Published on 24th August 2017 by

A feature length Academy Award winning 1972 documentary about the life of former evangelist Marjoe Gortner, a man who first gained public attention at the age of just 4 when his parents arranged for him to be ordained as a preacher due to his extraordinary early speaking ability. The documentary was one of the earliest criticisms of Pentecostal preaching.

Gortner’s parents made a fortune from his childhood preaching around the American South where they capitalised from the novelty of his youth and astonishing verbal talents, but that novelty would wear off and he drifted away from the circuit. He would later return to preaching as a young adult as a means to make money despite not himself being a believer. He would eventually suffer a crisis of conscience and quit the revival circuit, granting a film crew access to his final revival tour in 1971. Marjoe is the resulting film.

The film uses footage of Gortner preaching and praying for people in Los Angeles, Detroit, Fort Worth, and Anaheim, interspersed with footage of Gortner confessing on camera that he was a non-believer and revealing the tactics that he and other evangelists use to manipulate people during revivals. The film was so controversial that the distributor decided not to screen the film in any Bible Belt areas.

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