Although I was “out” to my husband as a former-CS-turned-possibly-atheist I still wasn’t “out” to my family and friends. They suspected I was “lapsed” – after all, I’d had a c-section and the kids had a pediatrician, but they continued (and many of them continue) to believe that on Big Important Issues I would turn to CS first.
On the familial front this has made things interesting.
- I’ve nearly bitten off my tongue while having conversations about vaccinations with my mother and MIL. We have chosen to vaccinate. My mother claims the “greatest gift” she’s ever given me was a “vaccination-free childhood.”
- My MIL was rather vocal with her views about taking pain medication after a c-section while breast feeding. Not helpful.
- When we travel to visit my mother or MIL, church attendance is not mandatory, but it is strongly implied that it might be a good idea. The church members assume we’re still 100% on the CS bandwagon. We have neither encouraged nor discouraged this idea.
- There are a number of issues we simply do not talk with our parents about. This makes things tricky if a health situation arises, often the “disappointment” that we’ve taken the medical route is palpable.
Leaving CS has made some friendships tricky as well. Many of my friends from Principia are still “good” CS, who actively attend church, while others are “lapsed” to varying degrees and a few have left the movement all together.
- No one wants to be the first to admit they are no longer a CS. Everyone is convinced that everyone else is still 100% practicing and that they are the weak ones who have “failed” at CS.
- Every now and then someone will “confess” to having been to a doctor for a problem, being on birth control, or taking an Advil.
- Very rarely will someone fess up to leaving entirely, they’re usually just “lapsed” or “not active” anymore. While I have a few friends from Sunday School who have left CS entirely, they’ve moved on to fundamentalist or “found-Jesus” churches, most people I know from Principia who have left are now agnostic, or atheist, or have found some other less-“Christian” path.
- When one former-CS finds another former-CS to talk with there is often a sense of relief that they no longer have to “hide” – usually both are surprised the other is no longer practicing.
It is hard to talk about leaving CS with people who have not been CS themselves. When the topic of religion arises, I try to gloss over my former-CS connections. Thankfully most of my friends have not pushed the issue, but the responses are often unintentionally hurtful:
- You were raised a Christian Scientist? But you seem so normal.
- Isn’t that like Scientology?
- So you really weren’t vaccinated?
- So what did you do when you got sick?
Since starting this blog I’ve done a fair bit of searching for other former CS. The same results keep showing up, the Ex-CS group in the UK, the Christian Way (former CS who have found Jesus), and the rather graphic Haywood testimony. “The Leaves” CS home also shows up a fair bit. I’ve also come across a few bloggers, including the inactive Amy Learns to Live, and very active Timothy J. Hammons’ piece Against the Cults. There is also a forum entitled I am a Recovering Christian Scientist, and a fair number of links calling CS a cult.
- I don’t think CS is a cult. I don’t think CS is particularly Christian. I don’t think MBE and I read the same Bible and found the same God. I don’t think I need to “find” Jesus (he’s not lost, he just needs to ask for directions).
- I do think CS is dangerous when taken to extreme radical reliance, but I think you can take a number of other things to dangerous extremes as well.
I have started a Former CS Anonymous group on Facebook. After my husband joined, FB helpfully suggested it he invite a few “friends” – among them was a professor at Principia, and someone who worked for TMC publications. Not helpful Facebook. If you’d like to join, contact information is in the sidebar on the right.