Well, dang. Have to make another apology.

Ahem. So last week I had to go on the Science-Based Medicine website and offer an apology. Don’t ask. Just another one of those humbling experiences that I seem to so often have the opportunity to experience. And today I must send out another apology – this time to my fellow Christian Scientists.

The apology from last week and today’s apology are actually connected – they’re both about a couple of laws in Washington State that allow parents to use Christian Science treatment without being accused of child neglect.

Today’s apology involves my assumption that there were Christian Scientists at work right now to lobby our Washington State legislature to protect Christian Science parents from being prosecuted should their children come to harm due to neglect. Man. Did I get THAT story wrong. Turns out these were laws that were put in the books back in 1997 – and they weren’t meant to protect Christian Science parents from prosecution for neglect should their children come to harm, but were meant to prevent Christian Science parents from prosecution for neglect just BECAUSE they use Christian Science treatment for their children.  Law RCW 26.44.020 reads in part: “A person who is being furnished Christian Science treatment by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner will not be considered, for that reason alone, a neglected person for the purposes of this chapter.”

Here are the laws:

RCW 9A.42.005

Findings and intent — Christian Science treatment — Rules of evidence.

The legislature finds that there is a significant need to protect children and dependent persons, including frail elder and vulnerable adults, from abuse and neglect by their parents, by persons entrusted with their physical custody, or by persons employed to provide them with the basic necessities of life. The legislature further finds that such abuse and neglect often takes the forms of either withholding from them the basic necessities of life, including food, water, shelter, clothing, and health care, or abandoning them, or both. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature that criminal penalties be imposed on those guilty of such abuse or neglect. 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. Prosecutions under this chapter shall be consistent with the rules of evidence, including hearsay, under law.



RCW 26.44.020

(16) “Practitioner of the healing arts” or “practitioner” means a person licensed by this state to practice podiatric medicine and surgery, optometry, chiropractic, nursing, dentistry, osteopathic medicine and surgery, or medicine and surgery or to provide other health services. The term “practitioner” includes a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner. A person who is being furnished Christian Science treatment by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner will not be considered, for that reason alone, a neglected person for the purposes of this chapter.



In other words, if a parent has found that Christian Science treatment is the most effective treatment for himself and for his children – he won’t be prosecuted for using it. If it works for you, use it, right?

Apparently, there is a question as to whether Christian Scientists even lobbied for these laws, or whether some politician decided to throw the exemptions in on his own. Who knows? In any case. I apologize for any misinformation I may have inadvertently propogated.

Wonder what I’ll be apologizing for NEXT week… stay tuned… 🙂


22 thoughts on “Well, dang. Have to make another apology.

  1. I’m fine with Christian Scientists using Christian Science — no problem there as long as the healing is INSTANTANEOUS (see Jesus’ healings). My objections come in when Christian Science does not work instantly, and the children are not taken get medical care and the problem results in prolonged suffering (I’m sure you’ve seen https://secular.org/heywoodtestimony) or death. As I see it, failing to get medical care when Christian Science is not working SHOULD qualify as neglect — failing to get medical care if you’re not CS qualifies, why should CS be any different?

    As for who lobbied for it/added it? I can’t imagine any politician would add it on their own unless they were CS &/or had ties to some CS-related group. 1997 is not that long ago, and the Christian Science church has been lobbying at both the sate and national level for YEARS — government docs going back to the late 1800-early 1900s have record of CS questioning/lobbying health care initiatives. And then there is the Committee on Publications US Federal Office – not to mention various sate offices http://christianscience.com/member-resources/for-churches/committee-on-publication/us-federal-office

    • Kat,

      I also feel special attention needs to be given to the care of children who are sick.

      Yes. There are some very good people who love their patients and sincerely want to help them within materia medica as I had a working relationship and knew some of the good physicians in my former career. I feel it has its place.

      But are materia medica’s healings instantaneous?

      I saw mostly greed there as many were interested in how to make money off the sick rather than health and healing.

      Perhaps you need to read some of the links that prescription drugs even when properly used are now the third leading cause of death.

      How about the kids put on Paxil because there were ghost written articles with physicians names on them that showed children benefited when the opposite was the truth. Was $3 billion enough of a fine of just a few months profit ???

      There have been so many permanent healings through CS that may not have not been so-called instantaneous but came through struggle and time.

      I find it interesting that the peer reviewed medical journal, The Lancet, now recognizes the dangers and corruption of Big Pharma and their deadly medicines.

