Dr. Ernest

A Metaphysical Church

Metaphysicians are particularly interested in higher consciousness. They attune with it every day. Many metaphysicians have devotedly abided in higher consciousness for years and decades. Religious Science, Unity, and Christian Science are the leading metaphysical churches in the world, but there are a number of smaller groups also. While there are several differences of attitude or philosophy, all such groups of believers focus on the nature of being and essential reality. Metaphysics is defined by Webster’s New World Dictionary as: "The branch of philosophy that deals with first principles and seeks to explain the nature of being or reality (ontology) and of the origin and structure of the world (cosmology); it is closely associated with the study of the nature of knowledge (epistemology)."

Reverend William Hornaday

One of the world’s leading teachers and ministers of metaphysics is Reverend William H. D. Hornaday of Founder’s Church of Religious Science in Los Angeles, California. Affectionately known as "Dr. Bill" to his congregation of over 7,000, Reverend Hornaday recently celebrated his thirty-ninth year as a minister of Religious Science. In fact, both the City of Los Angeles and the State of California proclaimed a "Dr. Bill Hornaday Day" in honor of his thirty-fifth anniversary.

A former business executive, Dr. Hornaday earned his Doctor of Divinity in 1952 and studied under such prominent people as Carl Jung, Albert Schweitzer, Karl Barth, and Rheinhold Neibuhr.

Hornaday Projects

He has been active in numerous humanitarian projects, from drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs to world seminars on healing. He has served on Presidential Commissions under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, Whittier College. Additionally, he holds memberships in many charitable and philanthropic organizations.

Dr. Hornaday has made numerous television appearances, and his daily inspirational radio program, "This Thing Called Life," has aired for over thirty years in Southern California, as well as around the world via the Armed Forces Radio Service.

A teacher and author, his books include My Prayer For You, Today; Life Everlasting; Success Unlimited; Help For Today; and Your Aladdin’s Lamp (with Harlan Ware).


Reverend Hornaday, and his assistant minister, Reverend George Marks, first greeted my assistant and me in his office at Founder’s Church of Religious Science on a sunny, smog-free day in Los Angeles.

"Dr. Bill" is a kindly man with bright blue eyes that look deep into people yet do not burn. He is soft-spoken and has a very rich, beautiful voice. Of medium height, he wore a gray suit with a striped tie. His hair is silver and wavy.

Reverend Marks, a young man, sat with Chris and me as he and Reverend Hornaday turned their attention to my questions. I asked about Reverend Hornaday’s background and how he found himself in Religious Science.


"My background is varied," he answered. "I come from five generations of Methodist ministers, and for a while I served as a lay minister for my father. I was interested in children while I was in college. I was fascinated by nature as well, and so I created the first ant villages for the children to study.

"I often wondered where the great studies went wrong, how children suffered, even then, from a lack of communication with their parents. So I created various educational toys and marketed them along with the ant villages throughout the United States, from Macy’s in New York to Bullock’s here in Los Angeles. These toys were very successful, but still I felt that something was missing in my life. I picked up my search for something more.

"What a fascinating beginning," I said.

"I’m a musician, too, and I paid my way through college by playing the marimba. I played with some of the famous bands of the time."

Background Continued

Reverend Hornaday left a successful business career to express his creativeness and sensitivity by writing for the motion picture industry. His script writing led him to meet his future wife, Louise Wright, a journalism graduate from Scripps College.

"Louise has a wonderful mother who has lived with us most of our married life. She’s in a convalescent home now. She is over ninety years of age.

That’s a unique mother-in-law story, I thought.

"She’s a wonderful woman, and I’ve always enjoyed her. She was one of the early students of Dr. Ernest Holmes, the founder of the movement of Religious Science and author of The Science of Mind. It was through my mother-in-law that I found my way into metaphysics and Religious Science.

"She kept saying, ‘You must hear this man, Ernest Holmes. You must!’ Finally, I said, ‘If I go once, will you lay off?"’ Reverend Hornaday laughed.

