To put down the claim of sin, you must detect it,
remove the mask, point out the illusion, and thus get the victory over sin...It
is Christian Science to do right, and nothing short of right-doing has any
claim to the name. (S&H.)
We should not be error's advocate
This Chapter concerns the great literature litigation
of 1919 to 1922. This unfortunate episode in Christian Science history would
never have occurred if Mrs. Eddy's estoppels had been honored. But the Board's
illegal assumption of power was nowhere more apparent than in its struggle to
gain control of the Publishing Society which Mrs. Eddy had set up as a complete
and independent body under her Deed of Trust of 1898. The first thing a
dictator must control is the communications arm, the news media.
While Mrs. Eddy remained with us, the Manual
provided that the Board of Directors should see that "these periodicals are
ably edited and kept abreast of the times." She also stipulated, "The Christian
Science Board of Directors shall have the power to declare vacancies in said
trusteeship..." They had this power to oversee and to declare vacancies only
so long as Mrs. Eddy was present to authorize it. The estoppels in the
Church Manual dissolved the five-member ecclesiastical Board at her
passing. The four-member Board under the legal Deed of Trust of 1892 was never
given such powers, as can readily be seen by reading the two Deeds of
Soon after Mrs. Eddy's departure, the Board of
Directors began a harassment of the Publishing Trustees which continued
unabated. In October 1918, the Directors made a formal demand to the Publishing
Trustees that hereafter they should not act independently but in conformity
with the objectives and aims of the Board of Directors; they also demanded that
the Trustees agree in writing to accept the Directors' claim of supreme
authority, and to thereafter discharge their duties in accordance with the
Directors' interpretation of the Manual.
According to the Bill in Equity filed by the
Publishing Trustees, the Board of Directors had threatened to either obtain
control of the Publishing Society or destroy it by making it just "an empty
shell." The Board demanded that the Publishing Trustees sign the following
It is mutually understood by the Trustees and the
Board of Directors that the Board has final authority in regard to the
editorial policy and final authority in regard to all matters affecting the
policy of The Mother Church or the cause of Christian Science.
The Board also required the signing of this agreement
as the price for allowing the Publishing Trustees to continue in office.
The issue was sharply drawn. A decision must be
rendered by the Court as there seemed to be no agreement between the two
Boards. When the Directors insisted that the Publishing Society Trustees break
their Trust Deed on occasions when the Directors' interpretation of the
Manual did not agree with Mary Baker Eddy's Publishing Society Deed of
Trust, the Publishing Society Trustees sought legal counsel, and the Bill in
Equity dated March 25, 1919, was drawn up.
The plaintiffs in this Bill in Equity were Herbert W.
Eustace, David Ogden, and Lamont Rowlands, Trustees of the Christian Science
Publishing Society. The defendants, the Board of Directors, were at first
listed as: Adam Dickey, James A. Neal, Edward A. Merritt (who had replaced
Director Archibald McClellan who died in 1917), and William R. Rathvon. Later
in the preamble the Directors added a fifth defendant.
FOUR ERRORS IN BILL IN
Dr. Harry Shawk tells us there are four errors in the
Bill in Equity. The first error is that the Publishing Society lawyers refer to
the Board of Directors under the Deed of Trust of 1892. This Deed
stipulated four Directors, and the defendants (the Board of Directors)
are actually going to name five persons. This is therefore an error, and
we can see from this that the Publishing Trustees are going to sue the wrong
party. They should be suing the five-member ecclesiastical Board instead of the
four-member Board under the Deed of Trust of 1892 which had nothing to do with
The second error made by counsel for the Publishing
Trustees was in calling Mrs. Eddy's second Deed of Trust "supplementary to and
in amendment of" the first Deed of Trust. This was not correct.
The third error occurs in the wording: "dated March
19, 1903, and as they are also Directors of The First Church of Christ,
Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts ..." This is an error because the Board of
five Directors is the Board of The Mother Church. It is not the Board of four
Directors named in the September 1, 1892, Deed of Trust establishing The First
Church of Christ, Scientist.
The fourth error occurs in the wording: And John V.
Dittemore and Annie, both claiming to hold the position and office of Trustee
and Director in accordance with the other claimants." This is an error. It
recognizes six persons.
In summary, the defendants (named in the Bill in
Equity) were the legal or fiduciary Board named by Mrs. Eddy in the September
1st, 1892, Deed of Trust. This four-member Board had absolutely nothing to do
with the Publishing Society as can be seen by reading Mrs. Eddy's two Deeds of
Trust on pages 128-138 of the Church Manual, or Appendix, p. 182. Thus
we see that the Publishing Trustees' lawyers made the tragic error of suing the
wrong party. No doubt this error occurred because counsel for the Publishing
Trustees knew that an ecclesiastical body cannot be sued in a court of
SECOND BILL IN EQUITY
A second Bill in Equity was filed on April 10, 1920,
approximately a year after the first Bill. This Bill was filed by the Board of
Directors against the Publishing Society to try to acquire funds which the
Publishing Society had been earning and were holding. The plaintiffs in this
second Bill in Equity were five Directors: Dickey, Neal, Rathvon,
Merritt, and Knott.
ERRORS IN SECOND BILL IN
Again Dr. Shawk points out the errors in this second
Bill in Equity which reads: "As they are the Christian Science Board of
Directors of said 'The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston,
Massachusetts'...."This is an error because they have named five (5)
Directors, and there are only four Directors provided in the Deed of
Trust of September 1, 1892, in connection with the above-mentioned church.
Continuing: "and Edward Ripley, as he is
Treasurer of said 'First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston,
Massachusetts'......"This is an error because Ripley was the Treasurer of
The Mother Church not of The First Church of Christ, Scientist.
Continuing: "and for purposes of this suit is a
corporation by virtue of Revised Laws, Chap. 37, Sec. 12, and Chap. 132 of the
Special Acts of 1917, and is otherwise known and referred to hereinafter as
'The Mother Church , ' and said 'The First Church of Christ, Scientist" is the
sole financial beneficiary under the trust deed hereinafter mentioned .....
These statements are not true. The beneficiary is the
First Members of The Mother Church, later changed to Board of Directors of The
Mother Church-the Board of five Directors-which ceased to exist at Mrs.
