Since the founding of their church 131 years ago, Christian Scientists have been taught to avoid doctors at all cost. It is a conviction rooted so deeply in church dogma that dozens of members have gone to jail rather than surrender an ailing person to what they see as the quackery of medical science.
But faced with dwindling membership and blows to their church’s reputation caused by its intransigence concerning medical treatment, even for children with grave illnesses, Christian Science leaders have recently found a new tolerance for medical care. For more than a year, leaders say, they have been encouraging members to see a physician if they feel it is necessary.
Perhaps more significantly, they have begun a public campaign to redefine their methods as a form of care that the broader public should consider as a supplement rather than a substitute for conventional treatment, like biofeedback, chiropractic or homeopathic care.