An Overview of Religion in Los Angeles
from the 1930s to the 1980s

Compiled by Clifton L. Holland


By the end of the 1920s, Los Angeles was a major metropolis of 1,238,048 inhabitiants, which made it the fifth-largest city in the nation in 1930.  See the following population table for an overview of population growth in Los Angeles from 1890 to 1980.

year	 rank	 population

1890  	  57  	     50,395
1900  	  36  	    102,479 
1910  	  17  	    319,198   
1920  	  10  	    576,673  
1930  	   5  	  1,238,048  
1940  	   5  	  1,504,277  
1950  	   4  	  1,970,358  
1960  	   3  	  2,479,015  
1970  	   3  	  2,816,061  
1980  	   3  	  2,966,850 

The motion picture industry thrived on the Los Angeles area's advantages after the first decade of the twentieth century, and by 1930 it had earned the city the nickname of "Tinseltown."  Large manufacturing concerns also began opening factories during that time, and the need for new housing created vast areas of suburban neighborhoods and the beginnings of the city's massive freeway system.  The Great Depression and the midwestern drought of the 1930s brought thousands of people to California looking for jobs and new opportunities.

To accommodate its growing population, the city instituted a number of large engineering projects, including the construction of the Hoover Dam, which channeled water to the city from the Colorado River on the California-Arizone border and provided electricity to the growing city from hydroelectric power.  The area's excellent weather made it an ideal location for aircraft testing and construction, and World War II brought hundreds of new industries to the area, boosting the local economy by providing tens of thousands of new jobs.  By the 1950s, Los Angeles was a sprawling metropolis of almost two million people.  It was considered the epitome of everything new and modern in American culture—a combination of super highways, affordable housing, and opportunity for everyone.

According to  Gregory H. Singleton, Religion in the City of Angels:  American Protestant Culture and Urbanization, Los Angeles, 1850-1930 (UMI Research Press, 1979), the City of Los Angeles had 24 known religious denominations in 1906, 31 in 1916 and 57 in 1926, compared to New York City with 66 in 1906, 74 in 1916 and 80 in 1926.  A report in the Los Angeles Times stated that three-quarters of the city's population was unchurched in 1927.  As was the case in other major US cities, the majority of its inhabitants did not belong to religious organizations.  Los Angeles became part of an American society that was fragmented.

Although by 1930, the City of Los Angeles had fewer religious denominations than New York City and Chicago, there were "more sects, cults and denominations [in Los Angeles] than in any other city in the world," according to a sociologist of religion in 1927 (quoted by Singleton, p. 147).  There were many New Religious Movements (NRMs) with strange sounding names in Los Angeles:   Nuptual Feast Ecclesia, Firebrands for Jesus, Agabeg Occult Church, First Assembly of the First Born of the United Sons of the Almighty, and Nothing Impossible, according to Singleton.

There were two reasons why Los Angeles has been perceived as the city of religious oddities.  The first is the physical structure of the area.  The population, business and civic services of Los Angeles are spread over a vast area in comparison with most cities, and in the 1920s the distribution was greater still.  The predominance of single-function buildings, and the great amount of space between them, called the attention of the visitor to phenomena that were present in other cities, but not as visible.  Cults that would have been housed in "store fronts" in other cities worshipped in distinctive ecclesiastical buildings in Los Angeles.  Furthermore, those who created the image of Los Angeles as a haven for cults were primarily Easterners who were not used to seeing either Protestantism or cultic religion practices so openly. 

The second reason for the image is that there is some truth to it.  There is no way to measure the intensity of religious activity, but there are reasons to assume that the activity of cults in Los Angeles may have been more intense than in other cities.  The peripherial religious organizations were a small, but important, part of the reaction of Los Angelinos to their rapidly changing environment.  The reaction was complex and varied.  To some extent, the religious community became fragmented into "locals" and cosmopolitans," but that was in the context of an existing division into congregational, denominational, associational and municipal levels of activity.  The new social order further diversified the population.  There was a general pattern that emerged, however, which subsumed the complexities.  Los Angeles Protestants and their institutions tended either to accept the new social order in which the voluntaristic churches were no longer at the center, but only one of many functions in a corporate structure, or they rejected the social role of the church and concentrated on the internal religious life.

The profiles that follow are examples of the complex religious diversity that developed in the Los Angeles metropolitan area between 1930 and the 1980s.  However, at the end of this section there is more information about the parallel history of religion among the major race-ethnic groups in Los Angeles.

(Much of the information presented above is based on Singleton, 1979.)


Brief Summaries of Specific Religious Groups & Personalities-1

The Agasha Temple of Wisdom

The Agasha Temple of Wisdom is an organization that teaches the philosophy of an age-old study of truth called the Universal Understanding of the God Consciousness.   It was officially founded in 1943 in Los Angeles, California.   However, the Agasha Temple of Wisdom dates back its origin to seven thousand years ago in a land called Austa (Egypt today) where individuals from 37 different sects or tribes all came together to study and practice this philosophy of the Universal God Consciousness.

These individuals understood the laws of the universe and were aware that the world was about to transition from an enlightened period to a darkened age. The accomplishments and wisdom that the human consciousness had reached on the physical plane would be lost for several thousand years. The leaders of these 37 sects, some of them great masters on the physical plane, held what is known as the Grand Convention. Here they discussed the preservation of the knowledge they had obtained and a method to protect this wisdom for future generations. They conceived the idea of an organization that would bring this Universal God Consciousness back to the physical plane and awaken those who were seeking the truth. They knew it would be about 7,000 years before the physical plane would again reach a state of enlightenment when this information could be disseminated.

These leaders were faced with the difficulty of knowing that their language would be lost and their alphabet of symbols, referred to today as hieroglyphics, would not be discernable. As a result, they would need to devise a more direct method of communication. Different masters volunteered to be stationed at different times in upcoming history to bring forth wisdom and foretell of prophecies. Master Agasha was the first leader to step forward and suggest that he be the one to lay a foundation from which all other teachers would build. And, it is in his honor that the Agasha Temple of Wisdom was named.

