Church loses battle in Christian Science trust case

A Christian Science church in Australia cannot sue trusts created following the 1910 death of Christian Science movement founder Mary Baker Eddy, New Hampshire’s highest court ruled Friday.

The state Supreme Court ruled that the Second Church of Christ, Scientist in Melbourne lacked authority to object to the accounting of the trusts.

The trusts are overseen by the board of directors of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, also known as the Mother Church.

The Australian church wanted a probate judge to appoint an independent trustee. It argued that because the trustees also are the board of directors of the Mother Church, they have a conflict of interest.

The court, in its unanimous opinion, upheld the judge’s ruling that the Australian church lacked standing regarding enforcement of the trust.

It noted the judge “acknowledged the embedded conflict” and imposed conditions, including that the trustees provide the state attorney general’s charitable trusts division a schedule of distribution recipients.

New Hampshire-born Baker Eddy’s trusts are filed in state probate court.

One left money “for the purpose of providing free instruction for indigent, well educated, worthy Christian Scientists.”

The other covers Mother Church repairs and “promoting and extending” the religion of Christian Science.

Baker Eddy published books and magazines on spiritual healing and founded the Pulitzer Prize-winning Christian Science Monitor.

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