The next "Polk's America" program will be held on Tuesday, February 28 at 7 p.m. in Polk Presidential Hall at 810 S. High Street in downtown Columbia. Dr. Melissa Bruninga will present "An American Cult: Sex, Theft, and Murder in the Kingdom of Matthias."
In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, a new kind of religious fervor later known as the Second Great Awakening swept through the new nation. Tent revivals, charismatic preaching, and mass conversions were common. Into this evangelical uprising came Robert Matthews, a handyman, who announced he was actually Matthias, the prophet of the God of the Jews. His fiery personality drew in a surprisingly diverse set of believers, but in the end, charges of fraud, adultery, and even murder drove the Kingdom of Matthias out of existence, even as its members left their mark on Polk’s America and beyond.
Dr. Bruninga is an assistant professor of history at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski. She received a Bachelor's degree in English from Gustavus Adolphus College, a second Bachelor's in History from the University of Montana in Missoula, and a Master's and Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Irvine. Her historical interests include medieval history, particularly heresy, and more broadly, the nature of alternative religious beliefs.
Held on the fourth Tuesday of every month except December, the "Polk's America" lectures are free and open to the public. For additional information, call the Polk Home at (931) 388-2354.