“Pilgrims at the Golden Gate: Christian Scientists on the Pacific Coast, 1880–1915.”
Swensen, Rolf. “Pilgrims at the Golden Gate: Christian Scientists on the Pacific Coast, 1880–1915.” Pacific Historical Review 72, no. 2 (2003, May): 229–62.
From studying the records of six Christian Science churches in California, Oregon and Washington between 1880-1915, Swensen, a social sciences bibliographer, provides a detailed social profile of particular Christian Scientist leaders, the churches they established in the late 1800s, and how and why they flourished after 1900. The Pacific Coast, with its huge influx of those seeking a better climate for health reasons, along with being more open and religiously diverse, was fertile ground for Christian Science. Swensen found them to be “vigorous, uprooted individuals from all stations of life who were receptive to, or desperate for, practical innovations that liberated both sexes” (263). They were also ethnically homogeneous, which nonetheless represented a wide range of social, economic and class levels. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of church members were women—which was representative across the movement. In the six urban churches under examination, members were mostly middle class with some upper class, and, surprisingly, a good proportion (39%) from the working class. In printed testimonies of healings in church periodicals, Swensen found “a greater number of clerks, skilled workers and craftsmen, and service workers than has been previously reported” (248). Swensen theorizes that over time social pressures in the churches lessened the large lower-class minority (259).
Print ISSN: 0030-8684
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