TMC Withdrawals – now via e-mail!

The following is a guest post by fellow blogger Emerging Gently (http://emergegently.wordpress.com/). For more about Guest Posts & their Contributors, please visit https://kindism.org/guest-posts-contributors/, for more about Leaving Christian Science https://kindism.org/csresources/leaving-christian-science/


I joined The Mother Church at the ripe ol’ age of 12, when good little Christian Scientist kids (the ones that have survived that long) are old enough to join. It was at the second admission of members (there’s two per year) in 1979. I was so proud, so were my parents. I was turning out to be a good little Christian Scientist, despite some doubts I had, even then.

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t always a Good Little Christian Scientist. Twelve year old me became a teenager, and I enjoyed some of the things teenagers enjoy, like partying, drinking, drugs, stuff like that. More years went by that I didn’t pay the annual Per Capita Tax ($1.00 US) than when I did. As an adult, the largest donation I sent was $50.00. Sometimes I read the Lesson, more often I just tried once in awhile, or just didn’t. It was a habit I just couldn’t seem to develop.

I did go to Christian Science summer camp, and sexually repressed and bigoted Principia College. I was involved with Prin Club, Christian Science youth groups, and I did Class Instruction and Association. I also toiled away for 10 years at The Mother Ship in Boston. Yeah, I put on the appearances. Inside seethed the doubts, just begging to be let out for a walk. My insides were sometimes like the old Cherokee Legend of the Two Wolves–one bad, one good, always in conflict inside all of us. Which one wins? The one you feed. I always tried to feed the Christian Science wolf.

Fast forward to a few years ago. I’m grieving the loss of both of my parents, who died miserably from untreated medical conditions because they chose to radically rely on Christian Science (which didn’t do anything for them). I was ripped apart verbally by my Christian Science Teacher for taking my dad [gasp] to the hospital in a bid to save his life. I couldn’t be presented with more stark evidence of the utter failure of Christian Science. Basically, it is bullsh*t. Complete and utter bullsh*t.

I withdrew from my Association, and all other entanglements, and came to the decision I must do the same for my long-standing membership in The Mother Church. So, in 2011, I wrote them a letter, and snail mailed it off (one of probably five things I snail mailed that year). I never got a reply back, and really didn’t give it much thought–it probably got lost by either Canada Post or the US Mail, I figured. Fast forward again to the middle of last year, and my friend and fellow blogger here at Kindism is posting her story of terminating her TMC membership. I realize, “hey, I never got that nice little letter or fistful of CS periodical subscription offers…don’t they love me enough to beg for me to change my mind?” I felt like a jilted lover! I resolved to get that acknowledgement I so craved, but my printer would have none of it. So, the follow-up letter remained trapped on my hard drive, and I once again forgot all about it.

Fast forward to 2014. Ms. Kindism, myself, and others are having an on-line discussion that leads again to withdrawing from TMC, and my Kindism friend posts that you can withdraw via e-mail! Yay, I say! I don’t have to worry about a cantankerous printer or the fickle postal services of two countries! Quickly, I dash off my nicely worded e-mail:

Hello,

Sometime in 2011, I mailed a letter asking to be withdrawn from membership in The Mother Church. I never received a response or confirmation. I would like to confirm that I am no longer a member of The Mother Church. If it turns out that I still am a member, please consider this a formal request to withdraw my membership.

Here are my details:

[my name]
Year I joined: November, 1979

I apologize that I do not remember my membership number or have it handy.

The last addresses you would have possibly had on file for me would be:

[A PO box in Massachusetts]

Or possibly:

[An address near where I now live, but not where I now live]

I am no longer available at either address. Please inform me if you need a current mailing address and I will send it to you.

Please acknowledge receipt of this e-mail as soon as possible. Thank you!

~[my name]
E-mail: [my.email.address@iamnotgonnatellyou.com]

The very next morning, I got a reply back from a nice woman at the Clerk’s office, confirming that they had received my previous withdrawal request, and I was indeed not a member of The Mother Ship. I guess they didn’t want to beg me to stay. I guess they just didn’t want me. Oh well…

Oddly, it was a bittersweet feeling. On the one hand, I harbour a deep hatred of Christian Science and what I’ve seen it do to my family and to others. However, I’ve also seen and confirmed the closure of a very big chapter in my life. I feel a bit like an animal that’s been let out of a cage. I revel in being free, but there’s that stupid little part of me that misses the familiar comfort of the cage.

