Site Search:

 

Deep Study: The Branham Tabernacle

Evening News, Feb 18, 1933 When William Branham described his 1933 prophecies on recorded sermons, he often referred to them in conjunction with his church, the Branham Tabernacle. The physical building "Branham Tabernacle" is situated on the corner of 8th Street and Penn Street in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and was Branham's home church for the largest portion of his ministerial and evangelistic career. But when William Branham described his "church" or his "tabernacle" in association with his prophecies, was he referring to the physical building on the corner of 8th and Penn? Or was he referring to his group of followers that he also called his "church"?

According to Branham, he had a series of seven (or thirteen when counted) prophecies in the year 1933 while walking to the "Baptist church." When listeners hear this part of his life story, they automatically assume that he is referring to the physical building on 8th street and Penn street. But there are three fundamental problems with this assumption: The Branham Tabernacle on 8th and Penn street was not purchased until 1936, and it was deeded to the "Billie Branham Pentecostal Tabernacle," not the "Baptist Church." Most importantly, In 1933, William Branham was a minister in Roy E. Davis' Missionary Baptist church that was doctrinally aligned with early Pentecostalism.

Write it in your Bible; see if it's right. 1933, one morning going to the Baptist tabernacle, I went into a trance, saw a vision. I saw President Roosevelt was going to help lead the world to a world war, told it that morning. They was going to lock me up for it. And I said, "They'll go to war with Germany."
61-0312 - Jehovah-Jireh

This does not account for the times William Branham claimed that the event happened in 1932 instead of 1933, or the times that he claimed that he himself paid the downpayment, for the physical building. If part of those claims are true, and he was involved in the purchase of Roy E. Davis' (Pentecostal) Missionary Baptist Church, then it would appear that William Branham was involved in one of Roy E. Davis' fraud scams. And his 1932 date would be more aligned with the timeline:

When we built the little church, right in the time, 1932, and I borrowed the money to put it up, and I never took an offering one time. A little box on the back of the church said, "Insomuch As Ye Have Done Unto To The Least Of These My Little Ones, You've Done It To Me." I never told the people that was there, but when my payments come due it was there.
Branham, 52-0810A - I Am The Resurrection And The Life

Those familiar with Branham's claim of seven (or thirteen) prophecies in 1933 are familiar with his claim of Roosevelt (later changed to Hitler) leading the world into war. And to his followers in other countries, it might seem possible for the local government officials to "lock him up for it." Under the tyrannical authority of a ruthless dictator, this is often the case. But the United States in 1933 was not a dictatorship, and was governed by a democracy of elected officials in a nation built upon the foundation of freedom -- especially free speech. The local, state, and federal officials had no authority to "lock him up" for anything spoken. However, when one considers the history and leadership of Roy E. Davis' (Pentecostal) Missionary Baptist Church, William Branham appears to have been truthful about a narrow escape from criminal prosecution. Branham was not the only elder in the church who barely escaped the long arm of the Law.

William Branham was initiated into the Pentecostal assembly of the Missionary Baptist Church by an official spokesman for the Ku Klux Klan, Roy E. Davis. At a time when the State of Indiana was reeling from the Klan's attempt to overthrow the Indiana State Government through the infamous D. C. Stephenson, local government officials were writing laws to prevent masked terrorists from creating groups of vigilantes. Jeffersonville, for instance, had passed ordinances preventing the wearing of masks in public, and according to the Jeffersonville Evening News, this and similar laws were effectively preventing a rise of Klan activity. Only a few years prior, Jeffersonville had a Ku Klux Klan headquarters in the Spiel Building on Spring Street, and the Klan had waged war against the local Catholics.

