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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
Lola November 12, 2009, 10:40 PM

I came to Christian Science because I saw the evidence of healings amongst members of my extended family who had relied solely on prayer for their healings. I thought, “they must know something that the rest of us don’t”. I wasn’t wrong. Not only have I had healings with regards to my health but ‘dead’ family relationships have been restored and that “peace which passeth all understanding” has come because I have seen that due to God’s love, ALL WILL BE WELL.

Debbie November 13, 2009, 9:24 AM

Unfortunately people die everyday from misdiagnosis, from mistakes and sometimes because the medication or procedure just didn’t work. Are you all fleeing from medical care? No! But it is interesting to note that it is not uncommon for people to turn to God for help, esp. when the medical community has declared it uncurable. The question of doesn’t prayer always work could be turned around to doesn’t medical treatment always work.
As a Christian Scientist, I am so grateful for the health care professionals and facilities that are doing their very best to care for their patients. My family has benefitted from their care at times, but has received far more good through prayer.
I would never look disapprovingly at someone who chose medical help. I would like to expect that the same respect be given to me and other Christian Scientists. There are thousands of documented healings of every sort from cancer to relationship problems to learning challenges. No challenge is too big for God but it does take work and growth which sometimes we’re not ready to do.
Christian Scienctists are not the only ones who can experience the healing Truth. It is available to all. God loves all of His children equally. He doesn’t label any of as with any human label such as Christian Science.
What a wonderful world it would be if we all could truly Love our neighbor regardless of their beliefs or ideas. That is something I am striving to do everyday. I welcome you all to join me in that endeavor.

Michael November 13, 2009, 11:47 AM

But they can’t heal amputees. What a pathetic God they have.

Kathy B November 13, 2009, 1:50 PM

Of course amputees can be healed. That’s exactly what Jesus did to countless people in need. He was always healing shriveled-up arms and legs. Jesus taught his disciples how to heal as well, and Christian Scientists study these healings to learn how to heal. It is all the same science. The science was not more true 2000 years ago than it is today. AND everyone can learn how. It is actually WHY we exist- to heal humanity’s woes, by acknowledging the ever-present harmony that is true right here, right now, for you and me and everyone. How cool and radical and awesome is that!?

Nancy H November 13, 2009, 4:35 PM

Spiritual healings defy human logic… but Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Realizing spiritual facts in prayer has freed my family members of severe alcoholism, persistent hatred by an inlaw, financial difficulties, smoking, infertility, and heart irregularity. Yes, there is still much in the world to pray about, but Christian Science has helped me out of many troubling situations.The 3 generations of Christian Scientists in my family believe it is not about “getting what you want from God” but letting God reveal solutions, relieve fears, and bring peace to discordant bodies and minds. The truth Jesus taught is available to us all to benefit from, and thanks to Mary Baker Eddy’s explanations of Jesus work, we have experienced the healings Jesus wanted us all to have.

emily November 14, 2009, 2:05 AM

The reality is CS doesn’t work. For every “testimonial” there are thousands of untold stories of how prayer did not heal and people unnecessarily suffered and died. Among most CS communities, Heidi and her family would be excommunicated, because it is thought that turning to medicine is not really practicing or following the faith. Christian “Scientists” actually do not believe in health, they believe in their doctrine, and any effort to look outside of CS for health (even yoga, nutritious eating, etc.) is a failure in practice. There are several published studies that show CS followers have a shorter life expectancy and are more likely to die of cardiovascular disease and cancer (the latter, b/c screening for early detection is not allowed).

stephanie November 14, 2009, 10:22 AM

I cannot leave the misconception that was just stated on the table. Within the Christian Science religion there is no excommunication for seeking medical help. There never has been and never will be. This often repeated misconception is completely foreign to the practice of Christian Science. There isn’t even a procedure for such within the church. Someone who turns to medical treatment is embraced with continuing affection and inclusion.
In my own experience I have seen consistent healings both of everyday and acute ailments. I have also seen on several occasions healings of ailments that the medical doctors said they had no means of treating the problem.
People practice Christian Science because it has met their needs, and they find their lives becoming more expansive, purposeful and peaceful.

Lish Witt November 14, 2009, 12:11 PM

I am a student of Christian Science because of my Aunt who was healed of a heart disease. My Mother was not a Christian Scientist and every time I did not feel well, or had a problem of losing something my Mom would say “do your Science thing”. I was told I had a heart murmer and was limited to what I could do. The next week I went back for my examination and they found my heart perfect. When in my twenties I needed an examination for my work and was told that I had a very strong heart. My Mother saw that even from a young girl Christian Science was my only help. When I hear someone say that they knew a Christian Scientist who died, I can only think of the millions of people who die that turned to medicine. I find no fault with doctors, but the forms of disease are not ceasing but increasing. Doctors are intent on finding a way to heal but it is based on matter. I thank God for his love for ALL of his children and his care and direction.

