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Beards, baseball and religion: A West Michigan religious group called the House of David

Jun 21, 2017

Beards and baseball mixed with roller coasters and religion. That could be a nutshell description of a West Michigan religious society known as the House of David. 

Mary and Benjamin Purnell
Credit Archives of Michigan

Researching the House of David will turn up a list of beliefs that include abstinence, a vegetarian diet, no alcohol or tobacco and that killing for any reason is a sin.

"They had a belief system that sort of goes with the Book of Revelation, that the end of days is coming and therefore you should live your life as cleanly and well as possible, so that when the end comes, you are prepared," said Rachel Clark of the Michigan History Center

The society was started in Ohio by a couple named Benjamin and Mary Purnell, Clark said. Listen above to hear how the Purnells ended up in Benton Harbor in 1904 and how the community grew "very fast" after that. You'll also learn about the few members remaining today.

Listen above.

This segment is produced in partnership with the Michigan History Center.

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