Dustin’ Off the Degree – Christian Science
You’ve probably seen the Christian Science Monitor and I know we’ve used it a few times on the show. It’s a publication that generally does good reporting and has won 7 Pulitzer Prizes. There’s also a decent chance you’ve seen Reading Rooms in your downtown.
Science, reading, and good journalism? They can’t be that bad, right? This is the Church of Christ, Scientist and the the science is Mary Baker Eddy’s divinely inspired revelation that that the material world and illness are all illusions. The real world is purely spiritual and wrong beliefs cause the illusion of illness which can only be healed by corrective prayer. Christian Scientists will begrudgingly comply with vaccination laws, they will see the dentist, optometrist, OB/GYN, and let doctor’s take care of broken bones, but they discourage members from seeking medicine to treat illness. They don’t believe that the medicine will prevent the prayers from effecting healing, but they believe the healing will be more effective without the medicine.
To be fair, Eddy’s revelations were first published in her 1875 book “Science and Health” at a time when medicine was not yet modern and doing nothing was often as effective and sometimes preferable to the care you could get from the local doctor, who often was the barber. This briefly made the church that Eddy founded the fastest growing religion in American peaking at 270,000 members in 1936 and garnered them enough clout that a member who was working in the Nixon Administration was able to get Nixon to force all 50 states to enact laws, like still on the books in Idaho, that protect parents from prosecution if their child dies as long as the kid was treated through prayer alone.
The Church of Christ, Scientist doesn’t just anyone do faith healing, you have to be a properly certified Christian Science Practitioner. A position that an many states provides generous protections and standing at least on par with other quacks from yesteryear and some insurance plans will pay for these corrective prayer sessions.
What’s actually more interesting to me with this church is their other theology. “Science and Health” is considered inspired Scripture. God is the divine mind and the father-mother. In many cases, especially in later additions of “Science and Health” feminine pronouns are used to describe God. Jesus was the first Christian Scientist, but is not divine and trinitarianism is rejected as polytheism. The first creation story in Genesis is accepted, but the second, more physical one is rejected.
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