      “Throughout Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime Gøtzsche uses many anecdotes, provides countless facts and comments based on facts, and cites more than 900 references to draw attention to the allegedly shocking crimes committed by the drug industry (including manufacturers of medical devices). Gøtzsche understands pharmaceutical companies only too well because of his long and varied career in health care, with roles that have included drug representative for big pharma, researcher in clinical trials, physician, lecturer, and author of papers and books. He cofounded the Cochrane Collaboration and is the Director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen. With his expertise and uncompromising attitude, Gøtzsche is outraged and outspoken in his book about pharmaceutical companies being “just like street drug pushers”.

      The Lancet, Volume 383, Issue 9915, Page 402, 1 February 2014

      This has opened some good discussion as the evidence is overwhelming cautioning materia medica not Christian Science.

      Christian Science has done so much good for so many people and many have been rescued from the graves by it when properly used and understood.

      Warm love to you.


      • I’m not saying “materica medica” is perfect — I agree, there needs to be some massive healthcare reform, the US is the one of the only country that lets “big pharma” advertise directly to the patients via TV ads, in magazines, etc. and yes, I’ve read the articles about how we are drugging children into submission so they can sit still and take more standardized tests. There is not one simple problem, nor is there one simple answer.

        I was raised in Christian Science, I left after I had children because I could not, in good conscience, raise them the way I had been raised. From a very early age I was informed that I should be able to “pray about” things like cavities — none of my teeth were ever “healed” no matter how much prayer I put forth, I also needed braces — again, prayer didn’t work. Glasses, “why not pray about it?” Year after year of seasonal colds, sure I prayed about them and I was “healed” but the human body is very resilient and you can get better without prayer as well.

        Most of experiences with Christian Science led me down a path of failure and shame. I “failed” to have healings, I was shamed for my decisions to choose “materica medica” over relying on prayer.

        You say that Christian Science has done so much good for so many people and many have been rescued from the graves by it when properly used and understood. and what about when it is NOT properly used and understood — I would argue that is most of the time. I went to Sunday School nearly every Sunday until I turned 20 and I saw lot of suffering and death when Christian Science is misunderstood.

        Yes, people die with modern medicine, but MORE PEOPLE USE IT than use Christian Science, and many Christian Scientists turn to it when Christian Science isn’t working as “quickly” as they might’ve hoped.

        I’m glad Christian Science is working for you, it is not the path for me.


      • Thank you, Kat. I think you articulated your experiences and feelings really well here. I had no idea that you’d been denied dental treatment and eyeglasses as a youngster – I don’t even know what to say to that. I’m just so sorry.

        (My experience with Christian Science as a youngster was much different than yours – I witnessed and experienced a lot of really wonderful healings with CS treatment – but we also went to the dentist and the optometrist, and even a general practitioner now and then. Maybe that is why I’m still in Christian Science.)

      • My experience with Christian Science as a youngster was much different than yours – I witnessed and experienced a lot of really wonderful healings with CS treatment – but we also went to the dentist and the optometrist, and even a general practitioner now and then. Maybe that is why I’m still in Christian Science.)

        I’ve refrained from commenting only because I felt that there wasn’t much I could add.

        I want to take a second to point out though that this is precisely what we had been talking about over at SBM. Our understanding of CS – and at least the popular understanding which we base it from – is in line with Kat’s experience. That is what we are against, since it actively removes the possibility of medical care for a vulnerable population (children).

        I don’t think any of us would have any issue with the addition of CS “treatments” or prayers or whatever to regular medical care. I view it as placebo for the family and the patient, nothing more, but times of illness can be very trying indeed and I find no reason to remove what is genuine comfort from people. If asked to pray along with a family I respectfully decline and offer chaplain services whenever possible, but there have been moments when that was simply not possible (i.e. would have been truly cruel in the light of the situation) and I have feigned prayer for the benefit of my patient.

      • Andrey, you are a dear young man. I am grinning (again). I love this part: “…there have been moments when that was simply not possible (i.e. would have been truly cruel in the light of the situation) and I have feigned prayer for the benefit of my patient.” I love that you would do that for your patients! That is TRUE prayer right there! 🙂

        Might I make a suggestion for any future situation in which you might find yourself asked to pray? Just love. Love your patient. Feel the love of the people around you. Just love. That is the bestest prayer, ever. In the chapter entitled “Prayer” in Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The mere habit of pleading with the divine Mind, as one pleads  with a human being, perpetuates the belief in God as humanly circumscribed,- an error which impedes spiritual growth.God is Love. Can we ask Him to be more? God is intelligence. Can we inform the infinite Mind of anything He does not already comprehend?”

        I think if you’re “feigning” prayer because you don’t want to be cruel, you are, in fact, praying in the best possible way.

