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Virginia Harris Discusses Her Faith

Aired May 4, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Good evening. Our special guest tonight: a return visit with Virginia Harris, chairman of the Christian Science board of directors. This is a worldwide religion, and we're going to delve into many aspects of it. They also publish the famed "Christian Science Monitor," generally acknowledged by those not even close to the religion, as one of the great publications in the world.

Are you involved with the publication?

VIRGINIA HARRIS, CHAIRMAN, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE CHURCH: The Board oversees the editorial content of it, but I'm not day-to-day responsible for the paper.

KING: And does it have autonomy?

HARRIS: It does. Totally.

KING: So it can say what it wants, editorialize the way it wants, read the way it wants.

HARRIS: Definitely.

KING: And they're going to open a big -- next to the -- and it's published in Boston.

HARRIS: Correct.

KING: And next to that building next year, they're going to open a Mary Eddy library, right?

HARRIS: That's right. Mary Baker Eddy Library for the betterment of humanity.

KING: She was the founder of the church.

HARRIS: She was, and the founder of the newspaper. And we're taking the walls down around her ideas and letting these ideas find their way out into circulation.

KING: Religious and otherwise?

HARRIS: Religious and otherwise, Larry, yes. She...

KING: Going to have artifacts from the newspaper, and the like? HARRIS: Artifacts, prototypes of first page. We'll have all the paper there, and all of her additions of science and health. She has about 500 pages, published and unpublished, of writing. When this library opens, it will be the largest multidisciplinary collection of an American woman.

KING: What were you doing before you got to be chairman?

HARRIS: Well, I was with the church for about five years before I was elected to the board. And I oversaw all of its worldwide activities, all the churches -- we've got churches in, oh, golly, about 74 countries. Sunday schools, reading rooms...

KING: Were you born into the faith?

HARRIS: My mother was a Christian Scientist.

KING: Your father was not?

HARRIS: My father was not. He was...

KING: How did that go?

HARRIS: Well, it went fine. They had a great relationship. And when we didn't feel well, my mother would obviously pray, and sometimes we had shots.

KING: One of the bases of this is this thing with regard to medicine, which Christian Scientists don't take. Let's get a little history. Who was Mary Baker Eddy?

HARRIS: Well, Mary Baker Eddy was a 19th Century woman who lived in New England. And -- a fabulous woman, incredible. She was on a search, very much like what people are doing today. She was not well. She was a single mother, and she was exploring all sorts of homeopathy, hydropathy, all those things that people did in those days to try to get well.

KING: Alternative medicine.

HARRIS: Alternative medicines. And then she had a severe accident. And she had always been very fond of the Bible, she had been a student of the Bible. But with this accident, it turned her to the Bible. They didn't think she was going to live. And she did, because what she found was that God had been left out of all those other alternatives, and that God made a difference. She was healed. She went on to be...

KING: Through prayer.

HARRIS: Through prayer. Through her own prayers. Through reading accounts of Jesus' healings in the New Testament.

KING: And then she went on to form the church?

HARRIS: Well, actually, she went on to write a book first, as she began to heal. And she began to teach others how to heal. She became very well-known. In fact, when doctors in New England couldn't heal cases, they'd say: Call Mary -- or, not call, but get Mary Baker Eddy here.

In fact, one time she healed somebody. She went in, somebody was dying of pneumonia. And a doctor, Dr. Davis, stood over there and watched Mrs. Eddy heal this dying person. And he said to her: You've got to write a book. You've got to publish this and give it to the world.

Nine years later she published "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures."

KING: And that is a famous book.

HARRIS: Fabulous. Bestseller.

KING: Did that begin the faith, in a sense?

HARRIS: It did. It did. It put down the ideas, these spiritual laws that exist in the universe -- that if people understand them, they can apply them.

KING: What made it, Virginia, a faith in and of itself? Why didn't you just have Jews who believed in the power of prayer, Catholics who believe in the power of prayer? Why did you need a Christian Science religion?

HARRIS: She didn't think you did. In fact, there wasn't a church for years, because people who were Baptist, people who were Jews, who were Catholics would read "Science and Health" and they would take it back into their faith and be a better Jew.

KING: Not take medicine and be a better Jew and pray, when they were sick.

