Marjoe Gortner, World’s Youngest Evangelist

In 1973, the Academy Award for best documentary feature film was granted to “Marjoe,” an expose of the world’s youngest preacher and evangelist.

Born in 1944, Marjoe Gortner’s parents trained their young son to preach, and had him ordained as a Pentecostal preacher at the age of four. His name, Marjoe, was a combination of the names Mary and Joseph.

Marjoe was trained by his mother in particular, and relates stories of intense practice and abusive behavior. If he failed to please his mother adequately, she would place a pillow over his face until he gasped for air, and then resume practice after he was “corrected.”

Never having experienced a faith in God, Gortner decided to reveal the truth behind his evangelism by allowing a film crew to follow him in one final revival tour in 1971. At this point in his life, he had been preaching for almost 25 years.

As a young boy, he was a curly-headed blond, well spoken and clearly verbally gifted for his age. His mother made sure he was dressed in special suits, sewing additional pockets to stash money. Extra money earned the worshipper a special kiss from the charming young man.

His preaching included pressing hard for donations, asking the audience to contribute the largest bill in their pockets to prove their devotion to Jesus.

His performances included faith healing, the laying on of hands, speaking in tongues, singing and, later on, rockstar-style moves inspired by Mick Jagger.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

At age 15, the novelty of the child preacher was wearing off and the money wasn’t rolling in as freely as it used to. He left home and lived with an older woman for the next two and a half years.

By age 18, he wanted to sue his parents, estimating they had collected about 3 million dollars and yet he was not even afforded an education or trust fund. He decided against it, feeling resentment would ultimately make him bitter.

Ultimately, he decided to return to the preaching circuit, focusing on a youth ministry, but motivated by money. In the documentary, he reveals behind the scenes tactics of tapping the audience for extra funds which can then be skimmed for personal use.

At the end of the documentary, Gortner says, “What can I say? I think religion is a drug. It’s addicting. Can God deliver a religion addict?”

While the documentary received critical accolades and heavy press coverage, it was never shown in the southern US states for fear of a backlash. It is now available on DVD and for rent at various Internet sites.

Atheism leads to Collapse into Immorality & Lawlessness: Letter to Editor, New Zealand

Have faith
One has to wonder where Jim Adams (Letters, December 27) has been not to be aware of the tragic consequences of the adoption of atheism by societies and the attendant collapse into immorality and lawlessness.

It has to be admitted that atrocities have been committed in the past (and even today) in the name of some religions (even by so-called Christians) but the overall outcome has been positive for humanity – especially that of Christianity with its power to change lives for good.

Compare this with atheism which leads to disintegrating societies and the inevitable rise of totalitarian regimes such as those of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Ze Dong and Kim Jong-Un, and the death and suffering of hundreds of millions of people; not the idyllic picture Jim envisages.

We need to recognise that because of man’s fallen state atheistic, humanistic socialism can never be the answer; only a life-changing personal faith in Jesus Christ is.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith (in Jesus Christ) … not of works lest any man should boast” Ephesians 2:8-9.


Letters to the Editor, New Zealand Herald, Rotorura Daily Post

Museum of the Bible Opened In Washington DC: Update on Dead Sea Scrolls

Museum of the Bible Releases Research Findings on 13 Unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments

Published: Aug 8, 2016

Scholars Initiative’s First Brill Volume

Highlights Scholar-Mentor Research Model

WASHINGTON, Aug. 8, 2016—Today Brill, a leading international academic publisher, released the first in a series of volumes based on research sponsored by Museum of the Bible. Edited by Emanuel Tov (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), Kipp Davis (Trinity Western University) and Robert Duke (Azusa Pacific University), the volume contains findings on 13 previously unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls fragments, a number of Hebrew Bible fragments and one non-biblical fragment. It is the culmination of four years of research that involved some 50 scholars comprised of a core editorial team, 11 chapter authors and 35 co-authors.

Museum of the Bible sponsors research through its Scholars Initiative, which facilitates a global network of scholars to pursue research and provide students with an opportunity to develop as scholars under the guidance of scholar-mentors. Key to this research model is the involvement of leading international scholars who provide supervision and oversight.

Museum of the Bible enlisted the world’s leading expert on Dead Sea Scrolls to supervise the editing and publication of this Scholars Initiative research project. Tov is considered the world’s leading authority on textual criticism of Hebrew and Greek Bibles, as well as the Qumran Scrolls, and served as editor-in-chief of the international Dead Sea Scrolls publication project.

The team of emerging scholars working on this Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative research project, many of whom had never delved into the Dead Sea Scrolls, operated in an incredibly professional way,” said Tov. “With supervisory guidance, they produced strong results and, in my opinion, this mentoring system of the Scholars Initiative was a great success.”

The editors and their team have produced a masterful edition of 13 Judean Desert fragments, most probably from Qumran and almost all from the Hebrew Scriptures,” said Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, a renowned Dead Sea Scrolls scholar who serves at New York University as the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, and Director of the Global Network for Advanced Research in Jewish Studies. “They have brought to bear the best of scientific and textual methods available to their task. While testifying to the various forms of the text of the Hebrew Bible known from Antiquity, these fragments point toward the dominance of the proto-Masoretic text by the end of the first century CE.

Museum of the Bible has made an excellent start in their publication program, and further volumes are eagerly awaited.”

