It is my turn to be inspired by a fellow blogger: Emerging Gently has a piece entitled Christian Science AND Medical Care? which inspired me to actually read the NYTimes piece instead of just skimming over it and sighing heavily at TMC’s attempt at relevance.
Back in 2010 the NYTimes ran a piece entitled: Christian Science Church Seeks Truce With Doctors, which is nice and all, but once you actually read the article any well-versed former-CS will note the usual side-stepping of issues, fuzzy-feel-good public placation, and total bogus-ness of what TMC is saying.
It is a nicely written article, clearly someone at TMC PR did their work. It starts with a grim picture of CS today, and then offers a glimmer of (false) hope:
… faced with dwindling membership and blows to their church’s reputation caused by its intransigence concerning medical treatment, even for children with grave illnesses, Christian Science leaders have recently found a new tolerance for medical care. For more than a year, leaders say, they have been encouraging members to see a physician if they feel it is necessary. (emphasis mine)
The Principia College catalog (page 9: Spiritual Reliance) sates: Students who rely on medicine beyond one term will be asked to temporarily withdraw until such usage is discontinued. A withdrawal is not a suspension and does not negatively affect the student’s record.
I never tested the policy during my time at Prin, but it is my understanding that they’re fairly inflexible about these policies.*
Radical reliance is also mandatory to stay at a CS Nursing facility. Tellingly, Arden Wood in CA, prominently links to Advanced Health Care Directives which “allows a person to specify another adult, in the case of incapacity, to communicate or make health care decisions for him or her.” They also talk mention their group activities which include resident hymn sings and Bible lesson readings.
The CS-based summer camps (there are several) also ask that “free from the use of tobacco, alcohol, and medication?“Another clearly states that “No — staff dispense medication. Please tell us of advance CS Practitioner work being done.” Having never attended any of these camps I’m not sure what their exact policies are, but I have heard unpleasant stories of incompetent staff, and lack of basic first aid skills by counselors and CSNs alike.**
I find the next few paragraphs to be a bit more honest, they’re not saying go to doctors, they’re saying the government should give them money – and not just the federal government, they want it from state governments too:
Perhaps more significantly, they have begun a public campaign to redefine their methods as a form of care that the broader public should consider as a supplement rather than a substitute for conventional treatment, like biofeedback, chiropractic or homeopathic care.
In recent years, the church has been lobbying to convince lawmakers that its approach is an alternative way of tending to the sick, and that its costs should be covered by insurance companies and included in health care legislation.
“In recent years, the church has been lobbying” – that’s NOT RECENT. The Mother Church has basically been lobbying since Christian Science began, and now it has moved on to get Medicare to cover things like CS Nursing care (official PDF on: CS & Medicare). There is an interesting article on the CHILD website (also from 2010) entitled Church fails to get prayer-fee mandates in health care bills.***
I also find it ironic that CS wants to be lumped with “alternative” medicine. Ms. Eddy is quite clear in the Church Manual that she is very against such practices by Church Members. She’s also very clear in S&H that Jesus didn’t take drugs, and people should not try to mix the material and spiritual.
What I found most telling that the CSPs interviewed
… would not discuss the care of children or let a reporter witness a treatment session. And neither practitioner was willing to discuss the new flexibility …
That’s hardly surprising, if they mess up the NYTimes interview their jobs are on the line! I love how they explained that:
In Christian Science, they said, sickness and suffering are misunderstandings — or as Mrs. Eddy wrote, “a mistaken belief” in the “power of ill health.”
One of the practitioners, John Q. Adams of Manhattan, said a patient who came to him with a lump under his arm was experiencing “a manifestation of fear, not a lump.”
The other practitioner, Rebecca Odegaard of Boston, said that if a patient had a bleeding gash in his arm, “I would try to calm this person, and help him overcome the fear.” Such a patient is suffering anxiety over the illusion that something has injured his “true self,” when the gash has only happened to his “material self,” Ms. Odegaard said.
I’m shocked the people even told their CSPs what the ailment even was, by acknowledging the false belief they’re giving it power! Most of the time if I talked with a CSP I had a vague “situation” or “issue” (or I let my parents make the call).
As for the hypothetical arm with a bleeding gash, over coming fear is important, but it is equally important to get wound properly cleaned up! You can realize your “True Self” all you want, but if you don’t take care of your “material self” your friends and family will eventually google for “christian science deaths” (the #3 search term for this blog).
Adults are welcome to do their own thing with their health, regardless of their religion, but I’m going to side with the American Academy of Pediatrics when it comes to dealing with children and their ailments.
“Given the complete lack of scientific evidence of the efficacy of prayer in treating any illness or disorder in children,” academy officials wrote Senate leaders in October, “mandating coverage for these services runs counter to the principles of evidence-based medicine.” (emphasis mine)
If my personal experiences, and experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics aren’t enough, I can point you to the Heywood Testimony to the Obama Administration, February 26, 2010 (and more on her blog, One-Leg Liz).
The problem with using the “evidence-based” argument is that Good CS claim that CS-prayer is “evidence-based” and they’ve “had the healings to prove it.” They feel they should never give up (or turn to medicine, even though “modern medicine” has stickers and quite often results).
The TMC may be touting CS the Doctor-Tolerant version, but the reality in the churches, in the camps, college, and nursing facilities is quite different. TMC and the CS movement is not doctor-tolerant, they’re simply trying to re-brand themselves to get money. They really should be ashamed of themselves.
*“Drugs” are forbidden, it does not matter what they are or why they are being taken. If anyone has any first-hand experience with it and would like to share their story, please contact me!
** Again, if anyone would like to share a CS-camp or CS-nursing facility story, please let me know!
***Full disclosure, I can’t say I’ve followed any of this at all closely beyond the few posts I’ve made for this blog, and everything I learned for those was from extensive google searches. I have not had any experience dealing with Medicare/Medicade or any sort of other insurance in relation to Christian Science. Thankfully we have health insurance and any CSP use was a minor out-of-pocket expense.