Is Christian Science a Dying Religion?

“But the time cometh when the religious element, or Church of Christ, shall exist alone in the affections, and need no organization to express it.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 145

“When students have fulfilled all the good ends of organization, and are convinced that by leaving the material forms thereof a higher spiritual unity is won, then is the time to follow the example of the Alma Mater. Material organization is requisite in the beginning; but when it has done its work, the purely Christly method of teaching and preaching must be adopted.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 358-359

“It is not indispensable to organize materially Christ’s church. It is not absolutely necessary to ordain pastors and to dedicate churches; but if this be done, let it be in concession to the period, and not as a perpetual or indispensable ceremonial of the church. If our church is organized, it is to meet the demand, ‘Suffer it to be so now.’ The real Christian compact is love for one another. This bond is wholly spiritual and inviolate.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 91

A friend of mine recently pointed out an article in The Federalist titled, “How Christian Science Became a Dying Religion” In the article the author, Alfred Siewers, writes: “Today, demolished or converted Christian Science churches testify to its decline…The number of Christian Scientists in the United States was 270,000 in 1936 (the last reliable public count). Today, despite growth in the nation’s population, actual church membership in the U.S. could well be down to 50,000, based on a steep drop in numbers of congregations and registered healers.” And he mentions that the last Christian Scientists in Congress, Representatives Bob Goodlatte and Lamar Smith, are no longer members of the legislature.

Here’s my reaction to all of that:
– Regarding Goodlatte and Smith: I don’t care what religion (or non-religion) legislators practice just so long as they are in Congress to help bring equality, justice, and fairness to all Americans, to serve the constituents (rather than corporations), and to save our environment.

– Regarding the closure of Christian Science churches: Back in 1879, when Mary Baker Eddy was trying to share Christian Science with the world, there weren’t televisions, computers, radios, or the internet – and I’m thinking the most effective way for her to share her discovery of Christian Science at that time was through a church. Maybe an organized religion is no longer the most effective way to share the Science of the Christ (Love, Truth, Life).

I believe Christian Science is more a way of life than a religion. Christian Science isn’t something that needs to be housed in a material structure. It’s not dependent on a human organization or a physical building. Christian Science can be practiced anywhere at any time by anyone. The power and presence of Love – the power and presence that brings us healing – isn’t limited to people who are card-carrying members of the Christian Science church. It’s available to all of us – no matter our church or political affiliations, race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. No one is ever separated from the power and presence of Love.  The power of Love doesn’t discriminate or judge us, or leave anyone out. As Mary Baker Eddy writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptations and bestowals.”

– Regarding the “declining” membership: Big numbers or little numbers, lots of people or just a few, popular or unpopular – I. Do. Not. Care. I don’t follow ANYthing just because it’s popular, or because celebrities and the “cool kids” like it – and I’m guessing you don’t, either, right?  I follow something because it resonates with me – it feels “right” to me – I follow an idea because it helps make me a better person, or gives me the tools to make the world a better place. I follow the teachings of Christian Science because it has brought me healing.

Is Christian Science a dying religion? I guess my response to that question would be another question: Isn’t Christian Science MORE than just a religion?

church

 

4 thoughts on “Is Christian Science a Dying Religion?

  1. It sounds like you would be perfectly happy practicing Christian Science on your own or outside the Mother Church. If not, then you seem to enjoy the role of nonconformist in the Mother Church which needs every member’s support. At some point one needs to trust the religious company they keep. I am seeking to do that and have found Christian Scientists to be amiable, although very compliant with MBE’s teachings. Perhaps some day I’ll become a Church member. I liked your post on Margaret Laird.

    • Okay. I think what I’ll do is respond to your comment, sentence by sentence.
      – You write, “It sounds like you would be perfectly happy practicing Christian Science on your own or outside the Mother Church.”
      – My response: I guess I feel happy practicing CS anywhere and anytime – whether in the Mother Church or outside it.
      – You write: “If not, then you seem to enjoy the role of nonconformist in the Mother Church which needs every member’s support.”
      – My response: I don’t particularly enjoy the role of noncomformist. I guess I don’t really think in those terms, you know? I enjoy practicing my right to freedom of thought – and maybe sometimes that makes me seem like a noncomformist (?) – but that’s not really what I’m about. Not sure how to respond to the bit about the Mother Church needing every member’s support. I’m not sure what you mean by that – what kind of support are you talking about and why does the MC need it? I am a member of the Mother Church and support all the good it is doing for the world in its spiritual outreach, and especially in the outreach of the Publishing Society.
      – You write: “At some point one needs to trust the religious company they keep.”
      – My response: Why?
      – You write: “I am seeking to do that and have found Christian Scientists to be amiable, although very compliant with MBE’s teachings.”
      – My response: I love my Christian Science friends – those that I feel especially close to are those who aren’t afraid to question things; who don’t follow anyone or anything blindly; and who have the ability to laugh at themselves – they aren’t what I would call particularly “compliant.”
      – You write: “Perhaps some day I’ll become a Church member.
      – My response: I know you’ll do what Love leads you to do and everything will unfold for you in a beautiful and natural way.
      – You write: “I liked your post on Margaret Laird.”
      – My response: Thank you! Frankly, I’d forgotten that post and had to go back and re-read it to remember what I’d written there. 🙂

      Thank you for taking the time to comment, Chris. You made me think – and that’s never a bad thing. 🙂

  2. I both agree, and I don’t agree. I agree that CS is a way of life and that, even without churches, we would continue as we do.

    That being said…I am so grateful for practitioners and religious exemptions and other things that relate to Christian Science as it relates to society that the Church protects for us.

    So while I don’t think we need to have a church to be Christian Scientists, I do cherish church!

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