This section on Christian Science is subdivided into:
introduction to christian science
Christian Science, or the First Church of Christ, Scientist, was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in Boston in 1876. She grew up in a deeply religious, Christian household, and spent her childhood plagued with ill health. Still suffering as a young adult, and not benefitting from conventional medical care, she began to study alternative methods of healing.
She became interested in the work of Phineas P. Quimby, who had developed a method of healing using hypnotism. He believed that a patient's recovery was very much affected by their faith in the ability of the person treating them.
Later, when Eddy was apparently dying after a severe fall, she read about Jesus healing someone and realised that healing is the will of God, and not governed by the human mind or body. After this realisation, she recovered and went on to write 'Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures', the primary Christian Science textbook in which she sets out her teachings, drawn from the Bible.
Christian Scientists believe that God is supreme and infinitely good. Everyone is a child of God with a spiritual nature, who can call upon God's power of healing by drawing closer to him in living and thinking. Maintaining a healthy body and mind through the study of God can overcome illness and evil. Christian Scientists worship in a church, although people of different denominations practise Christian Science without being members of the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
Christian Scientists do not believe in medical intervention and are likely to be in hospital only for childbirth, for the setting of broken bones or involuntarily as the result of an accident. Although Christian Scientists do respect the work of the medical profession, they are unlikely to be happy about being in hospital. It is therefore important that healthcare workers discuss with such patients what level of care they are willing to accept. Usually, they would be treated by Christian Scientist practitioners or nurses, who would only provide food, cleansing and prayer or religious reading.
The Christian Science Church does not try to control the actions of its members, and the level of treatment accepted in hospital is up to each individual, but the acceptance of medication is viewed as tragically wrong. Because a Christian Scientist patient might be influenced by their family, it would be wise to ask them to make decisions about their care when they are alone.
This subsection contains an alphabetic listing of specific healthcare-related information and advice for Christian Scientists.
There is no baptism in Christian Science.
blood products, blood transfusions, organ donation, life support
Generally, drugs, blood products, blood transfusions, organ donation and life support are not acceptable within the teachings of Christian Science. However, although all healthcare decisions are up to the individual, some parents may agree to their children receiving life-saving medical intervention.
care of the dying and dead
No medical intervention is permitted when a Christian Scientist is dying, and no rituals or rites need to be performed.
A female body should be handled by female staff. Although cremation is often preferred to burial, the choice is up to each individual.
children and vaccination
Christian Scientist parents believe that they have the right to refuse medical treatment for their children, including vaccinations. However, some vaccinations may be permitted if they are required by law.
Christian Scientists may accept dental care but it must be performed without any pain relief.
food and medicines
Christian Scientists are opposed to the use of all medication, including pain relief.
They do not usually follow a particular diet, although they do not use alcohol or tobacco, and may not drink tea or coffee.
Christian Scientists observe the traditional holy days of the Christian heritage (see section on 'Christian holidays'), but mark such holidays with prayer rather than gifts or any other trappings of commercialism.
The Christian Science Church is uncomfortable with homosexuality but, on the whole, does not openly condemn it.
Christian Scientists will usually report the outbreak of an infectious disease and comply with quarantine measures, but are highly unlikely to accept any medical intervention.
Christian Scientists are unlikely to consent to a post-mortem unless it is required legally.
Christian Scientist patients are unlikely to practise any particular rites or rituals, but they might appreciate some peace and quiet for prayer.
Christian Scientists view a sick person as a false representation of the true nature of a human being. They do not permit the use of the human mind as an agent of healing, and so any form of psychotherapy is unacceptable.
Christian Scientists are opposed to any medical intervention to either assist or limit reproduction.
termination of pregnancy
Christian Science does not have a specific policy on the termination of a pregnancy.
Members of staff may find it very difficult caring for a Christian Scientist patient when the care they can give is so restricted, particularly in the case of a child, and should be offered moral support and possibly even counselling.
- 'The Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science)'
(an article published by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance)
The First Church of Christ, Scientist
The official website of the The First Church of Christ, Scientist, covers all aspects of Christian Science.
Wright's Lane, Kensington, London W8 6TA
Tel: 020 7937 3389
Christian Science is a Christian religion that was founded in 1876 by Mary Baker Eddy. Known as Christian Scientists, followers of the First Church of Christ, Scientist believe in the supremacy of God and his power of healing, which makes medical intervention redundant.
Christian Scientists therefore normally rely on spiritual means of healing. In some ways, Christian Scientists have similar beliefs about the world as Buddhists and Hindus in that the spiritual is thought to be more real than the physical, and that a change in the understanding of reality will bring about a change in the physical realm.