Massachusetts Department of Public Health, “Christian Science and Community Medicine,” The New England Journal of Medicine (Feb. 14, 1974), 401-402.

From a 1974 column by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, reflecting the long and mutually accommodating relationship between public health authorities and Christian Scientists in the state in which the denomination is headquartered:

“The Church of Christ, Scientist, has attracted adherents throughout the Western world with the belief that diseases both of the mind and of the body are mental in origin [and] can, in consequence, be cured by a full understanding of Christian teaching…. The course to health ultimately requires finding the wholeness of man’s relation to God. In the conventional medical world, interest has focused recently on the needs of the whole patient rather than on his immediate symptoms….

“The Church of Christ, Scientist, was founded and has its headquarters in Boston. Although Massachusetts has not always led in accommodating the beliefs of minorities, it has respected philosophic and jurisdictional limits through regulation by state and local health departments. In part, this mutual tolerance owes much to the original teaching of Mrs. Eddy. In modern practice, the Church has also drawn a careful distinction between what the individual may be forced to do against his own beliefs and what society may reasonably expect him to do for the general good….

“These exemptions and balancing requirements are a reminder of the Department’s philosophical mandate not so much to treat disease as to ensure the protection of other citizens. Indeed, remembering this philosophy, public-health personnel may be saved the temptation of trying to coerce every reluctant citizen to undertake certain health procedures….” ‘