Christian Scientists and the 1918 Flu Pandemic

One estimate of the number of people around the world who died during the 1918 pandemic is 50 million. But it's more important to remember that many more people who got the disease survived. No figures exist that could say quantitatively how Christian Scientists fared, but if you look through back issues of the Sentinel and its sister publication The Christian Science Journal for the period, you'll find many testimonials of people who were healed of the disease, often very quickly. 

Louis E. Scholl's article for the Garfield (Washington) Enterprise, which was published during the pandemic, indicates that the example set by Christian Scientists was encouraging. "Dr. W.C. Witte, city sanitarian ... [in Des Moines, Iowa, during the epidemic], said: 'There is no question that by a right attitude of mind [Christian Scientists] have kept themselves free from illness. I have no doubt that many persons have contracted the disease through fear. People can deceive themselves into thinking they have any disease on the calendar, and doubtless many of them have thought themselves into their graves. Fear is the first thing to be overcome, the first step in conquering this epidemic. I am not a Christian Scientist, but I believe that an application of their principles will materially aid in preserving the health of this community. They did not originate with Scientists, but are to be found by anyone who will take the trouble to read the Bible' " (reprinted in the Christian Science Sentinel, March 15, 1919, pp. 548-549). 


December 6, 2004

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