Sep 8, 2016

Cult Classics: Tennessee Is a Longtime Haven for Unconventional Religious Groups

The Bible Belt has a history of charismatic preachers and controversial leaders

Nashville Scene

Tennesseee has been a surprising home of new religious groups like Ruthven's, in part because of its culture of do-it-yourself religion. Believers are encouraged to interpret the Bible for themselves rather than relying on denominational doctrines.

The Bible Belt has a history of charismatic preachers who have been accused of leading their flocks astray with unorthodox beliefs.

Among them: the late Wayne Jolley, a prosperity gospel preacher with a history of abuse and ties to the Christian music business; Gwen Shamblin, the controversial founder of The Remnant, known for her weight-loss advice and unorthodox beliefs; and Tony Alamo, a glitzy former evangelist who once had a church on Nashville’s Music Row and is now jailed for child abuse.

Tennessee is also the home base of Twelve Tribes, an end-times communal sect known for its Yellow Deli chain of restaurants, which are run by group members. Another of the group’s restaurants, the Blue Blinds Bakery in Plymouth, Mass., recently made headlines after an ex-employee took over its Facebook page and accused the Twelve Tribes of being a cult that preaches racism and corporal punishment. Twelve Tribes leaders deny the claims.

No comments: