Chrystal’s Story: The Last Straw – Part 2

Chrystal's Story header image

This is part of an on-going series, for all posts in this series see the tag Chrystal’s Story.


A note from Chrystal: I was born a fourth-generation Christian Scientist, and finally left the religion when I was in my 40s. In this blog series, I will do my best to share with you my 40+ year journey. I have done my best to make the journey sequential, but it’s also themed to a large extent, and sometimes it has been necessary to take things out of sequence to share a theme. 


The last straw for me to leave the second church, was this:

I had taught Sunday School there almost from the get-go. My sons were in Sunday School there. I had an intense strong belief that since the church proclaims they are a “Christian” church, that “The Holy Bible” should be taught every Sunday to the kids. I thought it made sense.

My older son had a teacher who would take photos and bring them to class. Random things. Frankly, none of the photos were worth a second glance to me. And this teacher would show photos to my son of random things and that was what Sunday School was like. He is a nice man, but I didn’t see any substance to the class.

My younger son’s teacher was a very good friend of mine – she was always one of my biggest supporters of all of my ideas to modernize our church. She is still a good friend to this day, and she has lovingly kept her mouth shut about me leaving CS, though I am certain it hurts her that I have left Christian Science. I remember her telling me how much it hurt her when her brother left. But she has been wonderfully lovingly supportive of me and never said how hurt she is by my leaving the religion. She taught my son’s class ½ time with another teacher; they alternated. My Sunday School class was the next grade up, and I sat right next to them so I knew what was going on the whole time. I remember the other teacher having the kids pray about what to draw, then draw, then cut the paper, then recycle the paper, then clean up the paper, and ok, let’s hold hands and now we will clean up. It was a moment of daycare. It wasn’t Sunday School. Neither teacher had a Bible-based education for the kids.

My final straw at that church was a Sunday School teacher’s meeting, and we all sat there and talked about rotating teachers for the new school year, and what would we like, and if you were a parent, what would you like. I spoke up and said, “I need my children to have The Bible taught to them; it’s a Christian church, teach The Bible. They aren’t stupid, they love the stories, teach The Bible. I need my kids to have teachers who teach The Bible.” A Christian Science Teacher was there and nodded along with me. She had previously taught my older son and said, “he knows his stuff.” She agreed with everything I said.

The classes were then arranged during the next few weeks, and my kids had been placed with the identical teachers. They had completely disregarded my input about my kids. I never went back to that branch church again. I honestly felt like it was a waste of my time.

I did try to attend yet another branch church, and it was my intention to join. (Apparently, “God” really had to clonk me on the head hard before I learned lessons. Or, I am fiercely loyal to a losing organization.) I walked in the door, knew people, they were so happy to see me, and there were no chairs for my kids. Their Sunday School was bursting at the seams. (They must be doing something right!) And they were too full and couldn’t find chairs for my kids. They did finally find chairs after a scramble. I think one got a rolling desk chair. That seemed kind of cool, to me, actually. But that was the first hint that we didn’t belong there – no physical room for my kids to be there.

The second clue I got was a long nasty email from one of the members there who said, “you didn’t even say ‘hi’ to me.” She went on and on. I hadn’t even seen her, and if I am the new one who walked in the door, shouldn’t she be the one to come over and greet me? A lot of the other people got that memo and caught me and talked to me and I couldn’t exactly walk around and go look at all the people. Her email was so long and so angry, that I said, “I’m not doing this again.” And I never went back to another branch church. I had finally gotten the memo that the Christian Science church experience really isn’t for me. My kids still loved Christian Science Sunday School, so I let them attend every now and then with my brothers at their church for about a year. We also started visiting other kinds of churches together. The changeable nature of all of this started to take a toll on my kids; I had also dragged them to other Christian Science churches when we were working on the VBS. It all added up and they got tired of the lack of stability. That was a rough patch, added on to the other rough patches.

Didn’t Jesus say in The Bible, “they will know you are my followers by how much you love one another” (John 13:35)? Clearly, this is a church that isn’t getting that memo.

I left branch church experience feeling completely burned out, depressed (though I didn’t have words for that because I had faithfully muted every commercial, and denied all of my “negative” emotions), disengaged, fried, and un-creative. They took the best of me and ground me completely under foot, and made sure every single door had hit me on the way out. I had successfully prayed away every single part of my personality, and I was now a walking zombie, barely able to take care of my kids. But I was blind to all of that. It took me 6 years to recognize that, because “denial is strong with our people.”

