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Religion of Fear reveals the story of how a Pentecostal sect the Church of God of the Union Assembly a small splinter group of the holiness Church of God movement evolved into one of the largest and wealthiest cults in America At its height in 1995 the Union Assembly included fifty four churches spread across nineteen states Spanning nearly a hundred years and three generations of family leadership and relying on hundreds of interviews with members and former members David Cady’s groundbreaking investigation begins in 1917 with the Church’s illiterate but magnetic founder Charlie C T Pratt summoning a congregation of resilient followers with little than a flair for spectacle As power dynamics stir within the maturing Church Cady turns to C T’s fourth son Jesse who conspires to wrest the Union Assembly from his five brothers and dismiss his own parents from the church they had created Jesse dominated the Church with fear and a demand of total obedience from its nearly 15000 members until his mysterious death at age fifty six As Cady reveals this event triggered a succession crisis in the Pratt family ranks as Jesse’s wife fostered her son Jesse Junior’s rise to power and spurned other heirs presumptive to the Church Jesse Junior turned out to be a tormented leader who drove his followers to the brink of poverty with an uncompromising demand that they give their all to God—and to him The church’s fortune suandered and its future under threat Jesse Junior’s mother was finally forced to have her favored son removed and defrocked For all its troubling twists and turns Cady’s chronicle ends with a minor miracle as Jesse’s younger brother Charlie T Pratt III takes over leadership and manages to expel the oppressive air of authoritarianism from the body of the Church and hold the community together in the process    

10 thoughts on “Religion of Fear

  1. says:

    This book is meticulously written well researched and solidly presented I heard the author speak at the Southern Festival of books where many current and former members were in attendance His passion for telling the story often terrifying history of this community is evident in his spoken and written word It isn’t a casual read but it is an important study of why people unchecked can do in the name of God and the church As an aside I thoroughly appreciated the careful attention to grammar and literary structure in this book It was uite lovely to read

  2. says:

    Growing up in Dalton Ga I always heard stories about the Church of God of The Union Assembly I went to school with many members Stories would leak about the money collected and how church leaders acted Not until David Cady investigated and wrote Religion of Fear did I realize what went on From the start of the book I couldn’t put down I remember parts he wrote about and shocked at other parts Thank you for taking the time to talk to all parties involved An absolutely interesting book that reveals the truth of a congregation caught in fear

  3. says:

    Super boring A falling starts a church family and church member argue people get hurt church changes rules in the 90s and is now “normal” The end