group of narcissistic people. We worship her, her theology, her books, and ultimately ourselves in that our grasp of Christian Science and resulting healings from physical problems offer the proof that the whole system works. Whether or not we had actual healings or perceived healings, we stood up at Wednesday night testimony meetings and gave a glorified account of:

  1. How we applied the flawless principles of Christian Science to affect our ‘seemingly’ physical situation,
  2. How we overcame the ‘false evidence’ that told us we had a problem that needed healing,
  3. How we would subsequently gush effusively giving honor and glory to Mary Baker Eddy, our leader, for discovering Christian Science. By having declared that we had a healing, we subsequently elevated ourselves to the same level as the false teacher. We too achieved success, acclaim, and grandiosity. 

For those who didn’t experience “demonstrations,” guilt, depression, and angst often resulted because at its core, Christian Science teaches that its system is flawless; if it didn’t work, it was because your understanding was limited. This is a hallmark of high control groups: the system isn’t flawed, the individual practicing the system is flawed.

“Since the doctrine is perfect and the leader is perfect, any problem that crops up is assumed to be the fault of the individual member. They learn to blame themselves and simply work harder,” Hassan adds in a section on thought control in Combatting Cult Mind Control.

There is an additional kind of narcissism reflected in Christian Science: collective, or group, narcissism. “Collective narcissism is characterized by the members of a group holding an inflated view of their ingroup.” Discovered and documented by Sigmond Freud, called “Freud’s Theory of Collective Narcissism,” he noticed that some groups developed “in-group bias” where they preferred and elevated their group’s thinking and biases above others. For example, fighter pilots’ larger-than-life attitude, sorority, and fraternity members’ superiority complex, and even extreme homeschool families who feel this is the only way to properly educate children. 

Gnosticism: Special Lost Knowledge Revealed

Elitism and religious superiority are the natural results of being taught that we, as Christian Scientists, had a special, unique knowledge available only to us. In the early years of Christianity, the Gnostics rejected widely accepted theology that Jesus Christ was both God and man. These Gnostics had trouble with the Incarnation, or theological premise that Jesus was both fully God and fully man (Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christians all agree on this point). Gnostics believed Jesus could only be fully human or fully divine–not both. They decided that he was fully divine and with this decision came the split between physical reality and spiritual reality. They rejected everything material, proclaiming that only the spiritual realm was real. This “gnosis,” Latin for knowledge, became special esoteric knowledge. A special club, a group that had unique teachings only a select few could understand.

Sound familiar? 

King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:19, “…there is nothing new under the sun.” His statement continues to stand the test of time. Eddy did not prophesy something new, she repackaged something as old as the story of Jesus Christ himself and presented it as her own creation. In the late 1800s, most likely only pastors and seminary teachers would have known much about the ancient heresies. Medical treatment was very experimental and the average life expectancy between 1860-1880 was approximately 35 to 39 years old. People were desperate for relief from common physical maladies, and a Gnostic repackaging placed on top of a magnanimous narcissistic leader created the perfect storm for a new cult to flourish. 

Christian Science Culture: Lofty and Exclusive

The aura of mystique and air of superiority was evident in Mary Baker Eddy’s writings. Even the big words she carefully chose to use in her writings reeked of lofty education and privilege. She commanded trust, demanded respect, and required utter devotion to her cause. 

Elitism in Christian Science is ‘baked in.’ The very basis of Christian Science hinges on elitist, preferential theology that only the most enlightened understand and select for themselves. Many of us have voiced concerns in the past about not understanding specifics of Christian Science theology. It might be hard to recognize the traits of destructive mind control, but the more you delve in, deconstruct from the harmful and confusing worldview, and understand the specific components of cult mind control, the easier it will be to unpack the ‘coding’ of religious superiority implanted in us. 

When we acknowledge the weaknesses created by the baseless teachings of Christian Science and the narcissism it breeds, we can deconstruct from the views we were raised with and embrace an attitude of humility. Anchoring yourself in the fact that you are human, with an imperfect human mind and body, you can adopt a humble attitude and gradually break the patterns of arrogance and elitism.  Through dedication and perseverance to recovery from religious trauma, it is possible to understand, break habits, and effect change.

For further information on what constitutes a cult, watch the Freedom of Mind (Steve Hassan) BITE Model Video: