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Creffield and The Demand for Purity

In a totalistic environment, Dr. Lifton writes, "the world is sharply divided between the pure [those things the leader preaches and the group practices] and the impure [everything else in the outside world]. Pure things are those which conform to or are included in group policy. All impurity must be eliminated. . . . The underlying assumption is that absolute purity is attainable, and anything done to anyone in the name of this purity is ultimately moral."

Since the outside world is viewed as impure, everyone in it is sinful and should be denounced. When carried to an extreme, this can lead to mass hatred, genocide and holy wars.

Personal purity was a favorite theme of Franz Edmund Creffield's. He told his group that God had told him of some new ways of cleansing themselves of sin, of attaining purity. To those of us in the outside world (the impure world?) these methods seemed to be anything but pure.


An excerpt from Chapter Twelve of Holy Rollers
in which Creffield purifies his flock in seemingly impure ways.

Creffield ArrestedJoshua [as Creffield now called himself] proclaimed: "Holy people need not wear clothing." Drawing the curtains, Joshua undressed--exposing how he was "most wonderfully endowed by Mother Nature." He said that "clothing was intended to cover up sin and shame, and if the heart was made pure there was no sin, therefore should be no shame." So all the Holy Ones [as those in his flock now called themselves] undressed.

He started to chant, swaying his arms and body.

Soon everyone in the room was chanting, swaying, and crying loudly.

He rolled on the floor, and the Holy Ones rolled with him.

"When one is living in the Holy Ghost he cannot sin," Joshua cried. "He lives a pure life. We are told in the Bible that the Apostles lived without sin. They lived by faith. I can live the same way."

He spoke of cleansing oneself of sin, of attaining purity, of love, and of Jesus. . . .

After hours of exhausting prayer one of the Holy Ones approached him and said God had spoken to her.

She said that she believed that He--Joshua, God's Elect, the Second Savior--like Christ, could purify her. . .

He told the Holy Ones that this woman was right, that this was what God had desired be revealed to them. Creffield said that he could now reveal what God had wanted them to know all along--that his true mission as Joshua was to find the woman who was going to be "the mother of the second Christ." This is why he had been sent to them.

"Christ would come again as He did before," Joshua said, "a babe born of a virgin." Joshua said he didn't know which woman was to be the mother of the second Christ, but that he knew it was to be one of the Holy Ones--now to be known as "The Brides of Christ."

Which one of us? they all wanted to know

Joshua didn't know. It could be any one of them.

Any one of us?

Yes, any one of them could be the mother of the second Christ.

Creffield SleepingHow is this possible? How can all of us be candidates to be the next Mary if the second Christ is to be "a babe born of a virgin"? Plainly not all of the women in the flock are virgins. Some at this very moment are lying on the floor next to their offspring. How can these women be virgins?--women such as Sarah Hurt, here with her three children; or Cora Hartley, here with her daughter.

Once sanctified, Joshua said, they were all virgins in the sight of the Lord--"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled"--Titus 1:15.

Creffield said that God had told him that like "Mary of old," the next Mary would need someone like "Joseph of old" to protect her. God had told him that he, Joshua, was to take on this role as the new Joseph. And as this new Joseph, he was to play a more active role than the first Joseph had played in the first Christ's birth. The new Mary would be purified and be ready to be the mother of the second Christ only after she had made love to him, Joshua. . . .

And so orgies--in the name of God and purification--were held in Frank's house during the Christmas season of 1903. Mothers were "debauched in the presence of their daughters," and daughters were debauched in the presence of their mothers.

And after all had been debauched--purified--Joshua instructed the women and girls to submit "themselves to the lust of other men."

Holy Rollers

Buy Holy Rollers: Murder & Madness in Oregon's Love Cult as an eBook for a measly $3.99 or get an autographed paperback for $15.

Holy Rollers is a story that has everything a good read should have: sex, religious fervor, mass insanity, the downfall of prominent families, murder and sensational court trials.

And it's all true.

John Terry, the Oregonian's 'Oregon's Trails' columnist says of the book: "A dandy piece of research and a good read. Lots more stuff than I was aware of. It deserves an audience"













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Sample Chapters from Holy Rollers:
Murder and Madness in Oregon's Love Cult


The Cast of Characters
Photos and Bios of the Holy Rollers


Holy Rollers' Asylum Commitment Papers


Info for Book Groups

Book Reviews


1903 to 1907 Newspaper Articles About the Holy Rollers

1906 Editorial Calling for Gun Control
After Multiple Murders Involving the Holy Rollers

Stewart Holbrook Holy Rollers Article

Advertisements from 1893 to 1913


Oregon Insane Asylum
Where the Holy Rollers Were Committed

Creffield, Brainwashing & Thought Reform

Early Cases of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

1906 Autopsies Of Holy Rollers
Forensics Before CSI

Holy Roller Bizarre Divorce Decree
Hartley describes trying to kill his wife's lover


Comedians on Edmund Creffield

The Shadow Testament
A Play About The Holy Rollers

How the Fire Fell
A Movie About The Holy Rollers


Life in Corvallis in the early 1900s

Life in Waldport, OR in early 1900s

Heaven's Gate

Facts & Stats about 1906
And How The Holy Rollers Measured Up

Oregon State Penitentiary
Where Creffield Was Incarcerated


Info about Cults

Could you ever be lured into joining a cult?

Share your thoughts about, and experiences with, cults


Creffield's Preachings

Creffield Vs. Crefeld

The Salvation Army Opening Fire in 1886

Holy Roller Theology

Reverend Knapp's Bible Songs of Salvation & Victory
Songs Sung by the Holy Rollers


About the Authors

Theresa (T-) McCracken

Robert B. Blodgett

In addition to writing, McCracken is a cartoonist.

To see some of her 'toons, go to the Home of McHumor Cartoons mchumor.com

McCracken's Blog

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Snail Mail
Theresa (T-) McCracken
890 North Bayview Loop
Waldport, Oregon 97394

(541) 563-3112


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Theresa (T-) McCracken