Is witch-turned-evangelist John Todd a prophet sent from God to warn America about an impending takeover by sinister forces, or a fraud?

Fundamentalists across America disagree over the question, charismatic leaders are fighting mad, and some supporters are stockpiling food, stashing weapons, and building fortified “retreat” hideaways in preparation for a last stand against the hordes of evil.

Todd, 29, meanwhile has announced that he is through. He told friends in the Los Angeles area last month that he has been shot at frequently and that his house was firebombed. Therefore, he said, he will take no more speaking engagements; he, his wife, and three children will head for a secret retreat location.

“I tried to wake up the people in this country,” he is quoted as saying. “But they didn’t listen.”

Until a year ago Todd was unknown in most church circles. On January 1, 1978, he joined independent Faith Baptist Church in Canoga Park, California. That same day he headed East where a speaking tour had been arranged by Pastor Tom Berry of the 3,000-member Bible Baptist Church in Elkton, Maryland. The tour, which began with two meetings in the Elkton church, was prolonged as the word spread about Todd’s sensational revelations.

“We’ve had many great preachers in our pulpit, but there was more talk around town after he left than with any other preacher we’ve had,” reported Pastor Dino Pedrone of the Open Door Church in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, where Todd addressed more than 1,000 people last February.

Pedrone, who had invited Todd on Berry’s recommendation, recorded Todd’s talks and circulated copies of them widely. The church, he said, gave Todd about ...

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