This article originally appeared on Religious Child Maltreatment

Liz Heywood Christian Science
Liz Heywood in front of the “mother church” of Christian Science

Liz Heywood grew up in the Christian Science Church outside of Boston, the church’s headquarters. When she was a teenager, she developed a serious bone infection in her knee. Her family, members of the Christian Science Church, arranged for her to receive faith healing. No one took her to see a doctor, even as she suffered intense pain and was unable to walk. After being bedridden for a year, her leg was deformed and, eventually, had to be amputated above the knee. This article is the first of a series that features survivors of religious child maltreatment who have not only pursued their own psychological healing, but have also chosen to speak out to protect children who currently suffer abuse and neglect in the name of religion. Liz’s blog and website can be found here.

I imagine that when you were growing up in the Christian Science Church, everything seemed normal, including the faith healing rituals and the peculiar way the church perceives illness. That is, that illness is not real but, rather, an illusion of the mind. Did you believe its teachings as a child and perhaps worship Mary Baker Eddy?

I was very thoroughly indoctrinated as a kid. I was born at home and only had the minimum school vaccinations required under the religious exemption. My parents each had a sister who had a so-called “miraculous healing” in childhood after their mothers converted to Christian Science. We lived within twenty miles of the Christian Science “Mother Church” in Boston. Read More

Janet Heimlich is the founder of the Child-Friendly Faith Project, a national, nonprofit 501(c)(3) public charity that raises awareness of religious child maltreatment. Ms. Heimlich is also an award-winning journalist and the author of "Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment" (Prometheus Books), the first book to take an in-depth look at child abuse and neglect that is enabled by religious belief. For eight years, Janet freelanced as a reporter for National Public Radio. She also writes non-fiction articles for such publications as Texas Monthly, the Austin American-Statesman, and the Texas Observer. Janet has won nine journalism awards, including the Dallas Press Club’s Katie, the Houston Press Club’s “Radio Journalist of the Year,” and the Texas Bar Association’s Gavel Award. Janet received a B.A. in Communications with a minor in English from Stanford University in 1984.

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