HARRIS: Exactly.

KING: So what formed the faith?

HARRIS: The faith was formed as the readers of this book, "Science and Health," began to want to talk to each other about the healings they were having. They wanted to learn. They wanted to come into a community. And so she then formed a church, so that, I think, too, Larry, that the book, the message would have a design, a way to get out. Because then she formed a college where people could learn this. She formed the journal, the "Christian Science Journal." And one thing after another...

KING: Did it start in Boston?

HARRIS: It did start in Boston -- well, yes.

KING: Why is it called Christian Science?

HARRIS: I'm often asked that question. It's sort of a juxtaposition of things. It's a metaphor. She...

KING: Because there is no Christian Science. Prayer.

HARRIS: Well, it's prayer. But she saw primitive Christianity, the healings that were done in primitive Christianity, having a science to them -- that they could be provable, practical, all the time.

KING: Did she get the idea for newspaper, too?

HARRIS: Yes, she did.

KING: We'll ask about that and a lot more. Virginia Harris, chairman of the Christian Science board of directors is our guest tonight on LARRY KING LIVE. This is fascinating and lots to explore. Don't go away.


HARRIS: Mary Baker Eddy, the namesake of the library which this building will house when it opens in June of next year, lived a life defying walls of separateness, mystery, and exclusivity.



KING: We mentioned 500 pages -- there are 500,000 document pages. The mother church begins in Boston, about 2200 branches eventually start up. Any truth that there are less and less Christian Scientists? Churches closing, that this religion is not in favor?

HARRIS: Well, it -- it is in favor, because what we're finding, are more and more people are reading "Science and Health." You know, today...

KING: Are there less churches, though?

HARRIS: Well, there are fewer churches today. Yes, there are, Larry. But there are more and more readers of the book.

KING: Meaning?

HARRIS: Meaning more and more people are reading "Science and Health." And I think we find this is true with all faiths. Many churches are having fewer people attend regularly. People are exploring spirituality. And so people are seeing that the ideas in "Science and Health" give them that basis.

KING: You would agree also, Virginia, that they're seeing pharmaceuticals do amazing things. And they read these stories, and they've got to say: Look at this antibiotic. Look at this anti -- look at Lipitor. It reduces cholesterol. Why would we not take this?

Right? Don't you think you're up against that, too? HARRIS: Well, sure, but people will find, as they have through the years, many different ways to take care of themselves. But we have found this to be so effective -- just changes bodies.

KING: Let's explain what you believe. You do not use medicine, period. Is that correct?

HARRIS: Well, me.

KING: You.

HARRIS: I don't take medicine. Now, people are free to take medicine if they want to, but generally, you will find a Christian Scientist who is studying, who understands these spiritual laws, can heal effectively.

KING: The believer

HARRIS: Exactly -- can heal effectively without it.

KING: They don't force their friends to believe or...


KING: You do not accept medical care for yourself. Does that include vitamins?

HARRIS: I don't take vitamins.

KING: But is that true in the church?

HARRIS: I would think.

KING: Herbs?

HARRIS: Right.

KING: All -- what -- so then -- that is not a medicine.


KING: So what's the theory on a vitamin, of course you east vitamins in food.

HARRIS: Yes, well, that's it. You get enough -- the way I look, we get enough food, we get enough...

KING: But if someone was shy of a vitamin and were told by the doctor, you should increase your vitamin D, that would be against the principles of church, taking a vitamin D pill?

HARRIS: It would not be against the principles of the church, it would be more the teachings. The church doesn't say what you can do, or can't do. But the teachings as you understand them, you would see that you wouldn't be deficient in something. You could pray and know that that would be healed. KING: So, you believe then, that when you are praying you have a direct contact to someone who can fulfill, help, give you that -- take away that deficiency? Take away the cancer.


KING: Take away the headache.


KING: You won't take aspirin.

HARRIS: That's right.

KING: You have never taken a pill?

HARRIS: Oh, yes. I have.

KING: For?

HARRIS: As a child. My father, as I mentioned earlier, was not a Christian Scientist, and so I did take medication sometimes if he wanted me to. My parents sort of...

KING: When did it stop?.

HARRIS: When did I stop? When I became, probably in my late teens, Larry. When I knew what I wanted to do.