Davis himself had a long history with the Klan. He was a high-ranking member of the 1915 rebirth of the Klan on Stone Mountain, Georgia under the leadership of William Joseph Simmons. Throughout the South, Davis planted churches, published newsletters, distributed literature, and held public debates promoting recruitment for the Klan and other organizations created to establish white supremacy by Simmons. But throughout the states of Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee, a trail of civil and criminal lawsuits followed close behind. In the years leading up to 1930, Davis had been charged with defamation, slander, swindling, fraud, theft, wife abandonment, underaged sex across state lines, and more. And with many witnessess disappearing before his court trials, it was assumed that the power of the Invisible Empire that backed him enabled him to escape brutal beatings, terroristic threats, and even murder.

February 5th, 1930, is the first time we see Roy E. Davis in the Louisville / Southern Indiana area. Narrowly escaping Tennessee after being exposed recruting for Simmons' Knights of the Flaming Sword, Davis sought sanctuary in the rough gambling towns of Louisville, KY and Jeffersonville, IN. His brothers Dan and Halbert, and two of his children that he abandoned when he fled Texas on charges of bank fraud were in the area, and it quickly turned into a Davis family reunion. Like Roy, his brothers Dan and Halbert were active in the "Christian" ministry, and Dan had a church in Louisville, KY.

Interestingly, it is the same time William Branham also claims to have started his ministry:

About 1930, '31, somewhere along in there, I started preaching the Gospel. Preached this same Message, and never changed from It, because It's the Truth. Just stay right with It.
62-0531 - The Conflict Between God And Satan


It was not long before Roy Davis started seeking public attention to begin recruitment for the Ku Klux Klan, and he started publishing letters to the editor of the Courier Journal. In these letters, he spoke against the prohibition laws that had crippled the once thriving liquor industry of Louisville and Jeffersonville, though he also stated that he himself was strongly against consuming strong drink. In the letters, he also described the rowdy crowds of people that frequented his church -- open drunkenness, women sitting in the laps of men, running up and down the aisles, and more. The local Baptist churches quickly distanced themselves from Davis, publishing letters of their own to warn others that Roy E. Davis was not affiliated in any way with the Baptist church.

Courier Journal 10/14/30 But Davis continued to make news in the area through his many arrests and criminal and civil trials in the courtroom. He had moved from Tennessee with an underaged woman for the purposes of sex (who later became his wife), which was a violation of Federal law, and it was learned that Davis had been accused of similar charges in multiple states but had escaped conviction in each instance. The situation got really desperate when Davis was accused of swindling money from the people, and shortly after being jailed in Louisville, Davis fled to Jeffersonville. On December 16th, Davis purchased the building where the Branham claims to have had his "1933 prophecies" from the First Church of the Nazarine that was situated on 328 Watt Street. When William Branham described walking to the "Baptist Church" when his "vision" came, he was referring to the building on Watt Street between Chesnut and Maple. Roy E. Davis was the head pastor, and William Branham was an assistant pastor under the mentorship of Davis. Branham is very open about Davis being his teacher, and the one who baptized and ordained him. But he fails to mention Davis' seedy past, sleeping with a seventeen-year-old-girl illegally, and Davis' long trail of criminal activity.

According to the deed to Davis' church in Jeffersonville, Indiana, Davis appointed Henry Steedley and William Adler as trustees for his (Pentecostal) Missionary Baptist Church. He also appointed Clarence E. Myers, who was involved with his churches in Lousville, KY. Then, as he did in Louisville, Roy began writing articles to the Jeffersonville Evening News to gain public attention. But this time, instead of letters to the editor which could easily be argued by the local ministers, Davis wrote articles promoting his church as though he were writing from the viewpoint of reporters for the Evening News itself. The editor of the Evening News quickly objected to this unethical strategy, and halted all promotion of Roy E. Davis and his church.

This was a setback for Davis, but it did not last for very long. On April 17, 1931, Roy Davis, Dan Davis, (about this time Halbert Davis), and their brother Wilburn Lee Davis from Texas held a joint revival in Jeffersonville. It had such a turnout that the Evening News covered it -- and then published an explanation of why they had stopped printing Davis' self-promotion in their newspaper during the months prior.

