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Mary Faker Eddy -- Christian Science
Mary "Faker" Eddy and the Cult of Christian Science
by Frank R. Zindler
The Probing Mind Series
The following is the text of an article that appeared in the
American Atheists magazine, September, 1987.
The less we know or think about hygiene, the less we are predisposed to sickness.
Mary Baker Eddy
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures
(Boston, First Church, 1875, 1898, p. 389)
Child-sacrifice is legal in Ohio. In Ohio, as is the case in a number of other states as well, every year children give up their lives for the greater glory of the gods of their parents. To be sure, these immolations are rarely "active" rituals of the sort practiced by the Phoenicians when they passed their children through the flames to Moloch. Unlike the occasional case of a mother popping her baby in the oven "to drive the devil out of him," child-sacrifice in Ohio is usually a "passive" affair. Typically, a child takes sick with some disease such as pneumonia or meningitis. As the child's condition worsens, and death becomes imminent if no medical intervention be obtained, the child's Christian parents decide to withhold medical care. Their religion teaches that medicine is evil, or blasphemous, or misguided — or all of the above. And so, instead of rushing the child to the emergency room of a hospital, they finish the tike off with an over-dose of prayer. Although the death of the child is not really the result of an action carried out by the parents, it is the result of deliberate inaction. Whether the sacrifice be the result of a deliberate action or inaction, it is done because the religious beliefs of the parents are considered more important than the child. One of the definitions which Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary gives for the term 'sacrifice' is "destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else." Far from being the rhetorical abuse of language alleged by religious critics, the term 'child-sacrifice' appears to be both accurate and appropriate for describing faith-healing-related deaths of children.
Not only do certain parents think their religious beliefs are more important than the lives of their children, the State of Ohio thinks so too! The Ohio juvenile code at 2151.03(e) makes the astonishing claim that:
A child who, in lieu of medical or surgical care or treatment for a wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition, is under spiritual treatment through prayer in accordance with the tenets of a well-recognized religion [emphasis added], is not a neglected child...
In section 2151.421, we are told that "no report shall be required as to such child."
How did such astonishing language get into Ohio law? And when?
The Christian Science Connection
In every state of the Union, and in Washington, DC, the Christian Science Church has paid, full-time lobbyists who aggressively work to get legislation passed which is favorable to their cult. Over the years these lobbyists have been enormously successful. More than forty states have laws exempting Christian Scientists from one or more of the responsibilities normally accepted by members of civilized societies. Thus, Christian Scientists are normally excused from routine immunization against contagious diseases, and are allowed to live as potential reservoirs of diseases such as measles, diphtheria, whooping-cough, etc. (A propaganda sheet once sent to Ohio legislators by the Ohio Christian Science lobbyist bragged that the Christian Science method of "spiritual treatment" had recently been able to cure even diphtheria — ignoring the fact that diphtheria is not always fatal [my mother recovered from it in 1920, long before antibiotics] and avoiding the embarrassing point that in modern times the only Americans seriously in danger of getting diphtheria are unimmunized persons such as Christian Scientists!)
In many places, the children of Christian Scientists are excused from taking health or biology courses, lest in learning about diseases they become sick! After all, the High Priestess of Christian Science herself, Mary Baker Eddy states in the "Christian Science Textbook," (Science and Health, p. 389) "The less we know or think about hygiene, the less we are predisposed to sickness."
In 1977, Ohio's Christian Science lobbyist — officially known as the "Christian Science Committee on Publication for Ohio" — managed to get the Ohio legislature to accept the unconstitutional religious exemption quoted above. Since that time, child-sacrifice has been legal in Ohio, and no parents have ever been convicted of child-neglect — let alone manslaughter or murder — if they have been able to show that they "treated" the "physical or mental illness or defect of the child by spiritual means through prayer alone, in accordance with the tenets of a recognized religious body," as allowed by Sec. 2919.22(A) of the Ohio Revised Code.
