Letter to the Editor: Christian Science not the evil it’s painted out to be

Ian McLeland

It is always difficult to explain religious beliefs that are not your own, but sophomore Danielle Ferrante's Dec. 8 article, "Christian Science denies medicine and leads to numerous unnecessary deaths," presented some disturbing and false statements about the Church of Christ, Scientist and the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy.

First, some basic points: Mary Baker Eddy is the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist and author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, but the first copyright for Science and Health was obtained in 1865, not 1867. It is also true that Mary Baker Eddy was not a physician or medical expert but contrary to what Ms. Ferrante wrote, Mrs. Eddy extensively studied the homeopathic medicines of her day before discovering what she believed to be the Biblical system that enabled Christ Jesus to heal the sick.

Ms. Ferrante also wrote that Christian Scientists visit hospitals with the intention of exploiting vulnerable patients' fears, presumably for the purpose of proselytizing, though Ms. Ferrante did not specify. As a lifelong Christian Scientist who has interacted personally and professionally with Christian Scientists across the country and internationally, I can say that neither I nor anyone I know has ever done anything of the kind, and that it is in no way a common or encouraged practice in the Christian Science Church.

It is unquestionably tragic whenever a child dies, whether the child is under the care of a medical physician or a Christian Science practitioner. But before condemning, I would challenge Ms. Ferrante to have a conversation with any of the many thousands of parents who have found Christian Science to be an effective system of health care for their children. For example, Mrs. Evelyn Davey, whose four-year-old son fell into a coma and was medically diagnosed with spinal meningitis. The attending physician told Mrs. Davey that she should not expect her son to live through the night but she and her husband instead prayed with their understanding of Christian Science. Around midnight the same night Mrs. Davey's son awoke and by morning she and her husband were permitted to take their son home from the hospital, wholly well. The doctor who treated their child stated at the time that he was convinced of the validity of his original diagnosis and in a meeting with the family a week later told the child, "[I] didn't do anything to help you. It was God who took care of you."

In her article Ms. Ferrante wrote, "Freedom of speech is one of the most important rights granted by the Constitution … discretion and respect, however, need accompany it." No one should begrudge Ms. Ferrante her opinions or her right to express them but I would ask that before publishing a searing denunciation of an entire population of thinking people, she next time take a moment to appropriately research her topic and give due consideration to the evidence readily at hand.

-Ian McLeland

Editor's note: According to christianscience.org, Mary Baker Eddy's book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, was copyrighted in 1875.