Presented at The 43rd Annual Conference of the Western Social Science Association: Reno, NV, April 20, 2001. 22 pages. Western Social Science Association.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Douglas Swanson was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
The Church of Christ, Scientist, is a unique organization to study in the context of institutional social order. The church is a 21st century religious movement that is bound to an unchangeable theology and intractable management structure developed by its 19th century founder. The church is a worldly business entity whose leadership manipulates assets, personnel, media and information while striving for "rectitude and spiritual understanding" (Eddy, 1906, p. 403). Christian Science is a way of life which systemizes the personality of its charismatic founder while denying the reality of all things physical and personal. Examining the seemingly contradictory social order of Christian Science helps explain recent crises and predict future challenges for its shrinking population of believers.