The Prophets published more than 75 books on the Teachings of the Ascended Masters, including Climb the Highest Mountain (their magnum opus) Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power, The Masters and Their Retreats, Lost Years of Jesus, among others. She has lectured widely throughout the United States and in 28 countries, speaking in more than 150 cities on six continents.
In addition to publishing a newsweekly letter entitled Pearls of Wisdom and lecturing regularly for 35 years (1964-1999), Prophet has talked about her life, work and teachings on numerous radio and TV programs. In 1977, she was featured on "The Man Who Would Not Die," a program about the Count of St Germain produced by Alan Landsburg and narrated by Leonard Nimoy as part of Nimoy's In Search of... series which was broadcast on NBC in the United States.
Prophet had a talk radio program entitled Inner Perspectives that aired for several months on KIEV (870 AM) radio in Los Angeles in 1977. Her public-access cable series were available in 12 million homes during the 1980s. She has appeared on Larry King Live, The Morton Downey Jr. Show, Sonya Live, CNN & Company, Donahue and Nightline, and was featured on NBC's Ancient Prophecies.
Prophet suffered from lifelong absence seizures, a form of epilepsy, which worsened to include tonic-clonic seizures in 1988. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 1999. The leadership of her church subsequently passed to a board of directors.
Her spiritual quest sprang from what she recounted as a childhood recollection of a past life as well as precocious curiosity about religion. At age five, she demanded that her non-religious parents find her a church. After visits to the Catholic church, the Jewish synagogue and every Protestant church in Red Bank, she attended Methodist Sunday School before finally settling on Christian Science at age 9, attracted in part by its emphasis on healing and her desire to overcome her epilepsy. She became the most serious student in her Sunday School, and developed the ambition of becoming a Practitioner.
In 1960, while volunteering as a Sunday school teacher in the Christian Science Church in Boston, she met and married Dag Ytreberg; the marriage lasted about three years. During this time she took advanced classes in Christian science and began receiving phone calls from people who wanted her to pray for them. However, she also became interested in the "I AM" religious activity of the Saint Germain foundation, which claimed that advanced spiritual beings known as Ascended Masters could speak through human beings called "messengers." She began attending meetings with a group that was interested in ascended Masters, although unaffiliated with the "I AM" religious activity.
In 1970, the Prophets founded Montessori International, a school based on the principles of the acclaimed educator Dr. Maria Montessori. The name "Montessori International" was used by the Prophets for their church/community school, which at various times offered classes for students ranging from preschool age to high school. Although their preschool teachers were trained at official Montessori organizations such as the Association Montessori Internationale and the Pan-American Montessori Society, they were not officially associated with the Montessori umbrella organizations. And, in the elementary and high school levels, teachers were not Montessori certified.
In July 1972, the Prophets travelled to Ghana to meet with and address the large CUT congregation there (several thousand), which was led by Herbert Krakue. In September-October 1972, the Prophets again conducted a pilgrimage, this time to holy sites in the Middle East.
In 1972, the first volume of Climb the Highest Mountain was published, a projected five-volume work, which the Prophets intended to become their central scripture.
On February 26, 1973, Mark Prophet died of a massive stroke. Elizabeth quickly assumed leadership of their organization, which then began its first foray into survivalism, based on instructions she said Mark gave her the night before he died. She organized survival training on a property outside of Colorado Springs, which they had purchased with the intention of using for a headquarters. During the summer of 1973, the organization also entered into a partnership with a member who owned a property near Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and attempted to establish a community there.
In 1974, the headquarters of the Church was moved to Santa Barbara, California, where Elizabeth Prophet founded Summit University, a 12 week program of instruction in her teachings. Regular enrollment ranged from 50-125 students per quarter. In 1975, she founded Summit University Press. The Prophets' books are now translated into 23 languages and have been distributed in more than 33 countries.
On May 1, 1975, Prophet established Church Universal and Triumphant as the religious arm of the organization. The first use of this name appears to have been in the Manual of the Mother Church of the Christian Science church, written by Mary Baker Eddy. In the 1895 edition of the manual, Eddy used the terms "universal" and "triumphant" in referring to the church she had founded, and in the 1903 edition, explicitly referred to her organization as the Church Universal and Triumphant.
Traditionally, the Christian Church on earth has been described as the Church Militant, while the church of the saints in heaven is the Church Triumphant. Prophet taught that during the Aquarian Age, it was intended that the church on earth and the church in heaven should be united. She believed her church to be the rightful successor to the Catholic Church, even using the title Vicar of Christ for the highest spiritual office in the church. (She was the first holder of that office; the church articles and bylaws define processes for future appointments to the office).
