I’m still the odd man out

By Renee, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I am a medical assistant at a health and wellness practice. Recently at work we started this 30-day affirmation challenge. I read through all of the materials and was instantly troubled. The document was something along the lines of ‘Positive Affirmations for a Healthy, Happy Life.’ I am usually a fairly upbeat, laid-back person, but these types of things bring out the worst in me.

There was this one line towards the end: “I believe in the perfect outcome of every situation in my life.” Ummm, no thank you. We were also encouraged to wear a green rubber band and every time we said or thought something negative, we were supposed to pop the rubber band and switch wrists. My ex-Christian Scientist heart just ached over the thought of doing this. I was not willing to punish myself for having an honest thought or feeling.

I went straight to my boss and told her that I really appreciated the thought of what management was trying to accomplish and that I think that having a cheerful disposition when dealing with our patients is essential. At the same time, when someone is hurting they need compassion, and validation that they hurt and are sick, not to pretend that everything is fine. My boss is also a very close friend, so I kind of leaned on her desk and told her that it took me 25 years before I was really free to say that I didn’t feel well or that I was unhappy and many more years beyond that of digging through the damage those 25 years cost me. I flat out stated that I would not participate.

She looked at me like I had suddenly grown a horn out of my forehead. She didn’t understand. Everyone looks to me for direction. I keep the medical staff lifted up and I am always an ear for others. How could I not want to do this when I am the one always cheering everyone on? This is right up my alley! Blah, blah, blah… She literally was horrified that I had told her this.

Here we go again. I’m the kid sitting in the hallway doing a worksheet because my classmates are studying human biology and it conflicts with my religious beliefs. But this time, somehow, in the reverse, and I’m still the odd man out. How is that? But I have stayed to true to myself and not participated, even though to do so brings a different sort of discomfort in trade.

Thanksgiving Testimonies

 


The Thanksgiving Day service is the only ‘special’ service the Christian Science church offers. The readings from the desk include the Presidential proclamation of 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 the Ex-Christian Scientists Facebook group, 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.


“Thank you for your wonderful post (readings) tonight. Many years ago I had a great insight that everything I learned growing up in Christian Science was complete BS and am very grateful to have learned that MBE was psychotic and a narcissist. No matter what happens I know I will be protected from watching my children suffer in pain from an ailment that can easily be treated with medication. When my daughter was kicked from a horse in 6th grade and broke both of her wrists I was able to quickly get her to the pediatrician who immediately began working on her. She had a beautiful healing and didn’t suffer from listening to Larry Groce tapes or a practitioner telling us both we needed to correct our thinking. Who knows what the outcome may have been if we didn’t know about this wonderful world of medical attention. This ability to get my children the medical attention they needed while growing up is the greatest gift that being a non-Christian Scientist has brought me. I am forever grateful!” – S.


“I am so grateful to be part of this healing thanksgiving service. I am grateful for so many insights I have gained since leaving Christian Science, but the most treasured one relates to the healing of a belief of fear of pain. All my life I feared pain. I was protected from experiencing pain for the most part, sometimes with the help of the work of dedicated practitioners, but the FEAR of pain sometime in the future never left me. Now that I have left Christian Science, I no longer fear pain. I know I can rely on modern medicine whenever I need to, and I am most grateful for the freedom this has brought to my life.” – J. 


I am very grateful for the unfoldment that came to me one night while perusing the Internet. I was really curious about the ‘pro and con’ of Christian Science and related websites, but mainly the ‘con’. One in particular was by the American Atheists. This is where I learned about Mary ‘Faker’ Eddy and her shady background with her ‘discovery’ of Christian Science. It talked about how she borrowed a copy of Quimby’s works, removing his references and inserting her own, then claiming his work to be her work (plagiarism!!!). From this point on, l felt deceived and betrayed, that as a child being raised in this religion by my wonderful single parent Christian Scientist mother, as well as my aunts and uncles up to this point in my adult life, I am through with this cult! 

On an amusing side, to continue with this article, I want to share a paragraph with you here. It’s about the Church Manual (c), Article IX, Section 2. Sudden Decease. 

If a member of the Mother Church shall decease suddenly, without previous injury or illness, and the cause thereof be unknown, an autopsy shall be made by qualified experts. When it is possible the body of a female shall be prepared for burial by one of her own sex.” 

