NPR

Little-Remembered Religious Preachers Get Their Due In 'American Messiahs'

Bizarre as they may have been, many messianic leaders were stunningly successful, heading movements that flourished for years due, in part, to their keen ability to offer responses to social distress.
American Messiahs: False Profits Of A Damned Nation, by Adam Morris Source: Liverlight

There was the preacher who told his followers he could teach them to defy gravity. And another who insisted the sun is actually at the center of the earth. Then there was the Quaker who became delirious, died, and then was said to have come back to life as the reincarnated Jesus Christ.

It is little wonder that the succession of messianic prophets who emerged over the first two centuries of U.S. history have not been taken seriously. Jim Jones gained notoriety only by overseeing the massacre of 900 of his followers. The Shakers are famous mostly for their furniture. Who knows of George Baker, Cyrus Teed, or Jemima Wilkinson? The characters that come to life in as author Adam Morris writes, have appeared "irrelevant to American historians, aberrant

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