KING: When you get a headache, what do you do?

HARRIS: I pray. I pray. I probably will get very still, depending where I am, what I'm doing, I will get very still and it doesn't often take very long.

KING: Have you ever been very sick?


KING: How sick?

HARRIS: Well, I was in a car accident when the doctors didn't think I was going to live. I was taken to the emergency room, and I wanted to rely on prayer.

KING: You were in a hospital.

HARRIS: I was in a hospital, I was in the in emergency room.

KING: Can a Christian Scientist have a bone set?


KING: That is OK, because that's not medication.

HARRIS: That's right, right. But I had a bone broke. I think I -- I was roller blading I think I broke my tail bone when I fell, and I was healed.

KING: What did they do in the hospital?

HARRIS: They examined me. They just put IVs in my arm because they wanted to do surgery. They thought that the internal injuries were so severe that I wouldn't survive these injuries. And they didn't give me much hope. And so with not much hope, I had seen enough proofs in my life to know that God could heal.

KING: Was the IV against the faith?

HARRIS: No. In those emergency situations, I...

KING: You permit.

HARRIS: They just put them in almost as coming in the door of the emergency room.

KING: So, would you have said no?

HARRIS: Oh, in those cases, those emergency cases so much is going on at the same time. I don't know and I was in and out of consciousness.

KING: Why -- explain the aspect of the faith. Why wouldn't this love in God who obviously also created people to become doctors, have not faith in not only himself but other people helping people?

HARRIS: Oh, I think, I think there is -- the heart, the motive of doctors is so good. I am not against doctors. I mean we love that. I applaud their efforts. Working very closely with them now as they work their way through this whole thrust into spiritual healing through prayer. They are having to reckon with, with what are they doing. Sixty to ninety percent of the cases that they see are based on stress.

KING: But, technically, if we would -- if your faith were it, and everyone in the world followed it, except to set bones, or maybe psychiatry, because that is not medication, unless they prescribe it, you don't need a doctor, correct? We don't need the profession.

HARRIS: In ideal world, which is probably hundreds of years off from now.

KING: But you believe in power of prayer so much and everyone did have that belief, we wouldn't need doctors, right? They'll be glad to hear this on Park Avenue.

Virginia Harris, Chairman of the Christian Science board of directors.


KING: Now we come to that aspect which we will delve sometimes with and that is the toughest aspect of this faith. You are an adult. You want to bang your head on the wall, it's your wall, your head. You don't want medical attention? Don't get it. But a child. What do you tell a child?

HARRIS: Well, it is like with any child.

KING: Daddy, I got a headache.

HARRIS: OK. What would happen -- we had three boys. I'm a mother of three, raised three boys, Larry. None of them had attention by doctors.

KING: No pediatricians.

HARRIS: No pediatricians. And they were -- one was an all- conference football player, one was a soccer player, Fulbright scholarship. So they were very active boys. They didn't just sit and read all day. But when the children didn't feel well, I prayed. And I called a Christian Science practitioner.

KING: What do they do?

HARRIS: They pray for the child.

KING: They come and visit the child?

HARRIS: They can come and visit...

KING: Do they have laying of the hands?

HARRIS: No they don't, they don't. But you see...

KING: But if the child kept saying, my head hurts, you know -- what did you do at those moments when it didn't work? Doesn't always work, does it? Or did it always work?

HARRIS: It always did. It always worked. It always worked in our cases, obviously. These boys are grown now.

KING: And they are Christian -- remain Christian Scientists?

HARRIS: They are. But you see, a parent is going to choose what they feel is the best care for their child. They're going to go to something, when their child doesn't feel well, they're going to go to something that's reliable, that is effective. And there's nothing that's 100 percent risk-free, and so they are going to choose what they have seen work.

KING: But society says, in many instances some states yes, some states no, they are all our children. Society has removed children from parents who are delinquent -- don't pay attention -- they'll go in and take a child way and put it in a foster home. So we come to the classics case, a child has strep throat. Strep throat is a dangerous virus. Antibiotics is the only known treatment. Stronger antibiotics have been developed. You would not give an antibiotic to a strep throat child of yours?

HARRIS: Well, I'm not refusing medicine. Because what I feel I'm doing is providing them more effective care. Because I have proven it.