Master Agasha and Master Ayuibbi developed a new method of mediumship or instrumentality called the inter-transitory medium. This is an elevated trance medium who can go into a dead trance for several hours at a time. This, achieved through a chemicalization process, changes the metabolic rate within the individual so that he may reach the inter-transitory passive state. In this inter-transitory state, the instrument leaves his physical body and one these masters can take control and speak directly to the students of the physical plane. The individuals who agreed to become these new types of mediums were the personal students of the master teachers who were to bring forth the god consciousness.

The first inter-transitory medium was Richard Zenor, student of his soul teacher, Master Agasha. Reverend Zenor provided his services for these teachings for almost 40 years until his passing in 1978. The second inter-transitory medium was Geary Salvat, student of his soul teacher, Master Ayuibbi. Reverend Salvat functioned as the inter-transitory instrument as well as a teacher during his 21 years of service to the Agasha Temple of Wisdom until his passing in 2002. He had reached mastery within his own right and personally continued to teach the philosophy in addition to his dedication as an instrument to those teachers from the astral state.

SOURCE:  adapted from

The Worldwide Church of God

The famous controversial radio preacher Herbert W. Armstrong had its international headquarters in Pasadena from 1946 to 2006, when the Worldwide Church of God moved its offices to nearby Glendale,   Armstrong was ordained by the Oregon Conference of The Church of God in 1931, and began serving a congregation in Eugene, Oregon.  On January 7, 1934, the president of the Radio Church of God began broadcasting with the astonishing teachings of its founder, a former advertising man named Herbert W. Armstrong.  Among his claims were that the British and their colonists in America had descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel and that God was not a Trinity but a family (Father and Son, but no Holy Ghost).  On his program, The World Tomorrow, and in his magazine, the Plain Truth, Armstrong called his beliefs the product of methodical explication of the Bible, which he said was a coded message not allowed to be revealed and decoded until this time.

In 1933, the Church of God split, and Armstrong sided with the faction that located its headquarters in Salem, West Virginia. In 1937 the Church of God (Seventh-Day) revoked Armstrong's ministerial credentials, but he continued broadcasting.  Armstrong moved to Pasadena, California, and he incorporated his church for the first time on March 3, 1946, as the Radio Church of God and later the Worldwide Church of God.  His message has been described by those who disagree with him as an eclectic mixture of cultic doctrine, Jewish observances and Seventh-day Adventism.  In 1947, Ambassador College was founded in Pasadena by the Worldwide Church of God.  The campus of the college served as the headquarters for the church.

The Worldwide Church of God is established under a hierarchical, non-voting form of government. The chief ecclesiastical and chief corporate executive officer of the denomination is termed the Pastor General.   Historically, Pastors General, as chairmen of their board, have appointed their own successor without representative vote from the membership.  The current Pastor General is Joseph Tkach, Jr.

Religion in Los Angeles during the 1940s and 1950s

The Mid-Century Revival in Southern California:  Protestant churches were filled with worshippers, large "evangelistic crusades" and "healing crusades" were held by well-known Protestant evangelists and faith healers with tens of thousands of reported conversions, new larger church auditoriums were built to accomodate the growing congregations, new churches were built in the growing suburbs as the automobile and city buses replaced the old Pacific Electric Red Cars, and hundreds of thousands of new arrivals during the WW II era spurred the development of hundreds of new communities in the Los Angeles basin filled with displaced peoples from all over the US and from around the world.  Many of these new arrivals were drawn to the growing marketplace of religious options available to them.

* * *

Charles E. Fuller (1887-1968) was the radio pastor of "The Old-Fashoned Revival Hour" (1937-1968); for nearly 17 years (1941-1958), beginning with World War II, the program was broadcast each Sunday afternoon from the Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, where it drew huge audiences.  At the time of Dr. Fuller's death, the broadcast was heard on more than 500 stations around the world.  Charles E. Fuller, a graduate of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA), became chairman of the board and he later cofounded the nondenominational Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, which later became one of the largest Protestant seminaries in the world.

Fuller Seminary was founded in 1947 by Charles E. Fuller, a well-known radio evangelist, Harold Ockenga, pastor of Park Street Church in Boston; Carl F. H. Henry, Wilbur Moorehead Smith and Harold Lindsell.  It began with the theological vision of reforming fundamentalism from its anti-intellectual and socially isolationist stance of the 1920-40 era.  The founders envisaged that the seminary would become the Caltech of Christian scholarship.

Some of the earliest faculty held to theologically and socially conservative views, which later gave way to more progressive thinking in the 1960s and 1970s.  There were tensions in the late 1950s and early 1960s as some of the conservative faculty members—such as Carl F. H. Henry, Harold Lindsell, Wilbur Moorehead Smith and Gleason Archer -- became uncomfortable with staff and students who did not agree with total biblical inerrancy.   These tensions are discussed at length in George Marsden's well-known historical account of the seminary and its place in the rise of neo-evangelicalism.   Since the 1970s, Fuller has gone through significant transformation and is influential today as a progressive evangelical institution with strong commitment to scholarship and training of Christian leaders, as well as to social justice and mission.

The Bible Institute of Los Angeles was renamed BIOLA College in 1949.   Under the leadership of Samuel H. Sutherland, president from 1952 to 1970, BIOLA moved its campus to its current location in La Mirada in the summer of 1959, where it later became an accredited four-year evangelical university.

* * *

Henrietta Mears (1890-1963) developed the field of Christian Education for local churches and founded Gospel Light Press.  Mears  was one of the "original five" who have influenced the direction of those connected to Fuller Theological Seminary and many other people.  Dr. Henrietta Mears was raised Baptist under the ministry of W. D. Riley.  In 1928, she become the Director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, California. While there she founded Forest Home Christian Conference Center in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California.  Her influence was widespread as she preached to thousands of young people.  Dr. Charles E. Fuller promoted Mears and her Forest Home conferences on his radio show, the Old Fashioned Revival Hour.  Fuller would announce the conferences and encourage his listeners to attend in order to work toward revival, which he and the others had as their ultimate goal. 

