A burning church with a dead body inside: ‘Heaven Bent’ examines a case from 1987 and the Pentecostal world

History October 5, 2022
Listen to ‘Heaven Bent’

In 1987, Nashville, Tennessee’s Emmanuel Church of Christ Oneness Pentecostal was ablaze and a slashed body was found inside. Who was responsible and why was the congregation’s minister suddenly missing? Was this a Satanic cult’s work or a calculated plan set in motion by other disturbing forces? Season 3 of “Heaven Bent” examines the Pentecostal spirit’s revival in Nashville, the church’s belief system, and how these events impacted the community.

“Heaven Bent’s” host Tara Jean Stevens is called a “backslider,” an individual freed from religion who assists others on their faith journeys. She has a personal connection to the stories reported in this series since she was raised in one of Prince Rupert, British Columbia’s spiritual movement that spread from Toronto. On each season of “Heaven Bent,” Tara covers religious practices, Christians, and the Pentecostal world.

In Tara’s childhood church, worshippers shook and tumbled to the ground, speaking in tongues and participating in “carpet time.” There were claims of gold teeth growing in mouths and miraculous healing. Tara doubted the supernatural activity her church discussed, and the place only separated facts from fiction years later. Christians traveled great lengths to attend this organization. 25 years later, Tara returned to the church she once attended to investigate the “Toronto Blessing” movement and its worshippers’ behavior in season 1.

Season 2 explored Redding, California’s Bethel Church, an organization with unusual teachings and claims of supernatural healing powers. This church believes in resurrections, gold dust falling from the ceiling, and a School of Supernatural Ministry.

This season explores the church’s power, influence, and a national, outdoor worship tour during the pandemic. Tara dives into some of Bethel Church’s practices including “conversion therapy,” beliefs to heal the sick, revive the dead, and Satan’s evolution in the Evangelical Church.

Start each season from the first episode to catch the complete narrative. Episodes run less than an hour on average. Tune in for new episodes of “Heaven Bent” wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

Listen to ‘Heaven Bent’

New shows we love...

Join Our Newsletter

The best podcasts to listen to next, delivered right to your inbox every week.

By clicking Submit, you acknowledge you have read and agree to our Website and Digital Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.