Although only a few Christian Science children are known to have died in Ohio in recent years, by putting the present unconstitutional religious exemption into Ohio's laws in 1977, the Christian Science Church has made it possible for other cultists legally to kill their children by faith non-healing or prayer over-dose. In the "Faith Assembly," a cult centered in Warsaw, Indiana, and having quite a few adherents in Western Ohio, nearly 100 children died between the mid-70s and the mid-80s. One Faith Assembly-related death in Ohio was that of 23-month-old Kimberly Miller, who died of pneumonia on April 3, 1986, after State Representative Francine Panehal — apparently yielding to Christian Science pressure — killed a reform bill, H.B.-67, which sought to remove the religious exemption from Ohio's child-abuse statutes. Because the Faith Assembly cultists do not get involved in lobbying, the only group to oppose H.B.-67 was the Christian Science Church. Not only did a cadaverous Bill Evans – the CS "Committee on Publication" – testify to the efficacy of prayer for healing, Christian Scientists from all over Ohio jammed the hearing room to pressurize the proceedings. Mrs. Smucker – the Jelly Queen herself – came from Orrville to give witness to the magical powers of mind over the illusory claims of matter. This blockade of legal reform allowed — and continues to allow — the deaths of children to continue. Bill Evans himself now is dead, but the evil he engendered lives on.
The active role being played by the Christian Science Church in this sorry affair makes it imperative that we bring “The Probing Mind” to bear upon the cult which George Bernard Shaw described as being "neither Christian nor scientific."
An Eddyfying Religion
In the year 1866 I discovered the Science of Metaphysical healing, and named it Christian Science. God had been graciously fitting me, during many years, for the reception of a final revelation of the absolute Principle of Scientific Mind-Healing. (Mary Baker Eddy, Science & Health, 1898 ed., p. 1.)
Christian Science is a system of mental "healing" marketed by Mary Baker Eddy [Fig. 1] in the last half of the 19th century. The system was actually invented by a man named Phineas Parkhurst Quimby [Fig. 2] who, after "healing" Mrs. Eddy (then Mary Patterson) of a variety of hysteric symptoms, taught his system of mind-healing to her. His system, which he himself often referred to as "Christian Science," contained all the essential elements of Christian Science as it is practiced by the Eddyites — including the idea that disease is just incorrect thinking (the result of "mortal mind"), the idea that "absent treatment" is possible, etc. After Quimby died in January of 1866, Mrs. Eddy reworked his notebooks, gradually removing references to Quimby, and finally claimed the system as having been her own divine discovery. The system became more and more "Eddyifying" the longer Mrs. Mary Baker Glover Patterson Eddy worked it over. As a pseudoscience guided by the modest personality of Quimby, Christian Science gained only passing attention in New England. Transformed into a religion by Mrs. Eddy, the system rapidly became a world-wide, multimillion-dollar enterprise.
Of course, this is not the story told by the Christian Scientists.
As is the case with all religions I have had opportunity to study in depth, Christian Science began with a healthy dose of deception and fraud. According to the official account given by Mrs. Eddy herself, Christian Science came as a divine revelation from you-know-who. On February 1, 1866, she claimed, she fell on an icy sidewalk in Lynn, Massachusetts. The injury sustained was so serious, Mrs. Eddy claimed (Miscellaneous Writings [Boston: First Church, 1977], 24), that it was "pronounced fatal by the physicians." After sustaining this "fatal" injury, Mrs. Eddy goes on to say that
On the third day thereafter, I called for my Bible, and opened it at Matthew ix. 2. As I read, the healing Truth dawned upon my sense; and the result was that I rose, dressed myself, and ever after was in better health than I had before enjoyed.
Nowhere does the canonical account recognize Mrs. Eddy's debt to Quimby. Nowhere does it admit that she took manuscripts describing someone else's system of mental healing, repeatedly rewrote and reworked them, and ultimately produced a product so muddle-headed that it bore little immediate resemblance to the relatively clear ideas of a former mentor.
What are the facts about this legendary "fall at Lynn"?
Scarcely two weeks before her fall, Phineas P. Quimby had died. Mrs. Eddy mourned the loss of her guru in a poem published in a January issue of The Lynn Advertiser. The poem was titled "On the Death of P. P. Quimby, Who Healed with the Truth that Christ Taught." In later years, Mrs. Eddy was to discount Quimby as having been a "mesmerist" and "illiterate." She also later denied ever having been his student.