With the help of his brothers, the meetings were successful enough to convince another local evangelist, former Jeffersonville mayor Reverend Ralph Rader, who was working towards building his own congregation after returning from out West. Davis became Rader's chior leader for a brief period of time, until the public became aware of his sexual, criminal, and highly unethical history. Rader terminated Davis, and Roy Davis left the position. But with him, he took a large portion of Rader's congregation. Soon after, it was learned that the elders of Davis' church were involved with criminal fraud when they swindled one Mrs. Lelia Cain of $450 to secure the loan for the church. The Governor of the State of Indiana declared that Davis must face prosecution in Kentucky for the crime.

While Roy's scandals were spreading through Louisville and Southern Indiana, Hope Brumback joined Roy's Pentecostal church. Mr Brumback, according to the Jeffersonville Evening News, at one time held the keys to the Klan headquarters in the speil building. Contrary to Branham's "life stories" describing his timidness asking for Hope's hand in marriage from a stern father and a mother who did not want her daughter to "go around those Pentecostals," Hope's mother and father had recently divorced. Hope herself was active in the church, leading the children's ministry. William Branham appears to have been truthful about having been on his way to the "Baptist church" in 1933 -- he was the assistant pastor. If William Branham was truthful about having a vision of seven (or thirteen) prophecies in 1933, it was under the leadership of Roy E. Davis while Hope was an active member. Hope would have, in fact, been exposed to "Pentecostal prophecy." It was about this time that William Branham William Branham held his (first?) revival.

Roy E. Davis made a considerable number of enemies in his trail of criminal activity from Texas to Indiana. But in in 1933, Davis angered most of the town of Jeffersonville when he claimed sole beneficiary of the estate of a widow by the name of Laura Belle Eaken, who apparently willed her money to a large number of people and churches in the State of Indiana. The trial made headlines as the town fought to get their money back, but unfortunately Davis secured the money. Soon after, his church was burned to the ground, and the property was sold to his son, Roy E. Davis, Jr.

William Branham continued the ministry, however, and apparently did so with members of Davis' church. The Billie Branham Pentecostal Tabernacle was purchased in 1936, and an elder from Davis' (Pentecostal) Missionary Baptist Church was on the deed as a trustee. William Branham himself often asked if there were any "old timers" from his church in 1933 in the audience, referring to those who were in Roy E. Davis' original congregation. William Branham's "church" was effectively Roy E. Davis' "church." And when he referred to dedicating a "Tabernacle" As he did throughout Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, and other states, Roy E. Davis had planted a church, appointed a leader, and mentored a doctrine that would sway public opinion for recruitment in the Ku Klux Klan. And that leader was William Marrion Branham.

The early Branham Tabernacle, though situated on the same property, looked nothing like today. According to William Branham, elder George DeArk who came from Davis' church was a "mystic" (fortune teller), and his influence appears to have made its mark on the structure and doctrine. Above the door of the original Branham Tabernacle hung the pentagram, which local Jeffersonville Christians of the day would have cringed at seeing, and Branham's sermons were filled with references to astrology. According to Branham (and likely from DeArk), "the Zodiac was the first Bible."

As Roy Davis' criminal and immoral past started to catch up with him in the local area, the federal government and other States governments suddenly became aware of his whereabouts. Though he was able to continue his base of operations in the Louisville / Southern Indiana area for a period of time by hiding in Louisville, the Governor of the State of Kentucky extradited Davis to Hot Springs, Arkansas on charges of grand theft and connection to murder. His brother Dan Davis was arrested in Jeffersonville for having swindled the locals in the revivals. Interestingly, the witnesses that could have put him in prison "disappeared" before the trial. Were they murdered?