After the church's formal establishment, the organization began to adopt additional religious and ceremonial practices, including robes and large altars in its chapels. The church eventually became the umbrella organization for Prophet's work, with The Summit Lighthouse becoming the publishing arm of the church, although their roles were later reversed.
In the summer of 1976, church headquarters were again relocated to the campus of Pasadena College, in Pasadena. Summit University, Montessori International, and quarterly church conferences were held there. About 300 staff members were then in residence.
In September 1976 and again in January 1978, Elizabeth returned to Africa, on the second visit being met by cheering crowds at the airport. She conducted a conference at the Kwame Nkrumah conference center in Accra which was attended by thousands. She also met with the heads of state of Ghana (Ignatius Kutu Acheampong) and Liberia (William Richard Tolbert, Jr.).
In 1977, the church purchased a former Claretian seminary in Calabasas, a campus near Los Angeles, and moved its operations there in 1978. Elizabeth called the property Camelot. Due to opposition from various governmental agencies, including the California Coastal Commission, the church was never able to fulfill its vision of building its large-scale headquarters there. The church sold the property in 1986 to Soka University who had similar land-use difficulties and eventually sold the property to the government.
In October 1981, Prophet married Edward Francis, who was at that time a vice-president of the church. Their marriage lasted 16 years, and they had a son in 1994.
Beginning in 1986 as she was leaving Los Angeles, Prophet began predicting a possible first-strike nuclear attack by the Soviet Union, and urged followers to prepare for this possibility by building fallout shelters and storing food and other necessities for survival. These activities generated substantial media attention. Many members made great sacrifices to fulfill these requests, quitting jobs, selling homes, and borrowing heavily to meet the timelines. Her most specific predictions concerned March and April 1990, during which thousands of additional church members arrived in Montana.
The violet flame was said to be a ray of cosmic light which could be invoked through the activity Prophet referred to as the "Science of the Spoken Word" (see below). Through the "Science of the Spoken Word", as well as good works and self-sacrifice, Prophet believed that any soul could ascend to heaven just as Jesus and the other masters did. She believed it was every person's destiny (or at least potential) to do so. Some of the categories of ascended masters Prophet and her late husband claimed to have communicated with were: Elohim, Archangels, Chohans, and the Holy Kumaras, of which there were seven each ().
Other Masters included the Hindu pantheon: (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Kali, Durga, Lakshmi, Krishna), the Virgin Mary, Gautama Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, and Alpha and Omega, to name a few. Prophet's detractors ridiculed some of the names of the Ascended Masters, many of which were taken straight from the I AM Activity, such as "K-17" (head of the Cosmic Secret Service) and Ray-O-Light. Critics also had difficulty with the fact that when Mark Prophet died, he too was believed by Elizabeth and her followers to have become an Ascended Master, whom she called Lanello (a contraction of the names of two people he claimed to have been in his former lives, Lancelot, of Camelot fame, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.)
Members would gather at quarterly conferences and weekly services to give decrees, for hours at a time, and were encouraged to give decrees individually on a daily basis. The most important weekly service was the four-hour Saturday evening service (the "Saint Germain service"). Decree sessions at quarterly conferences might last all day, although members would often not attend for more than an hour or two. Decrees were focused on personal needs, as well as world issues, such as political, social and environmental problems.
These dictations were published every week as Pearls of Wisdom. Many of the early books published by The Summit Lighthouse were merely compilations of Pearls of Wisdom. Later works were written by Prophet with assistance from her editorial and research staff and were intended for wider distribution. Some did not attempt to be scholarly, others were extensively annotated. The latter included The Lost Years of Jesus, Reincarnation: The Missing Link in Christianity, Kabbalah: Key to Your Inner Power, and Fallen Angels and the Origins of Evil.
One major and controversial feature of Ms. Prophet's teaching was a complex theology regarding "entities", or spirits. (A summary of this is found in her book The Path to Immortality, ch. 4, "Entities".) These could be either "discarnate entities" which consisted of one or more of the Subtle bodies of individuals who were once embodied on earth, or "mass entities", which Prophet defined as "forcefields of humanly misqualified energy. They are the thought and feeling creations of unascended man--the accumulation of mankind's momentums of hatred, violence, greed, envy, grief, lust, gossip and the like" (ibid., p.308).
