The lawyer quoted in yesterday's Eagle says: "It is the...

Brooklyn Eagle

The lawyer quoted in yesterday's Eagle says: "It is the duty of the community to prohibit the practice of medicine or healing by Christian Scientists and by all persons who are not properly qualified according to the common understanding."

Wisdom and absurdity are ingeniously entwined in this dictum. A Christian Scientist, or any other person not a regularly licensed physician, who prescribes medicine, should be put in jail. Such malpractice would be the false pretense of quackery—claiming to understand drugs without studying the science according to which they are to be administered to secure beneficial results. So, leaving out that part which is conceded by every conscientious person, the lawyer's claim may be more clearly and fairly set forth in this fashion: It is the duty of the community to prohibit healing by Christian Scientists, and by all persons who confine themselves to prayer, and are therefore not properly qualified according to the common understanding. But the first amendment of the Federal Constitution allows a man to pray. He may pray for health. And in the free exercise of the right to pray, also guaranteed by that amendment, it must be assumed that he may engage the services of another to help him—to teach him how to pray and to pray with him. "The laborer is worthy of his hire," therefore it is also just that the man who is being prayed for shall pay the man or woman who comes to him with this special knowledge in his need.

What is this common understanding, this standard, or unvarying principle, of which the critic writes? Will this common understanding come forward when a man is in an extremity and given up by the regular doctors, and tell him how much quinine and calomel he should take with his prayers? Can the critic, who is familiar with the common understanding, tell? Can the state tell? If no one can tell how much, who can tell why, at all, these or any of the fifty thousand preparatory drugs now on the market should be used? Who knows? What did men do before the principal by-products of the Standard Oil Company emerged from the tar-barrel to the drug-market? If there be those in this country who have no confidence in the tar-barrel and would walk by faith alone, without the drug-store's support, the Constitution of the United States declares they may enjoy that liberty. The rest of us, sitting in the seat of the scornful, may think they are fools, but that makes no difference. We must be fair. We must allow them to turn heavenward, that is, within themselves, while we hasten for our pills and the pacifying plaster. And why should the community prohibit the practice of healing by prayer without drugs, as the critic declares it to be its duty "above all"? If it be folly for the sick man to turn to one who brings him hope through prayer, the practice will die out quickly; but prohibition breeds martyrs, and their blood is prolific seed.

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