If the publishers at TIME and other magazines and newspapers had been paying attention, it would have been clear that a large scale religious shift was about to take place.
Christianity Today, the largest evangelical publication, covered the movement from its earliest days in Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. I found that one of their reporters, Edward E. Plowman, wrote somewhere between ten and twenty articles, as well as several books, about the Jesus Movement; he was one of the most visible supporters of the movement, because he saw it as a religious revival (like the Great Awakening) that had the potential to change American Christianity.
Although the Jesus Movement had grown to a fever pitch by the end of the 1960s, the large media outlets did not really begin to cover it until 1971. That year, though, Jesus People were featured in TIME, Look, LIFE, Rolling Stone, and Newsweek. Although Look had the earliest piece on it (February 1971), Time had the most iconic cover.
It is a startling development for a generation that has been constantly accused of tripping out or copping out with sex, drugs and violence. Now, embracing the most persistent symbol of purity, selflessness and brotherly love in the history of Western man, they are afire with a Pentecostal passion for sharing their new vision with others. Fresh-faced, wide-eyed young girls and earnest young men badger businessmen and shoppers on Hollywood Boulevard, near the Lincoln Memorial, in Dallas, in Detroit and in Wichita, “witnessing” for Christ with breathless exhortations.
The man on the cover who is meant to look like Jesus is actually Lonnie Frisbee. Lonnie Frisbee was one of the earliest Jesus Movement hippies and a self-proclaimed prophet. He had a complicated relationship with his church, Calvary Chapel, and with the church movement he later co-founded, the Vineyard. It is believed that he was fired from his job at Calvary Chapel because he had an affair with a man (while he was married to a woman). He died of complications from AIDS in 1993. (Here’s a video of Frisbee giving his testimony).
To be continued!