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The First Church of Christ, Scientist
|Founder||Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910)|
|Mother Church||The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Back Bay, Boston|
|Key texts||Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures and Manual of the Mother Church|
|Number of churches||1,100 in the United States, 600 elsewhere, as of 2010|
|Key beliefs||Scientific statement of being;|
"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, Back Bay, Boston|
|Key texts||Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures and Manual of the Mother Church|
|Number of churches||1,100 in the United States, 600 elsewhere, as of 2010|
|Key beliefs||Scientific statement of being;|
"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 the United States by Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910) after she experienced what she said was a miraculous recovery from a fall. She subsequently wrote Science and Health (1875), which argued 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 Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was built in Boston, Massachusetts. Eddy's ideas proved popular: during the first decades of the 20th century Christian Science became the fastest growing American religion, with 270,000 members in the United States in 1936. By the 1990s this had declined to just over 100,000; a church estimate in 2008 placed the global membership at 400,000. The religion is known for 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 consistent with Christian theology, despite key differences. In particular they 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 spiritual rather than physical disorder, that there is no death, 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 medicine – 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 medical care. Between the 1880s and 1990s the avoidance of medical treatment and vaccination led to 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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The period of Protestant Christian revival known as the Second Great Awakening (c. 1800–1830) nurtured a proliferation of new religious movements in the United States, including what came to be known as the metaphysical family. Roy Anker writes that the period was noted for dislodging Calvinist Puritanism and urging instead "individualistic autonomy and subjectivism in piety and ethics."
The metaphysical family consists of several groups, including Christian Science, Divine Science and the Unity School of Christianity, that were also known as the mind-cure, mental-healing, metaphysical-healing or mental-science movement. (The word metaphysical denotes the centrality of the mental world in these belief systems, rather than the branch of philosophy that studies ontology.) From the 1890s the liberal section of the movement became known as New Thought (or "the New Thought"), in part to distinguish it from the more authoritarian Christian Science.
The metaphysical groups were idealists. They emphasized the primacy of the mental world and saw all physical phenomena as emanating from an underlying principle of the universe, or cosmic law, referred to variously as Divine Mind, Truth, God, Love, Life, Spirit, Principle. "The universe is mental, or, as most New Thoughters would put it, God is Mind," according to religious scholar Dell deChant. Sickness was viewed as a failure to connect to this principle; "right thinking" was the key to health and happiness. There was keen interest in alternatives to medicine, in large measure because medical practice was often crude and frightening, but also in reaction to the idea that suffering was something that had to be endured as a test or punishment from God.
There were elements in mind-cure philosophy of Platonism, Hinduism, Swedenborgianism, George Berkeley's subjective idealism and Ralph Waldo Emerson's transcendentalism. The point above all was to be cheerful; William James (1842–1910) described mind-cure literature as "moonstruck with optimism." The movement traced its roots to the father of mental healing, former New England clockmaker Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (1802–1866), whose motto was "the truth is the cure." Mary Baker Eddy was a patient of Quimby's and was accused of having founded Christian Science on the basis of one of his unpublished manuscripts.
New Thought and Christian Science adherents saw themselves as representatives of progress and modernity. They differed in that, where New Thought was inclusive, Eddy's philosophy was dogmatic and sectarian; Eddy saw her views as a final revelation, whereas New Thoughters believed revelation to be unfolding. She also differed with her idea of malicious animal magnetism (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, unlike New Thought, 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 see their religion as Christian and reject any identification with the New Thought movement; Eddy herself was strongly influenced by her Congregationalist upbringing. She regarded Science and Health as an inspired text and second coming, and Christian Science as a return to early Christianity's "lost element of healing." 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. There are nevertheless key differences between Christian Science theology and that of traditional Christianity. Eddy redefined the Christian vocabulary, leading to very different views of several Christian concepts, including the Trinity, creation, divinity of Jesus, atonement and resurrection.
Eddy saw God not as a person, but as a principle – "Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love" – that underlies the universe. At the core of her theology is the idea that the spiritual world is entirely good; that the material world, including evil, sickness and death, is an illusion; and that humankind, as an idea of Divine Mind or God, is perfect: the flaws of what Eddy called "mortal man" are simply humankind's mistaken view of itself. Despite her view that evil did not exist, an important element of Christian Science theology is the idea that evil thought – which she called malicious animal magnetism or mental malpractice – can cause harm, even if the harm is only apparent. Eddy's "scientific statement of being" – her "first plank in the platform of Christian Science" – summed up her radical idealism: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation." For Christian Scientists, the spiritualization of thought that comes with the acceptance of this has the power to heal.
There is no appeal to a personal god in Christian Science healing, no supplication; the process involves the Scientist or Christian Science practitioner – for a fee, practitioners will offer Christian Science prayer to address ill health or other problems – engaging in a silent rhetorical argument to affirm to themselves the unreality of matter. In the view of adherents this process connects the patient, as a spiritual being, to Divine Mind; historian of religion Amanda Porterfield describes it in terms of an "invisible spiritual force that stimulates healing."
Bryan Wilson writes that Christian Science healing is not curative on its own premises; it 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 theology is unitarian, rather than trinitarian, and her view of Christ gnostic. She distinguished between Jesus the man and the concept of Christ; the latter is a quality rather than an identity, a synonym for Truth, while Jesus was the first person fully to manifest it. Eddy called Jesus a Christian Scientist and a "Way-shower" between humanity and God. His death she regarded as an illusion like any other; a person who seems to die simply adjusts to a level of consciousness inaccessible to the living. 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, a reconciliation of humankind and Divine Mind. 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 heretical 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 saw themselves expelled from Christian congregations, but for the most part ministers worried that their parishioners were crossing over. The Boston correspondent of the London Times wrote in May 1885: "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 (1835–1910) described the appeal of the new religion:
She has delivered to them a religion which has revolutionized their lives, banished the glooms that shadowed them, and filled them and flooded them with sunshine and gladness and peace; a religion which has no hell; a religion whose heaven is not put off to another time, with a break and a gulf between, but begins here and now, and melts into eternity as fancies of the waking day melt into the dreams of sleep.
