A fellow group member in an ex-Christian Scientist Facebook group I’m in commented–well, more like ranted–about how a Christian Scientist referred to them not as a “non-Christian Scientist”, but rather as a “non-practising Christian Scientist”. The ensuing discussion was largely a collective acknowledging head-nod of “yeah, we get it, been there, done that,” but this all brings up a seemingly small, but for many of us who’ve left Christian Science, huge irritant: that feeling that on some level, we will never completely leave Christian Science, or it will never completely leave us. Trust me, I think I speak for most of us: we all wish it would leave us.
My ex-Christian Scientist perspective, and annoyance…
I recall an incident I’ve mentioned in several previous posts that really illustrates how Christian Scientists view those of us who’ve left the fold. Many years ago, when I was attending my yearly Association meeting, I was talking to a fellow classmate about another classmate who had left Christian Science. He said, “she (our classmate) may have left Christian Science, but it hasn’t left her.” At the time, that was a comforting thought for me, and gave me hope that we might even see her back at Association sometime. Now, it just irritates the hell out of me. I wish it would leave me, and all of us who’ve left it. I sometimes wonder if the same conversations have been had about me. ‘Ugh’ is the word that comes to my mind at that thought.
All too often, in my daily life, little things creep in that are residues of my 42 years of indoctrination in Christian Science. Most of the time, it manifests itself as a delay in seeking treatment or relief from a physical ailment. Other times, it’s a feeling that if I skip that physical, the doctor won’t find anything wrong (well, that’s true–if she doesn’t get any lab results, she doesn’t know), but the basis of this thought with me is that ignorance will make any potential problem non-existent. It’s a weird sort of feedback loop, but many of us who’ve been Christian Scientists go through this time and time again.
Other times, if a friend is dealing with adversity, or if some tragic world event occurs, my first instinct is to ‘correct’ my thought about the bad stuff–to not give it ‘reality’, and sometimes I almost sort of ‘look through’ the problem as if it isn’t even there, and therefore come off initially as being completely insensitive. Yeah, I know that sounds weird to most people, and it increasingly sounds weird to me now, but my mind still does this. Adversity is real. It’s a part of life. If there is any grand cosmic reason for it, it is that we can often learn from it. However I don’t believe for one second that anything happens for a ‘reason’. If I experience adversity in my life and someone says that to me, I’ll likely want to throat-punch them. However, I will always try to find a lesson to be learned.
The Christian Scientist’s view of the ex-Christian Scientist…
There is one big thing that truly annoys many of us who’ve left this cult, and I increasingly believe Christian Science is a cult to some degree–and this is one of many things that convince me of this: die-hard Christian Scientists will usually never accept that anyone could possibly leave Christian Science, even though a large number, if not an absolute majority of people who grow up in it, eventually leave it to some degree. The overall numbers of Christian Scientists in the world is shrinking, not growing, and there never were very many to begin with. Most educated guesses (since the Church never reveals numbers of members) have never pegged the worldwide population of Christian Scientists at anything close to 1 million–even at its height.
Despite this, die-hard Christian Scientists still view those of us who’ve left as still being Christian Scientists in some way. We’re lapsed, or as my friend’s acquaintance said ‘non-practising Christian Scientists. They still think it’s with us, and that it still ‘protects’ and ‘guides’ us, and that we’re just under the pernicious influence of so-called ‘mortal mind‘. I’m 99% certain that’s been said about me in a few conversations among my former classmates at Association, and other Christian Science circles I once ran in. I know it seems weird, but the fact that these people think this does bother me, and it bothers many of us. They just can’t accept that we are no longer Christian Scientists–they refuse to acknowledge the reality that we’ve left. So, like my friend’s acquaintance, they will view us as ‘non-practising Christian Scientists’, or lapsed, or something like that. They won’t accept that we simply are not Christian Scientists, and you know, that pisses us off. Why does it upset us? Speaking for myself, it repudiates a lot of emotional turmoil I’ve gone through in my departure process, and it invalidates who I have become, and it does so in the most flippant and dismissive way possible. I guess I could expect no less.
That is so frustrating. It makes me so angry!! I left, dammit! I am the black sheep in my family. Fine. I will be the black sheep. I know my family 1/2 laughs at me , 1/2 shakes their head that I left. It is so frustrating! Whatever.
Also: is it not normal to try to find the lesson in everything? I always look for the lesson I learn in every uncomfortable encounter. And of course, before I move on, I have to find it or drive myself batty.
Is that CS conditioning? Ugh. ((Rolling my eyes.))
Maybe I start to re-program myself and instead think: “stuff happens.” NOT: “everything happens for a reason.” Is that the way to un-program?
PS: I fervently (remember that word?) believe that Christian Science causes depression AND mental health issues. I have seen it in myself and people I love or even just know.
I know the feeling. I’ve gotten the same feedback from other Scientists. Although it happened mostly when I was in the religion…about never being able to get away from Christian Science. If I disagreed with anyone about anything relating to C.S., I was condescended to, patronized…”you’ll get it someday, dear”, or…”you’re just going through a phase.” Now, I’m completely out of touch with all my former associates in the religion. Their prediction that I would “someday see the light and come back to C.S.” hasn’t come true. Actually, I did see the light, but it wasn’t the one they had in mind. The light of mental clarity and reality, regarding the world around me, which is actually very colorful and intriguing, not the stultifying muddle of “the claims of the mortal, material senses”, “lying material sense testimony”, blah, blah, blah…
The woman who originally signed my papers, when I joined the Mother Church, upon being informed about my decision to leave, was condescending, and even infantilizing. She seemed to be saying “you’ll just get it someday. You’ll come back to Christian Science.” Well, it’s been quite awhile, and I haven’t come back. Guess somebody was wrong.
Sort of similar to what they once were saying in the Church, that “someday, the entire world will be Christian Scientists.” I wonder how fully they still believe that.
Actually, to be fair, there are some really wonderful people, that I met, who were practicing Christian Scientists. But, God knows, I grew up in the other end, the loony bin end, of Christian Science, the crazy one, that never shows up in the periodicals. I didn’t grow around the nicer Christian Scientists.
I still feel affected, as well, by telltale feelings from my years of training in C.S. I still sometimes feel guilty, for instance, regarding purchasing medicine. Sometimes I feel it, other times, it is barely there at all. I bought some Excedrin recently, and just had an uncomfortable feeling of guilt, which I really didn’t deserve, seemingly hovering in the background…
I, too, feel like Christian Science is a cult, when you stop and think about how it is practiced, in it’s strictest manner. You read the Bible and Science and Health every day. Read the periodicals. You go to Wednesday night testimony meetings. You go to church on Sunday, where you can hear two readers reading the same thing you’ve been reading all week. You join church committees. You keep you thinking “clear” by not reading ANYTHING which contradicts Science, you don’t spend a lot of time around non-Scientists, in order to not let their impurity (read: non-Science) ideas affect you.
You really end up with a form of mind-control, I believe.
I found Ellen Degeneres’ recent interview in the Sunday magazine, “Parade”, (June 12. 2016)which is included in different Sunday newspapers, to be interesting. Her parents were Christian Scientists. She spoke of how the constant positive, sunny talk, the refusal to acknowledge real feelings, was damaging to her growing up, and was not a healthy experience.
Anyway, thank you for this website.