However, on Sunday, July 10, 1904, The New York Times proved otherwise, in an unsigned article titled "True origin of Christian Science: Documentary evidence refuting Mrs. Eddy's claim that her system was revealed to her by God." The exposŽ was "of the gravest importance," the Times writer explained:
"Christian Science," supposed to be a divinely revealed religion and a specially discovered science, has spread tremendously in a quarter of a century. Thousands of persons accept it as their creed, and it is the foundation of a church; immense sums of money, contributed by those who believe in it, have enriched Mrs. Eddy and her friends; and many persons, including children unable to care for themselves, have died without medical attendance because this religion teaches that disease is merely a belief and matter is nothing.
If, therefore, this religion is not of divine origin, is not the discovery of Mrs. Eddy, but is merely a slight elaboration of the humanly invented theories of a Maine Yankee, it is of the utmost importance that the fact should be known, not only that "Christian Science" may be put in its true light, but that parents who may be tempted to join this church and endanger the lives of their children may have full knowledge beforehand of the exact extent to which God is responsible for its origin.
The Times article showed incontrovertibly that Mrs. Eddy had been a disciple of Quimby from 1862 until his death on January 16, 1866, and that until 1870 (i.e., after the time in 1866 when Mrs. Eddy was later to claim she had had a divine revelation of the healing system used by Christ), Mrs. Eddy continued to use Quimby's unpublished manuscripts, loaning them to her disciples to be copied. At least one such copied manuscript, titled "Extracts from Dr. P. P. Quimby's Writings," is known to bear Mrs. Eddy's "corrections" in her own handwriting in the margins. Later in her life, Mrs. Eddy would claim that, far from her ever having been a student of Quimby, she had taught him, and had "corrected" some of his "scribblings," trying to help him improve his ideas. The discovery by The Times that for at least three years after Quimby's death, Mrs. Eddy self-confessedly taught Quimby's system — and used manuscripts identified on their covers as being the creations of Quimby — shows the would-be prophetess and successor to Christ to have become a common liar and plagiarist.
One of the several bombshells exploded by The Times dealt as specifically as possible with the would-be "miracle at Lynn." The Times had located Dr. Alvin M. Cushing, the physician who had treated Mrs. Eddy at the time of the accident! On August 13, 1904, Dr. Cushing signed a sworn affidavit explaining exactly what had happened. His statement was derived from his own physician's record book, in which daily records of Mrs. Eddy's condition had been made, in February and August of 1866.
Because the record of the attending physician is so important, we quote it more extensively than did The Times. Our source is the very rare book, Mary Baker Eddy: The Truth and the Tradition, by Ernest Sutherland Bates, and John V. Dittemore (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1932):
On February 1, 1866 I was called to the residence of Samuel M. Bubier, who was a shoe manufacturer and later was mayor of Lynn, to attend said Mrs. Patterson, who had fallen upon the icy sidewalk in front of Mr. Bubier's factory and had injured her head by the fall. I found her very nervous, partially unconscious, semi-hysterical, complaining by word and action of severe pain in the back of her head and neck. This was early in the evening and I gave her medicines every fifteen minutes till she was more quiet...
Each day that I visited her I dissolved a small portion of highly attenuated remedy in one-half a glass of water and ordered a teaspoonful given every two hours, usually giving one dose while there, and she told me she could feel each dose to the tips of her fingers and toes, and gave me much credit for my ability to select a remedy. I visited her twice on February first, twice on the second, once on the third, and once on the fifth, and on the thirteenth day of the same month my bill was paid. During my visits to her she spoke to me of a Dr. Quimby of Portland, Me., who had treated her for some severe illness with remarkable success, but did not tell what his method was, but I inferred it was not the usual method of either school of medicine.