They believe it is a Christianity that is in the New Testament; that it has always been there, that in the drift of ages it was lost through disuse and neglect, and that this benefactor has found it and given it back to men, turning the night of life into day, its terrors into myths, its lamentations into songs of emancipation and rejoicing.
Mary Baker Eddy in the 1850s, the earliest known photograph of her
|Born||Mary Morse Baker|
July 16, 1821
Bow, New Hampshire
December 3, 1910
Mary Baker Eddy was born Mary Morse Baker on a farm in Bow, New Hampshire, the youngest of six children. The family were Protestant Congregationalists, and her father, Mark Baker, was a deeply religious man, though 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 read widely at home.
From early childhood she experienced protracted ill health, with conditions she described as chronic indigestion and spinal inflammation, and established a pattern of appearing to be seriously ill, even losing consciousness, then quickly recovering. The literary critic Harold Bloom described her as "an extraordinary wreck, a monumental hysteric of classical dimensions, indeed a kind of anthology of nineteenth-century nervous ailments." For Christian Scientists this criticism exemplifies what one writer called the "biological rhetoric" of insanity that was deployed against women in the 19th century. Eddy was a target, they argue, because she was challenging the hegemony of the clergy and medical establishment, two powerful male groups.
Eddy's first husband died shortly 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 – charming and flattering when she needed to be – and able to inspire great loyalty, although Gillian Gill writes that she could also be irrational, capricious and unkind. According to Bryan Wilson, Eddy 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 refer to her respectfully as 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, particularly among her closest 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. There was something about her that continually excited and stimulated, and she gave people the feeling that a great deal was happening." Mark Twain, a prominent critic of hers, described her 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 years on the vegetarian diet of the Rev. Sylvester Graham (1794–1851), and 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 "Quimbyism," 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," his philosophy was "the truth is the cure"; this might consist of shouting at a patient who could not walk, "You can walk!" According to McClure's, Quimby had had only six weeks' schooling, but local legend reported that when he got to work consumptives recovered and the blind saw.
Treating people whether or not they could pay, Quimby started practicing after hearing a lecture by French mesmerist Charles Poyen, who visited Maine in 1837; by 1856 Quimby had 500 patients a year. Mesmerism was named after Franz Mesmer (1734–1815), a German physician who argued that animals produce a magnetic fluid (animal magnetism) that could be used to heal. When he began his practice Quimby saw himself as a medium who could change this fluid; he would wet his hands and touch his patients' stomachs or rub their heads to help correct their mistaken view that they were ill.
Quimby abandoned mesmerism around 1847 when he came to realize that it was suggestion that was effecting the apparent cures. He argued that spiritual or "scientific man" – as the perfect embodiment of Spirit, Wisdom, Principle, Truth, Mind and Science – cannot be sick, but is overwhelmed by the "natural man" of matter and false beliefs; he believed that persuading his patients of this had the power to heal them.
When Eddy first met Quimby in October 1862 she had to be carried up the stairs to his consulting rooms. She felt better immediately, and spoke highly of him to the Portland Evening Courier the following month: "The truth which he establishes in the patient cures him ... and the body, which is full of light, is no longer in disease." From then until his death in 1866, she returned to see him many times, daily at one point. Quimby was generous in allowing his patients, including Eddy, to copy his writing, which was first published 55 years after his death as The Quimby Manuscripts (1921). This became an issue, from the 1880s onwards, when Eddy was accused of having based Christian Science on one of these unpublished manuscripts.
Quimby died on January 16, 1866, three months after the death of Eddy's father. She 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 some ice in Lynn, Massachusetts, injuring her head and neck. She recovered after a few days' bed rest, but later attributed her recovery to having read a Bible passage about one of Jesus's healings. Christian Scientists call this the "fall in Lynn" and see it as the birth of their religion. The first time Eddy published a link between the fall and Christian Science was in 1871 in a letter to a prospective student, after she had started teaching her healing method:
I have demonstrated on myself in an injury occasioned by a fall, that it did for me what surgeons could not do. Dr. Cushing of this city pronounced my injury incurable and that I could not survive three days because of it, when on the third day I rose from my bed and to the utter confusion of all I commenced my usual avocations and notwithstanding displacements, etc., I regained the natural position and functions of the body. How far my students can demonstrate in such extreme cases depends on the progress they have made in this Science."
The physician who treated her, Alvin M. Cushing, swore in an affidavit in 1907 that the injury had not been a serious one, that he had not told Eddy otherwise, and that she had responded to morphine and a homeopathic remedy (arnica); she had not said anything to him about a miraculous healing.
The degree to which she considered herself healed at the time is also disputed. Two weeks after the accident she wrote to Julius Dresser (1838–1893), a patient and devotee of Quimby's. She asked him to "step forward into the place [Quimby had] vacated," explaining that she had awoken after the fall to find herself "the helpless cripple I was before I saw Dr. Quimby," and hoping he would treat her. Dresser replied that he had no intention of stepping into Quimby's shoes, and that it would be more beneficial to teach Quimby's method than to practice it.
In June 1866 she again suggested she had not recovered; 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.
In her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection (1891), Eddy was clear about attributing the discovery of Christian Science or mental healing to the fall in Lynn in 1866. But in the first edition of Science and Health (1875), she wrote that she had discovered it in 1864, and in 1883 told the Boston Post that it was in 1853. Elsewhere in the first edition she attributed it to her struggle with indigestion as a child. Eddy offered more than one version of this. In the first edition she wrote that she had spent years of her youth following a rigid version of the Graham diet: a once-a-day helping of vegetables, a slice of bread, and water. She continued: "After years of suffering ... our eyes were suddenly opened, and we learned suffering is self-imposed, a belief, and not truth." In later editions, when the fall in Lynn took precedence, Eddy attributed the indigestion to a woman she had known and offered its disappearance as the result of Christian Science prayer. In the final edition she wrote that it had happened to a man she had known.
