Wednesday, July 24, 2013

G. W. Hurley: The Second Christ of Detroit

The Afro American, October 11, 1930
Oh, those Spiritualists! I'd never heard of this sect until Thomas Bradford's story crossed my path and I just assumed that it was a generic term for religionists. But no, it was/is a religion based upon the Bible's teaching interspersed with a belief for communicating with the dead. Among it's proponents were none other than Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Arthur Conan Doyle. 

One of its teachers was G. W. Hurley, a black Detroit transplant via the Deep South, who called himself the "Second Christ." Hurley, dissatisfied with his earlier church involvements, formed the Universal Hagar's Spiritual Association in 1923. He offered to openly debate any religious leader on the merits of his claims and seemingly nobody took him up on that offer. In response to a Protestant clergyman's rebuke of Spiritualism, the self-anointed prophet Hurley declared Protestantism a religion based upon black magic and witchcraft and that history proved his claim. 

The Afro American, September 12, 1936 (enlarge)
The prophet also had run-ins with a New York City based prophet named Father Divine, who like Hurley, numbered his followers in the hundreds of thousands in multiple states. Whereas Hurley staked claim to being the Second Christ Son of God, Divine strove higher and deemed himself God.

The Afro American, May 20, 1939
The rift deepened when Divine set up a church (he called it extending "his heavens") on the outskirts of Detroit (Highland Park) in 1936. Hurley predicted oblivion for the "little man" and that the prophet would die within 9 years due to a covenant with an evil spirit. While the claim was a bold leap of faith it was off by both methodology and mathematics, as "God" would live some 17 years past the decree's expiration date. Hurley himself wouldn't live to see the prophecy proven wrong as he died two years shy of his prediction in the summer of 1943.

1 comment:

Rev. George H. Latimer-Knight said...

Father Hurley declared that God told him that he only had 20 years to do his work. So him dying in 1943, 20 years after founding the U.H.S.A., was a manifestation of his prediction.