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The church does not require that Christian Scientists avoid all medical care—adherents use dentists, optometrists, obstetricians, physicians for broken bones, and vaccination when required by law—but maintains that Christian-Science prayer is most effective when not combined with medicine.Between the 1880s and 1990s, the avoidance of medical treatment led to the deaths of several adherents and their children.In May 1885 the London Times' Boston correspondent wrote about the "Boston mind-cure craze": "Scores of the most valued Church members are joining the Christian Scientist branch of the metaphysical organization, and it has thus far been impossible to check the defection." She has delivered to them a religion which has revolutionized their lives, banished the glooms that shadowed them, and filled them and flooded them with sunshine and gladness and peace; a religion which has no hell; a religion whose heaven is not put off to another time, with a break and a gulf between, but begins here and now, and melts into eternity as fancies of the waking day melt into the dreams of sleep.They believe it is a Christianity that is in the New Testament; that it has always been there, that in the drift of ages it was lost through disuse and neglect, and that this benefactor has found it and given it back to men, turning the night of life into day, its terrors into myths, its lamentations into songs of emancipation and rejoicing.Her second husband left her after 13 years of marriage; Eddy said that he had promised to become her child's legal guardian, but it is unclear whether he did, and Eddy lost contact with her son until he was in his thirties.According to Bryan Wilson, she exemplified the female charismatic leader, and was viewed as the head of the Christian Science church even after her death; he wrote in 1961 that her name—Christian Scientists call her Mrs.At the core of Eddy's theology is the view that the spiritual world is the only reality and is entirely good, and that the material world, with its evil, sickness and death, is an illusion.

Eddy's idea of malicious animal magnetism marked another distinction (that people can be harmed by the bad thoughts of others), introducing an element of fear that was absent from the New Thought literature.

Although she often described God in the language of personhood—she used the term "Father–Mother God" (as did Ann Lee, the founder of Shakerism), and in the third edition of Science and Health she referred to God as "she"—God is mostly represented in Christian Science by the synonyms "Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love".

There is no supplication in Christian Science prayer.

Born Mary Morse Baker on a farm in Bow, New Hampshire, Eddy was the youngest of six children in a family of Protestant Congregationalists.

Her father, Mark Baker, was a deeply religious man, although, according to one account, "Christianity to him was warfare against sin, not a religion of human brotherhood." Eddy's first husband died just before her 23rd birthday, six months after they married and three months before their son was born, leaving her penniless; as a result of her poor health she lost custody of the boy when he was four, although sources differ as to whether she could have prevented this.

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