“Some Aspects of Christian Science as Reflected in Letters of Testimony”
England, R.W. “Some Aspects of Christian Science as Reflected in Letters of Testimony.” The American Journal of Sociology 59, no. 5 (March 1954): 448–54.
The author, an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Rhode Island, studied 500 testimonies from The Christian Science Journal, sampled from 1929 to 1946, in order to evaluate characteristics of church adherents. The author acknowledged “his one-time participation in it [Christian Science]” (448). Of the sample testifiers, 89% were women. Of these three-quarters were married. He also used a 1936 census source to determine that members were overwhelmingly urban and middle class. The author noted that whereas the Christian Science textbook denies the verity of the physical body, many testifiers “exhibit a considerable concern for the well-being of their bodies” (p. 451). Testimonies include a great deal of self-diagnosis, and generally “show indifference to the natural healing power of the human body” (451). He found that most testimonies fell into four categories: physical health, financial concerns, intoxicants and bad habits, and discord, depression or general unhappiness. Of the last category, the author wrote, “There is much evidence, reflected in the letters of testimony, suggesting that the curative powers of Christian Science practitioners involve certain elements of psychotherapy. … The practitioner’s role seems not unlike that of the psychiatrist or psychiatric social worker” (452).
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