Reverend Hornaday meets Ernest Holmes

"Of course, I did go to hear Ernest Holmes. He was small in stature, but large in understanding and wisdom. Speaking of the higher consciousness, Ernest said, ‘There’s a power greater than you, and you can use it.’ Because of my childhood indoctrination in the belief of an anthropomorphic God, I reacted strongly against certain things he said, such as ‘All of us are of God, we are within God. Therefore, today we are speaking about the God in you.’

"He said other things that troubled me. He said within this higher consciousness, I could find supply and help. He said that these things have already been given to us because of the higher consciousness, but we must learn to accept them.

"Yet, with all my intellectual arguing, something in me was touched by what he said, and I wanted to know more. My mother-in-law arranged an appointment for me, and I remember that one of the first questions Ernest asked me was, ‘Are you a happy person?’

"I said yes. Dr. Holmes replied, ‘Your face doesn’t show it; I don’t have that feeling about you.’

"I took that the wrong way, and began defending myself: ‘I’m secure. I have a three-story English home. My wife has a Buick convertible and I have a Cadillac. Of course I am happy.’

This Thing Called Life

"Dr. Holmes finally showed me that in many ways I wasn’t happy, and I certainly wasn’t free. I was making large payments for material things I thought I enjoyed, but I lacked spiritual understanding which brings peace of mind. As I left his office, he presented me with The Science of Mind textbook and said, ‘I know this will help you.

"It was then I enrolled in the courses of the Science of Mind and continued to read everything that was suggested by Ernest Holmes, or by the teachers of the various classes. By the time I completed the basic courses, I knew I had found that for which I had been searching and I enrolled in the advanced courses which would lead to the ministry.

"During this period, Ernest called me to his office and said, ‘I need you. I’ve been looking for someone to take over my radio program, This Thing Called Life. You have the enthusiasm, and a wonderful voice. Will you do it?’

"This was to have been my project for the duration of my studies, but it became an integral part of our outreach program. When the broadcasts began in 1927, Dr. Holmes insisted that no requests for contributions be made over the air. To this day, that request has been upheld and all funding has come from grateful listeners and members of Religious Science."

What is Religious Science?

"What is Religious Science?" I asked Reverend Hornaday.

"I feel it is a correlation of philosophy, religion, and science. Religious Science is based upon the reality that each of us is a divine idea in the mind of God. There has never been a duplication of fingerprints, footprints, lip prints, nor of voice prints. This tells me that I must be unique, special. We feel that each of us has a divine compass, a divine perfection within us. We can seek to uncover that divine perfection by understanding and by using that infinite wisdom which is available to each of us. But love is essential as well. It is often said in Religious Science that Love points the way, and the Law makes the way possible.

"Religious Science is Christian, and more, because we study and revere the teachings of the masters of all ages, the truths of all religions.

"In Religious Science we say that the Spirit is that aspect of God which is the knower; that is, which contemplates. The Soul is the aspect of God which is the doer, or the law by which God’s contemplation becomes form. Since each one of us is an individualization of these two aspects of God, we have the ability to create our own world by our own thinking. Unfortunately, this power goes unrecognized by most people."

Self Awareness

"So the Religious Science member strives to be conscious of that which goes unrecognized by most people, the soul and the spirit?" I asked him.

"Yes, not only to recognize it, but to learn how to use the power of our mind to bring into our environment that which is the highest good for all. For example, our whole membership believes that we could, through a higher consciousness, bring peace not only to ourselves but to the world. Our work is in self-awareness — how to be truly honest, how to know the truth that sets you free, and how to enter into an awareness of a power working through you.


"And, as you know, we do not believe in a duality."

"Could you explain that, please?"

"In Religious Science we believe there is one God, one Reality. There is one law of life. We either abuse that law or we use it.

"Many people focus their attention on people, making personal gods of some and hating others; some focus their attention on material things, directing their energies to the possession of these things; some focus upon the accumulation of wealth and power to maintain a sense of security. In essence, they are making false gods of these, and by doing so, they have lost the true values of living."

"So, while you do not believe in duality, you recognize that some people do," I observed.

"Of course we do. All of us, at one time or another, unknowingly or knowingly, have had devilish ideas, but we believe this is the abuse of the one law."

"I see.

