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The First Church of Christ, Scientist,
|Founder||Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910)|
|Mother Church||The First Church of Christ, Scientist|
|Key text||Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures|
|Membership||100,000 in the United States; 400,000 worldwide, according to the church|
|Key beliefs||"Basic teachings", Church of Christ, Scientist|
The First Church of Christ, Scientist,
|Founder||Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910)|
|Mother Church||The First Church of Christ, Scientist|
|Key text||Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures|
|Membership||100,000 in the United States; 400,000 worldwide, according to the church|
|Key beliefs||"Basic teachings", Church of Christ, Scientist|
Christian Science is a set of beliefs and practices belonging to the metaphysical family of new religious movements. It was developed in 19th-century New England by Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910), who argued in her book Science and Health (1875) that sickness is an illusion that can be corrected by prayer alone. The book became Christian Science's central text, along with the Bible, and by 2001 had sold ten million copies in 16 languages.
Eddy and 25 followers were granted a charter in 1879 to found the Church of Christ (Scientist), and in 1894 The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was built in Boston, Massachusetts. Christian Science became the fastest growing religion in the United States in the early 20th century, with nearly 270,000 members there by 1936, a figure that had declined by 1990 to 106,000. The church is known for its newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, which won seven Pulitzer Prizes between 1950 and 2002, and for its Reading Rooms, which are open to the public in around 1,200 cities.
Christian Scientists see their religion as a return to "primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing," in the words of Eddy's Manual of the Mother Church (1895). There are several key differences between Christian Science and orthodox Christian theology. In particular adherents subscribe to a radical form of philosophical idealism, believing that reality is purely spiritual and the material world an illusion. This includes the view that disease is a mental error rather than physical disorder, and that the sick should be treated, not by medicine, but by a form of prayer that seeks to correct the beliefs responsible for the illusion of ill health.
The church does not require that Christian Scientists avoid all medical care – adherents use dentists, optometrists, obstetricians, physicians for broken bones, and vaccination when required by law – but maintains that Christian Science prayer is most effective when not combined with medicine. Between the 1880s and 1990s the avoidance of medical treatment was blamed for the deaths of several adherents and their children; parents and others were prosecuted for manslaughter or neglect and in a few cases convicted.
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Several periods of Protestant Christian revival nurtured a proliferation of new religious movements in the United States. These included, in the latter half of the 19th century, what came to be known as the metaphysical family: groups such as Christian Science, Divine Science, and the Unity School of Christianity. From the 1890s the liberal section of the metaphysical movement was known as New Thought, in part to distinguish it from the more authoritarian Christian Science.
The term metaphysical referred to the movement's philosophical idealism, a belief in the primacy of the mental world. Adherents believed that matter emanated from an underlying cause or principle of the universe, variously referred to as Divine Mind, Truth, God, Love, Life, Spirit, Principle, reflecting elements of Plato, Hinduism, Berkeley, Swedenborg and transcendentalism. "The universe is mental," writes religious scholar Dell de Chant, "or, as most New Thoughters would put it, God is Mind."
Also known as the mind-cure movement, the metaphysical groups had a strong focus on healing. Medical practice, or allopathic medicine, was in its infancy, and patients regularly fared better if left alone. This provided fertile soil for the mind-cure groups, who argued that sickness was simply an absence of "right thinking," or failure to connect to Divine Mind. The movement traced its roots to the father of mental healing, New England clockmaker Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802–1866), whose motto was "the truth is the cure." Mary Baker Eddy had been a patient of his, and was accused of having founded Christian Science on the basis of one of his unpublished manuscripts.
New Thought and Christian Science differed in that Eddy saw her views as a final revelation. Eddy's idea of malicious animal magnetism marked another distinction (that people can be harmed by the bad thoughts of others), introducing an element of fear that was absent from the New Thought literature. Most significantly, Eddy dismissed the material world as an illusion, rather than as merely subordinate to Mind, leading her to reject the use of medicine, or materia medica, and making Christian Science the most controversial of the metaphysical groups. Reality for Eddy was purely spiritual.
Christian Science leaders place their religion "within the mainstream of Christian teaching," writes J. Gordon Melton, and reject any identification with the New Thought movement. According to the religion's tenets, adherents accept "the inspired Word of the Bible as [their] sufficient guide to eternal Life," and acknowledge one God, "His Son, one Christ," and the Holy Ghost. Eddy was strongly influenced by her Congregationalist upbringing. In founding the Christian Science church in April 1879, she wrote that she wanted it to "reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing," and elsewhere that she saw Science and Health as an inspired text and Christian Science as a second coming.
Christian Science theology differs in several respects from that of traditional Christianity. Eddy redefined the Christian vocabulary, leading to the reinterpretation of several Christian concepts, including the Trinity, divinity of Jesus, atonement and resurrection.
Eddy saw God not as a person, but as "All-in-all," a divine principle, which she called "Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love." At the core of her theology is the view that the spiritual world is entirely good, that the material world (including evil, sickness and death) is an illusion, and that humankind is a perfect idea of Divine Mind; Bryan Wilson writes that what Eddy called "mortal man" is simply humankind's distorted view of itself. Despite her view that evil did not exist, an important element of Christian Science theology is that evil thought, which Eddy called malicious animal magnetism, can cause harm, even if the harm is only apparent.
There is no appeal to a personal god in Christian Science prayer. The process involves the Scientist engaging in a silent argument with herself to affirm the unreality of matter, something Christian Science practitioners will do for a fee to address ill health or other problems. In the view of adherents this connects the patient to Divine Mind.
Wilson writes that Christian Science healing is not curative on its own premises, but is, rather, "preventative of ill health, accident and misfortune, since it claims to lead to a state of consciousness where these things do not exist. What heals is the realization that there is nothing really to heal." It is a closed system of thought, viewed as infallible if performed correctly; healing confirms the power of Truth, but its absence derives from the failure, specifically the bad thoughts, of individuals.
Eddy's views on life after death are vague, Wilson writes, and "there is no doctrine of the soul" in Christian Science. According to Wilson, "after death, the individual continues his probationary state until he has worked out his own salvation by proving the truths of Christian Science." Eddy did not believe that the dead and living could communicate.
Eddy's theology is nontrinitarian. She distinguished between Jesus the man and the concept of Christ, the latter a synonym for Truth, and Jesus the first person fully to manifest it. Eddy called Jesus a Christian Scientist, a "Way-shower" between humanity and God. The crucifixion was not a divine sacrifice for the sins of humanity, the atonement (the forgiveness of sin through Jesus's suffering) "not the bribing of God by offerings," writes Wilson, but an "at-one-ment" with God. The Holy Ghost is Christian Science, and heaven and hell are states of mind.
To the more conservative of the Protestant clergy, Eddy's view of Science and Health as divinely inspired represented a challenge to the Bible's authority. "Eddyism" was regularly referred to as a cult; one of the first uses of the modern sense of the word was in A. H. Barrington's Anti-Christian Cults (1898), a book about Spiritualism, Theosophy and Christian Science. In a few cases Christian Scientists were expelled from Christian congregations, but ministers also worried that their parishioners were choosing to leave. In May 1885 a Boston correspondent for the London Times wrote about the "Boston mind-cure craze": "Scores of the most valued Church members are joining the Christian Scientist branch of the metaphysical organization, and it has thus far been impossible to check the defection."
In 1907 Mark Twain described the appeal of the new religion:
Mary Baker Eddy, 1850s
|Born||Mary Morse Baker|
July 16, 1821
Bow, New Hampshire
December 3, 1910
Born Mary Morse Baker on a farm in Bow, New Hampshire, Eddy was the youngest of six children in a family of Protestant Congregationalists. Her father, Mark Baker, was a deeply religious man, although, according to one account, "Christianity to him was warfare against sin, not a religion of human brotherhood." In common with most women at the time Eddy was given little formal education, but said she had read widely at home.
From childhood she lived with protracted ill health, complaining of chronic indigestion and spinal inflammation, and according to biographers experiencing fainting spells. The literary critic Harold Bloom described her as "a kind of anthology of nineteenth-century nervous ailments."
Eddy's first husband died just before her 23rd birthday, six months after they married and three months before the birth of their son, leaving her penniless; as a result of her poor health she lost custody of the boy when he was four, although sources differ as to whether she could have prevented this. Her second husband, who left her after 13 years of marriage, promised to become the child's legal guardian (per the legal doctrine of coverture, women at that time in the United States could not be their own children's guardians), but it is unclear whether he did, and Eddy lost contact with her son until he was in his thirties.
Her third husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy, died five years after they married; she believed he was killed by malicious animal magnetism. Six years later, when she was 67 and apparently in need of loyalty and affection, she legally adopted a 41-year-old homeopath as her second son.
