Mother's traumatic death prompts new ministry to ex-Christian Science adherents
Report by ROB JAMES
A NEW internet support facility could prompt scores of disillusioned people to abandon their links with Christian Science, according to Doug Harris, Director of Reachout Trust, the Christian ministry to the cults, the occult and the New Age."
There really is a need for an active support ministry that makes itself known to Christian Scientists," he explained. "I think we will find people coming out of the woodwork wanting that support. At the moment they don't know where to turn. This new resource will fill that gap."
Harris was commenting on the launch of firstname.lastname@example.org, the e-mail link to the developing UK branch of Christian Way Ministry based in the USA (email@example.com).
Kathy... set about organising a UK branch of Christian Way following the traumatic death of her mother earlier this year. "She died in a nursing home," explained Kathy. "She bravely and silently endured much suffering due to her radical reliance on Christian Science. She refused medical assistance for cancer because of her strong beliefs and died 18 months ago (sic) after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She had no pain relief and no surgery."
A devotee of Christian Science for nearly 50 years, she firmly believed her faith would heal her. She even returned surgical dressings because she felt unable to use them. Suffice it to say that my mother watched part of her anatomy disintegrate and would not discuss it, because she believed she could heal herself by correcting her thoughts. Ideas about infections never entered her head. Anyone who dared to point out these practicalities was accused of interfering with her healing because talking about material things would give them a reality they should not have."
Following her mother's death Kathy was contacted by the press, and the subsequent coverage - with the predicted Christian Science reaction - prompted her current response."
The events of the last 18 months have taken their toll on my health, and the health of my family," she continued. "Thankfully, we have many people's prayers to support us. I am trying to use the situation to positive advantage by setting up a support group for those who have been similarly affected, or who have relations still in Christian Science. To this end there is now a website http://ex-christian-science.8m.com, which is the UK link with the Christian Way group in the USA. People die in this cult with untreated growths, cancers, diabetes etc. You can imagine the heartache in watching this, whether Christian or non-Christian, from the outside and knowing that you are powerless to call for a doctor to relieve pain or effect a cure."
Brought up within Christian Science, Kathy understands only too well how difficult it is to break free of its influence and teaching. "I became a Christian nearly 30 years ago," she explained, "and I always longed to meet and share with other Christians who had endured a similar background. I had many problems - particularly understanding Christian doctrine, with relationships (because I had been very isolated within this cult), with depression, loneliness and knowing when it was appropriate to seek medical aid.
"We long to reach those who need to feel that people do understand what it was like to be in such a cult, to show that we can sympathise with the loneliness, perhaps experienced as a child, suffering from excruciating earaches, coughs and so on, with no sympathy, no antibiotics, and above all for them to feel the practical reality of Christian support."
A meeting in August only served to confirm these feelings. "Nine people came together," she explained. "Several could not make it due to poor health - attributable to medical neglect when they were in CS. Some are too ill to travel - all the more reason for contact and support. Most of them had a horrendous story of suffering which they had endured silently, because, in the words of one lady, there was never anyone to talk to who would really understand.
"Several of us had witnessed the premature death of loved ones who clung to the brainwashing of CS. Sometimes this had resulted in the break-up of families and the continuance of difficulties in relating to people. I know this is the tip of the iceberg and maintaining contact is emerging as important. I am also in contact with several in the USA enduring similar ordeals with dying relatives. The stress is appalling."
Christian Science claims to have 115 congregations within the UK, just over 2,000 world-wide in 79 countries, and according to Tony Lobl of the CS Committee on Publications, CS is benefiting from "a rapidly growing interest in spirituality and an accelerating interest in healing through prayer". This interest comes not only from the general public but also from the medical profession and other Christian churches.
"We are consequently experiencing a growing interest in the ideas in Science and Health. The book is selling more copies than ever in its history - over 200,000 copies a year".
And stressing that every individual is free to choose their response to illness without censure, he continued: "If someone discovered a lump in their breast for example we would advise them to pray to God for guidance to know what is the best thing to do deal (sic) with the problem effectively. If they choose to rely on God for healing then there are encouraging records of cure through prayer in the CS magazines. Christian Scientists are consistently law-abiding, however, and in obedience to the law, parents will quickly seek medical attention for their children in any instance where other parents would do so".
And as for question of pain relief: "Individual Christian Scientists are always free to choose medication for pain relief for any situation. Neither the church nor the teachings dictate such choices for the individual."
But Doug Harris is not convinced. "There is a real need for this new ministry," he continued. "Whether people come out in ones or as a group they are always in need of great support. They have to learn to put their lives back together and they need advice about very practical things - such as doctors and health. They need to learn to see such issues in totally different ways. An active support ministry that makes itself widely know (sic) is really needed." ...