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'Prayer Is Our First Defense Against Illness'

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Do Christian Scientist moms take their kids to the doctor when they're sick? To find out, we went straight to the source.

christian scientist mom

Heidi Thompson: I was raised as a Christian Scientist. My grandparents were active in the religion, as were my parents -- so it's really a big part of who I am. I introduced my husband to Christian Science about 10 years ago, and it really resonated with him. Probably the biggest misconception about my religion is that we don't take our kids to the doctor when they're sick. We do use prayer as our first reaction to illness, but if we don't see improvement, we will seek medical attention.

Luckily, with my kids, we have rarely had to do that. Usually, prayer works the first time. But my kids do have a pediatrician and go for their well visits. It's not like they've never been to a doctor.

Prayer is our first defense. One night, I was nursing my son and he had a fever. I was concerned. I immediately started doing prayerful work on the issue. I reached for a periodical that features stories of people who've been healed by turning to prayer. I opened it to a story about a woman who had a fever. She was hot and bothered by the people she was traveling with, and was feeling a lot of anger inside. Once she worked through that anger and thought about each person one by one -- focusing on how God had created them -- her fever broke.

I was all angry and flustered earlier that evening. I knew that my thoughts and emotions could affect my infant. Not in a mystical way -- but as a parent, your attitudes, fears, and strengths can influence your children. This is especially true with babies, so it's important to keep your thoughts aligned.

This is the core of Christian Science. All of God's creation is made perfect. The onus is on us to realize that perfection. It's up to us to align our thoughts to what we know to be true about ourselves and others. We must tap into that truth.

That night, I worked through my hurt and angry feelings from earlier that evening one by one. By the time the baby woke up, the fever was gone.

We believe there is a law of harmony that governs us. It's up to you to get your thoughts in the right place, and remarkable things can happen.

Christian Science was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1866. She was quite a maverick. She founded the Christian Science Monitor. She did many things that were unheard of for a woman to do back then.

Christian Science gets lumped in with all kinds of things. It gets confused with Scientology a lot in the media. Or faith healing. Some people accuse us of being a cult -- but we don't worship Mary Baker Eddy. There's a lot of confusion out there when it comes to my religion. But faith is very hard to talk about. When people bring it up in cocktail conversation, it's hard to explain what your faith is about in a casual environment.

Mary Baker Eddy didn't even want Christian Science to be a religion. She saw it as a way of looking at Christianity and how Jesus was thinking. She thought her philosophy could just impact the Christian churches around her. But when people started tweaking it and taking her authenticity out of it, she decided to carve it out as something new. And that's how Christian Science was born.

Christian Science is a very positive religion, and it makes a big difference to our family. We are always supposed to be working toward a better and truer view of mankind. That helps enormously when raising children. When things are going wrong, we turn it back on them. If they're being bullied by a kid on the playground, for instance, we'll say: "You know what's true about that bully in school. It's up to you to assert that. Take some time to pray to get some sense of peace about knowing this."

It's beautiful to see kids understand and tell us later what they did to express love to a bully. I love the lesson that's teaching them. It's something that can work for them forever.

I really like the idea that there is this limitless potential -- it's up to us to tap into it. I am always constantly telling my kids that they have all the intelligence and strength they need. It is theirs if they just tap into it.

Like all parents, I get irritated or annoyed with my children sometimes. But at the end of the evening, when I have a minute to think back on something that happened in the day, I do a quiet meditation about it. What does God know about this child? Does God think this child is greedy or impolite, or does he just know him as pure and loving? What God knows about this child is all that's true about this child. I'll make a list of all of those wonderful qualities God knows my child possesses -- goodness, purity, truth, and love, for instance -- and then list things that he has done that are indicative of those qualities. It recalibrates my thinking. Then without fail, the next morning, they act accordingly. They can feel I changed my perspective. The power of gratitude ... taking that time to realign your thoughts ... can work miracles in your life, especially as a parent.

