Aimee, mother of them all

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Aimee.jpegAnthea Butler has a nice appreciation over on Religion Dispatches, but I would pick a small bone with the subhead and the conclusion. The subhead reads:

Before there was Falwell, Robertson, Bakker, or the Crouches, there was Oral Roberts, the iconoclastic pioneer of televangelism.

The conclusion is:

My friend said, “What other Pentecostal leader had a vision, and built it?”

And she was right. Whatever can be said about Oral Roberts, he embraced the veni vidi vici
of Pentecostalism full stop. I’m only wishing there was a television
camera on the other side, to watch him make a grand entrance.

Angelus.jpegThe unmentioned precursor of Oral Roberts was Aimee Semple McPherson. She was the prior Pentecostal superstar who had the vision and built it. She did the healing, built the building, and (before TV existed) created her own radio station that made hers the most famous voice in the West. She may not have had the global reach of  Roberts, but she was, in her day, as big a national celebrity as he ever became, and she had a big hand in taking Pentecostalism out the storefronts and brush arbors and putting it on Main Street. And unlike Roberts, she created her own denomination, which exists to this day. 

So in all the obituary acclamation of Roberts, let’s not forget that Sister Aimee was there ahead of him.

  • anthea butler

    LOL. Mark. Good call, but TELEVANGELIST. Aimee, who I love dearly, didn’t quite live long enough to see herself on the screen, but she did gangbusters with Angeleus Temple and radio. I think what differentiates Oral is that he was an empire builder. Aimee had vision, but lots of personal stuff that slowed things down 🙂
    Have you watched the American experience on Aimee? if you haven’t let me know, and I will get you a copy. Gratis :
    Anthea Butler

  • Mark Silk

    Love to get it, Anthea. Gratis is great.