Eddy's passing. (See Manual p. 26, Art. 1, See. 5.) The disposition of
funds was provided for in the Publishing Deed of Trust Mrs. Eddy executed in
The Bill of Complaint came up for a hearing before the
court on June 3, 1919. As we have seen, the Publishing Trustees sued the
legal four-member Board of Directors, who operated under the Trust Deed
of 1892, and had absolutely nothing to do with the case.
In spite of this error, however, a decision favorable
to the Publishing Trustees was handed down by the Master, Judge Dodge. The
Board of Directors then appealed to the Full Bench which stated that the
Master's findings of fact were undisputed, but it reversed the rulings
of law handed down by Judge Dodge. The Full Bench, however, ruled on only
Before continuing with the trial let us delve briefly
into the background-the factors contributing to the dispute which ended in "the
great literature litigation."
In order to understand the situation correctly it is
necessary to go back to early 1898, when on January 25,1898, Mrs. Eddy, through
a Deed of Trust, established the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE PUBLISHING SOCIETY This
Publishing Society was stated to be: "...for the purpose of more effectually
promoting and extending the religion of Christian Science as taught by me...."
She named three Trustees: Edward P. Bates, James A. Neal, and William P.
In mid-year, 1898, to set up a system of checks and
balances, Mrs. Eddy instituted new By-Laws which brought the Christian Science
Publishing Society under the Church Manual. It is important to note that
not all of the conditions of the Deed of Trust of January 25, 1898, were
recited in the Church Manual. And the Church Manual contained
material about the Publishing Society that was not contained in the Publishing
Society Deed of Trust. At first glance this would appear to cause disputes
after Mrs. Eddy's passing, but no disputes would have occurred if, after Mrs.
Eddy's leaving, the Church Manual had been obeyed as she intended. The
estoppels terminated the five-member ecclesiastical Board. The quarrel arose
because the five-member Board disobeyed the estoppel clauses and usurped
control of the church organization. In this suit the Board of Directors was
attempting to wrest the Publishing Society from its legitimate and legally
appointed Trustees. The Directors' attempts to make the Publishing Trustees
break Mrs. Eddy's 1898 Deed of Trust is detailed in the March 25, 1919, Bill in
Equity. See Appendix, p. 193.
Mrs. Eddy's legal Publishing Society Deed of Trust was
"irrevocable and perpetual,' and was so judged by the Court. The three Trustees
signed the Deed indicating their acceptance, and every succeeding Trustee
signed and dated his acceptance. The last three Trustees served until their
resignation, effective January 30, 1922.
The estoppels in the Manual had terminated all
Board of Director control over the Publishing Trustees, but when the Directors
waived the Manual's estoppel clauses, a dispute came about as a result
of two Manual changes and the By-Law under "Discipline," which read: "it
shall be the duty of the Directors to see that these periodicals are ably
edited and kept abreast of the times . " This provision to see that the
periodicals were "ably edited" was naturally directly related to the provision
in Article XXV, Section 4, p. 80, of the current Church Manual, under
which the editors and the manager of the Christian Science Publishing Society
were to be elected by "the Christian Science Board of Directors and the
consent of the Pastor Emeritus in her own handwriting."
It is important to understand that the above duty of
the Directors was nowhere mentioned in the Deed of Trust of January 25th, 1898,
which created the Christian Science Publishing Society. This Deed contained
all of the provisions necessary for the operation of editors and manager
under the sole responsibility of its Publishing Society Trustees.
Now, states Dr. Shawk, if the Publishing Society Deed
of Trust had been filed with the Courts, there would have been an
immediate conflict between the fiduciary Board of Directors under the legal
Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892, and the five-member ecclesiastical Board of
Directors, acting under Mrs. Eddy's Manual provisions. But when Mrs.
Eddy left us, the relationship of the Publishing Society to the ecclesiastical
Mother Church was terminated. At that point, had the By-Laws containing the
estoppels not been annulled, the Publishing Society would have become a
completely independent operation.
The Publishing Society would have been entirely
dependent upon producing articles of merit, since with The Mother Church
terminated, there would no longer have been any pressure from the By-Law
stating: "It shall be the...duty of every member...to subscribe for the
periodicals which are the organs of this Church." With The Mother Church
terminated, the periodicals would no longer be "the organs of [The Mother
Church]."Henceforth the articles would have had to be of the caliber people in
or out of the Christian Science Movement would want to subscribe for,
and be willing to pay for.
The struggle between the ecclesiastical Directors and
the Trustees of the Christian Science Publishing Society came to a head in 1919
when the Publishing Society Trustees filed a Bill in Equity on March 25th,
which requested the Court to enjoin the Board of Directors from:
(1) removing Lamont Rowlands as a Trustee
(2) requiring the Trustees of the Publishing Society
to comply with the Board of Directors' demand that the Publishing Society
Trustees agree in writing that the Directors had absolute control over the
Now, the first of these requests to the Court was
based upon the premise that both the Publishing Society Deed of Trust and the
Church Manual (in 1898) provided that the First Members together with the Board
of Directors could declare a vacancy in the ranks of the Trustees of the
Publishing Society, and that since the First Members had been abolished, the
Board of Directors alone had no right to declare a vacancy.
We will see later that this position regarding First
Members, while it was supported by Judge Dodge, the Master, in his interim
injunction, was not accepted by the Chief Justice, and was one of the reasons
for reversing Judge Dodge's findings. (The matter of the estoppels seems to
have been overlooked entirely.)
Judge Dodge also found for the plaintiffs against
their having to agree in writing to the demand of the Board of Directors that
the latter was in supreme control of all activities of the Publishing Society.
Judge Dodge included this in the interim injunction.
The Chief Justice, on the other hand, stated that the
Court had no basis for making a ruling on an ecclesiastical matter. Thus
both findings of the Master were reversed.
INTERIM BILL IN EQUITY - APRIL 10,
After the interim injunction was given by Judge Dodge,
and before the Full Bench met for its final decision, the Board of Directors
filed an interim Bill in Equity on April 10, 1920.
