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Biography for
Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944)

by Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald

PLEASE NOTE
The following is merely a limited collection of useful but essentially random facts on the subject in question.
This document is not intended to be taken as an in-depth, or exhaustive, or definitive treatment.

 

 

THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL COMES FROM THE ARTICLE HISTORY OF KFSG BY JIM HILLIKER.

Please note that Hilliker is a supporter of Semple McPherson.

"To start with, here are some lies promoted by her ministry and/or her supporters:  

* First, KFSG was NOT the 1st religious radio station in the nation and it was NOT the 1st religious station on the air in Los Angeles. … When I tried to explain this to the folks at … ICFG [McPherson’s organization] headquarters … I received a letter saying, “Of the four known religious stations prior to KFSG, none continued as religious stations beyond 1931.” I guess their belief is, even if WDM and KJS were on the air first, … it doesn’t count, because they both went off the air by 1931! That’s ridiculous. You can’t change history…. 

* KFSG was NOT the 3rd radio station on the air in Los Angeles, as has been claimed … on the KFSG Web site.  

* McPherson was NOT the first woman in the United States to hold a radio license or own a radio station in 1924.  

* (KZY) in Oakland, California … went off the air in 1923, and did not become KNEW, as the KFSG history Web site has written.

"Married three times, she was widowed and divorced twice. Her third marriage took place, even though it was against her religion to marry if a divorced spouse was still alive. One Web site on her life claims that Aimee McPherson’s weakness was men and that she had several affairs, some discrete [sic] and some not so …. Even the vaudeville comedian Milton Berle, … wrote in his 1974 autobiography that he had sex with Aimee on two occasions in 1930, at an out-of-the-way apartment she owned near the beach. She approached him following a charity show they both took part in at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A., …. Aimee was then 40 and the young Berle was only 22.  She married for the third time in 1931, Aimee eloped with 30-year-old David Hutton, …. Their marriage lasted less than 3 years. In 1936, there was a story that reported her being blackmailed by someone who threatened to release nude photos of her.

"Aimee introduced popular slang and jazz music into the church during the 1920s … Being close to Hollywood fascinated her, too. She popularized the use of church sermons which were illustrated and dramatized through elaborate stage plays, which the press said were very much like vaudeville shows … The famous stage shows in Angelus Temple rivaled what Hollywood and Broadway had to offer. Because of that, the shows Aimee presented attracted people who would never have thought about going inside a church … Once, after getting a traffic ticket, she rode onto the Angelus Temple stage on a police motorcycle, wearing a Los Angeles police officer’s uniform. ,,, Also, instead of the hellfire and damnation style of preaching of a Billy Sunday, Aimee preached about a God who loves us. She substituted a “sunnier religion” for a “gospel of fear.”  

"(One Methodist preacher, … had his own radio station, KGEF from 1926 to 1931. He had a regular feud, on and off the air, with Aimee, …. He constantly denounced McPherson and her ministry, along with denouncing gambling, political corruption and alcohol, …. [He] later lost his radio station. The Federal Radio Commission revoked [his] license …). ... 

"[D]uring Angelus Temple church services, the KFSG engineer [Kenneth Ormiston], who was an agnostic, would talk to Aimee via a telephone intercom …. He would frequently crack jokes about the church services, the choir, the band, and how the broadcast was going, which made Aimee get the giggles. Apparently, due to the excellent acoustics, their private chats could sometimes be heard in the second balcony, without either of them knowing about it. The gossip about the two of them being more than friends began to spread quickly.  

THE KIDNAPPING STORY  

"On May 18, 1926, Aimee went for a swim at Ocean Park, …. She was not seen again all day. At first, it was feared that McPherson had drowned …, but a search for her body turned up nothing. Her mother, son, daughter and Angelus Temple workers were heartbroken, believing Aimee was dead. Then, on June 23rd, Aimee reappeared in Douglas, Arizona, … with a story that she had been kidnapped from the beach and held captive, but managed to escape. This good news came a few days after her mother got a ransom note that said Aimee would be sold into “White Slavery”, if the $500,000 ransom wasn’t paid. The police and newspaper reporters however quickly noted that Aimee didn’t appear sunburn [sic], if she had walked across the desert for many miles to freedom, and her shoes, clothes and overall physical condition looked too good to make her story believable. They also could find no sign of a shack where McPherson claimed she had been held captive.  

