Excerpt from the Spring 2018 edition of The Banner

by (Aside from the first paragraph, all quotations are from his book Christian Science After 1910)

A bulletin from Plainfield Christian Science Church, Independent dated January 18, 2018, stated: “Our web site had 63,272 users, who viewed over 424,000 pages. We have 2,756 videos on YouTube that were viewed 250,729 times, for a total of almost 3 million minutes watched! And we have a total of 815 YouTube subscribers, having about 503 subscribers during 2017. SoundCloud has 22,634 plays from over 50 different countries. The German version of our web site had 233 users, the Dutch version had 565 users, the French version had 10,130 users, and the Spanish version had 10,933 users.”

The Plainfield church came to prominence in 1975 when pupils of Arthur P. Wuth (member of the C.S. Board of Directors 1964-1975) and C. Earle Armstrong (New Jersey C.O.P.) tried to gain control of the branch church. The effort failed, but they began a campaign to have two Plainfield Journal-listed practitioners delisted. In fact, their names were taken out of the Journal. “When it was discovered that one of the individuals who initiated this campaign was on the local board of trustees, the other members of the board voted to remove him from his position in May of 1975. The expelled member, a pupil of Arthur P. Wuth, stated that the church ‘would be taken care of by Boston.’ In 1977, the C.S. Board of Directors demanded the Plainfield members pledge their loyalty to the board and remove their trustees. The members voted 67 to zero, to keep the current trustees.

“In a letter dated June 16, 1977, the Christian Science Board of Directors announced their decision to withdraw recognition of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Plainfield, New Jersey, and to remove their card from the Journal. No doubt remembering their success in shutting down Third Church in Akron, Ohio, in 1955, they also warned that they could no longer refer to themselves as a ‘Christian Science church.’ The Internal Revenue Service, the tax departments of the State of New Jersey, and the City of Plainfield were advised by The Mother Church legal department that they should consider withdrawing Plainfield’s tax exempt status.” (p. 141)

“The year 1980 was notable for court action initiated by The Mother Church on July 21st against First Church in Plainfield, New Jersey. When this branch did not wither away and disband after it was delisted in 1977, the Directors decided to prevent it from using the words ‘Christian Science’ to identify itself. The action was thought to have a secondary purpose of destroying the financial base of the church through costly legal expenses. On July 24th, over two hundred registered letters (return receipt requested) were sent out to Mother Church members whom Boston suspected might also be members of the Plainfield church. The letters demanded that these individuals decide by September 15th to which church they wished to belong. Many recipients of the notice were not Plainfield members at all and were disturbed by the implications of the letter. The court proceedings were to drag on for several years.” (p. 149)

“On March 1, 1985, the 1983 decision of the Superior Court in Elizabeth, New Jersey, forbidding the delisted Plainfield church from using the words ‘Christian Science’ was overturned in the Appellate Division. The Mother Church immediately appealed the reversal to the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Appellate Division stated that The Mother Church has ‘no right to a monopoly in the name of a religion.’ (p.159)

“On February 23, 1987, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the right of the Plainfield church to use the words, ‘Christian Science’, by declaring that these words constituted a generic term and could not be copyrighted.” (p. 163)

“After losing in the New Jersey Supreme Court in its effort to stop the Plainfield church from using the term, ‘Christian Science’, The Mother Church lost again in a New Jersey appeals court on April 28, 1988. Boston declined to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. This left individuals and churches free to identify themselves as Christian Scientists without gaining permission from the Board of Directors.” (p. 166)

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