Tag Archives: blasting

WOFFGATE-Stunning Developments in Rutherford County

This morning the Superior Courtroom was alive with action. There were several items on the docket which required plenty of attorneys. The session was scheduled to start at 9:30AM. I arrived at 9:15AM and met Matthew Fenner and his supporters in the foyer of the courthouse. We entered the room taking seats on the right side of the courtroom, most sitting toward the front. The only member of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) present at that moment was Karel Reynolds. Soon, the others made their way in and the beehive of activity ebbed and flowed as attorneys milled in their area and onlookers took seats and spoke in hushed tones. The cameraman for WLOS Channel 13 waiting outside the courtroom door on hold for permission to film or take pictures.

About 9:50AM, Assistant District Attorney Garland Byers along with Josh Farmer approached the bench where the judge was setting up his computer for the session at hand. Probably, the permission for video was discussed and the judge agreed to rule on it soon. The activity continued as conversations in different corners buzzed with the issues at hand.

At 10:03AM, the court was called to order, all stood as Judge Marvin Pope entered and was seated. At last, we were beginning. I was in the front row and surely missed the ebb and flow of any dramas behind me. Much to my dismay, there were other court cases on the docket. Two defendants were heard and their cases processed. This only added to the overwhelming anticipation. Come on, let’s get rolling!

At 10:34AM- Mr. Byers steps off to the left side of his table, glancing down at documents and addressed the judge saying there were two matters before the court which were not on the docket. In order to brief the judge, the attorneys agreed to retire to the judge’s chambers and give the background of the matters at hand. Another wait… Again, hurry up and wait was the order of the day- normal for court sessions, right? Oh, the excitement was rising to a fever pitch, at least in my mind.

11:00AM, the attorneys for each party and the judge reentered the courtroom. Ray Farmer was called to the front. He was sworn in and took his place on the witness stand. From here, let me say again the acoustics were not great and I may miss what some others would consider important parts of the testimony. I may concentrate on something others may find as minute. But, at least, the hearing started.
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Leaving Thought Reform – Spring Thaw and the Resulting Liberty (1)

During the research for my soon to be released book, “Locked in”, I remembered my time within Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) and the time shortly after my departure in July 2008. For days on end, the emotions washed over me as I recounted the anxieties, the drama and the choices made during those months. At least part of the struggle was discovering who I really was. It was a “spring thaw” from the many years of my “self” existing frozen in the deep recesses of my soul; put there by the many rules, dictates and practices of WOFF. Those first few months of freedom were full of apprehension, while many times overrun with the questions… what do I do here? How do I? When do I? What if I? I was living free and making choices for the first time in many years.

Through the years since 2008, I learned my struggles were new to me, but not unexpected for one leaving a religious cult or a high-demand group. The feelings and emotions of those days were predictable. There was no one close to me who had traveled the same road and could guide me. In a quest to learn more, I turned to resources- books and online sources. Many a night, I traded sleep for the time to read survivor stories or other resources and/or the freedom to write. Both reading and writing helped sort out the jumbled mess of my life from the years within WOFF.

One of the most valuable resources I found is the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). Their online resources are many. July of 2014, I attended their conference in Washington, DC. The people I met and the sessions I attended, deepened my understanding of the dangers and results of high-demand groups. One of the benefits of membership is receiving the publication, ICSA Today.

ICSA Today Magazine volume 5 number 3 2014 – contains an article titled “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Breaking Away from Totalism”, written by Ron Burks, PhD. This is my resource for this post. I will quote from it in order to explain my struggles and those of others leaving WOFF during these days.
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This Picture Ignites Explosion on Facebook®

January 29, 2014- a survivor of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) posted the picture below and suddenly as if from every corner of time and space comments began flowing into his post. Can you understand why?

get the circles going
get the circles going

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The Short Creek Effect

   Carolyn Jessop with Laura Palmer wrote “Escape” (Copyright©2007 by Visionary Classics, LLC, published by Broadway Books, ISBN 978-0-7679-2756-7). We have reviewed this book previously in a guest post written by Lahna Morakis. Honestly, I have had a copy for a while, but had not picked it up until recently. From the back cover, “ESCAPE provides an astonishing look behind the tightly drawn curtains of the FLDS church (Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints), one of the most secretive religious groups in the United States. The story Carolyn Jessop tells is so weird and shocking that one hesitates to believe a sect like this, with 10,000 polygamous followers, could really exist in twenty-first-century America. But, Jessop’s courageous, heart-wrenching account is absolutely factual. This riveting book reminds us that truth can indeed be much, much stranger than fiction.”  –Jon Krakauer, author of Under the Banner of Heaven, Into Thin Air, and Into the Wild.

   This book follows my other reads on this religious cult. I have read books by Flora Jessop “Church of Lies”, Brent Jeffs, “Lost Boy” and Elisa Walls, “Stolen Innocence”. We have reviewed each of these books as well as made several comparisons to the practices of Warren Jeffs, leader of FLDS and Jane Whaley, leader of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF).

   In “Escape”, Carolyn Jessop begins with her childhood memories in Salt Lake City, Utah. She tells of the influence of her Grandma and how this relationship shaped her outlook. “Listening to my grandmother talk, I felt like I was being rocked in a cradle of specialness. Grandma made me feel unique, but not in a traditional way. She taught me that I had been blessed by God with an opportunity to come into a family where the generations of women had sacrificed their feelings and given up things of this world to preserve the work of God and prove worthy of the celestial kingdom of God.” (page 19) With this book, as with the others, I will compare the memories and observations of the writers about their life in FLDS with my experience in WOFF.