"With the earlier gossip about Kenneth Ormiston and Aimee having a secret romance, there were newspaper and police reports that a woman who looked like Aimee Semple McPherson had been seen with the former KFSG engineer, spending time inside a cottage in Carmel, CA and other towns up and down the coast during McPherson’s disappearance. In the 1959 book by Lately Thomas … he wrote that McPherson and Ormiston had been seen checking into the same hotels at various times in California, prior to the alleged kidnapping. Thomas also stated that a grocery receipt signed by McPherson was found in the Carmel cottage where it appears Aimee had met Ormiston during the time she was allegedly kidnapped. Several eyewitnesses testified that they saw the two together during that time.  

"Suspicion led to a Grand Jury investigation in L.A., … The newspapers dug up witnesses and handed them over to the district attorney. On August 3rd, the Grand Jury reconvened to look at possible charges against Aimee, her mother, Kenneth Ormiston and a woman named Lorraine Wiseman.  

"During the several weeks of Grand Jury testimony, Aimee … repeatedly told the radio listeners … “That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.” … Finally, on November 3, 1926, Judge Samuel R. Blake bound over Aimee … for trial on the charge of “criminal conspiracy to commit acts injurious to public morals and to prevent and obstruct justice,” … Aimee … faced three counts of conspiracy that could carry a prison term of up to 42 years if convicted.  

"Suddenly, after the months of investigation …, the case was dropped before it even came to trial! One of the witnesses changed her story …, saying that Aimee did not hire her to perpetrate a hoax on the public. On January 10, 1927, L.A. County District Attorney Asa Keys reluctantly asked the court to drop the charges against Aimee…  

"Aimee’s popularity had soared nationwide, despite the controversy. Word had spread about her cheery, friendly style of preaching and the excitement during her church services, which sometimes included faith healings. The way she got the congregation at each service to give money when the collection plate was passed around was also famous. Frequently, she would say she didn’t like the noise made by the jingle of coins. To emphasize the point, she would tell the people, “No coins please. Only folding money!” Or, if Sister Aimee’s mother needed a new coat, she’d make it known to those in attendance by saying, “Mother needs a new coat! Who will help donate money today, so that mother can have a new winter coat?”  

"In one of the books on McPherson’s life, it says 1927 was the year Sister Aimee rejected social taboos preached against by Bible-believing churches of that time. She bobbed her hair and started drinking, dancing and wearing short skirts.  

"There were still controversies in Aimee’s life in the ‘30s, including dozens of lawsuits …. Aimee and her mother … apparently had a violent argument, ending when Aimee hit her mother and broke her nose. Aimee also had a reported nervous breakdown in 1930.  

"On September 27, 1944, Aimee was … to speak at a revival service. The night before, she had taken an overdose of … a “hypnotic sedative”. She never woke up …. The coroner’s report said it was an overdose of barbiturates that caused [her] to die, prior to what would have been her 54th birthday.  

[END OF HILLIKER MATERIAL]

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See Milton Berle: An Autobiography, by Milton Berle with Frank Heskel, (New York, Delacorte Press), 1974, pp123-129, and reproduced here: www.ondoctrine.com/1mcphe05.htm

See also: www.ondoctrine.com/1mcphe03.htm and www.ondoctrine.com/1mcphe04.htm

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Anyone who wants to understand the appalling extent of ASM’s guile, dishonesty, corruption, brass-neck etc should read the book ‘The Vanishing Evangelist’ by Lately Thomas.  Her manipulation, crookedness, godlessness and immorality, along with the evil powers behind the scenes who were mobilised to get her out of the mess she had made for herself (by faking her own kidnapping so that she could continue her adulterous affair) are absolutely breathtaking.

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"Cadle Tabernacle, Northwest corner of Ohio and New Jersey streets (1921-1968, D / C. ... Cadle Tabernacle hosted famous evangelists, including ... Aimee Semple McPherson, and Billy Graham, and ... was alleged to be a popular gathering place for the KuKluxKlan during the 1920s" [www.polis.iupui.edu/RUC/OtherPublications/WalkingTour/Walking_Tour.htm].

