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Massachusetts Metaphysical College

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description: On August 23, 1879, 26 members of the Christian Scientists' Association were granted a charter to form the Church of Christ (Scientist). Services were held in people's homes in Lynn and later in Hawth ...
On August 23, 1879, 26 members of the Christian Scientists' Association were granted a charter to form the Church of Christ (Scientist).[167] Services were held in people's homes in Lynn and later in Hawthorne Hall, Boston.[168] On January 31, 1881, Eddy was granted a charter to form the Massachusetts Metaphysical College to teach "pathology, ontology, therapeutics, moral science, metaphysics, and their application to the treatment of disease." The college lived wherever Eddy did; a new sign appeared on 8 Broad Street.[169]
In October 1881 there was a revolt. Eight church members resigned, signing a document complaining of Eddy's "frequent ebullitions of temper, love of money, and the appearance of hypocrisy." Only a few students remained, including Calvin Frye, who became Eddy's most loyal personal assistant. They appointed Eddy pastor of the church in November 1881, and drew up a resolution in February 1882 that she was "the chosen messenger of God to the nations."[170]
Despite the support, the resignations ended Eddy's time in Lynn. The church was struggling and her reputation had been damaged by the disputes. By now 61 years old, she decided to move to Boston, and in early 1882 rented a house at 569 Columbus Avenue, a silver plaque announcing the arrival of the Massachusetts Metaphysical College.[171] The college's prospectus, published in 1884, offered three diplomas: Christian Scientist (C.S.) for Christian Scientists' Association members; Christian Metaphysician (C.M.) for Eddy's 12-lesson course and three years' practice; and Doctor of Christian Science (D.C.S.) for C.M.s whose "life and character conform to Divine science." Students could study metaphysics, science of the scriptures, mental healing and obstetrics, using two textbooks, Science and Health and the Bible.[172] Between 1881 and October 1889, when Eddy closed the college, 4,000 students took the course at $300 per person or married couple, making her a rich woman.[173] Mark Twain wrote that she had turned a sawdust mine (possibly Quimby's) into a Klondike.[174]
Death of Asa Gilbert Eddy
Eddy's husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy, died of heart disease on June 4, 1882, shortly after the move to Boston. She invited the Boston Globe to her home on the day of his death to allege that he had been killed by malicious animal magnetism, courtesy of "certain parties here in Boston, who had sworn to injure them." The Globe wrote:
She had formerly had the same symptoms of arsenical poison herself, and it was some time before she discovered it to be the mesmeric work of an enemy. Soon after her marriage her husband began to manifest the same symptoms and had since shown them from time to time; but was, with her help, always able to overcome them. A few weeks ago she observed that he did not look well, and when questioned he said that he was unable to get the idea of this arsenical poison out of his mind. He had been steadily growing worse ever since, but still had hoped to overcome the trouble until the last. After the death the body had turned black.[175]
A doctor performed an autopsy and showed Eddy her husband's diseased heart, but she responded by giving more interviews about mesmerism.[176] Fraser wrote that the articles made Eddy a household name, a real-life version of the charismatic and beautiful Verena Tarrant in Henry James's The Bostonians (1885–1886), with her interest in spiritualism, women's rights and the mind cure.[177] Shortly after the death, Eddy moved next door to 571 Columbus Avenue with several students.[178] The following year, 1883, she founded the Journal of Christian Science (later called the Christian Science Journal), which spread news of her ideas across the United States.[179]
Tremont Temple, first church building
The first Christian Science church building was the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Oconto, Wisconsin, erected in 1886.