Eddy was by all accounts charismatic and able to inspire great loyalty, although Gillian Gill writes that she could also be irrational and unkind. According to Bryan Wilson, she exemplified the female charismatic leader, and was viewed as the head of the Christian Science church even after her death; he wrote in 1961 that her name – Christian Scientists call her Mrs. Eddy or "our beloved Leader" – was still included in all articles published in the Christian Science journals.
It was in part because of her unusual personality that Christian Science flourished, despite the numerous disputes she initiated among her followers. "She was like a patch of colour in those gray communities," McClure's wrote, "She never laid aside her regal air; never entered a room or left it like other people." Mark Twain, a prominent critic of hers, described her in 1907 as "vain, untruthful [and] jealous," but "[i]n several ways ... the most interesting woman that ever lived, and the most extraordinary."
Eddy tried every remedy for her ailments, including a three-month stay at the Vail's Hydropathic Institute in Hill, New Hampshire. She told the Boston Post in 1883 that, from 1855 to 1862 (most of her second marriage), she had been effectively confined to her bed or room. In 1862 she heard of a healing method developed by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802–1866), a former clockmaker in Portland, Maine. Styled Dr. P. P. Quimby, "a teacher of the science of health and happiness," he had become interested in healing after recovering unexpectedly from what he believed was consumption (tuberculosis). In 1837 after attending a lecture in Maine by the French mesmerist Charles Poyen, he began practising mesmerism himself.
Mesmerism was named after Franz Mesmer (1734–1815), a German physician who argued for the existence of a fluid through which bodies could influence each other, and which could be used to heal; Mesmer called the idea animal magnetism. Quimby and an assistant, Lucius Burkmar, traveled from town to town. Quimby would put Burkmar in a trance, and the latter would offer mind readings and suggestions for cures.
Quimby abandoned mesmerism around 1847 when he realized that it was suggestion that was effecting the apparent cures. He came to the view was disease was simply a belief. When Jesus healed a paralysed arm, he had known, Quimby wrote, "that the arm was not the cause, but the effect; and he addressed himself to the intelligence, and applied his wisdom to the cause." Spiritual or "scientific man" – the embodiment of the divine, Science, Truth – cannot be sick, Quimby argued, but is overwhelmed by the "natural man" of matter and false beliefs:
By 1856 Quimby had 500 patients a year; one estimate has him treating over 12,000 people. When Eddy first met him in October 1862 she had to be carried up the stairs to his consulting rooms. She felt better immediately, and spoke highly of him the following month in a letter to the Portland Evening Courier: "The truth which he establishes in the patient cures him ..." She also wrote a sonnet for him, "Mid light of science sits the sage profound," and gave a public lecture on his methods, "P. P. Quimby's Spiritual Science Healing Disease as Opposed to Deism or Rochester-Rapping Spiritualism."
From then until his death in 1866, Eddy returned to see Quimby many times, daily at one point. He began writing his thoughts down around 1859, published posthumously as The Quimby Manuscripts (1921), and was generous in allowing patients to copy his essays. This became an issue, from the 1880s onwards, when Eddy was accused of having based Christian Science on one of his unpublished manuscripts.
Quimby died on January 16, 1866, three months after Eddy's father. Eddy wrote a poem on January 22, "Lines on the Death of Dr. P. P. Quimby, Who Healed with the Truth that Christ Taught, in Contradistinction to All Isms," which was published in a local newspaper. Two weeks later, on February 1, she slipped on ice in Lynn, Massachusetts, injuring her head and neck:
Christian Scientists call this the "fall in Lynn," and see Eddy's recovery as the birth of their religion. The first time Eddy published a link between this and Christian Science was five years after the fall, in a letter to a prospective student in 1871:
Years later she wrote that, on the third day, she had read a certain Bible passage. According to Robert Peel, she identified it as Mark 3 in several editions of Science and Health, but in a later article said it was Matthew 9.2, a passage about one of Jesus's healings: "As I read, the healing Truth dawned upon my sense; and the result was that I rose, dressed myself, and ever after was in better health than I had before enjoyed."
The physician who treated her, Alvin M. Cushing, swore in an affidavit in 1907 that the injury had not been a serious one, and that Eddy had responded to morphine and a homeopathic remedy; she had not said anything to him about a miraculous healing.
Whether she considered herself healed at the time is unclear. Two weeks after the accident she asked Julius Dresser, another patient of Quimby's, to treat her, and in June that year the Mayor of Lynn told the city Eddy had sent them a letter "in which she states that owing to the unsafe condition of [the streets] ... she slipped and fell, causing serious personal injuries, from which she has little prospect of recovering, and asking for pecuniary recompense for the injuries received." In February 1867 Eddy and her husband, Daniel Patterson, a dentist, filed a lawsuit against the city to recover damages.
The fall in Lynn in 1866 was one of several experiences Eddy associated with the development of her healing method. In the first edition of Science and Health (1875), she wrote that she had discovered the method in 1864, and in 1883 told the Boston Post that it was in 1853. Elsewhere in the first edition she attributed it to the difficulties she had had with chronic indigestion as a child.
In March 1866, a month after the fall, Eddy and her husband (then married for 13 years) moved into an unfurnished room in Lynn in a house owned by the Reverend Philemon R. Russell. At some point her husband left and Eddy was evicted, unable to pay the $1.50 weekly rent. He appears to have returned briefly – they moved to a boarding house in July, and in August he paid Dr. Cushing's bill from the fall – but the marriage was over. He sent her $200 a year for a time, and they divorced in 1873.
Eddy moved between friends' homes and boarding houses, teaching Quimby's healing method in lieu of rent, parting company with her hosts over money and what several said was an imperious attitude. In 1868 she advertised for students, as Mary B. Glover (her first husband's surname) in a Spiritualist magazine, the Banner of Light, promising a "principle of science" that would heal with "[n]o medicine, electricity, physiology or hygiene required for unparalleled success in the most difficult cases."
That year Sally Wentworth, a Spiritualist in Stoughton, offered Eddy bed, board and $300 if Eddy would treat her daughter's lung condition and teach Wentworth Quimby's healing method. Eddy stayed there for two years, teaching Wentworth with a manuscript called Questions and Answers that Eddy acknowledged was Quimby's. It was Eddy's use of this manuscript that led to allegations years later that Christian Science was based on Quimby's work.
At this time Eddy called the healing method Moral Science. Her later names for it included Divine Science, Metaphysical Science, Metaphysical Healing, the Christ-cure, the Truth-cure and Christian Science. Quimby had referred to the idea of "Christian science" in his essay Aristocracy and Democracy (1863). She may also have found the phrase in The Elements of Christian Science (1850) by William Adams, and in The Early Years of Christianity (1870) by Edmond de Pressensé. Copies of both were in her library, and she had underlined a passage in de Pressensé's book about primitive Christianity and Christian science.
Eddy was asked to leave the Wentworths' in early 1870; they fell out over her request that they pay a printer $600 to publish a book she was writing, possibly called The Bible in its Spiritual Meaning.
She went to stay with another friend in Amesbury, where she resumed contact with Richard Kennedy. Kennedy had been a fellow lodger two years earlier, when he was a teenager working in a box factory, and had become one of her earliest students. She now asked him to join her in opening a Moral Science practice in Lynn; he would see patients and she would teach (she would later accuse him of using mesmerism against her). He agreed to pay her $1,000 for the previous two years' tuition.
Kennedy leased rooms in Lynn in June 1870, and placed a sign in the yard, "Dr. Kennedy"; he was 21 and Eddy 49. The practice became popular; McClure's wrote that people would say: "Go to Dr. Kennedy. He can't hurt you, even if he doesn't help you."
Lynn was a center of the shoe industry and most of Eddy's students were factory workers or artisans. She charged $100, raised a few weeks later to $300, for a three-week course of 12 lessons (reduced in 1888 to seven). Eddy based the lessons on a revised version of the Questions and Answers manuscript she had used with Sally Wentworth, now called The Science of Man, by which the sick are healed, Embracing Questions and Answers in Moral Science. It began: "What is God?" The answer: "Principle, wisdom, love, and truth."
She allowed her students to make copies of the manuscripts, but they were forbidden, under a $3,000 bond, from showing them to anyone. Two books that may also have influenced Eddy's thinking at the time were The Mental Cure (1869) and Mental Medicine (1872), both by Warren Felt Evans (1817–1889), a Swedenborgian and former patient of Quimby's.
The students agreed to pay Eddy 10 percent annually of income derived from her work, and $1,000 if they failed to practice or teach it. She at first taught them to rub patients' heads, to "lay [their] hands where the belief is to rub it out forever"; Kennedy would manipulate each student's head and solar plexus before class in preparation. The head rubbing was abandoned when the women complained about having to take their hair down, and the stomach rubbing held no appeal for them either. Eventually Eddy told them to ignore that part of the manuscript, and from then on Christian Science healing did not involve touching patients.