Gospel Light Press later became Gospel Light Publishing, a division of Regal Books.  From the Gospel Light website: 

"Henrietta C. Mears was one of the great Bible teachers of the 20th century.  While Christian Education Director at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, she built one of the largest Sunday Schools in the world and wrote curriculum that was in such high demand that to publish it, she founded Gospel Light in 1933.  Such notable Christian leaders as Richard C. Halverson, Louis Evans, Jr. and Bill Bright were among her students...1946: Praise Books publications was established to distribute youth songs...G.L. Services began in 1991 to meet the needs of Gospel Light Publications for state-of-the-art distribution and information management capabilities.  GL. Services was launched as a freestanding entity in 1993 with full services to NavPress, Joy of Living and Gospel Light.  We have since added WaterBrook Press (a division of Random House), Aglow International, Global Harvest, Church Growth Institute and US Prayer Track...."

Louis H. Evans, Jr. (   ), was the son of the Louis H. Evans, Sr, pastor of Hollywood Presbyterian Church.  In the living room of Henrietta Mears home, Louis Evans Jr. started his "Hollywood Christian Group," which members included Roy Rogers and Dale Evans.  The group was chaplained by J. Edwin Orr from 1949 to 1951.

Henrietta presented her theology as "the Cause of Christ," which meant winning the world to Christ and establishing Christianity as the guiding force in society through evangelization of the world.   The Fellowship of the Burning Heart, established by Mears at Forest Home, was where she encouraged her students to be willing to die for "the Cause of Christ."   She laid her hands on them to receive her mantle, hence, receiving within themselves a "burning heart." 

In 1947 she gave a speech at Forest Home that resulted in motivating and calling what were later called the "acceptable anointed evangelists" namely Billy Graham, Richard Halverson, Bill Bright and several others. 

* * *

Dr. Richard C. Halverson (1916-1995) was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1942.  Before becoming a minister, Halverson pursued a career as an entertainer in the 1930s while in Hollywood. He was a prolific author with such works as Gospel for the Whole of Life, The Word of a Gentleman, The Timelessness of Jesus Christ, Walk with God between Sundays, Prayers Offered by the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, We The People, and many more.  A member of the Fellowship of the Burning Heart, Halverson, along with Vonette Bright was influential in having the Senate declare the National Day of Prayer.

He was managing Director of Forest Home Christian Conference Center in California in 1942 and was at that time, 1942-1944, assistant minister of Lynwood Presbyterian Church, Kansas City, Mo.  He became director of  Forest Home Christian Conference in 1944 as well as minister of  First Presbyterian Church, Coalinga, CA, until 1947.  From there he became minister of new life at First Presbyterian Church, Hollywood, CA, from 1947 to 1956.  In 1957 he became minister of  Fourth Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C. 

In 1956, Halverson moved to Washington, D.C., to work with the Fellowship Foundation and help coordinate the annual National Prayer Breakfast.   In 1958, he accepted the position of senior pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland.  Over the next twenty-three years, his influence and reputation grew considerably.  Under Halverson's leadership, Fourth Presbyterian tripled in size from 600 to almost 2,000 members.  He continued to teach at pastors' and leadership conferences for both World Vision and the Fellowship, traveling throughout Africa, Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Oceania and the United States.  He also authored twenty-seven books on the Christian life, and wrote Perspective, a devotional newsletter read by thousands worldwide for nearly fifty years.

In 1981, backed by Senator Mark Hatfield and other prominent members of the Senate, Halverson was appointed Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, where he served for the next fourteen years.  In a city where image is everything, Halverson was known for driving himself to work in an old car and roaming Capitol Hill to greet everyone from senators to janitors. "We live in a very skeptical town," says Senator Robert Byrd.  "It is full of doubters and cynics. But Dick Halverson always represented the solid rock of faith, [reminding us that] there is life beyond the Senate, there is a life beyond a political party, and there is life beyond this life."


* * *

Young Southern Baptist evangelist Billy Graham became a worldwide celebrity during a successful "evangelistic crusade" in Los Angeles in 1949.   Originally, the crusade was scheduled for three weeks, but the meetings were extended to more than eight weeks, with overflow crowds filling a large tent erected in a vacant lot in downtown Los Angeles.

When the Los Angeles Crusade began in 1949, Billy Graham preached to the masses of Hollywood celebrities crowded into the preaching tent, and Armin Gesswein was leading a prayer service in a separate "prayer tent" where up to 1,000 lesser-known people quietly gathered to cry out to God.  They were asking God to rend the heavens and come down, for God to pour out his Holy Spirit, to anoint Billy Graham, for people to be convicted of their sin and to dramatically repent and be converted. Young Graham himself consistently came into the tent for prayer prior to preaching.  It has been said that without the effectiveness of the intercession from the prayer tent rising before God's throne, there may well have not been the life-transforming power  falling from God's throne in the preaching tent.   

On November 7, 1983, Billy Graham stood on the corner of Washington and Hill Streets in Los Angeles at the exact spot of his prior crusade to receive an award from Mayor Bradley as a marker was erected to commemorate the historic significance of what took place in 1949.  However, the launching of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association may not have come from the preaching tent at the Los Angeles Crusade in 1949 as many have assumed, but from the pre-Los Angeles Crusade prayer meeting in Winona Lake and the Los Angeles prayer tent.  ( )

"Mr. Graham has preached the Gospel to more people in live audiences than anyone else in history—over 210 million people in more than 185 countries and territories—through various meetings, including Mission World and Global Mission.  Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film and webcasts."  ( )

* * *

Dr. J. Edwin Orr (1912-1987), an Irishman, was co-founder of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in the U.S. in 1942.  In 1948 he earned a doctorate in "Awakenings" at Oxford.  It was Orr who laid hands on Billy Graham at Forest Home, so he could "be filled" with the Holy Spirit.  Orr was an ordained Baptist minister, and was professor of Fuller's School of World Mission from 1966 forward.  From 1933-1942 he was with International Christian Leadership in Washington, D.C., and from 1947 forward he was chaplain of mission to the academic community, lecturing in universities and colleges throughout world.  In 1973 he became director of the Oxford Association for Research in Evangelical Awakening.

