Open Letter to The Christian Science Board of Directors

Mr. Tom Black
The First Church of Christ, Scientist
Christian Science Board of Directors
175 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115

November 14, 2006

Dear Mr. Black:

As a life-long student of Christian Science, having been raised the son of a Journal listed practitioner, and one of thousands who felt compelled to rescind their Mother Church membership, I offer this open letter to Board of Directors as well as to the internet community.

It is our common love of Mary Baker Eddy that brings us together. And yet, it is your "selective"use of Mrs. Eddy's words that is dividing this great religion. Since the days of Harvey Wood's hypocritical stance on homosexuality, membership has been in sharp decline. I knew Harvey.and of his long-term homosexual relationship.long before he married and became a member of the Board — donned his sheep's clothing — and became the wolf hiding behind scripture..in exactly the same malevolent spirit of Rev. Ted Haggard, today. Both men struggled to conform to the heterosexual model, but failed because they were not true to themselves. Mrs. Eddy quoted Shakespeare, (not once but twice: "This above all: To thine own self be true; An it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man."Retrospection and Introspection, page 81, and Miscellaneous Writings: page 226.

Instead of taking a position of religious leadership by following Jesus' and Mrs. Eddy example, you, Mr. Black seem to be perpetuating the same pseudo-spiritual, homophobic dogma and disparaging ideology that caused tens of thousands of gay and lesbian Christian Scientists to seek — and find — more loving, accepting church homes. By justifying your position on homosexuality by selecting very one-sided quotations, you have disserviced the cause of Christian Science.

Had I been present at Ninth Church of Christ Scientist, San Francisco on December 3, 2005 when you quoted Mrs. Eddy in defense of (heterosexual) marriage, I would have respectfully asked you to be "fair and balanced,"and kindly read Mrs. Eddy's other, equally important statements regarding the institution of marriage:

"What do you think of marriage?"

"That it is often convenient, sometimes pleasant, and occasionally a love affair. Marriage is susceptible of many definitions. It sometimes presents the most wretched condition of human existence. To be normal, it must be a union of the affections that tends to lift mortals higher."(Misc. Writings, page 52:11-17).

"If the foundations of human affection are consistent with progress, they will be strong and enduring. Divorces should warn the age of some fundamental error in the marriage state. The union of the sexes suffers fearful discord."(S&H page 65:7-8)

"A third person is not a party to the compact of two hearts. Let other people's marriage relations alone: two persons only, should be found within their precincts."(Mis. 290: 1-3)

Mrs. Eddy refers to marriage as being "synonymous with legalized lust."(Miscellany, page 5: 4-5).

Also, in her chapter on "Marriage"(Science and Health page 66), Mrs. Eddy refers to the great homosexual philosopher, Socrates, and then devotes to him an entire paragraph on page 215 of the Christian Science textbook. It is worth noting that Mrs. Eddy mentioned several eminent homosexuals in her writings, among them were: Socrates, Alexander the Great, John Locke, William Shakespeare, King James I of England (to whom the King James Bible is dedicated), and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

In so far as marriage is concerned, I can only speak for myself. I can only speak my truth, Mr. Black. I am a practicing Christian Scientist who happens to be a proud gay man as well, and lest you think that gay relationships are weak, tenuous and short-term, let me speak from my own personal experience and tell you that my partner of 34 years is also a former member of The Mother Church and member of Ninth Church, San Francisco. Many heterosexual marriages do not last 34 years. And yet, I fail to see how my loving, committed relationship can "threaten"the institution of marriage. When Mrs. Eddy wrote: "Divorces should warn the age of some fundamental error in the marriage state."the divorce rate was but a fraction of what it is today. Maybe there is a fundamental error in the marriage state.and that's why the heterosexual community is so obsessed and upset.

The Christian Science Church was built on the strong metaphysics and support of eminent gay Christian Scientists, serving "The Cause"as board members, teachers, lecturers, Church historians, practitioners and as dedicated members. That's the good news. The bad news: the great number who have left the Church, or just died of a broken heart. I am personally aware of many.

"To my sense, the most imminent dangers confronting the coming century are: the robbing of people of life and liberty under the warrant of the Scriptures;"from "INSUFFICIENT FREEDOM"Miscellany 266:3-5

It has been reported that you are suggesting that readers of Mrs. Eddy's writings should substitute the word "homosexual"for the word "inverted."I would ask that you re-examine your hypothesis, Mr. Black, from a more objective, scholarly standpoint.

If, (and I do stress "if"), you are correct that Mrs. Eddy was using the (historical and archaic) alternate meaning of the word "inverted"to mean homosexual orientation then, please be consistent Mr. Black and read her many other statements from Science and Health, using your interpretation. I don't think the spirit of Mrs. Eddy's words ring true when you attempt to substitute the word "inverted"with "homosexual."She was not one to mince her words, by being vague or ambiguous.

207:30-31
Spiritual facts are not inverted; the opposite discord, which bears no resemblance to spirituality, is not real.

267:19-22
When examined in the light of divine Science, mortals present more than is detected upon the surface, since inverted thoughts and erroneous beliefs must be counterfeits of Truth.

285:7-11
What, then, is the material personality which suffers, sins, and dies? It is not man, the image and likeness of God, but man's counterfeit, the inverted likeness, the unlikeness called sin, sickness, and death.

301:23
Mortal man seems to himself to be material substance, while man is "image"(idea). Delusion, sin, disease, and death arise from the false testimony of material sense, which, from a supposed standpoint outside the focal distance of infinite Spirit, presents an inverted image of Mind and substance with everything turned upside down.

305:20-22
The inverted images presented by the senses, the deflections of matter as opposed to the Science of spiritual reflection, are all unlike Spirit, God.