One of the items in the Publishing Deed of Trust of
January 25th, 1898, and also in the Church Manual (Article XXV, Section
2, page 80) pertains to the disposal of the net profits of the Publishing
Society This is a very important point: Under the Deed of Trust of January
25th, 1898, establishing the Publishing Society, we read:
Once every six months the Trustees shall account for
and pay over to the treasurer of "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Boston, Massachusetts", the entire profits of said business.
Now, the Manual states in Article XXV, Section
2, page 80, the following:
The net profits of the business shall be paid
over, semiannually, to the Treasurer of The Mother Church.
This means that the directions in the Manual
ordering payment to the Treasurer of The Mother Church would
disappear after Mrs. Eddy's passing since her estoppels had dissolved The
Mother Church. But the Publishing Society Deed of Trust of January 25th, 1898,
provides that these funds be paid over to the Treasurer of The First Church
of Christ, Scientist, the fiduciary church, and the fiduciary body.
The Board of Directors filed their interim Bill in
Equity because the Trustees of the Publishing Society had withheld
payment since the initiation of the first Bill in Equity, dated March
You will remember that counsel for the Publishing
Society unfortunately and erroneously viewed the two Boards of Directors
(fiduciary and ecclesiastical) as being identical. So now the plaintiffs
(the Board of Directors) in their Bill in Equity are described as
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston,
Mass., Adam H. Dickey, James A. Neal, Edward A. Merritt, William R. Rathvon,
and Annie M. Knott, as they are the Christian Science Board of Directors of
said The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass. [They also include
Edward L. Ripley, who was identified as the Treasurer of the said The First
Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass.]
The Bill also states:
The plaintiffs, Dickey, Neal, Merritt, Rathvon, and
Knott are the Directors of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and are
charged with the transaction of the business of said church by virtue of the
By-Laws thereof, contained in the Church Manual.
Now, the Church Manual, Article 1, Section 6, on page
CHURCH BUSINESS. Sect. 6. The business of The
Mother Church shall be transacted by the Christian Science Board of
Note that the Board of Directors, while citing the
Manual as its authority for conducting the business of the Church,
incorrectly identifies its powers with The First Church of Christ, Scientist.
This five-member ecclesiastical Board of Directors was only identified with
The Mother Church which disappeared at Mrs. Eddy's passing; it was
never in any way identified with The First Church of Christ, Scientist,
as they here state in their Bill in Equity. Commenting on these allegations,
Dr. Shawk says, "This false identification did not confuse the Chief Justice of
the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts as we will see later; and the
credibility, honesty, and integrity of that Board of Directors is certainly
compromised by their official assertions."
The Board of Directors' chief petition to the Court in
their Bill in Equity was the release of the Publishing Society profits since
the church needed them to carry on its functions. The Chief Justice
pointed out that the net profits were intended for the "promotion and extension
of the religion of Christian Science" as taught by Mrs. Eddy, and not as
a money-making operation to pay to the church for its normal operation. The
Publishing Society Trustees had been sending these net profits-which the Court
found to be nearly one million dollars ($1,000,000) a year (in 1919
dollars!)----the Board of Directors of The Mother Church.
Eustace reports the final settlement of the Publishing
Society in his book, Christian Science, Its Clear Correct Teaching," p.
On March 6th, 1920, Judge Dodge handed down his final
report, finding for the trustees in all essential facts and making his rulings
of law in conformity with those facts.
Then on page XXX, we read:
... a new decision was handed down on November 23rd,
1921. The Master's findings were undisputed ... but the Supreme Court of
Massachusetts reversed the rulings of law as handed down by Judge Dodge....
When the Supreme Court handed down its decision
reversing the Master's findings of law, the trustees were glad to resign their
offices and elect new trustees in subordination to the directors, and to turn
over to them, immediately, the business of the Publishing Society.
A verbatim report of the entire case of the
Trustees vs. the Directors was first published in extenso and without
comment during each day of the trial (1919 through 1921) in the Christian
Science Monitor by mutual agreement of the Board of Trustees and the Board
of Directors. But upon orders from the Board of Directors these issues of the
Christian Science Monitor containing this material were soon removed from the
Christian Science Reading Rooms. (The Court record was not one the Directors
could afford to have the Field see.9a At the conclusion of the litigation the
Publishing Society Trustees published the Court record in book form as a
limited subscription edition (1922). This volume is still to be found in some
of the larger libraries in the United States. It is entitled: Proceedings in
Equity, and contains 1,360 pages with a supplement of 204 pages.
Why did the Court rule as it did?
Professor Braden, realizing the judges were practical
men and believers in institutional religion, points out that the court seems to
have proceeded upon the premise that any church is the church it is because
people want it that way. The court seemed to feel that the general membership
had acquiesced, because they had not opposed the Board of Directors' moves.
True, the Field generally had become conditioned to
looking for direction from the Board during the eighteen years the Board had
acted as Mrs. Eddy's agent; so there was little sign of revolt when, at Mrs.
Eddy's passing, the Board proclaimed itself as her successor. In a syndicated
press release they falsely stated:
The adequate written instructions and directions of
Mrs. Eddy, under which the Christian Science movement has grown and prospered,
including the by-laws which place the direction of the spiritual and business
affairs of the Church entirely in the hands of the Christian Science Board of
Directors, will continue to guide their actions. (Chicago Tribune, December 10,
During the trial the great majority supported the
Directors, and it came as a shock to the "Field" when Judge Dodge, the Master,
before whom the first hearings were held, sustained the Publishing Trustees in
all three of their major contentions. Those who supported the Board of
Directors had thought it a foregone conclusion that the Court would decide in
favor of the Board. "Instead, the Directors were branded as guilty of illegal
action in violating the injunction and required to pay a fine or go to
Shortly after the Master's decision on February 20,
1920, the Directors sent all the members a letter saying that while the Court's
decision was unfavorable, it was subject to review by the Supreme Judicial
Court of Massachusetts.
Those who were loyal to the Directors were caught up
in a strong wave of emotion. No longer so sure the Directors would be
victorious, they flew into action. The Board itself was restrained by the
court's injunction so that it was unable to launch a boycott of the
publications by the Trustees. But since the authority of the Massachusetts
Court only covered the state of Massachusetts, other states quickly united in
an attempt to destroy the Publishing Society. Groups were formed throughout the
United States, urging members to cancel their subscriptions to the
"A group calling itself 'The Executive Committee of
the Christian Science Delegates of New York State' issued bulletins purporting
to keep the Field informed of what was going on in Boston. They definitely
urged the boycott of the official church periodicals....This and other such
efforts were augmented by certain of the Christian Science lecturers who
undertook in their travels to spread the word throughout America and abroad
through private conferences with local leaders everywhere."