So, if you’ve left Christian Science, and wondering about that next step, it’s easy! Just do it! Rip that old band-aid off, and be free! Just e-mail clerk@christianscience.com…I did it…so can you!

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I resigned from The First Church of Christ, Scientist (The Mother Church), but they seem to have misplaced my resignation letter

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.

photo

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:

leaving the Mother Ship (part 3), writing the letter

This is the third post in a series about leaving TMC. Previous posts about leaving The Mother Church Part 1 and Part 2. For all posts see the tag “goodbyeTMC.


There appear to be two ways to contact the Clerk (aka the person in charge of membership rosters) of TMC: e-mail (clerk@christianscience.com) and snail-mail:

Clerk
The First Church of Christ, Scientist
Membership, P06-10
210 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02115-3195

As becoming a member requires a ream of paperwork to be mailed in, it seems fitting that a actual letter should be mailed to voluntarily withdraw from the institution. Some how a formal letter seems appropriate for this sort of thing. This means I need to find envelopes and stamps.

The ExMormon website has some excellent guidelines for how to phrase the letter, I find the wording to be a bit strong in spots, but I understand the sentiment. I don’t think leaving TMC will be as complicated as leaving the LDS movement (they tend to shun any publicity that they don’t create), but we shall see. Personally, I plan to keep it short and respectful.

I don’t think there is anyone the Church could/would send by to try and talk me into changing my mind. I’m not a local branch church member, the CSP I talk with is several states away (and a personal friend, not just a CSP), and I’m not part of any association so there’s no teacher to try and talk me out of it. My MIL and some of her stauncher CS friends have tried to convince us to check out a local lecture or two, but by and large they’ve recognized we’re not likely to return to church.

Feel free to use the following letter as a template to write your own letter to the Clerk.

Real & Appropriate Address

Clerk
The First Church of Christ, Scientist
Membership, P06-10
210 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02115-3195

Random Month Date, Year

Dear Church Clerk,

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.

I wish no further contact from the Church except to confirm that my name has been removed from your records. I expect to receive that confirmation within a reasonably short time.

My full name ——- .

My date of birth is ——- .

My residence address is ——- .

Thank you for taking care of this in a timely manner.

Sincerely,

Kat @ Kindism

Now that I think about it, I may leave out my date of birth, somehow it seems appropriate to omit this information. I should probably also tell them about any other names I may have used (maiden name/married name, World of Warcraft avatar’s name, etc).

Now to put this in a word doc, put in my real information, print it out, find an envelope, address it, mail it and wait. I’m not going to bother with priority mail, or delivery confirmation. Maybe I have too much faith in them. I don’t know. I wonder what will come of this.

leaving the Mothership (part 2), voluntary withdrawl

This is the second post in a series about leaving TMC. Previous post about leaving TMC Part 1. For all posts see the tag “goodbyeTMC


So how does one actually leave the Mother Church?

Unsurprisingly  there is very little information about how to leave the official site. There are several pages dedicated to TMC membership as well as how to join a branch church, although it should be noted that “membership requirements are unique to each branch and do not imply or require membership in The Mother Church.”*

In short, TMC’s website has lots of information on how to join. How to leave? Nothing.

How convenient.

The Church Manual is just as unhelpful:

Article VII

PROBATIONARY MEMBERSHIP

Members who once Withdrew. Section 1.
Individuals who have heretofore been members
of this Church, or were members of the Church
of Christ, Scientist, organized in 1879 by Mary
Baker Eddy, but who have voluntarily withdrawn,
may be received into this Church on one
year’s probation, provided they are willing an

anxious to live according to its requirements and
make application for membership according to
its By-Laws. If, at the expiration of said one
year, they are found worthy, they shall be received
into full membership, but if not found
worthy their applications shall be void.

It goes on to address members who have been dismissed, etc. The manual also discusses all the different things you can do to be dismissed, but apparently dismissal rarely happens and most people end up simply being members who are not “in good standing.”

While this blog might tip me over into “not in good standing” that would take time, effort, and I’d have to tell them who I am. I’ll pass. I guess I’ll have to “voluntarily withdraw” my membership.

Hopefully, I can keep things simple: I’m not a branch church member (never got involved with them), nor do I have a “teacher” to break up with (I never took class instruction – more on that later). I don’t have to report my TMC membership (or lack there of) to anyone. This should be easy… right?


*It must be nice for TMC to be able to point to local churches and say “nope, they’re just crazy” if/when they go against any “official” practices. They stay pretty quiet about any number of issues, the big exception is perpetually lobbying to get CS “care” covered by insurance/Medicare and Medicade.