Anne C November 16, 2009, 5:56 PM

The comment about the mother of the child with cancer tugs at my heart strings because this is the exact issue that Mary Baker Eddy, the discover and founder of Christian Science, challenged and was bothered by as well: She challenged the belief that man was made to suffer. She felt in her life long study of the Bible that God heals, is Life and we don’t need to be victims of disease and death. One of her quotes from “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” that she wrote and is a bestseller says, “Does God send sickness, giving the mother her child for the brief space of a few years and then taking it away by death? Is God creating anew what He has already created? The Scriptures are definite on this point, declaring that His work was finished,nothing is new to God, and that it was good. Can there be any birth or death for man, the spiritual image and likeness of God? Instead of God sending sickness and death, He destroys them, and brings to light immortality. Omnipotent and infinite Mind made all and includes all. This Mind does not make mistakes and subsequently correct them. God does not cause man to sin, to be sick, or to die.” What a release from the burdens of humanity, from the hopelessness of mortality and from old theology’s standpoint of God.

Cody November 17, 2009, 8:43 AM

I am so very thankful for this article! I am “new” to Christian Science (I wasn’t raised in it). However, I have been a Scientist since 1981, and for these past 28 years I have relied upon God for all of my needs! I can absolutely testify that men and women are made in the image of God and as such are perfect! The only reality is God, good. Over these years I have been healed of many illnesses, and I have quit medicine all together. I am off all of my asthma medicines, and diabetic meds! God is good, and Truth, Love, and Spirit governs man!

Thanks again for this article!

Cody November 17, 2009, 8:44 AM

I am so very thankful for this article! I am “new” to Christian Science (I wasn’t raised in it). However, I have been a Scientist since 1981, and for these past 28 years I have relied upon God for all of my needs! I can absolutely testify that men and women are made in the image of God and as such are perfect! The only reality is God, good. Over these years I have been healed of many illnesses, and I have quit medicine all together. I am off all of my asthma medicines, and diabetic meds! God is good, and Truth, Love, and Spirit governs man!

Thanks again for this article!

susan Taylor November 18, 2009, 4:02 PM

I appreciate the candor and bravery that was put forth in this article, especially after reading the comments that we’re so influenced by the medical/pharma PR machine. Anyone in the marketing community knows there is an powerful current in the medical community more concerned about business than wellness and that alternative and higher ways of thinking and acting are needed… wake up people.

Christian Science, Religious Science and other alternative healing methods will always be challenged by the business powers behind big medicine - because there’s no money to be made.

Well done Thompsons.

Timi November 19, 2009, 10:44 AM

Thanks for your thoughtful article. I have been a student of Christian Science for most of my life and am using it to raise a healthy son. Our pediatrician comments every year at our wellness exam that I should continue doing what I’m doing, as it is the reason our son is so healthy and happy. I have used it to heal a challenging marriage (which is now a loving, supportive, and wonderful one), chronic depression, a severe concussion (I was checked by a doctor who told me he believes I am alive because of the way I handled the situation through prayer,) colds, flus, broken bones, and many other health issues. I feel I am a much better parent because of what I have learned about my true nature as a spiritual child of God. And I am so grateful I live in a country that allows me to be the best parent I can be.

Mary November 20, 2009, 11:17 AM

The many Christian Scientists here are clearly well-meaning, but ill-informed. They have no way of knowing whether CS is a reliable healing method because they do not know very much about science of medicine to begin with. Real scientists spend lots of time trying to DISprove their hypotheses. If they are proposing a cure, they will test that cure and compare its effectiveness to something else. But a Christian Scientist has no way of knowing, when her symptoms vanish after days of diligent prayer, whether the same illness can be healed with NO treatment in the same amount of time. Most ailments do go away on their own, after all; it’s not like you get a fever and you’re stuck with it forever! Pointing fingers at medical misdiagnoses simply shows that you don’t know how medicine works. No one claims that medical treatment = perfect. The point is that medical treatment rests on actual evidence, not on platitudes about Jesus healing amputees. Published studies show that CSs live shorter lifestyles than the rest of us, despite the fact that they don’t drink alcohol or smoke. If CS were such a great treatment, you’d think those who practice it would at least, you know, survive.

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Nick December 11, 2010, 7:25 PM

It’s sad that you all bring up the success stories, but ALWAYS fail to mention all the people that have unnecessarily died and were swept under the rug who needed medical attention which could have saved their lives. I am not saying to lose faith, always have faith and pray. But get the medical help if needed if it can save your life. It is unethical for you to encourage people to not get help if the prayer is not working.

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