A. A. Allen
|A. A. Allen|
|Born||Asa A. Allen
March 27, 1911
Sulphur Rock, Arkansas, USA
|Died||June 11, 1970
San Francisco, California
|Title||Head of A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc.|
|Spouse(s)||Lexie (married September 19, 1936 and separated in 1962)|
Asa A. Allen (March 27, 1911, in Sulphur Rock, Arkansas - June 11, 1970, in San Francisco), better known as A. A. Allen, was a controversial evangelist with a Pentecostal healing and deliverance ministry. He was, for a time, associated with the "Voice of Healing" movement founded by Gordon Lindsay. He died at the age of 59 in San Francisco. Allen was buried at his ministry headquarters in Miracle Valley, Arizona.
Asa A. Allen's early life was lived in an often unpleasant environment. Having been born to a white and an Indian parent, his family was very poor, and his father was an alcoholic. At the age of 23, Allen became a Christian at the Onward Methodist Church in Miller, Missouri. Later, he learned of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit from a Pentecostal preacher who was conducting meetings in his home. He soon felt the call to preach and affiliated himself with the Assemblies of God, and subsequently obtained ordination from them in 1936. He then began to pastor a small church in Colorado. By 1947, Allen was pastoring a large A/G church in Corpus Christi, Texas.
After attending an Oral Roberts tent meeting in Dallas (1949), Allen testified that as he left that meeting he hoped to form a healing ministry and asked his church board to allow him to start a radio program. They refused. Allen soon resigned from his church and began holding healing revival meetings.
Stemming in part from purported healings, he established a large following. Allen became one of the first to develop a national television ministry. His television programs frequently included excerpts from his "healing line" ministry. By the late 1960s, however, music formed an increasingly dominant part of his programs, with that music generally being performed by African-American singer and choir leader Gene Martin.
In 1955, Allen purchased a large tent for $8,500. Allen was soon one of the major healing evangelists on the revival circuit. Allen’s revival meetings were similar to the other leading evangelists of the time (such as Jack Coe, Oral Roberts, and William Branham) in that meetings were typically characterized by preaching, testifying, music, and praying for those in need of healing. As was the case with other ministers of the time, Allen's healing ministry was facilitated by the use of "prayer cards" obtained in advance by those requesting prayer for healing.
Allen was arrested in 1955 for suspicion of drunk driving after a controversial incident in Knoxville, Tennessee. Allen resigned from the Assemblies of God shortly afterward. After paying the fine without contest in order to avoid terminating his Knoxville meetings which were then in progress, Allen was re-ordained by his "Miracle Revival Fellowship." Allen's associate Don Stewart claimed that Allen was occasionally drunk after Knoxville, and that his staff covered for him,
Allen continued on the revival circuit, and in 1958 he purchased a tent that could seat over 22,000 (the tent was the one used by evangelist Jack Coe up until his death in 1956). Allen became one of the first evangelists to call poverty a spirit and believed in God's ability to perform miracles financially. At his peak, he appeared on fifty-eight radio stations daily as well as forty-three TV stations. At the time of his death, his Arizona headquarters was 2,400 acres (9.7 km2) with its own airfield.
At that time, A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc. was publishing "well over" 60 million pieces of literature a year. The circulation of Miracle Magazine, published monthly by the Allen ministry, was 450,000 at the time of his death. The magazine included, at times, accounts of healings, but gave a disclaimer that the magazine does not "assume legal responsibility" of its accuracy. Gerald W. King, business manager of Miracle Valley, was quoted in 1969, shortly before Allen's death, as saying "We take in $2 million a year, and our expenses are $2 million a year." He added that Miracle Valley's annual payroll was $84,000.
Few of his supposed miracles ever underwent "scrutiny of physicians" and at his revivals in small print his disclaimer read: "A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc. assumes no legal responsibility for the veracity of any such report." One source, The Encyclopedia of American Religions, claims that Allen did not like press coverage and that this "resulted in his hiring of 'goon squads' to punch out anyone who showed up for Allen's tent revivals with a notepad or camera."
Eventually, most of the evangelists had wheelchairs available for people who had bad backs and couldn't stand in a healing line for hours. But when the evangelist got to them and pulled them up out of the wheelchair, some in the audience thought they were walking for the first time or that they had come to the revival in that wheelchair.
In his television programs, Allen or his ministry associates made frequent mention of the fact that his meetings were racially integrated. African-Americans sat alongside whites in the choir, the ministers' section, and the congregation. African-American musical talent was frequently highlighted in Allen's television programs, especially in the 1960s. This racial attitude also found its expression in Allen's sermon record album titled Did God Call the Apostle Paul to Preach the Gospel to the Black Man? The album cover refers to Allen as "no doubt the first evangelist on a great national or international scale to preach integration to huge crowds in the North and the South . . . ." This was something of an exaggeration, though perhaps in keeping with Allen's personality. The far more mainstream revivalist Billy Graham, while not always consistent, had desegregated many of his revivals as early as 1953 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and integrated all his revivals following the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.
