The People of Praise, Charismatic Catholics, and Fringe Religious Groups

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A brief introduction to the charismatic Catholics and People of Praise, in the news now due to Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination.

People of Praise.

You may never have heard of it before the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett––who is said to be a part of the group––to the Supreme Court.

You will probably hear that they are a far-right fringe group, but they are actually part of the charismatic movement, and a bit of history may help us to understand them better.

The Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements

Charles Parham founded the tiny Bethel Bible School in the heartland of Topeka, Kansas, in 1900. While he invited “all Christians and ministers who were willing to forsake all, sell what they had, give it away, and enter the school for study and prayer,” he surely had no idea that 120 years later to the month of its founding, the Pentecostal / charismatic / spirit-filled movement would have 600 million adherents and be arguably the strongest global expression of Christianity across the twentieth century.

Growing out of the larger eighteenth-century holiness tradition, that obscure beginning––including a watch night service December 31, 1900, where Agnes Ozman reportedly began speaking in Chinese–– was soon followed by manifestations in Houston, Texas, and the more publicized Azusa Street Revival in southern California.

Soon, the movement spread across the nation and overseas. Denominations were formed (or reformed) over the decades: Church of God, Assemblies of God, Apostolic Faith, Church of God of Prophecy, and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. (Interestingly, the Church of God Cleveland predates Azusa and would later become a more traditional Pentecostal denomination.)

And, as will become important later, these Pentecostals were also evangelicals. In 1943, American Pentecostal churches …

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