Apologetics Index: Information about religious cults, religious sects, anticult organizations, Christian apologetics and counter-cult ministries.  Also: daily religion news

House of Prayer (Atlanta)

spacerhouse of prayer, atlanta, arthur allen, abusive churches, corporal punishment, spanking, whipping, spiritual abuse

House of Prayer (Atlanta)

Aberrational, Heretical, Heterodox, Suborthodox or Unorthodox House of Prayer (Atlanta)

» News : Current   
» News Articles Database   
» See Also   

The teachings and practices of the House of Prayer church in Atlanta, Georgia are outside the norms of Biblical Christianity. The pastor's control over his followers identify this church as a cult (sociologically). His aberrant theology - used a) to justify physical, mental and spiritual abuse, b) to arrange marriages for girls as young as 14, and c) to preach racism - also indentify this church as cult of Christianity (theologically).

Orthopraxis is the theological term for ''correct practice.''

Christian orthodoxy - adherence to sound doctrine - leads to orthopraxis. Unsound theology, however, leads to unsound practices (aberrant behavior).

A church or movement that persists in unsound practice - all or not supported by unbiblical and/or extra-biblical teachings - may be (or may eventually turn into) a cult of Christianity.

Note: Though the Bible talks about spanking (proponents typically cite only a handful of verses from the Book of Proverbs), it does not condone abuse - which is what so-called 'discipline' often turns into.
Allen encourages church members to live free of sin. But former members claim he frequently intersperses his sermons with inappropriate sexual comments, and the pastor confesses to an affair years ago with an 18-year-old woman from the church. He also acknowledges an early marriage that he had kept quiet, a marriage that produced two children whom he long ago left behind.

Church members say their pastor has given them homes, cars, money --- material goods that complement his spiritual sustenance.

But what they have given Allen in exchange is control.

"You can't do anything in that church I don't agree with," Allen says, "because I'm the pastor."

As the pastor, Allen authorizes courtships between church members and approves marriages for girls from the congregation as young as 14. Georgia law forbids marriages at ages younger than 16, so Allen takes young brides-to-be to Alabama, where they can legally wed.

The pastor collects weekly dues of $25 from every church family, many of whom rent houses or apartments that he owns.

He promotes isolationism among church members, encouraging them to live within walking distance of one another and discouraging them from voting.

He advises congregants to avoid contact with family members outside the church who are "trying to poison their minds against the church."

And he makes it clear that the parents whose children were seized would be in conflict with the church if they reunited their families by promising a judge they would not follow the church's disciplinary practices.

"They'd be compromising their faith," Allen says. "Either you love the Lord thy God with all your heart and soul . . . or you don't. God doesn't accept serving two masters."

Such talk prompted Judge Sanford Jones of Fulton County Juvenile Court to label the church a "cult."

Some former members agree.
Source: Inside the House of Prayer, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Apr. 22, 2001
(...) The Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. founded the House of Prayer church about 1966. The nondenominational congregation has about 130 members. The church began by meeting in the homes of members, then rented a building on Huff Road. After that church burned, the group met in members' homes again before buying its current property at 1194 Hollywood Road in northwest Atlanta.

The church exudes an us-vs.-them attitude, both on racial and on religious issues. And everything theological is driven by the founding preacher's own authoritarian personality:

  • Allen, who did not attend seminary, has little use for formal training. "I don't have any examples of any apostles in the Bible going to seminary," he says. In calling him to preach, Allen believes, God gave him the authority to interpret Scripture. He likens himself to a judge in a courtroom: "He doesn't report to anyone under him. But he consults with different people." When a church member disagrees, Allen sees little room for debate. "There were followers of Jesus that didn't agree with him. They go their way and I go mine."

  • Echoing black nationalist groups like the Nation of Islam, Allen says there are moral differences between blacks and whites. "They want to be superior to everyone else," Allen says of whites. "I have found good in whites and blacks. But still blacks have never enslaved whites. They've never taken their right to vote. Blacks have never tried to deny whites."

  • In the pulpit and one-on-one, Allen frequently criticizes other churches, claiming that they're hypocrites, preaching against sin but not really fighting it. "They believe that you can serve God and you can serve Satan. We only believe you can serve one."

    "They're not doing anything but raising money," he says. "Looks like they don't want to get out there and mix it up. It's soft living."
Source: Inside the House of Prayer: The House's Foundations; Sidebar to Inside The House of Prayer - Main Report, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Apr. 22, 2001
Authorities are investigating a massive case of alleged abuse by parents of as many as 60 children from the same northwest Atlanta church.

Already, state social workers have removed 19 children from the homes of three members of the House of Prayer, 1194 Hollywood Road. Another church member said Friday evening that social workers had indicated they soon would take 11 of his children.

Atlanta police and social workers are looking into reports that church members systematically held down their children while beating them with belts and other objects --- allegedly under the direction of the pastor, the Rev. Arthur Allen.

Allen acknowledged Friday that in 1993, a DeKalb County judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail for child abuse after he ordered a church member to beat her teenage daughter for having sex in a building where a Bible study group was meeting.

Friday evening, Allen took a defiant stance in the gravel parking lot of his church, as 75 church members crowded around and shouted encouragement under the glare of television lights.

The Bible, Allen said, gives parents the authority to ''whip'' their children. [...more...]
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mar. 17, 2001
State child welfare officials and House of Prayer parishioners may not agree on much, but they agree that spankings can be appropriate discipline. Where the two sides disagree is when spankings become abuse.

Members of the House of Prayer say their brand of corporal punishment is nothing more than an old-fashioned spanking. State officials say the ''spankings'' administered to at least two of the children in that church crossed the line.

Corporal punishment, the DFCS manual says, is ''any physical punishment of a child to inflict pain as a deterrent to wrong doing. It may produce transitory pain and potential bruising. If pain and bruising are not excessive or unduly severe and result only in short-term discomfort, this is not considered maltreatment.''

Where the line is crossed, Liber said, is when the discipline causes injuries to the child. ''Once physical injury is left [on the child], it constitutes child abuse and we have to intervene,'' she said.
Source: Welfare officials acknowledge the value of spanking, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mar. 22, 2001


» Religion News Blog News about religious cults, sects, alternative religions and related issues.

- News Articles Database -
» Database of archived news items
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database)

After Jan. 31, 2002:
» Religion News Blog News about religious cults, sects, alternative religions and related issues.

See Also

About this page:
House of Prayer (Atlanta)
First posted: Mar. 23. 2001
Last Updated: May 19, 2004
Copyright: Apologetics Index
Link to: http://www.apologeticsindex.org/h20.html
» Copyright and Linking Policy
» How to use this site

Home | How To Use | About | Contact
Look, "feel" and original content are Copyright 1996-2024+ Apologetics Index
Copyright and Linking information