In 1879 Eddy sued two of the students (unsuccessfully) for royalties from their practices. They testified that she had claimed she no longer needed to eat and had seen the dead raised; Eddy told the judge she meant she had "seen the dead in understanding raised."
Kennedy decided toward the end of 1871 to end his business partnership with Eddy. She had accused him in front of others of cheating at cards; it was one of several scenes she had caused between them and he walked out on her. There was a temporary reconciliation, but he was unhappy about the abandonment of head rubbing, and after a dispute between Eddy and a student over a refund was played out in the local press, he decided to go his own way.
Once Kennedy and Eddy had settled their financial affairs in May 1872, she was left with $6,000. Peel writes that at this point she had already completed 60 pages of Science and Health. She again moved between boarding houses and the homes of friends, and was renting rooms in Lynn at 9 Broad Street, when 8 Broad Street came on the market. She purchased it in March 1875 for $5,650, taking in students to pay the mortgage. It was in the attic room of this house that she completed Science and Health.
Shortly after moving in, Eddy became close to another student, Daniel Spofford. He was 33 years old and married when he joined her class; he ended up leaving his wife in the hope that he might marry Eddy, but his feelings were not reciprocated. Spofford and seven other students agreed to form an association that would pay Eddy a certain amount a week for one year if she would preach to them every Sunday. They called themselves the Christian Scientists Association. Spofford would later find himself the object of Eddy's fury: expelled from the association, sued for engaging in mental malpractice, and allegedly targeted for murder by Eddy's third husband (a claim investigated and dismissed).
Eddy placed a sign on 8 Broad Street, Mary B. Glover's Christian Scientists' Home. According to McClure's, there was a regular turnover of tenants and domestic staff, whom Eddy accused of stealing from the house; she blamed Richard Kennedy for using mesmerism to turn people against her. According to Peel, there was gossip about the attractive woman, the men who came and went, and whether she was engaged in witchcraft. She was hurt, he wrote, but made light of it: "Of course I believe in free love; I love everyone."
Eddy copyrighted her book, then called The Science of Life, in July 1874. Three of her students, George Barry, Elizabeth Newhall and Daniel Spofford, paid a printer $2,000, and it was published by the Christian Science Publishing Company on October 30, 1875, as Science and Health, with eight chapters and 456 pages. (Barry ended up suing Eddy for payment for his work on the manuscript, among other things.)
The book was positively received by Amos Bronson Alcott, who wrote to Eddy that she had "reaffirm[ed] in modern phrase the Christian revelations," and that he was pleased it had been written by a woman. In 1999 Martin Gardner called the first edition a "chaotic patchwork of repetitious, poorly paragraphed topics," with spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes.
Eddy added Key to the Scriptures to the 6th edition in 1884, and for the 16th in 1885 hired an editor, James Henry Wiggin, a Unitarian clergyman. Gottschalk writes that one of Christian Science's most controversial questions is how much Wiggin contributed. According to Wiggin's literary executor, Wiggin said he had rewritten the book (the literary executor made this public after Wiggin's death in 1900). Twenty-two editions were published between 1886 and 1888 alone. Robert Peel wrote in 1971 that Wiggin had "toned up" Eddy's style, but had not affected her thinking.
Eddy continued to revise the book until her death in 1910; the final, 432nd, edition ran to 18 chapters and 600 pages. She encouraged members to buy each major revision, which brought in significant earnings. Other income derived from the sale of rings and brooches, pictures of Eddy, and in 1889 the Mary Baker Eddy souvenir spoon; Eddy asked every Christian Scientist to buy at least one, or a dozen if they could afford to.
When the copyright on Science and Health expired in 1971, the church persuaded Congress to extend it to 2046; the bill was supported by two of President Nixon's aides, Christian Scientists H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. The law was overturned as unconstitutional in 1987, after a challenge by United Christian Scientists, an independent group. By 2001 the book had sold ten million copies and was available in 16 languages and English Braille.
Science and Health expanded on Eddy's view that sickness was simply a mistaken belief. She wrote later that she had personally healed tuberculosis, diphtheria and "at one visit a cancer that had eaten the flesh of the neck and exposed the jugular vein so that it stood out like a cord. I have physically restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and have made the lame walk."
People said that simply reading Science and Health had healed them; cures were claimed for everything from cancer to blindness. Medical lecturer William Purrington argued in 1900 that the beneficiaries were "hysterical patients ... the victims of obscure nervous ailments." In the 1890s Richard Cabot (1868–1939) of Harvard Medical School studied the healing testimonies published by the Christian Science Journal, which Eddy founded in 1883, for his senior thesis. He wrote that the claims were based on self-diagnosis or secondhand reports from doctors, and attributed them to the placebo effect.  Eddy's views derived in part from having witnessed the apparent recovery of patients she had treated with homœopathic remedies so diluted they were drinking plain water. She concluded that Divine Mind was the healer:
She argued that even naming and reading about disease could turn thoughts into physical symptoms, and that the recording of ages might reduce the human lifespan. To explain how individuals could be harmed by poison without holding beliefs about it, she referred to the power of majority opinion.
Rodney Stark writes that a key to Christian Science's appeal at the time was that its success rate compared favorably with that of physicians, particularly when it came to women's health. Most doctors had not been to medical school, there were no antibiotics and surgical practices were poor. By comparison, the placebo effect (being treated at all, no matter what the treatment was) worked well. Stark argues that the "very elaborate and intensely psychological Christian Science 'treatments' maximize such effects, while having the advantage of not causing further harm."
Eddy allowed exceptions from Christian Science prayer, including for dentistry, optometry and broken limbs; she said she had healed broken bones using "mental surgery," but that this skill would be the last to be learned. But for the most part (then and now), Christian Scientists believe that medicine and Christian Science prayer are incompatible. Medicine asserts that something needs to be fixed, while Christian Science asserts that spiritual reality is perfect and beliefs to the contrary need to be corrected.
In January 1877 Eddy spurned an approach from Daniel Spofford, and to everyone's surprise married another of her students, Asa Gilbert Eddy (1826–1882). Eddy already believed that her former student Richard Kennedy was plotting against her; weeks after the wedding Spofford was suspected too. She had hinted in October 1876 that he might be a successor; instead he was expelled from the Christian Scientists' Association for "immorality" after quarrelling with her over money. She filed lawsuits against him and others for royalties or unpaid tuition fees. McClure's wrote that Eddy required "absolute and unquestioning conformity" from her students.
The conviction that she was at the center of plots and counter-plots became a feature of Eddy's life. She believed that several students were using what she called "malicious animal magnetism" (MAM) against her (she also called it malicious mesmerism or mental malpractice). In 1881 she added a 47-page chapter on MAM to Science and Health (reduced to seven pages in 1890 when James Henry Wiggin was editor), calling it "literally demonology," and arguing that it had gained strength from Christian Science "as if to forestall the power of good." She spoke openly about this, including to the press. "Those of her students who believed in mesmerism were always on their guard with each other, filled with suspicion and distrust," Cather and Milmine wrote. "Those who did not believe in it dared not admit their disbelief."
In May 1878 Eddy brought a case against Daniel Spofford, in Salem, Massachusetts, for practicing mesmerism; it came to be known as the second Salem witchcraft trial. The case was filed in the name of a patient of his, Lucretia Brown, who said that Spofford had bewitched her. Eddy appeared in court on Brown's behalf. She arrived with 20 supporters, including Amos Bronson Alcott (a "cloud of witnesses," according to the Boston Globe), but Judge Horace Gray (1828–1902) dismissed the case.
In preparation for the hearing, Eddy organized a 24-hour "watch" at 8 Broad Street, during which she asked 12 students, for two hours each, to think about Spofford and block malicious mesmerism from him. She organized these watches for the rest of her life, calling them "the P. M." (private meeting). Her most trusted students, known as mental or metaphysical workers, were asked to give "adverse treatment" to one of her enemies, often Richard Kennedy, calling him, for example, bilious, consumptive or poisoned by arsenic. According to Adam H. Dickey, her private secretary for the last three years of her life, hour-long meetings were held at least twice a day to address manifestations of mesmerism.
The attempt to have Spofford tried was not the end of the dispute. In October 1878 Eddy's husband and another student, Edward Arens (whom Eddy accused four years later of having killed her husband with mesmerism), were charged with conspiring to murder Spofford. A barman said they had offered him $500 to do it; after a complex series of claims and counter-claims, the charges were dropped when a witness retracted his statement. Eddy attributed the allegation to a plot by former students to undermine sales of the second edition of Science and Health, just published. Her lawyer had to apply for an attachment order against her house to collect his fee.
