Word of Faith Fellowship is a notorious church in Spindale, North Carolina where the congregation has beaten a gay member to get rid of his “homosexual demons,” shaken babies to banish their demons, used Brazilian worshipers as slaves, and committed unemployment fraud so worshipers would keep tithing.
The church also controlled the sex lives of its congregation, including married couples — 30-minute limit. No foreplay. No lights. Only missionary.
For years now, Associated Press reporters Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr have been documenting the leader of that church, Jane Whaley, as well as speaking with survivors of their abuse.
The two of them just published a book detailing everything they uncovered about the church. It’s called Broken Faith: Inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, One of America’s Most Dangerous Cults.
In an interview yesterday with NPR’s Morning Edition, they discussed why so many people joined what was clearly a problematic church.
… the members of this church, they live in nice homes. They drive nice cars. The children are well-mannered. They have a Christian school. So I think when a lot of families first go there, everything seems great. But over time, Jane Whaley and her other ministers, they take more and more control of your lives. In fact, a lot of times they’ll remove children from their family’s home and place them with ministers to be raised. And what that does is over time, sometimes those kids care more about the ministers than their own parents. So it makes it difficult for families to leave.
There’s a reason the word “cult” is appropriate to describe this place. What’s sad is that other religious organizations pull much of the same brainwashing without going to the extremes of this place. That allows them to stay under the radar of investigative reporters. But the trauma for former members is all the same.
Anytime you give yourself over to someone who controls your entire life, you’re heading down a dangerous path. This religious cult is just one kind of extreme.
(Thanks to everyone for the link. Portions of this article were published earlier)