The Houston Photograph

From BelieveTheSign
Picture taken in Houston, TX by Douglas Studios on January 24, 1950

In Houston, Texas, on January 24, 1950, a strange photograph was taken by the Douglas Studios. In the photograph, there appeared a halo-like light above the head of Rev. William Branham. Gordon Lindsay took the negative to George J. Lacy, Examiner of Questioned Documents (who had acted as an external specialist for the FBI). George J. Lacy was asked to determine whether or not the light could have been the result of improper exposure, developing or retouching. This investigation concluded that the unusual brightness was caused by light striking the negative.


They lay on cots under the glare of the great lights of Sam Houston Coliseum Tuesday last night - the lame, the sick, the infirm, the ones whose hopes for physical health had almost gone. They lay there quietly, some of them uncomprehendingly, as the theological argument swirled about and above them. (The Houston Chronicle, January 25, 1950)


Facts surrounding the picture

It was during the Houston campaign in 1950, that Rev. W. E. Best (representing the Houston Baptist Pastor's Conference) accused William Branham of racketeering and leading people astray. A public challenge was issued, and F.F. Bosworth accepted a challenge on the subject of "Divine Healing Through the Atonement." While Bro. Branham cautioned Brother Bosworth against being argumentative, the newspapers reported that the two ministers talked at once, and a fist-fight broke out in the audience. The meeting was given front-page publicity in the Houston newspapers.

As the debate got under way, it was quite apparent that the sympathy of the vast audience was almost entirely on the side of the visiting evangelists. Large numbers of members from the same denomination as Rev. Best stood to their feet as witnesses that they believed in Divine healing and had in fact been healed.

Rev. Best secured the services of Mr. James Ayers and Mr. Ted Kipperman, professional photographers from Douglas Studios in Houston, to document the evening. They were there in addition to the newpaper photographers. After taking several photos of Rev. Best, the photographer snapped a picture of William Branham, who spoke briefly just before the service closed.

Immediately following the meeting Mr. Ayers went to the darkroom of his studio to develop the negatives that had been exposed. He was surprised by the photograph of a light over the head of Rev. Branham.


Scepticism

George J. Lacy's report did not comment on whether the source of the light was natural (i.e. electric indoor lighting) or supernatural. While newspaper articles about the Coliseum around that time show that there were flood lights in the building (including photographs of a concert by the Beatles), William Branham claimed that this was a supernatural light.

Some observers note that if the pillar of fire was directly over William Branham's shoulder, it would have cast light on top of his head and the pulpit. Instead, the top of his head is not lit and the light appears to be from a source beyond William Branham. If the light was not from indoor lighting, it may have been the result of the flash from the camera reflecting off a metal pole or beam in the background.


Local newspaper reporting

Click here for a copy of the January 24th,
1950 issue of The Houston Press.

The same morning that the photographer brought the news of the halo of light in the picture above Rev. Branham's head, the Houston newspapers carried full reports of the service on their front pages. Of course, the newspapers had heard nothing yet about the photograph. And it is interesting to note that Mr. Ayers, one of the photographers who had been secured by the opposing clergyman, himself had made skeptical remarks - which remarks were included in the reports by the newspapers.

Below we include some greatly condensed reports of the meeting as they appeared that morning in the Houston newspapers:

THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE - JAN. 25, 1950 (Abridged)

"They lay on cots under the glare of the great lights of Sam Houston Coliseum Tuesday night - the lame, the sick, the infirm, the ones whose hopes for physical health had almost gone. They lay there quietly, some of them uncomprehendingly, as the theological argument swirled about and above them.
For it was they who - Rev. F. F. Bosworth, an out-of-town evangelist, said - could be cured of their infirmities by the divine healing power passed on through Rev. William Branham, Rev. Mr. Bosworth's partner. But Rev. W. E. Best, pastor of the Houston Tabernacle Baptist Church, contended that any such "miraculous healing" had ceased with the apostles. And he challenged Rev. Mr. Bosworth to prove otherwise.
When the Rev. Best shouted there were those "who used sorcery to bewitch people, so that people are sincerely misled and say it's the power of God," James Ayers, a commercial photographer of 1610 Rusk, agreed.
"Branham puts on a show," said Mr. Ayers. "Somehow he never gets around to the cripples and the persons who have arthritis. He simply hypnotizes his audience."

Authentication

After conferring with Rev. Branham, Gordon Lindsay arranged for the negative to be turned over to George Lacy, a forensic examiner of documents. Mr. Lacy examined the negative.

After his examination, Mr. Lacy gave a certified statement indicating that it was his opinion that the negative was genuine, and had not been "doctored" or retouched or the result of a double exposure. Today, the picture sits in a filing cabinet in the U.S Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. [1]

Report by George J. Lacy

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