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.

I stumbled out of that conversation, and never went back.

By an Anonymous Contributor via email, shared with slight modifications to more fully protect the privacy of the contributor.


Although I never became a full member of the Christian Science Church, I would like to share my story. I appreciate this opportunity!

My introduction to Christian Science first came when I bought a used copy of Science and Health when I was around ten years-old. It was on sale at my hometown library. I loved the beautiful cover and construction of the book. I couldn’t understand its contents, so I kept it on the shelf.

Fast-forward 30 years, and my husband and I were visiting my parents. I suddenly developed a 24-hour flu. Resting in bed, I idly picked up Science and Health and read the first few pages. Although I’d been to divinity school, it had never occurred to me to simply accept God’s infinite love during an illness. I tried this, and the results were astonishing. I felt perfectly well the next day, and even went on a seven-mile hike! My illness had been severe enough to cause vomiting. Usually I would rest for two or three days after this kind of thing.

I read the rest of Science and Health and thought it was wonderful. I’m one of those people for whom Mary Baker Eddy’s writing just clicks. I started attending services at the Mother Church, and was really inspired.

I was having a really hard time connecting with church members. They didn’t have a meet-and-greet of any kind. Everyone scattered after the service, and I couldn’t figure out how folks got to know each other. I began to attend a branch church near my home, and there I had more success. The members reached out to me. Conversations consisted of standing awkwardly between the pews, but it was better than the socialization I found at the Mother Church.

After attending this branch church for several months, I wanted to explore membership, so I met formally with the Director of Membership, a kindly man who had taken me under his wing. The introductory conversation was a disaster. I thought the room was spinning.

First, he told me that people can’t be members if they choose to go the “medical route”. I’ve heard of churches disallowing certain things, but those things are rarely a positive good. Asking people to refuse medical care is more along the lines of asking people to stop being kind to their grandmothers. I was amazed.

Apropos of nothing, this director then brought up cases where Christian Scientist children died in their parents’ care, and the parents incurred criminal charges (and in some cases, convictions) because of failure to get their children adequate medical care to address preventable conditions. He took the parents’ side in this. He said: “We have our own beliefs and treatment.”

I was shocked by this statement. The People’s Temple also had their own beliefs and “treatment”, but this wouldn’t constitute a legal defense for what happened in Jonestown. Also, you really can’t be a parent unless you can understand the world around you and behave appropriately with regard to it.

I wanted to explain that these children were real, and their happiness mattered. He was a nice person, and I’m sure he would have understood this, but he didn’t appear to understand that treatment is evaluated by whether or not it works, and efficacy is determined by well-designed studies, because the child’s life is really the most important thing.

He also told me about a lesbian Christian Science teacher who came to Massachusetts to get married in 2004; an act of disobedience he called “disgusting”. Apparently, she didn’t have Church approval, and got married right under their nose. Oddly, there was no mechanism to request approval anyway, as the Christian Science Church has no involvement in marriage. This director didn’t appear to believe that Christian Science teachers can have a private life. Apparently, this (lesbian) teacher lost her certification, as did all of her students, an outcome which he tried to portray in a positive light.

This director also told me that the church would have a meeting regarding my membership request, as to whether LBBTQ+ people can join. I happen to have very short hair, but I’m married to a man. I didn’t say anything, as to say that I’m not LGBTQ+ would have been disgraceful. The whole thing was ridiculous.

He also said that people are not allowed to join the church if they smoke or drink, and he referred to someone who puts out his cigarette right before entering the church. I know the tone of this message should be as respectful as possible, but I have to confess, I struggle with this one. Refusing church membership to people who require medical care, or those with nicotine dependence, doesn’t seem helpful at all. Their philosophy of pastoral care seems to be: “Come back when you’re better!”

I stumbled out of that conversation and never went back.

The First Rule of Christian Science

The First Rule of Christian Science is you do not talk about Christian Science.

The Second Rule of Christian Science is you do not talk about Christian Science.

Talking about Christian Science, even with Other Christian Scientists, is Frowned Upon.

You have to do your Prayerful Protective Work, and Guard Your Thought against Error/Malicious Animal Magnetism/Sin. You have to make sure your Thought is Correctly Aligned with God, because if it isn’t that’s when Error creeps in.

