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But Creffield's followers combined it with a mania for secrecy that all but invited other community members to fear the worst.Members vanished from their families' lives into a locked house with barred windows, supervised only by the cult leader and his cronies. Following yet another pattern that would become all too familiar to the world in later decades (think David Koresh and Jim Jones), the lack of contact with the outside world and the unstinting adoration of his flock started doing things to the mind of the cult's leader.Finally, the men of Corvallis organized a little party for Creffield.They marched him and his sidekick, Brooks, to the edge of town, stripped them naked, painted them with pine tar, covered them with feathers, and ordered them to get out of town and stay out.Holbrook, delightful though he is to read, simply can't be trusted on stories that touch on religion, and if I were compelled to defend that statement in court, his version of this story would be Exhibit A.In it, he's remarkably snarky and eager to believe and pass on the most lascivious and scandalous of the many rumors that flowed out of this case.The story starts in 1903, when Creffield, a thirty-ish native of Germany burning with religious fervor, left the Salvation Army because he thought they weren't holy enough.(I will now pause for a moment so that those of you who are familiar with the history of the Salvation Army can pick your jaws back up off the floor.) Creffield settled in Corvallis and started preaching, building a flock of super-strict believers.
For the wife, though, self-denial and subjugation to the will of another was a less unfamiliar situation.Holbrook's article was clearly the primary source for the Startling Detective story.The real story of Creffield's cult, which came to be known as the Bride of Christ Church, is quite a bit more believable, and more nuanced.This article paints a fantastic picture of a lascivious con artist posing as a holy man, sharking up a flock of the town's comelier ladies and preying upon their weak, feminine minds with a diabolical message: "Clothing is vanity — let's all get naked and roll on the floor! The article goes on to relate how the "prophet" Creffield, calling himself "the new Joshua," convinced the lucky ladies that one of them was to be the new Mary, mother of the next Jesus, and that he would be standing in for the good Lord in making the necessary carnal arrangements so that could happen.
So, this thoroughly untrustworthy account continues, Creffield started a selection process in which the brainwashed beauties were, if you will, auditioned (naked, of course) behind closed doors, in a process that sometimes involved whips. The whips were a nifty addition to a yarn that was first set to paper by legendary Oregon writer Stewart Holbrook in 1941.
He, however, would find it intolerable, and quit going to services.