One bio states, "Dr J. Edwin Orr was a leading scholar of revivals who published detailed books about evangelical awakenings."

Another biography reveals, "...In 1966, Orr became a professor at Fuller Seminary's School of World Mission, a position he held until 1981. Besides his teaching and writing, he greatly stimulated the study and understanding of revivals and evangelism through his founding in 1974 and continuing leadership of the Oxford Reading and Research Conference on Evangelical Awakenings....He was an advisor of Billy Graham's from the start of that evangelist's career, a friend of Abraham Vereide and helped shape the prayer breakfast movement that grew out of Vereide's International Christian Leadership..."

Orr developed the groundwork for Bill Bright's Campus Crusade for  Christ and Billy Graham’s “new understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit.”  Orr, an Oxford seminarian, traveled as a historian and theologian to major cities and universities globally to prepare the way for ecumenism on college campuses.  One researcher wrote, "The ecumenical groups on campus who were pre-conditioned by Orr to look for a 'great end-time harvest', and sweeping "revival" movement, or "awakening" prepared the way for Bill Bright's ecumenical ministry. The success of Campus Crusade for Christ was a direct result of the groundwork layed by Orr.  Orr's vouching for Billy Graham's "new understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit", which he conveyed in letters to key workers, paved the way for his success in ministry as well." 

The NAE history reveals the roots of this massive organization and some of it's influence..

"...The Association traces its beginnings to April 7-9, 1942, when a modest group of 147 people met in St. Louis with the hopes of reviving the fortunes of evangelical Christianity in America....Instead of acting like brothers (Christians), they acted like rivals, weakening the possibilities of meaningful Christian witness. This was particularly disheartening to the Reverend J. Elwin Wright of the New England Fellowship, the man whose ideas and energies, more than any other single individual, resulted in the formation of NAE...He followed in the footsteps of his father, a Free Will Baptist minister turned Free Methodist minister, who left his denomination to start an independent Pentecostal ministry called the First Fruits Harvesters Association in Rumney, New Hampshire. After graduating from the Missionary Training Institute at Nyack, New York, (now Nyack College) in 1921, he was ordained by his father to the work in 1929, he transformed First Fruits Harvesters into the New England Fellowship. Rather than continuing a ministry devoted to Pentecostal distinctives, the new fellowship would serve a broader constituency by operating a summer conference to inspire and bring together evangelicals of all stripes throughout New England. This was not his only change. In 1934 Wright became a Congregationalist, being received on profession of faith into the membership of Park Street Church in Boston. The new ecclesiastical commitment proved beneficial to the New England Fellowship, enhancing Wright's relationship with a number of emerging evangelical leaders, including one who would play a role in NAE, the Reverend Harold John Ockenga...the fellowship did more than bring New Englanders together; by hosting such prominent personalities as William B. Riley of Minneapolis, Will Houghton of New York, Charles Fuller of Los Angeles and Walter Maier of St. Louis, Wright expanded the horizons of New Englanders...

* * *

Armin R. Gesswein (ca. 1909- 2001), a Lutheran pastor from Norway, was the founder of the Minister’s Prayer Fellowship and The Revival Prayer Fellowship in the USA.  Gesswein started Pacific Palisades Conferences, out of which came Prayer Revival Fellowship.  The purpose was to get pastors together to pray for their cities. Eventually Prayer Revival Fellowships were started in every U.S. city, as well as globally.  These precipitated today's ecumenical prayer breakfasts.  It was C. E. Fuller's suggestion that motivated Armin Gesswein to move to Los Angeles.  He was a Senior Advisor on America’s National Prayer Committee and president of Ministers' Prayer Fellowship based at Fuller Theological Seminary. 

Armin was a local church pastor, evangelist, revivalist and mentor to countless people in countless countries of the world.  He was an adjunct faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and he was a faculty member in The College of Prayer.

"God is pouring out His Holy Spirit in these days and He is mobilizing a mighty movement of pre-revival prayer.....It is not enough for a church to be a praying church, holy and strengthened and equipped. Our mission is to see local churches revived so that God will then be able to work through those local churches to radically impact their community and their world."

The vision of the College of Prayer was birthed in the heart of Armin Gesswein in 1931 while pastoring a church in Long Island, New York. When the Holy Spirit brought revival to his congregation, God called him into the ministry of revival prayer. This burden led Armin to be involved in the great revival in Norway and has been a catalyst for revival prayer for almost seven decades.   David Bryant refers to Armin Gesswein as "Senior Statesman of the Prayer Movement."

"God has used Prayer Summits throughout North America and the world to place a passion for revival within the hearts of Christian leaders."

* * *

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Rainbow Room Prayer Meeting Led to Tonight's Billy Graham Crusade

Tonight in Los Angeles, Billy Graham, 86, returns to the Rose Bowl to begin a crusade that will have 20,000 volunteers from over 1,200 churches representing 95 denominations working together in the four-day crusade slated for November 18-21.

It was 55 years ago, in 1949, that a young Billy Graham preached a tent revival in Los Angeles that launched him into worldwide prominence. Since then he has preached to more than 210 million people in more than 185 countries.

What is not known by most people is the role that a prayer meeting in the Rainbow Room of the Westminster Hotel in Winona Lake, Indiana, played in launching Graham’s stellar ministry.

Fred Hartley, writing in his book “Everything by Prayer,” gives details. The book, published by Christian Publications Inc., is the biography of Armin Gesswein, a Lutheran minister who was a pastor, seminary professor, associate evangelist of the BGEA, and founder of the Minister’s Prayer Fellowship and the Revival Prayer Fellowship. He passed away March 14, 2001. Here is an edited version of Hartley’s account:

“Of all the stories told that day [at Gesswein’s memorial service], perhaps the most gripping was the story of the prayer meeting that is said to have launched Billy Graham's world-impacting evangelistic ministry.

It was 3 o'clock in the morning on Wednesday, July 13, 1949. Between forty and fifty young men were gathered in the Rainbow Room of the Westminster Hotel in Winona Lake, Indiana. They had been there for five hours praying.