What is Error? Error is sin, disease and death. It is the opposite of God and all of God’s Divine Reflection — Life, Truth, Love, Principle, Soul, Spirit and Mind — the Capital Letters Are Important here, those are the Seven Synonyms of God. Error is unreal. Error is also the bogeyman always out to get you. Other religions have the Devil and eternal Hell and Damnation, in Christian Science you make your own Hell here on earth when you don’t properly align your thought with God.

You must Radically Rely On God for Healing and Demonstrations of Supply. The more bountiful your supply, the Better you are Demonstrating Christian Science. If you’re having a hard time demonstrating supply, put on the appearance of Demonstrating it, if you appear to be demonstrating supply then supply will come. You should be doing your Prayerful Protective Work so that you will not need to have healings.

You should not turn to Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy only when you face a “challenge,” you should be spending time daily with the Books doing your Work.

If you must read books about Christian Science and/or the founder M.B. Eddy, please choose from the selection available at your local Reading Room. If you must read news or magazines, please choose from a selection of the Monitor Online, and various Church-authorized periodicals.

Studying the Weekly Bible Lesson alone is all you need for your Spiritual Growth. If you do go to a CS Association, only discuss that with your Teacher. If you die, destroy your Class Notes or return them to the Association. They are not fit for public consumption.

Please do not discuss Christian Science, beyond what inspiration it has brought you, and then please limit this to the Standard Format of the Weekly Testimony:

Thank you for the Readings. I found them quite inspiring, particularly [insert quote from Bible or S&H or Hymn verse or passage from the Desk here]. Share vague problem or situation you may have overcome, or not, just gratitude for the resolution is sufficient. Profusely thank the Desk for the Readings, and give gratitude for Christian Science and the Beloved Discover and Founder Mary Baker Eddy.

Children should learn the 10 Commandments, Beatitudes, and a few Bible Stories. They should be obedient. They should be Filled Up Full with Thoughts from God, in that way they can not be mad or sad or bad. Censoring children’s books is fine, the Very Hungry Caterpillar could never be sick after eating his way through all that food, no, he just felt “very full!”

Every child should learn the story of sickly Mary, often bed bound as a child, who always read her Bible. One day as a young woman she fell on the ice and doctors told her she was going to die! She lay in her bed reading her Bible, after a time, she had a Revelation and Discovered the Healing Truths. She wrote them all down in a book, and this Science — it is a Science because it Can Be Demonstrated — became Christian Science.

Can it be Demonstrated under laboratory conditions in double-blind tests? No, that would undermine its efficiency. Other’s Thoughts would Influence the outcome. You must keep Christian Science to yourself. Others want Christian Science to fail, particularly the Catholics. Why the Catholics? Malicious Animal Magnetism radiates from the Vatican, and the Pope wants M. B. Eddy and Christian Science to fail.*

If someone is suffering from the belief of an illness or lack, they are not Demonstrating Christian Science properly.

Many will claim this post is not what Christian Science is, which is a delightful strawman because while it may not be what Christian Science is, it certainly aligns with how many people actually experience(d) Christian Science.


*fuck all if I know, that reason sounds about as good as any other I’ve heard

Thanksgiving 2019

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’m so grateful that since leaving Christian Science I don’t have to inconvenience the whole family by never being able to start our dinner prep until I get home from church. And they don’t have to worry about disappointing me by declining my invitation to help me fill a pew. (Ah the pride!!!! Look everybody, see my wonderful family!) – Jaycie


I am grateful that I am no longer a Christian Science practitioner. I am grateful to no longer be seen (or see myself!) as part of a spiritual elite who have some sort of advanced “spiritual understanding.” I am grateful to no longer be beholden to a system wherein my value is only as much as my last “successful” treatment. I am grateful that I was never made a Teacher or a Lecturer, and that I wasn’t hired to work in Boston – I am grateful that I am not bringing people into Christian Science, or further encouraging people to deepen their beliefs in CS. I am grateful that I am no longer perpetuating lies that are actively hurting people through denying the reality of our bodies, our minds, and ours hearts, and thus denying medical, emotional, and psychological help. I am grateful that I am not in a system that has such a hollow, empty, superficial, and ultimately harmful view of what it means to love one another. I am grateful that I am no longer being asked to ignore or cover-up lies, corruption, and abuse in the name of serving “The Cause.” I am grateful that my first allegiance is no longer to Mary Baker Eddy, her teachings, and her church. I am grateful that I am no longer engaged in twisting and warping, contorting and corrupting, every verse of the Bible to try to make it conform to Mrs. Eddy’s completely baseless interpretations. I am grateful to be free of the endless perpetual cycle of trying to be good enough, judgment, self-condemnation, guilt, and shame.