In 1885 Eddy was accused of promoting Spiritualism and pantheism by the Reverend Adoniram J. Gordon, in a letter read out by Joseph Cook during one of his popular Monday lectures at Tremont Temple in Boston. She demanded a right of reply, and on March 16, 1885, she told the congregation that she was not a Spiritualist, and that she believed in God as the Supreme Being and in the atonement. She described Christian Science healing as "Christ come to destroy the power of the flesh."[180] Stephen Gottschalk wrote that the occasion marked the "emergence of Christian Science into American religious life."[181]
The first church building was erected in 1886 in Oconto, Wisconsin, by local women who believed Christian Science had helped them.[182] For a down payment of $2,000 and a mortgage of $8,763, the church purchased land in Falmouth Street, Boston, for the erection of a building.[183] Eddy asked Augusta Stetson, a prominent Scientist, to establish a church in New York. By the end of 1886 Christian Science teaching institutes had sprung up around the United States.[184]
In December 1887 Eddy moved to a $40,000, 20-room house at 385 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston.[185] She had been teaching four to six classes a year, and by 1889 had probably made at least $100,000 (equivalent to $2,625,000 in 2015).[186] By 1890 the Church of Christ (Scientist) had 8,724 members in the United States, having started 11 years earlier with just 26.[187]
Eddy's debt to Quimby
In February 1883 Julius Dresser, a former patient of Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, accused Eddy in letters to the Boston Post of teaching Quimby's healing methods as her own.[188] Thereafter Eddy's debt to Quimby became, Gillian Gill writes, the "single most controversial issue" of her life.[189] Quimby was not the only source Eddy was accused of having copied. Ernest Sutherland Bates and John V. Dittemore, Bryan Wilson, Charles S. Braden and Martin Gardner list several writers whose words Eddy used without attribution.[190] For example, a section in her Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 is almost identical to Hugh Blair's "The Man of Integrity," an essay in Lindley Murray's The English Reader (1799).[191]
Eddy acknowledged Quimby's influence in her early years. When a prospective student asked in 1871 whether her methods had been used before, she replied:
Never advertised, and practiced by only one individual who healed me, Dr. Quimby of Portland, ME., an old gentleman who had made it a research for twenty-five years, starting from the standpoint of magnetism thence going forward and leaving that behind. I discovered the art in a moment's time, and he acknowledged it to me; he died shortly after and since then, eight years, I have been founding and demonstrating the science.[192]
Manuscript that Eddy used when teaching Sally Wentworth, 1868–1870
Later she drew a distinction between their methods, arguing that Quimby's involved one mind healing another, while hers depended on a connection with Divine Mind.[193] In response to Dresser's letter to the Boston Post – there was an exchange of four letters – Eddy disparaged Quimby as a mesmerist and said she had experimented with mental healing in or around 1853, nine years before she met Quimby.[188] She wrote later: "We caught some of his thoughts, and he caught some of ours; and both of us were pleased to say this to each other."[194]
The issue ended up in court in September 1883, when Eddy complained that her student Edward Arens had copied parts of Science and Health in a pamphlet, and Arens counter-claimed that Eddy had copied it from Quimby in the first place.[195] Quimby's son was so unwilling to produce his father's manuscripts that he sent them out of the country (perhaps fearing litigation with Eddy or that someone would tamper with them), and Eddy won the case.[196] Things were stirred up further by Eddy's pamphlet, Historical Sketch of Metaphysical Healing (1885), in which she again called Quimby a mesmerist, and by the publication of Julius Dresser's The True History of Mental Healing (1887).[197]
The charge that Christian Science came from Quimby, not divine revelation, stemmed in part from Eddy's use of Quimby's manuscript (right) when teaching Sally Wentworth and others in 1868–1870.[198] Eddy said she had helped to fix Quimby's unpublished work, and now stood accused of having copied her own corrections.[199] Against this, Lyman P. Powell, one of Eddy's biographers, wrote in 1907 that Quimby's son held an almost identical copy, in Quimby's wife's handwriting, of the Quimby manuscript that Eddy had used when teaching Sally Wentworth. It was dated February 1862, eight months before Eddy met Quimby.[200]
In July 1904 the New York Times obtained a copy of the Quimby manuscript from Sally Wentworth's son, and juxtaposed passages with Science and Health to highlight the similarities. It also published Eddy's handwritten notes on Quimby's manuscript to show what the newspaper alleged was the transition from his words to hers.[201] Quimby's manuscripts were published in 1921. Eddy's biographers continued to disagree about his influence on Eddy. Bates and Dittemore, the latter a former director of the Christian Science church, argued in 1932 that "as far as the thought is concerned, Science and Health is practically all Quimby," except for malicious animal mesmerism.[202] Robert Peel, who also worked for the church, wrote in 1966 that Eddy may have influenced Quimby as much as he influenced her.[203] Gardner argued in 1993 that Eddy had taken "huge chunks" from Quimby, and Gill in 1998 that there were only general similarities.[204]
First prosecutions
Cover of Puck magazine, November 19, 1902, by Joseph Keppler. The caption says: "The law can not be 'removed' by Christian Science." The man with the beard is labeled "Chr. S. healer" and is holding a copy of Science and Health.