KING: You think prayer is the medicine?

HARRIS: I do. Prayer is the medicine. Prayer is the most powerful medicine.

KING: What do you do to the believing mother who calls you and says, "I'm in the fourth day of this strep throat, the fever is 103. I have been praying and I have had partner prayers." Now you can't say every time they prayed it worked. "Don't you think I should give her something?"

HARRIS: I would say to that parent, you need to do whatever you feel is right for you to do. Because, Larry, people are going to choose which pediatrician to go to in hospital. Let's say that same child was in the hospital, and they are having a fever, and it's the fourth day, and the doctors can't do something about it. They'll say I think we've got to try a different medicine. So, people are free to do whatever they want to do. And there with the doctors they will choose.

KING: How about the guilt when the child dies? How does the Christian Scientist deal with this, or doesn't he or she have guilt?

HARRIS: Well, of course they have guilt. Everyone has guilt. But listen, how does any parent -- I mean that's like the hardest thing in the world to face is the death of a child.

KING: Absolutely.

HARRIS: It's tragic, no matter how they're...

KING: Now I would think that it would drive me nuts even if I were a total believer, that I had the opportunity to try something that I didn't try. I only tried one method, prayer, I didn't try that method or that method.

HARRIS: But in the hospital, children die all the time.

KING: I know.

HARRIS: And they say a doctor will go out of that after they have delivered news to a set of parents, and they will say, and the doctor may think to himself, I should have tried something else.

KING: Our guest is Virginia Harris. We'll be right back.


HARRIS: I lost a brother, who died when he was 3 years old and I was 6. I told you my dad was a Lutheran. My mother was a Christian Scientist. My brother was having medical treatment.

I know what it's like to wake up in the morning, and have your mother and father sitting on edge of the bed, telling you that your baby brother died during the night. I saw what it was like for parents firsthand to live with that. My father thought that he was doing the right thing, and I'm sure he was.

KING: But as a society, all we have is what we have. We have a conventional society. There are drugs, people have choices. What the main thing is we do everything to save a life.

HARRIS: We would do anything to save a life.

KING: You do one thing. You only pray.

HARRIS: Well, I don't know what I would do in every single case, Larry. I would start out praying, because that is where I would go first, to what's reliable, to what I have seen effective.

Now, you know, I don't know it would do. But I do know where I would start. And often times, that is enough.

KING: Do you have children?


KING: Any of them been sick?


KING: And you stand by that. But you don't know how you would react if one of them, God forbid, was seriously sick.

HARRIS: Exactly. You don't know what you would do.

KING: What's the basis in this faith? Another words, the basis is because Christ cured people, we don't need doctors? I mean, is that the basis, just because Christ did some healings?

HARRIS: No, I think the -- well obviously, that certainly is a wonderful example. Christ, Jesus, was a wonderful model. He healed without doctors, and we follow those teachings.

But the basis is an entirely different basis. It is an understanding of what God is. God is spirit. God is good, God is all power. And an understanding of what man is as that precious child of God, that relationship that there is between man and God, between each one of us, wherever we are in the world.

And that -- that relationship is a spiritual relationship. It is a oneness. And when you understand that, those are spiritual laws that heal and can transform lives, bodies, situations.

KING: But God gave us also the power to discover chemicals and pharmaceuticals. He gave it to us. If you believe that spirit gave it to us, he gave it to us. He gave us the power to discover how to do lots of things. Why not a plus for that? In other words, why not every remedy? Why not prayer and penicillin?

HARRIS: Well, and people can do that. Why not...

KING: Would that be Christian Scientist? HARRIS: Well, sure. There are Christian Scientists that take medicine, Larry.

KING: Then why are they Christian Scientists if that is the basis of the faith?

HARRIS: Well, they are trying to -- to put all of this into practice. They have wonderful faith. They are beginning -- they are understanding it. It's -- Christian Science is a wonderful science that shows us the potential, and each one of us is trying our best to understand the potential of full healing, the potential of what it means to be a spiritual idea, a spiritual person, a spiritual entity.

And we're going to find, I think, over this next century, that this 21st century is going to bring into play so many spiritual laws that we have just begun to discover, and the power of those laws. And it's going to transform the way medicine is practiced.