The Power of Choice

Dr. Hornaday went on, "In our work with people, and especially those in this church, we remind them of Jesus’ words: ‘Choose ye therefore, God or mammon.’ Or the words of Moses: ‘Choose ye therefore blessing or cursing,’ and tell them they don’t have to remain in any set of undesirable or uncomfortable circumstances. You can really be who and what you want to be if you recognize that God has given you the power of choice. But it is your responsibility to choose wisely."

"And this telling people who they can really be, this is your approach to dealing with duality?" I suggested.

"That’s right," he agreed.

"You tell people who they really are, the eventuality of what is really their nature?"

"Yes, but it is more than telling them. We help them to recognize their oneness with God."

Affirmative Prayer

"How do you do that, for example? How is that done?" I asked.

"Our teaching is based on what we call treatment, or affirmative prayer. A treatment consists of five steps which clears the thought of negation, of doubt and fear, and causes it to perceive the ever-presence of God. These five steps are called recognition, unification, realization, thanksgiving, and release.

"First, we recognize the Infinite Spirit — God — as Goodness, a loving presence, a divine power, always available.

"The next step is unification. What are you unified with? This is a real study. It may take weeks, months. Dr. Holmes has stated that unification is based upon the principle as Jesus taught, ‘that they may all be one, even as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee and they also in us.’ This is the consciousness of God in man. There is no record of any great thinker who has ever taught duality. The teaching of unity, ‘The Lord our God is one God,’ is the chief cornerstone of the sacred scriptures of the East, as well as our own sacred writings. The word ‘unity’ signifies the union of parts drawn together into one perfect whole: one Life, of which we are a part; one Intelligence, of which we are a part; one Substance, which is brought into manifold manifestation."

Transformations from Prayer

Reverend George Marks opened a pamphlet called Guide to Creative Thinking by S. Howell Creed, which had been taken from the August, 1965 edition of the "Science of Mind Magazine." Reverend Marks said, "To quote from the Creed pamphlet, the third step, realization, ‘is the step in which you realize how you feel and how things are as you receive that for which you are treating. In other words, you visualize and feel the experiences as though they were actually happening right now. This is the goal of the Realization step in treatment: To build the strongest possible feeling of already having what you want."’

He continued to quote from the article. "The fourth step is thanksgiving. ‘You know that the omnipotent Spirit is already creating what you have treated for. You are happy and excited and grateful. You say, "Thank you, God." You have a thankful heart and you show it."’


Reverend Hornaday interjected joyously, "It was my privilege to meet Mahatma Gandhi, in India. When he was asked to define his philosophy, he used one word, ‘Gratitude."’

"Gratitude," I repeated, surprised, wondering why Gandhi had not said ahimsa (harmlessness) or Satyagraha (grasping for truth). Then I realized he had used a simple English word which conveys much.

The Release

Reverend Hornaday went on, "The fifth step of a Religious Science treatment, or meditative prayer, is the release. You release (the treatment) to the infinite power and intelligence of God’s Law for demonstration. The law of mind is automatic in its action and will produce precisely what has been accepted in the treatment.


"When I first went to Ernest Holmes, I expected a prayer or treatment before I left his office, but he was silent for about five minutes. Afterward, he shook my hand, and I left.

"I told his secretary, ‘Dr. Holmes was going to have a treatment with me, but he didn’t say a word.’ She smiled and said, ‘That’s right.’ I discovered that Ernest Holmes rarely gave an audible treatment directly for another person. We are lucky to have a few treatments on cassettes which were given during lectures.

"But I did feel something."

"And what did you feel?" I asked curiously. "The spirit of God move, or...

"I came back later and asked Ernest what I’d felt," Reverend Hornaday chuckled. "Ernest told me, ‘You’ve had certain negative experiences which are in your subconscious mind. The conscious mind may change these thought patterns and thereby cause a different flow of energy and intelligence toward the object of its desire. In mental treatment we should feel as though the whole power of the universe were running through the words we speak, whether we speak them for ourselves or for another. By your acceptance, you have a feeling of renewal — a renewal that changes you.'"

The Goal of Religious Science

"What is the goal of Religious Science?" I continued.

"Peace," Dr. Bill kindly responded.

"And by peace you mean...."