Prophet proposed that entities were an important factor in addictions and that they also influenced individuals to engage in what she considered to be harmful or destructive behavior such as anger, swearing, use of alcohol or other drugs and sexuality. She also felt they were instrumental in violence, insanity, and suicide. She claimed the discarnates were parasitic beings who lived on the "light" energy released when humans engage in such practices. Prophet published lists of entity names to be read aloud during decree services, asking for God to "Seize, pin, and bind" such entities. (E.C. Prophet Prayers, Meditations, Dynamic Decrees... 1984) One example was known as the "7.11 Entity Decree". It had several parts: The main decree, 7.11E which was the list of names, and the 7.11S "Suicide Entity Decree".
Prophet held entities responsible for expressions of anger, "Infurio," as well as the composition and performance of jazz, "Jazzor," and rock music, "Roccoco," among other evils. She chose archetypal entity names like "Satus," "Matus," "Melancholia," "Simpatica," and "Vanitas" as a way of giving a universal/spiritual dimension to individual human emotions or tendencies. This list also included the entities of homosexuality "Sodoma") and lesbianism ("Sappho"). Erotic dreams were also seen as a manifestation of the entities "Incubus" and "Succubus." Many in the community were celibate and more susceptible to such dreams. Many felt guilty and wrote confession letters about the dreams to Prophet, focusing on their inability to shake their "entity possession."
Other examples of entities Prophet listed in the 7.11E decree are: the sex entity "Sensua," suicide entity "Annihla," sleep entity "Dorme," masturbation entity, "Masturba," tobacco entity "Nicola," gossip entities "Harpia" and "Carpia," heroin entity "Heroica," gambling entity "Luciana," and weeping entity "Weepa."
Prophet's primary technique for exorcism of entities was invocations to the Archangel Michael and to the Elohim known as Astrea. Prophet also drew on teachings by Helena Blavatsky that the use of a stainless steel blade could be useful in exorcisms (Isis Unveiled, vol. 1, pp. 362-63). In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Prophet was known to spend four to six hours at a time on the altar of her church at the Royal Teton Ranch, swinging a sword with a four-foot blade in her battles with the "discarnate entities." The sessions took place with hundreds of people chanting at top speed and volume for the duration. These battles went on at such length that Prophet often became physically tired. A special "honor guard" of the strongest men in the community would then take their turns on the altar swinging the sword. The organization also sold short scimitar-style swords with Archangel Michael's name engraved on them, which members could use privately for the same purpose.
Prophet was largely a populist, distrusting elites of all stripes. But she felt that the world's elites were supported by even larger, more sinister extraterrestrial forces. (Summarized from Whitsel, Chap. 4 "The Road to Armageddon")
One feature of the Prophets' belief system was UFOs. However, Prophet did not see them as a benign presence (as did many new-agers) but generally having malevolent intent. Prophet has invited ufologists such as Stanton Friedman and Budd Hopkins to speak at church conferences, where they spoke of research on UFO abductees. Mark Prophet's 1965 book The Soulless One: Cloning a Counterfeit Creation described in very general terms the genetic manipulation of life on earth by evolutions from other planets who had journeyed here.
When ancient-astronaut theorist Zechariah Sitchin published his book The Twelfth Planet in the late 1970s, Prophet saw similarities between his findings and what Prophet had written fifteen years earlier, and she incorporated some of Sitchin's conclusions into her theories on the origins of evil on earth. (However, she rejected Sitchin's theory of an extraterrestrial origin for all of humanity.) Some of Prophet's theories are published in her book Fallen Angels and the Origins of Evil and in Paths of Light and Darkness, the sixth book in her Climb the Highest Mountain series.
Prophet was convinced that the "power elites" of the world "managed" both sides of the great political conflicts of the 20th century. She dubbed this cooperation the "International Capitalist Communist Conspiracy". She held that Wall Street financiers such as Rockefeller, Morgan and others had knowingly assisted the Bolshevik revolution, and even the Nazis as part of their grand plan.
Prophet based much of this theory on the work of Dr. Antony Sutton, and his description of a one-world "order". But it was more than a simple political theory. Her view was that the power elites were actually embodied Nephilim from The Twelfth Planet, and were attempting to realize the "State as God", as a way of keeping the common people totally subservient, and thus unable to pursue a spiritual path.
Mark Prophet had earlier sown the seeds for Elizabeth's embrace of this philosophy, having invited retired Army colonel Archibald Roberts to speak to the group in 1973. Roberts had written several books about "the decline of American sovereignty and the international elite's plan to construct a one-world corporate state". Since Prophet believed America to be a divinely inspired nation, and had become disillusioned with the United Nations (where as a young woman she had once held a clerical position), she vigorously opposed any such plan.