In 1887 Eddy started teaching a "metaphysical obstetrics" course, two one-week classes. She had started calling herself "Professor of Obstetrics" in 1882; McClure's wrote: "Hundreds of Mrs. Eddy's students were then practising who knew no more about obstetrics than the babes they helped into this world."[205] The first prosecutions took place that year, when practitioners were charged with practicing medicine without a licence. All were acquitted during the trial, or acquittals were overturned on appeal.[206]
The first manslaughter charge was in March 1888, when Abby H. Corner, a practitioner in Medford, Massachusetts, attended to her daughter during childbirth; the daughter bled to death and the baby did not survive. The defense argued that they might have died even with medical attention, and Corner was acquitted.[207] To the dismay of the Christian Scientists' Association (the secretary resigned), Eddy distanced herself from Corner, telling the Boston Globe that Corner had only attended the college for one term and had never entered the obstetrics class.[208]
From then until the 1990s around 50 parents and practitioners were prosecuted, and often acquitted, after adults and children died without medical care; charges ranged from neglect to second-degree murder.[209] The American Medical Association (AMA) declared war on Christian Scientists; in 1895 its journal called Christian Science and similar ideas "molochs to infants, and pestilential perils to communities in spreading contagious diseases."[210] Juries were nevertheless reluctant to convict when defendants believed they were helping the patient. There was also opposition to the AMA's effort to strengthen medical licencing laws. Historian Shawn Peters writes that, in the courts and public debate, Christian Scientists and Jehovah's Witnesses linked their healing claims to early Christianity to gain support from other Christians.[211]
Vaccination was another battleground. A Christian Scientist in Wisconsin won a case in 1897 that allowed his son to attend public school despite not being vaccinated against smallpox. Others were arrested in 1899 for avoiding vaccination during a smallpox epidemic in Georgia. In 1900 Eddy advised adherents to obey the law, "and then appeal to the gospel to save ...[themselves] from any bad results."[212] In October 1902, after seven-year-old Esther Quimby, the daughter of Christian Scientists, died of diphtheria in White Plains, New York (she had received no medical care and had not been quarantined), the authorities pursued manslaughter charges. The controversy prompted Eddy to declare that "until public thought becomes better acquainted with Christian Science, the Christian Scientists shall decline to doctor infectious or contagious diseases," and from that time the church required Christian Scientists to report contagious diseases to health boards.[213]
Building the Mother Church
Further information: The First Church of Christ, Scientist
The Mother Church in Boston, showing the original church and 1906 extension
The original church, completed in 1894
In 1888 Eddy became close to another of her students, Ebenezer Johnson Foster, a homeopath and graduate of the Hahnemann Medical College. He was 41 and she was 67, but apparently in need of affection and loyalty she adopted him legally in November that year, and he changed his name to Ebenezer Johnson Foster Eddy.[59]
A year later, in October 1889, Eddy closed the Massachusetts Metaphysical College; according to Bates and Dittemore, the state attorney was investigating colleges that were fraudulently graduating medical students. She also foreclosed the mortgage on the land in Boston the church had purchased, then purchased it herself for $5,000 through a middle man, though it was worth considerably more. She told the church they could have the land for their building on condition they formally dissolve the church; this was apparently intended to quash internal rebellions that had been bothering her.[214] The following year she dissolved the National Christian Science Association. Wilson writes that the dissolutions allowed her to create a central church controlled by a five-person board of directors that answered only to her, which gave the church a stability that helped it survive her death.[215]
