Prominent among the expressions of religious thought in...

Michigan Law Review

Prominent among the expressions of religious thought in this country in recent years is that of Christian Science. Its teaching in regard to the healing of disease without any material agencies has called forth many comments on the question of religious liberty. As it has attracted to it a large and ever-increasing number of intelligent and law-abiding citizens all over the country, and as there have been several efforts to restrict partially or totally by proscriptive legislation its practise as a means of healing, we deem it proper to set forth in a general way some of the questions, with the conclusions of well-recognized authorities, that lie at the root of the matter.

While Christian Science is a healing system, it cannot be considered as a "school of medicine," but rather as a religion. It is defined by the Century dictionary as "a system of religious teaching, based on the Scriptures, which originated with the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy about 1866. Its most notable application is in the professed cure of disease by mental and spiritual means." For present purposes it may be said that Christian Science purports to be the re-establishment of the practises of primitive Christianity, and it is a historical fact, recognized by Gibbon in the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," that Christian healing was practised down to the third century. It does its healing by virtue of divine law. Its "treatment" is but a mode of prayer in which this ever-operative divine law is sought to be applied to the sick and sinful; and this is all a Christian Scientist does, whether for himself or for others. It will be seen, therefore, that the practise of Christian Science is of a distinctly religious character. This being true, statutes passed with a view to the regulation of the practise of "medicine and surgery" cannot be said to apply to Christian Scientists, or others, who use a method of healing which is founded upon a religious belief.

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