Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication


Faith healing evangelists attract devoted followers who perceive these religious leaders as possessors of charisma. Charisma is a concept that is often applied to any leader/communicator whose eloquence, persuasion, transcendence, and personal aura set him or her apart from the average person. In this dissertation charisma is operationally defined, linked to a process of communication, and applied to the rhetorical behavior of three prominent faith healing evangelists: Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944), A. A. Allen (1911-1970), and Kathryn Kuhlman (1907-1976). A survey of selected theories of charisma provides elements for a synergistic "charismatic-communication-influence-process-model." The newly formed model amalgamates charisma research from such academic disciplines as sociology, psychology, political science, philosophy, and speech communication. Situational crises characteristics that create the charismatic milieu reveal the necessary bond between charismatic leader and devoted follower. The three case studies of McPherson, Allen, and Kuhlman exemplify the power of charismatic rhetorical techniques as well as charismatic perception. These three evangelists signify an influential group of communicators. Their rhetorical behavior represents the communicative impact of charisma.