To continue through the American Atheist(c) article, 

One cannot help but wonder just what constitutes ‘sudden decease’ if there be no such thing as death. Since supposedly there is no such thing as ‘injury or illness’, it would follow that all Christian Scientists lack physical bodies, we are left to wonder just what it is that will be autopsied. With regard to the autopsy being performed by ‘qualified experts,’ we wonder if this was a concession by Mrs. Eddy to the world of real doctors – people who can tell the difference between livers, spleens and strangulated hernias. Precisely who these ‘qualified experts’ might be, we may never know. Even so, whenever the nonexistent body of a pretending-to-be dead female is to be prepared for burial – despite the impossibility of death and thus need for burial – said female non-dead non-body should be viewed only by a not-pretending-to-be-dead female pretending to be embodied.” 

After reading this, I couldn’t stop laughing. Before the night was through, I learned about two books (of many) critical of Christian Science. Those being Dr. Linda Kramer’s “The Religion That Kills – Christian Science: Abuse, Neglect, and Mind Control”. Now titled “Perfect Peril”. I bought both and read them cover to cover More than once. It is my opinion that both women set the record straight about Christian Science. I am very grateful to ‘know the truth’ about this bad religion.

I omitted mentioning the second book – foolish me! It’s Caroline Fraser’s God’s Perfect Child – of course!” – G


“I am grateful to have found this site. To have a place where I have discovered that a religion I left four decades ago is , and always has been , never the less, poisoning my entire life. I am grateful for the hideous flashbacks and nightmares I had here initially because it is better to remember. Cannot deal with, cannot purge , what you don’t remember. I am grateful to Elizabeth for listening to my story before I was brave enough to share it with anyone else. I am grateful to Willa Cather for writing those articles while people who knew what a narcissistic, sociopathic, lunatic MBE was from first hand association were still alive, and telling the world about it. Had CS people read it from then on maybe this atrocity of a cult would have never developed to the point it did, and none of us would have had to grow up in it. I am grateful that CS churches and reading rooms are closing, and this abomination of a cult is shrinking…may it collapse completely and its buildings turn to dust. Most of all I am grateful to finally know others who get this, and allow me to be crazy, and go through phases, and speak openly about things I would never speak of anywhere else, and work through things…and to realize for the first time that my childhood really happened, and that the same things happened to other children, and that we somehow survived, and that none of us are alone in this anymore.” – L


 I am grateful for ibuprofen and the pill, so that I no longer lose 1-2 days of work/school/life 4 or 5 times a year due to miserable cramps, nausea, and vertigo. Through their introduction to my life, I was able to liberate myself from simpering matrons telling me not to believe the Eve myth.” – J.


“I’m grateful for psychology, psychiatry, Prozac, Ativan, and the fact that I had my daughter in the hospital because if I’d had her at home, she probably would have died. Oh, and wine with Thanksgiving dinner.” – A.


“Thank you for the readings on the subject of Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for today. Throughout my early life, I was challenged by a false belief: the belief that my thoughts could affect the world around me. I was raised in the Christian Science church, which taught me that the world that we experience is determined largely by our beliefs. For this reason, I was told, I must consciously believe, at all times, that the world is perfect, and I must deny any acknowledgment of the imperfections of the world.

Of course, it was all an illusion, but like many illusions, it had a very real power to hurt me. I developed a habit of denying and repressing my thoughts. I was afraid, all the time, that an incorrect thought would slip through and cause misfortune to me or to the people around me.
I would like to express my gratitude for having seen through this illusion. I know now that I don’t need to be afraid. I know now that my thoughts have zero power to affect the world, unless I choose to act on them.
Knowing the truth has freed me from this false belief. With this freedom has come a tremendous sense of relief. I am free from self-denial and repression, free to see myself as I truly am, and to see the world around me as it truly is: imperfect, and beautiful in its imperfection.” – P.

“I am so thankful for the ex Christian Science movement. Knowing the truth about science based medicine has helped me overcome many physical and emotional issues. Radical reliance on drugs and surgeries has helped me live a healthy, happy existence. I was born imperfect. Scientific research and doctors have helped correct this.

As an ex Christian Scientist, I have shed the fear of my true identity: a mortal and finite woman, capable of many things including the expression of sorrow and loss.

