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Holy Roller is a term in American English used to describe Pentecostal Christian churchgoers. However, "Holy Roller" is also more commonly used to describe any religion follower that tries to promote their religion at doorsteps or in public forums. The term is commonly used derisively, as if to describe people literally rolling on the floor or speaking in tongues in an uncontrolled manner. For this usage, the Oxford English Dictionary cites an 1893 memoir by Charles G. Leland, in which he says "When the Holy Spirit seized them..the Holy Rollers..rolled over and over on the floor."[1] It is generally considered pejorative, but some have reclaimed it as a badge of honor, e.g. William Branham's statement "And what the world calls today holy-roller, that's the way I worship Jesus Christ." [2] Similar disparaging terms directed at outspoken Christians include Jesus freaks and Bible bashers. The name Shakers was created as a portmanteau of shaking Quakers. Gospel singer Andrae Crouch stated, "They call us holy rollers, and what they say is true. But if they knew what we were rollin' about, they'd be rollin' too."


  • The New York Times; May 2, 1923; page 1. "Bound Brook Mob Raids Klan Meeting: Thousand Hostile Citizens Surround Church and Lock In 100 Holy Rollers."
  • Time; March 4, 1929; "In the village of New Hampshire, Ohio, the Rev. Ray Dotson, 'Holy Roller' Methodist, so wailed and shrieked, so frothed and grovelled, that he got Fred Conrad, a 200-lb. traction worker, all worked up."
  • Time; October 12, 1936; "When Jesus Christ first appeared to His assembled disciples after His resurrection, He told them that believers 'shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents' (Mark: 16:17, 18). To many a U. S. religionist of the Pentecostal or "Holy Roller" variety, the 'gift of tongues' has long been vivid reality."

See also


  1. ^ "roller, n1", definition 17b. The Oxford English Dictionary. (Account required for online access).
  2. ^ "Why I Am a Holy-Roller", a sermon by William Marrion Branham, August 1953


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