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The “perplexing, contradictory” history of Michigan’s House of David religious colony

Things do not always fit together easily or neatly. But truthfully, life would be pretty boring if they did.

That’s the idea behind the podcast Mismatch, which is now launching its second season. Mismatch is hosted by veteran Detroit reporter Roger Weber and produced by Zak Rosen.

Rosen joined Stateside to talk about the third episode of the podcast's new season, titled “The House that Beards Built."

That episode follows the “perplexing, contradictory” story of the House of David religious colony in Benton Harbor. Rosen calls it “one of the strangest Michigan rabbit holes” he has ever gone down. The House of David was founded in the beginning of the 20th century by preacher Benjamin Purnell and his wife Mary.  

Followers of the House of David are required to give up shaving, alcohol, meat, and sex. A handful of House of David members —including Ron Taylor, who is featured on the podcast — are still alive today. 

The history behind the House of David religious colony is a fascinating mix of sports, religion, and scandal.

“There’s some cult elements, but then there’s some amazing American ingenuity elements. There’s baseball, there’s Americana, and it’s kind of all of this stuff co-mingling. There’s some creepy, there’s some odd — there’s a lot going on in this one story,” Rosen said.

Listen to Stateside’s conversation with Mismatch producer Zak Rosen, and hear the full episode of “The House that Beards Built” above. 

(Subscribe to Stateside oniTunes, Google Play, or with this RSS link)

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