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Sister Aimee, Christian Radio Pioneer

Tammy Faye Bakker Messner may come to mind when you think of controversial female evangelists. But in the early decades of the 20th century, a charismatic preacher named Aimee Semple McPherson used the new medium of radio to spread the gospel to millions of loyal followers.

Sister Aimee, as she was known, made her name in Hollywood in the 1920s, and was one of the first preachers to wed Christian fundamentalism with Hollywood-style theatrics and tabloid-worthy controversy, including her own mysterious disappearance. She founded the Church of the Foursquare Gospel and built a monumental temple in Los Angeles.

A documentary on Sister Aimee airs Monday night on PBS. It's based on a new book by Matthew Avery Sutton, Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America.

Renee Montagne talks to the author about the woman who became a symbol for religious manipulation and extravagance.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


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