What distinguishes New Thought from New Age and other esoteric and metaphysical movements is the development of churches based on the work of New Thought pioneers. New Thought is far more than a movement; New Thought has achieved denominational status in American society. If you click on the chart to the right a larger copy will open to show how these branches developed, according the the International New Thought Alliance. In this section, New Thought Branches, I highlight the founders of New Thought churches and the organizations they created.
Unity, Divine Science, and Religious Science Compared
Tom Thorpe provides the following things to note as we study the three remaining branches of the New Thought movement (:46-7).
Unity, Divine Science and the Homes of Truth are late 19th-century American spiritual movements in the New Thought tradition. Religious Science had its beginning in the second quarter of the 20th century, and is also considered a New Thought teaching.
Both Unity and Divine Science emerged out of a healing need by one or more of the founders. Religious Science was born, it could be said, out of Ernest Holmes’ ongoing fascination with spiritual ideas.
Except for Fenwicke Holmes, who was an ordained Congregationalist (now United Church of Christ) minister, Annie Rix Militz, who was a school teacher, and Myrtle Fillmore, who completed a one year “Literary Course For Ladies” at Oberlin College, none of the founders of these three movements had any extensive formal education.
Religious Science and Unity’s founders acknowledge many of the sources upon which they drew for inspiration in developing their teachings. The founders of Divine Science acknowledge no sources other than their own inspiration from Spirit.
Unity calls itself a Christian movement. Some in Divine Science call their movement Christian, others do not. Religious Science does not call itself Christian.
NONE of the founders of these three movements except Annie Rix Militz set out to start a church. In fact, it could be said that all of the founders were at least mildly opposed to the idea of starting a new church or religious denomination, at least at first.
Only one Home of Truth exists today. Divine Science ministries worldwide can be counted as less than two dozen. Religious Science ministries can be counted in the hundreds. Unity ministries number about 1000 worldwide, a number that is definitely growing, although not spectacularly.