The focus of my religion is seeing things differently. It's almost not even religious in a way. The crux of Christian Science is love. Love one another, and tremendous things can happen by seeing things differently.

For more about Christian Science, visit

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67 comments so far | Post a comment now
m November 11, 2009, 7:12 AM

So what she’s trying to say is that when my child is fighting cancer, it is my fault because I didn’t align my thoughts properly?

chris November 11, 2009, 7:41 AM

I don’t think thats want she is saying. I agree with the concept that children can pick up on your attitude and act accordingly to that. My kids seem to act their worst when I as totally stressed out and seem to act better and get along better with each other when I’m calm and our house is calm. But she did say that if her kids are sick and prayer doesn’t fix it, she would take them to the doctors to get the help they need.

Anonymous November 11, 2009, 7:59 AM

That’s not a religion, it’s a CULT!

Joe R. November 11, 2009, 8:54 AM

And now, our daily quote from the law of harmony:

“Put your thoughts in the right place, not in your own intellect, but in your faith, so that you are freed of the burdens of responsibility.”

There now, don’t you feel better that the spirit world has eased your burden of needing to think analytically?

For those of you who can still exert control over your own thought process and would like to help debunk this faux spirit science - recommended reading:
BRIGHT-SIDED, by Barbara Ehrenreich

Cassie November 11, 2009, 9:26 AM

Read GOD’S PERFECT CHILD by Caroline Fraser to learn more about what happens to kids in a Christian Science household. CS works fine as long as nothing is really wrong with you. Children who aren’t so lucky end up permanently disabled or dead. I know someone who was told that her childhood earaches were caused by her stubborn failure to listen to her parents and God. She needed to “correct her thinking,” her parents and the church practitioner (someone CSs pay to pray over them) said; when she did, the earaches would go away. She eventually lost her hearing altogether.

Anonymous November 11, 2009, 9:48 AM

Hah, wow.

So if prayer isn’t working then you go to the real doctors, huh? Why’s that? Because you know it WORKS.

Praying over fevers and scrapes doesn’t freaking count if you give your kids lots of fluids and clean the wounds. I want to see you cure cancer with prayers, hah!

Doesn’t it make you wonder why prayer *doesn’t* work sometimes? Maybe because God doesn’t love you enough? Maybe because it never works? Maybe because you didn’t pray hard enough?

Please! Real medicine works because it’s been TESTED. Scientifically.

You do know that fevers can break without medicine, right?

Lona November 11, 2009, 11:20 AM

I’ve relied on Christian Science all of my life and in raising our 3 children and it has met every conceivable need. It’s simply trusting God and I know that’s hard for people to do. I’ve never heard a word of hatred in Christian Science toward any other religion. We neither smoke nor drink nor do drugs. I wonder where society would be if no one else did…???

Lona November 11, 2009, 11:25 AM

We’re 5th generation Christian Scientists and it’s met every need we’ve had. It does take reliance on God and I understand that’s hard for folks to do in a materialistic society.
It’s interesting that those who rely on God would be targeted with such hatred, although not unique to Christianity.

Lindsey November 11, 2009, 11:44 AM

Good article. Thanks for sharing a difficult topic in a reasonable way.

Ann November 11, 2009, 11:47 AM

The term “align thinking” reminds me of Jesus’ constant commands to those needing heaing, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That has been translated, “Change your thinking for good is at hand right now.”
Christian Scientists have it all together…they don’t drink, smoke or do drugs. I wonder what the world would look like if none of us did??? Would we be healthier? Would society be better?