Another major theme in Allen's ministry was his unrelenting attacks on what he characterized as dead, formal, denominational religion. This was a theme of a number of his televised messages and of such Miracle Valley publications as Allen's book titled Let My People Go! This was also the theme of a book authored by Clarence G. Mitchell and published by Allen's ministry, titled Starving Sheep and Overfed Shepherds (1963). Allen regarded "denominationalism" as a sin. This is reflected in the subtitle of Mitchell's book: "Takes the Cover Off! Brings the Sin of Denominationalism Out into the Open!"
At a revival meeting on January 1, 1958, at Phoenix, Arizona, Urbane Leiendecker, a recent convert, approached Allen and offered him 1280 acres (5.2 km²) of land in Arizona. This property, later expanded, was then named "Miracle Valley." As such, it served as the ministry headquarters for A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc. This location housed Miracle Valley Bible College and its dorms and classrooms, a domed church, administrative buildings, a large warehouse, a residential neighborhood called Miracle Valley Estates, a publishing and printing plant, a four-press phonograph record plant, and Miracle Valley Fellowship, which served as a ministerial fellowship with about 10,000 ministers as members. In spite of the presence of its own print shop, however, Miracle Valley's business manager Gerald King said in 1969 that the ministry spent $27,000 per month "farming out" jobs to other print shops that could not be handled on site.
Allen and his wife Lexie E. (Scriven) Allen divorced in 1967. They had four children. One of them, Paul Asa Allen, is the author of In the Shadow of Greatness - Growing Up Allen.
In 1963, A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc. successfully sued the Internal Revenue Service in an attempt to get the government to refund collections of the Federal Insurance Contributions Act taxes for 1958-59.
Allen died at the Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco, California on June 11, 1970, at the age of 59. Allen died after a heavy drinking binge. Don Stewart, his successor, is said to have "attempted to clean up evidence of his mentor's alcoholic binge in a San Francisco hotel before the police arrived." Stewart says he wasn't trying to cover up anything, but was trying to protect Allen. Nonetheless, the claim is made that police found his body in a "room strewn with pills and empty liquor bottles." Following a 12-day investigation and an autopsy, the coroner's report concluded Allen died from liver failure brought on by acute alcoholism. The coroner reported that when Allen died he had a blood alcohol content of .36, which was "enough to ensure a deep coma". Allen was buried at Miracle Valley, Arizona on June 15, 1970.
Legacy and property
In 1970, after Allen died, Reverend Don Stewart gained possession of Allen's organization, including his Miracle Valley property, and renamed Allen's Miracle Life Fellowship International to Don Stewart Evangelistic Association (and later the Don Stewart Association). Stewart "went from pounding tent stakes at Allen's revivals to driving a truck to preaching". In addition, Stewart "was hit with allegations of embezzlement by Allen's brother-in-law, of pocketing offerings from the revivals" in the wake of Allen's death. Nonetheless, the activities of the association were then moved to Phoenix and the Bible college continued to operate in Miracle Valley until 1975. Stewart then leased the campus to the Hispanic Assemblies by a 20-year lease agreement for one dollar a year. They opened a Spanish-speaking Bible college known as the Southern Arizona Bible College.
In 1979 Miracle Valley came to a close after bankruptcy hearings. For the next three years, nearly 300 members of a group led by Frances Thomas isolated themselves professing what locals said was an "anti-white doctrine." Immigrants from Chicago and Mississippi rioted, which resulted in the death of Therial Davis, a six-year-old. In 1982, the group had several confrontations with utility workers, neighbors and eventually law enforcement resulting in a November shoot out, during which two members of the church and a deputy were killed. That September Miracle Valley's main administration building and vast warehouse were set fire by arson, which resulted in the total destruction of the facilities. The main building was valued at $2 million. Stewart sent multiple donation requests to some people on his 100,000 person mailing list "even though his ministry is not associated with the college and the fire damage was insured." According to the press, one of his letters "gave the impression ... the fire had crippled Stewart's ministry" and another purported to include the building's ashes with a request for $200 donations. His church had issues over Stewart's financing and "questioned Stewart's fundraising techniques" before. In addition, Stewart was accused by his church of arson, something Stewart denies.
The insurance company paid 1.5 million dollars for the reconstruction of the large building, or one million dollars for a "cash-out." Stewart was not interested in rebuilding and intended to take the cash-out; however, the Spanish Assemblies of God (Central Latin American District Council of the Assemblies of God) wanted the facilities to be rebuilt. Subsequently, Stewart accepted the insurance money of one million dollars for Miracle Valley, and the Assemblies of God would receive the Miracle Valley campus consisting of 15 buildings and nearly 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land for six dollars, which equated into the one dollar per year for the previous six years.