Eddy and her husband, then married for 13 years, experienced a period of poverty in early 1866 and moved into an unfurnished room in a Baptist minister's home. At some point her husband left and Eddy was evicted, unable to pay the rent. He appears to have returned briefly – in August he paid Dr. Cushing's bill from the fall – but the marriage was effectively over and they remained separated. 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 June and July 1868 she advertised for students, as Mary B. Glover (her first husband's surname) in a Spiritualist magazine, the Banner of Light, promising a new healing method, 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, an essay about metaphysics in question-and-answer format, that Eddy said was Quimby's. She taught Wentworth to lay her hands on patients' heads and stomachs, as Quimby had done. It was Eddy's use of this manuscript, part of which came to be known as the Science of Man, that led to allegations years later that Christian Science was based on Quimby's work.
At this time Eddy was calling the healing method Moral Science. Later names included Divine Science, Metaphysical Science, Metaphysical Healing, the Christ-cure, the Truth-cure and Christian Science; several of these phrases, including Christian Science, appear in the first edition of Science and Health in 1875. Quimby had referred to the "religion of Christ [being] shown in the progress 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 (1813–1897) and in The Early Years of Christianity (1870) by Edmond de Pressensé (1824–1891); 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 after a disagreement about money; she apparently asked them to pay a printer $600 for the publication of a book she was writing, possibly called The Bible in its Spiritual Meaning. She went to stay with another friend and resumed contact with Richard Kennedy, a fellow lodger she had met two years earlier when he was a teenager working in a box factory. He had become one of her earliest students and 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).
Kennedy leased rooms in June that year and placed a sign in the yard, "Dr. Kennedy"; he was 21 and Eddy was in her fifties. He also agreed to pay Eddy $1,000 for the previous two years' tuition in quarterly installments of $50. 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."
Eddy placed an ad in the Lynn Semi-Weekly Reporter on August 13, 1870: "Mrs. Glover, the well-known Scientist, will receive applications for one week from ladies and gentlemen who wish to learn how to heal the sick without medicine, and with a success unequaled by any known method of the present day, at Dr. Kennedy's office, No. 71 South Common Street, Lynn, Mass." Her business card read "Mrs. Mary M. Glover, Teacher of Moral Science."
Lynn was a center of the shoe industry and most of Eddy's students were shoe workers. When the classes began she charged $100, raised a few weeks later to $300 (one third of a shoe worker's annual income), for a three-week, 12-lesson course. Eddy based the lessons on the Science of Man manuscript, then called Questions and Answers, that she had used with Sally Wentworth; she also used three smaller manuscripts, The Soul's Inquiry of Man, Spiritualism, and Individuality. Science of Man began "What is God?" The answer was "Principle, wisdom, love, and truth," rather than the anthropomorphic God the students were used to. The students were allowed to make copies of the manuscripts, but were forbidden, under a $3,000 bond, from showing them to anyone. They agreed to pay her 10 percent annually of any income derived from her methods and $1,000 if they failed to practice or teach it.
Eddy taught the students to rub their patients' heads, to "lay [their] hands where the belief is to rub it out forever," and before each class Kennedy would manipulate the students' heads and solar plexus in preparation. The head rubbing with wet hands 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 the students 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 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, ignoring one of her fainting spells. 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 the house opposite came on the market. She purchased 8 Broad Street in March 1875 for $5,650, taking in students as tenants 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 (his wife had taken it years earlier); 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 that remained unproven).
Eddy placed a sign on 8 Broad Street, Mary B. Glover's Christian Scientists' Home. According to Willa Cather and Georgine Milmine, 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. Peel writes that there was local gossip about the attractive woman, the men who came and went, and whether she was engaged in witchcraft. She was hurt, 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. Several publishers turned it down, but in September that year a printer agreed to handle it if Eddy would pay the costs. Three of her students, George Barry, Elizabeth Newhall and Daniel Spofford, came up with the necessary $2,000, and after much proofreading and revision by Eddy 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, among other things, payment for his work on the manuscript.)
The book was positively received by Amos Bronson Alcott (1799–1888), who wrote to Eddy in January 1876 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 (1914–2010) called it a "chaotic patchwork of repetitious, poorly paragraphed topics," full of spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes.
Eddy added Key to the Scriptures to the sixth edition in 1884, and for the 16th edition in 1886 hired an editor, James Henry Wiggin (1836–1900), a Unitarian clergyman. Gottschalk writes that the issue of how much Wiggin contributed is one of Christian Science's most controversial questions. Eddy's personal assistant, Calvin Frye (1845–1917), first contacted Wiggin for help in August 1885; Wiggin told his literary executor (who first made this public after Wiggin's death) that he had been surprised by the mistakes, contradictions and untidy structure in Science and Health, so he rewrote the book. He removed some contradictions, reduced the 47-page demonology chapter, added some Greek, Latin and Sanskrit, and wrote a new chapter, though it did not survive to the final edition. Robert Peel (1909–1992) wrote that Wiggin "toned up" Eddy's style, but did not affect her thinking. Twenty-two editions were published between 1886 and 1888.
People said that simply reading Science and Health had been enough to heal them; cures were claimed for everything from cancer to blindness. New York lawyer William A. Purrington argued in 1900 that the beneficiaries were "hysterical patients, the morbidly introspective, the worriers, the malades imaginaires, the victims of obscure nervous ailments." Richard Cabot (1868–1939) of Harvard Medical School investigated the testimonies adherents submitted to the Christian Science Journal, which Eddy founded in 1883, for his senior thesis in 1892. He wrote in McClure's in 1908 that the claims were based on self-diagnosis or secondhand reports of what a doctor had supposedly said; he attributed the experiences to the placebo effect.
Eddy continued to revise the book until her death in 1910, issuing 432 editions in all; the final edition ran to 18 chapters and 600 pages. She encouraged members to buy a new copy whenever she published a 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 pass a law (overturned in 1987 as unconstitutional), extending it to the year 2046; the bill was supported by two of President Nixon's aides, Christian Scientists H.R. Haldeman (1926–1993) and John Ehrlichman (1925–1999). By April 2001, according to the church, the book had sold ten million copies and was available in 16 languages and English Braille.
