Saturday, 5 March 2016


 A State Committee a Leading Light.

Young Woman Marked for Sacrifice.

The 'Holy Rollers' is the very latest and most extraordinary of the many hundreds or sects claiming justification, authority and inspiration from the Bible. And like all such Christian sects the 'Holy Rollers' give plausible Scriptural reasons for their sudden and curious appearance before the public. Granting the premis of any or all of these sects (and all have for their foundation the plenary inspiration of the Bible as the veritable revelation and Word of God), namely, that 'their' interpretation of the Holy Writ is the correct one, it is easy for neurotic and super-emotional persons of both sexes to be carried over the rapids of transcendentalism and swept into the whirlpool of fanaticism. The United States of America seems to be the centre of great emotional and religious monstrosities and upheavals. And the 'Holy Rollers' is the newest and most striking. If the description of our American contemporary is true, this new sensation in latter-day prophetism bids fair to outshine that wealthy and influential fraud 'Elijah' Dowie, who, by the way has promised to hoist his standard personally in Australia in the near future. It is not astonishing to learn that the organiser of the sect of 'Holy Rollers' was formerly a 'Captain' of the Salvation Army. Bounder, Baleful, Brazen Booth is responsible for a lot of mischief and real injury to tens of thousands of minds of gulled and deluded people.  The prophet of the new sect claims to be a reincarnation of "John the Baptist,' and is a Swede named John Creffield. There are a large number of such "reincarnations" possible, and doubtless more sects will follow in due course.
 for years by the Salvationists, to the immense increase of 'General' Booth and his family's worldly possessions, for the time is coming when the millions sterling worth of property vested in Booth and his brood will become their own and be controlled by themselves alone. Dowie is in that position. In good time the prophet of the 'Holy Rollers' will manage, like them all, to feather his own nest in some way or other. The following is from the New York "Journal" :— 'Corvallis, Ore, November 10.
 " 'Be it as God directs.' With these words on their lips the fanatical men, women and children who constitute the strange religious sect of 'Holy Rollers,' whose extraordinary practices have awed all this section of Oregon for the last two months, throw upon the flames of an altar their choicest possessions in the way of household goods, and even sacrifice their pet dogs and cats. 'Be it as God directs' they also answer to the grave charge that their prophet, 'John the Baptist,' reincarnated, is preparing to offer to the altar's flames one of his most devoted followers, a young girl, Miss Matilda Johnson. And the girl, when officers of the law asked her if it were true that she was to be sacrificed, answered with bowed head, 'Be it as God directs.' The prophet and his foremost followers have been taken into court,
 but have easily cleared themselves of that charge and gone free. Their weird rites continue, and near the house in which the ordinary services are held, behind barred doors, the prophet has built a tent, into which none but himself dare set foot, for in this tent is the sacred receptacle containing the 'holy rolls' upon which God has directed to be written the names of the elect. Among the members of this sect are people who have always been known as sound of mind and of good business sagacity. Indeed, the headquarters of the band is the home of O. V. Hurt, ex-chairman of the Republican County Central Committee, and at present State Committeeman. He has cast everything to the winds to promote the new belief— fortune, business, political ambitious, friendships lasting through years.
The organiser of the sect is Captain Brooks, formerly of the Salvation Army, and its prophet, 'John the Baptist,' is a Swede named John Creffield. They came to Corvallis about 12 months ago from Portland, but as to their former history they maintain a strict silence. After the dismissal of the insanity case against them several citizens, disturbed over rumors of impending human sacrifice, hinted tar and feathers so significantly that Captain Brooks and the prophet fled. Their return was the occasion for a grand jubilee by the adherents of the new religion, whose faith and zeal were reinforced when the leaders, with great solemnity, declared, 'God bade us return,
The effect of this declaration was electrical. All the faithful assembled in the evening before a flat rock near their temple, which the prophet had proclaim ed an altar for special sacrifice. A fire was built upon the altar, and behind it stood the prophet with rapt countenance and arms upraised, alternately praying and exhorting his followers. These fanatical followers had brought before the altar what remained of their furniture and cherished personal effects. As the flames rose, the prophet spoke : 'Subjugate all lustful desires. All that has price contaminates the spirit and hinders communion with God.' 'Be it as God directs !' chanted the followers.
A young and handsome woman threw upon the flames the mark of her vanity— men followed her with all manner of household fixtures and goods — even the beds upon which they were accustomed to sleep. 'All, all to the flames !' exhorted the prophet. 'To the flames with all these agencies of evil !' 'Be it as God directs,' answered his disciples, whose excitement had become intense. The blazing altar was heaped with furniture and clothing.
 with her dearest possession — a mandolin. A young man sacrificed his guitar. Two pillars of the church came burdened with a small melodeon, which the flames destroyed amid prayers and shouts. At this stage the emotions of several women had overcome them. They fell upon the ground, and then began a detail of the sect's religious practices, previously performed only behind barred doors. Shouting and praying, the women rolled  over and over on the ground in front of the altar. Suddenly, what had been really impressive became frightful. A faithful house-dog, whining and struggling in his master's arms, was stunned by a blow and thrown into the midst of the flames. Pet cats had the some fate — even a bird in a cage.
