Tag Archives: WOFF

A Knock at the Door… A Visit from WOFF Members

     Recently, while working from home, I received a knock at the door. This in itself was strange as the number of visitors has been limited. The door to my place had been recently replaced and thus no peephole installed. So, I asked, who is it? The person identified themselves and I knew it was a WOFF member. So, I opened the door to two WOFF members. They expected an invitation inside, but since they had given no call ahead of time, I refused them entry and we talked in the hallway. I asked them why no call ahead of time? “We could have met somewhere”. The reply – “We just wanted to show-up.”  There were smiles at first, but they soon faded.

     Before I go any further, let me say that I was not recording and have no real way to tell everything that was said on either behalf, mine or theirs. So, upfront know that this post is NOT a full account of this encounter. Also, I am leaving some parts out on purpose to not reveal the identities of the two ladies. For now, it does not add to the purpose of the post to identify them.  For sure, you the informed reader will understand the main points and get the gist of the events. I purpose to make it plain as possible.

     The first lady admitted she had been reading this blog. She then went on to assess the content as being “lies, full of lies!” I asked which part? She said “All of it. It is all false!” I got the message she did not like my blog. 🙁 I mentioned to this person that I was telling my experiences. (Remember, my experiences cannot be taken from me. Learned that at WOFF.)  She asked at some point, “How could you have slipped so far?” She gave me the impression that she thought I was “backslidden”.

    Then the second lady said the piece I wrote about her was wrong and false. She claims to have spoken in person to me on a Saturday morning about the thoughts I was having. ( I disagreed..) She did not dispute that I was “put out of the Church” with a phone call. At this point, she was “gagging on gnats”, as far as I could tell. She said many things about losing the “call of God” and “blaspheming God”. She made light of the place I lived. “What are you doing here?” She gestured with her hands as if to mock the place of my residence. From my memory, this was a common tactic to use on those who have left WOFF. The fact is most everyone in WOFF lives in very nice houses, but at what cost? The main difference in the place I live now  and the one I left, is just that- I live here. No one from WOFF, ” in authority” had to approve of my decision. In that regard, this is a beautiful place to live!

     The next door neighbors came up the stairs and I introduced the two ladies at my door. I told them that these ladies said I could not or should not have a blog about my previous experiences at the cult church. The neighbors were a little taken aback, nodded and went inside. This comment set these two ladies off into a rant. They again gestured with their hands and said “See there, why did you have to add the last part?” I asked isn’t that why you are here? You think I post “lies”? You want me to stop, right?  No, “We are here to encourage you to find God and the call of God.” “We are not telling you that you can’t post on your blog.” The second lady began to recount my previous “evangelistic” activities while at WOFF.  I told her I gave those folks so much “false religion” because that was what I was hearing. I repeated what I was told. She looked a little more upset but, did agree that “we have all given others religion, that is what we came out of…”

     They went on to say that I was using the books for sources over the Bible. That I had slid way off the mark. I asked them, “Are there were no other books to read beside the Bible?” They did not answer that one but, they said, “Truth is in the Bible! Not other books.” (okay, so, I will put more scriptures in my posts. I have resisted for not wanting to sound “preachy.”)

     At one point, I told them that when you list the characteristics of other cult groups and chart them against my own personal experiences with WOFF, there are so many similarities! They had no real knowledge of other groups so they could not comment on that point.   I told them that several other folks said I was very accurate! Though I did not volunteer names. 

     The second lady claimed to care about me and the many years our families had spent “in the things of God”.  I mentioned that this was the third time we have talked since I left in July of 2008? One of those times, I paid the her group a surprise visit and that one does not count.  So, if she cared, why so few contacts?  Then I  asked her about her husband?  She had mentioned he was glad to know that I had showed -up at the surprise meeting. “He wished he could have been there”.  Would he talk to me? She said,  “I don’t know.” Then I asked, “Would he be allowed to talk to me?” She did not answer as I feel certain she truly did not know. 

     During the conversation, my landlord came through the hall wanting to enter the apartment across the hall. I again introduced the ladies but, this time left off the “blog and cult” remarks. Then I turned to the second lady and said, “Better?”

      A little later during this exchange, one of my neighbors came back out and asked a question. He said, “Excuse me, you mentioned you had a blog on religious cults. My girl-friend and I would like to read that. What is the address?” At that point, I gave him the address and mentioned I could answer any of his questions. That comment was a surprise to me. It was a question of his own.    

