Elizabeth Clare Prophet was a magnetic—and polarizing—New Age religious leader based in Montana’s Paradise Valley. At the height of her career, her teachings attracted an estimated fifty thousand adherents, her predictions of a coming nuclear apocalypse garnered national media attention, and her survivalist approach alienated many of her Paradise Valley neighbors. The story of Prophet and the Church Universal and Triumphant illustrates the growing popularity of New Age mysticism in the late twentieth century. It also serves as an interesting (if somewhat sensational) case study for how the Montana landscape can be imbued with spiritual meaning.
Elizabeth Clare Wulf was born in New Jersey in 1940. Though raised by nonreligious parents, she became a Christian Scientist at the age of nine. While attending Boston University in 1959, she met Mark Prophet, who through his group, The Summit Lighthouse, held seminars on ideas about spiritual enlightenment that dated back to the late 1800s. After marrying Prophet, Elizabeth joined her husband as a leader of The Summit Lighthouse, then took control of the group after his death. In 1975 she founded the Church Universal and Triumphant (CUT), which was based on Lighthouse teachings, which combined elements of mysticism, Christianity, Eastern spirituality, self-sufficiency, patriotism, and anticommunism. Continue reading Elizabeth Clare Prophet, the Church Universal and Triumphant, and the Creation of Utopia in Montana’s Paradise Valley