Science and Health expanded on the view that sickness was simply a mistaken belief. She wrote that she had personally healed tuberculosis, diphtheria and cancer: "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."
Eddy's views derived in part from her skepticism about homeopathy, after she witnessed what was arguably the placebo effect in patients she had treated with homeopathic remedies. When patients seemed to recover despite being administered remedies so diluted they were drinking plain water, Eddy concluded that Divine Mind was the healer. In later editions of Science and Health she wrote that even naming and reading about disease could turn thoughts into physical symptoms. She argued similarly against the recording of ages: "Timetables of birth and death are so many conspiracies against manhood and womanhood." To counter the argument that people can be harmed by poison in the absence of any belief about it, she referred to the power of majority opinion.
She allowed some exceptions from Christian Science prayer, including for dental treatment and broken limbs; she said she had healed broken bones using "mental surgery," but that this skill would be the last to be learned. She herself wore glasses, used morphine, had her third husband treated by a physician, and arranged for an autopsy when he died. But for the most part (then and now), Christian Scientists believe that medicine and Christian Science prayer are incompatible, because they proceed from contradictory assumptions. Medicine asserts that something is physically broken and needs to be fixed, while Christian Science asserts that the spiritual reality is perfect and any belief to the contrary needs 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 found himself expelled from the Christian Scientists' Association in January 1878 for "immorality" after quarrelling with her over money. She also filed lawsuits against him and several other students for royalties from their healing practices or unpaid tuition fees. McClure's wrote that Eddy "required of her students absolute and unquestioning conformity to her wishes; any other attitude of mind she regarded as dangerous."
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 malicious animal magnetism against her (also called malicious mesmerism or mental malpractice). Eddy wrote in earlier editions of Science and Health, for example in 1889, that this was "literally demonology" (a sentence missing from the final edition), and 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, despite the ridicule it attracted, and spread the fear of it to her students. "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. If a member of that household denied the doctrine, or even showed a lack of interest in it, he was at once pronounced a mesmerist and requested to leave."
In May 1878 Eddy brought a case against 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 one of his patients, Lucretia Brown, who apparently believed that Spofford had bewitched her. Eddy held a power of attorney allowing her to appear in court on Brown's behalf; she arrived at the hearing 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 to use their minds for two hours each to think of Spofford and block the malicious mesmerism. 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 carry out the killing; after a series of claims and counter-claims, the charges were dropped when a key witness retracted his statement. Eddy attributed the allegations to a plot by former students to undermine sales of the second edition of Science and Health, just published. Her lawyer ended up having to file for an attachment order against her house to collect his fee.
On August 23, 1879, the Christian Scientists' Association was granted a charter to form the Church of Christ (Scientist). With an initial congregation of 26 members, services were held in people's homes in Lynn and later in Hawthorne Hall, Boston. On January 31, 1881, Eddy was granted another charter to form the Massachusetts Metaphysical College. The college lived wherever Eddy did; a new sign appeared on 8 Broad Street. The college's stated purpose: "To teach pathology, ontology, therapeutics, moral science, metaphysics, and their application to the treatment of disease."
In October 1881 there was a revolt. Eight of the church's most active members resigned after tiring of malicious mesmerism and the legal disputes. They signed 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 went on to become her most loyal personal assistant. Eddy rallied the remaining members, who appointed her pastor of the new church in November 1881. They drew up a resolution in February 1882 that she was "the chosen messenger of God to the nations," and "unless we hear Her voice we do not hear His voice."
The resignations ended Eddy's time in Lynn. The church was struggling to survive 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. Its prospectus, published in 1884, offered three diplomas: Christian Scientist (C.S.) for members of the Christian Scientists' Association; Christian Metaphysician (C.M.), awarded after Eddy's 12-lesson course and three years of practice; and Doctor of Christian Science (D.C.S.), awarded for the above and to those 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 12-lesson 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.
Shortly after the move to Boston, Eddy's husband died of heart disease. On the day of his death, June 4, 1882, she asked the Boston Globe to send a reporter to her home to take the following statement:
Her husband, she said, had died with every symptom of arsenical poisoning. Both he and she knew it to be the result of a malicious mesmeric influence exerted upon his mind by certain parties here in Boston, who had sworn to injure them. She had formerly had the same symptoms of arsenical poison herself, and it was some time before she discovered it to be the mesmeric work of an enemy. Soon after her marriage her husband began to manifest the same symptoms and had since shown them from time to time; but was, with her help, always able to overcome them. A few weeks ago she observed that he did not look well, and when questioned he said that he was unable to get the idea of this arsenical poison out of his mind. He had been steadily growing worse ever since, but still had hoped to overcome the trouble until the last. After the death the body had turned black.
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.
After her husband's death, Eddy moved next door to 571 Columbus Avenue. Several students moved in with her; she taught and they saw patients. In 1883 she founded the Journal of Christian Science, later called the Christian Science Journal, which spread news of her ideas still further. According to Cather and Milmine: "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."
In 1885 Eddy was accused of promoting Spiritualism and pantheism by the Reverend Adoniram J. Gordon (1836–1895), a Baptist minister, in a letter read out by the Reverend Joseph Cook at Tremont Temple in Boston. She demanded a right of reply and was offered ten minutes on March 16. According to Stephen Gottschalk (1941–2005), the occasion marked the "emergence of Christian Science into American religious life." Before a congregation of 3,000, Eddy denied that she was a Spiritualist; she said that "[t]here have always attended my life phenomena of an uncommon order, which spiritualists have miscalled mediumship, but I clearly understand that no human agencies were employed." She told them she believed in God as the Supreme Being, Love, divine Principle, Mind; and she affirmed her belief in the atonement. She described Christian Science healing "not [as] one mind acting upon another mind," but as "Christ come to destroy the power of the flesh; it is Truth over error."