     The second lady did most of the talking and stayed more calm. In fact, she spoke very sincerely and I told her so. The first lady spoke a rehearsed type of speech that obviously had been approved. She got upset and shook her finger at me. She also mentioned my jeans. That bothered her very much. The conversation did get heated at times. At one point, I asked them if they ever had doubts that Jane Whaley heard God perfectly every time? To which there was no reply. (you may read more by clicking the prompt)    Continue reading A Knock at the Door… A Visit from WOFF Members

Technorati Tags: , , ,

The $50,000 Offering

      One evening service, Jane came to the podium and said “we need $25,000 to meet the bills in the office”. She went on to say God had told her that some folks were saving money for their children. “God said to give it”.  What kind of pressure was this? With the environment already described, would this cause certain folks to feel bad or evil if they did not give up their children’s inheritance? The person that “hears God” on every matter in the church just said “God said to give it”…

     Later after the offering was taken and counted, Jane came back to the microphone. She was very excited, “We have had a miracle”. The offering had been counted and it was $50,000! (wow, on the first try!) She then shed a tear and thanked those folks who had obeyed God say to give the money they were saving for their children.  By the offering coming in, it confirmed to Jane she had obeyed God in her “putting it before the people”.

      One of the first questions in my mind, what will you do with the “extra” $25,000? But, as we have discussed, it was never mentioned. There is no complete open accounting of the offerings given by the members. It only leads to more questions. What is all this money being spent on? It was mentioned that it takes $20,000 a week to meet the bills. So, what is done with the million or so dollars taken in over a year? Some of the larger needs we were told were property insurance and taxes. The church has people watching the grounds 24/7. This is supposed to help get a discount on the property/liability insurance. Men or couples “volunteer” to take shifts over night. The premium was “high because some folks had made a claim against the church insurance” according to Sam. We were also encouraged to not put large amounts of cash in the offering if it was not in an offering envelope. The IRS did not like that.

     If more than one offering had to be taken because we have not “met the budget”, then folks would be strongly encouraged to inquire of God, again! Sam would say, “If we don’t get the need met the first time, some folks are not “hearing God”!  As mentioned, some services the plates would be passed three or four times, “until we get it”.. Then folks would be chastised for not giving the right amount the first time the plates were passed!

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Jane Whaley – the Medical Debt Collector

      On Sunday, after an evening service in December of 2007, there was a list read from the podium of members that needed to report to the fellowship hall. My name was on the list and I immediately tried to figure out the purpose of the meeting from the other names on the list. It was a mystery, but not for long.

     After the group was all in the room, Jane Whaley came in as her daughter and another lady were already at the front of the room. Jane began the session by saying that a certain doctor in the church had not taken a salary in two years.  She wanted to talk to those in the church that owed him money. She was given a list of names and balances. (apparently, I did not see the list, but she constantly referenced it during the meeting.) Jane’s daughter and the other lady worked for the doctor. The second lady  was the doctor’s daughter! They were answering Jane’s questions about who was paying and who was not, in front of the whole group!

     Jane began addressing individuals calling their name, saying how much they owed and asking what they could pay? One of the attorney’s in the church was present. He asked why he was there? He was told in front of everyone- “Your grandmother owes a balance” (under $300). He immediately stroked a check, handed it to the doctor’s daughter and huffed as he left the room. That answered my question, if Jane had sought legal counsel before she set out to “help her friend..”.  

     Next, Jane called the name and amount owed for an African American lady sitting close to the front. “You owe this amount- (she stated it)- You have not paid since (she named the date)…When can you pay? Jane then brought her mother into the conversation by asking her to explain why her daughter was not paying? The accused lady began to recount her struggles of finding a job. Then Jane and her daughter chimed in that it was her fault she could not keep a job. Jane’s daughter told her – God has given you several jobs and you are not grateful. You attack God’s plan by the way you act on your job. Finally, it was either Jane or her daughter who told the lady in front of everyone that if she could not pay, then find another doctor. Actually, it was addressed to everyone, if they were not able to pay then go to another doctor.

     There were about 25 folks in the room. My name was called, but the daughter of the doctor told Jane I was paying every month. Every person’s information was reviewed by Jane, some people she would not call out for what ever reason. But, it was clear, Jane was “trying to help her friend”.

     So, what is wrong with this picture? My background is consumer debt collection. I have been in this field for most of 28 years. I have heard several attorneys speak on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA),  as well as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996(HIPMA). Though I have never personally been cited for violations of these two acts, I have seen others who were accused of such violations. In my opinion, this meeting was a total violation of both FDCPA and HIPAA. Not only Jane, but her daughter and the doctor’s daughter were violating the rights of EVERYONE in the room who where protected by these laws. There was an attempt to excuse the meeting as “trying to help a friend”, but the privacy of each person was violated. The audacity of Jane Whaley to call out individuals and reveal their medical debts in front of others is AMAZING! Obviously, she did not seek any counsel as to the legality of the meeting, otherwise the attorney who left a huff would have redirected her efforts. But, what is new about that thought? Jane seeks help from no one who would stop her personal agenda.