However, Don Stewart forced the Assemblies of God to maintain a Bible College for a minimum of twenty years, or the property would revert to his ministry. In 1995, exactly twenty years later, the Assemblies of God closed Southern Arizona Bible College and put the campus up for sale.
In 1998, a group of ten people with Melvin Harter came from Ohio to view the campus. The next year, Miracle Valley Bible College was purchased by Harter Ministries in August 1999 and the school continued under the administration of Melvin Harter as the Miracle Valley Bible College & Seminary where students were taught in classical Pentecostal theology. However, in January 2009 a Phoenix based mortgage firm foreclosed on the property, which currently contains several dilapidated buildings. Before the previous owner left the property, the entire north section of Sanctuary roof was removed for an unknown reason.
Canadian family Gilles, Diane & Michael Langevin, have opened escrow on October 31 and on December 20, 2011, their purchase was approved by the State of Arizona. They are a non-denominational ministry called Miracle Valley Arizona Ministries.
The following is a partial list of books, all by A. A. Allen unless otherwise stated:
- America's Sore Evil (n.d.)
- Bargain Counter Religion (1967)
- Born to Lose, Bound to Win (1970), autobiography written with Walter Wagner
- Can God? (n.d.)
- Command Ye Me! (1964)
- Demon Possession Today and How to Be Free (1953)
- Demons Are Real Today! (n.d.), a collection of drawings by a young girl, published by A. A. Allen Publications
- Divorce and the Lying Demon (n.d.)
- Does God Heal through Medicine? (n.d.)
- Except it Be for Fornication (n.d.)
- God Will Heal You (1953)
- God's Guarantee to Bless and Prosper You Financially (1968)
- God's Guarantee to Heal You
- God's Last Message to a Dying World (1954)
- God's Man of Faith and Power: The Life Story of A. A. Allen (1954), authored by his wife, Lexie E. Allen, and published by A. A. Allen Publications
- How to Have Freedom from Fear, Worry, Nerves (1954)
- How to Have Power Over the Devil (1954)
- How to Renew Your Youth Without Medicine, Drugs, or Surgery (1953)
- If I Make My Bed in Hell (1958)
- Is It Religion or Racket? Faith or Fear? (1967)
- Let My People Go! (n.d.)
- The Man Whose Number is 666! (1953)
- My Besetting Sin! (n.d.)
- My Vision of the Destruction of America Atop the Empire State Building (1954)
- Starving Sheep and Overfed Shepherds (1963), authored by Clarence G. Mitchell, but published by A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc.
- Witchcraft, Wizards and Witches (1968)
The following is a partial list of phonograph recordings featuring A. A. Allen (In addition, since his death a number of audio and video recordings of his tent revivals and his meetings at Miracle Valley have been released in various formats):
- 1971 Indian Camp Meeting
- Born to Lose, Bound to Win (EP)
- Did God Call the Apostle Paul to Preach the Gospel to the Black Man? (sermon by Allen, LP)
- Do Your Thing for God (sermon by Allen, LP)
- God is a Killer! (sermon by Allen, LP, 1965)
- God's Last Message (sermon by Allen, LP)
- Harvest Time (music sung by Allen and others, LP, 1957)
- He Died As a Fool Dieth (sermon by Allen, LP)
- The Healer of Broken Hearts (LP)
- Miracle Camp Meeting
- Reach Out and Touch the Lord (Allen and others, LP)
- Restoration Revival Alive (music by Allen and others, LP)
- Sounds of Revival (by Allen and others, LP)
- Sudden Destruction, No Remedy!/Spiritual Suicide! (sermons by Allen, LP)
- Talking Bible: Healing-Health Edition (scriptures read by Allen, LP)
- What Then (sermon by Allen, LP)
- "Evangelist's Death Due to 'Alcoholism'". Washington Post. 1970-06-27. Retrieved 2007-11-12.
- Harrell 1975, p. 67
- Randi, James (1989). The Faith Healers. Prometheus Books. p. 85. ISBN 0-87975-535-0.
- Harrell 1975, p. 68
- Billingsley 2008, p. 189
- Harrell 1975, p. 56
- Harrell 1975, p. 69
- Powers, Charles (March 8, 1970). "REV. A. A. ALLEN: HE SHAKES, SWAYS HALLELUJAH TRAIL". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
- Brown, Candy (2006). "From Tent Meetings and Store-front Healing Rooms to Walmarts and the Internet: Healing Spaces in the United States, the Americas, and the World, 1906–2006". Church History 75 (3): 631–647. doi:10.1017/S000964070009867X.
