I’m a member of a “local” Christian Science group for “young adults.” I haven’t actually attended any of their meetings, but I also haven’t bothered to have them take me off their e-mail list either. This came in my inbox today:
Dear [name of group withheld] Member,
David Fowler is working on filming short interviews with young Christian Scientists who have opted to not join a local church, or who stopped going to Sunday School, for whatever reason.
The goal is to present a video at the upcoming Church Alive Summit that will hopefully help the participants / understand and figure out better ways to support young people in the movement in the future. There’s a generation or two missing from Christian Science churches right now, and this is a chance for us to help make a difference.
If that sounds interesting and you’d like to participate, please contact David at [e-mail removed as they have enough interviewees] / mobile:withheld for privacy]. Time is of the essence since the Summit is going to be held May 3-5. David is filming the short interviews today (Friday) and next Tuesday (4/9).
If you’d like to submit a written note instead of doing a video interview that would also be great (just send David an email). It would possibly be shared on the Summit website & Facebook page, and can be anonymized if that is helpful.
Below is my response:
I am a former “young Christian Scientist.” I say “former” because I no longer self-identify with the Christian Science label. I was born and raised in a CS household, by parents who converted to the religion. I attended Sunday School (almost) every Sunday until I turned 20, and I attended and graduated from Principia College. I married a fellow Christian Scientist (we met at Principia), and for a time I lived in Boston and (occasionally) attended church at TMC.
I have found the practice of Christian Science to be detrimental to my physical and emotional well being, my relationships, and almost every aspect of my life that I have attempted to apply it to.
During my time as a Christian Scientist and since having left the religion, I have faced numerous challenges, both physical and mental. I find the oft-cited advice of “pray harder” to “know the truth” to be unhelpful and in many cases down right detrimental. I have encountered several situations where “prayer” merely postponed having the situation looked at by a medical professional, after which point much more drastic steps were needed to right the situation than would have been necessary if the problem had been addressed properly (using evidence based medicine) in the first place.
There are many of us who are disillusioned by the church’s teachings. We are quoted platitudes and any problems we face are our own fault for not praying harder, not knowing the truth enough, and not properly aligning ourselves spiritually with God. We are blamed for having common, treatable ailments, and made to feel guilty if we seek treatment outside of Christian Science. I know many people who have lost a friend or relative to a treatable diseases because they opted to seek CS “treatment” for their ailment. I don’t want to become a Christian Science death-statistic.
The idea that “trials are proof of God’s care” is dangerous. God loves you so much that he wants you to be miserable and suffer and worship him and come back for more. That’s what Job did. All you have to do is pray harder, know the Truth more and you’ll be rewarded with more camels, and more trials.
I don’t need camels, and I certainly do not need any more trials. I am not going to return to Christian Science.