KING: Why don't you give me an example? We will take a break, give me an examine of a spiritual law that is going to change us. Our guest is Virginia Harris. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: What do you mean by spiritual law, Virginia Harris?

HARRIS: OK. Well, spiritual -- we are talking about spiritual healing through prayer. And it is the number one alternative remedy for healing in this country right now. One in three people feel that they have had a remarkable healing.

Now, what this means, is that they have felt the power of prayer. You did your book on powerful prayers.

KING: Sure did, talked to people who did it.

HARRIS: Yes, talked to me.

KING: You are in the book.

HARRIS: I'm in book.

KING: But other people in the book also got medicine and prayer.

HARRIS: That's right, that's right, but we are -- some doctors have said to me, when they introduced me talking, they said, you are a model, you are a model that medicine is aspiring to be. And what that means, Larry, is that there are spiritual laws that hold the universe in harmony, and that our bodies can reflect that same sense of harmony and order.

KING: And when there is disharmony, as there is in the universe -- I mean, there is harmony in the universe, but there's also earthquakes.

HARRIS: Right. KING: There's harmony, and there's hurricanes. And when there's a hurricane, people hide and they barricade their homes. Why don't just stand up and let the wind hit you, and pray? I mean, I don't want to be funny, but...

HARRIS: I know, I know, I know. But prayer can -- can quiet the wind. The Bible talks about it all the time. Prayer has a wonderful transforming effect on the weather, on our bodies, and...

KING: Obviously.

HARRIS: We're going to discover these spiritual laws. Just think about when the Earth -- everyone thought the Earth was flat. Overnight, when Columbus discovered it was round, we changed our way we thought about the world.

KING: Correct.

HARRIS: Now, those laws existed all the time. Laws of flight existed before Orville and Wilbur went up in airplanes. Where were those laws? We just didn't know about them.

KING: They were the laws of physics that we hadn't touched.

HARRIS: That's right. OK. There are laws of spirit. There are laws of God that Mrs. Eddy explains in "Science and Health" that we haven't touched yet -- that when we touch will heal effectively.

KING: You said earlier, if faced with a calamity, you frankly didn't know, because it's too hypothetical. So if someone were to -- God forbid -- say to you, you have breast cancer, and the only treatment is a mastectomy and chemotherapy. You couldn't say absolutely not, could you? I mean right now, hypothetically, you couldn't say no to both?

HARRIS: Why couldn't I say no?

KING: Oh, could you?

HARRIS: Sure I could.

KING: So then you're open to that

HARRIS: Of course.

KING: Then doesn't that conflict and throw out your whole faith?

HARRIS: No, not at all. I would say -- I'm sorry, I thought you said I would say no to chemotherapy. Yes, I would say no to chemotherapy.

KING: That's what I meant. You would say no to the mastectomy, no to surgery, right? Because that would mean giving you...

HARRIS: I would try prayer.

KING: No doubt in your mind?

HARRIS: Right now, sitting here, there would be no doubt in my mind that I would go to God first. I would pray. And I have many women that call me in my practice about praying through these things. People have been healed of breast cancer. People have been healed of all sorts of cancers, by reading "Science and Health," or by having Christian Science treatment.

KING: When you say "first," would there be a second, though? You'd go to God first, but failing that, if things got a little worse, might you consider alternatives?

HARRIS: I would probably consider what options were available. But I have pretty strong faith, and I have not been disappointed yet. I'm sitting here tonight because I came out of a car accident where no one thought I would live.

KING: So you have that faith, and you would have it for your grandchildren?

HARRIS: I would. I had a lady call me, after I had given a talk someplace -- she was not a Christian Scientist. She didn't even know about Christian Science. She called me in tears. Her daughter was on Ritalin, and she called and she said they want to send her to a special school, and, "I can't get her off, and I'm concerned about medication. This young child having to take it in such strong doses. Do you think that God can heal her?"

And I said yes. The mother read "Science and Health." The child was healed, no medication at all, in about three months.

KING: And how did science explain it?

HARRIS: Christian Science explained it.

KING: No, how did -- how did medical science explain it?

HARRIS: How did medical science explain it? They -- they were grateful. They saw, through the visits during those three months, the daughter's not needing it -- the transformation taking place in this little girl.

