Story: Religion and society

Temple of Truth, Christchurch (4th of 4)

Temple of Truth, Christchurch

This impressive classical temple in Christchurch in 1894 was the initiative of an American con-man, Arthur Bently Worthington. Leaving behind a record of bigamy and obtaining money under false pretences in the United States, he arrived in Christchurch in 1890 with his new wife to establish a new religion, the Students of Truth. His charisma was such that by 1892 the Temple of Truth had been built. But Worthington's teachings on free love and his replacement of one 'wife' with another aroused suspicions in Christchurch and his background was uncovered. He escaped to Tasmania. When he returned in 1897 and attempted a comeback, an angry crowd, said to be 6,000 strong, disrupted his lectures. In 1899 Worthington left for Australia, where he was imprisoned. His fine building, which became the Choral Hall and then Latimer Hall, was demolished in 1966.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1/2-020057-F

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How to cite this page:

John Stenhouse, 'Religion and society - Church adherence and attendance, 1840–1920', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 1 March 2024)

Story by John Stenhouse, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 4 Apr 2018