Category Archives: Books, Resources

Books, Resources for learning about religious cults

Audio Resource Round-up – John Cooper, Mitch Weiss, John Huddle

Everyone is busy and may not have the time to experience all the different resources on the unfolding drama surrounding Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). Also, I know there are folks who just recently started following this story. 2017 has been a year full of new information from the Associated Press, updates on the Matthew Fenner case; including some survivors sharing their individual stories through different media channels.

This post includes three audio resources which you may have missed. First, we have a two-part podcast featuring John Cooper’s story. Even after living inside WOFF for years, I was captivated by John’s narrative. Within the first two minutes of Part 1, he describes a confession session where he is thrown to the floor and “…it all becomes a blur…” “…this guy is sitting on my legs and punching me in the chest…”
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AP: Brazilians funneled as “slaves” by US church, ex-members say

For years, the smoke and mirrors used by Jane Whaley and her leadership at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) has created an aura of deception, filled with misstatements and euphemistic renaming of their practices. Screaming is called prayer, verbal and physical abuse is called “love.” Private sexual relations between and husband and wife are not private, but are regulated by church leadership to “keep out the unclean.” Members are prohibited from free access to news sources including radio, television, newspapers and computers because they are “not able to hear God and stand against the devil.” Unpaid forced and coerced labor is called “volunteer work.” These highly restrictive church practices equate to “walking in God’s ways with God’s people.”

Now the individuals damaged from the years of chicanery are speaking out. The latest installment of the Associated Press’ ongoing in-depth investigation has been released. The long needed reporting of the secretive church practices is clearing the smoke of confusion and angst which hangs thick over Old Flynn Road. There, the church compound serves as the hub of the WOFF-kingdom in the sad ongoing saga of abuses revealed by the AP. The aim is not only for the souls of the members, but this report reveals the aim is to capture “slaves,” laborers- mostly unpaid to work at the church or school or for businesses owned by church leaders, as well as in their homes.

The AP report: This link has the full text, pictures and video. (click icons bottom right of image)

“When Andre Oliveira answered the call to leave his Word of Faith Fellowship congregation in Brazil to move to the mother church in North Carolina at the age of 18, his passport and money were confiscated by church leaders – for safekeeping, he said he was told.
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FaithFreedomFund.org – Q&A

For the past few years, I have worked with the Faith Freedom Fund helping survivors of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) as well as survivors from other groups. During my time inside of WOFF, there were many misinformed statements made by the leadership about the purpose and people behind this support group. While many of us await the release of the AP Investigation “Broken Faith”; I thought it a good time to address some of the misinformation that was told WOFF members.

First, let me go on record as saying I took help from Faith Freedom Fund (FFF) during my first few months after leaving WOFF. My brother suggested I call the main contact at the time, Cal Sayles. Cal later reminded me of how skittish I was during the first few contacts over the phone. I would not even give him my name until I agreed to meet him at a fast food place in Shelby. There we talked about I don’t remember what- probably my exit drama. After that meeting, I kept in contact from time to time with Cal. Over the years, as I progressed in my open protests walking down Oakland Road, it became a regular thing to pass on survivor requests to the leaders of FFF.

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Valuable Resource: CULTNEWS101.com – FREE Sign-up!

The email alert feature of CULTNEWS101.com has proved to be a very timely and valuable resource. The emails contain a listing of the subjects or groups referenced near the top followed by headlines and links either directly to the source article or back to CULTSNEWS .com. Yes, it is rare that something “free” actually contains value. However, over the last few months, this service has allowed me to follow news stories about groups I was already aware of and introduced me to developing stories about other groups. Not once have I regretted sharing my email address in return for the quality content provided.