"Peace of mind within the individual. Unless I have peace within myself, how can I share it, how can I promote it worldwide? How can I express my peace with others unless I have experienced love within myself and love of God? It must come from within before it can be shared with others."


I thought about what he said and then asked, "How does a Religious Scientist become — whatever the right word would be — realized, fulfilled, or awakened? What is the process?"

"People of all faiths believe in a power greater than we are, but they do not understand the power. Our hope, then, is to bring understanding," he smiled. "Call it awakening, if you wish."

"You wish, then, to bring greater understanding and awakening to people of all faiths? Greater understanding regarding. . . the oneness?"

"First of all, through our example, through our teaching, we are resolvers of hate. We are not disturbers. Love is something wonderful. The love of a person reaches out, little by little. Years ago, I spoke at many universities in Central America. My wife, who speaks fluent Spanish, acted as interpreter.

"Through love, these students were reached. They would keep us for hours afterwards, asking questions, being close to us. Here in Southern California," he further illustrated, "ministers and priests of other denominations have studied with us, and have recommended our classwork to others. Love reaches out."

The Presence

"How wonderful." I was moved by his intensity and sincerity. "Now, let me rephrase this to see if I understand clearly. The goal of Religious Science is peace — within and without."

"That is right," Reverend Hornaday nodded.

"And a Religious Scientist becomes fulfilled by finding within himself or herself this love, this understanding, and is not fulfilled until the love and understanding are shared with humanity," I summarized.

"We call that ‘the Presence.’ We feel the Presence," he explained.

"So," I clarified, "you become awakened by feeling the Presence, which is one of love, and this love is to be fulfilled through each Religious Scientist by sharing and helping other people? Is this right?"

"Yes, and we feel, as I said, everyone is unique. There is a reason for each person’s being. I tell those who come to me, ‘Go ye and find it. There is a reason for you, a reason for your being."’

"So the reason for one person’s being would also be found in that person’s career and in that person’s activities?" I asked.

"Yes. That inner calling to become a musician, a nurse.

Universal Love

‘‘And each person is working through love and understanding, universal love and understanding," I said.

"Universal love.

"So this is how one becomes awakened. Please tell me, what is the process by which this awakening happens?"

"Again, we use treatment, or affirmative prayer. We seek to know that our lives are being divinely guided toward our highest and best good. When we have an inner feeling that this is happening, it is reflected on the outside by our actions toward others. This starts a chain reaction. If I share my joy with someone, they too are uplifted. I can treat for others, too, so that they will come to recognize God." His smile shone on us.

"And by ‘treat’ you mean going through a process of identifying with the truth...."

"Yes, truth and love," he replied. "Also, we know that as long as we keep our eyes focused upon a problem, it compounds itself. I, or the one treating, must see the answer, not the problem. We must see peace. We must see hands outstretched to nations across the seas. I must come like Thoreau into Walden Pond. People call us idealists."

"They certainly would, and without question," I heartily agreed.


"But idealists build the lighthouses, don’t they? In other words, idealists are the visionaries who provide the light for others to follow. I feel that we, as Religious Scientists, as metaphysicians, combine idealism and realism to become a beacon individually. For instance, as an example, a couple who were members of Founder’s were having some problems with their children. They lived in a lower-income neighborhood so we went there with gifts. I said to the family, ‘Let’s think of something you can do together.’ I asked the children, ‘What would make you happy?’ There were all kinds of suggestions. One wanted to go to the beach, another wanted more time with Daddy. The wife said, ‘If only we could find a nicer home, ours is shabby. The landlord won’t paint this one and it needs painting badly.’

"Suddenly an idea came from out of nowhere, and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you painted the house yourself, as a family project?’

"The wife said with resentment, ‘The landlord should do it, and fix the fence, too.’ I said, ‘Let’s bless the landlord, and not be resentful.’ I asked the children, ‘Wouldn’t you like to help paint the house, and fix the fence?’

Realism of Action

"‘Oh, yes,’ they said. They were very happy with the idea.

"So, they painted the house, fixed the fence, and their little home looked beautiful. The landlord was so pleased he lowered the rent for them. The little house stood out, and the others on the block suffered by comparison. The children helped the other neighbors paint their houses too and soon the entire neighborhood was pretty and neat as a pin. The children were no longer in trouble, for they had found a loving outlet for their energy. This simple story shows how idealism is coupled with the realism of action."