      • Karen — don’t worry, I wasn’t “denied” dental care, my teeth are full of fillings! I did get lectures on how I should be praying harder, and how I really should be “expecting” healings (which never seemed to happen). For the first few fillings (and the first root canal) they reminded me that I didn’t “need” local anesthetic, thankfully the dentists doing the work talked to them mind, and the new party line was “it is to make the dentist feel more comfortable.” I still have a hard time visiting the dentist because of this. They also came around on the orthodontist issue, the local CSP’s grand-daughter got braces, so clearly it was OK.

        The school nurse cornered my parents — who wore glasses themselves — and convinced them to take me to an optometrist, I was well into the 5th grade by that time. We never had health, dental or vision coverage, so my mother would talk the price down — offer cash, and my FAVORITE was the “root canal & extraction” discount because I was “already numbed up, why not do both?”

      • I’ll give you dark, not sure about comedic. 😉 The no-anesthetic dental work seems to be a common thread among many of us who had CS-childhoods (and then left). I’m fine with using prayer or meditation to deal with stress, but when my teeth get drilled into, I want the best cocktail of local anesthetics available. 😀

  2. Pingback: Christian Science: Lobbying It or Living It? | Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

  3. they’re both about a couple of laws in Washington State that allow parents to use Christian Science treatment without being accused of child neglect.

    There is no problem with using CS treatments if that is what you wish to do. I would (and have) argue that it is at worst doing nothing and at best providing some placebo relief to (potentially) both patient and family. But that is assuming it is not used instead of actual medical care when necessary.

    If your child has a stomach ache and you wish to try CS treatments to do something about it, that is fine. If it goes away quickly and the child is not too sick, you’ve bought yourself some placebo effect and nothing truly different happened. But if it turns out to be early appendicitis and the CS treatments continue long enough, then the child will have a high likelihood of dying in agony. The key is that we should not extend protection against prosecution for medical neglect because the CS treatment was stubbornly tried in lieu of actual medical care.

    The real rub comes in when one realizes that it is difficult for someone adequately trained to differentiate between mild transitory abdominal pain and appendicitis. Someone completely not trained has little hope of doing so. And if the premise of the CS practitioner is that the treatment will work if given “enough time” now we enter a dangerous area where “enough time” could lead to either death or irreversible and lasting damage.

    We must formulate our ideas of what constitutes neglect based on empirical science and data. We can give leeway in certain cases where the outcome is the same, though the means is different. But we cannot absolve letting a child die because someone not trained in the relevant fields deems their treatment efficacious and merely requiring more time when all the data clearly tell us otherwise.

  4. Well, I’ve never heard it put that way before. It seems overly simplistic to me but if that is what people think it is not my place to tell them otherwise. I believe that it is my professional and ethical onus to go above and beyond for my patients as I am in a privileged position of my education and training combined with inevitably being in contact with people when they are invariably more vulnerable than they normally would be. If that means I stay late to talk to family, take an extra couple of minutes to show them a CT scan and explain what it means, or just hold a hand in silent “prayer” so be it. No imposition on me could be a greater strain than the difficult times they are going through (obviously this is not an absolute with my patients in the ICU being different than in clinic, but the premise still applies).

    But this also goes both ways and imparts additional onus. I would personally feel very uneasy if my physician asked for me to pray before going into surgery. The point is not to pray, it is to do whatever is reasonable, and a little bit more, to make your patient feel comfortable.

  5. Kat,

    I hear you and understand and I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you were made to feel shamed for your decision to chose medical care when you were not getting healing in CS. Nobody should ever do that to somebody.

    I too was shamed for not getting so-called healing when trying to “pray away the gay.” I was told by the so-called “good Christian Scientist” (her words) that being gay is the most horrible thing a man can be and this person sent me CS articles on so-called healings of homosexuality It led me down a path of self hate and self destruction.

    But I was also fortunate that I also had a grandmother who was a CS practitioner who was the real deal filled with love and compassion and had many beautiful healings through CS. She, like Christ, loved everybody. I now focus on my memories of her.

    It is the students of Christian Science who are not so perfect to the human sense.

    For the record we went to dentists and wear contacts or eye classes if needed. It was practical.

    But I took that pain from being gay and I put it into making a website friendly to LGBT Christian Scientists and kept CS in my life as I understood it which is all about unconditional love and healing.

    My journey into the medical field only led me back into Christian Science as I could not have learned those lessons anywhere else.

    And if I ever feel doubt and fear come in then I ask God to help me overcome any doubt or fear.

    I once had the Chair of the Dept of Psychiatry, three hospital system, tell me that he has patients at a level of despair he cannot reach and stated: “We don’t have a pill for hope”.

