Father Divine (c. 1876 – September 10, 1965), also known as Reverend M. J. Divine, was an African American spiritual leader from about 1907 until his death. His full self-given name was Reverend Major Jealous Divine, and he was also known as "the Messenger" early in his life. He founded the International Peace Mission movement, formulated its doctrine, and oversaw its growth from a small and predominantly black congregation into a multiracial and international church.
Father Divine claimed to be God. He made numerous contributions toward his followers" economic independence and racial equality. He was a contemporary of other religious leaders such as Daddy Grace, Charles Harrison Mason, Noble Drew Ali and James F. Jones (also known as Prophet Jones).
Little is known about Father Divine"s early life, or even his real given name. Father Divine and the Peace Movement he started did not keep many records. Father Divine himself declined several offers to write his biography, saying that the history of God would not be useful in mortal terms. He also refused to acknowledge relationship to any family. Newspapers in the 1930s had to dig up his probable given name: George Baker. (This name is not recognized by the Library of Congress, and from 1979, there is no further use of that name as a heading for Father Divine in libraries" catalogs.) Federal Bureau of Investigation files record his name as George Baker alias "God".
In 1936 Eliza Mayfield claimed to be Father Divine"s mother. She stated that his real name was Frederick Edwards from Hendersonville, North Carolina, and had abandoned a wife and five children, although Mayfield offered no proof and claimed to not remember his father"s name. (Father Divine replied that "God has no Mother.")
Father Divine"s childhood remains a contentious point. Some, especially earlier researchers, suppose that he was born in the Deep South, most likely in Georgia, as the son of sharecroppers. Newer research by Jill Watts, based on census data, finds evidence for a