here, take back your bullsh*t

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


 

One of my favorite moments of my Christian Science departure was packing up a shopping bag with all my Christian Science literature and leaving it on the doorstep of a Reading Room. My friend described it as ‘here, take back your bullsh*t!’

– Hilary


Every puff I take on my asthma inhaler, every antibiotic and pain medication I’ve taken, and every visit I’ve made to the doctor or hospital, has been my giant f-you to Christian Science.

– Jeremy


When I was pregnant with my first child, I had a difficult pregnancy and I was under a doctor’s care. My grandmother insisted on hiring a Christian Science practitioner for me. She lived out of state, and during a phone ‘treatment’, she told me a story of her infant dying at home and how she just left the room, completely serene and unaffected. Her child was dead that was no big deal. She just knew the truth. Lo and behold, her daughter revived and she went about her normal activities. I was completely freaked out and never looked back at Christian Science. That was 20 years ago.

– Renee

I’ve always wondered

The following is a collection of musings from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about Christian Science.


One thing I’ve always wondered is how Christian Science looks to a new, adult convert. I was born into it, so I knew nothing else, but how does an adult read Science and Health for the first time and think it’s amazing, and not crazy? That always puzzled me.

– Hilary



I always used to wonder why going to the dentist, or getting glasses was OK, but going to the doctor was like a grievous sin. I had an argument with my Dad once about his and other Christian Scientists’ weird obsession with ‘malicious animal magnetism’, if it was, as Christian Science teaches, not real.

– Jeremy

The Catholic Thing

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science Group dealing with paranoia about Catholicism.

A collection of rosaries, photo courtesy of Katie J.

 

My family had creepy stuff: manuals carefully transcribed on onion-skin, with articles by Bicknell Young and other sources. They describe Jesuits secretly devoting their lives to the destruction of Christian Science, and ‘mental malpractice’ in general. They warn against even being near a Catholic, since they are ‘unwitting transmitters of animal magnetism’. It was paranoid! Funny how it wasn’t even theologically consistent— wasn’t everything supposed to be good in Christian Science?

– Anonymous


I used to have a Catholic friend who accused us of ‘worshipping’ Mary Baker Eddy, and I was so offended. Now I realize he was right.

– Hilary


I am curious if this aspect of my Christian Science upbringing was unique, or was it also experienced by others: that is, the way I was taught to view the Catholic church as something very dark, evil, and negative, to be avoided at all costs. I was taught that ‘the other churches, they are just ignorant—but the Catholic church, they are the ones actively using Error to try to bring down Christian Science.’ I was told that Catholic leaders pray for the downfall of Christian Science and even that they pray ‘the anti- Scientific Statement of Being,’ i.e., that they pray “There IS life, truth, intelligence and substance in matter…” etc., and I was taught that it’s one of the things a Christian Scientist should pray about every day, that ‘there is no power in the Catholic church.’ I was taught that the ‘spiritual wickedness in high places’ passage in the Bible was a reference to the Catholic Pope. I was taught that no Christian Scientist should ever have a close personal friendship with any Catholic, because Error could use that relationship as a way for the Catholic church to attack Christian Science. My grandmother learned this deep fear of Catholicism from her own Christian Science Teacher.

– Ashley


As for the Christian Science antipathy toward Catholicism, I was quite unaware of it until, as the chairman—and, in our small church, the sole member—of the music committee, I hired a Catholic friend to be the soloist. It was common for the soloists hired to not be Christian Scientists. She did admirably at the first service and, as innocent as I, she revealed her Catholic faith while chatting with church members. Imagine my chagrin and deep embarrassment when I was required to tell her that she would not be allowed to sing at my church again.

– Anonymous


I was wondering: did anyone else have the experience of being lectured about the dangers of Catholics? That was another thing that was constantly drilled into me. I really believed that all Catholics were practicing malicious animal magnetism towards Christian Scientists and I should stay away from them.

– Sharon

What do people mean by the term ‘God’ anyway?

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about religious choices after Christian Science.


I find it curious that there is an assumption that God is something you can opt in and out of. What do people mean by the term God anyway? It is a very short word used to symbolise something that is incomprehensible to any of us. As far as I can see, nothing should exist at all logically. There shouldn’t even be a space for nothing to exist in in the first place. The fact that not only do things exist but things within those things are able to be consciously aware of them is inexplicable.

What we do know is that life is short and everything is transient. Yet people seem to create God as some way to pin themselves to permanence. We don’t much like the earth, whose signal characteristic is impermanence, so we create an idea of heaven where only people like us go and nothing ever changes. It sounds a bit unlikely to me, based on what it’s like ‘down here’. What if this is what existence is like, and our purpose, in the unlikely event we have a purpose, is to learn how to live in it?

– Anonymous



 

After leaving Christian Science, I briefly explored some New Age ideas and philosophies, but I always came back to the same conclusion that it logically made no sense to me. I credit Christian Science with one good thing: I think I have a decent ‘BS detector’ because of it. I look for evidence to support claims, and/or I follow a path that makes logical sense to me.

