Item #23338 The Voice of the I Am. Depression era cult Periodical. California, Cult Periodical, Guy Ballard, Donald Ballard Edna Wheeler Ballard.
The Voice of the I Am. Depression era cult Periodical.

The Voice of the I Am. Depression era cult Periodical.

Los Angeles: Saint Germain Press, [1936 - 1946]. Hardcover. A complete run of the first series of the monthly periodical (not including the year 1937) of a distinctive Los Angeles based movement founded in the depths of the Depression by two self described "angels". The "I Am" movement offered a tantalizing blend of money making tips and promises of healing the sick, along with stories of space travel, and of course, the approaching end of the world, to a gullible public. Converts were enrolled by mail and many turned over their assets to the movement's immortal leaders.

Guy Ballard (1878–1939) and his wife Edna (1886–1971) were the movement founders.
Ballard died in 1939; in 1940 wife Edna and son Donald were indicted on charges of fraud for fleecing followers of about $3 million.

Their case, United States v. Ballard (1944) is an important case in cult crime litigation. It was an appeal of the conviction of the Ballards for fraudulently seeking and collecting donations on the basis of religious claims that the defendants themselves did not believe.

The US Supreme Court held that the question of whether the defendants believed their religious claims shouldn't have been submitted to a jury in the first place. The Court arrived at this conclusion in part because of the principle of freedom of religious belief. The Court found that it didn't matter whether Ballard could really heal the sick or not; as a religious leader, the only significant point was whether Ballard himself believed that he could heal the sick.

The movement originally boasted about one million followers, and still exists today. Its parent organization is the Saint Germain Foundation, which claims approximately 300 local groups worldwide ("I AM" Sanctuary, "I AM" Temple), with a "spiritual, educational and practical" purpose. In the US the movement has reading rooms in several cities; its main centers are in Mt. Shasta, California and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Includes the very first Special Number, February 1936. Housed in 10 green cloth self binders, with gilt titles at spines. Owner signature at front paste down. Each monthly issue approximately 36pp, with color printed stiff paper wrappers bound in. A few gold stars laid down in margins by previous owner, not affecting text. Individual issues in very good condition, spine separated (present) on Vol. 39. OCLC locates no complete runs of this periodical. Hamilton College has the most complete run with "1936 -1946, 1948 - 1993, scattered holdings" Very good condition. Item #23338