As a result of this propaganda against the Publishing
Society, 70 percent of the Sentinel and 80 percent of the Journal
and Monitor subscriptions were cancelled. Churches and practitioners
withdrew their advertisements from the Journal registry.
After the trial finally ended with the Directors, this
time, victorious, the Directors charged the Publishing Trustees with gross
mismanagement because of the heavy loss of sales.
Replying to the charge of misconduct of the Publishing
business, Eustace wrote the Board:
...You know in your hearts, and every Christian
Scientist knows that the injury to the periodicals was caused by the insidious
propaganda which you have wholly inspired and approved. If you will appoint a
fair and disinterested tribunal, we will lay before it such proof as will
convince the Christian Science world of the insincerity of this charge, and the
duplicity of your conduct. I challenge you to such a hearing.
Other charges were also answered one by one, but the
one as to expenses for bringing in an accountant to put the books in proper
shape is particularly interesting:
...practically our entire accounting department [being
under the Board's influence] suddenly and without a moment's notice left their
appointed tasks. Our books were left in a condition positively disgraceful;
pages were torn and mutilated; footings were inaccurately cast; and in general
there had been interposed difficulties to prevent a correct accounting. This
occurrence --which from facts within our knowledge had the approval of the
Directors if it was not directly inspired by them--caused the remainder of the
expenditure of which you complain.
Concerning conduct of this character, Professor Braden
comments: "The outsider might find it harder to believe this kind of charge if
he had not come upon the same thing so often in other cases in the Movement.
Over and over again, loyalty to the Board of Directors...has led people to
behave in a way difficult to justify.
"Nowhere is there a more centrally controlled
religious institution than the Boston organization with its extraordinary
controls over branch churches, teachers, lecturers, practitioners, and other
responsible leaders. Yet Mrs. Eddy time and time again reiterated her basic
precept that every individual is entitled to freedom of thought and action in
religion or Science. She counseled serving instead of ruling, allowing to each
and every one "the same rights and privileges we claim for ourselves." But
ignorance of the facts concerning our freedom is the foundation of continued
bondage, and this ignorance, Mrs. Eddy says, must be seen and corrected before
we can attain harmony."
FINDINGS OF THE FULL BENCH
We will now consider the findings of the Full Bench of
the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, dated November 23, 1921, prepared
by Chief Justice Rugg. As you will see, the Court merely reversed the interim
injunction granted by Judge Dodge, and dismissed the suit brought by the
Trustees of the Publishing Society.
As we examine the Full Bench decision in detail, the
following points should be kept in mind:
* the "plaintiffs" are the three Trustees of the
Christian Science Publishing Society who have brought the matter to Court.
* the plaintiffs ask the Court to rule in their favor,
thus preventing the Board from declaring a vacancy in the Trustees of the
* the plaintiffs also ask the Court to enjoin the
Board from taking actions which will impede carrying out the business of the
* an interim injunction in favor of the Publishing
Society was issued by the Court,
* the court can rule only on matters brought before
it, although important opinions may be expressed by the justices of the
* a counter suit by the five-member ecclesiastical
Board of Directors was filed and pending, awaiting the action of the Full
It is important to know what the Master, Judge Dodge,
set forth in the interim injunction since it is frequently referred to by the
Chief Justice in the decision of the Full Bench, dated November 23, 1921. The
On this bill on March 25, 1919, an ad interim
injunction by the Supreme Judicial Court was issued restraining all the
defendants [Board of Directors] as follows:
Until said hearing, you, the said defendant Directors,
your agents, attorneys and counselors, and each and every one of them are
commanded to desist and refrain from taking any further action intended
directly or indirectly to impede or to interfere with the plaintiff, Rowlands,
or either of the other plaintiffs, in the discharge of his or their respective
duties as trustees, under the trust instrument of January 25,1898, and from
carrying out of any purpose or plan by either direct or indirect means to
compel the plaintiffs or any of them to resign their offices as trustees; to
impair, destroy, or in any way injure the business of the Christian Science
Publishing Society as conducted by the plaintiff trustees; or in any way to
carry out any threat or purpose to injure the business of said Publishing
Society either by creating or maintaining a publishing Society to conduct a
business in competition therewith, or otherwise; and from taking any action to
defeat or tending to defeat the purposes of Mrs. Mary Baker G. Eddy, the Donor,
as set forth and declared in the Trust Deed of January 25,1898.
Thus the scene was set for the five-member
ecclesiastical Board of Directors to declare a victory when this interim
injunction was reversed by Chief Justice Rugg. It made it very simple for the
Board of Directors to declare, falsely, of course, that the Supreme Court had
ruled that the Board of Directors was to rule the Christian Science Movement
absolutely and forever.
But the Court had not done this at all!
It merely dismissed the suit and reversed the Master's
injunction on the grounds that a civil law court cannot enter into purely
ecclesiastical matters. Also by overlooking Mary Baker Eddy's divinely impelled
estoppels, the Court mistakenly ruled that the Board of Directors had the power
to remove a Publishing Society Trustee.
So, in 1922 the five-member ecclesiastical Board of
Directors succeeded in seizing the Publishing Society, the communications arm
of the Movement, and in deluding the Field into believing that the Court had
ruled that the five-member ecclesiastical Board of Directors was perpetual.
THE COURT'S DECISION
In discussing the Court's decision, we must remember,
says Dr. Shawk, that the Court can render a decision only on what has been
brought to the bench. The Court may, in its analysis, set forth its opinions,
which can often be of greater importance than the finding itself. This
importance is apparent in Chief Justice Rugg's opinions on the estoppels. These
opinions of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
have been ignored by the Boston authorities and overlooked by the Field since
the Court's decision.
