“Kathryn Kuhlman: Publicly Pious, Privately Perverse”

By Akin Ojumu

Considered to be a forerunner to the present-day charismatic movement, Kathryn Kuhlman was a rockstar who drew millions to her miracle crusades in her time. Even now, the Queen of faith healing continues to enjoy godlike status in many Christian cycles. Many modern-day charismatic preachers draw their inspiration from Kathryn Kuhlman, and not a few of them borrowed their techniques, styles, and mannerisms from her.

As is the case with many charismatic preachers, Kathryn Kuhlman’s spirituality was performative theater characterized by public piety and private perversity. Not only were her teachings erroneous and based on flawed theology, but the woman also engaged in unsavory behaviors for which she never once publicly repented.

Early in her career as a faith healer, Kathryn Kuhlman became entangled in a sordid relationship with a married evangelist by the name Burroughs Waltrip. It all started when the pair began to share preaching in Kuhlman’s Denver Revival Tabernacle and Waltrip’s Radio Chapel in Mason City, Iowa. After the affair had gone on for a few years, Burroughs Waltrip divorced his wife, abandoned his two young children, and was joined in an unholy matrimony with Kuhlman in October 1938.

From here on, it was downhill for both Kathryn Kuhlman and Burroughs Waltrip. Both of their ministries rapidly collapsed as Church members, who could not stand such sinful behavior in self-professed anointed ministers of the Gospel, ran for dear lives, and abandoned the two adulterers and their religious organizations. The few short years that the marriage lasted was catastrophic for Kuhlman and Waltrip, as the two faded into obscurity and were lost in the wilderness of sin.

Confronted by angry Church members, Kuhlman refused to admit she was in an adulterous relationship. Instead of confessing and repenting of her sin, she attempted to validate her illicit union to a married man by claiming that “God had revealed a new plan” to her in a prophecy. She believed that God directed her to steal a married man from his family.

In an interview with a newspaper reporter, Kathryn Kuhlman would later on deny ever being married to Burroughs Waltrip. At one point during the interview, she got pretty mad. When asked to explain how, as a minister of the Gospel, she could justify her marriage to a married man, Kathryn retorted, with bulging eyes shooting out sparks of fury and fingers waiving right in the face of the reporter, “We were never married. I never took my marriage vows. Do you know what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. I fainted – passed out completely, I tell you – right before I was to take my vows. That’s the truth, so help me God.”

When the insistent reporter showed her the marriage license with her signature on it, Kathryn Kuhlman feigned amnesia. According to her, “If I signed an application for a marriage license, it was brought to me for my signature. I do not remember.”

When the marriage eventually collapsed and the sordid ordeal came to an abrupt end, Kathryn Kuhlman would go on to paint herself as a consecrated vessel doing the will of God. In her telling, she had now made a pact with the Holy Spirit which absorbed her of any responsibility she had to explain her adulterous relationship to anyone. As she put it:

“I can remember the day. I can remember the hour. It was at 4 pm on that Saturday afternoon on a dead-end street, I surrendered everything. It was all settled. The Holy Spirit and I made each other promises. And some things you don’t talk about, like personal things between a husband and wife. I knew at that moment what that Scripture meant, “If any man would follow me, he must take up his cross.” A cross always means death. If you’ve never had that death of the flesh, you don’t understand me…I spoke in an unknown tongue as he took every part of me. I surrendered everything. Then, for the first time, I realized what it meant to have power.”

Instead of fessing up to her adultery and seeing it for the sin it was, Kathryn Kuhlman took to the playbook of charlatans. She reverted to spooky-spiritual money laundering by trying to clean her licentious behavior with a claim of revelation or prophecy from God.

With a history of unrepented adultery buried under a mountain of false prophecies, fake healings, and creepy supernatural stage performances, Kathryn Kuhlman would go on to enjoy many more years of lucrative career as a faith healer. Today, she is undeservedly revered as a God’s General.


  1. May God have mercy on you for this write up. Speaking about things in ways you don’t understand. I pray God doesn’t use this against you.


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