Ernest Sutherland Bates and John V. Dittemore, in their 1932 biography of Eddy, wrote that the years 1884–1888 saw Christian Science develop into an established national institution. Eddy was teaching four to six classes of practitioners a year and by 1889 had probably made at least $100,000. The first church building was erected in 1886 in Oconto, Wisconsin, by local women who felt that Christian Science had helped them. The National Christian Scientists' Association was formed the same year, and 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 church building. Eddy asked Augusta Stetson (1842–1928), a prominent Scientist, to go to New York to set up a church there too. 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. By 1890 the Church of Christ (Scientist) had 8,724 members in the United States, after starting out 11 years earlier with just 26.
Gill writes that the nature of Eddy's debt to Quimby became the single most controversial issue of her life. In her early years she did acknowledge the debt. When a prospective student asked in 1871 whether her methods had been advertised or practiced before, she replied: "Never advertised, and practiced by only one individual who healed me, Dr. Quimby ... I discovered the art in a moment's time, and he acknowledged it to me; he died shortly after and since then, eight years, I have been founding and demonstrating the science." Later she drew a distinction between her methods and his, arguing that Quimby's approach involved one mind healing another, whereas 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 1882 one of Quimby's followers, Julius Dresser, arrived in Boston, angry to find that Eddy appeared to be teaching Quimby's methods as her own. There was an exchange of views in the Boston Post in February 1883. Dresser or an associate (the letter was signed "A. O.") accused "some parties healing through a mental method" of having taken Quimby's unpublished ideas. Eddy or an associate (the letter was signed "E. G.") disparaged Quimby as a mesmerist and claimed "the science of healing" for Eddy. Dresser replied that Eddy had copied Quimby's writings. Eddy wrote, in turn, that she had "laid the foundation of mental healing" before she met Quimby.
The issue ended up in court in September 1883 when Eddy filed a complaint that her student Edward J. Arens had published a pamphlet that copied over 20 pages of Science and Health. 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 in 1887 of Julius Dresser's The True History of Mental Healing.
Eddy suggested that her own work was being confused for Quimby's; she had helped fix Quimby's unpublished notes (she called them "scribblings") and now stood accused of having copied her own writing. She had also handed her own manuscripts out to students, and now people were saying those texts were not hers. The charge of plagiarism stemmed from her use of Quimby's manuscript when she was teaching Sally Wentworth in 1868–1870 and the class in Lynn from 1870. The title page stated "Extracts from Dr. P. P. Quimby's writings." On the next page there was a title, "The Science of Man or the principle which controls all phenomena." There was a preface underneath this, signed Mary M. Glover: "In this science the names are given thus. God is Wisdom, this wisdom not an individuality but a principle ..." A note in the margin said, "P. P. Q's mss," then Quimby's manuscript followed. There were notes throughout in different handwriting, probably Eddy's. In later revisions, Eddy's preface was incorporated into the main text so that, it seems, the work of the two authors was merged.
The New York Times obtained the Wentworth manuscript in July 1904 and accused Eddy of having based Christian Science on Quimby's teaching, not on divine inspiration as she claimed. The Times juxtaposed passages from the Wentworth manuscript and from Science and Health to show how similar they were. In 1907 McClure's compared the Wentworth manuscript with Quimby's then-unpublished Question and Answers, which they obtained from Quimby's son, and wrote: "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."
The publication in 1921 of Quimby's manuscripts offered no evidence that Eddy had plagiarized, and in 1923 S. P. Bancroft, a student of Eddy's first Moral Science class in Lynn, published several of the early manuscripts that Eddy had used. They also showed no evidence of plagiarism, though two of Eddy's biographers, Ernest Sutherland Bates (1879–1939) and John V. Dittemore (1876–1937), the latter a former director of the Christian Science church, argued that the presentation and ideas were Quimby's. As Eddy's preface in the Wentworth copy was apparently incorporated into Quimby's manuscript, McClure's may have been comparing two copies of Eddy's own work when they declared them identical. An additional complication is how much of the work attributed to Quimby was written by him, as opposed to being taken down by others (including Eddy) based on vague notes or discussions. Gill writes that Quimby was not fully literate, which raises the possibility that some phrases of his may have originated with Eddy or others.
Eddy's biographers continued to disagree about the extent of Quimby's influence. Bates and Dittemore 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 worked for the church, wrote in 1966 that there are traces of Eddy in Quimby's work, and that she may have influenced him as much as he influenced her. Martin Gardner argued that Eddy had taken "huge chunks" from Quimby, Gill argued that there were only general similarities, and Fraser wrote that the plagiarism claims were exaggerated but Quimby was clearing Eddy's inspiration. Quimby apart, there is evidence that Eddy plagiarized the work of other authors. A section from her Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 is almost identical to an essay by the Scottish minister Hugh Blair in Lindley Murray's The English Reader (1799). Bates and Dittemore, Charles S. Braden, Bryan Wilson and Martin Gardner list several writers whose words she used without attribution.
In 1887 Eddy started teaching a "metaphysical obstetrics" course consisting of two one-week classes. She had styled 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 in 1887, when several practitioners were charged with practicing medicine without a licence; all were acquitted either 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 own 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; she told the Boston Globe that Corner had never entered the obstetrics class and had attended the college for one term only.
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 and child abuse to manslaughter and 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, and pestilential perils to communities in spreading contagious diseases." Juries were nevertheless reluctant to convict where there was a sincere belief that the patient was being helped. There was also opposition to the AMA's effort to strengthen medical licencing laws to outlaw Christian Science treatment; historian Shawn Francis Peters writes that in the courts and in public debate, Christian Scientists and Jehovah's Witnesses linked their healing claims directly to early Christianity to gain support from other Christians.
In 1888 Eddy became close to another of her students, Ebenezer Johnson Foster, a homeopath and graduate of the Hahnemann Medical College, Philadelphia. 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 Johnston Foster Eddy.
A year later, in October 1889, she closed the Massachusetts Metaphysical College; Bates and Dittemore wrote that she may have been concerned 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 that they formally dissolve the church; this was apparently intended to quash several internal rebellions that had been troubling her. The following year she dissolved the National Christian Science Association. Wilson writes that the dissolutions allowed her to create a central church with branches controlled by a five-person board of directors, which answered only to her. This gave the church a stability that helped it survive her death.
