Allen Spraggett (1932– ) Journalist, author, broadcaster, psychical researcher, and consultant, ordained evangelical and spiritual science minister.
Allen Frederick Spraggett was born in Toronto, Ontario, on March 26, 1932. In 1954, he married Marion Martin, with whom he had five children.
Spraggett was ordained by the Open Door Evangelical Churches in 1954 and served as pastor of several Ontario congregations over a period of eight years. He completed his education at Queen’s University and Queen’s Theological College, Kingston, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in 1962. He was reordained as a spiritual science minister and was granted a dmin degree by the International College of Spiritual and Psychic Sciences in 1986. He has been a fellow of the Montreal-based International Institute of Integral Human Sciences since 1976.
As a journalist, Spraggett worked for the Toronto Star as religion editor (1962–69) and daily columnist (1969– 71). His weekly column The Unexplained (1972–77) was widely syndicated in Canada and the United States.
During the 1970s, Spraggett was a popular broadcaster of radio and television programs about the paranormal. He hosted a radio show in Canada, The Unexplained, and was writer and host of the television series The Occult. In 1977, Spraggett developed the panel show Beyond Reason as a psychic parallel to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s very successful Front Page Challenge. For several seasons, Spraggett was the show’s psychic expert and adjudicator.
Spraggett arranged and moderated a famous televised Séance in September 1967 involving the blindfolded medium ARTHUR AUGUSTUS FORD and Episcopal Bishop JAMES A. PIKE that attracted international media attention. Ford purportedly conveyed spirit messages from Pike’s dead son, who had committed SUICIDE. Spraggett knew Ford well, and later was a member of the executive council of the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship (1975–78).
As the founding president of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research (SPR)(1970–1981), Spraggett collaborated with parapsychologists A. R. G. OWEN and IRIS M. OWEN. Their work together included a live performance of the PHILIP Table-Tilting group on his television program.
Spraggett wrote eight books examining the evidence for Extrasensory Perception, psychic healing, Reincarnation, and the Afterlife. His first book, The Unexplained (1967), included a foreword by Pike, and was followed by three sequels, Probing the Unexplained (1971); The World of the Unexplained (1974); and New Worlds of the Unexplained (1976).
He also wrote several biographical books, including The Bishop Pike Story (1970), about the psychic experiences and controversy surrounding the elder Pike’s disappearance and death in the Judean desert in 1969; KATHRYN KUHLMAN (1970) about the Christian faith healer; and Ross Peterson (1977), about a trance Medium with abilities similar to those of EDGAR CAYCE. In The Case for Immortality (1974), Spraggett argued for belief in life after death. Spraggett had sittings with more than 50 mediums in several countries and was convinced of Survival After Death and spirit communication.
Spraggett’s more critical work is found in books on which he collaborated with others. With Episcopal priest Reverend Canon William V. Rauscher, he wrote Arthur Ford: The Man Who Talked with the Dead (1973) and The Spiritual Frontier: A Priest Explores the Psychic World (1975). In their biography of Ford, Spraggett and Rauscher, who was Ford’s literary executor, claim to have discovered evidence of cheating among his private papers, notably copies of newspaper obituaries that he was in the habit of clipping. Their confi dence in Ford was shattered by the discovery, but they concluded, on the basis of “hard evidence,” that he was a psychically gifted Medium who had at times resorted to cheating. Their book called into question the value of the survival evidence that Ford claimed to have produced at his two most famous Séances, the January 1929 sitting with Harry Houdini’s widow Beatrice and the 1967 televised broadcast with Pike.
In The Psychic Mafia (1976) as told to Spraggett, Lamar Keene described how he and other fraudulent mediums had conned hundreds of people into believing in their powers while working in one of America’s largest SPIRitualIST CAMPS. Keene cited the “true-believer syndrome,” or the need to continue an irrational belief in an unexplained phenomenon even after presentation of evidence that it was fraudulently staged. Keene and Spraggett, as well as Rauscher who wrote the introduction, made clear that they still believed in life after death, ESP, and genuine psychic phenomena, despite sometimes fraudulent activities perpetrated under the guise of Spiritualism.
Spraggett has also authored many articles, and assisted Rauscher with his limited edition book The Houdini Code Mystery: A Spirit Secret Solved (2000).
- Keene, Lamar, as told to Allen Spraggett. The Psychic Mafia: True and Shocking Confessions of a Famous Medium. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1976.
- Spraggett, Allen, with William V. Rauscher. Arthur Ford: The Man Who Talked with the Dead. New York: New American Library (Times Mirror), 1973.
———. The Bishop Pike Story: The Extraordinary Life, Psychic Experiences and Death of the Most Controversial Churchman of our Times. New York: New American Library, 1970.
———. The Case for Immortality: The Story of Life After Death. New York: Signet / New American Library, 1974.
———, with a foreword by James A. Pike. The Unexplained: The Startling Discoveries of an Expert in Extrasensory Perception and the Occult. New York: Signet Book / The New American Library, 1967.