Tag Archives: Cult Criteria

Repost of Podcast Explains Struggles of Life Inside WOFF

After publishing “Locked in”, I was afforded the opportunity to participate in an interview from Steve and Becky Lyles. The connection was over Skype and the sound quality is not perfection, but it is adequate. During this podcast, I answer questions about life inside of Word of Faith Fellowship. This was recorded before the AP Investigation- Broken Faith was released.

Listen, comment and share. I go into more detail here than in the book.

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Winds of Destruction- listen here.

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AP – Broken Faith- Unconventional Rules on Sex and Marriage

This article details some of the odd but absolute rules for those in relationships and married couples. I have included a few excerpts. The full report is here.

SPINDALE, N.C. (AP) — When it comes to relationships, marriage and sex, Word of Faith Fellowship members must follow strict and unusual rules — or risk severe punishment, former members say.
Some of the edicts:

— Congregants need permission from leader Jane Whaley and other ministers to get married, and it then can take months — or even a year — before the newlyweds are allowed to have sex.

— No one is allowed to date without permission, and most relationships and marriages are arranged by Whaley and ministers.

— On their wedding night, couples are permitted only a “godly peck on the cheek.” When they get in bed together, they must roll over and go to sleep.

— For all married couples, love-making is limited to 30 minutes, no foreplay is allowed, the lights must be turned off and only the missionary position is sanctioned.”

In my book, “Locked In”– I share some of the same odd practices. I detail many of the same rules as mentioned in the above article and the one following. I list 145 rules in my book. The list was never written down; you were expected to remember “by the Spirit of God.” Of course, when you forgot one, you were “in sin and out of God’s will” and subject to a rebuke or worse.

“Sect rules include no TV, movies or reading newpapers”
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AP Investigation – Broken Faith (main video)

The Associated Press has released its extensive report centering on the abuses suffered by ex-members of the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) in Spindale, North Carolina. There are two main articles released so far and a video containing testimony of ex-members. More media will be released in a few hours. Below is the full video which now includes the WOFF response.

The first article titled “Ex-congregants reveal years of ungodly abuse”.

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Are WOFF Members “Radicalized?” (Video)

The concept of a person being “radicalized,” becoming a “radical” and the process of radicalization have all been in the news lately as the world deals with new terror threats almost daily. What does it mean to become “radicalized” or go through a “radicalization” process? The concept of radical includes when a person becomes a) very different from the usual or traditional; b) favoring extreme changes in views, habits, conditions, or institutions; c) associated with political views, practices or policies of extreme change. (here)

There are so many aspects of this question to consider. I will not attempt a comprehensive discussion of the term “radical” or radicalization” as it pertains to today’s world, but will limit this post to the question, “Are WOFF members “radicalized?” Allow me share my first remembrance of the term as it applied to my religious experience- years before Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF).

During my childhood and teenage years, my family attended a Methodist church. It was considered mainline, conservative during those years. After leaving home, I chose an informal non-denominational church. On occasion, while attending that church, the concept of being a “radical Christian” was mentioned. Looking back, I took it to mean following the rules for behavior which were instilled in me as a child and adding to them other things such as being aware of the music I listened to, the movies I watched, the places I went for entertainment, etc. In other words, I started taking the Bible as a guide for my life. That is what being “radical” meant to me then.

Today, after living several years at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), I see the former concept as not very “radical” at all. Life before WOFF was not radical compared to life inside WOFF. Life before included a devotion to God out of a sense of respect and a freedom to accept, delay or even reject a suggested interpretation of the Bible which required a change in conduct. In other words, I still had free-will. I believe the concept of retaining one’s free will in the exercise of religion is very traditional. Do you agree?
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June 6th Hearing for Fenner Case Delayed

Late Friday, sources close to the Matthew Fenner case confirmed the hearing set for June 6th has been postponed. No confirmed date for rescheduling is available at this time. Possible reasons for the postponement include Judge Pope having an unexpected scheduling conflict.

The hearing on Monday would have been the first in this case since August of last year. Five defendants, who were at the time of the alleged incidents members of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), face varied charges including second degree kidnapping, simple assault and one for assault by strangulation. These defendants are Brooke Covington, Justin Covington, Sarah Covington Anderson, Robert Lewis Walker, JR. and Adam Bartley.

Matthew Fenner alleges that on January 27, 2013, he was assaulted in the sanctuary of WOFF during a “deliverance” session. The five defendants were named and indicted in December 2014 after an initial hearing. Once the new District Attorney Ted Bell took office in January 2015, he set aside those indictments amid rumors of improper procedures and possible witness tampering and presented the evidence to a second grand jury. This session secured for the State a set of indictments which Bell described as clean true bills of indictment. [ Timeline for this case – here.]
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Sunday Afternoon- Relaxed and Informative (Pictures)

Sunday afternoon was a beautiful day in western North Carolina. The gathering at Great Expectations and More in Rutherfordton turned out to be a gentle reflection of the outside weather. Mary Hornback and her family were so kind to open their doors again to a reading from “Locked in” and a time of questions and answers. Those in attendance were responsive with some very insightful questions. Words are hard to find to fully express the satisfaction of knowing the truth about the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) is getting out week after week, month as month since the release of my book, “Locked in”, in September 2015.
Friends and followers of the saga came together to direct questions and express their concerns and observations. My hopes are that everyone left with hope for changes in the near future. There are more copies available and keep checking for announcements for future events.

2016- The Year of Change in Rutherford County! (Thank you, Mary for the pictures! )

Sunday, Feb. 28th
Sunday, Feb. 28th

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On this, I Agree with Jane Whaley…

Recently, I was told that Jane Whaley, leader of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF), declared from the pulpit that many would leave the will of God this year. Translated, many will leave WOFF. Okay, the person relaying it to me called this declaration a “prophecy.” For whatever the motivation, for whatever the reason; I must say I agree with the prediction. Last year was a banner year for defections. The list of survivors leaving WOFF seems to be growing by the week. The exact reasons vary I am sure, but many have already, and looks like soon will leave the WOFF kingdom. The unofficial total ranges from 50 upwards to 80 or more in the last 18 months. I am not sure if any of that number includes ones leaving the Brazilian churches.

For the Faith Freedom Fund, this means another busy year ahead. We are not called upon to help every survivor. Some exit-takers find their own resources. However, last year was the busiest year I can remember for helping survivors. I find the work satisfying on one hand and heart breaking on the other. The stories of abuse coming out of that place seem to grow in intensity with each passing month.
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