     Why would no one have sought help with this meeting before? I do not know that someone has not, but if someone has, they risked being shunned and put out of WOFF for even bringing up the questions. I left the meeting in total shock about what I had just witnessed. I had seen power displays before from Jane in different situations, but this one was one of the most blatant displays in my 16 years of involvement at WOFF.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life.

      (Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

Technorati Tags: , ,

FLDS vs. WOFF – the Similarities – part 3

     Elissa Wall with Lisa Pulitzer wrote “Stolen Innocence“. (copyright 2008) In this book, Ms. Wall explains many aspects of the daily life in a polygamous household. She also explains church history and authority structures of how the FLDS was run.

     The “prophet” had far reaching power and authority in FLDS. “The prophet decides when two people marry, when families can form, and when families that are not working are to be reorganized.” (pg 17) This power brought with it a lot of fear in the FLDS members. Especially when there was “one man rule”..

     Jane Whaley has this same kind of power and authority at WOFF. She exercises authority over who is married, when households can form and when households are not working, she says when and how they are to be reorganized. This power over members is given by default to Jane by some members. Some members own their own houses with other members living with them. Who lives in that house is STILL dictated by Jane – if you are submitted to “God’s will”. Ultimately, Jane is THE one who hears God in these situations as well as EVERY OTHER question at WOFF. Do not be fooled; if you “join” WOFF, then where you live as well as MANY other things will be under Jane’s direction, either directly or indirectly. Those who live in church owned properties are ALWAYS at the direction of Jane about where they live. Just like FLDS; when the very place you sleep and raise your family is subject to immediate change, there is a level of fear associated with that knowledge which can lead you to ignore many issues and rationalize that it is not worth making a scene or questioning leadership. You could lose your home, your job, your family….if you raise the wrong questions.

     Elissa goes on to explain further. “It was common practice to expel men, and in extreme cases women, whom the priesthood considers a threat… All that’s required is for the prophet or someone acting at his direction to say” “You have lost your priesthood”. The significance of this is enormous for believers, as it creates a culture of fear. If a husband loses his priesthood, his family is literally no longer his. In addition, he has to leave his land and home because his home is owned by the FLDS Church and controlled by the priesthood. Faithful wives and children will accept these decisions and wait to be reassigned to another man. In the meantime, the father is told that his only chance to win back his family is to leave and repent at a distance.” (page 18) (emphasis added by author)

     Elissa Wall continues to share that as she was growing up, “..I was taught that I should never do anything to go against the prophet or priesthood. Doing so would ultimately be going against God himself.” (pg 17-18)

     Who can count the number of families that have been broken up because of the same type of power that Jane Whaley possesses? Who can measure the emotional trauma over hearing either from Jane or one of her lieutenants: “You are out of the church. You need to stay away until you find a place of repentance.” Yes, many times it was men, but at times women were expelled, also. Even the highest ranking lieutenants, were subject to being put out and told to “seek God and repent”. There were times Sam Whaley was rebuked in services by Jane and “put out to find a place of repentance”. Even if you spent years in the church, there was always the underlying  faith destroying fear of “What could that person have done to be put out? I want to know so I don’t do that!” Seeing others “put out” was enough in many cases to keep people in line for months or years. The whole situation was to solidify and consolidate Jane’s power base and make sure all members knew who was in charge. A few times, Jane would recount what a person had done to be kicked out. (some times in veiled terms, sometimes not..) That would even further strengthen the fear of other members! The result was fear of Jane more than God. She “spoke for God” and did not allow others to buck or voice doubt of her perfection in that area.

      During my time at WOFF, the ONLY times I heard Jane repent was for mis-pronouncing a name or mispronouncing a word. She would go through fits and scream at members in the services quite frequently. But, “leave her alone, God must be angry with us as Jane is HIS messenger.” Many times, I heard her come into a service screaming,” The sin in here makes me sick!”.  So, after that the joy was hard to show on our faces and many cowered, “What did I do?” Is it my turn to be blasted?” But, don’t get up to use the bathroom during a service, “You should have done that BEFORE the service.” That was always a big deal; lines in the bathroom before service were always long! Also, don’t ever fall asleep or nod in a service. Jane would say- “That “sleep devil” is attacking some in here! Stand up and move to the back so you can hear the WORD! You may miss the very WORD that would keep you from going to hell!”.

     The very first Sunday service of one seminar a few years ago, it was learned by Jane that a certain senior citizen was going to the local grocery stores and picking up fliers for other member’s to use. Jane looked befuddled and said, “No one told me about that…”. She ordered the lady to stand up. This lady was more than half way back in the sanctuary and not far from where I was sitting. Jane said a few things at a high volume and it was plain to see that the senior was shaking. Jane stormed out, but not before she screamed so all could feel it, “Your sin affects me!” What you do in this community is a reflection of me! It was clear that even the best of intentions mattered not. The lady collapsed in a heap crying. She was in “discipleship” (put in another room and not allowed to be in the sanctuary while watching the services on a monitor) until she found a place of repentance. This was another display of the constant fear-based control that Jane Whaley used and continues to use at WOFF.