The founders of CULTSNEWS101.com are Patrick Ryan and Joe Kelly. I first met them at the 2014 International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) conference in Washington, DC. They were both cordial and helpful in answering my questions. Again, in 2016 at the ICSA conference in Dallas, TX; we met and I felt encouraged talking to Pat. He seemed to recognize we were both warriors on the same team. It wasn’t until I approached Pat about doing an interview for this blog did I realize how experienced and accomplished they both have become over the years. Through email, Pat was kind enough to offer answers to the following questions.
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Choose Yourself, Choose Your Happiness…

Yes, I know. Even writing a title like this one scares me. Deep down inside there is a horn blaring- don’t say that! People will think you are SELFISH! You can’t choose yourself-first! You must do for others first. You are a worthless piece of no count nothing. Remember the song- JOY? Jesus then Others then You… what a wonderful way to spell JOY… Announcement! That song doesn’t tell the whole story. It was a fine song for children in summer vacation Bible school who were learning to share their toys.

Do you have that voice in you? Always consider yourself last. Put others first; others and their needs and their desires ahead of everything you need or want? How is that working for you? Sleeping good at night? Always smiling?

Okay, I know from being a parent there comes time to sacrifice and make choices for your children. Those are not the times and choices I am writing about. I am aiming for those thoughts and habits which don’t consider your own needs and therefore you are not fulfilled and able to make those quality choices which help others around you. Let me explain.

First off, after my time at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), I shy away from making blanket endorsements for any man or woman who is teaching their ways to success. It could be business or religion or any other area. I hesitate giving anyone total approval. With that said, today’s post stems from my reading a book by James Altucher: Choose Yourself! –originally published 2013. For disclosure, I am not finished reading this book. It is not a prim and proper book. The language is frank and frontal. However, if you can see past the presentation and hear the message, this book may be one to read.
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“The Crossroads of Should and Must” and Much more…

This series of events has become a pattern for me. I have been coming home late from work, grabbing a snack and plopping down for “a few minutes in front of my small television to watch something to relax me before going to bed…” Ultimately, I fall asleep sitting up sometimes with my contacts in or sometimes not. Startled by an unknown something, I awaken to see some YouTube video playing and immediately wondering how long I had been asleep. I try my best to remember the last time I looked at a clock and do the math. Two? Three? or four hours? Four. It felt like much less time that I had slept.

Last night, I repeated the pattern. After a long shift at work, I arrived home and convincing myself that this time would be different, I promised self to only stay a few minutes on the couch. Well, I am not sure what awakened me just at that moment, but four hours later with my eyes screaming for oxygen, I wake up and see an interview playing on the screen. Two young folks were talking which did not catch my attention at first. Then I honed in on their conversation. They were extolling the benefits of getting the right amount of sleep! Great, as if I did not feel guilty enough, here I wake up on the couch when any normal person would have been in bed getting the “right amount of sleep.”

Next, the lady began to say that when she get the right amount of sleep her dreams were vivid and real and in some ways she felt held keys to her wake hours. She described a sequence of events where she found an apartment which she had dreamed about over and over… Now, I am intrigued. The young man interviewing Elle Luna spoke about her new book. My mind raced, this lady has a book? I grabbed a pen and wrote her name down hoping to search for the book after getting more sleep. Yet, I could not stop watching the interview even after peeling the contacts out of my dry eyes and brushing my teeth.
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Analogy: The Truman Show vs. the Life of a WOFF member

(This post was written and submitted by someone wishing to remain anonymous. I edited for readability and share it now. Comments welcome.)
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Is your boat about to hit the dome?

Recently, I watched The Truman Show (1998) and it is a perfect analogy if you are, or have been a member of the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). If you have not, I suggest you to watch it. It is a great movie and will certainly trigger your mind to look at things in an entirely new perspective.

The Truman Show is a movie based on a reality television program, where the central character, Truman Burbank (Jim Carey) lives in a small town. The small town is encapsulated in a huge dome. There are thousands of cameras hidden throughout, and his every movement is captured by one of them.

Since the star was a little child, he thought that where he lived in his town was the best place in the world to live, and there was no place which could even compare. Over and over, the members of WOFF are told that. No better place than Spindale! No other church gives so much truth as we do.

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