"When evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson appeared in Denver, Co., in July 1922, she was presented with a $64.20 love gift for her two children by the Klan" [www.kkklan.com/various.htm].

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Toronto-esque Experiences

"In March of 1910, on the night before they were to leave for China, the millionaire asked Aimee to 'bring the message' to a crowd gathered at London's Albert Hall. Afraid to discourage his patronage, Aimee reluctantly agreed to preach - something she had never done before. Still a very young woman of 19, she was terrified when she mounted the platform to face the crowd of 15,000 attired in evening dress in the plush theater. She had no way of preparing, and had no idea what she would say. Then her Bible fell open, and a passage jumped out at her as if printed in boldfaced type. What felt like an electric current surged through her body. She opened her mouth to speak, and suddenly words began to flow" [www.libertyharbor.org/aimee.htm].

After hearing Robert Semple's ministry for a third time, Aimee experienced a darkness, which passed and then an entrance of light. This occurred on her way home from school one day. She first felt the coldness of the elements of nature and then everything became bright and welcoming" [religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/Foursqu.html].

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"One of these streams of blessing was the Hebden Mission in the City of Toronto under the leadership of Pastor and Mrs. Hebden. A Pentecostal revival broke out in which many were filled with the Spirit, including Rev. George A. Chambers. He came from a Mennonite background to become the General Superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. By 1907 the message from the Hebden Mission reached such centres as Ingersoll, Norwich, Markham, Simcoe, Stratford, Vineland, Wingham, and Woodstock.

"In 1909 a small group of Christians gathered in the first Pentecostal convention in Berlin, Ontario, now Kitchener. Prior to this convention the Holy Spirit had fallen in the United Missionary Church. This caused division, with the result that eight ministers resigned from the Missionary Church. Their names are as follows: A. G. Donner, J. T. Ball, G. A. Chambers, C. R. Miller, E. M. Guy, M. M. Heisey, M. Holmes, and M. E. Ward. Along with these ministers were 80 members of the United Missionary Church. These people formed four assemblies at Toronto, Berlin (Kitchener), Markham, and Vineland, the nucleus of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada in Ontario.

"Some of the first missionaries of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada went out to the foreign field from the Hebden Mission in Toronto. Among them were A. M. Atter, Charles Chawner, Robert Semple (husband of Aimee Semple McPherson), and Thomas Hindle" [www.wod.paoc.org/www/history.cfm].

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"[Hardy, Carlos S.]: THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA SITTING AS A HIGH COURT OF IMPEACHMENT. IN THE MATTER OF THE IMPEACHMENT OF CARLOS S. HARDY A JUDGE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES. HELD AT THE CAPITOL SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA MARCH 18 TO 20 AND APRIL 8 TO 26, 1929. JOSEPH ALLEN BEEK, SECRETARY OF THE SENATE. Sacramento: 1930. Original cloth, gilt-lettered leather  spine labels. pp xvi, 1378. Three plates, as issued. Inner hinges cracked, light wear, Very Good. ... While sitting as a judge, Hardy rendered legal services for a fee to famed evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson concerning her ministry. The articles of impeachment also charged that Hardy sought to obstruct the grand jury's investigation into whether McPherson had falsely 'claimed that she had been kidnapped and held for ransom.' After a long trial the California Senate acquitted him, eager to believe that the $2500 Hardy got from Ms. McPherson was a 'free-will offering' rather than a fee. A contemporary editorial in The Nation fumed that this claim 'was rejected by his fellow lawyers when he was expelled from the American Bar Association for unprofessional conduct, but the more gullible legislators gave him a coat of whitewash'" [www.lesserbooks.com/catalogues/cat85.htm].

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Please note that the inclusion of any quotation or item on this page does not imply we would necessarily endorse the source from which the extract is taken; neither can we necessarily vouch for any other materials by the same authors, or any groups or ministries or websites with which they may be associated, or any periodicals to which they may contribute, or the beliefs of whatever kind they may hold, or any other aspect of their work or ministry or position.

© Dusty Peterson & Elizabeth McDonald     https://www.bayith.org     bayith@blueyonder.co.uk