I do not believe in ‘God’ at all. ‘God’ as presented in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic way makes no logical sense to me. I see plenty of evidence that there is no ‘God’, and no evidence that there is. I do believe there is a conscious ‘energy’ that we’re a part of–it makes logical sense to me, although I have no proof of it. An atheist friend of mine said once, on the subject of death and thoughts on ‘afterlife’, that she felt that consciousness is a form of energy, and the first law of thermodynamics does state that energy can’t be created or destroyed (there goes the Creation myth), it can only be transformed. So, she said that in some way or some form, our consciousness continues, and that science has not yet discovered how. I guess I largely consider myself agnostic, however I follow many aspects of Native American spiritual practice, and I also practice yoga regularly. Prayer has been replaced by meditation, and meditation is a practice that does wonders for my mental health. Meditation is simply the calming of the mind, and for me is akin to ‘defragging the hard drive (of my mind)’–it brings me mental clarity.

– Jeremy


They were trained to deny their affection

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


When people do start to get desperate and want to turn outside of Christian Science, they generally have no idea of what help is available to them so they never ask for it, or they pretend they are just feeling a bit under the weather when they are actually on their death bed.

– Anonymous


The Christian Scientists I grew up around strongly believed and promoted the idea of it being possible for Christian Science prayer to raise the dead, and that it would become possible in proportion to our understanding of Christian Science and our spiritual perfection.

– Anonymous


My grandmother died when I was fourteen. I remember my mother telling me it ‘never happened.’ She was equally glassy when her sister died of cancer a few years ago.

– Hilary


The mental discipline that Christian Scientists use to deny this world also denies, as Eddy referred to it, ‘mere human affection.’ Trained to deny their affection, and that discipline is so powerful, that I have known those who appeared to be perfectly fine with the deaths of their spouses.

I attended a Christian Science funeral held at a crematorium, where I sat behind a couple of ladies who were observing the widow, seated in the front row. One whispered to her companion, in a disapproving tone, “Oh, look at [the widow]. She’s crying!” That was another lesson in Christian Science for me, another one that battled my instincts.

– Anonymous


My Christian Science upbringing made me unable to talk about death in any way. When my grandmother died, I was told to look at a vase of flowers and remember the ‘good and true’ thoughts about her. It’s taken me nearly fifty years to even find out where she was buried.

– Anonymous


We had a ‘celebration of life’ for my mother after she died. Most of the members of my parents’ small branch church were there; in fact, most of the people there were Christian Scientists. Only one person cried. She was the non-Christian Scientist pianist who played at the church services, and had become very close with my mother over the years. I wanted to cry too, but years of conditioning not to acknowledge the supposed ‘reality’ of death kept me from  crying. Later the same year, when my father died, I was admonished by a Christian Scientist friend of the family not to “see his death as a failure of Christian Science.” It was almost as if he could see the wheels of reason beginning to turn in my head that would ultimately lead to my departure from Christian Science.

– Anonymous

‘An Opposing View.’

The following is a collection of musings from members of the Ex-Christian Science Group on about the difficulty of leaving Christian Science. 

I doubt that there is another religious belief system that is so pervasive in the thought that a quick casual conversation will reveal to the participants that both are Christian Scientists.

– Anonymous


Is it the familiarity we defend? Or, is it Stockholm Syndrome? There’s gotta be a name for it…

– Heidi


Imagine a Christian Science Sentinel with a section titled ‘An Opposing View.’ What parent would then let her child attend Principia? What reader whose compassion had not been petrified by his studies would not be moved?

– Marion


I talked with a Unitarian Universalist minister about Christian Science. She said that Christian Science is a ‘closed’ religion that thinks it knows the entire truth already, unlike UU and other ‘open’ religions that allow for questioning, thought, learning, and growth.

– Beth


I’ve read so many comments along the lines of ‘although I was raised in Christian Science, I always had doubts about it in the back of my mind.’ Which, by comparison, makes me feel rather foolish. I had zero doubt, I questioned nothing about Christian Science until I was over the age of thirty. It is part of the puzzle I’m trying to figure out about myself—what made me such a good little unquestioning cult member?

I stopped attempting to practice Christian Science about ten years ago, but for a long time I was in the ‘it works, just not for me…’ camp. Really, it has only been in about the past year that I have realized how dangerous and even evil Christian Science is, the way it shreds families and individuals. It’s only been in about the past year that I have begun to recognize myself and others as victims of Christian Science.

In retrospect though, what a 180. That is actually pretty amazing, that I was able to go from such an extreme to where I am now.

– Ashley


Every breath of a devout Christian Scientist comes through a fog of filtered observations.

– Marion


I always harboured doubts about Christian Science, even from childhood. But, it was a weird sort of comfort zone to me–it promised wonderful, fanciful stuff that anyone would want, but it never really delivered. I desperately wanted it to work, looked for evidence that it worked, and for many years, despite it always coming up short, I stuck with it–it kept a weird hold on me. When I saw the gruesome and fatal end result of lives dedicated to Christian Science, I finally realized I needed to take my doubts out for a walk, and I’ve never looked back.

