Many an ex-Christian Scientist acquaintance of mine has spoken of being estranged from their still-in-Christian Science family members. I’ve often felt that I couldn’t personally relate to their situations simply because I have no family that remains in Christian Science. My parents and myself were the only ones on either side of my family that stayed with Christian Science, and my parents are dead. The cousins I have that had exposure to Christian Science, or went to Sunday School all are hostile or ambivalent about it. Most of them think Christian Science is a huge bucket of crazy.
I’ve realized now that I do somewhat relate, and in an ironic twist, you might say I have it easier. The emotional separation my friends are going through, I think, is similar to the grief I felt over my separation from my own parents due to their deaths. Where I get off lucky is that death is what has separated me from my only relatives still in Christian Science, so I no longer deal with close relatives still drinking the Kool-Aid; my friends however, still have to deal with relatives still in Christian Science and in some cases making tragic choices, or excluding or pushing away anyone in their lives not supportive of Christian Science. I have a finality, a closure; they don’t. It’s a truly twisted sense of relief that I feel.
This is one place where Christian Science really does, at least in its ‘culture’, begin to take on the qualities of a cult. The exclusion of family members who aren’t ‘supportive’ of the ‘demonstration’ or ‘work’ is sadly common. It’s also deeply frustrating to watch a family member slowly die right before your eyes, when you know that medical intervention can, or would have if given early enough, saved the person.
The perilous decision to rely exclusively on Christian Science for treatment of disease or injury affects not only the person who makes that choice. It affects everyone who is close to that person. It’s especially painful to watch parents or siblings slowly fade away.