Girl  Evangelists

Many of the girl evangelists not only called sinners to experience the miracle of salvation but called the sick to experience a miracle of healing. In this regard, they were not different from adult revivalist preachers, primarily those from the Pentecostal tradition, though not exclusively so.

Faith healing had become one of the new aspects of American religion in the late 1800s. Not that prayer for healing and expectation of miracles were not part of the Christian tradition; they were. But now they had a new prominence. Healing homes were built, and in one case a complete healing city north of Chicago, called Zion. Its founder, John Alexander Dowie, was the most colourful of the exponents, but a host of conservative Christian leaders of the period were strong advocates, such as A. B. Simpson of the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

The late 1800s was a time of considerable experimentation with health and healing. Drugs were as likely to kill as to cure, largely unregulated until the early 1900s. Some people became vegetarians; some adopted the strict food taboos of the Old Testament; and some, like Harvey Kellog, of breakfast cereal and Seventh-day Adventist fame, administered yogurt enemas, among other remedies, for healing and health. Others denied the reality of illness altogether, moving it from the body to the mind, as did Mary Baker Eddy and Christian Science.

It was Pentecostalism that adopted the practice and made it one of the key tenets of their faith, so much so that others tended to back off, leaving the practice largely in the hands of Pentecostals. Revivalists often would set aside one night for prayer for the sick, and some gained considerable fame as faith healers.

Many girl evangelists prayed for the sick. One, Betty Weakland, wrote a book about faith healing, and some girls claimed that in their crusades the lame walked, the blind saw, and the deaf heard.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, interest in faith healing grew as some ministers bought huge tents and made faith healing their speciality. Oral Roberts was the more prominent, but others such as A.A. Allen, William Branham, and Jack Coe were well known. Perhaps the best known of them all was Kathryn Kuhlman, who started out at age seventeen as a girl evangelist, taking the manager and pianist of the leading girl evangelist, Uldine Utley, to her own team.

Faith Healing