"Beautiful," I whispered.


At this point, Reverend Marks gave me a small book. "This book gives a background of Ernest Holmes, who founded Religious Science. Our teaching came from Dr. Holmes’ search to know what prayer is, how it works, and why it works for some and not others. He said there is Something greater that responds to the followers of many different paths."

"Based on his wanting to know what prayer is, that’s how Religious Science began?" I was fascinated.

Reverend Marks explained, "Dr. Holmes boiled his findings down simply to say that the universe is a spiritual system of good only. Where the duality of good and evil comes into the situation is through man. The evil is created by man and when man doesn’t perpetuate evil, then it’s not there."

Why is there Evil?

I couldn’t resist asking the age-old question, "Why does man perpetuate evil?"

Reverend Marks’ eyes twinkled, "From ignorance and from misunderstanding about man’s own true nature, man’s misunderstanding about God, misunderstanding about the nature of the universe. Also, it is perpetuated from mankind not having the proper relationship with God, with self, and with others. This poor relationship results out of man’s fear, ignorance, lack of love, and lack of understanding. So, as man comes to understand and becomes genuinely loving, then he won’t do anything to harm another. To understand, we have to become god-like. And assuming that God is love, then all of our actions, our thoughts, our deeds, have to be loving and god-like, too. Therefore, if I’m loving, then I can’t kill another. If I’m loving, then I can’t hate, criticize, or condemn. We seek perfection in trying to measure up to our goals," he said.


"So, are you saying that as a Religious Scientist one first conceives of sin and then one feels this sin, or... ?" I sought to understand how sin came into the picture.

Dr. Hornaday, at this point, added: "Dr. Holmes always believed that a sin was a missing of the mark, which was the actual Anglo-Saxon meaning, used in archery when an arrow missed its target. Dr. Holmes stated, ‘There is no sin, but there is a mistake; and there is no punishment, but a consequence.'"

"And these consequences are given from out of this one universal love, which guides and teaches us through our mistakes?" I questioned.

"Dr. Holmes said, ‘God neither punishes nor rewards. Life is a blessing or a curse according to the use we make of it. We believe in a law that governs all things and all people. If we make mistakes, we suffer."’

Spiritual Evolution

I nodded, then went on, "As one grows as a Religious Scientist and communes more deeply in the Presence, are there states, or levels of consciousness, that one ascends as one experiences God and loves more deeply?"

Reverend Hornaday replied, "We believe that each of us is ever evolving into newer and better states of consciousness. Ernest Holmes often used the chambered nautilus shell as an analogy of our spiritual evolution in ever-widening spirals."

Other Religions

"What is your view of people practicing other faiths?" I asked.

"We bless them. We believe there is only one God, but each person must follow his or her own pathway in their search for Truth. Dr. Holmes stated often that Religious Science was not the only way, but it was a good way."

I admired what he had said so simply and I realized, a little sadly, that our interview was coming to an end.

World Peace

"Dr. Hornaday, you offered many wonderful aids to achieve greater world peace, but I’d like to ask you directly, how may we have a more peaceful world?"

He smiled. "We endeavor to follow the teachings of Jesus. We call him the ‘Wayshower.’ His whole message was one of love and respect. We believe that through our faith and by our actions others will join us as peacemakers. As we recognize the Christ-spirit within each person, on a one-to-one basis, our unconditional love is the spark that lights the pathway for peace.

"So, my vision is to go forth like this on a one-to-one basis. You’re not going to do it through a television program or a radio program. I put my hand out, I put my arms around you. My world vision is that it is going to take all of us to do it. We can’t just get into our little chapels and churches and say, ‘All right, come. Take this course, or that course.’ It’s much greater than that. We’ve got to come out of our churches and find those who have that spark which will turn into a flame. It won’t work for us only to say, ‘We want peace if you want peace.’ God doesn’t like that. On a one-to-one basis, going out to one another, we’ve got to find those with the spark that will turn into a flame."

I understood. What he had just said had been my chief motivation for writing this website.


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