    For me, Christian Science is Hope that is alive and healing and I have found it to be the major weapon against suicide.

    In closing I’ll post an article from a C.S.B. who addresses people who feel a need to seek medical care. Perhaps there are those who read this blog who may will find that it brings them some comfort. See below.

    Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL mankind.
    Rob Scott
    Chicago, IL

    No Need To Be Embarrassed
    From the blog of EVAN MEHLENBACHER CSB

    If one has practiced Christian Science successfully for years, even decades, and then finds him or herself under extreme circumstances that causes him or her to seek temporary help from the medical community, should they feel embarrassed or like they’re spiritual failures?

    Absolutely not!

    There is nothing wrong with seeking medical assistance if that is the wisest thing to do under the circumstances one faces. Everyone has major spiritual lessons to learn in their demonstration of Truth, and the going is not always easy.

    Ideally, every problem goes away with prayer, but in the everyday reality of human decision-making, and wondering what to do to save life and preserve the greater good when faced with immense struggle, occasionally, students of Christian Science have found themselves seeking temporary medical assistance. This is not a dark sin. It’s not a black mark on one’s record. It’s just a temporary measure. That’s all. When one’s motive is to work out problems spiritually, the temporary measures will pass and be left behind. The larger spiritual lessons will be learned in due time and with right effect.
    If a student of Science has not steeped himself in pride and self-righteousness about his practice of Christian Science healing, there will be no “knocking him down from the pedestal,” type of experience. He will not allow himself to be put up there to begin with! Humility about our practice is a healthy quality. And it keeps us out of much trouble.

    But it’s important to honor all the success Science has produced over the years and give credit where credit is due.

    A long time student of Christian Science who sought some temporary medical assistance during a seemingly life and death struggle was disturbed about how to reply to his physician who asked, “Why haven’t you been to a doctor for 40 years?” I told my friend that he could tell the doctor with confidence that he hadn’t been to a doctor for 40 years because his health needs have been successfully met through his practice of Christian Science. And that he was very grateful for all the help he had received over the years.

    I explained to him that there was no need to feel apologetic or timid about sharing his faith. Prayer yields huge benefits. No justification for reliance upon a method of healing that blesses is needed. No cover-up is required. Statements of truth are nothing to be embarrassed about. It is what it is. And one can speak of faith with confidence, cheer and expectancy of good.
    So, when one’s motive is to keep growing spiritually, whatever happens in the temporary scene will be subdued and replaced by an inevitable reckoning with spiritual truth, no matter what temporary measures were taken. Truth is always the healer and the most reliable medicine and aid available to mankind.

    The lessons of Truth are learned by everyone, eventually, but if temporary events get a little messy or live not up to one’s spiritual expectations, fear not, keep the faith, do the best you know, and with persistent and patient prayer, God will still get you to the best place in thought, deed and experience you could ever possibly be.

    • “We don’t have a pill for hope”.

      Maybe back then. But now there is actually some emerging and rather compelling evidence (coupled with evidence from the 50’s before the research was stopped for politicoideological reasons) that psychedelic drugs (specifically psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA) can significantly improve depression, PTSD, and anhedonia.

      From my perspective the idea of religious thought of any flavor is merely another cognitive state of mind. We can induce these states in people by extrinsic means. We can “turn up” or “turn down” belief in general and religious belief specifically in individuals in real time using transcranial magnetic stimulation. We can induce entheogenic experiences in people with various drugs. And they can have transformative outcomes.

      If you can achieve that through a belief in something supernatural rather than pharmacologically, more power to you! I just find that the excess baggage that is almost universally associated with that supernatural belief (such as Kat’s experience with medical care and yours with condemnation of your perfectly normal homosexuality) tends to be a distinct negative that in most (but not all) cases makes an unfavorable risk:benefit ratio.

      • “We don’t have a pill for hope”.

        Chair, Department of Psychiatry – 3 Hospital System

        My conversation with the Chair of Psychiatry was recent – about five years ago.

        Also, I utilized MDMA ( aka Extasy) back in my brief clubbing days. I remember hearing comments similar to yours that it was good at improving depression. This is before I gained the skills to be extreamly cautious of people recommending or selling any drug (legal or illegal).

        After all I was trained by Big Pharma in “objection handling” and “social styles” or using ones’ personality style as a way to manipulate the physician to write Rxs.

        I found that MDMA did opposite and caused depression.

        I also found it true that it led to what is commonly known as suicide Tuesdays because of the depression that followed which was unbearable.

        When the eupherioria wore off it left people with severe depression and feeling suicidal.

        It also took me a long time once I stopped using MDMA until I felt normal again.


