Little Shop of Horrors

Christian Scientists famously eschew medical care for the most part. Radical reliance on Christian Science treatment for disease or injury is a common practice with those who are faithful Christian Scientists, and those who waver in that ‘radical reliance’ often face withering peer pressure to toe the line. If you’re employed by, or attending a Christian Science affiliated organization or facility (like a college, nursing facility, or summer camp), your attendance and/or employment also hinge on your radical reliance on nothing other than Christian Science for your physical and mental well-being.

Now that I’ve set that stage, let me take you for a tour of a typical Christian Science nursing facility. These facilities like to have you think that they are some sort of health care facility, and they do try their best to put on that air (Christian Science nurses wear nurse’s uniforms, for example), and work to be classified as such (in most jurisdictions, they are licensed as care facilities or private hospitals), but, they are anything but. They are, in my opinion, licensed torture chambers. In the USA, many are Medicare/Medicaid providers, meaning that physical care (such as it is) in these facilities is paid for under these government programs. As far as I know, these are the only government healthcare programs in the world that pay for care in Christian Science nursing facilities.

Above the din of audio recordings of Science and Health, the Weekly Bible Lesson  or other Christian Science programming being pumped through the PA system like propaganda in a totalitarian state, you may hear the screams or moans of a patient in distress. As a six-year-old child, I remember walking the nursing floor of one Christian Science nursing facility with my grandmother, who was a Christian Science nurse, and hearing those moans. I didn’t understand what it was, but I recall that I innately knew it wasn’t good. My six-year-old’s questions were easily brushed off by my grandmother, who was a formidable woman and very set in her opinions, with the expectation that children in her care should share her opinions and have none that were contrary.

Many years later, my own mother languished for the last three months of her life in the very same nursing facility I walked through as a child with my grandmother (her mother). I wasn’t there to witness what happened with her, but much was shared with me by my non-Christian Scientist cousin who visited her frequently, right up to the day she died. While the Christian Science nurses would report that Mom was up occasionally and singing hymns by the piano in a common room, my cousin stated that to her perception, my Mom was in no condition to even get out of bed on her own, let alone go down the hall and sing hymns. My cousin reported what I’d suspected, based on the tone of Mom’s voice during phone conversations, that Mom was dealing with extreme pain caused by some sort of large tumour in her abdomen. She died without ever being diagnosed, and since she was elderly and died in a licensed care facility, no autopsy was required, and Dad, being the diligent Christian Scientist he was, did not request one.

There is the most basic physical care given at Christian Science nursing facilities, if even that. No pain abatement, not even aspirin offered. After all, pain is just a ‘mortal illusion’ to the deluded Christian Scientist. Posture adjustments are offered, wounds are cleaned and bandaged, and food is modified as needed. Otherwise, not much else. Beds are always very neatly made, though. If a patient does decide to have any sort of medical treatment (even just pain relief), they are required to leave the facility, no matter what physical condition they’re in, and unfortunately all too often, Christian Scientists are in extremely dire straits if and when they opt for medical care. In most cases, it’s palliative care that is the only option until nature takes its course.

I think if government officials knew the true level of care (or lack thereof) in these licensed torture facilities, they wouldn’t permit their licensure, and Medicare/Medicaid in the USA would not reimburse the farcical care that is given in these places. They may masquerade as something akin to hospitals or normal care facilities, but they’re anything but.

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