CDC Studies & The Principia Schools/College

CDC logo via wikipediaCompiled by the Ex-Christian Scientist editors.

The Christian Science church often uses the fact that it has obtained religious exemption laws as evidence that Christian Science can heal all diseases as effectively as medical care. However, studies and statistics from the Surveillance and Epidemiology, Epidemiology Program Office, CDC tell a different story.

Many of these studies and statistics center around the Principia Schools and College, as that is where there is a large enough cluster of Christian Scientists to enable the effective study of the impact of their decisions.

Christian Scientists’ high mortality rate

Principia College / Loma Linda University Case Study

A long-term study (1945 – 1983) between the population of graduates of Principia College (PC), a college for Christian Scientists, and Loma Linda University (LLU), a Seventh-day Adventist-affiliated university showed:

“Overall mortality was higher for PC graduates than for LLU graduates (for men, 40 per 1000 and 22 per 1000, respectively… and for women, 27 per 1000 and 12 per 1000, respectively (p=0.001)). Total mortality was higher among PC graduates in 22 (85%) of the 26 cohorts.”

“The doctrines of both religious groups require abstinence from alcohol consumption and smoking. …. The groups also differ in that Christian Scientists reject medical healing in favor of spiritual healing alone, whereas Seventh-day Adventists accept both spiritual and medical healing.”

Reported by: WF Simpson, PhD, Emporia State Univ, Emporia, Kansas. Div of Surveillance and Epidemiology, Epidemiology Program Office, CDC.1


1Comparative Mortality of Two College Groups, 1945 – 1983.MMWR. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 23 Aug. 1991. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

Further Reading:

Christian Science & Religious Exemptions

Measles outbreaks at Principia College

  • In 1985, three Christian Scientists affiliated with Principia College in Elsah, Illinois died; and 712 students were quarantined on campus, when an outbreak of measles sickened more than 100 people.
  • In 1989, another measles outbreak at Principia sickened nearly 100 people, including some off campus, not affiliated with the school.
  • In 1994, another outbreak spread to the Principia, which serves students pre-K through senior high in St. Louis County, Missouri; nearly 200 people contracted measles.1

The [1985 outbreak’s] high attack rate (15.9%) at Principia College is undoubtedly due to these students’ very low immunization levels. The outbreak illustrates the potential severity of measles and the rapidity of spread in an unvaccinated population. The very high apparent death-to-case ratio (2.3%) is unusual in the United States, which usually has a reported death-to-case ratio of 0.1% or lower.2


1 Townsend, Tim. “Prayer or inoculation? H1N1 is newest dilemma Members of religious groups who forgo vaccines may put neighbors at risk, threaten common St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 06 Dec. 2009. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.

2Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Multiple Measles Outbreaks on College Campuses–Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois.MMWR. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 15 Mar. 1985. Web. 03 Feb. 2016.