Not so very long ago in New York, a Christian Science...

Law Notes

Not so very long ago in New York, a Christian Science practitioner, regularly engaged in Christian Science healing, was convicted of accepting fees from his patients, who were glad to pay for his services, and was sentenced to be punished as a criminal. So subversive of liberty and justice did this seem to the then legislature of the state, that it passed a law the purpose of which was in effect to exempt such persons from similar prosecutions in the future; but at the instance of the doctors the governor vetoed the bill. And now very recently another bill, known as the Thorn bill, intended to exempt Christian Science practitioners from the state law requiring physicians to be examined and licensed, has been defeated, ostensibly on the ground that it would imperil public health by permitting persons to practise healing without being subject to any state regulation or supervision, although it would appear that twenty-seven states have enacted laws exempting such practitioners from the provisions of statutes governing physicians, and we are not aware that sickness or death has as a consequence exacted an added toll therefrom.

It is evident, however, that the result of legislation compelling Christian Science practitioners to take an examination, and so to perfect themselves in methods of treatment which they and their religion hold in abhorrence before they can apply their own understanding otherwise than gratuitously, is to discriminate directly against them in favor of other means of healing, as well as indirectly to prevent or hinder from doing so those who may desire to resort to them for relief. And the question which concerns us is, Is such discrimination by government in favor of one set system of medicine just, especially in vie of the present state of the world's knowledge on the subject of disease and the proper cure therefor? For be it said on the testimony of the physicians themselves, medicine is at best but empirical. Nor can we think of the changes in professional opinion since the days of John Hunter without the most painful feelings of distrust in all modes of treatment.

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