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The Crusade Against Christian Science

Poise the cause in justice' equal scales,
Whose beam stands sure, whose rightful cause prevails.
—Shakespeare
Even handed justice Returns th' ingredients of our poison'd chalice To our own lips.
—Shakespeare

It is a singular psychological fact that the spirit of persecution in a man never learns a lesson from the past. History shows that persecution, instead of overthrowing or destroying, has tended more to the upbuilding than to the destruction of any system, especially one containing religious thought. The present crusade against Christian Science, about which we hear so much, has done more to increase knowledge of the subject in a few months than could have been accomplished in a much longer time by its adherents. Persons never before interested in the subject now desire to know something about it before passing judgment upon it. The majority of mankind, I believe, desire to act fairly when there is no personal interest to preclude such action; hence, many who have never heretofore given a thought to Christian Science are now giving it more or less consideration.

There is something in Christian Science that appeals to people very strongly—something more than the religious side, which is always a potent element in the life of man—and that is the gospel of health and healing, which, its expounders assert, come through a realization of the truth they teach.

It is not my present purpose to act as a defender of their cult; I write only in the interest of human liberty. Doubtless they have among them those who can defend their cause if such defense is needed. The abuse, however, that has been heaped upon it is not warranted by the facts when we consider the thousands of practitioners of that body engaged in the art of healing. It is not to be wondered at that occasionally a patient passes away under their treatment; neither is it strange that among them are to be found some who do not thoroughly represent the teachings. But this may be as truly said of any or all other systems.

I am not a believer in Christian Science, but I am a believer in fair play; and that, I believe, has been denied to this body in press discussions during the last few months, both in this country and in Europe. If the passing away of one or two persons under Christian Science treatment has damned it as a healing art, then the medical profession, whose losses are of daily, not to say hourly, occurrence, should come in for a greater share of condemnation.

But it is said that medicine is a science. Saying so, however, does not make it so; and no one has yet discovered that it is anything like a science. By its own professors it has been called "the science of guessing." It is not long ago that the dominant school of medicine persecuted the practitioner of homeopathy; but, because homeopathy was a distinct step in the right direction, all its efforts came to naught, and the newer school demands and gets more recognition today than at any time in its history.

Now a new foe—Christian Science—has arisen to distress and harass the antediluvian school of medicine, and necessarily the old persecution must be brought to the front again; but it is so much easier to denounce it through the press! This may not be the most manly way, but it is looked upon by those who never learn anything from the past, and are never abreast of the present needs of the people, as the most powerful agency to carry on their crusade against Christian Science; for it is well understood that the professors of the old school of practice are the instigators of the persecution. The fact is, it is less a religious than a financial crusade; its real object is to save to the profession the many dollars that now go for Christian Science treatment. This may seem like a strong indictment; but it is nevertheless true.

A few years ago, when the medical profession sought to have laws enacted to prevent Mental and Christian Scientists from practicing in the State of Connecticut, it was proposed to exact no penalty for the mere act of healing; but, where money was received in compensation for such service, practitioners were to be fined for the first offense and imprisoned for the second. Last year in Massachusetts, when it was sought to enact a similar law, one of the prominent doctors who favored the bill said that it in no way restricted any one's liberty to heal—that he might continue to practice, but would not be allowed to accept fees for his services.

It was not for the protection of the "dear people"—oh, no!—but for their own selfish interests, because greed and selfishness have inspired almost every medical law that has been enacted in the last fifty years. Interest in and protection of the people are only secondary considerations.

The Constitution of the United States is said to guarantee protection to everyone in the exercise of these inalienable rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This may be true; but the laws enacted by different legislatures at the instigation of the medical profession would lead us to believe otherwise. I believe it is lawful in any State of the Union for a person to choose his spiritual adviser; but it is not lawful in many States for one to choose his physical adviser. He must take what the law provides, regardless of his own opinion in the matter; and he is thus restricted in the pursuit both of health and happiness. A man, if sane, should have the right to adopt any system of practice that he may think best. The body is no more important than the soul. Why, then, should there be liberty for one and restrictions upon the other? Consistency is a jewel seldom found in legislation that applies to the physical well-being of man.

Hundreds of thousands of people have declared their belief in Christian Science by uniting with that body or by adopting its tenets. They are not ignorant or unthinking with regard to other things; indeed, they are among the best people to be found in the country. Christian Science has shown a degree of vitality that no other religious body has been able to show in the last few years. It has built fine churches, formed hundreds of organizations, and has had no lack of money to carry on its work. There must be some power for good in such a movement, and it would be much better, it seems to me, instead of persecuting such a body, to be tolerant. If it is mistaken in some of its methods it will be found out sooner in that way than through any system of persecution that can be devised by the human mind. If the power of God is seeking a manifestation in this movement, then the mind of man cannot prevail against it; not even the great mind of that materialistic body known as the "regular" school of practice, whose glory it is to have over one hundred kinds of poison, with many hundreds of combinations—all for the upbuilding of the human system. Great is Baal!

Some may think that this article is written in the spirit of persecution; such, however, is not the case, as I recognize the fact that it is not possible to persecute a people having all sufficiency within itself, or one that is too hide-bound ever to receive a new thought or idea coming from someone outside the medical profession. I do not flatter myself that I can in any way disturb that blissful equanimity of mind that can be equaled, but not excelled, by the bliss of Nirvana.

In crusades against Christian Science no account seems to be taken of the thousands of people who declare that they have been either cured or greatly helped by this mode of treatment. All this is kept in the background, and the very few cases that have passed away while under treatment are made the basis of a malignant persecution.

Christian Science may be in error in some of its doctrines, but its adherents are at least sincere and honest in their belief; and the course taken by their opponents in their desire to overthrow the cause can have but one effect—to increase its numbers. Ridicule and abuse heaped upon them will only act as a boomerang to those who indulge in such vilification.

Calling the founder of Christian Science a foolish old woman, or an imposter, is a form of attack that will not have much weight with thinking minds. That a single individual has been able to accomplish what she has in the last twenty years is really marvelous, showing that back of the movement the individuality that has guided and directed it must be one of great force. The writer met and conversed with her many years ago, and even at that time could not help feeling that she was a most remarkable person.

People may scoff at the idea that there is a force within man that makes for health as well as for righteousness, and many look upon Christian Science as akin to Voodooism, as practiced by the colored people of the South. But the Christian Scientist claims he has an intelligent reason to give for the faith that is within him. He can say that Christ healed and taught his disciples to heal without the aid of material means. He can say that Jesus commanded his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel and heal the sick; that he said: "And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." The Christian Scientist, in fact, might quote quite as good authority for his position from the sayings of Jesus as any other body of Christian people.

There is one thing certain: Under Christian Science treatment the body does not become a reservoir for every vile, filthy poison obtained from the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. No disgusting "serums" are injected into the blood to pollute and eventually destroy the vitality of the organism.

If Christian Science goes to the extreme of idealism, then certainly Medical Science goes to the extreme of materialism; and where one extreme is to be found you will surely find the other. So-called Medical Science has carried its materialistic theories to such a degree of application that there must necessarily be a reaction. As far as the pendulum swings in one direction it must swing in the other. Somewhere between the two schools the exact truth must lie; and it would seem to be far better for all concerned, instead of engaging in any crusade of extermination against one school or the other, to seek rather after the truth through a thorough investigation of both sides of the question—to the end that we may "prove all things," and then "hold fast that which is good."

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Charles Brodie Patterson

  • Canadian New Thought author
  • Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917
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