The following are the major points in the Full Bench
The opening paragraph reads:
Rugg, C.J. [i.e. Chief Justice]. This is a suit in
equity The plaintiffs are three persons who, by succession, are trustees
under a Deed of Trust, executed by Mary Baker G. Eddy, the founder of
"Christian Science, " so called, as Donor, on January 25, 1898, to three
persons therein named as Trustees.
The defendants are four persons alleged to be
trustees under another deed of trust executed by Mrs. Eddy, dated September 1,
1892, and also to be Directors of The Mother Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Boston, Massachusetts, and two other persons, each alleged to be claiming to be
a trustee and director in association with the other four.
Keep in mind that the Board under the Deed of Trust of
September 1, 1892, consisted of only four persons and here five are claiming to
be legitimate as the four. The Chief Justice concludes the first paragraph as
The basic question is whether the directors have power
to remove one of the plaintiffs from the position of trustee.
Rugg [ C. J.] makes it clear that the only point for
the Court to consider is whether the Board has the right to declare a vacancy
in the Trustees of the Publishing Society. This is the only question that is
before the Court.
The Chief Justice continues:
The answer to that question depends upon the true
interpretation of these deeds of trust executed by Mrs. Eddy and whatever other
matters rightly may be considered in ascertaining their meaning.
Note that the Chief Justice is to take both Deeds into
his consideration (the one dated September 1, 1892, establishing, among other
things, the "Christian Science Board of Directors" as a four-member fiduciary
body; and the second Deed of January 25, 1898, establishing the three Trustees
of the Publishing Society).
The Chief Justice continues:
The deed of Mrs. Eddy of January 25,1898, whereby were
created the trusts hereto administered by the plaintiffs [the Publishing
Society Trustees], hereinafter called the first deed, related wholly to
personal property. The declared object of that trust recited in the early part
of the trust deed is "for the purpose of more effectually promoting and
extending the religion of Christian Science as taught by me." ... The grantees
were three individuals who accepted the transfer upon the trusts set forth in
the deed. These are stated in paragraphs numbered from 1 to 14, both inclusive.
The Chief Justice also noted that the Trustees of the
Christian Science Publishing Society were to carry on the business:
upon their own responsibility and without consulting
me (Mary Baker Eddy) about the details, subject only to my supervision, if I
shall at any time elect to advise or direct them.
This provision applied only to Mrs. Eddy and was not
transferable to others. The Board of Directors, having seized the Movement at
Mrs. Eddy's departure, considered that they had taken over her position as
well, and were thus endeavoring to supervise and manage the business of the
A few paragraphs later the Chief Justice brings out
another point in the Publishing Society Deed of Trust concerning conduct of the
business, as follows:
Clause 8 of the trust deed is in these words: Said
trustees shall have the direction and supervision of the publication of said
Quarterly and also of all pamphlets, tracts, and other literature pertaining to
said business, using their best judgment as to the means of preparing and
issuing the same so as to promote the best interests of the Cause, reserving
the right to make such changes as I may think important.
Note that the three Trustees of the Publishing Society
have the sole responsibility to prepare and issue the items coming under
the Publishing Society's sphere.
Then the Chief Justice quotes the contents of Clause
10 about vacancies in the ranks of the Trustees of the Publishing Society:
Clause 10 of the trust deed provides that "vacancies
among the trustees should be filled by the donor, if she so elected. Otherwise
by the remaining trustees, and that the First Members together with the
directors of said church shall have the power to declare vacancies in said
trusteeship for such reasons as to them may seem expedient.'
Looking at page 80 of the Church Manual,
Article XXV, Section 3, we read:
VACANCIES IN TRUSTEESHIP: The Christian Science
Board of Directors shall have the power to declare vacancies in said
trusteeship for such reasons as to the Board may seem expedient.
Whenever a vacancy shall occur, the Pastor Emeritus
reserves the right to fill the same by appointment; but if she does not elect
to exercise this right, the remaining trustees shall fill the vacancy, subject
to her approval.
The provision for declaring a vacancy is identical in
the Trust Deed and in the Church Manual. However, bear in mind that the
Deed of Trust of January 25th, 1898, given to the Publishing Society was an
irrevocable Deed of Trust, while, on the other hand, the Church Manual
had been altered in 1903 (29th Manual) changing the First Members to
Executive Members. Then, in 1908 (73rd Manual) the Executive Members had
been disbanded and all their functions vested in the Board of Directors, that
is, in the five ecclesiastical members who were in authority only while
Mrs. Eddy remained to give her consent and approval.
This is the heart of the Bill in Equity raised by the
Trustees of the Publishing Society, and the decision of the Full Bench.
While the Court recognized the estoppel clauses as
binding, they somehow completely failed to see that an estoppel terminated the
five-member ecclesiastical Board of Directors at the June, 1911, Annual Meeting
when Mrs. Eddy's consent and approval for filling a vacancy on this five-member
ecclesiastical Board of Directors was not available, nor could a Board member
be reelected without Mrs. Eddy's approval.
The Chief Justice next pointed out an important fact
concerning the fiduciary Board of Directors under the Deed of September 1,
1892. He says:
... under the date of the first of September, 1892,
she conveyed to four persons as trustees [Board of Directors] as hereinafter
provided and to their legitimate successors in office forever, land in Boston
upon which, within five years, they were required to build a church edifice. It
was provided that the grantees shall be known as "Christian Science Board of
Directors." Thus that Board was first constituted.
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, [note] was not
organized until September 23, 1892.
The Deed [of September 1, 1892] declared that the
grantees should constitute a perpetual body or corporation under and in
accordance with Section one, Chapter 39 of the Public statutes. The Master has
found that the grantees never organized themselves as a corporation, and
never became such by virtue of their duties of similarity to deacons and
wardens. The mere declaration of the grantor could not make them a corporation.
This finding of the Court should be noted because on
page 25 of the Church Manual there is a footnote frequently cited by the
Board. It reads: "See under 'Deed of Trust' for incorporation of the 'Christian
Science Board of Directors. '"
The ecclesiastical Board of Directors endeavored to
identify themselves with the fiduciary Board under the legal Deed of Trust of
September 1, 1892, so that this ecclesiastical Board of Directors and The
Mother Church would be granted perpetuity. This is an effort to evade the
control of the estoppels over the ecclesiastical Board of Directors and The
Mother Church. The Chief Justice points out that they were never incorporated
and that Mrs. Eddy's statement alone could not render them to be so. The fact
here was that they never incorporated as a "church" but only as a "group who
could hold church funds." The Chief Justice, in the Full Bench decision, then
recites a number of the duties of the Board of Directors as stated in the Deed
of September 1, 1892.