Prophet believed the AIDS virus to represent a "genetic threat" to the continued spiritual evolution of the Lightbearers. She claimed "the scientific establishment" had a "vested interest in the further spread of the disease". This was largely on the word of an invited panel consisting of Dr. Alan Cantwell, Dr. Robert Strecker, and Jon Rappoport who spoke at a church conference in 1988. The panel seemed to bolster Prophet's belief that the internationalists would stop at nothing, including the creation of an epidemic plague such as AIDS, to further their diabolical agenda.
These could be read aloud, and prayers made for these individuals to be cut free from negative forces and for God to judge the momentums of evil that may be work through them. On December 30, 1975, Prophet (speaking as Archangel Michael) pronounced judgement on then secretary of state Henry Kissinger for what she described as his betrayal of America and its people in his unprincipled conduct of foreign policy.
Prophet was known for her temper. She was also criticized for making exceptions for herself and her family regarding the rules in the community. There was something of a disparity between the lifestyle of the Prophet family and the staff. In the 1980s and 1990s, accommodation was limited at the church's Montana ranch, due to the church's plans to build additional housing being blocked by the state government. Consequently, many single staff were housed in tight quarters in trailers or dormitories, and married couples often lived in small single rooms in inexpensive modular housing units. Some of these units and other equipment had been bought by CUT from the former Rajneeshpuram in Oregon, others from mining companies in Montana. In the meantime, Prophet and her family lived in a comfortable double-wide trailer on the ranch.
In court transcripts, under cross examination, (CUT v. Mull, 3:492-499) Prophet revealed that she shared information from confession letters and kept those letters in members' personal files. Staff were also encouraged to inform on each other if there were any infractions of the code-of-conduct or questioning of the faith or Prophet's leadership. This took place either via communication with department heads or directly with the Office of Ministry. When members were dismissed from the community, they were shunned by their peers and often dispatched with a few days' food money and/or a bus ticket.
Church critics have attempted to link these events with the establishment of Church Universal and Triumphant. However the establishment of CUT as a separate entity from The Summit Lighthouse had already been planned before the commodities trading problem arose. The name Church Universal and Triumphant was used in dictations on July 29 and December 31, 1973. On February 10, 1974, a dictation was delivered specifically directing that the church be established as a separate arm of the organization, with "written bylaws for the government of the church".
Mull was upset because of what he felt was unfair treatment, and efforts by Prophet to recategorize monies he had understood to be compensation into loans that he was obligated to repay. The church, on the other hand, claimed that these funds were a loan to Mull to cover his living expenses, and that there had been an agreement by Mr. Mull they would be repaid when Mull sold real estate in San Francisco and moved to Los Angeles. Mull had signed a promissory note for the amount of the loan, and in a recording of a private conversation between Mull and Prophet that was played at the trial, Mull spoke of the money as a loan.
The legal action began when Mull refused to repay the loan, and the church sued to recover the funds. Mull countersued, and the lawsuit essentially turned into a trial of the group and its practices. Mull's case rested on the claim of "undue influence," that he'd been a member of the church for ten years, during which time they had access to his highly-skilled professional labor. After he left, and during the course of his lawsuit, he began to suffer health problems which included multiple sclerosis. Three months after the verdict, Gregory Mull died. According to his attorney, "Only the will to strike a blow on behalf of other cult victims, as he put it, held him together through the ordeal."
Mull's attorney exposed some of the unsavory manipulations used by Mrs. Prophet and church leaders on members, including threatening spiritual sanctions, as well as labeling them "fallen ones," and in Mull's case "the beast of blasphemy." Church members were also called to the witness stand and asked to demonstrate examples of their religious practices in the courtroom, which made a big impression on the jury. Mull's complaint had asked for $253 million. After a lengthy trial, he was awarded $1.5 million, $500,000 of which was punitive damages against Prophet herself. Clearly, the jury believed there was legitimate harm, and the $500,000 punitive verdict against Mrs. Prophet was the most damning evidence of that. However, it does not appear that they believed the most extreme claims of Mull or his attorney Lawrence Levy, or they would have awarded higher damages which would have bankrupted the organization. (Source: Los Angeles Times 4/3/1986, p.1) Prophet unsuccessfully appealed this verdict all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately denied the writ of certiorari needed for them to hear the case.
By 1987, Prophet's prophecies began to drift toward the potential for nuclear war. She began to refer to the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse". Specifically, she warned that the Soviet Union would mount a first-strike nuclear attack, and it was the duty of the "light bearers" to survive this onslaught to be able to survive physically and preserve the ascended masters' teachings if this should come to pass.