On August 23, 1879, 26 members of the Christian Scientists' Association were granted a charter to form the Church of Christ (Scientist). Services were held in people's homes in Lynn, and later in Hawthorne Hall, Boston. On January 31, 1881, Eddy was granted a charter to form the Massachusetts Metaphysical College to teach "pathology, ontology, therapeutics, moral science, metaphysics, and their application to the treatment of disease." The college lived wherever Eddy did; a new sign appeared on 8 Broad Street.
In October 1881 there was a revolt. Eight church members resigned, signing a document complaining of Eddy's "frequent ebullitions of temper, love of money, and the appearance of hypocrisy." Only a few students remained, including Calvin Frye (1845–1917), who became Eddy's most loyal personal assistant. They appointed Eddy pastor of the church in November 1881, and drew up a resolution in February 1882 that she was "the chosen messenger of God to the nations."
Despite the support, the resignations ended Eddy's time in Lynn. The church was struggling and her reputation had been damaged by the disputes. By now 61 years old, she decided to move to Boston, and in early 1882 rented a house at 569 Columbus Avenue, a silver plaque announcing the arrival of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. The college's prospectus, published in 1884, offered three diplomas: Christian Scientist (C.S.) for Christian Scientists' Association members; Christian Metaphysician (C.M.) for Eddy's 12-lesson course and three years' practice; and Doctor of Christian Science (D.C.S.) for C.M.s whose "life and character conform to Divine science." Students could study metaphysics, science of the scriptures, mental healing and obstetrics, using two textbooks, Science and Health and the Bible.
Between 1881 and October 1889, when Eddy closed the college, 4,000 students took the course at $300 per person or married couple, making her a rich woman. Mark Twain wrote that she had turned a sawdust mine (possibly Quimby's) into a Klondike.
Eddy's husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy, died of heart disease on June 4, 1882, shortly after the move to Boston. She invited the Boston Globe to her home on the day of his death to allege that he had been killed by malicious animal magnetism, courtesy of "certain parties here in Boston, who had sworn to injure them." The Globe wrote:
A doctor performed an autopsy and showed Eddy her husband's diseased heart, but she responded by giving more interviews about mesmerism. Fraser wrote that the articles made Eddy a household name, a real-life version of the charismatic and beautiful Verena Tarrant in Henry James's The Bostonians (1885–1886), with her interest in spiritualism, women's rights and the mind cure. Shortly after the death, Eddy moved next door to 571 Columbus Avenue with several students. The following year, 1883, she founded the Christian Science Journal (at first called the Journal of Christian Science), which spread news of her ideas across the United States.
In 1885 Eddy was accused of promoting Spiritualism and pantheism by the Reverend Adoniram J. Gordon, in a letter read out by Joseph Cook during one of his popular Monday lectures at Tremont Temple in Boston. She demanded a right of reply, and on March 16, 1885, told the congregation that she was not a Spiritualist, and that she believed in God as the Supreme Being, and believed in the atonement. She described Christian Science healing as "Christ come to destroy the power of the flesh." Stephen Gottschalk wrote that the occasion marked the "emergence of Christian Science into American religious life."
The first church building was erected in 1886 in Oconto, Wisconsin, by local women who believed Christian Science had helped them. For a down payment of $2,000 and a mortgage of $8,763, the church purchased land in Falmouth Street, Boston, for the erection of a building. Eddy asked Augusta Stetson (1842–1928), a prominent Scientist, to establish a church in New York. By the end of 1886 Christian Science teaching institutes had sprung up around the United States.
In December 1887 Eddy moved to a $40,000, 20-room house at 385 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston. She had been teaching four to six classes a year, and by 1889 had probably made at least $100,000 (equivalent to $2,625,000 in 2014). By 1890 the Church of Christ (Scientist) had 8,724 members in the United States, having started 11 years earlier with just 26.
Ernest Sutherland Bates and John V. Dittemore, Bryan Wilson, Charles S. Braden and Martin Gardner list several writers whose words Eddy used without attribution. For example, a section in her Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 is almost identical to "The Man of Integrity," an essay by Scottish minister Hugh Blair in Lindley Murray's The English Reader (1799).
Gillian Gill writes that Eddy's debt to Phineas Parkhurst Quimby became the single most controversial issue of her life. In her early years she did acknowledge it. When a prospective student asked in 1871 whether her methods had been used before, she replied:
Later she drew a distinction between their methods, arguing that Quimby's involved one mind healing another, while hers depended on a connection with Divine Mind. She described his influence in 1883 as: "We caught some of his thoughts, and he caught some of ours; and both of us were pleased to say this to each other."
In 1883 one of Quimby's patients, Julius Dresser, accused Eddy in the Boston Post of teaching Quimby's methods as her own. Eddy's replies disparaged Quimby as a mesmerist, and said she had experimented with mental healing in 1853, nine years before she met him. The issue ended up in court in September 1883, when Eddy complained that her student Edward J. Arens had copied parts of Science and Health in a pamphlet, and Arens counter-claimed that Eddy had copied it from Quimby in the first place. Quimby's son was so unwilling to produce his father's manuscripts that he sent them out of the country (perhaps fearing litigation with Eddy or that someone would tamper with them), and Eddy won the case. Things were stirred up further by the publication of Julius Dresser's The True History of Mental Healing (1887).
The plagiarism charge stemmed from Eddy's use of Quimby's manuscript (right) when teaching in 1868–1870. In later revisions, a preface by Eddy was incorporated into Quimby's text so that, it seems, the two authors' work was merged. Eddy said she had helped to fix Quimby's unpublished notes, and now stood accused of having copied her own words. Against this, Lyman P. Powell, one of Eddy's biographers, wrote in 1907 that Quimby's son held an almost identical copy of the manuscript Eddy had used to teach Sally Wentworth. It was in Quimby's wife's handwriting, Powell wrote, and was dated February 1862, eight months before Eddy met Quimby.
The New York Times obtained the Wentworth manuscript in July 1904 and juxtaposed passages with Science and Health to highlight the similarities. Quimby's manuscripts were published in 1921, and in 1923 a student of Eddy's published the manuscripts she had used in 1870. There was no evidence of plagiarism, but Eddy's biographers continued to disagree about Quimby's influence. Bates and Dittemore, the latter a former director of the Christian Science church, argued in 1932 that "as far as the thought is concerned, Science and Health is practically all Quimby," except for malicious animal mesmerism. Robert Peel, who also worked for the church, wrote in 1966 that Eddy may have influenced Quimby as much as he influenced her. Gardner argued in 1993 that Eddy had taken "huge chunks" from Quimby, and Gill in 1998 that there were only general similarities.
In 1887 Eddy started teaching a "metaphysical obstetrics" course, two one-week classes. She had started calling herself "Professor of Obstetrics" in 1882; McClure's wrote: "Hundreds of Mrs. Eddy's students were then practising who knew no more about obstetrics than the babes they helped into this world." The first prosecutions took place that year, when practitioners were charged with practicing medicine without a licence. All were acquitted during the trial or on appeal.
The first manslaughter charge was in March 1888, when Abby H. Corner, a practitioner in Medford, Massachusetts, attended to her daughter during childbirth; the daughter bled to death and the baby did not survive. The defense argued that they might have died even with medical attention, and Corner was acquitted. To the dismay of the Christian Scientists' Association (the secretary resigned), Eddy distanced herself from Corner, telling the Boston Globe that Corner had never entered the obstetrics class.
From then until the 1990s around 50 parents and practitioners were prosecuted, and often acquitted, after adults and children died without medical care; charges ranged from neglect to second-degree murder. The American Medical Association (AMA) declared war on Christian Scientists; in 1895 its journal called Christian Science and similar ideas, "molochs to infants." Juries were nevertheless reluctant to convict when defendants believed they were helping the patient. There was also opposition to the AMA's effort to strengthen medical licencing laws. Historian Shawn Peters writes that, in the courts and public debate, Christian Scientists and Jehovah's Witnesses linked their healing claims to early Christianity to gain support from other Christians.
Vaccination became another battleground. A Christian Scientist in Wisconsin won a case in 1897 that allowed his son, who was not vaccinated against smallpox, to attend public school, and others were arrested in 1899 for avoiding vaccination during a smallpox epidemic in Georgia. In 1900 Eddy advised adherents to obey the law, and from 1902 she required that they report contagious diseases to health boards. When her son told her he was keeping his youngest boy out of school rather than have him vaccinated, Eddy replied: "But if it were my child I should let them vaccinate him and then with Christian Science I would prevent its harming the health of my child."
In 1888 Eddy became close to another of her students, Ebenezer Johnson Foster, a homeopath and graduate of the Hahnemann Medical College. He was 41 and she was 67, but apparently needing affection and someone to be loyal to her she adopted him legally in November that year, and he changed his name to Ebenezer Johnson Foster Eddy.
