Broken Faith: NC steps in on child abuse cases involving controversial church
By Mitch Weiss And Holbrook Mohr
Associated Press, appearingLakeland (FL) Ledger
December 08, 2017
SPINDALE, North Carolina — In an unprecedented move, North Carolina’s state child welfare agency will participate in reviewing every new allegation of abuse and neglect involving a controversial church that has been the focus of an Associated Press investigation exposing years of physical and emotional mistreatment of congregants, including children.
Under North Carolina’s child welfare system, county agencies are responsible for investigating abuse allegations. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services provides oversight and training, but generally does not get involved in a county agency’s daily operations.
The state would not say what prompted the move, but it follows a series of AP stories that have cited dozens of former Word of Faith Fellowship members who say congregants are regularly beaten to “purify” sinners. Founded in 1979, the evangelical sect has grown to about 750 congregants in North Carolina and a total of nearly 2,000 other followers worldwide.
As part of a 2005 settlement of a federal lawsuit filed by Word of Faith against the Rutherford County Department of Social Services claiming religious persecution, investigators labor under a series of restrictions when looking into allegations of abuse within the sect.