 Children sacrificed their toys without urging. One mite of a girl kissed her rag doll and threw it upon the blazing altar. The prophet, seen through the
smoke with his arms upraised, completely dominated every mind and body there. He pointed to a board sidewalk near by and shouted : 'Followers of Satan have trod upon yonder walk. Contamination is contagious, and lest some of the faithful should fall by the wayside by using the walkway, at once tore up the planks, and one by one they were cast into the flames. 'Mortals cannot walk through the rose bushes without being pricked and when God desires to come in we must not wound him,' is the next exhortation of the prophet. 'What would you have us do ?' ask the disciples. 'Tear the foul weeds out by their roots!' And soon flowers and hedge brush that have been cultivated with care for years, help to keep the fires of religious zeal burning. 'God's will is done.' proclaimed the prophet. The mode of ordinary worship of this strange sect consists largely of
 and other actions which denote a greatly-perturbed state of mind. While some sing, others roll about on the floor, giving vent to blood-curdling yells. When they tire of their cavorting the prophet takes the floor, reads a few passages of Scripture, and if his disciples still show weariness he holds communion with God. Then the shouting, singing and screaming is renewed. When the rumor gained general circulation that young girl was to be offered as a sacrifice, officers repaired to the temple of the sect. Admission was at first denied them, but they were not to be defeated, and rushed by the doorkeeper. The prophet promptly made his appearance and inquired the cause of the disturbance. When informed that all in the building were wanted by the law, and were under arrest, he made no protest. The visitors were ushered into the apartment. The scene impressed them in spite of themselves. Disciples were lying about on the floor, on mats, cots, blankets, hides, and other places of rest remarkable for their crudeness. No furniture graced the room, and the worshippers had assumed various positions to offer up prayers and otherwise declare their devotion to God.
 One young girl — she who, it was reported, was to be sacrificed — appeared to be in a trance or suffering a spasm. A large white cloth covered her face. The officer stepped over to remove it, when instantly all in the room cried out at the top of their voices : 'Don't touch her, she's communing with God.' The officer asked the girl if she knew she had been selected as a subject for sacrifice. She replied in the negative, and added ; 'If God so wills, such a death would be joy.' Close beside the girl, with his head almost touching hers on the pillows, was the prophet. The questions addressed to the girl were then put to him. 'God's will be done,' was all he would say. Requested to explain the meaning of the cloth over the girl's face, and the nature of their devotions, he replied : 'We are receiving a revelation from God as to our future.'
 Pressed to answer whether God had ordered that the girl by his side be sacrificed, he said, 'He has not yet, but if He should, His will be done. We know no law of man.' Pressed still further as to whether he deemed such a command probable, he would only say, 'It is in God's hands ; His will be done.' The officers, realising that their mission had failed, haled Creffield and Brooks into court on a charge of insanity. Their discharge by the court has left them at liberty to continue their strange devotions unmolested until the watching officers of the law gain evidence that a human sacrifice is actually in preparation. The followers of Prophet Creffield do not hesitate to declare their faith that he possesses the gifts of God. To prove their words by their actions they will eat no food until he has touched it, thus causing it to be come sanctified. No matter how keen the pangs of hunger, food he has not laid his hands upon is deemed wholly unfit,
 "When the fear of tar and feathers caused the prophet to flee, his followers purchased a large stock of provisions for him to sanctity before departing, as they all professed they were confident God would quell the spirit of Satan in the breast of their enemies who threatened their beloved leader, and would make His doings known in a revelation. At any rate, Creffield returned and loudly so declares that God directed. O. V. Hurt, who turned his home into a temple for the sect, was for many years prominent in business and political circles. Heretofore he has taken only a passing interest in religious affairs. Members of his family, however, have for several months been devoted
 It was in this connection they met Creffield and Brooks. A fortnight ago Mr. Hurt, who had been employed for a long time in a leading mercantile establishment, enclosed his keys in an envelope, with a note addressed to his employers, stating that hereafter he intended to devote himself to the work of God. They held him in high esteem and made diligent effort to communicate with him. Several trips were made to his home, now the temple, but the doorkeeper each time gave the reply that Mr. Hurt was seeking God and could not be disturbed. Friends of years' standing attempted to cross the portal of his former hospitable home with no better success. Finally, one friend encountered him while passing the temple, and pleaded with him to return to his work and banish the prophets from his home. He answered :
 if I turned on His apostles. The rest of my days I shall do His work and their bidding.' The sect is without funds, save those supplied by Mr. Hurt. Creffield and Brooks declare that as true apostles they need only enough money for actual expenses. With their followers they are only 'tarrying' here. They expect to be commanded to other fields soon. This order may even carry them to foreign lands, but no matter where, 'God's will be done.' These Oregon 'Holy Rollers' are
 Vermont in 1837 had a similar experience, only there the high prophet was a man whose religious zeal had lost him his mind. He was John Bridgeman, ever a faithful attendant at prayer meetings in Hardwick. The exercises at the meetings he held consisted of yelling, the mimicking of birds and animals, the swinging of arms, and rolling on the floor. Finally some of them disturbed religious meetings and were imprisoned. This was a death blow."

Truth 17 Jan. 1904

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