KING: We'll be back with Virginia Harris. She is chairman of the Christian Science board of directors on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, Don't go away.



HARRIS: The Christian Science board of directors is pleased to announce today, that it has established the Mary Baker Eddy Library for the betterment of humanity.



KING: What we're down to here is conflicting rights. The right of a child, who can maybe not be able to express his or herself, versus the right of the parent to practice a religion. You come down on the right of the parent to practice religion. Society, through the AMA and the Association of Pediatrics, comes down on side of science and conventional medical theory. Do you think most of the public agrees with them?

HARRIS: Well, you see this tremendous trend for spiritual healing today. In fact, 54 percent of the medical schools are teaching spirituality to the new doctors, I think there's a tide that's changing in this country, Larry. And I think that there -- we're going to see that there will be room for opportunities to heal in ways that are seen to be effective. And Christian Science has always been effective.

KING: You eat to sustain life, you agree, if you starve you die. What's wrong with taking a natural herb? And a lot of people are taking them. You go to any health food store and some of these things are just grown out of the ground. Chlorophyll, comes right out of a plant. What's the argument against putting that in you?

HARRIS: There isn't an argument.

KING: A lot of medicine.

HARRIS: If you want to do that, you can. A lot of it goes back to what's your motive in taking it, what kind of faith do you put in that? You can see that taking that would be just like taking an aspirin. If you put faith in that instead of in God...


KING: ... a scientifically produced product, and that is a natural product, and you've talked about the natural laws of nature. The laws of nature produced chlorophyll. And people take it.

HARRIS: That's right. That's right.

KING: That's not in conflict?

HARRIS: You know, people will do whatever they want to do. There is nothing that says you can't do this or you can do that.

KING: You counsel a lot of people. Is the hardest thing to do: deal with parents with a child who's very sick? Is that the hardest thing in your faith?

HARRIS: It -- it might be.

KING: What do you tell them? Parents call you: My daughter has such-and-such. My son has...

HARRIS: Well, if people call me, they are receiving treatment for that child. So something is happening. People don't just let their children sit there. There is active prayer going on, which is powerful. It is a powerful medicine, and children -- children aren't dying. Children are being healed, every day, all the time. You see this.

KING: No, but the difference would be, if I saw -- God forbid -- I saw a child sick, and the doctor gives an injection, and it doesn't work and the child dies. I would say we tried. If I did nothing but pray, I would say we didn't try everything. That would drive me nuts.

HARRIS: OK. Well, you see, to me, prayer is so powerful that I tried, That, to me, is as powerful as giving that injection. My motive, when I get up in the morning, is the same as any pediatrician. I'm there to heal that child, heal that child just as quickly and effectively as I can. And pediatricians that I talk to and work with are telling me over and over again, that parents who pray, they're seeing those children less, and those children are recovering quicker.

KING: How about children born with birth defects? No fault of their own, nothing happened to them. They're born with birth defects. You have to admit -- polio. There's no polio in the United States anymore.

HARRIS: That's right.

KING: Because of Salk, not because of God.

HARRIS: That's right.

KING: Salk, vaccine -- you would have not vaccinated children?

HARRIS: I have a friend who know Joseph Salk very well, and he tells...

KING: Jonas.

HARRIS: Jonas Salk, very well. And he knew that -- he went and visited him, and he was talking to him about his practice of children. He had 2000 children, and he watched children whose parents prayed. Saw them get better, saw them recover quicker, and said I have got to come and talk to Dr. Salk, so he did. Dr. Salk said to him: "What you are doing is what I have always believed, that prayer has an effect."

KING: True, but you agreed vaccination had an effect, too. I mean, the principle to inject the dead virus to set up the antibodies against a live virus worked.

HARRIS: Well -- and we support that. I support whatever people think they need to do. And if you have to have a vaccination, have a vaccination.

KING: Of course, for example, a school won't take the child without a vaccination, so the children have to have -- the parents of children, Christian Scientists, the vaccination has to occur or they can't get into the school.

HARRIS: In many cases, that is the case. KING: Are there other areas of belief for the Christian Scientists, for example after life? What do the Christian Scientists believe?

HARRIS: That life is eternal, that life is eternal.

KING: That there is a heaven and hell?

