“Christian Science Committee on Publication: A Study of Group and Press Interaction”
Johnson, Lee Zeunert. “Christian Science Committee on Publication: A Study of Group and Press Interaction.” PhD Dissertation, Syracuse University, 1963.
Johnson’s 1963 dissertation, a study of the Christian Science Church’s communications from mid-1958 to mid-1960, remains a valuable historical document tracing the Church’s self-understanding in relation to the world at that time. The office of Committee on Publication was established by Mary Baker Eddy to disseminate correct information about Christian Science primarily through the press. Johnson’s research project sought to show that “1) the impact of the Committee on Publication (‘Committee’) on mass media is identifiable as correction, coercion, informal services, publicity, and advertising; 2) these are normal needs in a democratic society and it is difficult for the established media to satisfy them; 3) these communicative activities and the free press should not be incompatible; and 4) the Committee’s success with the media is related to its pursuit of the norms of a free press” (125). Johnson’s carefully researched analyses include reports on several case studies, demonstrating that the implementation of the Committee Handbook rules of the period was often (though not always) effective. Johnson’s critique in these cases demonstrates both the loneliness and necessarily creative work of the Committee in response to a sometimes-hostile public sentiment toward Christian Science. The thoroughness of the study includes a far-reaching overview of the motives, strategic approaches, and areas of concern.