The cornerstone of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, containing the Bible, Eddy's writings and a list of directors and financial contributors, was laid in May 1894 in the Back Bay area of Boston.[216] Church members raised funds for the construction, and the building was finished in December 1894 at a cost of $250,000.[217] It contained a "Mother's Room" in the tower for Eddy's personal use, furnished with rare books, silks, tapestries, rugs, a dressing gown and slippers, though she spent only one night there and it was later turned into a storage room. The archway into the room was made of Italian marble, and the word Mother was engraved on the floor.[218]
Within two years the Boston membership had exceeded the church's capacity and plans began for an extension. By 1903 the block around the church had been purchased by Christian Scientists, and in 1906 an extension accommodating 5,000 people was completed at a cost of $2 million.[219] This attracted the criticism that, whereas Christian Scientists spent money on a magnificent church, they maintained no hospitals, orphanages or missions in the slums.[220]
Christian Science went on to become the fastest-growing American religion in the early 20th century. The federal religious census recorded 85,717 Christian Scientists in 1906; 30 years later it was 268,915.[221] In 1890 there were seven Christian Science churches in the United States, a figure that had risen to 1,104 by 1910.[222] Churches began to appear in other countries too: 58 in England, 38 in Canada and 28 elsewhere by 1910.[223]
View of Mark Twain
Further information: Christian Science (book)
Mark Twain (1835–1910) in 1907
Mark Twain was a prominent contemporaneous critic of Eddy's. His first article about Christian Science was published in Cosmopolitan in October 1899.[224] Another three appeared in 1902–1903 in North American Review, then a book, Christian Science (1907).[225] He also wrote "The Secret History of Eddypus, the World Empire" (1901–1902), in which Christian Science replaces Christianity and Eddy becomes the Pope.[226]
Twain described Eddy as "[g]rasping, sordid, penurious, famishing for everything she sees – money, power, glory – vain, untruthful, jealous, despotic, arrogant, insolent, pitiless where thinkers and hypnotists are concerned, illiterate, shallow, incapable of reasoning outside of commercial lines, immeasurably selfish."[227]
Science and Health he called "strange and frantic and incomprehensible and uninterpretable," and argued that Eddy had not written it herself.[228] "There is nothing in Christian Science that is not explicable," he wrote, "for God is one, Time is one, Individuality is one, and may be one of a series, one of many, as an individual man, individual horse; whereas God is one, not one of a series, but one alone and without an equal."[224] Eddy apart, Twain felt ambivalent toward mind-cure, arguing that "the thing back of it is wholly gracious and beautiful."[229] His daughter Clara Clemens became a Christian Scientist and wrote a book about it, Awake to a Perfect Day (1956).[230]
McClure's articles
Further information: The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science
The first history of Christian Science appeared in McClure's magazine in 14 installments from January 1907 to June 1908, preceded by an editorial in December 1906. The essence of the articles, which included court documents and affidavits from Eddy's associates, was that Eddy's chief concern was money, and that she had derived Christian Science from Quimby. The material was also published as a book, The Life of Mary Baker G. Eddy and the History of Christian Science (1909).[231] It became the key source for most non-church histories of the religion.[232] The editor-in-chief assigned five writers to work on the series, including the novelist Willa Cather as the principal author.[233] The book was kept out of print from early in its life by the Christian Science church, which bought the original manuscript. It was republished in 1971 by Baker Book House when its copyright expired, and again in 1993 by the University of Nebraska Press.[234]
Next Friends suit, Eddy's death
Further information: Christian Science Monitor
Mary Baker Eddy, 1892
In March 1907 several of Eddy's relatives filed an unsuccessful lawsuit, the "Next Friends suit," against members of Eddy's household, alleging that she was unable to manage her own affairs. Calvin Frye, her long-time personal assistant, was a particular target of the allegations. The New York World's front-page story in October 1906, headline "Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy Dying; Footman and Dummy Control Her," said that Eddy was housebound and dying of cancer, that her staff had taken control of her fortune, and that another woman was impersonating her in public.[235]