The biggest blessing I have received as an ex-Christian Scientist is leaving behind the secrecy within which Christian Scientists choose to exist. The time for critical, rational thinkers has come. I thank my inquisitive mind for directing me to greater truth, realistic life and my human capacity to love and be loved. My essential spirit and the expression of my soul are reflected in the true principle of human physiology. I am most grateful for the common sense  that directed me and lead me away from Christian Science.” –W


“I would like to express my gratitude for my release from the mental prison of Christian Science that I locked myself away in for the first 41 years of my life. I’m grateful to freely acknowledge when I get sick, or feel pain. I am grateful for medications that heal infections, reduce inflammation, or ease pain. I’m simply grateful to acknowledge the reality of this world around us, both the good and the bad parts of it.” -J


“I want to express my gratitude for learning the real truth about both Christian Science and Mary Baker Eddy when I did. I only wished I had learned about them years sooner. Needless to say, i was aghast and shocked at the truth. However, I am holding my head high and smiling, because my Christian Science past is well behind me. I still think of my beloved Christian Scientist Mother, whom I miss so much, but she is in her rightful place where God delivered her many years ago, and I know she is very happy. I am also eternally grateful for that. Lastly, I pray for all Christian Scientists, that they may have the wisdom to leave this cursed cult, to see it more for what it isn’t (NOT a healing religion, NOT a religion to raise their children in and NOT a religion to try to understand). This is my testimony.” -G


I’d like to express my gratitude for waking up with my coffee and the news like a normal person instead of reading some boring-ass books with strange little metal arms that stick out.

Going to the doctor because I want to take care of myself and not being scared to do it.

Feeling joy.

Feeling sadness.

Listening to other people’s stories,problems,and whatever else they want to share without the crazy Christian Science filter.

Reading normal books.

Watching Little Women: LA, instead of falling asleep at a Wednesday evening testimony meeting.

Lazing around on a Sunday morning instead of falling asleep at a Sunday service.

Having sex or drinking a glass of wine with zero guilt.

Empathy.

Living and loving reality, the good and the bad.

And last but not least, feeling free.

In closing, I’d like to express my gratitude to my sister,for being brave enough to be the first to call bullshit and for helping me find my way out.  -M.


It is interesting to me that my entire life I craved true female friendships. (I had one now & again for a year, here and there, but we moved so often that I was never able to hold on to any!)

I prayed and prayed in Christian Science. Begging God to help me. Checked my motives – my motives were to love and be loved. Express love. And nothing came. For 40+ years. No true best friends who wanted to talk with me. Friends I could support when they were down. Friends I could rejoice with when they were up. I wanted friends who would support me when I was down and rejoice when I was up!

I had a few Christian Science female friends who would show up when I was happy and take my happiness like nourishment. Then chastise me when I could no longer give them pure happiness.

Over the years I decided that all the anguish I felt from the various experiences in the Christian Science faith was valid. And I should touch my toe to the water outside. I learned about Mother Nature and hugged a whole lot of trees and started to feel better! I learned I can talk to trees and gain comfort from their bark. I have learned to appreciate birds of all things, and flowers and the beauty everywhere! I learned to trust this Force. The beautiful energy surrounding Nature.

A friend of mine emailed me and asked me if I would ever like to talk about what it is like to leave Christian Science. I didn’t know what that meant, but I decided to try it anyway! And then another friend of mine and I had talked a lot when a family member of hers was struggling and in a hospital getting help. And I decided to introduce these two people to each other, to see if something like helpful communication and support could work. Lo and behold, all three of us have more in common thanks to our Krazy Sauce upbringing than I could have ever imagined!

Who knew that in order for me to get real female friendships I had to leave Christian Science?

I am so grateful for leaving Christian Science. I now have friendships. And these two friendships led me to connect with a few other acquaintances and lost friendships on the Ex Christian Science forum. And now I have met so many people and suddenly my life is full of abundant supportive compassionate friendships! The validation they gave me on one day alone was one of my most healing moments of my whole life. I sat under a brightly colored fall tree on a park bench just basking in the feeling of unconditional validation.

Thank you to the ExcCS admins for your helpful guidings and memes and thoughts. I am grateful for Ex Christian Science. –J.


I am very thankful that you run this website for Ex-Christian Scientists. In Germany, I  might be at the other end of the world, but  it makes me aware that I am not alone in my longterm experience on leaving Christian Science.

In fact, it is about 15 years ago that I resigned my Motherchurch membership – and some more few years that I started to discover a better life besides Christian Scinece.

This year I am paticularly “SO THANKFUL!!! ” that  I do not feel any guilt any more when I go to see  a doctor.