HARRIS: There is a heaven and a hell, and that we make it right here.

KING: We -- what...

HARRIS: We can make our heaven or hell right here. It's not a place.

KING: What happens when you die?

HARRIS: It is like -- it is like a transition, Larry. It is like waking up and you are in another experience. I assume. Now, I'm not.

KING: But you believe that.

HARRIS: I do. I do. I believe that life is eternal. I believe that I go on living. I believe that I go on growing. I believe that I go on having that relationship with God, that wonderful, good, that lasts, that doesn't change.

KING: Our guest is Virginia Harris. This is Larry King. We will be right back.


HARRIS: The library will house the largest multidisciplinary collection of an American woman, her ideas, her life and her achievements. The library will be a reservoir for scholars and a springboard for society to tap into her ideas.



KING: Do you have thoughts, as some do, about psychiatry? Are you opposed to psychiatry?

HARRIS: Actually, Christian Science will give a wonderful sense to healing, dealing with the same things that people would go to a psychiatrist for. The way we think about things has a tremendous influence on the way things are, and psychotherapists have become Christian Science practitioners.

KING: So -- but -- you are -- in a true world, you don't need them, right?

HARRIS: That's right. KING: What do you think about pacifism?

HARRIS: Well, again...

KING: Could a Christian Scientist kill?

HARRIS: Christian Scientists serve their country.

KING: Are there special schools, that Christian Scientists have special schools, or they go mostly to public schools?

HARRIS: Public.

KING: There are no -- like Catholic schools...

HARRIS: No, no.

KING: ... or Jewish, Hebrew schools.

HARRIS: That's right.

KING: ... that have their own. Do you know how many members there are?

HARRIS: We don't number our members, Larry. There are members in 134 countries. There are 2,200 churches around the world, but we don't number them, because Mrs. Eddy said: "Don't get into the numbers game." When Christian Science was new, a church a week was opening in this country. People were flocking to Christian Science, and she said: "You will get tripped up if you start the numbers game."

KING: What do you when you have your doubts? As everyone has doubts? Church leaders have doubts. Maybe even the pope might have a moment of a doubt. What do you do when Virginia Harris has a doubt?

HARRIS: I would pray. I would pray. I would listen. I would be still. I would turn to God.

KING: What do you think happens to the cancer -- now here we have an invasive cell, good cell gone bad, civil war in the body. When you pray, what happens to that bad cell? What do you think happens?

HARRIS: When you pray, and your thought is so aligned, so attuned to God, that you can have a transformation take place in that body. Bad cells can become healthy cells. A cancer can disappear. Mary Baker Eddy said she healed a cancer that had eaten to the jugular vein, and was healed. People are healed.

KING: You can't explain what is happening.

HARRIS: No. There is a physiological change...

KING: Where did it go?

HARRIS: That's right. There is a physiological change that we don't have the wherewithal to explain at this point. But it does happen, all the time.

KING: We will be back with our remaining moments with Virginia Harris, right after this.


KING: How about homosexuality?

HARRIS: Well, I'm -- on social issues, we as church don't take a stand.

KING: Abortion? No stand.

HARRIS: We don't take a stand on social issues. Again, individuals have the right to choose whatever they want.

KING: Are there are prominently known Christian Scientists?

HARRIS: Yes. Probably some of your friends might be.

KING: But I mean, but they don't admit it? I mean...

HARRIS: Oh, sure.

KING: Like, political figures, Hollywood stars.


KING: You have had them over the years?


KING: None you want to name?

HARRIS: Sure. Actually, I wouldn't name them, because that is their choice to name them, but members of Congress, Hollywood stars, astronauts.

KING: People leave the churches, you don't have a problem dealing with that, right?


KING: Some faiths are accused -- when you are accused of being a cult, do you resent that?

HARRIS: Well, it's a misunderstanding. Christian Science is based so squarely on the Bible, so squarely on Christ, Jesus teachings, and it is open -- the church services are open. There is nothing secretive about it. We are just about to open the Mary Baker Eddy library for the betterment of humanity, which as I said, will show all of her writings, both published and unpublished. "The Monitor" -- there is nothing, nothing secretive.