     The list of similar characteristics and control techniques in FLDS and WOFF continues to grow. There are more yet to come.

     Please, consume the information on this site responsibly. Be sure to tell every member that you know at WOFF about this blog. It could very well save their life. There are some good readers inside of WOFF. I know for sure.. 🙂

(Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this personal blog. As mentioned, the information about WOFF is from my memories and recollections as perfect as that may be or not be. )

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

FLDS vs. WOFF – the Similarities

     Our next series of postings will be detailing the similarities between the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) formerly run by Warren Jeffs compared to Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) run by Jane Whaley. These similarities will not be in any certain order. By no means will the subject be covered in one post. This subject looks to be an ongoing extended series. This subject matter seems profound and voluminous at this point.

     Before we start, I want to extend a “Presidential type shout-out” to all the good readers at WOFF. One of them called me a couple weekends ago to confess he had been reading my work. He had some “concerns” and for some of them- I want to say “Thank you!”. His call was ended abruptly when my phone died. But, I do appreciate the “help” as the motivation to share what I have learned went through the roof! Thanks, for the encouragement.  🙂

     Again, the material for this series comes from several sources. The main book source for FLDS material is “Lost Boy”  by Brent Jeffs with Maia Szalavitz ( Copyright 2009). The main source for WOFF material is my own experience and remembrances of my direct involvement in WOFF. These “life events” span a period of about sixteen years from 1992 to 2008. Since taking notes during church services became prohibited at some point a few years ago; (more on that later…) I do not claim total accuracy with dates and order of events. However, the main point of the material will be as acccurate as my memory allows. Any subsequent versions of the following events may be debated and could certainly be a great subject of open and free debate. (if any members of WOFF wish to participate…)

     While at WOFF, it was preached several times: “No one can take your experiences away from you…”. The concept was first introduced when we were being coached on our “personal testimony” and how to share with others. The time frame may have been when the “Faith Freedom Fund” contributor’s listing was published in the local newspaper, a few years ago. Each name and local community was read aloud and everyone was asked if they knew that person. If you knew that person; you were instructed to go “give them truth”. That meant tell them why contributing the Faith Freedom Fund was bad likewise also including some of your own “personal experience” at WOFF. 

     As a matter of principle, I still adhere to that statement “No one can take your experiences away from you”.  Certainly, I also hope no one in their “right mind” either inside or outside of WOFF will attempt to dismiss without further inquiry, my experiences recorded in this series. The introduction is over… on to the series….

(Please, take time to read the Terms of Use for this website…)

Technorati Tags: , , ,

How Do You “Join a Cult”? Part 1

    “Nobody joins a cult. Nobody joins something they think is going to hurt them. You join a religious organization, you join a political movement. Most of all you join a group of people you really like!” These are the words of Deborah Layton on the PBS Home Video- “Jonestown” (copyright 2007). Ms. Layton is a Jonestown survivor. She left about five months before the massacre. She was considered one of the leaders at the time of her departure. Her brother, Steve was convicted and served time for his role in the shootings at the airstrip on that fateful day- September 18, 1978.

     My experience reflects the words of Deborah Layton. I did not join a cult. My wife and I joined a church in Greenville, SC – Word of Life. My wife had known the pastors- Gerald and Linda Southerland since she was in high school. We had a distasteful church experience in Summerville, SC in 1991 and were looking for a church home. We visited Word of Life (at that time called “Grace and Truth”, and though the practices were different in many respects from what we were used to; we moved in March of 1992 to be a part. There was a “training center” in the weekday mornings and we wanted to learn more. Many in the church took us in and “loved us”.

    By May of 1992, we found out that this church was a sister church to Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, NC. At that time, attendance to the seminars held by Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) was strictly voluntary. However, soon one learned that in order to “grow”, you needed to get to Spindale! Over the months and years, the meetings in Spindale became more frequent. As a church we were expected to be there for Friday night fellowships, Sunday evening services and other special events. The drive was about an hour one way.

    The pastors, Jane and Sam Whaley had been involved with Word of Faith in Broken Arrow, OK in previous years. However, in 1979(?), when they returned to Rutherford County, NC the ties to Kenneth Hagin Ministries were very weak. Jane and Sam were preaching deliverance for Christians and loud prayer as a means to accomplish this. Regardless of the seemingly unorthodox practices, the “love and fellowship” one felt among the people was a huge drawing card to continue with the group.

(Please, read the “Terms of Use” for this website..)

Technorati Tags: , , , ,