Then he continues:
The number of directors named in the deed of September
1, 1892 was four. In addition to the duties imposed on them by that
deed, they have executed further powers, and performed additional functions
assigned to them by the Church Manual, all of a highly important nature
and covering a wide field. There was no rule fixing their number until
February, 1903, when a By-Law was adopted, which has since continued in force
establishing their number at five. By the name "Christian Science Board
of Directors" originally the four persons named as Trustees by the deed
of September 1, 1892, were described. As often, if not universally used
thereafter in the Church Manual, that name designates the Board of
five exercising powers and performing functions not derived from the
deed but from the Church Manual.
Thus the Chief Justice has found two different
Board-of-Director functions and powers: one fiduciary, and the other
ecclesiastical. This is an important opinion of the Court for it is contrary to
the Directors' interpretation that the fiduciary and ecclesiastical Boards are
one and the same.
Several paragraphs later the Chief Justice gives
another significant opinion:
The last several editions [of the Church Manual]
issued during the life of Mrs. Eddy contained the provision that 'This
Manual shall not be revised without the written consent of its author.'
Since the Church Manual, on its face, purports to be the work of Mrs.
Eddy as author, and the Master has found it to be proved that substantially all
its provisions were suggested or proposed by her, it is apparent that there can
now, since the decease of Mrs. Eddy, be no change in the provisions of
the Church Manual in accordance with its terms.
Here the Chief Justice specifies that the authorship
of the Manual is vested in Mrs. Eddy He then brings in the statements
contained in Article XXXV of the Manual, Section 1, p. 104, which
FOR THE MOTHER CHURCH ONLY. The Church Manual of
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, written by
Mary Baker Eddy, and copyrighted, is adapted to The Mother Church only. It
stands alone, uniquely adapted to form the budding thought and hedge it about
with divine Love. This Manual shall not be revised without the written
consent of its author.
This indicates that the Chief Justice has recognized
and acknowledged the presence of, and the control exercised by, the estoppel
clause in this Article and Section of the By-Laws.
Human law, we are told by the Directors and their
legal counsel does not recognize an impossible condition, and hence the
estoppel clauses must be ignored or the ecclesiastical Board of Directors would
have no power to govern. But is there an "impossible condition" here, or is it
merely an unwillingness to surrender the enormous power and prestige their
positions offered? The decision of the Full Bench of the Supreme Judicial Court
of Massachusetts indicates this estoppel does govern.
You will see later how the Chief Justice extends the
control of this particular estoppel to the estoppels found elsewhere in the
Then the Chief Justice again apprises the Court of the
issue before it:
The precise question to be decided is whether, under
these circumstances, one of the trustees [of the Publishing Society] can be
removed by the Board of Directors since the First Members have been deprived of
all ecclesiastical power and have been disbanded in accordance with the polity
of the Church.
This refers to the phrase in the Deed of Trust of
January 25th, 1898, and those in the Manuals of that period, that
removal was a concurrent action of "First Members together with the Board of
Directors." The decision of the Chief Justice in this matter indicates to the
Court that this action had been charged to the Board of Directors only, since
the First Members had become Executive Members, and in 1908 had been disbanded
entirely, leaving all their functions to the Board.
The Chief Justice--by overlooking the fact that the
five-member ecclesiastical Board had been dissolved at Mrs. Eddy's
passing--naturally concluded that the Board of Directors (ecclesiastical)
did have the right to remove a Trustee of the Publishing Society This
conclusion overturned the interim injunction of Judge Dodge and ruled in favor
of the ecclesiastical Board of Directors, but only on this limited
question--and of course only because Mrs. Eddy's God-impelled estoppel clauses
had been entirely overlooked.
The Chief Justice then states:
Every instrument in writing although it cannot be
varied or controlled by extrinsic evidence, must be interpreted with a view to
all material circumstances of the parties at the time of its execution ....
He considered that the intent of the donor [Mrs. Eddy]
in executing the Trust Deed was to supply a vehicle that would "promote and
extend the religion of Christian Science ,and not be merely a mechanism whereby
the First Members together with the Board of Directors could remove a Trustee.
He pointed out that if the latter view prevailed, the Publishing Society Deed
of January 25th, 1898, would have to come to an end since the First Members no
The Bench wording on the above was as follows:
It is manifest from the structure of the trust deed as
well as from its express words that the single and only design of the founder
was to promote and extend the religion of Christian Science as taught by her
[Mrs. Eddy]. Every part of the trust deed reinforces and makes even more plain
the avowed purpose of Mrs. Eddy that her sole and completely dominating aim was
to promote and extend the religion of Christian Science as taught by her. The
administration of the trust must continue to be directed exclusively to the
accomplishment of that object alone.
A trust of that nature cannot be revoked or modified
in the absence of reservation of express power to that end by the doner. The
deed in question created a trust complete in itself. By its own phrase it was
declared to be upon "the irrevocable and perpetual trust and confidence therein
Thus the Court stated that the Publishing Society
Trust Deed was "complete in itself," recognizing that Mrs. Eddy had provided a
trust instrument that could function on its own at her departure; there was
nothing in her 1898 Deed of Trust to connect it to any other body or
The Chief Justice also stated that in interpreting a
legal instrument the same words used throughout the instrument would have the
It is a well recognized principle of interpretation
that the same words used in different places in the same instrument commonly
have the same meaning and effect unless another meaning is demanded by the
Here we see that the recognition of the estoppel in
article XXXV, Section 1, page 104, regarding revising the Manual, must
be applied to the estoppels wherever they occur in the Church Manual. In
other words, the Court did not consider the estoppels as creating an
"impossible situation," but held them to be valid, and to be obeyed.
(Here again recall that when Mrs. Eddy was asked to change the By-Laws
containing estoppels her fervent exhortation was that we obey the
By-Laws as written. Her reason for not changing those By-Laws was that
they were God-impelled and she had no right or desire to change what God had
directed her to do, "and it remains for the Church to obey [them]." For
seventy years the church has disobeyed the By-Laws containing estoppels.)
