Tag Archives: WOFF

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….

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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.

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