Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944)
Controversial - either because of her gender, her showmanship approach to preaching, or alleged infractions of morals in her personal life - Aimee Semple McPherson was a larger than life character within the first four decades of the 20th century.
Even today, there are many who are quick to point out that she died of an overdose. Closer research, and with less predisposition to find fault or play one-ups-manship, reveals that the coroner ruled her death an accidental overdose of sleeping pills. She had been known to have some difficulty sleeping and one drug found in her room by her son was one that was known to impact memory. Such accidental overdoses were well known.
The speed at which such accusations are pulled out reveals much about the willingness of human nature to believe the worst. McPherson was a pioneer of the use of radio, in mega church management, and in the use of theater to catch the attention of people. She was also a widow, single mother, evangelist, and pastor. From her great work at the Anglius Temple in L.A. would grow the Foursquare Church with worldwide membership in 2000 of over 8,000,000, with almost 60,000 churches in 144 countries. In 2006, membership in the United States was 353,995 in 1,875 churches .