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One of a series of articles by the Research Staff of The Mary Baker Eddy Library, giving the historical background of the By-Laws of the Manual of The Mother Church.

Any Obnoxious Books in This Store?

From the June 2009 issue of The Christian Science Journal

When Christian Scientists shop in bookstores, the words of the Manual of The Mother Church, Article VIII, Section 12, might well come to mind: "A member of this Church shall not patronize a publishing house or bookstore that has for sale obnoxious books" (p. 44).

But what did Mary Baker Eddy mean by "obnoxious books?" The By-Law doesn't say. Was she was thinking of pornography? Gossip magazines? To know for sure what was on her mind, let's look back at some events in 1904—the year the "Obnoxious Books" By-Law first entered the Manual.

By that time, Mrs. Eddy was only a couple of years past a very difficult time in her life. Her student Josephine Woodbury had turned against Christian Science and sued Mrs. Eddy for libel, claiming that Mrs. Eddy's reference to the "Babylonish woman" in a message written to the church meant Mrs. Woodbury (see Rev. 17:5 and The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, pp. 125-126). Although Mrs. Eddy won the suit, one of its costs had been a tremendous amount of negative publicity.

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