Evangelist Armin Gesswein of Southern California, who had been invited to conduct the prayer sessions, exhorted Billy, "If you are going to have prayer as part of your crusade, it has to be frontal not peripheral." That is exactly how an all-night prayer meeting happened to be called in the midst of a busy week-long Youth For Christ convention.

The men had been alternating prayers with praise, verses of Scripture, and requests for more prayer. Things were beginning to warm up. Hearts were poured out before God. The tide was running high. Gesswein stood to his feet. "You know," he said, "our brother Billy Graham is coming out to Los Angeles for a crusade this fall. Why don't we just gather around this man and lay our hands on him and really pray for him? Let's ask God for a fresh touch to anoint him for this work."

When it was over and the men were still kneeling, Billy Graham opened his Bible to Joel 3:13 and with deep conviction read aloud the words, "Put in your sickle, for the harvest is ripe: Come, get you down: for the press is full, and the vats overflow." Prayer went on in the Rainbow Room for another hour before the men retired.

When it all happened a few months later in Los Angeles, the reporters were there and the harvest became front-page news. But the newspapers did not report that night of prayer in the Rainbow Room.

Dr. Ted Engstrom reflected, "No one who was at that prayer meeting in Winona Lake in 1949 could possibly have forgotten it. It was one of the greatest nights that those of us present could ever remember. One aspect of it was the complete unanimity of spirit. Practically all of the men present found places of significant leadership in evangelism in the days following."

On November 7, 1983, Billy Graham stood on the corner of Washington and Hill Streets in Los Angeles at the exact spot of his prior crusade to receive an award from Mayor Bradley as a marker was erected to commemorate the historic significance of what took place in 1949.

However, the launching of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association may not have come from the preaching tent at the Los Angeles Crusade in 1949 as many have assumed, but from the pre-Los Angeles Crusade prayer meeting in Winona Lake and the Los Angeles prayer tent.

God keeps the books and when they are opened from the other side of eternity, we may be surprised to learn the invisible interplay between the private little prayer meetings and the great big public results. "


* * *

Dr. William "Bill" R. Bright (1921- 2003) attended Princeton Theological Seminary in 1946, and in 1947 enrolled as a member of the first class of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.  He was President and founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and involved in Lausanne Consultations.  Being a salesman, Bill Bright brought into being the marketable version of the Gospel in his "Four Spiritual Laws" booklet, of which Bill declares, "millions have received Christ."    

It was in 1947 that Bright joined Mears's discipleship group known as "the Fellowship of the Burning Heart."  Henrietta layed hands hands on Bill to impart to him her mantle, and receive him into the Fellowship of the Burning Heart.  Due to Mears influence and guidance, he and several friends pledged "absolute consecration to Christ."  He and his wife lived with Henrietta Mears for eleven years, and used her home as the center for the emerging Campus Crusade for Christ. 

In 1951, Bill had a vision for taking the world for Christ.  He sought the counsel of his closest friends including, Wilbur M. Smith, Henrietta Mears, Billy Graham, Richard Halverson, Dawson Trotman (founded The Navigators in 1934), Cyrus Nelson, Dan Fuller and J. Edwin Orr.  The UCLA campus was CCC's first mission field.  Campus Crusade for Christ is the collegiate ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International, " a family of more than 50 ministries worldwide."  The original Board Members of the Campus Crusade (1951) included: Henrietta Mears, Billy Graham, Dawson Trotman, Dan Fuller and J. Edwin Orr.


Brief Summaries of Specific Religious Groups & Personalities-2

Scientology is a body of beliefs and related techniques created by American science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard in 1952 as an outgrowth of his earlier self-help system, Dianetics.[1] Hubbard later characterized Scientology as an "applied religious philosophy" and the basis for a new religion.

Scientology also refers to the Church of Scientology, founded in 1954 in Los Angeles and by far the largest organization promoting the practice of Scientology.

Scientology's doctrines were established by Hubbard over a period of about 34 years, beginning in 1952 and continuing until his death in January 1986. Most of the basic principles were set out during the 1950s and 1960s. Now described as an "applied religious philosophy," Scientology was at first secular; Hubbard began to characterize Scientology's beliefs and practices as a religion in 1953, and by 1960 he had redefined it as a "religion by its basic tenets."[47]

Hubbard appears to have drawn liberally from a wide variety of pre-existing ideas, though he provided little specific citation of, or commentary on, his sources. The Church of Scientology presents Hubbard's work as completely original, reflected in the fact that Scientologists refer to Hubbard himself as "Source." Scientology recapitulates and builds on ideas Hubbard introduced in Dianetics, an earlier system of self-improvement techniques laid out in his 1950 book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. In 1945, Hubbard was for several months in contact with Aleister Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis chapter in Los Angeles, a group headed by John W. Parsons.[48] In a 1952 lecture series, Hubbard recommended a book of Crowley's and referred to him as "Mad Old Boy"[49][50] and as "my very good friend."[51] An influence acknowledged by Hubbard is the system of General Semantics developed by Alfred Korzybski in the 1930s, which was influential in the science-fiction subculture of the 1940s.[52] Scientology also reflects the influence of the Hindu concept of karma, as well as the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and William Sargant. Sociologist David G. Bromley of Virginia Commonwealth University characterizes Scientology as "a 'quasi-religious therapy' that resembles Freudian 'depth psychology' while also drawing upon Buddhism, Hinduism, and the ancient, heretical offshoot of Christianity known as gnosticism."

The Church of Scientology has consistently attracted artists and entertainers, particularly Hollywood celebrities. L. Ron Hubbard saw to the formation of a special Church of Scientology which would cater to artists, politicians, leaders of industry, sports figures and anyone with the power and vision "to create a better world".[83] There are eight of what are referred to as Celebrity Centers across the world, though Hollywood is the largest and most important.

Publicity has been generated by Scientologists in the entertainment industry. Among the most well-known of these figures are John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Catherine Bell, Beck, Jason Lee, Isaac Hayes, Tom Cruise, and Katie Holmes. Also James Packer, Australia's richest man, is a Scientologist.[84]

Of the many new religious movements to appear during the 20th century, the Church of Scientology has, from its inception, been one of the most controversial. The organization has come into conflict with the governments and police forces of several countries (including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany) numerous times over the years, though supporters note that many major world religions have found themselves in conflict with civil government in their early years.

