First of all, thank you for your interest in Emerging Gently. I’m happy to help you with whatever project you’re working on, but I do ask that you please give this page (and at least some blog posts) a read before you contact me–you may find that some or all of your questions are answered here or in some posts (try a keyword search on the blog).
What I will do:
- I will offer advice and information for those inquiring about Christian Science, being a Christian Scientist, and being a former Christian Scientist, and I’m willing to discuss ideas with you and help you to clarify your understanding–Christian Science, and the experiences many of us who have left it have had can be confusing and difficult to understand for someone who is unfamiliar with it.
- I will do interviews, discuss my own experiences, and offer comments.
- I will write guest posts on blogs, write op-eds, or relevant guest columns.
What I will not do:
- I will not participate in or support any reality television shows under any circumstances.
- I will not give talks or lectures, but I’m happy to put you in touch with former Christian Scientists who are willing and are experienced public speakers (talking in front of large groups of people is not something I’m comfortable with).
Other things to know:
- I prefer e-mail as my primary means of communication.
- I have a demanding day job, as well as many other interests; this blog is a secondary activity for me, so I may not respond to your inquiry right away, as I do not check e-mails daily; however I do try to respond to all e-mails as quickly as I can.
- I own the copyright on all content in this blog with the exception of any guest posts or other materials as noted–check out this page for more information on this.
- My e-mail address: email@example.com or use the embedded contact form below.
Questions & Answers:
Where can I learn more about Christian Science, Christian Scientists, or the experiences of former Christian Scientists?
When and where was Christian Science started?
The genesis of Christian Science, according to Church legend, came in 1866 when its founder Mary Baker Eddy, suffered serious injuries due to a fall on the ice in Lynn, Massachusetts, USA–where she was living at the time. However Christian Science has roots in the philosophy of Phineas Quimby and many others. The Church, in its present form, dates to 1879, and was established in Boston, Massachusetts, where it remains today.
How many Christian Scientists are there?
That’s an impossible question to answer accurately, since Church by-laws prohibit the publication of numbers of members. The last time any numbers were published, for census purposes, there were just over 268,000 Church members in the United States–this was in the 1920s . Educated guesses place the number of Christian Scientists worldwide now as low as 30,000 – 40,000 to possibly a high of 80,000 – 100,000, based on published circulation numbers for periodicals, and numbers of branch churches. A somewhat reliable estimate, calculated using known data, stated that there were possibly around 94,000 Church members in 1998, worldwide.
Where do you find Christian Scientists and/or Christian Science churches?
You’ll find Christian Science branch churches and/or societies in the following countries: Angola, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Benin, Bermuda, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China (Hong Kong), Colombia, Congo (Democratic Republic), Congo (Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
The countries with the largest number of Christian Science churches and/or societies are: United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, and Congo (Democratic Republic of). By far, the largest number are in the United States. Except for the United Kingdom and Germany, the other countries I’ve mentioned are minuscule in numbers (of churches) by comparison–mostly just one or two.
Based on numbers of churches and Christian Science practitioners, the United States has the largest number of Christian Scientists. Outside of the United States, based on numbers of churches and practitioners, the largest communities exist in the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, and Australia. A substantial community exists collectively in West Africa. Growth in West Africa (particularly the Congos and Cameroon) has been recent (within the last 20 years) and rapid. However, I have been informed that growth in that region has levelled off now. There has also been slight growth in South America.
Is it true that Christian Scientists don’t go to doctors?
Contrary to popular belief, that is not true for all Christian Scientists, and there is no official Church prohibition against medical care. Some Christian Scientists do seek medical attention at least occasionally, but there is immense cultural and peer pressure not to, or if you do, to hide it. In my own experience, I did not personally know any Christian Scientists who visited a doctor on a regular basis (that admitted to it)–only when something serious came up, or if they were otherwise compelled to.
Employment at many Christian Science-related organizations is predicated on abstinence from any form of medical care. Employees can sometimes risk losing their jobs if they seek medical care and their employer becomes aware of that. However, employment at The Mother Church and it’s related institutions in Boston is not predicated on abstinence from medical care, and in fact a large number of employees (both Christian Scientist and non-Christian Scientist) there carry regular medical insurance, which is offered as one option in the employee benefits package (I carried regular medical insurance when I worked there).
Patients in all accredited Christian Science nursing facilities are also prohibited from any sort of medical treatment–even something like aspirin, and will be immediately discharged if they do seek medical treatment. Attendees at Christian Science summer camps generally cannot seek or receive medical care, and if they do, they are sent home. The landscape regarding schools and colleges that serve Christian Scientists is shifting now. Most historically Christian Scientist schools now admit students who are not Christian Scientists, including (most recently) Principia (on a limited trial basis), so the strictures on adherence to Christian Science treatment have loosened.
