The Devil and Doyle Davidson

Page 7 of 12

By the late '70s, Davidson was teaching a class at First United Methodist Church in McKinney, where Terry Mai led the choir. Remembering the turmoil Davidson caused, one longtime member says, "He left and tried to move half the membership with him."

Some became core members of Water of Life--where Davidson began services in 1981. Just three years later, he was preaching live on TV.

Within a few months, Davidson writes, "my wife Patti yielded to what I believe to be the Jezebel ruler of the city of Plano." In an interview with the Observer, Davidson described in detail how "God took her out of my life."

One day in church, Davidson says, Patti laid hands on a woman, and all of sudden Patti and the woman began laughing hysterically. Strange spiritual manifestations quickly spread through the congregation: Spirits threw people to the floor; people were screaming. Much of this was broadcast on live television. Patti, Davidson says, erred by laying hands on the woman. "She yielded her members to a false Christ," he says. "That day a division came between us--like Patti was in another world. She said, 'I have nothing in common with you. I'm not a part of your life. All I ask, just love me--don't leave me.'"

The evil spirit to which Patti yielded infected everyone in the congregation, prompting Davidson to announce he'd lost control. Jezebel had taken over, and he was forced to cast the hussy out, over and over. It was great TV and money rolled in, enough that the debt on the building was retired in 1985.

In 1984, Davidson says, he no longer considered Patti his wife, though he didn't divorce her and she continued to attend services at Water of Life. Davidson says he tenderly took care of her until her death in 2003. Ultimately, he says, it was the "plagues" of the Jezebel spirit that killed her. She broke out in boils, then suffered a heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cataracts. To get rid of the evil spirit Patti had unleashed in the church, Davidson says, he "prayed day and night and fasted...there was a war going on between Satan's kingdom and God's kingdom." He finally regained control--and by this time, God had "given" him another wife to replace Patti.

On August 27, 1987--Davidson is precise with dates--Lisa Staton approached him in the fellowship hall and made a statement that rocked his world. This is how Davidson remembers it: Staton was talking to him privately about problems with a home Bible study she was involved in, then abruptly changed the subject. "I've never made love to anybody but my husband, but I believe I could [to] you. I don't know if it's God, or my wicked heart."

Davidson didn't know either. But God did.

A day later, Davidson was praying in the wee hours when God revealed his will to him through the words of Psalm 37: "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

"With those words," Davidson says, "he gave me Lisa as my wife."

Left in the dust, apparently, was Lisa's husband, Harold "JR" Staton. "When God took her and gave her to me, she was no longer JR's wife," Davidson says. From that point on the couple saw each other virtually every day, Davidson claims, sometimes meeting in hotels. "I met with her a lot of times in a lot of places," he says. "She's my wife. Got that?" Lisa, however, continued to live with JR and their children. Both Lisa and JR joined the church staff in 1988. Davidson says several members of the church's inner circle, including Terry Mai, knew about his relationship with Lisa.

But it wasn't until an odd kind of "outreach" a few years ago that Davidson broke the news to JR that Lisa was no longer his. Davidson announced that God had directed him to visit the 48 contiguous states and pray for the nation. In 2003 he chartered a jet and Davidson, the Mais, the Statons and another couple would fly to a city, drive around three or four hours binding demons, then fly back. Sometimes they'd hit two or three cities a day. On Christmas Day the team flew to Little Rock to do their drive-by prayers. Making it to all 48 states cost about $400,000.

On the flight to Boise, Idaho, in April 2004, Davidson says, "I told JR God gave her to me. Lisa was sitting right there--and she said I was lying."

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Glenna Whitley