Though many of the statements William Branham made about his "life story" have proven to be untruthful, it does appear that he was truthful in narrowly escaping prison time, even if he was not truthful as to the reason why. And though large portions of his "life story" surrounding the death of Hope (Brumback) Branham was untruthful, it would appear that it was highly likely that her mother begged him to keep her away from the people he associated himself with. Any mother would desperately plead with her son-in-law to save her daughter from sexual predators, swindlers, theives, and murderers. But why were the details of his "life story" concerning his early church twisted to leave these details out? If he was truthful about being appointed by Davis to lead the church, and continued to promote the Klan leader until the day of his death, what purpose would he have in hiding the details of his transition into the leadership of Davis' Pentecostal church?

Was William Branham involved in the criminal activities?

Back To Deep Study



Resources


Newspaper Articles And Other Research

William Branham's statements:
And now I have predicted by revelation from God, or a vision in 1933, that seven things would happen before the end time. And that, one of them, that, "Mussolini," who was then becoming dictator, "he would become dictator. And, also, he would make an invasion and go down to Ethiopia, and would take Ethiopia. And the Spirit, It said, 'He shall fall at his step.'" 51 I wonder if there is any of the old-timers still left in the tabernacle, remember me saying that in the Redman's Hall down here when we preached, many, many years ago. Is there one in the building, tonight, that's left from down there at the old Redman's Hall when I preached that, when they had the N.R.A. out, way back in time of Roosevelt's first term? I guess there is not a one in here. Is there one? Yeah, yeah, one, there is one. Yes, Mrs. Wilson, I remember her. My wife, setting in the back. Two left, out of the old generation of those in that day. That, when they said this N.R.A. was the mark of the beast, I said, "Nothing to it; not at all. The mark of the beast don't come here. It comes out of Rome. And it can't be the mark of the beast." 52 And now remember that these things was said. Said, "Adolph Hitler would come to a mysterious end. And he would declare war on the United States. And they would build a great—a—a great concrete thing, that they'd even live in it. And right there the Americans would take a horrible beating, at this." And it was the Siegfried line, eleven years before it was ever started to be built. And then said, "But he would come to an end; and the States would win the war." 53 And then said, that, "There is three ism's; Nazism, fascism, and communism." And I said, "They'll all wind up in communism. Russia will take it all, in communism."
Branham, 64-0726E - Broken Cisterns And, God in Heaven knows, that lays right there in the corner of that Tabernacle stone since 1933, wrote on a page of a Bible, laying right there. Look how they've done it. Look what's come to pass. Impersonations, just exact. Said, "Let them alone, their folly will be made known in the same manner as Jambres and Jannes was." Here we are in that day. 145 I seen the church then when we was just laying the cornerstone, people hanging in the sills and all around, standing around the walls of the Tabernacle. There you are. And they said, when it come up, the people of the city here, said, "Within the space of six months..." Us with one dollar and eighty cents to build a Tabernacle, a lot of the garage people done decided it was going to be their garage. But it's still a sheep pen for God's Sheep.
65-0718E - Spiritual Food In Due Season

When we built the little church, right in the time, 1932, and I borrowed the money to put it up, and I never took an offering one time. A little box on the back of the church said, "Insomuch As Ye Have Done Unto To The Least Of These My Little Ones, You've Done It To Me." I never told the people that was there, but when my payments come due it was there. That's the life of faith. You trust God for it. See, just what I did.
52-0810A - I Am The Resurrection And The Life

It well brings to my memory what's wrote there in that cornerstone on that morning when we dedicated—or laid the cornerstone. When the Lord woke me up, not knowing what visions was in those days. I'm looking at the chimney on top of the house, five feet or more from where I was sitting when the vision taken place twenty three years ago in 1933. Be about twenty four years ago, I suppose. I'm looking at the chimney right now. It was long before I was ever married. I was single at home. We were just building this church, and we was laying the cornerstone that morning, when the Lord gave me the vision. I'd woke up and looked out the window, and it was along in June and the honeysuckle or the buds a blooming. And there, looked like I went walking out or something, and I—I saw the Lord Jesus, and saw my tabernacle; and He pronounced to me that this was not my tabernacle and kept me under the skies.
57-0407M - God Keeps His Word