- "Getting Back Double from God". TIME. March 7, 1969. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- Don Stewart (preacher), Only believe: an eyewitness account of the great healing revivals of the 20th century (Shippensburg, PA: Revival Press, 1999) ISBN 1-56043-340-X page 131
- ""A.A. Allen Revivals, Inc., Looks Ahead!" (full page ad)". Tucson Daily Citizen. July 4, 1970.
- [Bob Thomas, "Miracle Valley Base for Allen Revival," The Arizona Republican, Phoenix, AZ, Nov. 30, 1969, p. A-29
- The Encyclopedia of American Religions. Tarrytown, NY: Triumph Books, 1991, Vol. 1, pp. 258 259.
- Don Stewart (preacher), Only believe: an eyewitness account of the great healing revivals of the 20th century (Shippensburg, PA: Revival Press, 1999) ISBN 1-56043-340-X page 115.
-  Did God Call the Apostle Paul to Preach the Gospel to the Black Man? (album cover)
- Steven Patrick Miller, Billy Graham and the Rise of the Republican South (University of Pennsylvania, 2009), 26-30.
-  A.A. Allen, Let My People Go (digital text)
- "A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc., Looks Ahead!" (full page ad), Tucson Daily Citizen, July 4, 1970, p. 10
- Bob Thomas, "Miracle Valley Base for Allen Revival," The Arizona Republican, Phoenix, AZ, Nov. 30, 1969, p. A-29
- Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. Van Der Maas, The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002, p. 312
- "A. A. Allen Revivals, Inc. v. Commissioner". United States Tax Court. October 11, 1963. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- "A. A. ALLEN REVIVALS, INC., Appellant, v. Ellis CAMPBELL, Jr., District Director of Internal Revenue, Appellee.". United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. November 26, 1965. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- "This refers back to 1960 when the IRS denied tax exemption for the association's predecessor, A. A. Allen Revivals Inc. But in 1963 the Tax Court, after a trial, ruled that the IRS had been wrong. In 1965, the IRS granted the exemption. The IRS says the association "has completely mischaracterized" the court's opinion in that case and that it is not barred from "challenging the association's entitlement to exemption or its status as a church." William M. Ringle Jr., "Church loses tax exempt status," The Business Journal, Sept. 22, 1997.
- "Alcoholism Took Life of Evangelist Allen". Daily Report. June 25, 1970. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- Anglen, Robert (May 4, 2009). "Don Stewart: A life in pursuit of God's reward". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2009-12-18.
- "Well-Healed: All revved over evangelist Leroy Jenkins' pyramid schemes". Phoenix New Times. 1999-07-29. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- "Evangelist death laid to alcohol". Chronicle-Telegram. June 25, 1970. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- "Finances, Fraud and False Teaching - The Troubled History of Don Stewart". Trinity Foundation. 2002. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- Stanley M. Burgess, Eduard M. van der Maas, and Ed van der Maas. New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (Jun 1, 2002), page 312
- Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing Co., 1988), pg. 832.
- "Prescott native hopes ashes will help rebuild his ministry". The Courier. November 5, 1982. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
- Anglen, Robert (May 4, 2009). "A life in pursuit of God's reward". Arizona Republic. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
- "Deputies relive shootout at Miracle Valley". KOLD-TV. February 6, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Black Church Vs. White Pentecostals". Los Angeles Times. Oct 1, 1981. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Miracle Valley 10 freed pending trial". Chicago Tribune. Nov 30, 1982. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Arson Could Be Cause". Kingman Daily Miner. September 22, 1982. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Lack of water hurt firefighting". Kingman Daily Miner. September 13, 1982. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Prescott native hopes ashes will help rebuild his ministry". The Daily Courier. November 5, 1982. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Don Stewart, a former Bible student from Clarkdale, Arizona, began running the operation. Stewart eventually established his own following in Phoenix, and is currently accused of arson and embezzlement by his church."Randi, James (1989). The Faith Healers. Prometheus Books. p. 88. ISBN 0-87975-535-0.
- "Former S. Arizona Bible College gets a new mission". Deseret News. November 6, 1999. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "Religion Briefs". Dallas Morning News. October 16, 1999. Retrieved 2009-05-17.
- "'A Valley in Ruins' for Miracle Valley". Tucson Weekly. 2011-02-22. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
- Petermann, Eric (November 12, 2011). "Restoring Miracle Valley to its former glory latest goal of family’s ministry". The Herald (Sierra Vista). Retrieved November 22, 2011.
- Billingsley, Scott (2008), It's a new day: race and gender in the modern charismatic movement, University of Alabama Press, ISBN 978-0-8173-1606-8
- Harrell, David Edwin (1975), All things are possible: the healing & charismatic revivals in modern America, Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-10090-0
- Morgan, Joshua, "A Valley in Ruins: The Remnants of Miracle Valley," Tucson Weekly (online), Feb. 22, 2011
- Restoration of Miracle Valley