Getting older, I had a slight breathing problem on certain occassions. A year ago, I went to a dactor nearby to see on it. He sent me to several specialists. It turned out as a heart defect which could be some years old, now. According to the stae of the defect, I got a good diagnose, have now frequent checks on it using modern technology and get good advices how to adapt my daily life and still keep activities on a good level.  Okay, it is not yet totally healed. But it is not neglected any more and well treted.

Some times I had to think how it might have been handled in Christian Science, as far as I got to know similar cases as a former Chgristian Science nurse. I might have tried to pray on it on my own, called a Christian Science practioner or teacher. I might nhave not known about the hidden dangerous circumstances , might have done too heavy activities, might have had serious break downs that are not proper treated – and so even might have passed away within this year.

I think you might understand that I am really thankful this year that I had turned away from Christian Science. -I. 


I am grateful for the tough times that forced me to question, and ultimately to leave, Christian Science.

The president of Principia College held a reception for us graduating seniors, and I remember him saying that many of us would do well, and some of us would undoubtedly “fall flat on your face.” Well, I was one who fell flat on my face. I hit a series of dead ends after college. My marriage (to a Christian Scientist) unraveled. I lost two jobs, couldn’t find another, felt like I just didn’t fit anywhere. It was emotionally a tough time, and I had a growing realization that the fairy-tale mentality of Christian Science was holding me back from achieving maturity. It was a long process, but with a growing willingness to trust my instincts I made progress.

As I look back on those painful years of adjustment I realize that I was fortunate. Life has worked out far better than I had any right to expect. If I had stayed in Christian Science I am sure I would have continued to fail in many ways: relationships, family, career, health. I am grateful for the tough times that forced me away from the fantasy thinking that is Christian Science. –B. 


Thank you everyone for your contributions. 

Old Habits Die Hard

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about experiences seeking medical care and interacting with medical professionals.


Back in 2000, I had this scaly patch on my neck. After watching it grow and covering it with makeup for two years a friend said, “that looks like skin cancer – you’d better get that looked at!” Sure enough, it was basal cell skin cancer. I had it cut out, and I have a huge scar now. If I’d taken care of it early I probably would have just had a little stitch.

– Hilary


I have been pestering my husband to help me get my basic vaccines (I have zero), and he doesn’t get it that I don’t know how to go to a doctor or what to DO there. A friend who knows the medical field inside and out has offered to set things up with me and come along to hold my hand.

– Heidi


My non-Christian-Scientist cousins were after me to get a colonoscopy (I’m fifty-seven) and it was way overdue. I did so, and wouldn’t you know, I had cancer. Luckily it was stage one, but the doctor said it was a slow grower and had been in me ten years. I had it removed with two operations last spring and summer. I am the fourth generation in my family to have this problem. My grandmother and father died grisly deaths under Christian Science ‘treatment’ of this very thing. The surgeon at Mayo Clinic that said if I had waited six more months it would have spread to other organs. They think they caught it all, but I am having follow-up tests this week and next.

– Anonymous


At the very end of my second pregnancy, I am starting to have serious health problems: blood pressure ticking up, signs of pre-eclampsia, etc. So apart from being scared and disappointed, every time I go to one of my appointments I also find myself extremely angry and defensive. My sister helped me figure out that this has to do with an entire childhood of being blamed for every sickness—every cold, upset stomach, or stubbed toe was entirely my fault and had to be fixed only by me (while simultaneously being unreal of course). So when my OB points out that my blood pressure is not in a good range, what I hear is, “what did you do wrong that made your blood pressure so high?” Ugh, old habits die hard, I guess!

– Hilary


Recently, an alarming rash erupted over large parts of my body. I went to the emergency room at the local hospital, and the doctor who treated me humourously diagnosed me as being a “very sensitive guy.” It was his way of informing me that I was having an overly severe allergic reaction to something. I was prescribed an immune system suppressant, and some Benadryl. The rash cleared within a day. I’m glad the old habits of waiting before I go to a doctor about something are beginning to fade finally.

– Jeremy

I was crying from relief, not fear.

By Susanna, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor. Susanna is a pseudonym, to ensure anonymity.


I had my first panic attack at the age of 28. It came on out of the blue, in the middle of the afternoon on a Thursday at work. I drove myself to the hospital thinking I was having a heart attack. I had never been admitted to a hospital before. Once the intake nurse took my blood pressure and determined that I wasn’t dying, she hooked me up to IV and I laid there quietly for about an hour.