A year later, in October 1889, she closed the Massachusetts Metaphysical College; Bates and Dittemore wrote that the state attorney was investigating colleges that were fraudulently graduating medical students. She also foreclosed the mortgage on the land in Boston the church had purchased, then purchased it herself for $5,000 through a middle man, though it was worth considerably more. She told the church they could have the land for their building on condition they formally dissolve the church; this was apparently intended to quash internal rebellions that had been bothering her.
The following year she dissolved the National Christian Science Association. Wilson writes that the dissolutions allowed her to create a central church controlled by a five-person board of directors that answered only to her, which gave the church a stability that helped it survive her death.
The cornerstone of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, containing the Bible, Eddy's writings and a list of directors and financial contributors, was laid in May 1894 in the Back Bay area of Boston. Church members raised funds for the construction, and the building was finished in December 1894 at a cost of $250,000. It contained a "Mother's Room" in the tower for Eddy's personal use, furnished with rare books, silks, tapestries, rugs, a dressing gown and slippers, though she spent only one night there and it was later turned into a storage room. The archway into the room was made of Italian marble, and the word Mother was engraved on the floor.
Within two years the Boston membership had exceeded the church's capacity and plans began for an extension. By 1903 the block around the church had been purchased by Christian Scientists, and in 1906 an extension accommodating 5,000 people was completed at a cost of $2 million. This attracted the criticism that, whereas Christian Scientists spent money on a magnificent church, they maintained no hospitals, orphanages or missions in the slums.
Christian Science went on to become the fastest-growing American religion in the early 20th century. The federal religious census recorded 85,717 Christian Scientists in 1906; 30 years later it was 268,915. In 1890 there were seven Christian Science churches in the United States, a figure that had risen to 1,104 by 1910. Churches began to appear in other countries too: 58 in England, 38 in Canada and 28 elsewhere by 1910.
Mark Twain was a prominent contemporaneous critic of Eddy's. His first article about Christian Science was published in Cosmopolitan in October 1899. Another three appeared in 1902–1903 in North American Review, then a book, Christian Science (1907). He also wrote "The Secret History of Eddypus, the World Empire" (1901–1902), in which Christian Science replaces Christianity and Eddy becomes the Pope.
Twain described Eddy as "[g]rasping, sordid, penurious, famishing for everything she sees – money, power, glory – vain, untruthful, jealous, despotic, arrogant, insolent, pitiless where thinkers and hypnotists are concerned, illiterate, shallow, incapable of reasoning outside of commercial lines, immeasurably selfish."
Science and Health he called "strange and frantic and incomprehensible and uninterpretable," and argued that Eddy had not written it herself. "There is nothing in Christian Science that is not explicable," he wrote, "for God is one, Time is one, Individuality is one, and may be one of a series, one of many, as an individual man, individual horse; whereas God is one, not one of a series, but one alone and without an equal." Eddy apart, Twain felt ambivalent toward mind-cure, arguing that "the thing back of it is wholly gracious and beautiful." His daughter Clara Clemens (1874–1962) became a Christian Scientist and wrote a book about it, Awake to a Perfect Day (1956).
The first history of Christian Science appeared in McClure's magazine in 14 installments in 1907–1908, preceded by an editorial in December 1906. The essence of the articles, which included court documents and affidavits from Eddy's associates, was that Eddy's chief concern was money, and that she had derived Christian Science from Quimby. The material was also published as a book, The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science (1909). It became the key source for most non-church histories of the religion.
The editor-in-chief assigned five writers to work on the series, including the novelist Willa Cather as the principal author. The book was kept out of print from early in its life by the Christian Science church, which bought the original manuscript. It was republished in 1971 by Baker Book House when its copyright expired, and again in 1993 by the University of Nebraska Press.
In March 1907 several of Eddy's relatives filed an unsuccessful lawsuit, the "Next Friends suit," against members of Eddy's household, alleging that she was unable to manage her own affairs. Calvin Frye, her long-time personal assistant, was a particular target of the allegations. The New York World (1860–1931) published a front-page story in October 1906, with the headline "Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy Dying; Footman and Dummy Control Her." The article said that Eddy, by then 85 years old, was housebound and dying of cancer, that her staff had taken control of her fortune, and that another woman was impersonating her in public.
The newspaper persuaded Eddy's family (or "next friends") to file a lawsuit. Several joined the action, including Eddy's biological son, George Glover, and adoptive son, Ebenezer J. Foster Eddy. Eddy was interviewed in her home in August 1907 by the judge and two psychiatrists, who concluded that she was mentally competent.
In response to the McClure's and New York World stories, Eddy asked the church in July 1908 to found the Christian Science Monitor as a platform for responsible journalism. It appeared in November that year, with the motto "To injure no man, but to bless all mankind," and went on to win seven Pulitzer Prizes between 1950 and 2002.
Eddy died two years later, on the evening of Saturday, December 3, 1910, aged 89. The Mother Church announced at the end of the Sunday morning service that Eddy had "passed from our sight." It issued a statement that "the time will come when there will be no more death," but that Christian Scientists "do not look for [Mrs. Eddy's] return in this world." Her estate was valued at $1.5 million, most of which she left to the church.
|Christian Science practitioners (US)|
A census at the height of the religion's popularity in 1936 counted nearly 270,000 Christian Scientists in the United States. The movement has been in decline ever since; Rodney Stark estimated that there were 106,000 Scientists in that country in 1990.
There were 1,271 Christian Science practitioners worldwide in 2014, against 11,200 in the United States in 1941. According to Stark, clusters of practitioners listed in the Christian Science Journal in 1998 were living in the same retirement communities. In 2009 the church announced that, for the first time, more new members had been admitted from Africa than from the United States. It has sold church buildings to free up funds.
Stark attributed the rise of the movement in the late-19th and early-20th centuries to several factors. It retained cultural continuity with Christianity by stressing that it was Christian and adopting its terms, despite the new content Eddy introduced. It was not puritanical; members were expected not to drink or smoke, but could otherwise do as they pleased, and several exceptions to the avoidance of medicine were permitted. It offered professional opportunities to women who might otherwise have had none. They could become practitioners after just 12 lessons; 12 of the 14 practitioners listed in the first edition of Christian Science Journal were women. In 1906 72 percent of Christian Scientists in the United States were female, against 49 percent of the population.
The major factor in the rise of the movement was that medical practice was in its infancy, and patients often fared better if left alone; within that context Christian Science prayer compared favorably. The increased efficacy of medicine around World War II heralded the religion's decline. Stark charts the use of sulfonamide to kill bacteria, the availability of penicillin in the 1940s and breakthroughs in immunology.
Other factors in the decline included increased opportunities for women to work outside the home, and that much of the membership was elderly; 30 percent were over 65 in 1998. Eddy was in her sixties by the time the movement began to spread; Stark writes that the "characteristics of the earliest members of a movement will tend to be reproduced in subsequent converts."
A significant percentage of Scientists remained single (Eddy placed little emphasis on marriage and family), or became Scientists when their children were adults and unlikely to be converted. Christian Science did not have missionaries, so it relied on internal growth, but the conversion rate within families was not high; in a study cited by Stark, just 26 of 80 people (33 percent) raised with Christian Science became Scientists themselves.
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Christian Scientists avoid almost all medical treatment, relying instead on Christian Science prayer. The prayer remains the same as in Eddy's day. There is no appeal to a personal god, and no set words or practices.
Caroline Fraser described the prayer in 1999 as the practitioner silently arguing about the nature of reality. The practitioner might repeat, "the allness of God using Eddy's seven synonyms – Life, Truth, Love, Spirit, Soul, Principle and Mind," then that "Spirit, Substance, is the only Mind, and man is its image and likeness; that Mind is intelligence; that Spirit is substance; that Love is wholeness; that Life, Truth, and Love are the only reality." She might deny other religions, the existence of evil, mesmerism, astrology, numerology and the symptoms of whatever the illness is. She concludes, Fraser writes, by asserting that disease is a lie, that this is the word of God and that it has the power to heal.
The Christian Science Journal and Christian Science Sentinel publish anecdotal healing testimonies. These must be accompanied by statements from three verifiers, who are "people who know [the testifier] well and have either witnessed the healing or can vouch for [the testifier's] integrity in sharing it." Philosopher Margaret P. Battin writes that the seriousness with which these are treated by Christian Scientists ignores factors such as false positives caused by self-limiting conditions. Because no negative accounts are published, the testimonies strengthen people's tendency to rely on anecdotes.
The church published 53,900 such testimonies between 1900 and April 1989. A church study, published in 1989, examined 10,000 of them, 2,337 of which the church said involved conditions that had been medically diagnosed, and 623 of which were "medically confirmed by follow-up examinations." The report offered no evidence of the medical follow-up. The Massachusetts Committee for Children and Youth listed among the report's flaws that it had failed to compare the rates of successful and unsuccessful Christian Science treatment.
