“Eddy’s Immigrants: Foreign-born Christian Scientists in the United States, 1880–1925.”
Swensen, Rolf. “Eddy’s Immigrants: Foreign-born Christian Scientists in the United States, 1880–1925.” International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society 2, no. 3 (2013): 21-39.
Swensen, a social sciences bibliographer, researches whether the early appeal of Christian Science reached beyond the American culture to attract recently arrived immigrants. His method was to match up the membership of 32 Christian Science branch churches across the nation between 1880–1925 with U.S. censuses taken from 1790–1940, along with examining old city directories. He discovers significant numbers of immigrant members on the west coast as well as in the specific cities: Milwaukee, Salt Lake City and New York City. Second Church NYC stood out with 28% foreign born members. Swensen investigates almost 700 immigrant members, their countries of origin, occupations and contributions to the Christian Science movement—particularly as Christian Science practitioners. Most of the immigrants were transplanted Europeans, especially from England and Germany. Most immigrants were of lower to middle working class (65%)—making the immigrant members significantly lower on the socio-economic scale than were the U.S.-born church members. Swensen thinks more immigrants might have found a home in the church if Mary Baker Eddy’s writings and the church periodicals had been translated earlier. But immigrants still found meaning in the church’s fellowship, restored health, active participation in the new American church, and the promise of raising their station in life (39).
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