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Commonly known as Christian Science, the Church of Christ, Scientist was founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. The Bible and Eddy's book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures are the textbooks of the church.

Eddy described Christian Science as "the scientific system of divine healing," as the "law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony."

Eddy based her beliefs and teachings on her own experiences. For much of her life, Eddy had suffered from paralysis. After reading of Christ's healing of a man with palsy, she recovered from her paralysis instantly. Convinced that God was the source of the miracle, Eddy became an advocate for "spiritual causation" and mental healing.

She was charismatic and, in time, she gathered a large and loyal following. Under her direction, the Church of Christ, Scientist was organized in Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1879. Thirteen years later, she directed the construction of a large church in Boston, known as the Mother Church, where the new denomination made its headquarters.

Local Christian Science churches are governed democratically within the bylaws that are recorded in the Manual of the Mother Church. Each church maintains a Reading Room that is open to the public, and which includes literature and other published works related to Christian Science. The Mother Church is administered by a board of directors, which elects a president and other officials.

Each church has two elected Readers, generally a man and a woman. During Sunday services, the Readers read from the Bible and from Science and Health. Sermons are prepared by a committee and issued quarterly by the Christian Science Publishing Company. Members of the church, known as practitioners, devote themselves to healing. Women outnumber men in the Church of Christ, Scientist by ten to one, and the Church's membership has been in decline since World War II. As the Church has failed to attract young members, most of its members are elderly. Between 1960 and the present, several of its buildings have been sold in order to free up funds.

Christian Science teaches its members to rely on prayer rather than seeking medical treatment, and illness is defined as error or the result of incorrect thinking. The sharpest criticisms of the Church of Christ, Scientist stems from this practice, particularly regarding children who are denied medical care. Although the Church maintains that members are free to seek medical care if they wish, there may be a fear of ostracism.

Christian Science also teaches that God forgives since by destroying it with the understanding that evil is unreal and that the punishment for sin lasts only as long as the belief in sin continues.

The Church believes that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross and resurrected, not to bring eternal life but to uplift faith to understand eternal life.

The Church of Christ, Scientist publishes weekly and monthly magazines, The Christian Science Sentinel, The Christian Science Journal, and The Herald of Christian Science, which are published in various languages. Additionally, The Christian Science Monitor, which has been published since 1908, provides coverage of world news.



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