To the best of my knowledge, TMC has no official policy on homosexuality (CS churches don’t marry people, so “gay marriage” is a bit of a non-issue), or any of the views/policies practiced at Principia or the summer camps- they’re not an “official” TMC entity, they’re just founded on a person’s interpretations of the teachings of Christian Science. Some of the branches/”inspired” entities often tend to be more conservative. It must be hard for TMC, on one hand they’re trying to convince the public they’re OK with CS going to doctors, while on the other hand they’ve got all the CS camps and Principia saying NO MEDICINE!

leaving The Mother Ship (part 1), irreconcilable differences

This is the first post in a series about leaving TMC. For all posts see the tag “goodbyeTMC.”


The other morning in the car my husband and I were discussing the flack I’ve gotten for not withdrawing my Mother Church membership. My favorite criticism comes from the Ex-CS group in the UK, they’re a nice group, but I feel like we’re in different places sometimes.

I suppose being in MC keeps you in touch with what they are doing next, which may be an advantage. Personally, I wouldn’t give them a dollar or a pound to further their cause nor add to their membership statistics!!!!  Some of our group would perceive your continued membership as CS still having a hold over you and all your information possibly returning to MC one day.

I love how this assumes I was paying any attention to what TMC was doing even before I quit CS. Not so much. I mostly went to Sunday School, paid $1 in per-capita taxes (when they had the right address to reach me and I remembered), and went about my happy life mostly ignoring TMC and their “youth activities” after all, I’d already met/married my husband, I didn’t need to find an eligible CS-guy!

For various reasons I never went through “Class Instruction,” and never felt compelled to do so. I did interview with TMC once, for a position to be an assistant to a lecturer. The job sounded great on paper, but at the interview, it included things like “picking up dry cleaning,” apparently they’re “really busy” and can’t be bothered to do it themselves. My attitude was get a laundry service, or wear less dry-clean-only clothing. Really people.  Not so much.

Then there are those who like to remind me about the crazy that is TMC.

I would strongly recommend that you quit your membership. This institution is, frankly, batshit and criminal, and they need as little support as possible. I know those are harsh words, but I’m sure you know that they are deserved.

I’m well aware of the crazy, thank you very much, I was raised in it for 20+ years, and again with the assumed support.

I feel no great animosity towards TMC, I have a large number of family and friends who are active members, nor do I have any particular problem with people choosing to sit quietly and pray about issues that arise. On the contrary, I find sitting quietly to gather one’s thoughts and calm down to be incredibly helpful, but I also strongly recommend combining that with appropriate medical care (apparently the Mother Church has changed it’s stance on the issue but none of the “CS” institutions, nursing facilities, Principia, or anywhere else seem to have gotten the memo). If prayer is used at all, it should be supplementing medical care, not replacing it entirely.

I think TMC and the CS movement in general is DOING IT WRONG, and the fact that “Christian Science death” is the #3 search term that reaches my blog is a huge sign they are. I also no longer believe in God – at least not God as put forth in the Bible. You can read all the “inspired” word you want, but that God is a jerk, and I’m not going to worship it.

The Bible plays a HUGE role in CS, I think it is a rather morbid accounting of old stories, archaic laws and should not be used as a moral compass, premise for a school, society, or anything else. The individual referred to as “Jesus” had some great ideas, as did/do the Buddha, Dalai Lama, and countless other religious traditions. I feel the golden rule and the idea that you should be kind to one another transcends religious doctrine and that you do not need to, and should not confine yourself to one rigid religious perspective.

I feel we should all be nice to each other, and while TMC has a heartwarming “letter to former and inactive members” which

extends a loving welcome to all inactive or former members. The love of The Mother Church remains constant and unconditional to all who are or have been members.

I’ve got some ocean front property in Utah if you’re interested, but I digress.

I’m sure TMC, like God, still Love me, but unlike any reasonable God, TMC wants money, loyalty, and church attendance. I feel it is time for me to move on. I don’t want or need a God who throws problems my way so I can grow, I’m not Job. I’m not going to endanger my life by radically relying on prayer, nor do I need to be judged for seeking medical treatment. Christian Science, as embodied by TMC, and I have differences that we can’t resolve (and it has been going on for quite some time), so it is time for me to officially leave.

So how does one leave?


For additional reading, a post I inspired http://emergegently.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/die-hard-with-peer-pressure/