...when I left her on the 13th day of February, she seemed to have recovered from the disturbance caused by the accident and to be, practically, in her normal condition. I did not at any time declare, or believe, that there was no hope of Mrs. Patterson's recovery, or that she was in a critical condition, and did not at any time say, or believe that she had but three or any other limited number of days to live; and Mrs. Patterson did not suggest, or say, or pretend, or in any way whatever intimate, that on the third day or any other day, of her said illness, she had miraculously recovered or been healed, or that discovering or perceiving the truth or the power employed by Christ to heal the sick, she had, by it, been restored to health.
As I have stated, on the third, and subsequent days of her said illness...I attended Mrs. Patterson and gave her medicine; and on the 10th day of the following August, I was again called to see her...I found Mrs. Patterson suffering from a bad cough and prescribed for her. I made three more professional calls upon Mrs. Patterson and treated her for this cough in the said month of August, and with that ended my professional relations with her. (Bates & Dittemore, Mary Baker Eddy, pp. 111-113)
In 1921 another bomb exploded, shattering the oh-so-proper quiet of the Christian Science kingdom. Thomas Crowell Publishers came out with Horatio W. Dresser's book, The Quimby Manuscripts, Showing the Discovery of Spiritual Healing and the Origin of Christian Science. In addition to publishing the Quimby manuscripts — and thus demonstrating how Quimby had developed all the "tenets" of Christian Science belief long before meeting Mrs. Patterson-Eddy — Dresser included transcripts of letters written to Quimby by Mrs. Patterson, along with several facsimiles.
Some of these letters to Quimby express Mrs. Patterson's indebtedness to him for her own recoveries and describe details of his system — details which later became characteristics of "Christian Science." In a letter dated April 24th, 1864 [Fig. 3], Mrs. Eddy tells Quimby that she is to lecture on his system in the town of Warren:
Posted at the public marts of this city is this notice:
Mrs. M. M. Patterson [Mrs. Eddy's name after marrying her second husband] will lecture at the Town Hall one week from next Wednesday on P. P. Quimby's spiritual Science healing disease — as opposed to Deism or Rochester-Rapping Spiritualism.
Mrs. Eddy then goes on to ask Quimby to give her "absent treatment":
Please attend to my case when you get this; dyspepsia and constipation; two bugbears that Miss Jarvis has just got rid of and saddled on to me.
This letter is interesting for at least two reasons. First of all, it shows belief in the mental contagiousness of disease and the idea that if one person gets over the "erroneous" notion that he or she is sick with a particular disease, the false idea then can pop into someone else's head, especially the person who has just done the "healing." This appears to be the germ from which the idea of "Malicious Animal Magnetism" developed. Secondly, it shows that Quimby had developed the peculiar theory of "absent treatment."
In Christian Science, absent treatment involves a "Practitioner" ("quactitioner" would be a more descriptive term) mentally (telepathically?) "taking up the case" of a patient who is not physically present beside the practitioner. A patient may be suffering from cancer in Cleveland and the practitioner may be in Cincinnati, but it is believed that healing thoughts can be generated by the practitioner which will cure the absent patient. Although the Christian Science Church never reveals statistics of its membership or of its cure rates, it has bamboozled the public so well that "absent treatment" by these quacks is reimbursable by many major insurance companies. Christian Science "nursing homes" qualify for reimbursement by Medicare!
Although Mrs. Eddy's writings (including her reworking of Quimby's material) is often so muddled that it is difficult to be sure one understands her intention, it is clear that she taught that there is no such thing as disease, only false thoughts. Your liver cannot be diseased, because the liver itself is but an illusion! You have no physical body at all, so it can't be sick, nor can it die. Some dispute about this has raged through the church during the twentieth century, with some members being excommunicated for believing in the spiritual equivalent of body organs, and some still today might say that people have bodies, but that the body is spiritual, not material! Mrs. Eddy was not very fond of matter (legal tender excepted, of course). In Science & Health (p. 591), she “defines” the term:
Matter, Mythology; mortality; another name for mortal mind; illusionÉ the opposite of Truth; the opposite of SpiritÉ that which mortal mind sees, feels, hears, tastes, and smells only in belief.
