A man tells his followers he is “divine,” takes their money and works them while living in luxury.

Sound familiar?

It could be almost any “cult story” in recent years, from the Rev. Moon, who controls billions through his Unification Church, to a relatively obscure little “God-man” called “Adi Da” in Northern California.

But this story is about “Father Divine” who died in 1965.

Born George Baker in Baltimore the man later known as “Divine” is gone, but a legacy still exists and is administered by his widow “Mother Divine,” born Edna Rose Ritchings and now almost 80, reports Associated Press.

Mother Divine has liquidated some of her late husband’s accumulated assets. A hotel here, an old Mission Church there, but she has the grand mansion and still sets a place for “Divine” at the dining room table.

Long before reports of “cults” saturated the media in the late 70s. And decades previous to the popular stereotype of the rich guru bilking brainwashed devotees, there was “Father Divine.”

He figuratively and quite literally worked his followers and amassed a fortune beginning in the 1930s during the Great Depression. This was no easy feat and largely accomplished by “convincing people he was God.” And it seems whatever “God” wanted, he got.

Divine called his message “Practical Christianity,” but others often saw it as little more than a confidence game, through which the preacher took his followers for practically everything they had.

Almost forty years have passed since Divine’s death, but there is still a remnant of true believers. Many of the faithful are past retirement age and invested their entire lives in the movement he created. They cling to the claims and memories of their departed leader.

As for the Widow Divine, she sits on the considerable investments made by her late husband, which apparently still produce “Divine” dividends.

This saga is proof that personality-driven “cults” have long been an enduring part of American history. And looking ahead they are likely to continue as a segment of the American scene for the foreseeable future.

Any “cult” leader’s legacy can live on, at least as long as his assets hold out.


no comment untill now

Sorry, comments closed.