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I Signed the “Waiver and Release”- Why?

   As the months and years pass, there are memories of events from my time inside Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) that resurface. Some come back clear, others are more elusive and need some help to remember details of importance. This week, I was given a copy of the “Waiver and Release” that members of WOFF were required to sign if they intended to receive “prayer”. As far as I remember, these events took place AFTER the 1995 Inside Edition story. (We will reconnect with that resource video in a future post!) Just exactly when I signed this document I do not remember. If I was given a copy, I do not know where it is right now. If there were different versions, I am not aware. So, as far as I know, the version included in this post is the version I signed. If it is not, JC or someone else at WOFF could email me the one I signed. Certainly, there is a copy in the file being kept on me at WOFF.

    Allow me some more disclosure type statements before we review the document and my opinions on it. I am not an attorney and my limited experience with contracts includes mainly those contracts and agreements that deal with money owed. I also have limited experience with rental contracts and lease agreements for houses and apartments. Over the years, I have signed other contracts as we all do in the course of living in the United States. However, I do not claim to be an expert on documents such as this “Waiver and Release”. This post will include my opinions, reflections and questions; lots of questions.

    Some may ask why even bring this up? And in answer to that I will admit I do not know the specific events that triggered the requirement, but, we were told that some had left and “attacked”. (Yes, not a news flash…) We were told this would protect the church from others making false claims and future “attacks”. Again, we were also told NO ONE gets prayer or hands laid on them without signing the document. Also, I will say that like some other things, this document and the mention of it faded into the lost annals of WOFF history. Why it was not used any longer after a period of time, I do not know for certain. However, I will offer my opinions on that later in the post. Others who were in leadership could probably shed more light on the inner decisions about this waiver. This document came along before WOFF financed, supported and acquired their own in-house legal counsel.   

Click here to view-  WOFF Waiver and Release    (Use your Back button in your browser to return to the post)

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Investigation of WOFF – Inside Edition – 1995 (2)

  In 1995, Inside Edition aired two segments on Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Spindale, NC. Bill O’Reilly actually was the announcer for the first segment! Inside Edition had acquired much of their information and footage from the Trinity Foundation (link- http://www.trinityfi.org ). The Trinity Foundation sent an undercover investigator inside WOFF. For now, we will review this video and the statements contained in it and compare them to what I was told and now remember from my time in WOFF.

   Our last post included this statement made by the announcer, ““Outsiders seldom see the decidedly different way this secretive sect worships God…”  That is an understatement- would you agree? The scene being shown is of a regular prayer service from that time that included small groups of folks sitting in circles around one person and praying for them. The announcer goes on in the same line of thought, “… regularly screaming to split the ears of devils…delivering this man and others from demons inside them so they can walk with God.” The next scene is shown from below, looking up into a member’s face as he received prayer. I recognize this man “getting prayer” and the one above him praying.

    The announcer continues, “Until now, many of the members may have been kept in the dark about allegations of child abuse, sexual molestation and unlawful imprisonment and cult like mind control techniques.” As the announcer speaks these statements, footage of members going in and out of the church building is shown. One can recognize very clearly, Frank and Robin Webster going in the front door of the sanctuary along with others. The scene shifts to a view of Jane Whaley standing in a parking lot and speaking with Ray Farmer in the background. You can tell Jane is speaking, but, you cannot follow her words. The announcer continues, “Their leader is 55 year old Jane Whaley, a former school teacher with no formal theological training…”  

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Investigation of WOFF – Inside Edition – 1995 (1)

  In 1995, Inside Edition aired two segments on Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Spindale, NC. Bill O’Reilly actually was the announcer for the first segment! Inside Edition had acquired much of their information and footage from the Trinity Foundation (link- http://www.trinityfi.org ). The Trinity Foundation sent an undercover investigator inside WOFF. If I remember correctly, his name was Pete Evans. Also, if my memory serves me right, the investigator had a camera in his glasses that would film the activities within the services. During this time, I lived in Greenville, SC and attended special meetings at WOFF.

   This week I was able to secure a copy of the two segments that were aired in 1995. At some point in the future I hope to be able to provide access to these segments on this blog. But, for now, I will quote and comment on the content and my share memories from that time period. Before we proceed, I realize that many who are suffering under the hand of WOFFness were small children in 1995 or have joined the church since that time. If for no other reason, I hope to provide some back ground for those that were too young to realize what was happening  and/or give some perspective to those who were unaware of these segments aired by Inside Edition. These are not the episodes that were aired about Lacy Wein. That material can be found on YouTube® – here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPpbmDDRm8M

   The first Inside Edition segment, broadcast in February 1995, opens with scenes from a group prayer session. A voice is heard from within the church saying, “..in Jesus Name…” and the group begins the motions and sounds which all former member know were indicative of the blasting, loud prayer and deliverance sessions so common at WOFF. The announcer begins by saying, “They are raising the rafters in this church trying to scare the devil out of these kids with a bizarre form of prayer…but, is it spiritual healing or downright child abuse..?” Then a former member is shown saying, “I got hit so hard one time, I almost flew over the desk…” Next, a child psychologist is shown saying, “If you look at the kids faces, it is really quite fascinating, they’re dead.”  About the time she says this you are shown images of a lady putting her fingers to the face of a child on each side of his mouth and pushing upward as if to create a smile. I recognized the child, his mother and the lady trying to force the child to smile. This gesture was to encourage the child to get his “happy face”. Right?

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