The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Scientist collective about the impact Christian Science has had on relationships.
I definitely relate to the many families who have been torn apart by Christian Science. My sister and I lost our mother to this thing. She is slowly dying of an undiagnosed illness, but won’t get help, because of course an actual physical healing isn’t the real goal, right? It’s about achieving some kind of spiritual I-don’t-know-what! My older sister got the brunt of the care-taking, unfortunately. The selfishness is frustrating and so unfair. Everything has to stop to revolve around our mother’s incomprehensible devotion to this cult, which has destroyed our family and countless others. But my sister and I were recently able to speak to each other openly for the first time in our lives about how Christian Science affected our family and our feelings about it, and it was very—for lack of a better term—healing.
Three of my five siblings are still very deep into Christian Science, with the annual Association trips, being ‘class taught’, and all taking their turns as branch church Readers very seriously. Conversations can be very strained when we get together. I walk a thin line of not wanting to upset them and wanting to roll my eyes at their Christian Science-talk, and sometimes I have to get up and leave before I just blow up. I love them and want to shake them at the same time. I just cannot stand watching the lengths of their denial of reality.
Within my family, just my parents and I were Christian Scientists. The aunts, uncles and cousins all thought we were nuts. I was in hard-core, including Class Instruction, until age 21. Then began the double life for eight or nine years during which time I was married and divorced. I took the opportunity of re-marriage and moving away to sever ties with Christian Science. That was twenty years ago. If it weren’t for my aging Christian Scientist parents, I wouldn’t even think about Christian Science anymore. But going through their health issues with them as their only child has brought all the anger and resentment to the surface. I’m glad to have this group who gets it.
I was spared a lot of Christian Science crazy growing up because my mother was quick to take us to the pediatrician if there was a problem, and I’m very grateful for that. However, my siblings did not respond in kind. When my mom died many years ago, I was the one that found her near death. She’d had a massive stroke, and I called 911—I didn’t know where to begin to deal with the horror. Later, at the hospital, she officially passed on, and my Christian Scientist brother told me, “Our mother might still be alive if you hadn’t called 911.” That’s the kind of BS I had to put up with to stay part of the family. When I started calling them on this insanity, that’s when I was officially and permanently shunned.
My father got desperate with his asthma once, and tried Christian Science—mostly to save his marriage. A practitioner arrived and I could feel the tension: would Christian Science work? Not at all, despite repeated practitioner visits. And the practitioner was a really weird person who caused more division within the family. Horrid times.
I can also remember arriving at a testimony meeting with my mother, and as I sat down, I was surprised to see my father at the service. Both experiences made me feel like I was on the Christian Science side and he was trying to join ‘our world’. I felt awful that I could not be with him in his world. Years later, church members told my mother that my father had visited his local reading room, as though it was a good thing. In actuality, he ‘visited’ in order to return all the Christian Science books he had ever owned!