Aimee as Advertiser

The 1920s witnessed the birth of mass advertising—and Aimee Semple McPherson fit right in.

Through her gimmicks and campaigns, she "intuitively understood (and succeeded in manipulating) the advertising and media revolution" that was transforming California and the rest of the nation.

As a promotion scheme, Aimee invites followers to accompany her to the Holy Land. (Photo From Storming Heaven)
Aimee knew exactly how to "package" her message and sell it to those starving for spiritual fulfillment. From the very beginning, she drove around the country in her "Gospel Car," plastered with the phrases: "Jesus is Coming Soon-Get Ready" and "Where Will You Spend Eternity?"

Once she established herself in Los Angeles, she organized an entire church gimmick through the idea of a "Lighthouse Navy." Creating branch churches of the Foursquare Gospel as "soul-saving stations" across the country, she set the stations up in buildings constructed to look like lighthouses, "flashing hope to perishing sinners and guiding the storm-tossed to snug harbors." (Lately 1970) She augmented this through a Foursquare summer resort called Tahoe Cedars and a cemetery called Blessed Hope where her followers could eventually "Go up with the Army!"

Whenever she traveled around the world, she marketed her message by going to hot spots around the area, whether it by talking to people in a speakeasy or joking with guards at the Tower of London. In Portland, Oregon, she rode on a fire engine and spoke at three fraternity houses at the University of Oregon. Once, she visited the Luna Park Zoo and showed, before the cameras, how divine healing worked on an elephant and a mangy lion. (Thomas 1970)

One Reverend in Wales even feared that "Mrs. McPherson's meetings might generate an orgy of religious emotionalism comparable to that of the devil dancers of pagan ritual; her credentials appear to be those of a type of booster who has turned religion into a business." (Thomas 1970)

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This page was constructed in 1999 by Anna Robertson, an undergraduate American Studies student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. To contact Anna, please send e-mail to or check out her home page.