Over the last few years, I have written about a dangerous Christian cult in North Carolina a couple of times.
In June 2017, I wrote about a mistrial being declared in the case against Brooke Covington, a minister in the Word of Faith Fellowship who, in 2013, led several parishioners in an assault on a teenager. They were trying to purge him of "homosexual demons."
Later in 2017, I wrote about former members of the church fighting with the state of North Carolina to overturn a court settlement that has greatly limited investigations into child abuse involving the church.
The church is notorious for congregants regularly getting beaten and abused in order to "purify" sinners.
Now, a new book has been published called Broken Faith: Inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, One of America's Most Dangerous Cults.
From the description on Amazon: "In 1979, a fiery preacher named Jane Whaley attracted a small group of followers with a promise that she could turn their lives around.
In the years since, Whaley’s following has expanded to include thousands of congregants across three continents. In their eyes she’s a prophet. And to disobey her means eternal damnation.
The control Whaley exerts is absolute: she decides what her followers study, where they work, whom they can marry—even when they can have sex.
Based on hundreds of interviews, secretly recorded conversations, and thousands of pages of documents, Pulitzer Prize winner Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr’s Broken Faith is a terrifying portrait of life inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, and the harrowing account of one family who escaped after two decades."
NPR interviewed the two journalists who authored the book. Mitch Weiss said, "You have to realize they believe that Jane Whaley was a prophet, that God spoke to her and everything she said was gospel. And one of the techniques that she used was that she had everybody inform on each other. And the reason they did that was because that was the godly way of doing things."
Holbrook Mohr said, "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 over time, sometimes those kids care more about the ministers than their own parents."
Speaking about the case in 2013 that I wrote about a few years ago, Mohr added, "There are five people currently charged with assaulting a former member of the church. Matthew Fenner, who says that he was beaten to expel his homosexual demons back in 2013. But, so far, nobody has been convicted in that case. And Matthew Fenner's waiting for justice."
While I have yet to read Broken Faith, it promises to contain some pretty horrifying details about Whaley's deranged cult. Sometimes these kinds of cults go through a sudden, painful implosion, like with the Peoples Temple at Jonestown. But it seems that Whaley's way of manipulating gullible believers has allowed her to violently and abusively harm these people for decades.
The fact that law enforcement has allowed this kind of behavior to go on without interference is appalling, and a sad example of the privileged position given to religion in the United States.