Dental and vision care are generally accepted in the Christian Science mindset however, and most Christian Scientists I knew regularly partook of those modes of care. Psychotherapy is strongly frowned upon, largely due to interpretations of some specific wording in a well-known Church Manual by-law known as A Rule for Motives and Acts (Article VIII, Section 1, p. 40), although it is not actually prohibited.
What is the Christian Science stance on LBGTQ+ issues?
Please read this post for more information.
Where do Christian Scientists and their Church stand on abortion?
The Church takes no official stance, and in my experience, the opinions of Christian Scientists range from pro-life to pro-choice and all viewpoints in-between. Perhaps it was the crowd I ran with, but in my memory, most were either pro-choice or had no strong opinion on the issue at all. A common answer I got if I raised the question among fellow Christian Scientists was that “life isn’t in or of matter or the body, so why would having an abortion be either right or wrong?” In my younger years however, I did have a Sunday School teacher who was militantly pro-life, and didn’t hesitate to verbally terrorize anyone who disagreed with him.
What are the political leanings of Christian Scientists, and the Christian Science Church?
Mary Baker Eddy herself did not publicly proclaim her own political opinions very much. For information on Eddy’s politics, visit the page Mary Baker Eddy’s Political Views on the Mary Baker Eddy Library website–be fully aware that this is a Church-affiliated site.
The Church itself, while it actively lobbies federal and state governments in the USA, and occasionally some governments outside the USA, does not take any official stance on political issues that one often sees churches taking a stance on, such as abortion and other reproductive rights, or LBGTQ+ rights. Its lobbying efforts are limited to ensuring, as much as possible, that the practice of Christian Science is not inhibited by legislation or regulation. Mainly, this applies to laws and regulations mandating medical care, potentially regulating Christian Science nursing care, or medical insurance.
In my experience, Christian Scientists come in almost all political stripes. I’ve known some who are fairly left-wing, while others I’ve known are extremely conservative (social and/or fiscal), and some are libertarian in their outlook. The majority I’ve known, however, tend to be centre to centre-right politically. All Christian Scientists who have historically served in the United States congress or executive branch, have been Republican Party members (conservative)–as far as I know, there are currently no Christian Scientists serving in elected office in the United States federal government. Additionally, those who have held political office in other countries have also been conservative (the UK is the only other country I’m aware of where Christian Scientists have held political office). My own parents and many of their church friends were supporters of the Conservative Party or its predecessors here in Canada–where I live, although one couple who were close friends to my parents are supporters of the New Democratic Party–a left-wing/socialist political party in Canada.
What are the socio-economic demographics of Christian Scientists?
This is a hard question to answer, and on-line searches I’ve done to find statistical information have not turned up any in-depth statistical analyses of the demographics of Christian Scientists. So, all I can offer are my own observations. In my travels in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, I’ve found the vast majority of Christian Scientists I’ve known or encountered to be middle to upper-class, over 50 years-old, and white. I’ve only known a small handful of African American or Asian-American Christian Scientists, and no Indigenous-American Christian Scientists (I do know one Indigenous-American former Christian Scientist). The vast majority I’ve known are highly educated, having at least a four-year post-secondary degree. When I was a student at Principia College, most of the non-white students I knew were from Africa–the largest number were from Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana–where it’s had a longer history. Christian Science has had some recent growth in several other countries in Africa, however–most particularly in West Africa.
Are there any celebrities who are or were Christian Scientists?
Yes, there are several. I’ve written about one of them (Val Kilmer) in this post. Other actors and entertainers include: Carol Channing, Joan Crawford, Doris Day, Robert Duvall, Colleen Dewhurst, Alfre Woodard, Michael Nesmith, Ginger Rogers, Jean Stapleton, Horton Foote, Mary Pickford, Cornelius Bumpus, Peter Horton, Alan Young, and Georgia Engel.
There have been well-known political figures in the United States: H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, and Egil Krogh were part of the Nixon administration and were prominent figures in the Watergate scandal; Lamar Smith (former U.S. House of Representatives); Chris Shays (former U.S. Senate); Henry Paulson (former Treasury Secretary), William Webster (former CIA and FBI director), Stansfield Turner (former Navy admiral and former CIA director), Scott McCallum (former Wisconsin governor), and Bob Goodlatte (former U.S. Congress). All of these people are or were Republican Party members.
Some sports figures include: Shannon Miller (U.S. gymnast), Nile Kinnick (U.S. college and NFL football player in the early 20th century), and Tommy Vardell (U.S. college and NFL football player). Some of these individuals may not be active Christian Scientists.
Other well-known people: Alan Shepard (first American in space), Charles Lightoller (second officer on the Titanic), and Lady Nancy Astor (first woman to be elected to the British House of Commons–she was a member of the Conservative Party).