Cathy November 11, 2009, 2:18 PM

Through my daughter’s understanding that God was her health as well as Love, she had healings of colds, flu, earaches, relationship problems at school and toe problems as a dancer. She healed friends in school and brought calm when a very stressful event happened with a group of classmates. As the first line of defense, Christian Science can’t be beat. It helps us refocus - from fear (which never brings solutions) to the loving Creator, “who healeth all thy diseases.” (Psalms)

Jennifer November 11, 2009, 2:23 PM

When someone is ill or has a problem of any kind, our first reaction can be to want to place the blame somewhere. Christian Science teaches that God would never create any kind of discord, since God is Love. Our only job is to see what God sees. Each healing in Christian Science not only proves the nothingness of discord, it proves the somethingness or the allness of God, Truth. There have been countless healings in Christian Science and our family relies on it as well.

Anonymous November 11, 2009, 2:23 PM

brainwashing IMO

Jennifer November 11, 2009, 3:40 PM

There continues to be a lot of misunderstanding about Christian Science, i.e. the cult and brainwashing comments. In our family Christian Science has met every we need we’ve had for four generations, from loss of eyesight restored, diagnosed life-threatening illnesses, business and employment problems. As anyone would, Christian Scientists will seek another kind of help if they feel prayer is not working, especially for their children. For healings of cancer through Christian Science, see

Gay November 11, 2009, 3:41 PM

My family has relied on Christian Science for every conceivable kind of need for five generations now and has found it effective for ourselves and our children in all types of situations. Many people turn to Christian Science as a last resort when the medical community has given up on them, and found healing. It’s based on the teachings of Christ Jesus. It works. If it didn’t it would have disappeared long ago.

Haley November 11, 2009, 3:57 PM

I was raised in CS and have had an astouding number of healings throughout my life. I was given the option of going to the doctor, but never needed to because my healings were always complete and permanent and very fast. There is not a disease “too serious” for christian science to handle. Doctors do their best, but they only treat symptoms and cannot guarantee permanent results. Christian science does by going to the root of disease, namely thought. I am a professional dancer and besides healings of migraine headaches, rashes, fevers, chicken pox, measles, etc, I have also been healed permanently in a number of hours of broken bones, sprained ankles, tendinitis, infections and many more. All permanent healings in the time I would I have sat in the ER waiting for a doctor to see me. It is not a cult, but the realization that the healings Jesus performed are a present possibilty and can be proven with scientific certainty. I use what works and what improves my life in every aspect.

Pamala November 11, 2009, 5:03 PM

What I wouldn’t give for all my prayers to be answered and my child cured. Guess I’m not good enough, eh?

That’s sarcastic.

I mean more power to them and all, I just don’t see how God does them the favors and not everyone else who happens to believe in the Lord as well.

So basically I’m saying, that prayer is good, it’s not the only step and I don’t believe for the life of me that they’re experiencing more healings than the rest of the world.

mommyd November 11, 2009, 6:30 PM

Wow, what an interesting article and take on motherhood!! This is a Mom who really wants what is best for her children. There are some very interesting ideas in here about the power of prayer and parenthood. I disagree with a lot of these negative comments. this is responsible parenting at its best. Thank you Heidi.

GAnn November 11, 2009, 6:55 PM

I am so sorry that so many people don’t understand the healing power of the truths that Jesus taught. I came into Christian Science when I was a teenage and was diagnosed by a medical specialist with an incurable disease. I had been attending many different churches trying to find one I agreed with. After investigating Christian Science I was permanently healed and have been an active member ever since. My husband and I reared three healthy children without any medical treatment. If people really understood what Jesus was teaching maybe they would be more understanding of Christian Science.

Shannon  November 11, 2009, 6:57 PM

Where there is hate, fear, doubt, judgement, love more! Christian Science teaches us to love as the Master loved. It teaches that there are laws of God, good that the Master Christ Jesus taught and that these can be applied, as he did, to healing sickness as well as mental and emotional problems. My children know that God is love and good and they have learned how to pray to Him for healing. As a mother it is a great joy and comfort to know that my children know that God loves them and is always at hand to help, heal, and guide them. They learned this by studying the Bible and learning about God in Christian Science Sunday School and at home.

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