I am grateful to be in a new, real, Christian community now, one based in the gracious love of a God who really does know you and love you. I am grateful to be in a new church community where there are no elites, where honesty and integrity are more important than the organization. I am grateful to be in this new community where we can actually accept and love one another, not because of how good we are, or what we can do for one another. Instead, we love each other as real people, broken, messy, full of mistakes, but also gloriously beautiful, amazing, wonderful people – all at once! I am grateful to be in a church community where love and forgiveness are freely given. I am grateful to be in a community where we can laugh together and weep together, where people are actually there to help one another in every way, and where genuine love is truly freely given. – Tanner Johnsrud


I am glad I bailed forty odd years ago, in my twenties. I still pack crap, but have been glad of good medical care in the time since then. I have been able to control allergies with antihistamines, OCD, ADD, and depression with appropriate medications. Twenty years ago, a surgeon removed half of the medial meniscus in my right knee as I had torn it some fifteen years prior to that but just lived with it. Lately, I have begun reading about cs and mbe from writers who have not taken the blue pill, and am strengthened to be learning more about what an insanity cs is and what a complete nutcase mbe was, and how tmc has continued the delusion while the religion fades into well-deserved oblivion. I am especially grateful for the Ex-cs website and the facebook group. – Ron S.


I’m thankful to be FREE of Christian Science. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful for the ability to begin to care for my physical, emotional, and mental health, with the support of a wonderful counselor and a good doctor. And most importantly (with respect for those ex-CS who oppose religion, either for now or for always), I am thankful for the real Christian gospel of salvation through Jesus, a supportive church community, beautiful/real hymns, and the hope of heaven.  – Hillary


I’m grateful for modern medicine. I’ve just had a surgery that I’ve been wanting for a long time that will increase my quality of life and reduce my risk of cancer. I’m also grateful for my lifelong (non-CS) friends who still love me despite the fact that I was completely brainwashed when we met. – Spice of Life


I am so grateful to be out of Christian Science. While I was in CS, I sustained numerous concussions. I had 3 after i became a parent in my 30s. I never had any of them checked out medically.

One time I was trying to tell a testimony at a CS Wednesday church service about the most severe concussion I ever had. The First Reader shut me up. She completely invalidated me. It hurts like hell to be invalidated.

This year, in therapy, I learned that vision therapy is a “thing.” I learned that my plethora of eye problems is likely due to all the concussions I have had.

I am grateful for my therapist who validates me. I am grateful for my vision therapy team.

I am grateful to not have to sit through church today.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving and holiday season. – Jodi


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.

Thanksgiving 2018


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.

All Thanksgiving posts are tagged Thanksgiving.


I’m grateful for another year of personal development.

I’m slowly coming to terms with being an imperfect human who makes mistakes and feels anger, sadness and other negative emotions instead of repressing them.

I’m grateful because instead of agonizing and worrying when I feel unwell, now I just book an appointment with my wonderful doctor who listens to how I feel and validates my emotions. I’m grateful for antibiotics that cured a serious kidney infection in a couple of weeks while I rested and watched movies (instead of reading the bible lesson and feeling guilty for having allowed my thoughts to make me sick).

Also, I’m grateful because my daily reading is for pleasure or education. Not to protect my thoughts from a dodgy dark entity.

But mostly I’m grateful for the freedom that comes with knowing that It’s normal to be less than perfect. I feel less guilt and more peace than I ever did before leaving the CS church.

– Michele


I am thankful to the Princess Cruise Line and their medical Team, along with the Portuguese Military and the medical team in the Azores for saving my life. It is my feeling that my super high pain threshold due to past adherence to CS that made me not know that I had appendicitis. If I was aware of my “bodily matter”, I wouldn’t have inconvenienced so many people on the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Princess. I am thankful that when CS couldn’t heal, but could kill; I was able to give myself over to medical professionals to save my life.

