Christian Science: Healing to Death

Rick Branch

A two-year old baby girl, dies of a treatable lung infection, as her mother "...follows church guidelines..." (Insight, June 20, 1988, p. 57). In Florida, a family withheld "insulin" from their "diabetic daughter" which resulted in her death (El Paso Times, December 6, 1988, p. 6-A). In 1984, Natalie, an 8-month-old child died "...of complications from a virulent flu-like illness..." and in March of the same year a 4-year-old girl "...died of meningitis..." (The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, CA April 12, 1989, p. B-3). These are but a few of the countless cases, in which members of this nationally recognized Church, have died as a result of refusing to seek medical treatment.

In the 20th Century, an age when science is making such strides in medical technology, why would people refuse medical treatment for their own children? Because the Church of Christ, Scientist, better known as Christian Science, denies the reality of sickness.

In her book Rudimental Divine Science, Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the movement, declares, "What seem to be disease, vice, and mortality are illusions of the physical senses," (1919 ed. p. 11). If they are illusions, then there can be no reality to sickness and disease. If there is no reality, then there is no need to seek medical treatment.

This idea is affirmed by Eddy when she writes, "Life in matter is a dream: sin, sickness, and death are this dream." She continues with, "Medicine will not arrive at the science of treating diseases until disease is treated mentally and man is healed morally and physically," (Christian Healing, 1936 ed., pp. 9, 14).

Thus, according to the doctrine of Christian Science, when members appear to be sick, that is but an illusion. To be cured, the member must be treated mentally by a Christian Science practitioner, for "It places no faith in hygiene or drugs..." (Ibid, p. 15).

This doctrine is so pivotal that in her book Miscellaneous Writings, Eddy asserted, "Here also is found the pith of the basal statement, the cardinal point in Christian Science, that matter and evil (including all in harmony, sin, disease, death) are unreal," (1924 ed., p. 27). The logical conclusion to draw from such a faulty premise is, when the child appears to be sick, there is no need for medical treatment, simply deny the reality of sickness and continue as if nothing is different. This vein of action, however, can have dire consequences as can be seen by the opening paragraphs.

Despite the fact that Mary Baker Eddy shunned medical treatment, in a booklet published by the Christian Science Church, the following is found:

"Question: Is a Christian Scientist allowed to go to a doctor?

"Answer: A Christian Scientist, like anyone else, is a free moral agent. When he joins the Church of Christ, Scientist, it's understood that he will rely on God instead of drugs for healing. ... But if in extreme circumstances or under heavy family pressure he resorts to material means, he won't be treated as an outcast by the Church," (Questions and Answers on Christian Science, p. 10).

This statement is interesting in light of the Rita Swan case. Swan, "...who left the church after her 15-month-old son died from meningitis in 1977... says she was bullied and threatened by a Christian Science practitioner when she expressed doubt that prayer was aiding her baby," (U.S. News & World Report, March 24, 1986, p. 22).

Whether or not all Christian Scientists are belittled when they express doubt or seek accepted medical treatment may be a disputable point. However, one fact that remains a reality is that children are dying. Children, who would otherwise still be alive, are dead because of the teachings of a woman named Mary Baker Eddy.

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