A few days ago we... Now, I'm not Democrat nor Republican; I'm a Christian; so I don't mention these things. But I picked up an old book there that the—the Lord had gave me a vision in 1933 when I just first become a minister, going down to the Baptist Tabernacle. And He gave me a vision that morning, and I seen the first one I remember of an international affair. And I seen that President Roosevelt that was in then, and seen that we'd go to a world war. Then I seen also that—that was eleven years before the Maginot line was built, I seen Germany fortify themselves in this big concrete place. I also seen they permitted women to vote, which was wrong. And said they would—they would someday elect the wrong man; they just did it.
61-0128 - Why?

Write it in your Bible; see if it's right. 1933, one morning going to the Baptist tabernacle, I went into a trance, saw a vision. I saw President Roosevelt was going to help lead the world to a world war, told it that morning. They was going to lock me up for it. And I said, "They'll go to war with Germany."
61-0312 - Jehovah-Jireh

May it long stand. May it be a house fully dedicated to God. The Tabernacle itself has been dedicated in 1933, but thinking this morning it would be a—a very good thing for just a—a small service of dedication again and especially to the people who's... (with their love and devotion to Christ), has made this all possible.
63-0317M - God Hiding Himself In Simplicity, Then Revealing Himself In The Same

Since 1933, down on the river, when that Light there you see, shined down, It's been right here in the tabernacle and witnessed to you, all these years. And everything It said has come to pass. And continually they go on. "Let the blind lead the blind." I'll just wait for that hour; He'll arrive, one of these days.
63-1229M - There Is A Man Here That Can Turn On The Light

And now I have predicted by revelation from God, or a vision in 1933, that seven things would happen before the end time. And that, one of them, that, "Mussolini," who was then becoming dictator, "he would become dictator. And, also, he would make an invasion and go down to Ethiopia, and would take Ethiopia. And the Spirit, It said, 'He shall fall at his step.'" 51 I wonder if there is any of the old-timers still left in the tabernacle, remember me saying that in the Redman's Hall down here when we preached, many, many years ago.
64-0726E - Broken Cisterns

And now I have predicted by revelation from God, or a vision in 1933, that seven things would happen before the end time. And that, one of them, that, "Mussolini," who was then becoming dictator, "he would become dictator. And, also, he would make an invasion and go down to Ethiopia, and would take Ethiopia. And the Spirit, It said, 'He shall fall at his step.'" 51 I wonder if there is any of the old-timers still left in the tabernacle, remember me saying that in the Redman's Hall down here when we preached, many, many years ago. Is there one in the building, tonight, that's left from down there at the old Redman's Hall when I preached that, when they had the N.R.A. out, way back in time of Roosevelt's first term? I guess there is not a one in here. Is there one? Yeah, yeah, one, there is one. Yes, Mrs. Wilson, I remember her. My wife, setting in the back. Two left, out of the old generation of those in that day. That, when they said this N.R.A. was the mark of the beast, I said, "Nothing to it; not at all. The mark of the beast don't come here. It comes out of Rome. And it can't be the mark of the beast." 52 And now remember that these things was said. Said, "Adolph Hitler would come to a mysterious end. And he would declare war on the United States. And they would build a great—a—a great concrete thing, that they'd even live in it. And right there the Americans would take a horrible beating, at this." And it was the Siegfried line, eleven years before it was ever started to be built. And then said, "But he would come to an end; and the States would win the war." 53 And then said, that, "There is three ism's; Nazism, fascism, and communism." And I said, "They'll all wind up in communism. Russia will take it all, in communism."
Branham, 64-0726E - Broken Cisterns

Back To Deep Study