The cornerstone of the Mother Church, 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, though she spent only one night there and it was later turned into a storage room. The archway at the entrance to the room was made of Italian marble, with the word Mother engraved on the floor. It was furnished with rare books, silks, tapestries, Persian rugs, a 200-year-old lamp, a fireplace rug made of 100 duck skins, and a dressing gown, slippers, handkerchiefs and a pin cushion.
Within two years the Boston membership had exceeded the church's seating capacity, and plans began for an extension. By 1903 the whole block around the church had been purchased by Christian Scientists and the extension was completed in 1906; it accommodated 5,000 people 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 first few decades of the 20th century. The US federal religious census recorded 85,717 Christian Scientists in 1906; 30 years later it was 268,915. There were seven Christian Science churches in the US in 1890 and 1,077 by 1910. Churches began to appear in other countries: 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 her was published in Cosmopolitan in October 1899. Another three appeared between December 1902 and February 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." He believed she was using Christian Science to accrue wealth: "From end to end of the Christian Science literature not a single (material) thing in the world is conceded to be real, except the Dollar."
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 biography of Eddy, and the first history of Christian Science, appeared in McClure's magazine (1893–1929) in a devastating critique published in 14 installments between January 1907 and June 1908, preceded by an editorial in December 1906. The essence of the articles, which included court documents and affidavits from Eddy's students and others who knew her, was that Eddy was dishonest, that her chief concern was money, and that she had derived Christian Science from the unpublished work of Phineas Parkhurst 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 subsequent non-church histories of the religion.
The editor-in-chief, S.S. McClure (1857–1949), assigned five writers to work on the series. The novelist Willa Cather (1873–1947) was the principal author, assisted by Burton J. Hendrick (1870–1949); Will Irwin (1873–1948); political columnist Mark Sullivan (1874–1952); researcher Georgine Milmine (1874–1950); and briefly Ida Tarbell (1857–1944). 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 his introduction to the 1993 edition, David Stouck wrote that Cather's portrayal of Eddy contains "some of the finest portrait sketches and reflections on human nature" that she would ever write. Gillian Gill wrote that the McClure's writers were in touch with the litigants in the so-called "Next Friends" suit in 1907, in which Eddy's relatives sought to have her declared unable to manage her own affairs, and that each side was feeding information to the other, to the detriment of accuracy.
In March 1907 several of Eddy's relatives filed an unsuccessful lawsuit, the "Next Friends suit," against members of Eddy's household, alleging that they were misusing her property, and that Eddy, by then 85 years old, was unable to conduct her own affairs. Calvin Frye, her long-time personal assistant, was a particular target of the allegations. The New York World (1860–1931) – owned by Joseph Pulitzer (1847–1911) – 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 was housebound and dying of cancer, that her staff had taken control of her fortune, and that another woman had been tasked with impersonating her in public.
The newspaper proceeded to persuade Eddy's closest family (or "next friends") to file a lawsuit. Several of them joined the action: Eddy's biological son, George Glover, and adoptive son, Ebenezer J. Foster Eddy; her granddaughter, Mary Baker Glover; and two nephews, George W. Baker and Fred W. Baker. Eddy was interviewed in her home in August 1907 by the judge, Robert N. Chamberlain (1856–1917) and two psychiatrists (then known as "alienists"), accompanied by William E. Chandler (1835–1917) for the plaintiffs, and Eddy's lawyer, General Frank S. Streeter. They concluded that she was mentally competent.
In response to the McClure's and New York World stories, Eddy asked the church's directors in July 1908 to found the Christian Science Monitor as a platform for responsible journalism. It was published for the first time on November 25 that year and went on to win seven Pulitzer Prizes between 1950 and 2002. Its motto: "To injure no man, but to bless all mankind." 
Eddy died two years later, on the evening of Saturday, December 3, 1910, aged 89. The first reader of the Mother Church in Boston announced the death at the end of the Sunday morning service, saying that Eddy had "passed from our sight." The church issued a statement reaffirming its belief 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." It placed an armed guard outside her tomb at Mount Auburn cemetery, triggering complaints from Christian Scientists who believed she would be resurrected and might find her exit barred. 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. He wrote in 1998 that it was uncertain whether Christian Science would survive another generation.
There were 1,271 Christian Science practitioners worldwide in 2014, against 11,200 in the United States in 1941; according to Stark clusters of the 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. The church has sold church buildings to free up funds for congregations that could otherwise not continue.
Stark attributed the rise of the movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to several factors. It retained cultural continuity with Christianity, the native religion, by stressing that it was Christian and adopting its terms, despite the novel 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, as practitioners after just 12 lessons of study, who might otherwise have had none; 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, and similar percentages held true for 1926 and 1936.
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; in 1998 30 percent were over 65. Eddy was over 60 herself by the time the movement became popular; 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, or became Scientists in later life when their children were adults and therefore unlikely to be converted; Eddy herself placed little emphasis on marriage and family. Christian Science did not have a missionary class that sought out new members, so it relied on internal growth, but the conversion rate within families was not high: in a study cited by Stark 26 of 80 people (33 percent) raised with Christian Science became Scientists themselves.
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Christian Scientists certified by the church to charge for Christian Science prayer are called Christian Science practitioners. There were around 1,400 practitioners in the United States in 2010. Their training is much the same as it was in Eddy's day, a two-week, 12-lesson course called primary-class instruction, based on the 24 questions and answers in the Recapitulation chapter of Science and Health. Upon completion they can apply to be listed as practitioners in the Christian Science Journal.
Practitioners in the United States charge $25–$50 for a telephone or e-mail consultation, and more for house calls. Practitioners wanting to teach primary class themselves must take an additional six-day "normal class," which is held in Boston just once every three years.