Christian Science practitioners are certified by the church to charge a fee for Christian Science prayer. There were 1,271 listed practitioners worldwide in 2014; in the United States in 2010 they charged $25–$50 for an e-mail, telephone or face-to-face consultation. Their training is a two-week, 12-lesson course called primary class, based on the Recapitulation chapter of Science and Health. Practitioners wanting to teach primary class take a six-day "normal class," held in Boston once every three years. Christian Science nursing homes offer no medical services; the nurses are Christian Scientists who have completed a course of religious study and training in basic skills, such as feeding and bathing.
The main criticism Christian Scientists face is that their children are denied equal protection under the law. Sick and disabled children have been told the only thing wrong with them is "incorrect" thinking, and practitioners have told parents that the parents' thoughts can harm their children. The church maintains that members are free to choose medical care, but several have said they fear ostracism. The American Academy of Pediatrics regards failure to seek medical care for children as "child neglect, regardless of the motivation."
In the United States the Christian Science church has used the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to persuade states to maintain religious-exemption statutes; the Free Exercise Clause reads (in italics): "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...." Many of the exemptions say that in life-threatening situations children must have access to medical care, but without early access the seriousness of an illness may not be recognized, in part because Christian Scientists are encouraged not to educate themselves about physical ailments.
After the conviction for manslaughter in 1967 of the Christian Scientist mother of five-year-old Lisa Sheridan, who died without medical care in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the church lobbied the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to add a religious exemption, in 1974, to the Code of Federal Regulations:
States were thereafter obliged to include exemptions or lose funding. The wording of the exemptions made clear that they referred to Christian Science. Largely as a result of lobbying by Children's Healthcare is a Legal Duty, the government eliminated the HEW regulation in 1983, but 37 states, Guam and the District of Columbia still had religious exemptions in their civil codes on child abuse and neglect as of 2014. Forty-eight US states allowed religious exemptions for compulsory vaccination as of July 2014.
In over 50 cases between 1887 and the early 1990s, prosecutors charged Christian Scientists after adults and children died of treatable illnesses without medical care. A 1998 study in Pediatrics examined 172 child deaths between 1975 and 1995 where parents had withheld medical care for religious reasons; 28 involved Christian Science, the second highest number from a single group.
The death in 1967 of five-year-old Lisa Sheridan of pneumonia in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was the first of several in the 20th century known within the church as the "child cases," according to Fraser. Her mother was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years' probation. It was after this prosecution that the church began lobbying for religious exemptions.
In 1977 16-month-old Matthew Swan died of bacterial meningitis in Detroit, Michigan, after his parents were persuaded not to take him to a physician; they responded by founding Children's Healthcare is a Legal Duty (CHILD). Between 1980 and 1990 another seven Christian Scientist parents in the United States were prosecuted; there were four convictions, two overturned.
In 1988 12-year-old Ashley King died in Phoenix, Arizona, after living for months with a tumor on her leg that had a 41-inch circumference; her parents pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment. A prominent case in Massachusetts was Commonwealth v. Twitchell, which saw the parents of two-year-old Robyn Twitchell convicted in 1990 of involuntary manslaughter after he died of peritonitis. The conviction was overturned on appeal; the court ruled that the couple had "reasonably believed" they could rely on Christian Science prayer without being prosecuted.
The first time the church was held liable (overturned on appeal) was in 1993 after 11-year-old Ian Lundman died of hyperglycaemia in Minnesota in 1989. The church sent a Christian Science nurse to sit with him; doctors testified that he could have been saved by an insulin injection up to two hours before his death. The mother and stepfather were charged with manslaughter, but the charges were dismissed. The boy's father sued the mother, stepfather, practitioner, nurse, nursing home and church. He was awarded $5.2 million compensatory damages, later reduced to $1.5 million, and $9 million in punitive damages against the church. The Minnesota State Court of Appeals overturned the award against the church and nursing home in 1995, finding that a judgment that forced the church to "abandon teaching its central tenet" was unconstitutional, and that, while the individuals had a duty of care toward the boy, the church and nursing home did not.
Eddy was granted a charter in 1879 to found the Church of Christ (Scientist), and in 1894 The First Church of Christ, Scientist was built in Boston, with an extension completed in 1906. The church administration is headquartered on the 14-acre site, which includes a plaza with a 670 x 100 ft (204 x 30 m) reflecting pool, in a 28-story building designed in 1973 by Araldo Cossutta of I. M. Pei & Associates.
The church is led by a president and five-person board of directors, and by the Committee on Publication (with representatives around the world), an institution Eddy set up in 1898 to protect her own and the church's reputation. The first Christian Science church in any city is called First Church of Christ, Scientist; the next, Second Church of Christ, Scientist, and so on (for example, Third Church of Christ, Scientist, London). When a church closes the others are not renamed. Only the Mother Church in Boston uses the definite article in the title.
Eddy's Manual of The Mother Church (1895) lists 83 requirements and prohibitions for members. Requirements include daily study of the Bible and Science and Health and daily prayer. They must subscribe to church periodicals if they can afford to, and pay an annual tax to the church of not less than one dollar.
Prohibitions include joining other churches, publishing articles that are uncharitable toward religion, medicine and the law, engaging in public debate about Christian Science without board approval, engaging in mental malpractice, or visiting a store that sells "obnoxious" books. It also includes "The Golden Rule": "A member of The Mother Church shall not haunt Mrs. Eddy's drive when she goes out, continually stroll by her house, or make a summer resort near her for such a purpose."
Christian Science churches have no clergy, sermons or rituals, and perform no baptisms, marriages or burials. Readers select hymns and read aloud from Science and Health and the Bible. There are Sunday services, Sunday schools, and Wednesday meetings during which members offer testimonies. The organization has been accused at times of silencing internal criticism by firing staff, delisting practitioners and excommunicating members.
Notable Scientists have included two former Directors of Central Intelligence, William H. Webster and Admiral Stansfield M. Turner, as well as Richard Nixon's chief of staff H. R. Haldeman and Chief Domestic Advisor John Ehrlichman. Others include NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, and in England the viscountess Nancy Astor and naval officer Charles Lightoller, who survived the 1912 sinking of the Titanic.
There used to be a concentration of Scientists in the film industry, including Joan Crawford, Carol Channing, Doris Day, Cecil B. DeMille, Horton Foote, George Hamilton, Mary Pickford, Mickey Rooney, Ginger Rogers, Jean Stapleton, and more recently Robert Duvall and Val Kilmer.
Those raised within Christian Science include comedian Robin Williams, television host Ellen DeGeneres, jurist Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, and actors Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn and Anne Archer. Archer left Christian Science when her son, Tommy Davis, was a child; both became prominent in the Church of Scientology.
The Christian Science Publishing Society publishes several periodicals, including the Christian Science Monitor, winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes between 1950 and 2002. This had a daily circulation in 1970 of 220,000, which by 2008 had contracted to 52,000, and in 2009 it moved to a largely online presence with a weekly print run. In the 1980s the church produced its own television programs, and in 1991 founded a 24-hour news channel, which closed with heavy losses after 13 months.
The church also publishes the weekly Christian Science Sentinel, the monthly Christian Science Journal, and the Herald of Christian Science, a non-English publication. In April 2012 JSH-Online made back issues of the Journal, Sentinel and Herald available online to subscribers.
The church and Publishing Society faced internal dissent in 1991 over their decision to publish The Destiny of The Mother Church. Written and privately printed in 1943 by Bliss Knapp (1877–1958), former president of the Mother Church, the book suggested that Eddy was the Woman of the Apocalypse of the New Testament. Knapp and his family bequeathed $98-million to the church on condition that it publish and authorize the book by 1993; otherwise the money would go to Stanford University and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The church published and made the book available in Christian Science reading rooms; one senior employee was fired for failing to support the church's decision, and 18 of the 21 editorial staff of the religious journals resigned. In the end the other parties disputed that making the book available in Reading Rooms constituted authorization, and the bequest was split three ways.
John K. Simmons, "Christian Science and American Culture," in Timothy Miller (ed.), America's Alternative Religions, SUNY Press, 1995, p. 61: "While members, past and present, of the Christian Science movement understandably claim Mrs. Eddy's truths to be part of a unique and final religious revelation, most outside observers place Christian Science in the metaphysical family of religious organizations ..."
Meredith B. McGuire, "Traditional Metaphysical Movements," Ritual Healing in Suburban America, Rutgers University Press, 1988, p. 79.
Charles S. Braden, Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought, Southern Methodist University Press, 1963, pp. 4–5: "[I]t was in America that [mesmerism] ... gave rise to a complex of religious faiths varying from one another in significant ways, but all agreeing upon the central fact that healing and for that matter every good thing is possible through a right relationship with the ultimate power in the Universe, Creative Mind – called God, Principle, Life, Wisdom ...
