Although I was raised in Christian Science and a regular attendee of Christian Science Sunday School until my twentieth birthday, I had never heard of, or seen, Junior Christian Science Bible Teaching Show until someone left a few links to YouTube videos in the comments of my post Wanna be a sheep!
I was intrigued, to say the least, and slightly horrified, so I did the responsible thing and googled it. Apparently Junior Christian Science Bible Teaching Show ran from 1994-2008. TVTropes has an awesome summary
The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Program was a Los Angeles Public Access program run by songwriter, singer and puppeteer David Liebe Hart. Spanning an impressive run of nearly 20 years, The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Program was just that – a Christian scientist Children’s Program. It featured Liebe Hart controlling a cast of animal puppets and ventriloquist dummies while delivering lectures on the dangers of alcohol and drugs, Bible hymns in which said puppets would sing, and very, very strange video editing and visual effects. It has been hailed as the most bizarre children’s program ever conceived. (1)
I then looked up David Liebe Hart, he has a wikipedia page, which includes the fascinating tidbit that he believes he was “was abducted by Corinian aliens (from the Corendor system), who took skin and blood samples from him. He insists that aliens look like humans as opposed to the notion in pop culture that they’re little green men.” (2)
Jim Henson was your Sunday School teacher?
David Liebe Hart: Yeah, in the Christian Science church. He wanted me to do a puppet show teaching kids to say no to drugs and Bible stories. At first I didn’t want to do it, and he said it would help me advance my career… I first did my first three shows from a woman who was a Christian Science practitioner in Yucaipa, California. And then we sent them to Boston to be used for the Monitor Channel, but the Monitor Channel went out of business and they sold the Monitor Channel to the Discovery Channel—all the equipment and all the stuff. And so they told me to continue with the show on Public Access and the Christian Science church was okay until I started doing more contemporary music and I started mixing in Asian priests. And ….They didn’t like that—they’re very conservative. Very Republican. (3)
Hart goes on to discuss racial discrimination within the church and points out a fair bit of hypocrisy:
I love Christian Science. The teachings are good. But the people aren’t practicing what they preach. Like they have a Bible lesson on love, and they discriminate against interracial dating or people that want to join their church who are colored. Now they’ll cover it up by having a token one and refusing anyone else that’s joining (3)
Racial discrimination in the Christian Science Church seems to be a theme in Mr. Heart’s interviews, and it shows up in some of his non-puppet-related work. Mr. Heart and his associate Adam Papagan, have produced a song entitled The Devil’s in Church (13th Church of Christ, Scientist), which calls out the Christian Science Church on segregation and racial issues. (4)
Mr. Heart’s views on Christian Science and racial issues is slightly harsher than that of Christian Science practitioner and teacher Bettie Thompson, who acknowledges that there have been (and sometimes still are subtle racial undertones) within the Christian Science movement. (5)
In Mr. Heart’s perspective, the Christian Science Church has a long way to go before it is free of the Devil, or Malicious Animal Magnetism/Mortal Mind as Ms. Eddy liked to call it. However, Mr. Heart seems to have been inspired enough by Ms. Eddy’s teachings to have produced fourteen years of very unique puppetry on public access TV.
- Junior Christian Science Bible Show – Google Search for videos
- http://larecord.com/directors/2009/08/14/david-liebe-hart-and-adam-papagan-interview-if-you-rule-your-mind (full text pdf: LA REVIEW- DAVID LIEBE HART AND ADAM PAPAGAN- IF YOU RULE YOUR MIND)
- The Devil’s in the Church (13th Church Christ, Scientist) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9Mm6N02PeU, http://davidandadam.bandcamp.com/track/the-devils-in-church-13th-church-of-christ-scientist
- Getting Beyond Segregated Sundays http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/hlso0boiyi?s=t