Christian Science nursing homes have been run independently of the church since 1993, accredited by the Commission for Accreditation of Christian Science Nursing Organizations/Facilities. The homes offer no medical services; several are Medicare or Medicaid providers. The nurses are Christian Scientists who have completed a course of religious study and training in basic skills, such as feeding and bathing, in a Christian Science training center; no medical or nursing qualifications are required.
Christian Science prayer remains the same as in Eddy's day. The aim is to persuade patients that they are not ill; a practitioner told the New York Times in 2010 that a patient with a lump under his arm is displaying a "manifestation of fear, not a lump." There is no laying on of hands; practitioners can act by telephone or e-mail, known as "absent treatment."
There are no set words or practices. Fraser described the process in 1999 as the practitioner silently arguing about the nature of reality. The practitioner might tell herself, "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 continue by denying various ideas, including other religions, the existence of evil, mesmerism, astrology, numerology and the symptoms of whatever the illness is. She concludes, according to Fraser, 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"; these statements are similarly anecdotal. Philosopher Margaret P. Battin wrote in 1999 that the seriousness with which the testimonies are treated by Christian Scientists ignores factors such as false positives caused by self-limiting conditions. Because no negative accounts are published, the material feeds into people's tendency to over-rely on anecdotes when making decisions.
The church published 53,900 such testimonies between 1900 and April 1989. A church study examined 10,000 testimonies, 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 confirmation. 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.
The main criticism Christian Science has faced is that adherents impose their ideas on their children, and by failing to provide access to medical care are denying them equal protection under the law. Children with disabilities and illnesses, or who are in pain, have been told the only thing wrong with them is "incorrect" thinking. Fraser argues that this can undermine children's confidence in their own perceptions, and can cause hypochondria by making them obsessed with their bodies in an effort to control their thoughts about them. In the case of very young children, parents have been told by practitioners that the thoughts of the parents can harm the child. The church maintains that members are free to choose medical care, but several have said they fear being ostracized if they do.
The Christian Science church in the United States has used the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, which guarantees the protection of religious practice, to persuade states to maintain religious-exemption statutes. After the conviction for manslaughter in 1967 of the Christian Scientist mother of five-year-old Lisa Sheridan, who died of pneumonia without medical care in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the church successfully lobbied the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to add a religious exemption, in 1974, to the Code of Federal Regulations (see right).
Only a dozen states had religious exemptions before this, but afterwards states were obliged to include one in child-neglect legislation or lose funding. The Christian Science church was either mentioned in the statutes or the wording made clear that the exemption referred to Christian Science. For example, 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."
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-exemption statutes as of March 2014. Many of the exemptions say that in life-threatening situations children must be given access to medical care, but without early access to physicians the seriousness of an illness may not be recognized, in part because Christian Scientists are encouraged not to educate themselves about physical ailments.
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 study published in 1998 in Pediatrics examined 172 child deaths between 1975 and 1995 where parents had withheld medical care for religious reasons; 28 involved Christian Science (this was the second highest number from a single group; the highest was the Faith Assembly with 64). Of the 172, 140 involved conditions where survival rates with medical treatment would have exceeded 90 percent.
In 1937 10-year-old Audrey Kay Whitney, a diabetic, died after her father left her with a Christian Scientist aunt in Chicago, who withdrew her insulin and took her to a practitioner. An attempt to prosecute the practitioner for manslaughter failed. (Twenty-two years later the father shot the practitioner, but was acquitted of attempted murder.) In 1955 seven-year-old David Cornelius also died after his insulin was withdrawn. His Christian Scientist parents were charged with manslaughter; the charges were dropped after the judge said the couple had held a "sincere belief in the inefficacy of medical treatment."
In March 1967 five-year-old Lisa Sheridan died of pneumonia in Cape Code, Massachusetts, after contracting strep throat; according to pediatrician Paul Offit she was found at autopsy to have two pints of pus in her chest that could have been removed. Her mother was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to five years' probation. In July 1977 16-month-old Matthew Swan died of bacterial meningitis in Detroit, Michigan, after his parents were persuaded by Christian Science practitioners not to take him to a physician; by the time they did it was too late to save him. The parents, Douglas and Rita, 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, three in California; two cases were dismissed and four resulted in convictions, two of which were later overturned. In June 1988 12-year-old Ashley King died in Phoenix, Arizona, after living for months with a tumor on her leg the size of a watermelon; 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 when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the couple had "reasonably believed," based on a church publication they had read, that they could rely on Christian Science prayer without being prosecuted.
The first time the church was held liable in a wrongful death suit (overturned on appeal) was in Lundman v. McKown in 1993 over the death of 11-year-old Ian Lundman, who died in Minnesota of hyperglycaemia in 1989 as a consequence of undiagnosed diabetes. When his condition worsened his mother sought help from a practitioner, a Christian Science nursing home and the church's Committee on Publication. The home 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 nurse sat with him for five hours; sixteen minutes before her diary said that he had stopped breathing she had written "passing possible."
The mother and stepfather were charged with manslaughter, but the charges were dismissed. The boy's father, Douglass Lundman, sued the mother, stepfather, practitioner, nurse, nursing home and the church. He was awarded $5.2 million compensatory damages divided between all the defendants, later reduced to $1.5 million, and $9 million in punitive damages against the church. The Minnesota State Court of Appeals upheld the judgment against the individuals in 1995, but overturned the award against the church and nursing home, 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.
Forty-eight US states allowed religious exemptions to compulsory vaccination as of 2013. The first state to make vaccination against smallpox compulsory for schoolchildren was Massachusetts in 1855. Christian Scientists protested against the laws. A Christian Scientist in Wisconsin won a case in 1897 that allowed his unvaccinated son to attend public school, and others were arrested in 1899 for avoiding vaccination during an epidemic in Georgia. In 1900 Eddy advised adherents to obey the law and use Christian Science to avoid any side effects, and in 1902 to report contagious diseases to health boards when required.
There were four outbreaks at Christian Science institutions between 1972 and 1994. 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. In 1985 128 people were infected with measles, and three died, at Principia College, a Christian Science school in Elsah, Illinois. In 1994 190 people in six states were infected with measles traced to a child from a Christian Science family in Elsah.