– Jeremy

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

Christian Scientists are ignorant about sickness and its development.

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

Christian Scientists are ignorant about sickness and its development. They have no idea how to interpret their symptoms and instead of getting medical advice they blame themselves for creating the problem with their incorrect thinking.

– Anonymous


This is the dark side of all mentalities that insist on seeking alternatives to basic medical care: it’s all well and good when you’re young and healthy, but eventually you get old or have health problems and end up suffering horribly.

– Hilary


Growing up, our family went to the orthodontist and dentist regularly, but we weren’t allowed to use Novocaine and I suffered through several fillings without it. We also went to the eye doctor to have eye exams and wore glasses, but never had vaccinations or went to the doctor for life-threatening illnesses. It really doesn’t make any sense, but a brainwashed Christian Scientist doesn’t see it that way.

– Anonymous



I lost both my parents relatively early in life to very treatable illnesses, and my oldest sisters who are both devout Christian Scientists have had a tough go of it. One had breast cancer and the other had colon cancer, and I don’t think The Mother Church will let her be a Practitioner now, so it is the end of her life-long dream. They both waited until they were on death’s door before seeking medical treatment at the urging of their children. After receiving medical treatment they both said later that they felt bad that they just did not continue to pray, and said that they felt pressured to seek medical help. I think I am resigning myself to watch them die messy deaths before their time, just like my parents.

– Anonymous


I will never understand how it is that when someone loses a loved one under Christian Science care, especially a child, it doesn’t occur to them that in 99% of the cases the individual would have survived with medical care. I have several friends who are examples of this. In my mind, it is what makes Christian Science a cult.

– Stacey


When I was 22, a hernia provided a very difficult challenge for me. Being a third generation Christian Scientist, I went to a practitioner. In those days, before long distance healing, I went to his office once a week and listened, and was told to have no fear. He kept telling me I was healed and not to be afraid. I resumed activities.

The hernia strangulated while I was at work, and I went into the hospital as an emergency case. It was quite an experience. I learned how to take a pill for the first time and a lot of other good things. Thinking about it now, I don’t remember hearing of many, if any, hernia healings. Do you?

– Anonymous

The pets always had any veterinary attention they needed

My Christian Scientist grandmother raised me, and was the mother role in my life, and she used to say, “It’s ok to be sympathetic , but don’t ever take it down to the level of compassion. Compassion means getting right in there with the Error and believing it.” YES!!! She said this many times.

She was a big animal lover—as am I. I’m not knocking that—but the point I want to make is that she said she had too much emotion about her pets and therefore she couldn’t attempt to use Christian Science on them. So the pets always had any veterinary attention they needed.

She would say, “I’ve tried, and am not able to know the truth for my animals; there is too much emotion in the way.” It’s funny—sort of—that that was never a problem with keeping human children away from the medical world. Emotion didn’t ‘get in the way’ on that one. I feel bad being so critical of her, but these are true rememberings.

– Ashley



When I think how our poor cat suffered, let alone the humans in my life, I tremble. As a child, deep down I knew it was not right for the cat to suffer but was powerless to do anything. I came home from school one day and our cat had disappeared. Its death was not acknowledged.

– Anonymous

Childhood fascination with medicine & desire to fit in

The following is a collection of contributions from members of the Ex-Christian Science collective about childhood health and safety issues they faced growing up in Christian Science. 

 

Once I was at a friend’s house, and the mom handed me a Flintstones vitamin at dinner and I FREAKED. OUT. I jumped out of my seat and ran to hand it back to her with a breathless “I’maChristianScientist!” She looked at me so confused and said, “It’s just a vitamin.” And I launched into a mangled six-year-old’s explanation of Christian Science. I feel like they didn’t have me over again after that.

– Elizabeth


The problem with not being allowed to have something that everyone else in the general population takes for granted, and more so being told it is wrong, is that it leads to trying it anyway and sometimes in the wrong way. I was very curious about medicine and actually went so far as to steal a little tin of Bayer Aspirin. I locked my little brother and myself in the bathroom and made him try one first. Of course they tasted bitter and horrible and we spat them out. To this day I don’t remember how I disposed of them. Worse was stealing a bottle of pills from a drugstore in the days when many drugs were on the shelf. I waited until my grandfather was in another aisle and whipped it into my pocket. They were tiny brown pills, god knows what. I took them to school and told my friends I had to take them. I was desperate to fit in.

– Tessa



Until now, only my wife has known this embarrassing truth: at age 37 when I was first properly under the care of a doctor and was put on a few month-to-month prescriptions, I switched to Target pharmacy because they had red prescription bottles, and I had them all arranged artfully on my bedside table.

– Anonymous



When I was six or seven, I got a pre-made Easter basket, and deep inside was a bottle of ‘Vaseline medicated lotion.’ Do you remember how it used to say that? I can’t imagine what the ‘medication’ was; anyway it was instantly my most prized, secret possession until my dad caught me showing it off to my cousin and made a huge scene and took it away. My non-Christian Scientist cousin must have thought we were complete nitwits.

– Anonymous