An early case of trial by media? Mary Baker Eddy and the ‘Next Friends’ Suit’

Mary Baker EddyA colleague found a short, scholarly article on the web called ‘The “Next Friends” Suit: Mary Baker Eddy, and The Church of Christ Scientist’, on Trial. It is published by Sacred History Magazine and written by Lorin Geitner, Law Librarian at Chapman University Law School

My colleague wrote: “The article gives a fair account of the trial of Mrs Eddy and how it led to the creation of The Christian Science Monitor.”

Here is an excerpt:

Public figures have been subject to public trial, based on self-interested rumor- mongering, at least since the time of Socrates. And new religious movements, and their founders, have always been subject to examination and, sometimes, persecution. But, in 1906, both of these, along with the relatively new phenomena of trial-by-media, where brought to bear upon a single individual and the religion she represented: Mary Baker Eddy, and the Church of Christ Scientist. In March of that year, suite was brought, in the name of Mary Baker Eddy, but on behalf of her sons George Glover and Foster Eddy and others (her putative “Next Friends”) to wrest control of her estate, because of her alleged mental incompetency to manage her own affairs.1

A confluence of forces, motivated by professional rivalry, personal animosity, and simple greed and cupidity, were responsible for this assault upon Mary Eddy, and, implicitly, the religion she had founded…

If you want to read the complete article, you can view it on academic.edu or you can download it .

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Categories: Christianity, Mary Baker Eddy, Women's spiritual leadership

Author:Tony Lobl

I write on spirituality and health for a diversity of online media outlets, from my perspective as a Christian Science practitioner. I have been published by the Independent, the Washington Post, the Guardian, E-Hospice, MindBodyGreen and The Christian Science Monitor and I post regularly on the Huffington Post UK and BuzzFeed. In addition to writing and broadcast appearances I enjoy engaging with journalists, academics, health professionals and government officials about the possibilities for improving health outcomes through a greater emphasis on spirituality in healthcare and social care. I've also greatly valued the many opportunities I have had to travel globally for my church and to meet people around the world. My wife Jenny and I spent 10 years in Boston, USA, before returning to London in 2002, to take on a role as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. I studied at the University of Surrey earning a BSc Hons Degree in Modern Mathematics before the impact of spirituality on health caught my attention and re-shaped my career.

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2 Comments on “An early case of trial by media? Mary Baker Eddy and the ‘Next Friends’ Suit’”

  1. February 14, 2014 at 7:49 pm #

    Thanks for the write-up!

    When I was researching for this article, I found much of interest not only in the teaching of Christian Science, and much that was admirable in the character of it’s founder.

    — Lorin Geitner

  2. February 14, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

    That’s great to know, Lorin. It always means a lot to Christian Scientists when an independent scholar recognises the merits in what Mary Baker Eddy shared and the qualities she expressed while doing so. Thanks for dropping by!

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