– Judith


I never gave a Thanksgiving testimony, but every year for my entire childhood, our family started with the 11 am Thanksgiving Church Service, which of course was right on the heels of the Weds. eve Testimony Service. My father was First Reader for many of those services, which we all were forced to attend, and look happy about it – no, BE happy about it – upon pain of punishment. Because if I didn’t enjoy church, clearly, there was something wrong with me that I needed to fix.

I remember one year after the service, around age 7, we at the kids’ table were given apples, toothpicks, and gummy candies to make apple “turkeys.” You pierce the gummies with the toothpicks, like little candy kabobs, stick them into the apple in a fan pattern for the tail, then add toothpicks for the turkey neck and feet.

We had just heard Baroque music at the Thanksgiving Service, and I asked the organist, What is Baroque? She said, “It’s a kind of art that is full of embellishments. There is no blank space in Baroque style, everything is filled with a flourish or an ornament.” Thus began my still-strong love affair with the music of J.S. Bach.

Her comments had impressed me, as had the Bach, and I was inspired to make a Baroque-style apple-gummy turkey! I stuck as many gummy candies as I could fit onto my toothpicks, and made the most ornate, embellished apple-turkey possible.

Suddenly, I felt an unfriendly, firm hand yank my arm away from my project. My father towered above me, and dragged me into a dark corner far away from our lovely respectable guests, where he pinched me and twisted my arm while calling me “wasteful, greedy, immature” for using too much candy on my apple-turkey. I remember staring at him with no expression – because if i showed any expression, my disdain would be visible and I’d get whipped later for sure — and I thought, “If we didn’t have guests over, you’d be beating me for this, which is totally hypocritical for a First Reader,” and then I thought, “You’re so stupid. You can’t even tell the difference between a Baroque artistic experiment and greed.” Followed by deep loneliness, because my Dad was an artist, too, and I thought that if he knew of my Baroque inspiration, he would have loved it.

It took me years to identify this kind of interaction for what it is: projection.

So, to end my fun reminiscing, I am deeply in awe of the resiliency of my own spirit, and thankful to the health professionals, spiritists (not all of them are quacks – sometimes people can see things that lie outside the experiential or socially acceptable “norm” and that doesn’t make them charlatans or crazy) … to the good friends and seekers with open minds and hearts who have witnessed me cross the bridge between brainwashed, punished and in denial of my physical experiences, into a life where I am empowered, accepted, and acknowledged for my whole human experience: body, mind, spirit, gifts, problems, blessings, the whole thing.

Thanks for listening, and Happy Thanksgiving!

– Anon.


With apologies to Ogden Nash and the other purveyors of doggerel poetry I loved as a kid, here is my homage to Thanksgiving and to my journey out of CS:

Thanksgiving day when I was young —
those testimonies; hymns were sung;
the Proclamation from The Prez –
Another game of “CS Says.”

But now I’m older, healthy, sane
And here to say “It’s purely gain
To leave CS, open my eyes
To Real Life – what a surprise!”

There’s good… and bad, happy… and sad,
Content… and mad, nice guy… rude cad.
I soar…. I crash, kind words… backlash,
Good health… get sick, recover… not so quick.

A friend… a foe, get more…. let go,
Smooth patch…. rough sled, run fast… in bed.
In love… alone, sweet kids…. they’re grown,
Upright… laid low, we reap… we sow.

The lights and shadows, ups and downs….
They’re ALL ok! “Who knew?” I say.
I can embrace it all, and thrive!
Our daily bread while we’re alive.

Mrs. Eddy: On this day
Of giving thanks, I’m here to say
Please take your dualistic crap
And keep it! It’s a big mind trap!

To make us think perfection’s real.
Instead of all that makes us feel?
I’m giving thanks, each day, each night
To know the truth of TRUE insight.

– Lisa M.


This Thanksgiving, I would like to express my gratitude for not having to constantly police my own thoughts.

I was raised in Christian Science. At Sunday School, they taught us that our thoughts can affect the world around us. They said that positive thoughts would have positive effects, and negative thoughts would have negative effects. Because of this, I was told, it was important for each person to police their own thoughts. This was called “standing porter at the door of thought.” I remember they taught me to continuously monitor everything I was thinking. They told me that, if a negative thought entered my head, I had to immediately reject it. If I didn’t, bad things would happen.