Now that I have been out of the church for a few years, I am starting to realize my ideas were NOT bad: they were just close minded people with a serious fear of any kind of change. The church is happily stuck in the 19th century, and they don’t want to budge. For a church that preaches, “Fear not, be not afraid” (Isaiah 44:8), they are the most fear-filled people I have ever known.

For about a year after leaving the Christian Science branch church experience, I knew that was the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. I considered this experience of leaving to be “my divorce experience.” My husband (who was never a Christian Scientist and has been completely supportive of me in my spiritual journey) told me, “I expect you will need to heal for a while after this.” He was right. I am now more than 5 years out of the branch church experience, and I am finally starting to feel better.


Notes from Chrystal:

Here is a resource about emotional abuse. It is painful stuff. Please read this and get out of any relationship where you are being emotionally abused. I am still recovering from this painful experience.

Here is an informative article about anxiety and depression.


Notes from The Ex-Christian Scientist:

Unless you have formally withdrawn your membership, you are likely still counted as a member of the Mother Church, aka The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.

A quick e-mail to the Office of the Clerk, can confirm if you are still a member. If you are still a member, you can formally withdraw your membership via e-mail, or write a letter. You can reach the Church Clerk at: [email protected]

More information about withdrawing from The Mother Church can be found in our Resource Index drop down menu.

Chrystal’s Story: The Last Straw – Part 1

Chrystal's Story header image

This is part of an on-going series, for all posts in this series see the tag Chrystal’s Story.


A note from Chrystal: I was born a fourth-generation Christian Scientist, and finally left the religion when I was in my 40s. In this blog series, I will do my best to share with you my 40+ year journey. I have done my best to make the journey sequential, but it’s also themed to a large extent, and sometimes it has been necessary to take things out of sequence to share a theme. 


The Last Straw (Part 1)

Leaving my first branch church

A gal who had been raised in a Bible Belt kind of church had a toddler son. It was coming up on Easter Sunday, and she wanted an Easter Egg hunt for her son, because her neighbors were elderly and she didn’t have anyone else she knew who had kids, so she thought it would be fun for the kids at church. I know “The Manual of The Mother Church” by Mary Baker Eddy specifically states, “no special celebrations at Easter,” and I knew the members would hate the idea. I thought really fast, because I was proceeding from a place of “let’s let our member who converted to Christian Science feel loved and accepted,” and I said, “let’s call the daycare place next door, and see if we can use their playground for our Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday!” This gal loved the idea. I wasn’t going to be in town, but I arranged for all of it to happen. Then, I gave the announcement to the First Reader.

The Sunday before Easter, I had just finished teaching Sunday School, and the Second Reader came storming down the stairs to me in Sunday School — she was angry. Whew! My students hadn’t all been picked up yet by their parents. This church member started to berate me and tell me off, with complete disregard to my students. She couldn’t believe that as Second Reader, she had to hear about this from the announcement! How dare I come up with having an Easter Egg Hunt at church!

I couldn’t get a word in edgewise for at least 7 minutes. She knew how to talk without breathing and I couldn’t interrupt her to say, “it wasn’t my idea! It was this other person’s idea, and I moved it over to the daycare so it wouldn’t be on church grounds!” I couldn’t believe how furious she was with me for this thing that I had tried to arrange so our own member could feel loved.

As this church member friend berated me in front of my Sunday School kids, I realized, “oh my gosh, she won’t let me speak to say ‘it’s not even my idea,’ and “it has come to this in the church: people think: ‘that idea is SO BAD, it MUST be Chrystal’s.’”

As it turned out, the parents had the Easter Egg hunt in our own parking lot (remember – I was out of town), and several moms griped to me about how terrible it was. I had arranged for the daycare playground next door, and they chose our own dirty parking lot with litter and gravel among the Easter Eggs. Way to celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection. (This church has a bus stop at the edge of the property, and I have seen cigarette butts in the parking lot too. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were also cigarette butts among the Easter Eggs!)

I remember lying awake in bed with that drama playing in my head over and over and over. It was the middle of the night, and I pictured the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. I got out of bed with my husband sleeping right there, and my boys sleeping in their rooms down the hall. I knelt down next to my bed and prayed. I had never knelt down on my knees, folded my hands and prayed. But I knelt down the way I thought Daniel might have done every day, and I prayed. I prayed as hard as I could pray. I cried and cried, and I prayed and prayed. I remember suddenly having a vision of “a new heaven and a new church,” (a clever variation on Revelation 21:1) and I knew everything would be ok.

I withdrew my name from membership 2 days later. (I had planned to withdraw 3 days later, but I got a phone call from another member berating me for something else, so I resigned immediately after that phone call. It had all gone on long enough.) Stupid me, I went to another branch church and joined them the following Sunday. (I told them “your branch is closer to my house, so I am just switching.” It was closer to my home, but that wasn’t completely why I was switching.)


