New Religious Group Catches On With Young
Pokrov Note: This article was found among the materials on the Holy Order of MANS which are preserved in the Special Collections section of the University of California library in Santa Barbara.
SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) Smiling youths in black clerical garb are popping up around the country as representatives of a new Christian religious group, the Holy Order of Mans.
Its director general, the Rev. Earl W. Blighton, is a 70-year-old former engineer who has in the last few years brought 1,000 people into the group to take its holy vows.
Blighton’s nondenominational order, one of the few founded since medieval times, operates in 49 states, Canada and Germany.
”We are doing things the same way they were done in Paul’s time,” said Blighton, known to his own followers as Father Paul. ”We help people, we heal the sick, we pray for them.”
”I was a philosophy major but I wasn’t finding the answers in my studies,” said Charles Dowd, 21 of Philadelphia.
Dowd, who came across the new group in a restaurant which it runs in Boston, said, ”Now I have found the answers by living them.”
”People are looking for something to improve their life,” Blighton said. ”They are not simply looking for a philosophy, but for something that works. What works can be found in the handbook of like, the New Testament.”
”You don’t see unhappy people here,” he said. ”You see people smiling. They have experienced the presence of the spirit and the power, and they eat well and sleep well.”
Blighton’s followers begin their day with chapel services at 5:45 a.m., and fan out in most cases for jobs in the business community. As hard workers, they have little trouble getting employment.
Their earnings are brought back to the order which, in San Francisco, houses its members in three remodeled Victorian homes. It claims to have served 52,000 free meals to the poor last year.
The order permits marriage among its members, but permission must be granted. Members live as novitiates for the first three months, then for six months ”under first vows,” and then as brothers and sisters under ”life vows” they learn the meaning of the secret acronym, Mans. Later, a person can become a priest and assume the title of reverend.
At home members wear black, white or blue robes and meditate and worship in chapels they have built. The ritual and atmosphere is somewhat Roman Catholic in inspiration.
Blighton, who said he studied at Bible colleges during his engineering career, has worked ”in various churches all my life.”
His order, he said, was born in San Francisco in a revelation he and some friends experienced.
The group is looked upon warily by some established church groups, but members get along easily with mystical Buddhist, Hindu and Sufi groups popular among the young.
Some of the Mans members are former devotees of Eastern religions.
Sister Christina Moore, 21, a former Des Moines secretary, learned about the order through ”some people I used to date.” The Rev. Marian Carter, 21, mother superior of the order’s Sisters of Mercy, was introduced by a follower she met in a Reno, Nev. laundromat.
Blighton said his followers do ”the work” by being regularly present in assigned neighborhoods, but that they do not preach or otherwise proselytize.
”We just stand around and wait for somebody else to speak,” he said.