The Chief Justice then discusses the existence of the
two Boards of Directors:
The board of directors as those words are used in the
[Publishing Society] trust deed of January 25, 1898, do not in our opinion
refer to the [fiduciary] board established by the deed of September 1, 1892,
but to the officers constituting the ecclesiastical board of directors under
the polity of the church. The reasons already stated respecting First Members
lead to this conclusion.
No reference to the deed of September 1, 1892 is found
in the [Publishing Society] trust deed of January 25, 1898. The latter [the
Publishing Society] deed throughout relates to those connected with The First
Church of Christ, Scientist [The Mother Church], either as First Members or
directors. These terms are ECCLESIASTICAL. When, therefore the board of
directors under the practice of the church was increased in membership it
became vested with powers formerly exercised by the four directors, so far as
concerns the power of removal in the trust deed of January 25, 1898.
It is unnecessary to determine in this connection
whether the board of directors constituted a corporation or not. For the
purpose of this decision, the finding of the Master that they never became a
corporation is accepted.
The result is that the board of five directors have
the power, if they act in accordance with law and with the terms of the
[Publishing Society] trust deed of January 25,1898, to effect the removal of a
trustee under that deed.
The conclusion that the power of removal of a trustee
is now vested in the board of five directors is contrary to that of the Master,
[Judge Dodge], but it is in substance and effect the application of different
legal principles to the facts found by the Master. The facts found by him
[Judge Dodge] are accepted in their entirety. The result which has been stated
follows in law from those facts.
The Chief Justice's establishment of the presence of
two Boards is one of the most important opinions to come out of the Court's
findings and actions.
The Chief Justice in discussing the events leading to
the Bill in Equity dated March 25, 1919, stated in part:
The controversy appears to have centered about the
meaning of certain sections of the Church Manual and to the extent to
which its provisions authorized the directors to supervise the matter to be
printed and sent out by the trustees, and to what extent the trustees were
required to heed the provisions of the Church Manual. Into the details
of this controversy, it is not necessary to enter.
Both points in the controversy concerned
ecclesiastical matters and civil law courts do not enter into ecclesiastical
controversies, as the Chief Justice again indicated:
The judgment of the Court cannot be substituted for
the discretion of the constituted authorities when fully exercised. Whether the
decision be right or wrong is not for the courts to decide.
Then the final conclusion of the Full Bench is
The result is that upon application of the principles
of law to the facts found by the Master, the removal of Mr. Rowlands as one of
the trustees was effected.
We now come to the findings of the Full Bench and the
The result is that the exceptions of the defendants to
the Master's report so far as they relate to his [Judge Dodge's] rulings that
the directors had no power under the deed of January 25, 1898, to remove a
[Publishing Society] trustee and that the removal of Mr. Rowlands was
ineffectual must be sustained. On the facts found by the Master in the light of
the principles of law here found to be controlling, the plaintiffs cannot
maintain their bill.
Bill dismissed, November 23,1921.
The findings of the Full Bench are only, you
will notice, "so far as they relate to Judge Dodge's ruling that the Directors
had no power under the Deed of January 25,1898, to remove a Publishing Society
Trustee." Earlier the Chief Justice stated, "The facts found by him [Judge
Dodge, the Master] are accepted in their entirety." The Chief Justice
was merely applying "different legal principles to the facts found by the
What were some of the facts found by the Master, Judge
Dodge, which the Chief Justice "accepted in their entirety," but because they
were ecclesiastical in nature they could not affect the Court's
The Master had found that the Directors were:
(1) endeavoring by direct and indirect means to
interfere with the publishing Trustees in the discharge of their duties under
Mary Baker Eddy's Deed of Trust. (The Court considered this an ecclesiastical
matter into which civil law courts do not enter.)
(2) striving "by direct and indirect means "to compel
the [publishing Trustees] ... to resign their offices as trustees." (This again
was considered ecclesiastical.)
(3) attempting by direct and indirect means "to
impair, destroy, or...injure the business of The Christian Science Publishing
Society." (This too was an ecclesiastical affair.)
The Master's injunction ordered the Directors to
desist and refrain from "in any way [carrying] out any threat or purpose to
injure the business of said Publishing Society either by creating and
maintaining a publishing society to conduct a business in competition therewith
or otherwise; and from taking any action to defeat...the purposes of Mrs. Mary
Baker G. Eddy, the Donor, as set forth and declared in the Trust Deed such as
demanding the Trustees agree in writing that the Board of Directors was in
supreme control, and that the Trustees break Mrs. Eddy's Deed of Trust when
that Deed conflicted with the plans of the Directors. (Again, the Court
considered this of an ecclesiastical character.)
But the Court did admonish the Directors that Mrs.
Eddy intended the profits of the Publishing Society to be used for promoting
and extending the Science taught by her and "not as a money-making operation to
pay to the church for its normal operation."
Since these findings of the Master, Judge Dodge, were
all of an ecclesiastical nature, the Chief Justice said that whether the
Directors were right or wrong was not for the Court to decide; therefore the
injunction restraining the Directors was reversed. This reversal was heralded
by the Directors as giving them power and authority to "rule the entire
The other finding of Judge Dodge, concerning First
Members, was reversed because the Court did not take into consideration that
the estoppels had terminated all Board-of-Director control over the Publishing
In reflecting on the Court's decision, Dr. Shawk
"The Plaintiffs cannot maintain their bill." Why?
Because they sued the wrong party. The ecclesiastical Board of five Directors
was the Board they should have sued (and actually five Directors were named in
the suit). But since counsel for the plaintiffs (Publishing Society) knew that
an ecclesiastical Board of Directors could not be sued in a human court of law,
the lawyers for the Publishing Society sued the legal Board of Directors
established under the two legal Deeds of Trust who had absolutely nothing to do
with the dispute since these Deeds were not mentioned in the Publishing Society
Deed of January 25, 1898.