Notes from Chrystal:

Here is a resource about emotional abuse. It is painful stuff. Please read this and get out of any relationship where you are being emotionally abused. I am still recovering from this painful experience.

Here is an informative article about anxiety and depression.


Notes from The Ex-Christian Scientist:

Unless you have formally withdrawn your membership, you are likely still counted as a member of the Mother Church, aka The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.

A quick e-mail to the Office of the Clerk, can confirm if you are still a member. If you are still a member, you can formally withdraw your membership via e-mail, or write a letter. You can reach the Church Clerk at: [email protected]

More information about withdrawing from The Mother Church can be found in our Resource Index drop down menu.

Chrystal’s Story – It’s time we teach you how to pray

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

I remember being called in to my parents room, I might have been in third or fourth grade. I was told, “it’s time we teach you how to pray.”

My parents had me get a sheet of loose leaf paper and a pencil. They had me fold the paper in half, vertically, and list all of my faults on the left hand side. I remember the first one: “Lazy.” This was a word they had to explain to me. I only knew “lazy” as something my eye was. I didn’t know that people could be called “lazy.” They told me it meant I just lounged around all day and didn’t anything to help around the house. And I needed to change this about my personality. They told me to write “lazy” on the left side column. And then to write “diligent” on the right hand side. This is, apparently, the opposite of “lazy.”

They had me write at the top of the left hand column: “I am not:” And at the top of the right hand column, “I am:”

Then list my faults down the left hand column. I think there were approximately 11 faults I had down the left hand column. And 11 antonymns of things I should work on (heal the bad to become the good) on the right hand side. All I remember is “lazy.” So, as I read this, I would read:  “I am not lazy, I am diligent.” “I am not mean, I am nice.” “I am not ugly, I am pretty.” “I am not a liar, I am truthful.” etc. I was supposed to pray with this prayer list every day.

My parents sat on their bed, and I knelt down at the base of the bed, on my knees, using their bed as my desk. Yes, I was literally kneeling in front of them as they told me my faults.

I remember diligently “praying” with this prayer list for days, maybe weeks. Probably a few months or years later, when I pulled out my old list that was quite worn from daily use, I would just pull it out and stare at that first word and pretend to pray with this list, as I let my imagination wander. I am certain this is why I don’t remember more of it. I do remember there were now far more things to deny on the left hand side that had been added in over the years with various pencils, pens, markers…. And, still, “lazy” was right there, at the top of the list for me to deny every single day. I wonder, at what point that becomes “healed” and it can be removed from a prayer list?

Christian Science is a culture deeply tied to shame, denial, and secrets.

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Scientist collective about the impact Christian Science has had on relationships.


Not quite twenty years ago, my marriage ended. He and I were both devout Christian Scientists. We were very involved in the Principia community, and our kids were at Prin College and Upper School. My then-husband had a very bad temper, and eventually I summoned all my courage and went to the local woman’s shelter for guidance and help. I felt like such a scofflaw for relying on outside help, but I was losing my mind. God bless that shelter and all its angels. I learned so much, and it was such a blessing, and that was the first crack in the Christian Science armor, when I learned that it’s okay to be a human being.

One day, a woman friend called to ask why I hadn’t been in church. She’d been a good friend, and her husband was well-loved at Prin. It seemed right to lay my soul bare, so I told her the truth: I told her that my husband was abusive. My friend went silent. I thought she’d hung up on me. After a moment, she said, “My husband is just like yours.” Two more times, I confided in women friends with Prin-employed husbands, and both times, they hung their heads and said, “My husband is also abusive.”

– Anne


Christian Science’s teachings can create the perfect breeding ground for abuse of all kinds, because the Christian Science way of thinking, if there is someone abusive in the home, is that the abuser’s behavior is the victim’s responsibility to ‘un-see’. This is a completely wrong and unproductive guilt created by Christian Science dogma on top of the abuse by the spouse or parent.

Abuse and dysfunction in the home is definitely not unique to Christian Science; it can happen in any family, group or culture. But Christian Science is a culture deeply tied to shame, denial, and secrets. This applies to health, sexuality, mental health, emotions— everything. We are strong for having survived, for moving forward, and for breaking the cycle.

– Abigail


A dedicated Christian Scientist doesn’t need an outside influence in order to feel guilty about not having a healing quickly or about resorting to ‘materia medica.’ We are programmed to feel that way from the time we enter Sunday School, if not before. Christian Science is never to blame, it is always the individual’s lack of understanding.

– Stacey