Back in May 2013 I wrote a letter to The Mother Church announcing that
I hereby voluntarily withdraw my membership The First Church of Christ, Scientist, effective immediately, and request you to remove my name permanently from your membership records.
My husband wrote a similar letter (actually, I just changed the names around and printed a second copy), but that didn’t stop The Mother Church from sending more propaganda — in October, they offered him a great deal on CS lit.
I didn’t hear anything from the Mother Church for eight months, and then in a recent trip to the mail box, the 2014 per capita tax arrived.
On one hand, I am seriously tempted to send back the per capita tax form with another letter requesting to be removed from their list, on the other hand, I’m not sure it is worth the infinity stamp that such a letter would cost.
The letter, addressed to “Dear precious Church member” goes on for half a page about the importance of contributions (mostly financial), and the importance of “contributing his or her highest sense of what it means to follow the Master.” I’m pretty sure they mean Jesus, because Mary Baker Eddy is usually referred to as “the Discoverer and Founder” or “Our Beloved Leader.” I take issues with all of these titles, and with the idea that Jesus is “the Master” even if he “was servant to all and taught us by example to love as he loved.”
The letter asserts that “what [Jesus] taught could be practiced by everyone.” I take issue with this, as Jesus’ disciples, who got first-hand on the job training failed to heal on several occasions, see Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, Luke 9:37-42, and Ms. Eddy herself reminds us all are privileged to work out their own salvation according to their light – which occasionally means falling back on the “right use of Temporary Means” loophole and going to a doctor.
The Christian Science Board of Directors then continues with the idea that
Our contributions to Church take many forms. The most important is our commitment to healing others and ourselves. We also share what we’ve been witnessing of Christ’s healing and saving power at Wednesday meetings and in articles and testimonies written for our periodicals. We subscribe to these print and online publications. We pray during our church services for our congregations and daily for the world. We devote time and effort to conducting services, teaching Sunday School classes, sponsoring lectures, and serving our community in Reading Rooms. We donate as generously as we can to support all our Church activities.
I think the embedded hyperlinks speak for themselves.
The Christian Science Board of directors closes with a reminder that my individual contribution to the “greatest and holiest of all causes,”* will bring “hope and healing to the world.” My contribution is to not partake in the culture of radical reliance and to work to distance myself and my family from all toxic aspects of Christian Science as much as possible.
I’m also going to keep trying to leave the Mother Church.
A few more thoughts…
On the back of the demand letter, the Christian Science Board of Directors reminds us “Giving online is the fastest and most secure way to satisfy your Per Capita Tax obligation.”
I will NOT link to the website here, but I did check it out. You can pay online, you can even set up monthly contributions from your credit card or debit card/checking account, you can contribute to other funds (MBE Library, Monitor operating fund, TMC endowment) but you can’t politely decline to contribute because you want to leave/have left the church. Jerks.
As I see it, I do not have a per capita tax obligation because I sent in my letter of withdrawal and am not “obligated” to do anything, and the worst they can do – per the Manual’s direction – is drop me from the roster of Mother Church Members. I also don’t see what the big deal is about membership, Article VIII, Guidance of Members talks about “Numbering the People” in SECT. 28. which is strictly forbidden, or perhaps that is just to outside sources.
Christian Scientists shall not report for publication the number of the members of The Mother Church, nor that of the branch churches. According to the Scripture they shall turn away from personality and numbering the people.
I have been unable to find anything further about this. The Christian Scientists, unlike the Mormons, tend to be even more secretive about these sorts of issues.
* as Ms. Eddy referred to Christian Science in remarks dated July 4, 1866 (the letter cites Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896 p. 177)
Posts about Leaving TMC: