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8/4 - "Religion of Fear" by David Cady

Join us for a reading Sunday, August 4th at 2:00pm with novelist and retired schoolteacher David Cady for his new book Religion of Fear: The True Story of the Church of God of the Union Assembly.

About the Book

Religion of Fear reveals the story of how a Pentecostal sect, the Church of God of the Union Assembly, a small splinter group of the holiness Church of God movement, evolved into one of the largest and wealthiest cults in America. At its height in 1995, the Union Assembly included fifty-four churches spread across nineteen states. Spanning nearly a hundred years and three generations of family leadership and relying on hundreds of interviews with members and former members, David Cady’s groundbreaking investigation begins, in 1917, with the Church’s illiterate but magnetic founder, Charlie (C. T.) Pratt, summoning a congregation of resilient followers with little more than a flair for spectacle. As power dynamics stir within the maturing Church, Cady turns to C. T.’s fourth son, Jesse, who conspires to wrest the Union Assembly from his five brothers and dismiss his own parents from the church they had created. Jesse dominated the Church with fear and a demand of total obedience from its nearly 15,000 members until his mysterious death at age fifty-six.

As Cady reveals, this event triggered a succession crisis in the Pratt-family ranks as Jesse’s wife fostered her son Jesse Junior’s rise to power and spurned other heirs presumptive to the Church. Jesse Junior turned out to be a tormented leader who drove his followers to the brink of poverty with an uncompromising demand that they give their all to God—and to him. The church’s fortune squandered and its future under threat, Jesse Junior’s mother was finally forced to have her favored son removed and defrocked. For all its troubling twists and turns, Cady’s chronicle ends with a minor miracle, as Jesse’s younger brother, Charlie T. Pratt III, takes over leadership and manages to expel the oppressive air of authoritarianism from the body of the Church and hold the community together in the process.

About the Author

David Cady grew up in Dalton, Georgia across the street from the headquarters of the Union Assembly. He received his BS from Middle Tennessee State University and his Master’s degree in biology from the University of Georgia.  He taught in Florida and in Dalton, Georgia for 40 years.  He started his writing in 1996 but was not published until 2008 with his fiction book, The Handler based on a snake handling cult on the Tennessee River near Chattanooga. Cady was nominated for Georgia Author of the Year in 2009 for The Handler. He is also the author of the sequel to The Handler, Fatal Option.  Cady’s third novel, Severed, came out in 2013, two years after he had started researching for Religion of Fear. 

David Cady lives in Northwest Georgia with his wife, Cindy.


Event Date: 
Sunday, August 4, 2019 - 2:00pm
517 Union Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37902
Religion of Fear: The True Story of the Church of God of the Union Assembly Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9781621905080
Availability: Backordered
Published: Univ Tennessee Press - May 29th, 2019