Pentecostal Preacher Sherman Allen Turns Out to Be Reverend Spanky

The Fort Worth preacher is accused of beating, threatening and assaulting women for more than 20 years

Veronica—not her real name—remembers one that particularly creeped her out: It bore a picture of a dancing marionette and the ominous word "Control." Others were labeled "Prosperity" and "Money." They burned 24/7 in the home Allen shared with his mother and in the little church he inherited from his stepfather.

Though Allen, in his early 20s, carried the title bishop, an honored position in the black church, his business cards revealed the more profitable enterprise: voodoo. "We don't do the do, we undo the do," his cards read. 'Do, as in voodoo. His was the modern-day warlock's creed: to employ the black arts, but only in the service of good.

Allen was steeped in the stuff. His stepfather was a bishop in the Spiritualist church, an amalgam of Roman Catholicism and voodoo and Protestant Christianity, with saints and hexes and root powders and worship services that rocked with the exuberance and intensity of the Pentecostal faith. Ask the people in Stop Six, a black working-class neighborhood in Fort Worth, and they'd describe Allen's little wood-frame church, Allen Memorial Spiritual Pentecostal Temple, as the voodoo church.

Shiloh has dropped "Church of God in Christ" from its name on its web site, but the church's sign still bears the old denominational affiliation. Allen's biological father, Sherman Clifton Gee, was a COGIC pastor.
Morrey Taylor
Shiloh has dropped "Church of God in Christ" from its name on its web site, but the church's sign still bears the old denominational affiliation. Allen's biological father, Sherman Clifton Gee, was a COGIC pastor.
Davina Kelly claims Sherman Allen beat her with a paddle and sexually abused her during "counseling" sessions. "There were times it would cross my mind—just don't go," Kelly says. "I would think, 'I'm having a rebellious moment.'"
Morrey Taylor
Davina Kelly claims Sherman Allen beat her with a paddle and sexually abused her during "counseling" sessions. "There were times it would cross my mind—just don't go," Kelly says. "I would think, 'I'm having a rebellious moment.'"

Allen's parents were seen as peculiar people. Their home was cold—"like a mausoleum" or something out of The Addams Family, Veronica says, with the ever-burning candles and statues of saints. It got even spookier. Allen's mother, Clarice Warren Allen, talked about "passing" a long black snake through her bowels, the apparent result of a hex. When Bishop E.E. Allen and Clarice had sex, Clarice told Veronica, they got down on their knees afterward and begged God to forgive them.

By the time Veronica met Sherman Allen, Bishop E.E. Allen was dead. But, as Sherman Allen notes in the acknowledgements in one of his self-published books, E.E. Allen had passed on a spiritual legacy: He "trained me in the prophetic and taught me to be sensitive to the voice of God."

Allen, a bright student, attended Davidson College in North Carolina and TCU. When his stepfather died, he took over the Spiritualist congregation. Back then, there were only a handful of members—maybe 15, Veronica says. They would embark on road trips to Louisiana, E.E. Allen's home state and a stronghold of the "Spiritual" church—as it was usually called in black communities—that led them to the lavish homes of spiritual readers, including one in a flowing Egyptian gown. "We open this door," Veronica says, "and this was the most palatial thing I've seen in my life. I'm talking about pure gold fixtures, marble floors—it's like when you watch fantasy movies." Here, both Sherman Allen and his mother would consult seers.

Though she met him in a strange place for a supposed man of God—a candle shop, where he sat at a table giving spiritual readings with a crystal ball in front of him—she rationalized that attending his church was OK, even though her mother cautioned her that Spiritualists engaged in all kinds of forbidden practices. Veronica drew a line at seeking spiritual readings from Allen herself, but she had a pressing matter in her life: She was pregnant, and she desperately needed a place to stay. Allen opened his door to her.

But she wasn't beyond questioning. She asked Allen's mother why they burned candles and incense and displayed statues of Mary at the church. Clarice Allen insisted that these were biblical practices—though the next time Veronica visited the church, every single candle had disappeared. Allen, however, would still advise his members to buy voodoo paraphernalia to tackle the problems in their lives, Veronica says.

The Spiritual churches, which are few in number today, embrace a laissez-faire attitude toward life's pleasures: They believe in living the good life, whether it involves dancing, drinking, extramarital sex or playing the numbers. They are also more accepting of women and gays in ministry roles. But then there is the occultic element. Anthropologist Hans A. Baer of the University of Melbourne in Australia, who has studied the black Spiritual churches in the United States extensively, says that most of the Spiritual pastors he encountered in his field research in the '70s and '80s drew their primary income from spiritual readings. "These spiritual advisors are basically mediums," Baer says. While séances, once a major part of Spiritualist practice, "have kind of gone by the wayside," Baer says, spiritual advisors—often called prophets—would conduct "bless services," where instead of a sermon, the pastor or traveling evangelist would "pick out certain people from the congregation and begin to read them." These public readings often led to private consultations for a fee.

Most Spiritual leaders, Baer says, insisted to him that their source of divine insight was the Holy Spirit, which sounds Pentecostal. Pentecostals, however, "are quite different from Spiritual people," Baer points out, with Pentecostals insisting that believers in Jesus Christ must live a holy life, calling on God's power to avoid anything the Scriptures identify as sin. The Spiritual churches barely had a concept of sin, and they dabbled in voodoo practices, which Pentecostals considered antithetical to Christianity. Through the use of root powders, potions and ritual, the Spiritualists attempted to control supernatural powers.

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1 comments
jimmiespriggs
jimmiespriggs

Well well my Lord what's been done in the dark will surely come to the light and if that's so about he wasing offical registered under COGIC well thank God that the headquarters their don't have to be tied up in his ligation all I want to say is to pray earnestly for

 
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