Some famous people who were raised or partially raised in Christian Science and left it include: James Hetfield (lead singer of Metallica)–I wrote this post about him, Carol Burnett (actress/comedienne), Kelsey Grammer (actor), Spalding Gray (actor/writer), Bruce Hornsby (musician), Ellen DeGeneres (comedienne/actress)–I wrote this post about her, Henry Fonda (actor), Audrey Hepburn (actress), Ernest Hemingway (author) Danielle Steel (author), Robin Williams (actor/comedian), Jack Kemp (U.S. politician/former football player), Elizabeth Taylor (actress), Myles Kennedy (musician), Christina Crawford (author/actress – best known as the author of the book Mommie Dearest that chronicles abuse she suffered at the hands of her adoptive mother, actress Joan Crawford), Jim Henson (puppeteer and creator of The Muppets), and Richard Bach (author). Some, such as James Hetfield, Kelsey Grammer, Carol Burnett, Ellen DeGeneres, Myles Kennedy, and Spalding Gray have spoken out critically about Christian Science and/or their experience with it to varying degrees.
For more information and a more complete list, please see this Wikipedia article.
Where can I learn more about you?
Please visit my About page; everything I choose to reveal about myself that I don’t reveal in my blog posts or here can be found there.
How long were you in Christian Science, and when did you leave Christian Science?
I was born into Christian Science (third generation on both sides of the family), and I was at least nominally a Christian Scientist for 42 years–with one brief period of departure in my late teens/early 20s. My final departure from Christian Science started in late 2009 and was largely completed (emotionally) by the end of 2010. My last official connection with the Church or any Christian Science-related activity was ended in 2011.
Do you maintain any friendships or other connections with Christian Scientists?
Yes, however I don’t have regular contact with any of them–somewhat because most of my Christian Scientist friends live a large distance from where I live now, however some people have distanced themselves from me because I’ve left the faith. I have had some formerly close friends completely end contact with me since I’ve left Christian Science. I have no contact with anyone in the small Christian Science community that exists where I live now, many of whom were close friends of my parents.
Do you have any family members who are Christian Scientists?
Short answer, no. Some of my cousins were raised in it, but none stayed with it. Most of my aunts and uncles did not stay in Christian Science.
Where do you live and work?
I live and work in British Columbia, Canada.
What is your “day” job?
I work at a front-line social services agency as a program administrator.
What is your educational background?
I have a bachelors degree in Mass Communication, as well as training in advocacy and group facilitation.
What is your career background?
I have worked in a number of areas including: communications, operations management, media production, legal research, records management, bookkeeping, program development, non-profit administration, and advocacy.
When did you start this blog?
My first post went up on April 27, 2013.
Why did you start this blog, and why do you continue to write it?
I started this blog originally to tell my own departure story from Christian Science, and to share my experiences as a Christian Scientist and now former Christian Scientist. I did this mainly for my own emotional healing, and with the hope that sharing my experience might help others, as reading other peoples’ stories helped me. Now, I continue with this blog and other on-line activities within the ex-Christian Scientist community to help and support others who are leaving or considering leaving Christian Science. I also want to do as much as I can to ensure that the voices of those of us who’ve left Christian Science and who have suffered because of it, are heard–especially amid the Church’s renewed efforts to have its message heard in the media, as well as its continuing lobbying efforts with governments.
Are you willing to meet with members of the media?
Why won’t you give talks?
I’m a private person, and I do not want to become a public ‘face’ for ex-Christian Scientists. Also, public speaking is not something I’m comfortable doing, nor am I experienced in it. I can put you in touch with former Christian Scientists who are experienced public speakers, and who are willing to give talks.
Why won’t you support reality television programs?
I specifically mention this because I have been contacted by people who produce reality television programs. I do not like how interviews or other ways people who participate in these shows are edited to suit a producer’s sensationalized vision or preconceived notions of what the final product should be. For example, I don’t think Breaking Amish is a particularly accurate portrayal of the Amish. I will not contribute to a similarly false and sensationalized portrayal of Christian Scientists or those who have left Christian Science, even in a background role. I also feel that a lot of ‘reality’ programming is overly exploitative, and does not serve a beneficial purpose. I have also had friends who’ve been involved in ‘reality’ programs whose experiences have not been positive.
Will you help me contact other former Christian Scientists?
Yes; I am willing to pass along your contact information, information about you, as well as information about what kind of article, program, or program segment you intend to produce to others in the ex-Christian Scientist community that I am in contact with, and post your information in ex-Christian Scientist Facebook groups and other forums. It’s up to them whether or not to contact you.
Can I use quotes and/or images from your blog?
Please read my Terms of Service & Disclaimers page for all you need to know on that.
* I am also a writer and editor for the website ‘The Ex-Christian Scientist’.