This article was posted today in an ex-Christian Scientist Facebook group I am in, and it is an interesting read. It dates from 2010, and I recall reading it when it first came out. It was written with the blessing and cooperation not only of a Christian Science practitioner or two, but also of Church officials. Oh, how the Church tries desperately to stem the tide of decline and remain relevant in a world that seems to leave it in the dust more and more!
The article talks of the Church’s apparently new openness to those who seek medical care. The Church claims that it has never discouraged Christian Scientists from going to the doctor, and that may be true, but any former Christian Scientist will assure you that the peer pressure to not seek medical treatment is incredibly strong. Those who seek medical care often face ostracism, and outright scorn. My own father received extreme scorn from holier than thou Christian Scientists when he on occasion wisely sought medical care.
It’s much the same way that believe it or not, the constitution of the old Soviet Union actually guaranteed freedom of religion, but in practice, that was absolutely not true. Anyone who was alive during the Cold War or who is a student of history well knows that the Soviet Union was an ardently atheist state. Anyone who openly practiced religion faced severe repercussions. It’s much the same way for Christian Scientists who seek medical care–in theory you can, but you’ll suffer consequences if you actually do. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’re a’ lyin’ to ya! Oddly enough, dental and vision care are ok. I think it’s because Mary Baker Eddy (the ‘discoverer’ of Christian Science) sought such.
I can say with a fair bit of certainty that this new openness on the part of the Church has, as the article somewhat implies, much to do with dwindling membership and a need to reverse that trend or risk certain demise. The Church is trying desperately to be and/or remain relevant by now presenting itself as “alternative health care”. I don’t think it will last. I hope it doesn’t.