Rights and Duties
CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS present themselves to the world as a people consistently following the teachings of Jesus, the accepted Master and Exemplar of Christianity, rendering to God the things that are God's and to Caesar the things that are Caesar's. Their position is that of law-abiding citizens, enjoined to be scrupulously exact in observing the laws of the land, careful of the rights of their fellow-men, asking no more for themselves than they are willing to grant to others, and patiently to seek the religious liberty guaranteed to all men under the constitution of all free countries.
The first amendment of the constitution of the United States provides that
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;" and further (14th amendment, Sect. 1), that "no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States ... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
The essential features of these provisions of the federal constitution reappear in the constitution of the several states, of which the following excerpt from the constitution of the State of Illinois may serve as an example:—
"The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship without discrimination shall forever be guaranteed: and no person shall be denied any civil or political right, privilege, or capacity, on account of his religious opinions."
In a majority of the progressive and enlightened nations of the world, some form of the Christian religion, the teachings of Jesus Christ, is prescribed as the religion of the State, in others Christianity is recognized as the prevailing religion of the people. The United States is within this latter class, because the great majority of our people profess some form of Christianity. We may therefore say that this is a Christian country, and no one should have the hardihood to dispute the right of any and every person to practise Christianity, or, as Webster defines it, "the system of doctrines and precepts taught by Christ."
No one at all familiar with the New Testament will deny that Jesus Christ taught his followers to heal the sick, that he used no material means in healing those who came to him, that he taught his followers to heal as he healed, and that his immediate followers healed without material means. It is therefore a fact that the religion of Christ includes healing without drugs or other material remedies, and this has been recognized, in some degree, by Christian teachers of all faiths. The establishment of this fact places Christian healing within the protection of the religious liberty guaranteed by the constitution. The fact that so-called material science has declared for a system of drugs does not alter the fundamental law of the land, nor does it give reason for invading the personal and religious liberty of the people.
A different phase of the question is presented, however in the matter of reporting cases of so-called contagious disease, in keeping with the law or regulation which, subject to the above constitutional limitations, has been enacted with a view to conserve the public welfare, and so long as the law demands that such cases be reported, Christian Scientists should be prompt and unfailing in their obedience and give the public the benefit of any serious doubt which may attend the classification of disease. Respecting this our Leader has said:—
"On the subject of reporting contagion I have this to say: I have always believed that Christian Scientists should be law-abiding; and, actuated by this conviction, I authorized the following statement, which appeared in The Boston Herald about one year ago:—
" 'Rather than quarrel over vaccination, I recommend that if the law demand an individual to submit to this process, he obey the law; and then appeal to the gospel to save him from any bad results. Whatever changes belong to this century, or any epoch, we may safely submit to the providence of God, to common justice, individual rights, and governmental usages.'
"This statement should be so interpreted as to apply, on the basis of Christian Science, to the reporting of contagion to the proper authorities when the law so requires. When Jesus was questioned about obeying the human law, he declared: 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's,' even while you 'render unto God the things that are God's.' "
Healing through Christian Science has been before the public for some thirty-six years, and notwithstanding that it has been the subject of bitter criticism and merciless attack, it has won its way to public confidence through the healing of every form of disease.
Its adherents are healthy, happy men and women, and in unnumbered cases they were made healthy and happy, through Christian Science after years of suffering, and after medical and surgical treatment had utterly failed. If there were but one such case it would present justification for the existence of the Church of Christ, Scientist, but there are thousands. To demand of Christian Scientists unvarying success in overcoming disease, is to subject them to a test which would utterly and forever condemn the material methods of treatment for which the exactors stand. While Christian Scientists rejoice in achievements which have removed all doubt, both as to the sufficiency of the Principle of Christian Science, and as to the only safe and wise course for them to pursue, they recognize that they are but relative beginners in the apprehension of Truth, and they point to Jesus as the only perfect demonstrator of the healing power.
Undoubtedly the list of thirty-five failures within six years, recently compiled by a critic is not complete, but if there were several times that number the percentage would still be so far below the normal death rate under medical practice as to accentuate the fact that Christian Science is more efficient.
We have heard no whisper of indicting the physicians and parents of the 1,145 who died of diphtheria in six months in Greater New York.
Since Christian Science has been before the public, hundreds of reputable persons have testified that they have been so enlightened by reading the text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker G. Eddy, that they have been healed, and very many of them after they were given up by physicians. Mrs. Eddy is constantly in receipt of thanks and encouraging words from Archbishops, Doctors of Divinity, eminent lawyers, and loving children.
Mrs. Eddy advises that "until the public thought becomes better acquainted with Christian Science the Christian Scientists shall decline to doctor infectious or contagious diseases."
The prosperity of our Cause, and the health and regeneration of mankind demand that all Christian Scientists shall be awake to every thought that quickens their spiritual perception. They must remember that "In Science, Divine Love alone governs man" (Church Manual), and steadfastly consecrate themselves to the service of God.Archibald McLellan Editor