A Thinking Man's Private Conversation:
When those of us who have left the religious cult of William Branham discuss "old times," we all find it interesting when a close relative of one of Branham's close friends opens up about private conversations that William Branham had with his or her family. Most of these conversations were never recorded, save a select few during testimony meetings, and so we seldom mention them on this blog. Seekers of Truth do not like to get side-tracked on heresay.
During the course of the past few years, we have mentioned some conversations that were recorded, such as the testimony of Evan Mosely who spent his life awaiting Branham's "Return Ministry" in which he would fly Branham's tent around the world in his DC-7C. Or the testimony more cult followers are familiar with concerning Billy Paul's young age when "Sharks are swimming" in the sunken Los Angeles street next to the May Company building that once stood on the corner of 8th and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles.
Looking back through the eyes of an ex-cult member, many of these stories seem odd. I'm not sure that these are conversations that you could have with a normal (not programmed and not deprogrammed) person. If you presented a picture of the eighty-year-old Billy Paul Branham to any sane human being, they are likely to start laughing when you claim that you only recently believed that this old codger was not an old man.
And in the grand scheme of things, many of these private conversations are nothing more than useless information. They neither have any merit to the salvation of one's soul, nor have any valid information for the researcher who is studying the legitimacy of Branham's claim to be a prophet. They are private conversations, nothing more.
Take for instance one of the stories that circled around the Louisville metro area regarding cigarettes. A handful of people remember William Branham claiming that the United States would outlaw cigarettes, and smugglers would one day be sneaking them into the black market. This casual statement by William Branham (assuming that he actually said this), likely did not start as any sort of prophecy. If you were to overhear me saying to another person that "Apple will one day fall, and Google will rise to take over the technology market," would you call me a prophet?
But the truth of the matter is, people over-glorify the casual statements by William Branham. When you fully examine the tapes, there are only a handful of actual prophecies, most of them claimed after-the-fact. But Branham had a knack for making casual statements such as this, and then claiming prophetic gift should they be successful. If they were not successful, then they were simply ignored -- he never said they were prophecy!
I sometimes wonder how much of Branham's acceptance of this title came from his desire to gather a following after Ern Baxter left Branham's error, and how much came from the mental condition that he described throughout his recorded ministry. It seems that we can find several instances where a simple statement -- whether it came from his mouth or others -- turned into one of his "spiritual events."
I also wonder how many of these "predictions" came from using fear tactics on his congregations. To tell the locals in Jeffersonville Indiana, part of the Louisville Kentucky Metro Area, that the tobacco industry would fall would be to prophesy of a large collapse in the local economy. The Brown Forman Company in Louisville helped the local economy thrive through its production of cigarettes using supplies from the local tobacco farmers, printing companies, advertisement agencies, and more. This casual statement, if it were true, would mean a hardship for many in Kentucky and Southern Indiana.
Looking back at the many wild and crazy stories we grew up with, I take this particular story with a grain of salt. I sincerely doubt that William Branham claimed any sort of prophecy on it, and it is more likely that the locals in Jeffersonville either misunderstood or made it up to have another "spiritual story from the prophet" notch on their belt.
But it is interesting to think about it. Branham's ministry was filled with talk about cigarettes. He claimed that an angel told him not to "drink or smoke or defile his body in any way," which he ignored when he decided to tour the pornographic capitol of the world, Pigalle district of Paris, France. He often claimed that 80 percent of infants who nurse from smoking mothers die within the first six months, a claim that he appears to have invented his own statistics for the same purpose of the local rumors. If the FDA is examining infant deaths of this capacity, one can be certain that cigarettes WOULD be outlawed.
He even stole the subject matter of a sermon from Billy Graham entitled "A Thinking Man's Filter," and claimed it for his own. Later, like all of these types of stories, he turned this subject matter into one of his own "spiritual events," and followers to this day believe that this sermon originated with William Branham.
Cigarettes have proven to be harmful to the health, and directly linked to cancer. For this reason, we can now see the numbers of smokers quickly dwindling in the United States, and many of the restaurants and stores no longer allow smokers to light up inside their doors. If this "smuggling cigarettes" were a prophecy as some of the locals claim, it is one that is quickly failing. It would be a much better prediction to claim that within the next several years, smoking itself would become non-existent.
But examining the entire collection of stories explaining his view on cigarettes, and comparing them to the Bible, we have what Branham claims to be an angel of the Lord telling him something that is in direct conflict with the words of Jesus Christ. Remember, this "angel" told Branham that to smoke was to defile the body! And Christ told us that this is not the case:
"It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.â€
If the cult following of William Branham fully examined the words of Christ compared to the words Branham claimed to have come from an "angel," they would realize that Branham's body was defiled in a much different way than a cigarette. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTp6-bW9AVs