The First Church of Christ, Scientist is headquartered in a 28-story building on its original site in Boston; the site covers 14 acres and includes a plaza with a 670-foot reflecting pool. 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 the First Church of Christ, Scientist; the next, the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, and so on (for example, the 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; members are expected to say each day: "Thy kingdom come; let the reign of divine Truth, Life, and Love be established in me, and rule out of me all sin; and may Thy Word enrich the affections of all mankind, and govern them!"
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, the law and courts, engaging in public debate or writing about Christian Science without board approval, engaging in mental malpractice, or visiting a book 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; Eddy forbade the development of a church hierarchy except for the Board of Directors and Committees on Publication. Readers select hymns and read aloud from Science and Health and the Bible. There are Sunday morning and evening services, Sunday schools, and meetings on Wednesday afternoons or evenings during which members offer testimonies; Wednesday meetings and Sunday schools are also offered online.
The church began an ecumenical dialogue in the 2000s with mainstream Christian churches with a view to fostering closer relationships. In 2008 Michael Kinnamon, then general secretary of the National Council of Churches (NCC), invited Christian Scientists to visit the NCC governing board and join NCC commissions. According to Shirley Paulson, the church's Head of Ecumenical Affairs as of 2014, the stumbling blocks for better relationships are the "surface similarities" between Christian Science and gnosticism, and the church's rejection of medical care.
The organization has been accused at times of silencing internal criticism by firing staff, delisting practitioners and excommunicating members. Stephen Gottschalk – author of The Emergence of Christian Science in American Religious Life (1973) and Rolling Away the Stone: Mary Baker Eddy's Challenge to Materialism (2005) – who worked for the church's Committee on Publication in Boston for 13 years, was forced out in 1990 after advising the board to be more accepting of internal criticism; by the end of the year, five of his associates had resigned or been fired, according to Caroline Fraser.
Christian Scientists have tended to be white and middle-class. Most have been women and, as of the 1990s, 42 percent had a college education. 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 Nixon's White House Counsel John Ehrlichman. Others include physicist Laurance Doyle and NASA astronaut Alan Shepard, and in England the viscountess Nancy Astor and naval officer Charles Lightoller, the highest-ranking officer to survive the 1912 sinking of the Titanic. There used to be a concentration of Scientists in the film industry (see above).
Those raised within Christian Science include comedian Robin Williams, puppeteer Jim Henson, television host Ellen DeGeneres, musician James Hetfield, jurist Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, 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, a newspaper with a reputation for high-quality international news coverage. The winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes between 1950 and 2002, and numerous other awards, the Monitor had a daily circulation in 1970 of 220,000, which by 2008 had contracted to 52,000. It moved in 2009 to a largely online presence with a weekly print run. In the 1980s the church produced its own television programs, Christian Science Monitor Reports and World Monitor, and in 1991 founded the Monitor Channel, 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 all back issues of the Journal, Sentinel and Herald available online to subscribers.
The church faced internal dissent in 1991 when the Publishing Society published The Destiny of The Mother Church, written decades earlier by Bliss Knapp (1877–1958), a former president of the Mother Church. The book suggested that the Old and New Testaments had predicted Eddy's coming and that she was the Woman of the Apocalypse in the latter. Knapp had the book printed privately in 1947 but was anxious that it be church-authorized, so he and his family bequeathed $98-million to the church on condition that it publish the book by 1993; otherwise the money would go to Stanford University and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The church refused at least once after the bequest was set up, but agreed to publish the book in 1991, and made it available in Christian Science reading rooms; the other parties disputed that this constituted authorizing it and the bequest was split three ways. In the view of some church members the publication tainted the religion's status as Christian; a senior employee was fired for failing to support the church and 18 of the 21 editorial staff of the religious journals resigned.
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"The nineteenth century proved a transition period for the medical community. In the United States, what would later become the dominant allopathic medical system (yet to be wedded to the separate practice of surgery) competed with homeopathy and what was termed the eclectic system of medicine but awaited the discovery of bacteria as a causative agent of disease before it would assume its present pervasive role. In the meantime, many found the practices of physicians to be more horrific than the diseases they were trying to cure. The state of nineteenth-century medicine, and the yet-to-appear discipline of psychology, provided a context in which the new practice of healing advocated by Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815) could flourish."
"They who earliest saw Jesus after the resurrection and beheld the final proof of all that he had taught, misconstrued that event. ... The reappearing of Jesus was not the return of a spirit. He presented the same body that he had before his crucifixion, and so glorified the supremacy of Mind over matter."
"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."
"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. As I have stated, on the third and subsequent days of her said illness, resulting from her said fall on the ice, I attended Mrs. Patterson and gave her medicine ..."
"My immediate recovery from the effects of an injury caused by an accident, an injury that neither medicine nor surgery could reach, was the falling apple that led me to the discovery how to be well myself, and how to make others so."
"The author has attenuated Natrum muriaticum (common table-salt) until there was not a single saline property left. The salt had 'lost his savour;' and yet, with one drop of that attenuation in a goblet of water, and a teaspoonful of the water administered at intervals of three hours, she has cured a patient sinking in the last stage of typhoid fever. The highest attenuation of homœopathy and the most potent rises above matter into mind. This discovery leads to more light. From it may be learned that either human faith or the divine Mind is the healer and that there is no efficacy in a drug."
"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."
"The upright man is guided by a fixed Principle, which destines him to do nothing but what is honorable, and to abhor whatever is base or unworthy; hence we find him ever the same, — at all times the trusty friend, the affectionate relative, the conscientious man of business, the pious worker, the public-spirited citizen."
A "recognized method of healing" is one where "fees and expenses incurred in connection with such treatment are permitted to be deducted from taxable income as 'medical expenses' ..." This definition applies to Christian Science prayer. See "West Virginia Code, §61-8D-4a. Child neglect resulting in death; criminal penalties", West Virginia Legislature, and Rita Swan, "Religion, Culture and Criminal Law", Child-Friendly Faith Project Conference, November 8, 2013 (video, from 11:20 mins).