Reports and allegations have been made, by journalists, courts, and governmental bodies of several countries, that the Church of Scientology is an unscrupulous commercial enterprise that harasses its critics and brutally exploits its members.[7][90] In some cases of US litigation against the Church, former Scientologists were paid as expert witnesses and have since stated that they submitted false and inflammatory declarations, intended to be carried in the media to incite prejudice against Scientology,[91] and deliberately harassed key Scientology executives, by knowingly advancing unfounded opinions, either to get a case dropped or to obtain a large settlement.[92]

In Germany Scientology is considered a business, rather than a religious organization, and Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain, Israel, the United Kingdom and Mexico have not recognized Scientology as a religion.

Adapted from:


The Los Angeles Mormon Temple, the second largest temple operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is on Santa Monica Blvd. in the Westwood district of Los Angeles.  Dedicated in 1956, it was the first Mormon Temple built in California.  In the Latter-Day Saint movement (LDS, also known as Mormonism), a temple is a building dedicated to be a house of God and is reserved for special forms of worship.  A temple differs from a church meetinghouse, which is used for weekly worship services.  Temples have been a significant part of the Latter-Day Saint movement since its inception.    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints operates over 120 Temples worldwide to perform endowment ceremonies, marriages, and other rituals for both the living and by proxy in behalf of dead ancestors.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi founded the Transcendental Meditation movement in Los Angeles in the late 1950s. 


A Brief History of Fuller Theological Seminary, 1947-1969

The founding of Fuller Theological Seminary resulted from the combination of the dreams of two well-known evangelical leaders, Charles E. Fuller, famous radio evangelist, and Harold John Ockenga, pastor of the Park Street Church, Boston.  In Dr. Ockenga, Dr. Fuller found one who not only shared his zeal for evangelism and mission, but one whose academic achievements suited him well for a role in founding a theological seminary.

In May, 1947, the two men and four other evangelical scholars met in downtown Chicago for a time of seeking God’s will concerning the feasibility of launching a new theological seminary.  So strong was the spirit of prayer that the participants were convinced that God was indeed leading them into this venture of faith, and Fuller Theological Seminary was launched.  As the result of announcements made on [Fuller's] "Old Fashioned Revival Hour" that summer, 39 students enrolled in the first entering class in the fall of 1947.   Charter members of the faculty were Drs. Everett F. Harrison, Carl F. H. Henry, Harold Lindsell and Wilbur M. Smith.  Trustees Herbert J. Taylor of Chicago, Arnold Grunigen of San Francisco, Dr. R. C. Logefeil of Minneapolis, together with Drs. Ockenga and Fuller (chairman), formed the founding Board of Trustees.

Fuller Seminary was named after [Dr. Fuller's father,] Henry Fuller, a devout Christian layman who actively supported many Christian causes in this country and overseas.

For the next six years, the seminary was housed in the buildings of the Lake Avenue Congregational Church of Pasadena. During this time, it grew to a student body of 250 and a faculty of 15, with 152 graduates.   In the fall of 1953, the seminary moved to its present location [in downtown Pasadena] where a suitable building had been constructed specifically for its use.

By making frequent flights from Boston to Pasadena, Dr. Ockenga served as president until 1954, when Edward John Carnell was appointed the first resident presiding officer.  Dr. Ockenga became the chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Dr. Fuller, honorary chairman.  A number of notable advances were made during Dr. Carnell’s five years as president, among which were receiving full accreditation by the American Association of Theological Schools in December 1957, the addition of several key faculty and board members, and an increase in student enrollment to over 300, with 524 graduates.

President Carnell resigned his position in 1959 to give himself fully to teaching and writing, and Dr. Ockenga again became president. During his second term (1959-1963) the McAlister Library was completed.

In 1963 the Board of Trustees appointed David Allan Hubbard to the office of president.  A Fuller graduate (B.D., Th.M.), Dr. Hubbard had proved his potential for Christian leadership through doctoral studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland, a professorship at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, and a widespread college conference ministry.  Major advancements under President Hubbard’s guidance included the introduction of the core curriculum, the inauguration of the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in the School of Theology, and the founding of the Schools of Psychology and World Mission.   Accreditation for the three schools by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges was received in 1969.


Brief Summaries of Specific Religious Groups & Personalities-3

The B.O.T.A. Temple In Los Angeles

The Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.) Temple in Los Angeles was established and dedicated by Reverend Ann Davies [1912-1975] in October 1959.   B.O.T.A. was founded by Paul Foster Case (1884-1954) and extended by Ann Davies.  In 1926, Case established the first   Builders of the Adytum temple in Boston, but the organization was not incorporated until October 1928 in Massachusettes; in 1932, Case moved to Los Angeles, abandoning once and for all his career as a musician, and established  B.O.T.A. on the West Coast.  Over the next three decades, Case organized the curriculum of correspondence lessons covering practically the whole corpus of what is called the Western Mystery Tradition; Tarot, Qabalah, and Alchemy.  Ann Davies continued the work of B.O.T.A. after Case's death in 1954.

Builders of the Adytum is a non-profit, tax-exempt religious organization irrevocably dedicated to spiritual attunement through enlightened worship in the Tradition of the Western Mysteries.  Its congregation is an association of spiritual aspirants who participate through the B.O.T.A. lesson instructions. Wherever they may be geographically, they are, in fact, participating in mystical-esoteric meditational practices that unify them into a powerful metaphysical body of enlightened worship.   There is no charge for any instructions or other benefits B.O.T.A. freely offers its dues paying members.  The Order’s material needs are supported solely by membership dues-contributions and other donations.  The Los Angeles B.O.T.A Temple has been a heartbeat of group study and ritual work consecrated to receiving and relaying spiritual energies which nourish, strengthen, and sustain the health of the nations and the Order.

