In the course of decades, various unproven and doubtful ideas have dominated the discourse of the Kennedy assassination because a quick fix to the intractable problems of the case using faulty premises is offered. Instead of providing substantial evidence, assertions and speculation often dominate less than compelling beliefs enshrined within assumptions. The problem with claiming a definitive idea without providing definitive verifiable evidence becomes quickly apparent. However, in time the evidence always gains on them and forces greater scrutiny because higher standards of discourse and evidence are required.
The "Prayer Man" is similar to many other supposed "breakthroughs" coined by various people in the time since President Kennedy's death. These include the Doorway Man, the Badge Man, the Black Dog Man, the Red Bandanna Man, and the Black Hole Man, among many others but the one commonality is all these ideas share a lack of verifiable evidence. They each are deficient and have not definitive proof but definite believers and the time has come to test these ideas. Among the largest problems with the Prayer Man is the indiscernible face of the subject regarded because the photograph used by supporters of the idea is not an original print; it does not represent a verified picture. Experts have not authenticated it, nor the total amount of witnesses in the area known definitely. Thus, it remains merely a speculation to believe anyone in it was Lee Harvey Oswald and is a desire not evidence.
No witness testimony in the immediate area supports Oswald's presence and not a single witness identifies him in the area during the shots. Similar to "Doorway Man" claims of Billy Lovelady being Oswald, some claim the unknown Prayer Man is Oswald but not a single witness ever mentions him.i ii iii iv v For additional clarity, we can assess what the Dealey Plaza witnesses closest to this figure say exactly. Witness Carolyn Arnold states, "I did not see Lee Harvey Oswald at the time President Kennedy was shot", Ochus Campbell states he has "...never seen him (Lee Harvey Oswald)", and Buell Frazier offers, "I did not see Lee Harvey Oswald at the time President Kennedy was shot".vi vii viii Otis Williams recalls seeing him inside the building perhaps, but never outside.ix William Shelly again reiterates he like others "...did not see Lee Harvey Oswald at the time Pres. Kennedy was shot" and Joe Molina never saw Lee Harvey Oswald that day.x xi Geraldine Reid states Oswald was not outside the building following the shots, but inside, and Pauline Sanders never saw Oswald.xii Virginia Baker states that she never observed Oswald anytime on the day of the President's assassination.xiii
Despite the many errors and inconsistencies in the President's Commission, none of these witnesses ever contends viewing Oswald at those key moments in the location of Prayer Man.xiv A decided problem in the idea is that Sean Murphy states in the related claims, "It seems reasonable to assume him a TSBD employee...assuming we can safely say Prayer Man is white".xv I disagree it is never reasonable to assume in this case, and this person could be from businesses in the vicinity, a passerby, a tourist, any number of people besides Lee Harvey Oswald.
The Commission states, "There is still another category of speculation and rumor that complicated and broadened the work of the Commission. Numerous people claimed to have seen Oswald or Ruby at various times and places in the United States or abroad. Others insisted that during the days following the assassination, they had detected significant actions on television that- were witnessed by no one else..."xvi Indeed, many speculations have risen and fallen since then. Yet in this specific instance, the Commission actually agrees with all the witnesses. It is quite the novel idea considering how many witnesses that went otherwise ignored.
While a conspiracy is eminently feasible and supported by substantial evidence, that does not justify the Prayer Man claim because we cannot use the deficient speculations from decades ago if we seek to prove anything of value to challenge the official case. There is no greater weapon to dispel official and public myths than damning official evidence because all myths have the means of their undoing within themselves. To ignore the facts to embrace unproven fantasy is a waste of time and effort producing conflict but not resolution. Some defend this idea, they act as if substantial evidence supports it, but the facts do not suggest this wild speculation is accurate. Supporters often claim those opposed to the idea are not so because of the obvious inherent deficiency, but a nefarious agenda. Again, similar to the Prayer Man idea they are likely wrong because they are speculating without verifiable facts. They demand their claims be regarded not because of evidence, but in spite of it. To do so is to abandon what is verifiable for the endless murky seas of speculation and it does not matter whom it is using flawed methods because they are demonstrably flawed.
Additional feasibly contending evidence includes the verbal statement of Lee Harvey Oswald himself.xvii Some suggest we cannot trust any of the evidence, which is ridiculous, for how else can we prove anything? If most evidence available indicates something, it is more than likely to have occurred and consider the amount of work and people required to suppress this idea. It would be a large undertaking of little value since the matter still proves nothing of substance and is not a smoking gun but smoke and mirrors.
Update: A response from the leading Prayer Man proponent Bart Kamp arrived late last year, I appreciate the response despite the length of time it required. I quickly wish to address the issues he took with my analysis. He claims that Prayer Man and Doorway Man are dissimilar, despite that both ideas rely on blurred photography that has been misrepresented as definitive, both ideas share no substantial witness support, and each location is rather close on the same stairway. I am puzzled why he never mentions that Lee Harvey Oswald himself challenges his assertions of being outside during the shots similar to all the other witnesses and this too is shared by these lackluster ideas.
Mr. Kamp does not believe all the witnesses for varying speculative reasons that he purports buttress his ideas and dictates by accepting them and not his analysis I am mistaken, indeed I'm sure he believes that. Kamp concludes with insisting his interpretation of fragmentary notes and files he will accept, because they support his claims, are more persuasive than most other evidence. I suppose all of this is possible if one suspends higher standards of inquiry but like Prayer Man it remains unproven and thus I shall allow the evidence to decide. If I am incorrect I am willing to admit it, however I hope Kamp shall learn to do the same if he fails to produce the verifiable facts required.
i. Hearings of the President's Commission, Volume VI, Statement of Bill Nolan Lovelady, p. 338
ii. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. III, Testimony of Harold Norman, p. 189
iii. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. III, Testimony of James Jarman Jr., p. 201
iv. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. XXII, Statement of Virginia Baker, p. 635
v. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. XXII, Statement of Sarah Stanton, p. 675
vi. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 62-109060 JFK HQ File, Section EBF, Serial 2720, p. 1
vii. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. XXII, Statement of Ochus Campbell, p. 845
viii. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. XXII, Statement of Buell Frazier, p. 647
ix. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. XXII, Statement of Otis Williams, p. 683
x. Hearings of the Pres. Com, Vol. XXII, Statement of William H. Shelley, p. 673
xi. Hearings of the Pres. Com, Vol. XXII, Statement of Joe Molina, p.664
xii. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. III, Statement of Geraldine Reid, p. 274
xiii. Hearings of the Pres. Com. Vol. XXII, Statement of Pauline Sanders, p. 672
xiv. Hearings of the Pres. Com., Vol. XXII, Statement of Mrs. Donald Baker (Rackley), p. 635
xv. Oswald leaving the TSBD?, (August 14, 2013), The Education Forum, pp. 6, 11
xvi. Report of the President's Commission, Appendix 12: Speculations and Rumors, Other Rumors and Speculations, p. 638
xvii. 50 Years 50 Reasons, Len Oceanic, Episode 1, Press footage of Oswald (2:37), Black Op Radio, youtube.com
Edited: March 2019