In this slim, shocking work of nonfiction, debut co-authors Hardeman and Oglesby expose the horrors perpetrated upon a congregation in Atlanta.
Although called “the House of Prayer church,” a supposedly Christian ministry, the authors contend it was a perverse cult run by a “dictator,” Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. The octogenarian announced to his flock that he was a “superman in the bedroom.” He invited his male and female followers to display their genitals before the congregation, while he derided them with foul-mouthed epithets. He encouraged men to beat their wives and kids and women to submit to their husbands, but only after they submitted to him. These examples of ruthless behavior merely scratch the surface of the pastor’s lurid exploits. Through personal, painful experiences within the House of Prayer, the narrator lays out how he was demeaned and controlled, until a new member of the church abused a number of children, including the narrator’s daughter. When Allen defended the child molester, the narrator, despite recriminations and family betrayal, excommunicated himself. Although penned by two authors, the story is told in first-person singular, which creates a bit of confusion. Did both men belong to the House of Prayer and combine their experiences? Or did one simply assist the other in the writing? Despite this, the narrator’s voice is forceful and instructive. The recollections of degradation, abuse and kidnapping—featured on a number of TV news programs—are jaw dropping. A few typos and some mangled sentences pop up occasionally. For example, “It is trendy for the pastor to kidnap children that has been awarded by the court to the parent that has left his church,” the authors note in a list of bullet-pointed items. Overall, their noble efforts might help those who find themselves under the sway of a cult.
A powerful story of one man’s experience within a cult.