"This broad complex of religions is sometimes described by the rather general term 'metaphysical' ... The general movement has proliferated in many directions. Two main streams seem most vigorous: one is called Christian Science; the other, which no single name adequately describes, has come rather generally to be known as New Thought."
Paul Eli Ivey, Prayers in Stone: Christian Science Architecture in the United States, 1894–1930, University of Illinois Press, 1999, p. 49.
"Reading rooms", Christian Science.
Margaret P. Battin, "High-Risk Religion: Christian Science and the Violation of Informed Consent," in Peggy DesAutels, Margaret P. Battin and Larry May (eds.), Praying for a Cure: When Medical and Religious Practices Conflict, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999, p. 11.
Mary M. Trammell (chair, Christian Science board of directors), "Letter; What the Christian Science Church Teaches", The New York Times, March 26, 2010.
Roy M. Anker, "Revivalism, Religious Experience and the Birth of Mental Healing," Self-help and Popular Religion in Early American Culture: An Interpretive Guide, Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 (pp. 11–100), pp. 8, 176ff.
For early uses of New Thought, William Henry Holcombe, Condensed Thoughts about Christian Science (1887).
Statement by the Metaphysical Club, Boston, November 1901, in Horatio W. Dresser, The Spirit of the New Thought, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1917, p. 215.
Dell De Chant, "The American New Thought Movement," in Eugene Gallagher and Michael Ashcraft (eds.), Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America, Greenwood Publishing Company, 2007, pp. 81–82.
James 1902, p. 94: "To my mind a current far more important and interesting religiously ... I will give the title of the Mind-Cure movement. There are various sects of this "New Thought" ... but their agreements are so profound that their differences may be neglected for my present purposes ..."; p. 106: "Christian Science so-called, the sect of Mrs. Eddy, is the most radical branch of mind-cure in its dealings with evil."
de Chant 2007, p. 73: "Until [Hopkins' ordination of ministers in 1889], Mind Cure (Christian Science and independent mental healing groups) was a lay movement."
McGuire 1988, p. 79: "The most familiar offshoot of the metaphysical movement ... is Christian Science, which was based upon a more extreme interpretation of metaphysical healing than that of the New Thought groups. ... Christian Science is unlike New Thought and other metaphysical movements of that era in that Mary Baker Eddy successfully arrogated to herself all teaching authority, centralized decision-making and organizational power, and developed the movement's sectarian character."
Simmons 1995, p. 61.
Laurence R. Moore, Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans, Oxford University Press, 1986, pp. 112–113.
Stark 1998, p. 195: "Mary Baker Eddy pushed the postulates of positive thinking to their absolute limit. ... She proposed not merely that the spiritual overshadows the material, but that the material world does not exist. The world of our senses is but an illusion of our minds. If the material world causes us pain, grief, danger and even death, that can be changed by changing our thoughts."
Anker 1999, p. 9: " ... Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science (denominationally known as the Church of Christ, Scientist), the most prominent, successful, controversial, and distinctive of all the groups whose inspiration scholars trace to the healing and intellectual influence of Quimby."
Stark 1998, p. 195: "But, of course, Christian Science was not just another Protestant sect. Like Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy added too much new religious culture for her movement to qualify fully as a member of the Christian family – as all the leading clerics of the time repeatedly and vociferously pointed out. However, unlike Madame Blavatsky's Theosophical Society, and like the Mormons, Christian Science retained an immense amount of Christian culture. These continuities allowed converts from a Christian background to preserve a great deal of cultural capital."
Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection, p. 70: "The second appearing of Jesus is, unquestionably, the spiritual advent of the advancing idea of God, as in Christian Science."
Eddy, "The Christian Science Textbook," The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 115: "I should blush to write of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures as I have, were it of human origin, and I, apart from God, its author. But, as I was only a scribe echoing the harmonies of heaven in divine metaphysics, I cannot be super-modest in my estimate of the Christian Science textbook."
Of the idea of "mortal mind," she wrote (Science and Health, p. 114): "Mortal mind is a solecism in language, and involves an improper use of the word mind. As Mind is immortal, the phrase mortal mind implies something untrue and therefore unreal; and as the phrase is used in Christian Science, it is meant to designate that which has no real existence."
For Barrington, see Philip Jenkins, Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History, Oxford University Press, 2000, p. 49.
Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection, p. 12: "My father's relentless theology emphasized belief in a final judgment-day, in the danger of endless punishment, and in a Jehovah merciless towards unbelievers ..."
Bates and Dittemore 1932, pp. 16–17: Eddy was not able to attend Sanbornton (Tilton) Academy when the family moved there in 1836, but was required instead to start at the district school on the lower floor of the same building. She started at the beginning with the youngest girls, but withdrew after a month because of poor health. Thereafter she received private tuition from the Reverend Enoch Corser; p. 25: She entered Sanbornton Academy in 1842.
Robert Peel, Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Discovery, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966, later published by the Christian Science Publishing Society, p. 54: Eddy "may have attended Holmes Academy at Plymouth in 1838 and certainly attended Sanbornton Academy in 1842." She may have attended during other terms, and may also have attended another school called Woodman Sanbornton Academy.
Gill 1998, p. 50: "In November 1842, at age twenty-one, she completed her formal schooling, having done three full semesters at the Sanbornton Academy under Dyer Sanborn."
Willa Cather, Georgine Milmine, The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science, Doubleday, 1909, pp. 21–22.
Peel 1966, p. 45: "This was when life took on the look of a nightmare, overburdened nerves gave way, and she would end in a state of unconsciousness that would sometimes last for hours and send the family into a panic. On such an occasion Lyman Durgin, the Baker's teen-age chore boy, who adored Mary, would be packed off on a horse for the village doctor ..." For a different view, Gill 1998, pp. 39–48.
For women having no right of guardianship, "Women and the Law", Women, Enterprise & Society, Harvard Business School, 2010: "A married woman or feme covert was a dependent, like an underage child or a slave, and could not own property in her own name or control her own earnings, except under very specific circumstances. When a husband died, his wife could not be the guardian to their under-age children." Also see M. Victor Westberg, "Christian Science: An Exchange", The New York Review of Books, November 14, 1996.
Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection, pp. 20–21: "After returning to the paternal roof I lost all my husband's property, except what money I had brought with me; and remained with my parents until after my mother's decease.
"A few months before my father's second marriage, to Mrs. Elizabeth Patterson Duncan, sister of Lieutenant-Governor George W. Patterson of New York, my little son, about four years of age, was sent away from me, and put under the care of our family nurse, who had married, and resided in the northern part of New Hampshire. I had no training for self-support, and my home I regarded as very precious. The night before my child was taken from me, I knelt by his side throughout the dark hours, hoping for a vision of relief from this trial. ...
"My second marriage was very unfortunate, and from it I was compelled to ask for a bill of divorce, which was granted me in the city of Salem, Massachusetts.
"My dominant thought in marrying again was to get back my child, but after our marriage his stepfather was not willing he should have a home with me. A plot was consummated for keeping us apart. The family to whose care he was committed very soon removed to what was then regarded as the Far West.
"After his removal a letter was read to my little son, informing him that his mother was dead and buried. Without my knowledge a guardian was appointed him, and I was then informed that my son was lost. Every means within my power was employed to find him, but without success. We never met again until he had reached the age of thirty-four, had a wife and two children, and by a strange providence had learned that his mother still lived, and came to see me in Massachusetts."
Also see Charles Poyen, Progress of Animal Magnetism in New England, Weeks, Jordan & Co, 1837.
Quimby, in Newman (ed.), 2008, p. 507, described his methods in a "circular to the sick": "Dr. P. P. Quimby would respectfully announce to the citizens of _______ and vicinity, that he will be at the _______, where he will attend to those wishing to consult him in regard to their health. And as his practice is unlike all other medical practice, it is necessary to say that he gives no medicines and makes no outward applications, but simply sits down by the patients, tells them their feelings and what they think is their disease. If the patients admit that he tells them their feelings, etc., then his explanation is the cure; and if he succeeds in correcting their error, he changes the fluids of the system and establishes the truth or health."
Stewart W. Holmes, "Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: Scientist of Transcendentalism", The New England Quarterly, 17(3), September 1994 (pp. 356–380), p. 364, writes that this passage was probably the source of Eddy's "scientific statement of being" in the "Recapitulation" chapter of Science and Health – "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter" – which she called the "first plank in the platform of Christian Science."
Eddy, Science and Health, "Recapitulation", p. 468: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual."