A doctor came in, and she was exactly my age. She told me that what had happened to me was not ‘nothing.’ It was a cardiac event, but it was brought on by anxiety, not heart disease. She guessed, correctly, that I was about 30, single, and working in a demanding job where it was hard to keep my work/life balance. She said she saw women in exactly the same condition at least once a week.

I began crying immediately, which didn’t surprise her, until I told her that I was crying from relief, not fear. It felt like after thirty years of striving to look and be perfect, I was convulsing under the pressure, and here was someone telling me that it was normal to feel that way, that it was okay, and that she would help. I could walk out of the hospital and things could never be the same again. I didn’t have to just say, “Hallelujah, I’ve been healed!” and move on. I could acknowledge the challenge as both physical and mental, and use all the resources available—therapy, medication, self-care—to manage and ultimately overcome this.

The doctor prescribed me some anti anxiety medication. I took it several times in the next year or so, maybe before a big meeting when I felt myself getting anxious.  At some point I threw the rest away and haven’t needed it since.

There ought to be a course in the training of psychiatrists about Christian Science

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about seeking therapy after leaving Christian Science.

These comments are an education. There ought to be a course in the training of psychiatrists about Christian Science and the processes involved when former adherents leave it.

– Marion


I find most people I talk to sort of slide out of Christian Science slowly and not violently. I also had a very long and painful exodus from Christian Science. Every year that goes by it gets easier, though. I never thought I’d make it to the point where I could even have a sense of humor about it, but here I am! Ultimately, I sought out one of Los Angeles’ only ‘exit counselors’ for therapy—someone skilled in helping people break away from cults. She hadn’t actually worked with a Christian Scientist before, but was well acquainted with the religion. It was great to talk to someone who understood about the mind control, fear of being struck by a bolt of lightning once you left, etc. The unspoken damage is the personality disorders, depression and anxiety that being in this kind of cult leaves behind. Rarely do people even make the connection.

– Hilary



One of the corner stones of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is teaching people to abandon fixed thinking (the tyranny of the ‘shoulds’). This is especially important for ex-Christian Scientists, because all our training growing up told us to ignore what we can see and feel and concentrate instead on what we should be seeing and feeling until it happens.

– Anonymous


My psychotherapist has helped me with PSTD, trauma issues, and survivor’s guilt issues related to my upbringing in Christian Science. We are indeed survivors.

– Nancy

I would go on trips without my glasses with the expectation of healing

By Brett Buchanan, an Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I had an INSTANTANEOUS HEALING yesterday!

After decades of extreme myopia (couldn’t focus on anything beyond five inches in front of me), my eyesight was completely restored! Since third grade, I would hear of healings of eyesight, read Journal articles about the spiritual meaning of eyes, I would go on trips without my glasses with the expectation of healing, work on my understanding of my relationship with God, sometimes discouraged by the sin or ignorance preventing perfect perception… But then I got some f*cking laser beams in my eyeballs, and my eyesight is better than ever. Thanks, science!!!

In some ways, I’m grateful to have been raised in such a bizarre religion. I think it was easier for me to question all religions, compared to someone raised in a more benign denomination, and arrive at my tentative conclusion that all religions are man-made; that although most religions strive for a cosmic connection with grand answers, awe, and transcendence, they all ignorantly capitulate to emotion or superstition or wishful thinking or dogma or authority or tradition.

I think it’s an important distinction that you can be BOTH an atheist and an agnostic. I’m both. The two labels are often conflated into a single spectrum of certainty or belief. But they answer different questions: one is about belief; the other is about certainty. I am not a Theist. I don’t believe in an intervening personal God, therefore a non-theist or a-theist.; also I am open to revision with sufficient evidence, I am not certain of anything. I am not a Gnostic, therefore a non-gnostic or a-gnostic.

It’s helpful and inspiring to sometimes name all of the Universe’s puzzles and mysteries by a single name, as Einstein did as a self-described Pantheist (a philosophy Eddy despised). But it’s important to remember that we have solved some of the Universe’s puzzles recently and we will solve more very soon…even while some of our neighbors would prefer to remain ignorant to the wonderful and useful answers of evolution, heliocentrism, or the germ theory.

Recently, science has presented a much better methodology with better and greater answers, transcendence, and awe based in reality, through clever experiments that reveal a universe immensely grander than humans and their imagination have ever imagined. Without a God in our heads giving us our purpose, we can be the custodians of our own life’s meaning. Now we can be the sole voice in our minds. Hallelujah!