If there be no such thing as disease, and if matter be but a product of “mortal mind,” it seems there can be no such thing as death, either. According to Mrs. Eddy (Science & Health, p. 584),
Death. An illusion, the lie of life in matter; the un-real and untrue; the opposite of Life. Matter has no life, hence it has no real existence. Mind is immortal. The flesh, warring against Spirit; that which frets itself free from one belief only to be fettered by another, until every belief of life where Life is not yields to eternal Life. Any material evidence of death is false, for it contradicts the spiritual facts of being.
If anyone finds the above to be clear, psychotherapy is available.
So strongly did Mrs. Eddy's disciples come to disbelieve in the unreality of death, it was at first impossible for them to believe it when she herself "passed on" in 1910, in the ninetieth year of her life. Her casket was placed in a cement and steel vault, and a 24-hour guard was posted —along with a telephone — inside the tomb. The purpose of the telephone was to provide instant communication between the guards and the new rulers of the church, in the event that Mrs. Eddy might show signs of resurrection. Ultimately, after a decent amount of time had passed, Alfred Farlow, the chief of the Publication Committees issued an official statement:
While absolute Christian Science teaches that all is Spirit and Spirit's manifestation, it does not ignore the relative fact — the temporal and false appearance — that in our present immature condition we have more or less of a misconception of creation which will improve and eventually disappear as we advance spiritually and that eventually we will be able to see all things as God sees them in all their spirituality and perfection.
While Christian Scientists believe the Scriptural teaching that the time will come when there will be no more death, they take the common-sense view that centuries may pass meanwhile before this exalted spiritual estate is reached... They do not look for her [Mrs. Eddy's] return to this world. (Fleta Campbell Springer, According to the Flesh: A Biography of Mary Baker Eddy, [New York: Coward-McCann, 1930], pp. 496-7)
Despite the fact that Mrs. Eddy repeatedly taught that death is but an illusion, and despite the fact that there is no Christian Science funeral service (corpses are disposed of as quickly and quietly as possible!), she did make provision for this "unreality" in her Church Manual:
Article IX. Sudden Decease. Sect. 2. 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. [emphasis in original].
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 the 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. (I hope readers find this discussion to be lucid.)
Malicious Animal Magnetism
One of the most interesting beliefs of Christian Scientists, alluded to previously, is the paranoid notion that there exists something called "Malicious Animal Magnetism," or M.A.M. for short. This is the same thing as "Mental Malpractice," forbidden in Mrs. Eddy's Church Manual, page 42 of which states:
No Malpractice. Sect. 8. Members will not intentionally or knowingly mentally malpractice, inasmuch as Christian Science can only be practiced according to the Golden Rule....
A member of The Mother Church who mentally malpractises upon or treats our Leader [Mrs. Eddy] or her staff without her or their consent shall be disciplined [Mrs. Eddy allegedly could determine telepathically if such "malpractice" has occurred!], and a second offense as aforesaid shall cause the name of said member to be dropped forever from The Mother Church.
Earlier on the same page, Sect. 6 says that "It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion...."
The notion of M.A.M. was needed to explain how it could be that Mrs. Eddy, despite her alleged ability to heal disease in others, and despite the "unreality" of disease, could persistently be victimized by the "illusion" of kidney stones, etc. Enemies were maliciously beaming these delusions at her telepathically! If there be no such thing as disease, why do we always have the illusion of disease? What is the cause of illusion? Mental malpractice, of course! M.A.M. from our enemies is what does it.
When Mrs. Eddy's third husband died of heart disease, she avoided the embarrassment of a death in a family where death should be impossible by claiming that her lamented consort had been mentally poisoned with arsenic! The fact that at autopsy no trace of arsenic poisoning could be found proved, she averred, that the poisoning had been mental. Mrs. Eddy had teams of staff surrounding her to fight off the in-coming beams of M.A.M. For many years, the Christian Science Church had special teams to fight off Mental Malpractice allegedly coming from the Catholic Church. Whether or not such teams still exist today to "take up the case" of Catholic anti-Science aggression is unknown.
