“Psychiana”, was a mail order religion that preached the New Thought Movement. In 1928, Dr. Frank B. Robinson created “Psychiana” in Moscow, Idaho.

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[Narrator] Moscow, Idaho was home to the largest mail-order religion in the world. A religion that promised to teach how to harness the invisible power of God, or your money back. Pharmacist Dr. Frank B. Robinson crated Psychiana and became the mail-order prophet. In 1928, Robinson placed an ad proclaiming he talked to God, actually and literally, and he would teach you how. For $20, you would receive biweekly lessons on the God power, and if your life didn’t improve, you could get your money back. It was right before the Great Depression, and $20 then is $280 today. The religion appealed to people suffering economically and emotionally. Here was a religion that said you didn’t have to wait for the afterlife to be happy and prosperous. You had the power to change your fortunes today with affirmations and the positive power of God. At one point, 600,000 Psychiana students around the world received lessons by mail. The federal government granted Moscow’s rural post office a Class A rating so it could handle the 60,000 pieces of Psychiana mail it received daily. Robinson was the second-largest employer in Latah county, with a staff of 100, mostly women. It’s unsure how much money Robinson made, but one balance sheet from a Spokane accounting firm pegged revenue at about $132,000 for just the first nine months of 1932. He owned three buildings, a Duesenberg car, and donated 160 acres of land called Robinson Lake Park to the county. Psychiana wasn’t without criticism. Robinson preached against conventional Christianity and offended traditional spiritual leaders. He also angered newspaper printer George Lamphere when he bought his own press and started a competing newspaper called the Idahoan. This led to an investigation into Robinson’s citizenship, which concluded he was an undocumented immigrant. Robinson always thought he was born in New York, but he was in fact born in England. He was deported in 1937, but with the help of Senator William Borah, Robinson was allowed to stay in Cuba until proper immigration papers were signed, and he reentered the US soon after. Psychiana thrived until Robinson’s death in 1948. He was 62. His family tried to keep the mail-order religion going, but citing the costs of postage, shuttered the doors in 1952. To learn more, visit the Latah County Historical Society.

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