“Christian Science: A Case Study of the Social Psychological Aspect of Secularization”
Pfautz, Harold W. “Christian Science: A Case Study of the Social Psychological Aspect of Secularization.” Social Forces, 34, no. 3 (March 1956): 246–52.
Pfautz examines what he calls the social psychological secularization process of the Christian Science Church from its beginnings in 1879 to the mid-20th century (Pfautz’s time of writing). By secularization, he means “the tendency of sectarian religious movements… to become both part of and like ‘the world’” (246). Specifically, Pfautz observes that the psychological structure of the Christian Science Church became less emotional and more rational as the Church matured and prospered. His main source of data was approximately 3,000 published testimonies of healing in the Christian Science official publications. His analysis found four types of testifier motivations: “effectual motive” (a revelatory or spiritual growth experience); “value-rational” (physical or mental healing); “traditional” (family ties); and “purposeful-rational” (material benefits like income or a promotion) (248-9). Pfautz’s statistics and charts indicate a decrease in effectual motivation and an increase in the traditional and particularly the purposeful-rational motivations. He deduces from his data an increasingly secular social psychological texture to the Christian Science movement.
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