Wednesday, June 17, 2020

"Holy Roller": Often Used as a Perjorative Description of the More Enthusiastic Fundamentalist Sects

But also the name of a real group. 

Kansas City, Mo. (1908)

12/8/1908: Police confronted a religious sect calling themselves “Holy Rollers.”  The result: riot.  A member of the sect fired a gun during the confrontation.  Participants fired hundreds of shots.  The number of dead and wounded in such a small place was somewhat astonishing to reporters.  The leader, who styled himself “Adam God,” died, as did three police officers, and the daughter of a woman fleeing the riot.  The wounded included two other police officers.

Category: public

Suicide: no

Cause: resisting arrest

Weapon: firearms[1]


  1. According to additional articles I have found here he ("Adam God") did not die, but was captured, tried, convicted, and sentenced to 25 years in the penitentiary.

  2. "[A] religious sect calling themselves 'Holy Rollers.'”
    What was the nature of the confrontation which resulted in a riot?
    Were the police called because they were not conducting themselves with the decorum of an Anglican service or of a Quaker "silent meeting" and a neighbor objected to the enthusiastic manner the spirit moved over them?

    I don't recall this case making it to the Constitutional Law section on the First Amendment, so apparently the attempted arrests for disturbing the peace and the deaths in the ensuing gun battle overcame any Constitutional questions.

  3. The article gave no details as to what caused the confrontation.

  4. This is the earliest article I found regarding the initial incident.

  5. Clayton, I'm sure it did not. my sarcasm was directed at the police and people of the time. This was the same era that it was believed that cooking meat and vegetables together as in a stew, a technique favored by Eastern European immigrants, was inferior nutritionally from cooking them separately, as favored by the earlier immigrants to America.