      • 5 years can be a long time in terms of medical research. The studies regarding psylocibin in particular are pretty good. Still preliminary, not something I would recommend as mainstream, and not to be taken lightly (ever), but certainly worth exploring.

        And just because you are the chair of a department or otherwise well known or educated doesn’t mean you can’t be wrong. That is an argument from authority which is a logical fallacy. Otherwise you could argue that prominent neurosurgeon Micheal Egnor is correct and that evolution is wrong (hint: evolution is not wrong).

        And just because “Big Pharma” has objectionable practices doesn’t mean that somehow ALL pharmacotherapy is bunk. It is, most decidedly, absolutely not. Don’t forget that we physicians are just as upset at the transgressions of “Big Pharma” and pushing hard to fix the problems. I myself am a member of the AllTrials Campaign.

        Your one experience with one psychotropic drug does not provide compelling evidence against all drugs and all people. It doesn’t even provide evidence against the therapeutic use of MDMA. All it provides evidence for is that it doesn’t work for you (at least when taken in the illegal form which is typically impure, with other drugs mixed in and thus even more different than what clinical use of MDMA would be).

    • Rob – Just want to thank you for sharing your experiences with us here. And thank you for taking the time and effort to create a website for LGBT CSists. I’m glad you’ve done that. I guess I’m sad that it was necessary, though – exclusion has no place in genuine Christian Science. There is no place for bigotry in the “Structure of Truth and Love”.

  6. I said – ” be extreamly cautious of people recommending or selling any drug (legal or illegal).”

    Just because it is legal and prescribed by a physician doesn’t mean they are safe and effective.

    Perscription drugs even when correctly used are now the third leading cause of death. The Lancet made this very clear.

    I found the following in on http://kidshealth.org/kid/grow/drugs_alcohol/know_drugs_ecstasy.html. for those of you wondering what MDMA is about.

    What It Is:
    Ecstasy (3, 4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine, or MDMA) is a drug that is illegally made.

    Ecstasy is a stimulant drug that can cause hallucinations. It is known as a designer drug because it is created for the purpose of making someone feel high. The drug is popular with teens and young adults who go to clubs, concerts, or “rave parties.”

    Users think the drug will make them feel good and enable them to keep going for days without rest. But people who use Ecstasy don’t realize how dangerous this drug actually is.

    Ecstasy has become one of the most common illegal drugs sold on the streets. In the last few years, Ecstasy has sent many young people to emergency rooms because of its dangerous side effects. Ecstasy can kill.

    Sometimes Called:
    XTC, X, Adam, E, Roll, A, 007

    How It’s Used:
    Ecstasy can be swallowed (pill or tablet) or snorted (powder).

    What It Does to You:
    Ecstasy is both a hallucinogenic and a stimulant drug. It makes users experience a rush of good feelings (a high) and makes someone’s feelings much more intense, whether they’re good or bad. The drug’s effects usually last up to 6 hours.

    Ecstasy increases heart rate and can cause dry mouth, clenched teeth, blurred vision, chills, sweating, or nausea. It can make some users feel anxious, confused, and paranoid, like someone is trying to hurt them or is plotting against them. Ecstasy may cause direct damage to brain cells that are involved in thinking and memory.

    If a person takes Ecstasy, his or her body can dangerously overheat during dancing or other physical activities, which can lead to muscle breakdown, kidney, liver and heart damage, and even death. Taking the drug can cause seizures, brain swelling and permanent brain damage.

    Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
    Date reviewed: January 2014

    • Just because it is legal and prescribed by a physician doesn’t mean they are safe and effective.

      No but it is, by definition and the very nature of it, vastly more likely to be safe and effective. And the risks are unquestionably much more well characterized and controllable.

      Perscription drugs even when correctly used are now the third leading cause of death. The Lancet made this very clear.

      This is a non-point. Prescription drugs are a significant cause of mortality because through their use we have eliminated or reduced the previously significant causes of mortality. I mean, you may as well say that car fatalities today are vastly more common than they were in 1850. Obviously, but that is because so many people are using cars! It is simply nonsensical to look at the mortality and morbidity of drugs without also looking at the benefits of drugs. The argument that they cause mortality is not one to say they are ineffective or we should do away with them… it is to say that we should work on improving the mortality associated with them!

      And your continued focus on MDMA alone (when I clearly also discussed psilocybin and LSD) is further disingenuous by your continued reference to the street uses of the drug which are fundamentally different to controlled medical uses of the drug.

      I’m sorry you had bad experiences with the drug at raves. I agree it should not be something taken casually. But if you had bad experiences chewing willow bark, that is not an indictment against aspirin.

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