The First Amendment was on trial in Concord, New Hampshire's Merrimack County Superior Court in the case of Eddy v. Frye as Mary Baker Eddy's son and adopted son attempted to take possession of her person and wealth.
The case, which drew more national media attention to New Hampshire than any other event in the state's history, became a heresy trial as Eddy's religious views and the doctrine of Christian Science became the basis of the plaintiff's charge that Eddy was insane. The case against the most famous woman in America at that time also attracted the attention of other famous Americans including Mark Twain, Joseph Pulitzer, and Willa Cather as well as the state's most famous attorneys.
Peter Wallner's throughly researched and engagingly written account reveals the nuances of the long-forgotten case and its implications for yellow journalism in the Progressive era.
Where to find Faith on Trial
"Peter Wallner's Faith on Trial is the best and most detailed account of one of the twentieth century's most sensational trials, whereupon Mary Baker Eddy and her Christian Science Church were placed under unprecedented scrutiny. Using a rich and in many cases untapped array of original sources, Peter Wallner unveils not only the details of the courtroom contests, but the hidden and sometimes confused motivations of the many participants. In the end, this was not a trial about the competency of one woman, but about the legitimacy of her faith and that of her many followers. On the surface, the "next friends case" m,ay have seemed to be about Mary Baker Eddy, her family, and her money, but in reality, it was an attack upon the right of Americans to freely exercise their religion. Mrs. Eddy, her church, and our right to relate to God in any way we choose emerged victorious."
~ R. Stuart Wallace, Professor of History, NHTI, Concord's Community College
nhmagazine.com by Rich Broussard on March, 2015 - Faith on Trial: A late-in-life ordeal for the founder of the Christian Science Church
New Hampshire Public Radio with Brady Carlson on November 3, 2014 - The Courtroom Challenge To Mary Baker Eddy And Christian Science
Concord Monitor on December 4, 2014 - My Turn: Mary Baker Eddy and a ‘Faith on Trial’
A Look Inside...
"Mary Baker Eddy was a fraud. She was dead. She was secretly married to this or that man, said her many detractors. Eddy herself feared the 'malicious animal magnetism' - the evil thoughts - of her enemies. She was often in court, and at age 85 fought a titanic battle to defend her beliefs and her considerable wealth. Peter Wallner's diligent research delivers us into the thick of that courthouse drama, a cause celebre of the day, and one with enough wattage that it would light up the Twittersphere today."
~ Howard Mansfield, Author of Dwelling in Possibility: Searching for the Soul of Shelter
"Peter Wallner's Faith on Trial will appeal to students of New Hampshire history, the courtroom and politics, the era of 'yellow journalism,' faith and healing, and up-from-nothing, only-in-America stories, of which Mary Baker Eddy's is certainly one."
~ Mike Pride, New Hampshire Editor and Historian
"Peter Wallner is a meticulous researcher who brings a fair-minded perspective to New Hampshire's most sensational legal battle, a case that... [put] the life and work of a still greater figure on trial: the remarkable Mary Baker Eddy, whose church and teachings are matters of controversy to this day."
~ Mark Travis, Author of Pliney Fiske: A Civil War Mystery