Builders of the Adytum derives from antiquity. Adytum is Greek for “Inner Shrine” or “Holy of Holies” and Builders refers to the emulation of the Carpenter from Nazareth, Jesus, whom many people believe was versed in the Qabalistic Tradition. However, B.O.T.A. is not a strictly Christian organization, nor is it Jewish, as the Qabalah is thought to be. B.O.T.A. accepts the Qabalah as the mystical root of both ancient Judaism and the original Christianity, but people of all faiths should have no difficulty accepting B.O.T.A. teachings if they are mystically inclined.

The evolution of form upon this planet corresponds with the evolution of consciousness. Consequently, in the natural course of events, all men and women will ultimately be possessed of higher consciousness.  Almost incomprehensible periods of time elapse, however, before such changes occur in the slow processes of nature.  Yet speed-ups are possible.  Humankind is endowed with mental and physical faculties which, with proper training, enable an acceleration of the evolutionary process.  This cultural forcing process is the work of the Mystery Schools, ancient and modern.

The means whereby higher consciousness, illumination, may be gained includes both theory and practice.  These teachings and practical secrets constitute what is known as Ageless Wisdom.  It is called “Ageless” because it is not susceptible to the mutations of time. Ageless Wisdom is not primarily a product of man’s thinking.   It is “written by God upon the face of nature,” and is always there for men and women of all epochs to read, if they can.

Builders of the Adytum is an authentic Mystery School.  Its system is that of the Western Tradition. Its teachings, which are based on the Holy Qabalah and the Sacred Tarot, have been handed down from one group of initiates to another since very ancient times.  Its work, however, does not bid for interest on the ground of mere antiquity, but because it has met the tests of centuries of practical application.


The Ministry of Katherine Kuhlman

From 1965 to 1975, independent Pentecostal evangelist and "faith healer" Katherine Kuhlman (1906-1976) held "Miracle Crusades" in the Los Angeles area, first at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, which seated 2,500, but later at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium, where she regularly filled the 7,000 seats for ten years.  She also continued to hold frequent meetings in Pittsburgh while expanding into television, producing more than five hundred telecasts for the BAS network.  In 1972 she received the first honorary doctorate awarded by Oral Roberts University. 

It was not until the mid-1960's that Kuhlman became particularly identified with the Charismatic Renewal Movement.  However many Holiness Pentecostals found her twice suspect:   she was a divorcee, and she did not satisfy them by giving testimony in her ministry to any personal experience of "speaking in tongues."   She did not permit tongues-speaking in her so-called miracle services.  Kuhlman objected to the label "faith healer."  The only gift she claimed, if any at all, was that of "faith" or "the word of knowledge" (1 Cor 12:8-9).   She always referred to herself as an evangelist. 

Apart from the well-documented healings, the most sensational phenomena associated with Kuhlman was "going under the power" (sometimes referred to as being "slain in the Spirit") as people fell when she prayed for them.  This sometimes happened to dozens as a time and occasionally to hundreds.  Kuhlman has been called "the world's most widely known female evangelist" (Burgess/McGee, 529).

* * *

The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), a fellowship of liberal Christian congregations with a focus on outreach to gays and lesbians, was started in Los Angeles in 1968 by Troy Perry.  Below is a brief description from the MCC website:

In 1968, a year before New York's Stonewall Riots, a series of most unlikely events in Southern California resulted in the birth of the world's first church group with a primary, positive ministry to gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender persons.

Those events, a failed relationship, an attempted suicide, a reconnection with God, an unexpected prophecy, and the birth of a dream led to MCC's first worship service: a gathering of 12 people in Rev. Troy Perry's living room in Huntington Park, California on
October 6, 1968.

That first worship service in a Los Angeles suburb in 1968 launched the international movement of Metropolitan Community Churches, which today has grown to 43,000 members and adherents in almost 300 congregations in 22 countries. During the past 36 years, MCC's prophetic witness has forever changed the face of Christianity and helped to fuel the international struggle for LGBT rights and equality

These edited excerpts are from
"The Lord Is My Shepherd, And He Knows I'm Gay" authored by MCC Founder and Moderator, Rev. Troy D. Perry.  The book is available on-line at

* * *

Dr. Frederick Price and Crenshaw Christian Center

Ever Increasing Faith Ministries (EIFM) is the missionary outreach arm of Crenshaw Christian Center (CCC), located on the former campus of Pepperdine University in South-Central Los Angeles.   The CCC is a Pentecostal megachurch founded by Dr. Frederick K. C. Price, an Afro-American, in 1973.  EIFM began televising the faith message of Dr. Price locally and later expanded its telecasts to five major US cities in an effort to reach Black America.    A charismatic speaker and prolific writer, Dr. Price served with four major denominations before, as he testifies, receiving “the gift of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues,” citing this as the real beginning of his ministry.  Stirred by the lives of Katherine Kuhlman, Oral Roberts and Kenneth Hagin, Price embraced their Charismatic message of faith, healing and prosperity, with an emphasis on the sign gifts of the Spirit. 

In 1990, Dr. Price founded the Fellowship of Inner-City Word of Faith Ministries (FICWFM) to foster and spread the faith message among independent ministries located in the urban, metropolitan areas of the US.  The Fellowship of Inner City Word of Faith Ministries is a membership organization of churches and ministries.  The ministry conducts teaching seminars for training inner city ministers and pastors. 

Price ministers from the 10,000-seat Faith Dome on the 32-acre campus of the Crenshaw Christian Center, which has a multi-racial congregation.  With church membership reported between 18,000-22,000, the Price’s Ever Increasing Faith broadcasts air weekly in 15 million homes in most of the largest media markets, with EIF books and tapes distributed worldwide.  CCC employs more than 350 people within 14 distinct divisions, including a preschool and elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to his broadcast ministries, Dr. Price is the author of numerous books on faith, the Holy Spirit, divine healing and prosperity.