"A second costly error concerned the Trustees of the
Publishing Society wanting the Directors to discontinue removing a Trustee of
the Publishing Society, although (as long as Mrs. Eddy was personally with them
and in control) it was clearly spelled out that the Board of five
ecclesiastical Directors did have this power which was given both in the
Manual and in the Publishing Society Deed of Trust. But, of course, this
power was only to have remained in effect as long as Mrs. Eddy was present to
authorize it. [All offices in The Mother Church were dissolved at the first
Annual Meeting (June, 1911) following Mrs. Eddy's departure.]
"Given these premises, the Court was limited as to
what it could rule on, so it merely straightened out the record by removing the
master's injunction against the Board of Directors, and threw out the suit!
Since the plaintiffs had sued the wrong party there wasn't much the Court could
do. So, when the Court did rule (by removing the injunction) in favor of the
Board--on something that was never in question--the ecclesiastical Board of
Directors portrayed this to the Field as the Court having ruled in favor of the
Board to rule the Christian Science Movement forever. Clifford P. Smith, a
lawyer, was undoubtedly the author of this misstatement of fact."
The Court ruled on only one point, and of course it
never gave the Board of Directors the right to "rule the Christian Science
The Court rendered its opinion that the estoppels
control in the Church Manual.
The Court also identified an ecclesiastical Board of
five under the polity of the church and its Manual; and a fiduciary
Board of four Directors deriving its power from the September 1, 1892 Deed of
WHY THE PUBLISHING TRUSTEES DID NOT
TO THE UNITED STATES SUPREME
When the Publishing Trustees were urged to appeal
their case to the United States Supreme Court, they found themselves faced with
the following insurmountable deterrents:
1. The Directors had unlimited funds to carry on
another lawsuit. (Besides the nearly one million dollars a year the Publishing
Trustees had been paying over to them, the Directors had access to the money
Mrs. Eddy had left in her Will to the church, which the Directors had sued for
and had become "Trustees" of.)
2. By influencing the Field to cancel their
subscriptions to the Christian Science periodicals, the Board of Directors had
been instrumental in bankrupting the Christian Science Publishing Society
3. During Mrs. Eddy's lifetime the Field had become
accustomed to viewing the Board of Directors as Mrs. Eddy's agent; so when the
Board announced themselves as her successor, the Field, in general, acquiesced,
and during the lawsuit the Field had vigorously plied the Court with demands
favorable to the Directors and would, no doubt, have continued to do so had the
Publishing Trustees appealed to the United States Supreme Court; the Publishing
Trustees felt this unremitting badgering of the Court by the Directors'
supporters was a force to be reckoned with.
4. In a gross violation of the separation of church
and state, the Directors had persuaded the State's Attorney General to
intervene on their behalf.
These were a few of the factors influencing the
Publishing Trustees against a United States Supreme Court trial.
DIRECTORS' MISINTERPRETATION OF
DECISION LEADS TO ECCLESIASTICAL
The Board of Directors' misinterpretation of the
Court's decision and of the Church Manual led to the type of
ecclesiastical monopoly which Mrs. Eddy deplored:
All revelation (such is the popular thought!) must
come...along the line of...ecclesiastical descent, as kings are crowned from a
royal dynasty... For this Principle [the Principle of Christian Science] there
is no dynasty, no ecclesiastical monopoly. Its only crowned head is immortal
sovereignty. Its only priest is the spiritualized man.
"Material organization...wars with Love's spiritual
"Conflict and persecution says Mrs. Eddy, "are the
truest signs that can be given of the greatness of a cause or of an individual,
provided this warfare is honest and a world imposed struggle. Such conflict
never ends till unconquerable right is begun anew, and has gained fresh energy
and final victory."
Strength and freedom will be gained from the
motivation to obey our Leader's estoppel clauses, and all fear of getting lost
in life will fall away. A lesson can be taken from the migration of birds. The
Pacific Golden Plovers, for example, are hatched in the far north of Alaska and
Siberia. The old birds desert their young and fly away to the Hawaiian Islands
long before the baby birds are able to fly any distance. But as soon as these
fledglings have grown strong enough to follow their parents, they, too, rise
into the sky and set their course over the Pacific. In a journey they have
never made before they must cross two thousand miles of ocean without rest,
without food. Frequently they encounter storms and tornado winds. Unerringly
they fly onward to those tiny specks in the Pacific Ocean, the Hawaiian
Islands. Surely if God has provided for these birds such unerring direction, we
can be certain He has provided for man the same infallible guidance when we are
willing to obey His dictates. Mrs. Eddy gave us God impelled By-Laws which she
was asked to change because they did not conform with any known form of
religion that had evolved according to the wisdom of man. But Mrs. Eddy knew
that her church--because it had been established under divine direction--must
necessarily follow divine inspiration and could not be the product of legal
enactments or worldly-wise evolutions. She knew God had dictated the estoppels
in the Manual. She therefore had no right or desire to change what God
had directed her to do, and it remains," she said, "for the church to obey it."
Only through obedience can the profound scientific discoveries embodied in
Science and Health be realized to constitute our true identity.
Mrs. Eddy discovered the impersonal divine Science
which reveals our real being as a system of divine ideas showing that in
reality we are the holy city foursquare. In the predecessor to this
book, Mary Baker Eddy: A New Look, the reader is shown how Mrs. Eddy
step by step fulfilled her divine mission to "complete the work of Christ Jesus
on earth." She brought forth the "little book, " Science and Health, prophesied
in Revelation, chapter 10. As we obey the command to assimilate the contents of
this "little book, " and obey the estoppel clauses in the Manual, we
free ourselves of the belief of being imprisoned in a material, fleshly body;
we find ourselves to be the timeless spiritual proposition that Mrs. Eddy
designated as her successor when through her estoppel clauses she terminated
all personal control. Obeying these estoppel clauses and the dictates of
Science and Health we begin to put on our ever-present divinity. In that
divinity every requirement for becoming Mrs. Eddy's successor is met. See Mrs.
Eddy's reference to "the good soil" in Collectanea.
An important phase of the conflict engendered by
material organization that "wars with Love's spiritual compact" concerns the
copyright of Mary Baker Eddy's writings. Chapter V, to which we will now turn,
discusses the impact of the new Copyright Act of 1971 on Science and Health.
The anointing of Jesus
" The true worshipers worship the
Father in Spirit and in Truth"--Jesus
The Angel With The Little Book
Science and Health
Back | Next »