“Judas Got a Raw Deal”

I mentioned that as The Kid of the staff I was on the Huck Finn Beat because they could send me out without wasting a real reporter and, because I could shoot my own pictures, they didn’t have to roust out One-Shot Frony. The Huck Finn Beat also included the non-river tourists like Ken Saunders, who passed through Cape during my summer internship right after high school. The story is not bylined, but I recognize my style enough to claim it as my own, for better or worse. It ran July 16, 1965. Click on any photo to make it larger.

The gentleman in the long, white robe walking briskly along Highway 61 Wednesday afternoon was not a sun-spawned hallucination. He was Kenneth Saunders, a British citizen who has walked from New York City to Los Angeles, Calif, and, thus far, from Memphis, Tenn., to Cape Girardeau.

Has walked 4,000 miles with message

Tall, sunburned an energetic, Mr. Saunders has trekked about 4,000 miles to challenge himself and other Christians to be honest with themselves.  “I started in September, 1964 – “it feels like 1864,” he chuckled.

Mr. Saunders carries a metal cross bearing the words “Church of Judas,” and at the drop of a question will hand out a leaflet telling what the Church of Judas is.

“We feel that Judas got a very raw deal,” Mr. Saunders explained. “He was no worse than the other disciples. By hating him, we have a split-level Christianity. Our church teaches that the love of Judas is a halfway point to the total love Christ taught.”

Asked if he was a pacifist, Mr. Saunders replied, “I am, but I’m a poor one. We’re all pacifists, you know, until a war starts.”

Missouri a “friendly, happy state”

The pilgrim is delighted with Missouri. “This is a friendly, happy state,” he declared. “It has an edge on the other states where friendliness is concerned.”

Mr. Saunders said he has never been harassed and that police and newsmen in the United States are “absolute tops.”

He hopes to complete his walk next month at Davenport, Iowa.


9 Replies to ““Judas Got a Raw Deal””

  1. Wow, I remember this guy, he stopped at the corner of Lousianna and Broadway by Capaha Park and sitting on the low block wall that used to me there and was resting in the shade in late afternoon. For some reason I stopped to see what was going on. The Guy was pulling a little cart behind him and THAT was unusual. Of Coruse LONG hair and wearing robe with rope tie was unusual too, but the littel cart got my attention…I remember him telling me his mission in 30 seconds or less (a great advantage for anyone) and also let you know what he was doing and why. We talked only for a couple of minutes.
    I do remember offering him a buck for a meal which he refused at first and then after a minute or two of me saying well you have to eat somewhere he did accept the buck. Strange, I have not though of this guy in years and wondered, where did he go after this and wha thappend to him? Just one of those Cape Girardeau moments in time that change you. How or what changes who knows, but it did change me somehow.

    1. Terry, I’m impressed. You have stronger memories of Kenneth Saunders than I do. When I saw the photos, I have a vague recollection of him. Finding The Missourian story helped fill in some of the gaps, but I can’t say that I connected with him more than as just a fleeting subject.

      When I did a Google search on him, I saw that he had been written up about half a dozen times. All of the papers must have sent their equivalent of the Huck Finn Beat reporter to do them, because they all sounded about the same.

      It was either that or Saunders had his message down so pat that all the interviews had the same info to work with.

      The only thing I DO remember was that he didn’t come across as some kind of nut.

  2. Terry, that was a nice description of your rememberence of the event. I am also impressed with offering him a dollar. That was alot of money back then. i remember reading the story, and Judas did get a raw deal.

  3. Hey Bob, just a quick word to say thanks for the work you did with Troop 201. As a role model you made a difference in at least one life, mine. Thanks

  4. Mike! Well first of all, it is nice to hear from you after all these decades and I hope all is well. Thank you for the that nice compliment! It is nice to know that each of us makes a little difference to someone in our everyday lives. Thank you for sharing that.

  5. In the middle of the Arizona desert while driving from Texas to Los Angeles there was this man in a white robe carrying a cross. We stopped and chatted and learned of his message. He so impressed my wife, Louise, and I that we made plans to meet up in L.A. There we had a dinner to remember, oh what an inspiration he was. It filled our hearts with Love & Hope. It was a bit sad that no one in the city took notice of him, no officals, no media, etc. He was somewhat disappointed after walking all those miles. After meeting with Ken we have told the story of our encounter to many people.

  6. Thank you for your wonderful article on Rev. Kenneth Saunders.

    In 1986, Rev. Kenneth Saunders started The Gateway Centre and Sanctuary of Judas in Calgary, Canada. He was president until his retirement in 1990, and has since passed to Spirit We, the members of The Gateway Centre, have a special place in our hearts for this remarkable man.

    Marrieta Cruz
    Board President
    The Gateway Centre & Calgary Spiritualist Church

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