The newspaper persuaded Eddy's family (or "next friends") to file a lawsuit. Several joined the action, including Eddy's biological son, George Glover, and adoptive son, Ebenezer J. Foster Eddy.[236] Eddy was interviewed in her home in August 1907 by the judge and two psychiatrists, who concluded that she was mentally competent.[237] In response to the McClure's and New York World stories, Eddy asked the church in July 1908 to found the Christian Science Monitor as a platform for responsible journalism. It appeared in November that year, with the motto "To injure no man, but to bless all mankind," and went on to win seven Pulitzer Prizes between 1950 and 2002.[238]
Eddy died two years later, on the evening of Saturday, December 3, 1910, aged 89. The Mother Church announced at the end of the Sunday morning service that Eddy had "passed from our sight." It said that "the time will come when there will be no more death," but that Christian Scientists "do not look for [Mrs. Eddy's] return in this world."[239] Her estate was valued at $1.5 million, most of which she left to the church.[240]
Further information: List of former Christian Science churches, societies and buildings
[show]    Christian Science practitioners (US)
(Stark 1998)[241]    Per million
A census at the height of the religion's popularity in 1936 counted nearly 270,000 Christian Scientists in the United States. The movement has been in decline since then; Rodney Stark estimated that there were 106,000 Scientists in that country in 1990.[243] There were 1,271 Christian Science practitioners worldwide in 2014, according to the church, against 11,200 in the United States in 1941. According to Stark, clusters of practitioners listed in the Christian Science Journal in 1998 were living in the same retirement communities.[244] In 2009 the church announced that, for the first time, more new members had been admitted from Africa than from the United States, in particular from Kenya, the Congo and Nigeria, although it offered no numbers.[245] It has sold church buildings to free up funds;[246] the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Manhattan, was sold to the Crenshaw Christian Center for $14 million in 2004, and was sold again in 2014 to be converted into a residential building.[247]
The Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, San Francisco, was sold in 2009 to the Internet Archive.
Stark attributed the rise of the movement in the late-19th and early-20th centuries to several factors. It retained cultural continuity with Christianity by stressing that it was Christian and adopting its terms, despite the new content Eddy introduced.[248] It was not puritanical; members were expected not to drink or smoke, but could otherwise do as they pleased, and several exceptions to the avoidance of medicine were permitted.[249] It offered professional opportunities to women who might otherwise have had none. They could become practitioners after just 12 lessons; 12 of the 14 practitioners listed in the first edition of the Christian Science Journal were women.[250] In 1906 72 percent of Christian Scientists in the United States were female, against 49 percent of the population.[251]
The major factor in the rise of the movement was that medical practice was in its infancy, and patients often fared better if left alone; within that context Christian Science prayer compared favorably. The increased efficacy of medicine around World War II heralded the religion's decline. Stark charts the use of sulfonamide to kill bacteria, the availability of penicillin in the 1940s and breakthroughs in immunology.[252]
Other factors in the decline included increased opportunities for women to work outside the home,[253] and that much of the membership was elderly; 30 percent were over 65 in 1998. Eddy was in her sixties by the time the movement began to spread; Stark writes that the "characteristics of the earliest members of a movement will tend to be reproduced in subsequent converts."[254] A significant percentage of Scientists remained single (Eddy placed little emphasis on marriage and family), or became Scientists when their children were adults and unlikely to be converted.[255] Christian Science did not have missionaries, so it relied on internal growth, but the conversion rate within families was not high; in a study cited by Stark, just 26 of 80 people (33 percent) raised with Christian Science became Scientists themselves.[256]
Church, practices
First Church of Christ, Scientist
Further information: The First Church of Christ, Scientist
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, with its reflecting pool and (right) administrative building
    Wikimedia Commons has media related to The First Church of Christ, Scientist.