M.A.M. may also have been the reason given as to why Mrs. Eddy (like many other Christian Scientists) had to wear glasses. One time, when challenged on this point at a public meeting, "Mother Mary" replied that she wore glasses "because of the sins of the world" — almost certainly a reference to malicious mental malpractice, a synonym for M.A.M. It is amusing that although Christian Science "practice" is able to cure leprosy, cancer, and diphtheria, it cannot cure myopia. Nor can it handle tooth decay. But then, Mrs. Eddy herself resorted to dentists long after her "discovery" of divine healing — and took morphine to ward off the "illusion" of pain!
The Eclipse of Christian Science
Since the advent of antibiotics in World War II, the extraordinary success of materialistic forms of medical practice has made it all but impossible for Christian Science practice to compete. After all, drugs and medical procedures are not adopted unless they can be shown to be superior to placebos, and placebos are all the Christian Science quactitioners have to offer. Quite wisely, the Christian Science Church will not allow a census of its membership. However, all evidence shows that "the healing church" is dying. Only the great wealth and social prominence of its members give it the appearance of being a major component of society. Almost no new converts have been gained in twenty years, and the increasingly geriatric membership has been dying off.
In the summer of 1986 when Atheists and Humanists picketed Columbus' First Church of Christ, Scientist, there were only 67 persons in attendance at the enormous church. In the winter of 1986-7, visits to the other three Christian Science churches in Columbus documented the existence of only 144 more, for a total of 211. Allowing for the possibility that some of the "Scientists" may have been at home sick (!) on the mornings their churches were visited, it still appears that there are no more than 300 Christian Scientists living in Greater Columbus, a metropolis having a population of about one million. The Christian Science population is even smaller in Toledo. In Cleveland, long the center of Christian Science activity in Ohio, all churches have closed except the First Church and the Eighth Church.
In the entire state of Ohio in 1987, there were only seventy Christian Science churches left — twenty fewer than there were in 1926! Most of those churches were as empty as those of Columbus. There were fewer than 100 Christian Science "practitioners" in the entire state. In the entire country, there were only about 2,650 practitioners — a mere 32% of the number in 1931! [If one counts the number of practitioners listed in The Christian Science Journal, one must be careful to deduct from the total the number of practitioners listed twice; a practitioner once listed for Columbus actually resided in Jakarta, Indonesia!]
By May of 1998, the collapse of Christian Science was in full-swing. The number of churches in Ohio had declined from seventy to 51 – a decrease of 27% in twelve years. (There were also eleven "Christian Science Societies" – tiny skeleton-crew affairs that are not expected to last very long.) The number of practitioners in Ohio declined to just 54 persons who still claimed to be able to cure people of cancer by means of "absent treatment." It is quite possible that close to half of Ohio's CS practitioners have died in the past decade or so! As for the world total of such scalawags, the May 1998 issue of The Christian Science Journal lists 2047 – a decline of 23% since 1987.
There are some amusing aspects to the decline in CS practitioners. Although the church is based in Boston, it would appear that nearly a third of all its American practitioners reside in California. (Curiously, of the 48 practitioners listed for Los Angeles, only nine actually reside there.) Detroit has no resident practitioners at all any more, and only about fifty still live in the shade of the "Mother Church" in Boston. It is almost too good to believe, but it is true: besides the Mother Church, Boston has but two other CS churches!
In all of Canada, there are fewer than forty of these "physicians of the soul," and only an unlucky thirteen ply their intangible trade in London. In Spain there are but two, and only solitary soldiers fight the war against M.A.M. in Greece, Russia, Puerto Rico, Portugal, the Philippines, Cuba, and Angola. Although both Austria and Denmark claim two practitioners, one of the "Austrians" actually lives in Germany, and one of the "Danes" lives in Sweden. The only practitioner listed for all of Japan resides in New Jersey.
Worldwide, the decline in Christian Science churches is equally encouraging. A count of the listings in the November 1986 issue of The Christian Science Journal showed that there were only about 2,250 Christian Science churches in the entire world. In addition to the churches (which must have at least sixteen members), there were approximately 630 Christian Science “societies” in the world. Societies have fifteen or fewer members. By 1998 there were only 1586 CS churches and 586 CS societies left on the planet – declines of 30% and 7%, respectively. (It appears that when membership shrinks below sixteen, churches are down-graded to societies – which linger for a while, then disappear.)
