Saturday, October 17, 2009

Leader of controversial church group dies

from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle
By AMANDA RICKER and KARIN RONNOW, Chronicle Staff Writers

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, longtime spiritual leader of the controversial Church Universal and Triumphant, died Thursday evening at her apartment in Bozeman. She was 70.
She suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s disease and died with her daughter, Moira, and granddaughter by her side, her daughter, Erin Prophet, said Friday. As the charismatic leader of the New Age sect that many considered cult-like, Prophet led her followers along a path that over the years included apocalyptic predictions, run-ins with local environmental groups, legal trouble and even a late-in-life “miracle” pregnancy that resulted in the birth of her fifth child when she was 55 years old.Prophet retired from the church in 1999, but her followers still call her “Mother” and listen faithfully to the dictations she recorded while channeling messages from the “Ascended Masters” over the years. A much smaller CUT than the one Prophet moved from California to Montana in the mid-1980s continues to operate from its headquarters on the Royal Teton Ranch in Corwin Springs.Although Prophet led a private life, largely away from the church, for the past decade due to her illness, CUT President Valerie McBride said Friday that the woman who led the church for 25 years will be greatly missed. “She has uplifted millions with her message of spiritual liberation and we’re very excited about carrying that message forward,” McBride said. Murray Steinman, former CUT spokesman who, along with Erin Prophet, served as Elizabeth’s legal guardian for the past decade, said despite how the media painted Prophet, she had a brilliant mind and cared about people.“She made a real contribution to not just religious and spiritual thought, but to try to help people lead better lives," Steinman said.
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