Biography of Famous Preacher Father Divine Part 3

About the famous American preacher and religious character Father Divine, biography and history of the church evangelical.

FATHER DIVINE (c. 1864-1965)

Father did indeed provide. Money poured into the Heavens for the preacher and his disciples. In fact, they once toted over $500,000 in rumpled bills, stuffed into old Glad-stones and purses, to a Philadelphia bank. As for his divinity, he never really denied it and banners on the walls of all the movement's missions and houses read "Father Divine Is God." The legend of his extraterrestrial connections grew when a judge who sentenced him to jail on a disorderly conduct charge dropped dead a few days later. "I hated to do it," said Father Divine from his cell. But later he would claim that he had had a hand in dropping the 1st atomic bomb on Hiroshima. "I am the author and finisher of atomic energy," he said. "I have harnessed it." There was much truth in his only lengthy public statement on his divinity: "I don't have to say I'm God, and I don't have to say I'm not God. I said there are thousands of people who call me God. Millions of them. And there are millions of them call me the Devil, and I don't say I am God, and I don't say I am the Devil. But I produce God and shake the earth with it."

The preacher nonpareil, the minister of the malapropism could be just as evasive about sex--which he thoroughly enjoyed, even though he denied its pleasures to his disciples. It's said that when he seemed to be violating his own tenets, he'd explain to his partner of the night: "I am bringing your desire to the surface so that I can eliminate it." His policy of segregating even married couples at his Heavens led to much speculation and one of his confidential lady "secretaries" revealed the line he invariably used at the moment of seduction--"Mary wasn't a virgin." he would whisper.

In 1946 Father Divine married his "Sweet Angel," a 22-year-old white Canadian previously named Edna Rose Kitchings, who became Mother Divine. He explained at the time that he had transferred the sprit of his 1st wife, a Negro, into the person of his 2nd--stressing that they were one and the same. Then he added that after his "bodily disappearance" from earth, his spirit would be possessed by the new Mother Divine.

Father Divine lived with his "Spotless Virgin Bride" until his death in 1965, when he was anywhere from 88 to over 100 years old. His movement's worth at the time was estimated at more than $10 million. Eighteen secretaries were at his side to record his last words. When the doelike eyes in his round cherubic face were finally closed, Mother Divine announced that there would be no period of mourning but instead an extensive period of sumptuous feasting. Father, she explained, wouldn't have wanted it any other way--and who could have known better than she.

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