She encouraged followers to build fallout shelters either in Montana or close to where they lived and to store food and other essentials. The Church itself built what is probably the largest privately owned bomb shelter in the U.S. Designed for 756 people, with food storage for seven years, the facility had generators, communications equipment, air-filtration equipment, and room to store equipment needed for long-term survival given many possible scenarios. This was built at an estimated cost of $20 million. (The funds came largely from the sale of the Church's former campus in Calabasas, near Los Angeles.)
That same year, to protect the shelters, Prophet's then-husband, Edward Francis, and staff member Vernon Hamilton purchased more high-powered semi-automatic weapons in Washington state under a false name. The guns were legal, but in trying to protect the Church's image by hiding their identities, they opened themselves up to criminal prosecution. Hamilton spent 10 days in jail, and Francis spent a month in jail and several months under house arrest. Even as late as 1999, a U.S. House of Representatives report mentioned the incident, citing CUT as an example of a "Doomsday Religious Cult" ().
As a result of media reports regarding this and other church activities, the IRS began another investigation of the church and threatened to revoke the Church's tax exempt status. As a result of negotiations with the IRS, the church made a number of changes to its operations. The IRS levied income taxes for several previous years but allowed the organization to keep its tax-exempt status.
Most of the fuel was eventually recovered and removed from the site. The shelters were reengineered to use alternative fuel sources.
This period coincided with what turned out to be the beginnings of the collapse of the former Soviet Union. On June 30 1990, Prophet came out saying (in a dictation said to be from Mother Mary entitled You have Won the Prize! Now Pass Your Tests!) essentially that "thanks to your prayers (decrees) the war was prevented".
Around 50 couples got married over a period of a few months - among them a number of them foreigners who married staff members who were citizens. Despite these unusual circumstances, these marriages proved to be about as durable as most in America, with some of them lasting, some of them not.
Prophet's four adult children--Sean Prophet, Erin Prophet, Moira Prophet, and Tatiana Prophet--who all worked for the group at one time or another, left the Church in the 1990s. Erin Prophet currently runs a site to help raise funds for her mother's medical care. Sean Prophet runs a prominent and frequently updated atheist website, Black Sun Journal, on which he has publicly repudiated the teachings of the Ascended Masters and recounted his mother's admission to him of her abuses of power. He has also expressed regret for his role in promoting the organization as minister and vice-president, and his desire to right past wrongs by exposing what he now views as transparent fraud--not only in Ascended Master organizations, but throughout organized religion and the new age movement. Moira Prophet was the first of Prophet's four children to become publicly antagonistic, speaking out against the church on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1989. Also in the late 1980s, she planned to publish a tell-all book entitled "Purely for Prophet," about Elizabeth Prophet's private life, and the hidden back story of the Church. The book, which had largely been completed, unraveled due to disagreements with her co-author, Kathy Schmook. Tatiana Prophet used to be a reporter for the Victorville Daily Press
Prophet's grandson, Chris Prophet used to be the drummer for the post-hardcore group Horse The Band.
As of 2008, the church is run by a two-person presidency--Kate Gordon and Lois Drake--a board of directors, and a council of elders. Its staff has declined from a high of 750 to around 100. While membership has declined in the U.S. and Canada, it has expanded internationally.
In recent years, there has been a trend away from the old authoritarian model of leadership established by Ms. Prophet. This style of leadership was based on Prophet's holding the office of guru within the community, somewhat in the Eastern tradition. Without her physical presence in the organization, the organization has had to adopt more conventional structures and processes. The board and current CUT presidents run the organization based on its charter and bylaws. These were revised significantly in 1996, and provide mechanisms for the organization to continue to function without Prophet as the single spiritual leader and authority.
Church Universal and Triumphant still derives its primary inspiration from the teachings of Elizabeth Clare Prophet and to a lesser extent, Mark Prophet.
Since 2000, the organization has engaged in a large effort to repackage, update, translate, and publish this primary source material. A current search on Amazon.com lists over 150 titles in several languages.
- (2000) Fallen Angels and the Origins of Evil: Why Church Fathers Suppressed the Book of Enoch and Its Startling Revelations
- (1993) Saint Germain on Alchemy
- (1999) Saint Germain's Prophecy for the New Millennium
- (1986) The Path of the Higher Self, book 1 of the Climb the Highest Mountain series
- (2005) Paths of Light and Darkness, book 6 of the Climb the Highest Mountain series
- (1965, reprinted 2005) The Soulless One: Cloning a Counterfeit Creation
- (1984, reprinted 1986, 1987) Prayers, Meditations, Dynamic Decrees for the Coming Revolution in Higher Consciousness, Loose-leaf Sections I, II, and III, informally known among followers as "The Decree Book"