“Standing porter” was awful. It brought a new level of stress to everyday activities. If I went to see a play, I had to concentrate on believing positive things about the actors, for fear of causing them to forget their lines. If I watched a game of baseball on TV, I had to concentrate on believing positive things about the players. The game might be happening hundreds of miles away, but I was still afraid that I might accidentally affect the outcome of the game.

Now that I’ve left Christian Science, the fear is gone. The constant mental burden is gone. I am grateful for the real world we live in, a world in which my thoughts cannot affect the world around me — but my actions can!

– Michael


This concludes our Thanksgiving post. Please feel free to contribute any additional testimonies in the comments below.

Please note any comments left on Thanksgiving day will be approved on Friday 11/23. All comments are screened, please view our Comment Policy if you have any questions.

1989 Measles at Principia Upper School: Elizabeth’s Story

The following is by Elizabeth, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor, and was originally published as a guest post at Kindism.org on February 1, 2015. It is reprinted with permission, and has been slightly modified for The Ex-Christian Scientist.


Did Principia hide conditions from authorities during the fall 1989 Upper School measles outbreak? What were your experiences with Christian Science nursing while at Prin during the measles outbreak? How did they diagnose it, since they’re trained to see disease and contagion as unreal?


This measles epidemic hit at the beginning of my first year at Principia Upper School, in fall of 1989.  I was fifteen, and it was the first time I had attended a boarding school or been away from my family. The student population was almost entirely unvaccinated due to Christian Science beliefs. The first quarter, I was paired with another sophomore named A___. She was a most unusual combination of kind, unconcerned with appearances, and popular. And she was totally into Christian Science, or appeared to be on the outside. A tranquil understanding of the philosophy, is how I would describe it, although it sounds strange to say it that way now as ex-Christian Scientist, but that is how I remember perceiving her. A___ tells me, “I’m not going to get sick, you’re not going to get sick.” That kind of worked, and I remember thinking, “ok, of course we’re not going to get sick.”

Then one Sunday after church, A___ laid down and didn’t get back up. She just laid there with her eyes closed, skin blotching up, listening to Christian Science tapes. I was scared. Still, nobody said anything, but frequently housemoms–the women employed by Principia to live in the dorms with us, one per wing, and act as our guardians, would walk by and look in the door at A___ without comment to either of us. Eventually a housemom came and took A___ away. The dorm got really quiet. Lots of kids came down with it the same weekend that A___ did. I’m happy to presume I felt this way for my own reasons, but I definitely felt that I was expected not to get it, in the same way I would be expected not to sneak off campus or expected not to skip my homework.

The housemoms never said ‘measles’, only the kids spoke of it: “some kids have measles”, “this one has it now”, or “so and so’s roommate was gone when she came back from practice.” But no one in the administration talked about it. They would just tell you reassuringly that they were “taking good care of” your roommate (anyone who got spots disappeared shortly thereafter). The housemoms did not say anything about your symptoms, they would just appear at your bedside after you’d been down for the count for a few hours to a day, and they’d say, “Come with me, honey. Is there anything you want to bring?” There was no communication from the administration otherwise. Continue reading “1989 Measles at Principia Upper School: Elizabeth’s Story”

I felt I had no right to mourn because my father had just ‘passed away’

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor.

 

A year ago I started an Master in Fine Arts program in creative writing. I’d left Christian Science officially two years before. My first workshopped article was a piece I had written on all the wonderful strangers who had helped me with car trouble. The piece was meant to be inspirational and uplifting. It had a very happy ending. I did mention in the piece that my father had died and I felt lost when it came to taking care of my car because he had been a mechanic and always looked out for me in this way. I was twenty-five when he died a grisly death of untreated colon cancer under Christian Science care.

When I was having my piece workshopped the teacher asked me why I felt it was necessary to have a happy ending. He told me I was completely wrapped up in magical thinking and that I needed to dig deeper in order to have a story and not a string of anecdotes. Essentially he told me my whole life was an anecdote and not a story. I was shattered. I told him there was no point in not having a happy ending. Who would want to hear or read about things that aren’t resolved in a harmonious way?