The 236-page Brill volume, which contains five tables and 41 photographs and is titled “Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection,” explains how this mentoring model is built around three levels of participants: students (undergraduate through doctorate), their professors, and senior scholars who consult on projects in their areas of expertise. The Scholars Initiative structure also includes regional directors, who assist senior scholars and professors on their local campuses, and distinguished scholars, who are established language specialists.

Also of note in this new Brill publication is the advanced use of digital imaging for the reconstruction of the texts that was provided by the West Semitic Research Project for the University of Southern California. The reconstructive process, which applied evolving imaging technologies with new methodologies, offered researchers an unparalleled means for testing various proposals for how a text was originally laid out with a degree of precision and accuracy heretofore not possible.

To date through the Scholars Initiative, professors from more than 60 international universities and seminaries have participated in some 90 research projects on biblical texts and artifacts, many of which have never been studied before. The Scholars Initiative involves leading experts in the fields of papyri; Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Egyptian and Ethiopic texts; and Coptic, medieval, Middle-Eastern, early Jewish and early American artifacts, among others.

This is the first in a series of Brill volumes dedicated to research on items in the Museum of the Bible Collection. The next volume is dedicated to some of the collection’s early Greek texts and will be published soon, with Jeffrey Fish (Baylor University) serving as editor.

Brill is proud to be working with the Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative,” said Suzanne Mekking, senior acquisitions editor, Old Testament/Qumran at Brill. “This unique cooperation of students working together closely with experts in the field resulted in the first, long-awaited volume on the Dead Sea Scrolls Fragments in the Museum Collection. We are sure that this volume will make a great contribution to modern scholarship and is a perfect fit for Brill’s publishing program.


About Museum of the Bible

Museum of the Bible is an innovative, global, educational institution whose purpose is to invite all people to engage with the history, narrative and impact of the Bible through museum exhibits and scholarly pursuits, including artifact research, education initiatives and an international museum opening in late 2017 in Washington. The 430,000-square-foot, $400 million Museum of the Bible will be located three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. As of 2016, it has sponsored traveling exhibits that have visited six U.S. cities and five other countries, including Cuba and Vatican City.


About Brill

Founded in 1683 in Leiden, the Netherlands, Brill is a leading international academic publisher in 20 main subject areas, including Middle East and Islamic Studies, Asian Studies, Classical Studies, History, Biblical and Religious Studies, Language & Linguistics, Biology, and International Law. With offices in Leiden and Boston and a representative office in Singapore, Brill today publishes 265 journals and around 1000 new books and reference works each year, available in both print and electronic form. Brill also markets a large number of primary source research collections and databases. The company’s key customers are academic and research institutions, libraries, and scholars. Brill is a publicly traded company and is listed on Euronext Amsterdam NV. For more information, visit


The Museum Collections include artifacts and objects from a range of cultures and time periods, from the Ancient Near East to the modern period. The permanent collection focuses on biblical items, manuscripts, printed Bibles and books, and art. These collections allow the Museum of the Bible to convey the global impact and compelling history of the Bible in a unique and powerful way.

Complimenting the Collection

Complementing these collections are cooperative agreements with other institutions, such as the Israel Antiquities Authority, which will provide guests an unrivaled opportunity to engage with artifacts and materials related to the Bible. Over 41 institutions have loaned items on display in the museum in Washington, D.C.

A portion of these collections were displayed through the traveling exhibit, Passages, at six different cities nationwide. The collections have also been featured internationally through exhibits in Vatican City; Havana, Cuba; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Ulm and Wittenberg, Germany; and Jerusalem, Israel.

Approximately 1150 items from the museum’s permanent collection are on display in the museum in Washington, D.C, with another 2000 items on loan from other institutions and collections. The curation and registration teams continue to research the items in the collection and develop new exhibitions and displays.

Special exhibits–Full information

Christmas Illuminated: Prestigious Manuscripts from around the Fifteenth Century in the Bavarian State Library Collection

Explore the Christmas story as presented in rare and precious illuminated manuscripts.

The Art of the Gospels by Makoto Fujimura

A contemporary art exhibition highlighting the work of Makoto Fujimura, as he revisits the legacy of illumination and explores the Bible as a source of creative inspiration.
About Museum of the Bible
Museum of the Bible
 is an innovative, global, educational institution whose purpose is to invite all people to engage with the Bible. In 2017, Museum of the Bible, which aims to be the most technologically advanced museum in the world, opened its 430,000-square-foot nonprofit museum just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson: Collision: Is Christianity Good for the World?


Collision: Is Christianity Good for the World?

Renowned political journalist and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens is pitted against fellow author, satirist and evangelical Christian Douglas Wilson, as they go on the road to exchange debate over the question: Is Christianity Good for the World? The two theologians argue, confide and even laugh together as they journey through three cities presenting the debate. This film documents the journey, bringing the sharp points together to provide a critical analysis of religion and its perpetuation.

Full Film:

Directed by Darren Doane

Starring Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson

Distributed by LEVEL4

Release date October 27, 2009

Running time 90 minutes

Inspired by the book Is Christianity Good for the World?

The gloves come off in this electric exchange, originally hosted by Christianity Today, as leading atheist Christopher Hitchens (author of God Is Not Great) and Christian apologist Douglas Wilson (author of Letter from a Christian Citizen) go head-to-head on this divisive question. The result is entertaining and provocative—a glimpse into the ongoing debate.

Publisher: Canon Press (September 2, 2008)

About the Authors