A controversial pastor from Atlanta, Ga., who once served jail time for beating children, died Monday in a house fire. Considering the Rev. Arthur Allen’s reportedly divisive teachings and actions, not everyone in the community is mourning his demise.
In an interview with the WXIA-TV, former House of Prayer member Mathias Hardeman described negative conditions at the church and decried “horrendous behavior” that he observed at the hands of the 81-year-old preacher.
“A pregnant woman that was married and grown get beaten by a belt … he ordered the men — his parishioners rather — to beat this woman,” Hardeman explained. ”When this man says, ‘Jump,’ you only ask, ‘How high?’ When he says, ‘Sit,’ you ask, ‘How long.’”
Hardeman took aim the level of control that Allen had over the congregation. Rather than lamenting the pastor’s death, WXIA-TV said that the former member believes that the fire and the death might have been part of “God’s will.”
“When it comes to abuse, then God says, hey there’s a time where as enough is enough,” he said. “My heart goes out to those [at the church] that are confused now, because they were taught as long as this person is here it is as if God is here with them on earth.”
Explaining that he has lost his entire family as a result of leaving the church, Hardeman said that his loved ones may finally have a chance now at living their lives for themselves.
“Thank God, thank God that at some point they may have a chance to live life to the fullest,” he added.
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Another parishioner named Michael Oglesby said that he too has lost his family as a result of defecting.
Allen has sparked no shortage of controversy in the past. From 2003 until 2005, he spent time in prison after being charged with child cruelty and aggravated assault for allegedly ordering kids at the House of Prayer be whipped with belts, WXIA reported.
Allen allegedly told church members to deliver the beatings in front of the congregation. A case against the preacher formed when teachers discovered that two boys had bruises and injuries on their bodies.
Legal trouble, again, emerged in 2007, when the pastor was arrested on a kidnapping charge and accused of hiding a child after a parent left the church. Allen spent two weeks in jail over this latter incident.
UPI noted that Allen also had some controversial beliefs on marriage. The pastor purportedly argued that girls should take husbands at the age of 14 — something he said would cut down on unwed motherhood and the need for welfare.
There were reportedly 10 to 15 people in the home at the time of the fire, but everyone else escaped unharmed.
Featured Image Credit: WXIA-TV