Charles Stutt feels he won’t need any medical help, at least the kind available through our health care system and the hard work of President Obama.
The retired 88-year-old former electrical engineer at the General Electric Research and Development Center certainly earned his medical coverage. But as a life-long Christian Scientist, Stutt feels he doesn’t need it.
“I’m very pleased that the new health care bill became law, because you hear so many stories about people and their hardships because of the cost of their health care or their lack of it,” he said last week at the Schenectady Christian Science Reading Room on State Street.
“I know there will be revisions, but it’s great that we’ve started on our way. I don’t need it because being a retiree from GE with my package I’m covered. But I’ve also never used it. I’ve never been to a doctor or used any medicines. I’ve had a few colds along the way, but no major sicknesses.”
As a Christian Scientist, he believes that the practice of medicine is unnecessary and probably not compatible with the healing method created by Mary Baker Eddy. The founder of The Church of Christ, Scientist back in 1866, Eddy taught that through prayer healing comes not from internal bodily processes or from the power of a person’s mind, but from what she called the Divine Mind, God.
“Nothing in Christian Science prevents us from going to a doctor, but we feel the two systems just don’t mix,” said Stutt, a Nebraska native who has lived in Rexford for more than 50 years. “So, we decide to go one way or the other. I’ve had the confidence my whole life that I can be cured through the Christian Science method. I’m very grateful for the good health I’ve had.”
While his GE career has him covered for any medical costs he might face should he care to see a doctor, what about Christian Scientists who don’t have medical insurance and don’t believe in it? The new law requires every American to purchase some kind of health care beginning in 2014. There is a provision in the bill just passed by Congress that prison inmates, illegal immigrants and the Amish are among those exempt from the rule that uncovered individuals must buy health insurance beginning in 2014.
But what about Christian Scientists? So far, the answer is a little unclear. Representatives from the Committees on Publication, the governing body for Christian Scientists, said last week that there is no provision for their group in the health care bill although they continue to be in negotiations with federal and state officials and hope to be included among the exemptions.
“I’ve heard, but nothing real definitive yet, that there will be a provision in the law for people who depend on spiritual healing,” said Stutt. “That would be nice for Christian Scientists to have that exemption. But while we don’t want the coverage, we’re very happy for others who feel they do need it. All my friends, all the Christian Scientists I know, have the similar view. They felt that health care reform was something that was sorely needed.”
Stutt’s parents were Christian Scientists, and he grew up in the religion. He has never been tempted to see a doctor.
“Not really,” he said. “At GE they asked if I wouldn’t mind having a physical once a year and I didn’t mind doing that. I also had a very good friend who was a doctor. We used to go to Boston to visit him, and we stayed in touch right up until he died a few years ago.”
Stutt was educated at the University of Nebraska and then the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“My first stop after school was working in Rochester,” he said. “During World War II I was deferred for industry, so I had a job developing counter-measures for Japanese radar. Then I started working at GE in 1967 and I found I really liked living in the East. I really learned to like New York.”
Twelve years ago he lost his wife, who like him, had no desire to seek traditional medical help.
“For someone else, if they wanted to see a doctor, I would do whatever I could to help them get to a doctor,” he said. “Whatever they wanted would be fine with me. But my wife felt like I did. She went the Christian Science route the whole way.”
He volunteers at the Christian Science Reading Room in Schenectady once a month, and spends two or three days a month reading and talking to visitors at the Albany Reading Room. His other spare time is spent at his home near the Mohawk River in rural Rexford.
“I have a few acres so I do a lot of outside work and I enjoy that,” he said. “I enjoy working with trees and feeding wildlife. Those are two of my favorite hobbies.”
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