Eddy was granted a charter in 1879 to found the Church of Christ (Scientist), and in 1894 the Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, was built in the Back Bay area of Boston, with an extension completed in 1906. Only the Mother Church uses the definite article in the title. Otherwise the first Christian Science church in any city is called First Church of Christ, Scientist, the second Second Church (for example, Third Church of Christ, Scientist, London). The church administration is headquartered on the same 14-acre site as the Mother Church, in a 28-story building designed in 1973 by Araldo Cossutta of I. M. Pei & Associates. The site includes a plaza with a 670 x 100 ft (204 x 30 m) reflecting pool.[257][258]
The church is led by a president and five-person board of directors, and by the Committee on Publication (with representatives around the world), an institution Eddy set up in 1898 to protect her own and the church's reputation.[259] The organization has been accused at times of silencing internal criticism by firing staff, delisting practitioners and excommunicating members.[260]
Christian Science churches have no clergy, sermons or rituals, and perform no baptisms, marriages or burials. The church's pastors are the King James Bible and Science and Health. Each church has two Readers, who read aloud from those texts during services, and select hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal. There are Sunday morning and Wednesday evening services; members offer testimonials during the Wednesday meetings about recovery from ill health or other successes that they attribute to Christian Science.[261]
Manual of the Mother Church
Further information: Manual of the Mother Church
Eddy's Manual of the Mother Church (1895)
Eddy's Manual of The Mother Church (1895) lists 83 requirements and prohibitions for members. Requirements include daily study of the Bible and Science and Health, and daily prayer.[262] They must subscribe to church periodicals if they can afford to, and pay an annual tax to the church of not less than one dollar.[263] Prohibitions include joining other churches, publishing articles that are uncharitable toward religion, medicine and the law, engaging in public debate about Christian Science without board approval, engaging in mental malpractice, or visiting a store that sells "obnoxious" books. It also includes "The Golden Rule": "A member of The Mother Church shall not haunt Mrs. Eddy's drive when she goes out, continually stroll by her house, or make a summer resort near her for such a purpose."[264]
Notable members
Further information: List of Christian Scientists (religious denomination)
Notable Scientists have included two former Directors of Central Intelligence, William H. Webster and Admiral Stansfield M. Turner, as well as Richard Nixon's chief of staff H. R. Haldeman and Chief Domestic Advisor John Ehrlichman.[265] NASA astronaut Alan Shepard was a Christian Scientist, as were the viscountess Nancy Astor in England and naval officer Charles Lightoller, who survived the 1912 sinking of the Titanic.[266] There used to be a concentration of Scientists in the film industry: Joan Crawford, Carol Channing, Doris Day, Cecil B. DeMille, Horton Foote, George Hamilton, Mary Pickford, Mickey Rooney, Ginger Rogers, Jean Stapleton, and more recently Robert Duvall and Val Kilmer.[267]
Those raised by one or more Christian Scientist parents have included comedian Robin Williams, television host Ellen DeGeneres, musician James Hetfield,[268] jurist Helmuth James Graf von Moltke, military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, and actors Elizabeth Taylor, Henry Fonda, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.[269] Actor Anne Archer was also raised within Christian Science; she left the church when her son, Tommy Davis, was a child, and both became prominent in the Church of Scientology.[270]
Healing practices
Christian Science prayer
Further information: Christian Science practitioner
[A]ll healing is a metaphysical process. That means that there is no person to be healed, no material body, no patient, no matter, no illness, no one to heal, no substance, no person, no thing and no place that needs to be influenced. This is what the practitioner must first be clear about.