KING: Why is it so racially dominated by whites? HARRIS: You see that more in this country. As you travel around the world, of course, it crosses cultures, and diversities. As I say, there are members in 134 countries, so you are going to find great diversity.

KING: What happens in the reading rooms? We have all passed Christian Science reading rooms. Why do they look dark? Why don't you brighten them up with little flash lights, or little (UNINTELLIGIBLE) or something going? They always look like it is a little dark. What goes on in there? People sit and read?

HARRIS: People can come in and read. At computers people can click on to, which is a when is a new Web site.

KING: You tried a television news network, didn't you?

HARRIS: We did, we did.

KING: Too early, you think?

HARRIS: It is. Wrong time.

KING: Ahead of your time?

HARRIS: Ahead of our time, yes.

KING: Was that Mary Baker Eddy's idea to open Christian reading rooms?

HARRIS: Yes, yes. It was the first franchise. It was a powerful idea. She was a brilliant woman.

KING: Really? It was pre-Mcdonald's?

HARRIS: It was pre-Mcdonald's, the first franchise.

KING: I didn't know that. They sell books there?

HARRIS: They sell books there, they sell bibles, they sell "The Christian Science Monitor," so you can go in, you can pray, you can read, you can buy things, yes.

KING: Are you -- the paper sells all over the world, too, doesn't it?

HARRIS: The paper does. It's in about 140 countries.

KING: Published daily?

HARRIS: Published daily.

KING: Won many awards and it's always remained free of the faith, though, right?


KING: Doesn't preach the faith in the paper?

HARRIS: No, not at all, not at all. No.

KING: Doesn't run editorials on why you should pray and not take a medicine?

HARRIS: No. We are very, very clear about that. We don't, we don't proselytize.

KING: You're proud of that paper?

HARRIS: Very proud of that paper.

KING: The religion doesn't proselytize does it? You don't have missionaries, you don't go around preaching the faith?

HARRIS: No. No. No. Science and health that -- the book, the primary book explains the teachings. And that is what is growing, that is what delivers the message. You can get it in any bookstore.

KING: And Miss Eddy discovered this by going back to her bible?

HARRIS: That is right.

KING: And based it on the -- Christ's treatment or healing of people?

HARRIS: That is right.

KING: Do you ever say to yourself, why did they get sick in the first place? Who made them sick? Do you ever blame god?

HARRIS: No. I don't blame God. I don't blame God. If you get sick, you can change your thinking about it.

KING: This a process, right?

HARRIS: Yes. Very much a process.

KING: So, your thinking is different than what might be called conventional thinking.


KING: So a lot of this is we are on different playing fields here, right? I'm thinking, Pfizer, Lilly, western culture, take a pill. You are thinking...

HARRIS: I'm thinking God, yes, and when you sometimes say prayer, you are thinking, maybe, don't do much. Prayer to me is serious treatment. It is a way of thinking, it is a thought process, it's understanding, it's faith in God. It's reasoned, and it brings those results.

KING: Does the faith have an age in which they say the child can make its own decision? Like could it be at 15? Could the child say, mother no, I want this?

HARRIS: Um um.

KING: It doesn't state anything?

HARRIS: It leaves everything up to family and to the individual.

KING: Until the conventional age of up to 18.


KING: It doesn't...

HARRIS: It doesn't dictate any terms.

KING: This is not a preach at you faith, right?

HARRIS: Um-um.

KING: It doesn't preach at you?

HARRIS: That is correct. That is correct. It is very individual. Everyone is on a journey.

KING: Is your job for a length of time?

HARRIS: It isn't. There are no terms.

KING: Or are you in perpetuity?

HARRIS: In perpetuity.

KING: I guess you've got the job right?

HARRIS: Well, well see.

KING: And when does the new library open? Next year.

HARRIS: The new library opens in the fall of 2002, and...

KING: Right next to the publication.

HARRIS: Yes, in fact, if you come, you will be able to see the Monitor's offices, and the library right next to each other. Kids will be able to come and do a front page of a newspaper.

KING: That is great. That's next year, fall.

HARRIS: Next year fall.

KING: Thank you, Virginia.

HARRIS: Nice to see you.

KING: Virginia Harris, chairman, Christian Science board of directors. That is tonight's edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay tuned for CNN Tonight. Don't forget my Web site. Good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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