* * *

From 1990 until his death in 2005, controversial Pentecostal televangelist William Eugene Scott, known as Dr. Gene Scott (1929-2005), was based downtown on Broadway at the Los Angeles University Cathedral, which was the former location of the United Artists flagship Broadway Theater, built in 1927.  Below is an overview from Wikipedia at :

Gene Scott was born in Buhl, Idaho. He earned his Ph.D. in education at Stanford University in 1957 and subsequently served as an ordained minister for almost 50 years. During his long career, Scott served as a traveling evangelist for the Pentecostal Assemblies of God, the president of the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches and Ministers International for nine years and, for a combined total of 35 years, as the pastor for the nondenominational Protestant Wescott Christian Center and Faith Center, which he took control of and privately owned. For the last fifteen years of his career Scott held weekly Sunday gospel services at the Los Angeles University Cathedral in Los Angeles, California.

In 1975, Scott was elected pastor of Faith Center, a 45-year old church of congregational polity in Glendale, California. In that same year, he dissolved the polity and terminated the board members, thus seizing control of the ministry and its assets. He then began to host a nightly live television broadcast, over "The University Network," of straight talk, Bible teaching and eclectic programming and defiance of the American government and its agencies. The Federal Communications Commission revoked all three of his network licenses, worth about $15 million, reportedly because of his refusal to turn over financial records to the commission, but he subsequently succeeded in rebuilding his broadcast operations.

In 1983, the University Network began broadcasting 24 hours a day via satellite to North America and much of Mexico and the Caribbean. Scott reported that his sequentially numbered congregants grew to over 60,000 in succeeding years (including 15,000 locally), without adjustments for attrition and deceased congregants. Affiliate television and radio stations broadcast Scott's Sunday church services and nightly talk show. In 1990, he became the international voice of "The University Network" which, at its peak, broadcasted to 180 countries of the world. In 2007, Melissa Scott, his widow who assumed his role, announced that the broadcast ministry is nationwide, but no longer world wide.

Scott wrote and published some 20 booklets. According to Melissa Scott, he recorded over 70,000 hours of teaching, much of which were edited and restored after his death to air on his network. He was a financier, philosopher, artist, philanthropist, philatelist, equestrian, and bible scholar who was ahead of his time in marketing his teachings. He painted well over 1000 watercolors, acrylics or oils, which brought in millions of dollars of revenue.

* * *

The Church of the Most High Goddess

Mary-Ellen Tracy and her husband Wilbur, both devout Mormons for twenty years, founded “The Church of the Most High Goddess” in the mid-eighties; a religion based on the sexual rituals of ancient Egyptian religions. While living in Santa Monica, California with their eight kids in 1981, Wilbur claims to have received a revelation from God whereby “pure knowledge” poured into him regarding ancient Egyptian scrolls, information he says he confirmed upon further research. After relaying the revelation to Mary-Ellen they decided to set up a church in Los Angeles and appoint her as the High Priestess, one the requirements being that she have sex with one-thousand men. Wilbur ran the business end of the church and Mary-Ellen, now referred to by her religious name “Sabrina Aset,” took members through a series of rituals to cleanse their sins.

The church gained a following and became quite successful, funding the religion from donations left by members after performing sexual rituals with Mary-Ellen. In 1989 a reporter from the Los Angeles times decided to write a lifestyle piece about their unique religion, but once he learned of the sexual rituals, he questioned it’s authenticity and legality. He spoke with the Los Angeles Police Department before printing his story and they began an investigation into “The Church of the Most High Goddess,” considering the exchange of donations for sex-based rituals as prostitution. Soon thereafter the LAPD sent undercover officers to the church where they arrested Mary-Ellen and Wilbur Tracy for prostitution and running a house of prostitution. The police claim that Mary-Ellen offered sex in exchange for money, she claims that no such transaction occurred and that the police sought any means to shut down a church with such extreme beliefs—a violation of their first amendment right to practice freedom of religion.

After a series of appeals, the foundation being the violation of the first amendment and the dishonesty of the police, the Tracys were convicted, the church shut down, and their kids placed in foster homes. The media then swarmed. The Tracys appeared on almost every national talk-show, from Sally Jesse to Montel, Larry King, Donahue, Geraldo, and more, as well as numerous magazines and newspapers. While the majority of the interviews treated the couple as crazy people using religion as a front for prostitution, Mary-Ellen attempted to use the media as an outlet to tell her story. She refuted the prostitution charge, mentioning the fact that she holds a master’s degree in chemistry and need not sell her body to make money. She compares Wilbur’s revelation to those accepted in other religions, whereby God speaks through a believer, she explains the validity and history of the Egyptian religions the church follows—an overall attempt to prove herself and her religion as valid. Although a few legal groups backed the church, considering the violation of rights as important to fight upon regardless of the nature of the religion, the couple eventually ceased their appeals and their talk-show run. They now reside in a suburb just north of Los Angeles, unable to practice their religion yet still in complete support and belief of it’s ideas, and ready for a new outlet to tell their story—a documentary film.


Sex-Church Leader Out of Jail

December 26, 1991 - New York Times

The self-styled high priestess of the sex-based Church of the Most High Goddess was released from prison today after serving 150 days of a one-year sentence. The 48-year-old woman, Mary Ellen Tracy, was convicted of prostitution in 1989 and went to jail after losing her appeal. Prison overcrowding and credit for time served shortened her sentence, said her husband, Will Tracy.

* * *


* * *

The Los Angeles dream began to fade in the 1960s.  Despite the continued construction of new freeways, traffic congestion became a major problem; industry and auto emissions created smog and pollution.  Frustration over living conditions came to a head in August 1965, when riots erupted in the African- American ghetto of Watts in South-Central Los Angeles, and more unrest developed in the Hispanic communities of East Los Angeles.

Reacting to these new problems, the city adopted strict air pollution guidelines and took steps to bring minorities into the political process, culminating in the 1973 election of Mayor Tom Bradley, the city's first African-American mayor.  Over the next two decades, public transportation was improved, and a subway system was funded and began limited operations.  The downtown area became a thriving district of impressive glass skyscrapers.

Compare the parallel history of religion
among the major race-ethnic groups in Los Angeles

Ethnic /Ancestry and Religious Info & Histories

       The Hispanic American Community

The Asian American & Pacific Islander Communities (an overview of all subgroups)

    City of Los Angeles
    County of Los Angeles
    County of Orange

The African American Community

The Arab Community

The Armenian Community

The Jewish Community

The Native American Indian Community