– Practitioner Frank Prinz-Wondollek, 2011.[271]
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Christian Scientists avoid almost all medical treatment, relying instead on Christian Science prayer.[272] There are no appeals to a personal god, and no set words or practices.[273] Caroline Fraser described it in 1999 as the practitioner silently arguing about the nature of reality. The practitioner might repeat, "the allness of God using Eddy's seven synonyms – Life, Truth, Love, Spirit, Soul, Principle and Mind," then that "Spirit, Substance, is the only Mind, and man is its image and likeness; that Mind is intelligence; that Spirit is substance; that Love is wholeness; that Life, Truth, and Love are the only reality." She might deny other religions, the existence of evil, mesmerism, astrology, numerology and the symptoms of whatever the illness is. She concludes, Fraser writes, by asserting that disease is a lie, that this is the word of God and that it has the power to heal.[274]
Christian Science practitioners are certified by the church to charge a fee for Christian Science prayer. There were 1,271 listed practitioners worldwide in 2014; in the United States in 2010 they charged $25–$50 for an e-mail, telephone or face-to-face consultation.[275] Their training is a two-week, 12-lesson course called primary class, based on the Recapitulation chapter of Science and Health.[276] Practitioners wanting to teach primary class take a six-day "normal class," held in Boston once every three years.[277] There are also Christian Science nursing homes. They offer no medical services; the nurses are Christian Scientists who have completed a course of religious study and training in basic skills, such as feeding and bathing.[278]
The Christian Science Journal and Christian Science Sentinel publish anecdotal healing "testimonials," which must be accompanied by statements from three verifiers: "people who know [the testifier] well and have either witnessed the healing or can vouch for [the testifier's] integrity in sharing it."[279] Philosopher Margaret P. Battin writes that the seriousness with which these are treated by Christian Scientists ignores factors such as false positives caused by self-limiting conditions. Because no negative accounts are published, the testimonials strengthen people's tendency to rely on anecdotes.[280]
The church published 53,900 such accounts between 1900 and April 1989. A church study, published in 1989, examined 10,000 of them, 2,337 of which the church said involved conditions that had been medically diagnosed, and 623 of which were "medically confirmed by follow-up examinations." The report offered no evidence of the medical follow-up.[281] The Massachusetts Committee for Children and Youth listed among the report's flaws that it had failed to compare the rates of successful and unsuccessful Christian Science treatment.[282]
Religious exemptions
Further information: Freedom of religion in the United States
First Church of Christ, Scientist, administration building, Boston
The main criticism Christian Scientists face is that their children are denied equal protection under the law.[283] Sick and disabled children have been told the only thing wrong with them is "incorrect" thinking, and practitioners have told parents that the parents' thoughts can harm their children.[284] The church maintains that members are free to choose medical care, but several have said they fear ostracism.[285] The American Academy of Pediatrics regards failure to seek medical care for children as "child neglect, regardless of the motivation."[286]
In the United States the Christian Science church has used the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to persuade states to maintain religious-exemption statutes.[287] The Free Exercise Clause (italicized) reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ...."[288] Many of the exemptions say that in life-threatening situations children must have access to medical care, but without early access the seriousness of an illness may not be recognized, in part because Christian Scientists are encouraged not to educate themselves about physical ailments.[289]
After the conviction for manslaughter in 1967 of the Christian Scientist mother of five-year-old Lisa Sheridan, who died without medical care in Cape Cod, Massachusetts,[290] the church lobbied the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to add a religious exemption, in 1974, to the Code of Federal Regulations:
A parent or guardian legitimately practicing his religious beliefs who thereby does not provide specified medical treatment for a child, for that reason alone shall not be considered a negligent parent or guardian; however, such an exception shall not preclude a court from ordering that medical services be provided to the child, where his health requires it.[291]
States were thereafter obliged to include exemptions or lose funding. The wording of the exemptions made clear that they referred to Christian Science.[291] Largely as a result of lobbying by Children's Healthcare is a Legal Duty, the government eliminated the HEW regulation in 1983, but 37 states, Guam and the District of Columbia still had religious exemptions in their civil codes on child abuse and neglect as of 2014.[292] Forty-eight US states allowed religious exemptions for compulsory vaccination as of July 2014.[293]

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