SIGNS of the LAST DAYS: NEW tower of BABEL

February 15, 2024 by  
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December 10, 2011 by  
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What the Los Angeles Times Wrote in April, 1906—The Happenings at Azusa Street

  • New Sect of Fanatics is Breaking Loose
  • Wild Scene Last Night on Azusa Street
  • Gurgle of Wordless Talk by a Sister

Breathing strange utterances and mouthing a creed which it would seem no sane mortal could understand, the newest religious sect has started in Los Angeles. Meetings are held in a tumble-down shack on Azusa Street, near San Pedro Street, and devotees of the weird doctrine practice the most fanatical rites, preach the wildest theories and work themselves into a state of mad excitement in their peculiar zeal. Colored people and a sprinkling of whites compose the congregation, and night is made hideous in the neighborhood by the howlings of the worshippers who spend hours swaying forth and back in a nerve-racking [sic] attitude of prayer and supplication. They claim to have “the gift of tongues;” and to be able to comprehend the babel.

Such a startling claim has never yet been made by any company of fanatics, even in Los Angeles, the home of almost numberless creeds. Sacred tenets, reverently mentioned by the orthodox believer, are dealt with in a familiar, if nor irreverent, manner by these latest religionists.

Stony Optic Defies

An old colored exhort, blind in one eye, is the major-domo of the company. With his stony optic fixed on some luckless unbeliever, the old man yells his defiance and challenges an answer. Anathemas are heaped upon him who shall dare to gainsay the utterances of the preacher.

Clasped in his big fist the colored brother holds a miniature Bible from which he reads at intervals one or two words-never more. After an hour spent in exhortation the brethren [sic] present are invited to join in a “meeting of prayer, song and testimony.” Then it is that pandemonium breaks loose, and the bounds of reason are passed by those who are “filled with the spirit,” whatever that may be.

“You-oo-oo gou-loo-loo come under the bloo-oo-oo boo-loo;” shouts an old colored “mammy;” in a frenzy of religious zeal. Swinging her arms wildly about her, she continues with the strangest harangue ever uttered. Few of her words are intelligible, and for the most part her testimony contains the most outrageous jumble of syllables, which are listened to with awe by the company.

Let Tongues Come Forth

One of the wildest of the meetings was held last night, and the highest pitch of excitement was reached by the gathering, which continued to “worship” until nearly midnight. The old exhorter urged the “sisters” to let the “tongues come forth” and the women gave themselves over to a riot of religious fervor. As a result a buxom dame was overcome with excitement and almost fainted.

Undismayed by the fearful attitude of the colored worshipper, another black women [sic] jumped to the floor and began a wild gesticulation, which ended in a gurgle of wordless prayers which were nothing less than shocking.

“She’s speaking in unknown tongues;” announced the leader, in ah [sic] awed whisper, “keep on sister.” The sister continued until it was necessary to assist her to a seat because of her bodily fatigue.

Gold Among Them

Among the “believers” is a man who claims to be a Jewish [sic] rabbi. He says his name is Gold, and claims to have held positions in some of the largest synagogues in the United States. He told the motley company last night that he is well known to the Jewish people of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and referred to prominent local citizens by name. Gold claims to have been miraculously healed and is a convert of the new sect.

Another speaker had a vision in which he saw the people of Los Angeles flocking in a mighty stream to perdition. He prophesied awful destruction to this city unless its citizens are brought to a belief in the tenets of the new faith.

Reprinted from the Los Angeles Times, April 18, 1906, page 1