6. Religion

Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), Saturday 10 March 1906, page 56


(By Ethel A. Bates.)

Part 6. Religion.

The religious beliefs of the inhabitants of the island are varied. Considering the limited population, it is surprising to find that almost every religion is embraced by some. The majority are the followers of the old Church of England, whilst a goodly number represent the Methodist Church.

It has been, and is still, the subject of much wonder to contemplate the ascendency that the teachings of "the apostle" Dowie have exercised on the minds of the people. In the hundreds of Menzies and Haine a large number of people resident there did at one time, if not now, believe implicitly in the great "leader". Such a "spirit" as prevailed then has not been seen or felt here before or since. Every now and again followers were baptised in the Cygnet River. At one of these important events I was an interested spectator, and the scene is one I'll never forget. Two males and three females were waiting to be immersed, and one after another walked, or were led, down a plank to the edge of the water, when they advanced into the river until the water reached their waists, when they were dipped under three times. The long, white gowns, with capes over the shoulders, which they use on occasions of this kind, are most becoming. However, adventures of this kind have been long since done away with. Some of the settlers are indignant at finding that Dowieism and life in Zion City are not what they supposed, and many who sold their homes and chattels to follow Dowie to Zion City are returning wise but penniless men. Much of our sympathy is enlisted on their behalf, and we trust that before long they will once more be safely settled on the friendly soil of their native Kangaroo Island.

One young Islander, calling himself merely 'A soldier of Christ,' had such convictions that he went so far as to keep Saturday as his Sunday; on that day he rested and allowed his cattle, his men-servants, and his maid-servants to do likewise. Visitors to his house. were also amazed to discover that for some Biblical reason he had turned his clocks upside down.