R. Laurence Moore on the “conspiracy theory” of esotericism.
“Writers in the nineteenth century who were alarmed by the popularity of Eddy’s doctrines frequently summed up their feat using the word “occult”, the same word that had been used earlier to attack Mormons and spiritualists. It was meant to draw into question the allegiance of those movements to sound democratic and Christian principles. Opponents of Christian Science wanted to link Eddy’s church to an anti-Christian tradition that they said was trackable, despite the shrouded secrecy that had cloaked many of its activities, back to Mesmerism and the Illuminati Conspiracy, back to the renaissance of Paracelsus and the devoted students of Hermes Trismegistus, back to the Gnostic and Neo-Platonic cults of the early Christian era.” (R. Laurence Moore, Religious Outsiders and the Making of Americans, New York/Oxford, 1986, pg. 106)