How many Christian Scientists are there left in the world? Some simple calculations show there can't be very many. Starting with the "societies" – which do not have more than fourteen members – there would be a maximum of 8204 in the world at this level of participation. If we make the generous estimate that the average church membership is around a hundred, we would have 158,600 more – for a grand total of 166,804 persons. If, however, we make the much more reasonable estimate of an average of sixty persons per church, our world population of Eddyites would be a little over 100,000 – an underwhelming 0.0018% of the earth's population. Thus does the shadow of extinction begin to fall upon the stage for yet another passion play – a play of immensely tragic significance for the children of its actors.
Despite its approaching extinction, the Christian Science church has managed to hold on to its unjustifiably famous newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor. Although The Monitor has long been touted as a paragon of journalistic excellence, the fact is that the paper carries almost no news of the materialistic world of science, despite the fact that the middle name of the paper is “Science”! For nearly a month in 1987, I monitored The Monitor daily. Only two trivial references to AIDS were seen, and no news whatsoever about medical break-throughs, although several articles did manage to slip out which could, in the absence of Christian Science understanding, lead one to believe that there is such a thing as matter. By 1998 the coverage was even worse. The financial empire established by Mrs. Eddy before her “passing” has proven to be amazingly resistant to the decline in membership. Nevertheless, magic does not exist — not even in the world of Christian Science. The Monitor has had to undergo Draconian downsizing. What once was a tabloid newspaper of respectable thickness is now little more than a newsletter of sixteen pages.
Even though it is moribund, Christian Science – like other religions – manages to collect money from the federal government. Christian Science “sanatoria” (nursing homes) are one of the conduits by which federal money finds its way to Christian Scientists.
Although the "services" provided by Christian Science nursing homes are minimal (Christian Science “nurses” are forbidden to give “any physical application beyond the normal measures of cleanliness,” according to official instructions from the Christian Science Board of Directors), Medicare does reimburse them for services claimed. According to figures from the Department of Health & Human Services and Medicare sources, in 1981 a total of 21 Christian Science "sanitoria" received $4,888,687. In 1982 they received $5,464,288, and $6,030,965 in 1983! In 1984, the amount of $5,633,935 was paid, decreasing to $4,709,708 in 1985. More recent statistics have been slow to come from Washington, but it appears that the Christian Science geriatric population is declining rapidly in size, and the greatest number of "Scientists" has already "passed out of our sight" to use the euphemism standard in Christian Science parlance.
That such reimbursements violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is clear by virtue of the fact that the nurses in such sanatoria must be members of the Christian Science Church, all the patients must be retaining Christian Science practitioners for prayer treatment, and the sanatoria must be certified by the Church, rather than the government, to get Medicare funds!
We end this discussion of Mary “Faker” Eddy and the cult she established by noting that although Christian Science is dying, it isn’t dead yet. It can still do a lot of harm with its well-financed lobbying efforts to keep child sacrifice as a legal option for religious fanatics. Nevertheless, the sickness of the church at large seems to extend to individual members as well. Although one would suppose that a Christian Scientist applying for sick leave from work would be an acute embarrassment to Church and family alike, Christian Science practitioners are legally authorized to certify sick leave and disability claims for both government and private employees. A typical authorization form reads as follows:
I hearby certify that_________________________was under my professional care from______ through______ due to a physical illness. From what I was told by the patient and from my experience, it was considered inadvisable for the above-named person to report for work or attend to his/her regular duties during this period.
Surveying what I have written, I have the feeling that I have not succeeded in giving readers an adequate insight into the arcanum that is Christian Science. And so I end with one final quotation from the “Christian Science Textbook.” If anyone figures out its meaning, I don’t want to know about it.
The human mind tries to classify action as voluntary and involuntary, and suffers from the attempt. If you take away this erring mind, the mortal material body loses all appearance of life or action, and this so-called mind then calls itself dead; but the human mind still holds in belief a body, through which it acts and which appears to the human mind to live, — a body like the one it had before death. This body is put off only as the mortal, erring mind yields to God, immortal Mind, and man is found in His image. (Science and Health, 187-8)
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