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Christian Science

Christian Science is one of the few cults to actually last long enough to go through its own Reformation. It's still narrow-minded in its belief that it can mix science and hard-core faith healing, but at least Christian Science is open enough to manage such noteworthy and respected publications as the Christian Science Monitor.

The reliance on faith healing Christian Science is the reason for much of the controversy surrounding the organization; in fact, many people seem to believe that Christian Scientist parents are ordered to "never" seek medical attention for their children if prayer fails to heal them. Defenders of the organization vehemently deny this, and they point to an edict by Mary Baker Eddy herself in the group's holy book that states:

"If patients fail to experience the healing power of Christian Science, and think they can be benefited by certain ordinary physical methods of medical treatment, then the Mind-physician should give up such cases, and leave invalids free to resort to whatever other systems they fancy will afford relief." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 443).

However, the grey area here stems from the question, "When does the parent determine that prayer alone will not aid the child," and when do they seek medical help? The reluctance of parents to get medical assistance for their children has caused a lot of needless guilt and suffering (not to mention loss of the children themselves to disease or accident in some extreme cases), and this is what causes authorities and skeptics to view Christian Science with a critical eye. Wouldn't it be better to get your kids to the doctor right away, and then pray for them while they're being taken care of?

The Christian Science church is still reeling from the internal power struggle involving its failed attempt to launch a 24-hour cable network. The "Christian Science Network" ended up losing hundreds of millions of dollars, and this drove the Church to the brink of bankruptcy; this, of course, resulted in the inevitable infighting and kicking up of high-level dissidents. Membership in the organization has dwindled since then, though the Church hasn't given up and is trying again with the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, a huge library project in Boston.

The Christian Science Mother Church in downtown Boston is an impressive sight, though it's also an example of the wastefulness of excess. There's a huge artificial pond in the open-air walk-through plaza that's several hundred feet long and a hundred feet wide, which serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever except to look good. No one can go swimming or wading in it, and in the winter it can't be skated on either. It's been said that one sign that a group or business is reaching the point of no return is when they begin to build extravagantly wasteful offices and buildings, and the Christian Science Mother Church is certainly an example of this. (However, there's also a free-to-the-public tour of the Christian Science center that's actually quite interesting. Its real drawing point is a huge walk-through globe that's very impressive!)