S6

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S6 - DESECRATION

When news arrived of the sinking of Reina Regenta it hit the Church of End Dome hard. Mark had been loved. And there was simply no way to administer the Last Rites with the Golden Gift to the body of the Prophet. During the fourteen days of mourning that followed, Chief Malekwa, long the Apostle of the Church, was elevated to Prophet and he in turn chose Peter Hansen to be the next Apostle. Peter had been a child of approximately Inge's age when he made the original pilgrimage west with his family. He had been there from the beginning, and his appointment established a tradition that the office of Prophet would alternate between the White and Red wings of the Church, lest one or the other grow disenfranchised.

Not everything was so grim. During the large fair held in honor of the Prophet's 70th birthday, a barnstormer came to Franklin offering rides in his biplane. Fearless, Prophet Malekwa stepped up to be the first to fly, to the delight of everyone present. Few religious leaders have been so be- loved, at least among his own faithful. Christian outsiders, however, con- sidered Endomism to be a dangerous cult of heterodox sun-worshipers who preserved the commandments of the devil (Belial), thought God to be female, and married their close kin. And the critics were absolutely right.

When Malekwa died in 1937 at the age of 80 he lay in state in the temple sanctuary for fourteen days. Many Endomites scattered across the country journeyed by train, auto, or even by DC-3 to witness Prophet Hansen commit the old Chief's body directly into the hands of God. It was a sight that few but the oldest members present had ever seen, for most members of the Church of End Dome lived far from Franklin. The Church performed all the funerals of Endomites at the Temple, but only the very closest kin of the deceased were allowed to attend. For most of them it was a ceremony they would not witness until they were well into middle-age when their parents died, and of course everyone prayed they would never have to attend.

Hansen chose Two Feathers to fill the office of Prophet which he had vacated and guided the Church through the years of World War II and the two decades which followed, a troubling time that saw a steady decline in membership and the closure of many tabernacles overseas and in the US, until the footprint of the End Dome Church had been reduced to the State of Washing- ton alone. And this great falling away led to a crisis when it became virtually impossible for the young people in the Church to obey the requirement to marry their first cousins no matter how long the elders puzzled over the family trees. So it was that Peter Hansen, after long prayer, promulgated his new "revelation" that the young people could marry someone who was not their cousin, so long as they were Endomites in good stead.

Prophet Hansen died in 1968 and Two Feathers chose Paul Bergin to become the new Apostle, but the chemistry of this pair-up was not good from the very beginning. Two Feathers was an Experimentalist who wished to follow out Hansen's new revelation to its ultimate end, while Bergin was a Traditionalist who would have been quite at home in the earliest days of the Church. So it was in 1971 when Two Feathers blessed the union of Jerry Shy Bear from the Red Wing, and Sophie Krause from the White Wing, that Paul Bergin declared the office of Prophet to have been vacant since the death of Hansen and all revelations of Two Feathers null and void.

After that the Church divided in twain, roughly along racial lines, although some whites remained faithful to Prophet Two Feathers. There were bitter recriminations and a legal battle over the deed to the Temple and the hilltop property it occupied that eventually was settled in favor of the existing prophet per the terms in the charter of the Church. But someone in the White Wing was willing to lose the Temple rather than let the Red Wing have it. A description of the Golden Gift was given to the FBI, who infiltrated the Last Rites and observed the artifact in operation. In the large raid that followed, the Golden Gift could not be found, so the temple was simply raised to the ground so the FBI could sift through the ashes. DECON had it's fundamental origin in this unfruitful search.

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