Aimee Semple McPherson is variously described as “melodramatic,” “the world’s most pulchritudinous evangelist,” purveyor of “opera-bouffe episodes” to attract “wide-eyes tourists,” or ignored altogether in histories of 1920 – 1945. Some histories mention her in connection with her use of the radio but nothing more.
McPherson’s life is too interesting to be so easily dismissed. Her impact on people hungering for “the old-time religion” in an era of change, and her willingness to be relevant to her times need to be explored. She gained celebrity status and used that status to do the work to which she was called. She preached to robed Klansmen, African Americans, and Mexicans. Although she did not define herself as a feminist she believed, as she said in 1936, “Sex has nothing to do with the pulpit, and pants don’t make preachers.” If you have ever said, “It’s my story and I’m sticking to it,” you were quoting Aimee Semple McPherson!