Then he told me that although the appearance of my story was happy, it was clear to him that underneath I was suffering greatly from unresolved grief due to my father’s death. My father’s death was three decades past, which added to my shock about this teacher’s statement. It was a very uncomfortable discussion for me because I had shut Dad off after he died, always believing I had no right to mourn because my father had just ‘passed away’ and nothing had really happened to him, according to my religion. I have since written a chapter about my fathers death, and the writing was therapy for me. The guy was correct; I was—perhaps still am—a mess.

I left the session in internal chaos, realizing I had nothing to write about because I had always been taught by Christian Science that my life should be treated like a testimony at church, with the final words being: “I am so grateful for Christian Science.” Over the next few days I realized I needed to look completely differently at my past, to revisit these experiences I had shut away and put aside with Christian Science. The whole conversation was a revelation. Now I see that everything about Christian Science is anecdotal, and there is a big difference between anecdotes and stories.

My thesis has ended up being about my journey away from Christian Science, and through writing it I am discovering truths about myself, my upbringing, and the difference between what I think now and how I thought when I was a gung-ho Christian Scientist.

I don’t believe I knew just what I thought about all that until I wrote it down. Writing is therapy. It really helps

Ruth’s Story: Turn to Medical Hospice

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.
hospice/end of life header

This is the story about my mother’s turn to medical hospice in the final weeks of her life. She is not alive to tell the story herself, but I believe she would approve my account of it here.

My mother (her name is Ruth) was a devoted, life-long Christian Scientist who practiced ‘radical reliance.’ She would tell you that she experienced many wonderful healings in Christian Science.

In her mid-80s, Mother began experiencing worrisome symptoms that did not yield to Christian Science treatment. She worked diligently to heal the problem, and she had the help of one, and then another, Christian Science practitioner. In time, her condition worsened to the point that she could not eat, and she decided to admit herself into a Christian Science nursing facility.

Her condition deteriorated, and she finally acknowledged that she was not going to ‘meet’ the problem and that she would ‘pass on’. Mother was not afraid of dying, but she was disappointed in herself. She had sometimes said that, “Christian Scientists should not get sick and die.” Rather, she believed that when the time came to die, they should demonstrate a quick and painless passing from a healthy human state to their next plane of existence. But that’s not how it worked out in her case.

The Christian Science nursing staff at the sanatorium made no adjustments to my mother’s care as her distress, exhaustion, and pain increased. They continued to place a full tray of food in front of her three times a day, even though she could not keep any food down. Neither could she sleep. My brother and I smuggled some sleeping pills to her, which she was grateful to have.

One morning she telephoned, begging me to transfer her to a medical hospice. Later that day, I and a social worker from the hospice accompanied an ambulance to the Christian Science nursing facility to accomplish her move. The director was at first reluctant to release her, but after a discussion she was allowed to leave.

Mother was admitted to the hospice and was made comfortable in a room by a medical nurse. The attending physician came by to interview her and explain what care they would provide to ease her through the death process. Mother asked a few questions and seemed satisfied. After the physician left, she turned to me and said, “these people are so much more professional.” Those are her exact words. Mother died peacefully under palliative medical care about two weeks later.

Mother remained committed to Christian Science to the end. In her view, her turn to palliative medical care in her final days was consistent with Mary Baker Eddy’s provision for relief from extreme pain as stated in Science and Health (p. 464). As I reflect on her experience, I am at a loss to understand how the Christian Science community can avert its eyes from the suffering of their faithful members as they go through the human death process.

Please Bring Your Testimony to its Healing Conclusion

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about Church and Sunday School. 



Do you remember at Wednesday evening testimony meetings when people would ramble on, how the first reader would lean into the microphone and say, ‘please bring your testimony to its healing conclusion.’

– Hilary


 

 “I went to the doctor” Madeleine’s Story

By Madeleine, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group Contributor.

When I finally decided to leave Christian Science after thirty years, what I knew for sure was that if I no longer believed that it healed, then it was my responsibility to take care of my body and see a doctor; I couldn’t just sit on the fence and not believe anymore but also not take care of my body.

For many, many years I had been convinced that there was something wrong with my heart. I was very scared about my symptoms of shortness of breath, dizzy spells and what felt like heart palpitations. Of course I had prayed and gotten help from a practitioner, and I would feel better (which I thought was a healing) and then the symptoms would return. This had gone on for years.

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