"There was, to my knowledge, no other physician in attendance upon Mrs. Patterson during this illness from the day of the accident, February 1, 1866, to my final visit on February 13th, and when I left her on the 13th day of February, she seemed to have recovered from the disturbance caused by the accident and to be, practically, in her normal condition. I did not at any time declare, or believe, that there was no hope for Mrs. Patterson's recovery, or that she was in a critical condition, and did not at any time say, or believe, that she had but three or any other limited number of days to live. Mrs. Patterson did not suggest, or say, or pretend, or in any way whatever intimate, that on the third, or any other day, of her said illness, she had miraculously recovered or been healed, or that, discovering or perceiving the truth of the power employed by Christ to heal the sick, she had, by it, been restored to health."
Dresser replied (Bates and Dittemore 1932, p. 110): "The true way to establish it is, as I look at it, to lecture and by a paper and make that the means, rather more than the curing, to introduce the truth."
Eddy, Boston Post, March 7, 1883, in Dresser 1919, p. 58: "We had laid the foundations of mental healing before we ever saw Dr. Quimby; were an homeopathist without a diploma. We made our first experiments in mental healing about 1853, when we were convinced that mind had a science, which, if understood, would heal all disease."
Eddy, Science and Health, first edition.
"Mark Twain indorses exposure of Mrs. Eddy", The New York Times, November 5, 1906.
Also see Eddy, "Authorship of Science and Health," The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 317–319.
"Christian Science Text's Copyright Is Ruled Illegal by Appeals Court", The New York Times, September 23, 1987.
Also see Wilson 1961, pp. 126–127; Moore 1986, pp. 112–113.
Cather and Milmine 1909, p. 313: "Copies found their way to remote villages in Missouri and Arkansas, to lonely places in Nebraska and Colorado, where people had much time for reflection, little excitement, and a great need to believe in miracles."
Bates and Dittemore 1932, pp. 248–249, wrote that another essay, "Taking Offense," was printed as one of Eddy's when it had first been published anonymously by an obscure newspaper.
Eddy was also accused, by Walter M. Haushalter in his Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel (1936), of having copied material from "The Metaphysical Religion of Hegel" (1866), an essay by Francis Lieber (1798–1872). See Gardner 1993, pp. 145–154; for rebuttal, Thomas C. Johnsen, "Historical Consensus and Christian Science: The Career of a Manuscript Controversy", The New England Quarterly, 53(1), March 1980, pp. 3–22.
"Congress library gets Eddy letters", The New York Times, April 6, 1930.
For the first letter from Eddy or associate, "The Founder of the Mental Method of Treating Disease"], Boston Post, see Septimus J. Hanna, Christian Science History, The Christian Science Publishing Company, 1899, p. 26ff.
Eddy, Boston Post, March 7, 1883, in Dresser 1919, p. 58: "We had laid the foundations of mental healing before we ever saw Dr. Quimby; were a homeopathist without a diploma. We made our first experiments in mental healing about 1853, when we were convinced that mind had a science, which, if understood, would heal all disease."
There were also articles in 1888 by George Quimby about his father in New England Magazine, and by A. J. Swartz, a former Christian Scientist, in Mental Science Magazine. See George Quimby, "Phineas Parkhurst Quimby", New England Magazine, 6(33), March 1888.
Eddy, "Reminiscences," The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 306–307: "Quotations have been published, purporting to be Dr. Quimby's own words, which were written while I was his patient in Portland and holding long conversations with him on my views of mental therapeutics. Some words in these quotations certainly read like words that I said to him, and which I, at his request, had added to his copy when I corrected it. In his conversations with me and in his scribblings, the word science was not used at all, till one day I declared to him that back of his magnetic treatment and manipulation of patients, there was a science, and it was the science of mind, which had nothing to do with matter, electricity, or physics."
Eddy, Science and Health, 1889, p. 7: "Mr. Quimby's son has stated ... that he has in his possession all his father's written utterances; and I have offered to pay for their publication, but he declines to publish them; for their publication would silence the insinuation that Mr. Quimby originated the system of healing which I claim to be mine."
Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection, p. 35: "In 1870 I copyrighted the first publication on spiritual, scientific Mind-healing, entitled The Science of Man. This little book is converted into the chapter on Recapitulation in Science and Health. It was so new – the basis it laid down for physical and moral health was so hopelessly original – that I did not venture upon its publication until later ..."; p. 36: "Five years after taking out my first copyright, I taught the Science of Mind-healing, alias Christian Science, by writing out my manuscripts for students and distributing them unsparingly. This will account for certain published and unpublished manuscripts extant, which the evil-minded would insinuate did not originate with me."
In 1907 McClure's compared the Wentworth manuscript with Quimby's Question and Answers, which they obtained from Quimby's son. See Cather and Milmine 1909, pp. 125–133, particularly pp. 128–129: "For twenty closely written pages, Quimby's manuscript, "Questions and Answers," is word for word the same as Mrs. Glover's manuscript, "The Science of Man."
Quimby, "Questions and Answers", The Quimby Manuscripts, chapter 13.
Several versions of Science and Man can be found in "Essays and other footprints left by Mary Baker Eddy", Rare Book Company, Freehold, New Jersey, p. 178ff.
"Christian Science Killed Her", The New York Times, May 18, 1888; "Mrs. Corner on Trial", May 22, 1888; "The Christian Scientist Held", May 26, 1888; "The Christian Scientist Not Indicted", June 10, 1888.
Twain, "Christian Science", North American Review, December 1902; Twain, Christian Science, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1907. He had earlier written about mental healing in "Mental Telepathy," Harper's, December 1891.
Also see Cynthia D. Schrager, "Mark Twain and Mary Baker Eddy: Gendering the Transpersonal Subject", American Literature, 70(1), 1998.
Eddy, "Reply to McClure's Magazine," The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 308–316.
Also see L. Brent Bohlke, "Willa Cather and The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy", American Literature, 54(2), May 1982, pp. 288–294.
"Look for Mrs. Eddy to rise from tomb", The New York Times, December 29, 1910.
Eddy, Science and Health, pp. 412–413: "If the case is that of a young child or an infant, it needs to be met mainly through the parent's thought, silently or audibly on the aforesaid basis of Christian Science. ... Mind regulates the condition of the stomach, bowels, and food, the temperature of children and of men, and matter does not. The wise or unwise views of parents and other persons on these subjects produce good or bad effects on the health of children."
Richard A. Hughes, "The Death of Children by Faith-Based Medical Neglect", Journal of Law and Religion, 20(1), 2004; Young 2001.
The state of Washington religious exemption said as of March 2014: "It is the intent of the legislature that a person who, in good faith, is furnished Christian Science treatment by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner in lieu of medical care is not considered deprived of medically necessary health care or abandoned." See "RCW 9A.42.005, Findings and intent — Christian Science treatment — Rules of evidence", Washington State legislature; "Religious Exemptions to Child Neglect", National District Attorneys Association, June 2013.
In 1972 128 students at a Christian Science school in Greenwich, Connecticut, contracted polio and four were left partially paralyzed. In 1982 a nine-year-old girl died of diphtheria after attending a Christian Science camp in Colorado (Fraser 1999, p. 303). In 1985 128 people were infected with measles, and three died, at Principia College, a Christian Science school in Elsah, Illinois (Fraser 1999, pp. 301–302; "Epidemiologic Notes and Reports Multiple Measles Outbreaks on College Campuses – Ohio, Massachusetts, Illinois", Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 15, 1985). In 1994 190 people in six states were infected with measles traced to a child from a Christian Science family in Elsah (Fraser 1999, p. 303; "Outbreak of Measles Among Christian Science Students – Missouri and Illinois, 1994", Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, July 1, 1994).
Also see T. Novotny, et al, "Measles outbreaks in religious groups exempt from immunization laws", Public Health Reports, 103(1), Jan–Feb 1988, pp. 49–54; Fraser 2003, p. 268.
Tamara Jones, "Prayers, Parental Duty : Child Deaths Put Faith on Trial", Los Angeles Times, June 17, 1989.
David Margolick, "In Child Deaths, a Test for Christian Science", The New York Times, August 6, 1990.
"Christian Scientists Found Liable in Death", The New York Times, August 19, 1993.
John Roberts, "Religion should not put a child's health at risk", British Medical Journal, February 3, 1996.
State v. McKown, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, October 16, 1990; State v. McKown, Supreme Court of Minnesota, September 20, 1991; Lundman v. McKown, Court of Appeals of Minnesota, April 1995; Lundman v. McKown, Hennepin County District Court, October 28, 1997.
"Sunday church services and Wednesday testimony meetings", and "Online Wednesday meetings", Christian Science church.
Joseph Biesinger, Germany: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present, Infobase Publishing, 2006, p. 576: Helmuth von Moltke.
Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief, Knopf, 2013, p. 335: Anne Archer.
Tom Wells, Wild Man: The Life and Times of Daniel Ellsberg, Palgrave Macmillan, 2001, p. 49: Daniel Ellsberg.
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