We went to the park

By an anonymous Ex-Christian Scientist Group contributor.

I was chatting with a woman in line at the bakery this morning. She got her grandson a sticky roll and hot chocolate and was expecting him to behave in church. I got my children something similar, and we went to a nearby park.

I sat and watched the kids play, occasionally coming back to check in with me, and to eat a few more bites of their pastries. When they tired of climbing, swinging and sliding, we went for a walk along the trails through the protected nature area adjacent the play area.

As we walked, I thought back to the little boy and his grandmother who were heading off to church. I remembered all the Sundays growing up, where I had wanted to sleep in, but instead we were hurried off to church, a twenty minute drive, and we often had to get there early so my parents could usher, or my mother could mind the childcare room.

Almost every Sunday from birth until I turned 20 (the magical age we were ‘allowed’ to attend with the main congregation), I was at church, either in the childcare room (until I turned three or four), and then in Sunday School. I did slack off a bit on Sunday School attendance when I was at Principia, but in my defense, being at Prin was like always being at Sunday School.

Christian Science was all around us, selected readings at house meetings, inspirational post-its on the bathroom mirrors, roommates who read the lesson, friends who attended the Christian Science Org. meetings on Tuesday mornings, and professors, practitioners, and lecturers who gave talks in the evenings about how Christian Science inspired them. Attendance, while optional, was recommended, and your absence was often commented upon.

Some days I liked Sunday School. It was one of the few places I could be ‘normal’. No one looked at me because I was weird for not visiting a doctor, or because I decided not to drink, experiment with drugs, or have premarital sex. I was free to talk about my understanding of God and Ms. Eddy’s seven synonyms and how they could apply to my life without being looked at like I was a freak.

Some days this felt more sincere than others, some days I felt I believed it, and some days I felt like I was parroting the party line, memorizing and regurgitating information. I had a lot of questions for my Sunday School teachers, I was eager to learn more, I wanted to know how Christian Science worked, I wanted answers.

I spent a fair bit of time ‘chatting’ with the Sunday School Superintendent (that sounds much more official than it was) about how I was ‘interfering’ with others’ spiritual growth and my questions were ‘not appropriate’. Sunday School teachers tried to put me off, by telling me I’d have to wait and take Class Instruction and all would be revealed, but I never made it that far as I was never ‘led to the right teacher’.

The best part were the Thanksgiving Day services. We all got to sit in the main auditorium; everyone, even the little kids (little kids being about six and up, the childcare was usually quite full those days). We would read the President’s Thanksgiving Proclamation which always included something about pilgrims, and then the most random people would stand up and talk at length until the reader had to say “THANK YOU” in a super firm tone and an usher had to come take away the microphone. It was like the Oscars of Christian Science testimonies.

When I made the non-optional transition to church at the age of 20, I hated it. There was no time for discussion, or questioning. You sit and are read the same lesson you have (theoretically) been reading all week. Christian Science church services are not fun, they fail at being interesting, they don’t engage the audience, and they’re tedious.

To the consternation of my mother, my children are not going to experience any of these things. As an adult, I do plenty of things I dislike that I have to do. Church attendance is not one of them, and forcing my children to attend Sunday School isn’t either.

Do Not Grieve, There is Nothing to Grieve About

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about how death is ‘handled’ in Christian Science.

 

I have found Christian Science’s ‘do not grieve, there’s nothing to grieve about’ instruction to be particularly damaging. It leads those who have lost loved ones to feel ashamed—the deeper the love, the greater the shame. And it leads others to ignore grief in the guise of pretending that it doesn’t exist. We’re providing prayerful support to the grieving person so we don’t have to, you know, acknowledge the loss or do anything practical to help.

– Anonymous



I think I remember one memorial service from when I was young that may or may not have been for a Christian Scientist. But, generally people just didn’t show up at church anymore and nobody ever asked. Why would you mourn someone? What does it matter that they’re dead? Christian Science tears apart the human psyche. It devalues and denies the empathy and compassion that makes us human.

– Heidi


A woman I knew from the local Christian Science branch church, who was about three years older than I was, suddenly vanished. I asked my Christian Scientist mother about her and got double-talk. Later I was alone with my non-Christian Scientist father and he told me she had appendicitis and was under the care of a practitioner, and her appendix burst and she died. When I asked my mother about it she told me, “people are dying in hospitals all the time!”

– Anonymous

 

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.