572:8
In Science we are children of God; but whatever is of material sense, or mortal, belongs not to His children, for materiality is the inverted image of spirituality.

I beg to differ with your hypothesis that homosexuality is what Mrs. Eddy had in mind when she used the word "inverted."There is no earthly justification for homophobia in our Church. Neither Mrs. Eddy nor Christ Jesus ever alluded to homosexuality. In fact, we know from her biographies and personal letters that Mrs. Eddy was completely aware of homosexuality!

Sibyl Wilber in her biography "The Life Of Mary Baker Eddy"states on page 230: "He [Asa, Gilbert ("Githy") Eddy] was a man of such gentleness and sweetness, that persons knowing him but slightly were often led to think him devoid of the true force of manliness."

In the Milmine/Cather biography, speaking of Gilbert's hair she wrote its "elaborate arrangement...which he trained to curl under in a roll at the back and combed up into a high 'roach' in the front."From childhood, he had a lisp and was given the nickname "Githy"because he couldn't say "geese eggs"as a child according to the Milmine/Cather biography.

"Asa Gilbert Eddy was kindly, modest, unassuming, patient, sensible, methodical, reliable, no trouble-maker, and 'careless in nothing but his own comfort.'"(Page 119, line 22. recollections of Mrs. Clara E. Choate, dated October 12, 1914. Reminiscence files of The Mother Church.

Regarding Mrs. Eddy's adopted son, Dr. Ebenezer J. Foster-Eddy.

E. "Bennie"J. Foster Eddy served in the Civil War. "E. J. Foster, brother of L. R. Foster, Jr., enlisted from Moretown, as drummer of Co. B, at the age of fifteen. He was small, slight and fair, and much like a little girl, which gave him the sobriquet of "Little Nellie,"or "the daughter of the regiment."He was "of a naturally musical turn of mind,"and "more than an ordinary performer on the organ and piano,"and also "cultivated his voice for singing."E. "Bennie"J. Foster Eddy. Source: Hayne's "A History of the Tenth Regiment, Vt. Vols.,"pp. 441-442. Source: VermontCivilWar.Org vermontcivilwar.org/units/10/foster-eddy.php

In "Mary Baker Eddy and Her Books"William Dana Orcutt (page 47) speaks of Bennie Foster Eddy: "He was immaculately dressed, the climax being his magnificent fur-lined coat, fur cap, and the stunning diamond in his shirtfront."(Both were gifts from Mrs. Eddy).

And as for Mrs. Eddy.consider this:

In a letter from Mary Baker Glover to Sarah Bagley, November 8, 1868: "Could I just breathe in an undertone 'Sarah,' and out of the dream land call you to my bed, do you not think we would chat busily for a little? Yes, & live again a thunder-storm tete a tete! Was not I lover-like then to 'embrace' you, i.e., to call you up in night gown to keep your eyes staring wide while I nestled to your side in 'tremula tremendo?'"L08307. Original in the Church History Department. Quoted in Mary Baker Eddy, by Gillian Gill. Page 627, footnote 32.

I offer these quotations only to substantiate my claim that this Church, (of all churches) should not be homophobic, sowing the seeds of hidden, disguised hatred. On the contrary, The Church of Christ, Scientist should be an example to the world . practicing what it preaches about love. "enriching the affections of all mankind,"opening its doors to all sincere seekers of Truth.

When you speak of "Gay"people, Mr. Black, it might be helpful to turn to Webster's definition of the word "Gay."It means: bright, cheerful and full of color."I think Mrs. Eddy might have seen those attributes in her beloved husband, Asa Eddy, even if he was "devoid of the true force of manliness."

Would you ask yourself and your fellow board members, "where is the love and acceptance of which Jesus and Mrs. Eddy spoke"in your position on homosexuality? Based on your present stand, I can't help but wonder if you had been sitting on the Board of Directors when our churches were segregated . would you have had the courage and spiritual vision to heal that un-holy aberration? How long will our Church continue to turn away its gay members? It's one thing to enter into the closet to pray, but quite another to be sentenced there to live a deceptive life because of one's sexual orientation. Why should this Church lag behind the psychiatric community in recognizing that homosexuality is neither a choice nor a disease? Shouldn't Christian Science have led the way? I readily admit that homosexuality needs to be healed..right along side of heterosexuality.

Please don't misinterpret my motives, Mr. Black. I'm not attempting to argue with your position, or advance gay rights within our Church, but I am attempting to promote the idea that man "is the individualized aggregation of right ideas,"the compound, perfect reflection of God who loves his children unconditionally, and not selectively.

Along with countless others, I would love to come out of the Christian Science church closet and come back to the Church I love, but how can I do this when you have shut the doors to both the church and the closet? Here is my question to you and The Board: would you rather have empty churches, (what's still left of them), or open your doors and fill those empty seats? As I see it, all you need do is remove all the blocks to God's goodness; and receptive hearts, just waiting to be welcomed in, will naturally find their way back into our Churches.

Mary Baker Eddy said it best: "I recommend that Scientists draw no lines whatever between one person and another, but think, speak, teach, and write the truth of Christian Science without reference to right or wrong personality in this field of labor. Leave the distinctions of individual character and discriminations and guidance thereof to the Father, whose wisdom is unerring and whose love is universal."No and Yes 7:21-2.

I will be happy to publish your reply, verbatim, to the internet community.

Respectfully submitted,

Tom Taffel

cc: Mary Trammell, Nathan Talbot, Walter Jones, Victor Westburg

P.S. I am the author of the "December 9, 1997 Letter to The Christian Science Board of Directors"(a thirteen page thesis directed to Virginia S. Harris on the decline of the Christian Science Church due to homophobia), available on the World Wide Web:
http://www.emergence-international.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=22&Itemid=50 ).