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Mary Baker Eddy, 'the Woman question,' and Christian salvation

From the August 2005 issue of The Christian Science Journal

THE TERM FEMINISM was not in wide circulation in the 19th century, but the concept was. People talked about "women's rights" or used the phrase "the Woman question." They often meant suffrage, or the right to vote. Those who worked for women's rights and other social reforms were called reformers.

Mary Baker Eddy's comments about reformers were mixed. She generally admired the courage of those who took on sexism as a cause, occasionally praising them and others, such as abolitionist (antislavery) and Temperance (antialcohol) workers. At the same time, she disagreed with reformers when their words or methods went against the grain of what she felt was spiritually right.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was one of the most famous reformers of her time. When she wrote The Woman's Bible in 1895, a book that commented on many Bible passages that Stanton felt oppressed women, the Christian Science Leader privately drafted this response: "The man's Bible is the woman's bible. We cannot have two if the sexes are equal.... Man is the generic term for both men and women and if the most radical suffragist cannot ask or would receive a greater emolument than to be made in the image and likeness of God, I must dissent from their ideal and accept gratefully as humbly woman's rights and birthright to be an heir with Christ and joint heir with Jesus...."  A10873, Mary Baker Eddy, undated, circa 1895, The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity.

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