Father Divine

Also found in: Wikipedia.
Father Divine (George Baker, Jr.)
BirthplaceHutchinson Island, Georgia or Rockville, Maryland

Divine, Father,

c.1882–1965, African-American religious leader, founder of the Peace Mission movement, b. probably near Savannah, Ga. and named George Baker. After preaching in the South, he moved to Harlem (1915) in New York City, became one of the neighborhood's biggest landlords, acquired wealth through other businesses, including restaurants and grocery stores, and began styling himself Major M. J. Divine, later Father Divine. Although once dismissed as a cult leader, he built the largest religious movement in northern ghettos during the Great Depression. His role as an early civil-rights activist—he led antilynching campaigns, instituted economic cooperatives, and organized political action against racial discrimination—has come to be more appreciated. The movement spread beyond New York City to other places in the United States and abroad, sometimes after the group sent whites to purchase property in segregated areas. During the 1940s, his health and influence declined, but his movement symbolized the progressive spirit in the black church and helped define the church's active role in the civil-rights movement.


See S. Harris, Father Divine (rev. ed. 1971); K. E. Burnham, God Comes to America (1979); R. Weisbrot, Father Divine (1984); J. Watts, God, Harlem U.S.A. (1992).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

Divine, Father

See Baker, George.

Father Divine

See Baker, George.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
References in periodicals archive ?
Grieving widower Godfrey Crump moves with his teenage daughters Ernestine and Ermina from Pensacola, Florida, to New York City to seek solace and guidance from spiritual leader Father Divine in "Crumbs From the Table of Joy," Lynn Nottage's domestic drama about a family coping with loss as well as societal and political change.
I will end with a variation of the old adage: You can keep the wine, father Divine, You can keep the castor, you bald - headed pastor!
Mother Divine: The Musical is inspired by the real life events of a charismatic Depression era Harlem evangelist named Father Divine. He practiced his own brand of Christian doctrine mixed with capitalism, socialism and mysticism.
In an effort to drive home the necessity of an altruistic and practical faith, the late Peter Gomes cited the example of one of America's most famous black preachers, Father Divine (The Good Book, Harp-erSanFrancisco, 1996).
She then takes us on a brief tour of communities in American history, including the major ones familiar to the readers of Communal Societies, such as the Shakers, Harmonists, Icarians (here consistently misspelled as "Icarens") and Oneida Community, as well as some less familiar but still important ones, including the Woman's Commonwealth, Father Divine's Peace Mission, and Koinonia Farm.
Among the constellation of non-traditional religious groups with their origins in the interwar period, the sharply race-conscious Nation of Islam (NOI) and Father Divine's Peace Mission Movement, which was strongly committed to principles of non-racialism, appeared to have little in common with each other or with the increasingly visible pentecostals.
Other "forgotten men" of the era that she discusses include Brooklyn butchers challenging New Deal policies in the courts, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the African American spiritual leader Father Divine.
It was purchased in 1939 by the followers of Reveren d Major Jealous Divine, also known as Father Divine.
Watts applied the same exhaustive research of military records, city directories, interviews with McDaniel's associates and careful consideration of personal correspondences that she used to write her two other biographies--Go, Harlem, USA: The Father Divine Story (University of California, reprint February 1995) and Mae West: An Icon in Black and White (Oxford University Press, April 2003).
He attended Butler University, Indiana, and was attracted to the Father Divine's Peace Mission.
One of the most poignant scenes describes May Anna (renamed Happy Sweet) as an angel in Father Divine's Heaven, where she once found sanctuary.