Former Member Calls Wnc Church a ‘cult’, Says He Suffered ‘beatings, Isolation’
By Jamey Anderson
December 13, 2017
Jamey Anderson fled Word of Faith Fellowship church when he was 18, but says he's not free. (Video at the top of this story includes an interview with Anderson)
More than a decade later, he still struggles to find his footing in a world he doesn't understand.
Night terrors jolt him awake and he fears people will think he's delusional if he discusses his experiences in the secretive evangelical sect because the stories seem unbelievable. Worst of all is the suffocating anguish that rushes in when Anderson said he looks back on what he calls a childhood of beatings and isolation.
"This was like a programmed thing of 'Always be smiling. Always have a happy face.' It's the 'life of God,' is what they would call it. And if you're walking around without a smile, there's something wrong. And they're gonna deal with you until you can have a smile," Anderson told the AP.
Anderson was a toddler when his mother joined Word of Faith. He describes his childhood as nothing short of hell.
Forty-three former members spoke with the Associated Press earlier this year.
In the interview, the members said they were subjected to years of emotional and physical abuse.
The Associated Press reported that the members said instead of finding inner peace and eternal life, they were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in the name of the Lord.
The church denies wrongdoing.
The church responded to the AP investigation with a a statement that said, ” We are shocked and saddened to learn of the false allegations made against our church and its pastors by certain former members and reported in a recent Associated Press article authored by Mitch Weiss. We do not condone or allow abuse in any form at our church. Period.”
To read the entire statement, click here.
Five members of the Rutherford County church were indicted by a North Carolina grand jury on charges of assault, kidnapping and attempted strangulation of Matthew Fenner, who was allegedly beaten in January 2013.
Fenner says he was beaten in the church after a service by parishioners who were trying to "cure him of being gay."
The grand jury indicted Brooke and Justin Covington, Sarah Covington Anderson, Robert Luis Walker Jr. and Adam Bartley. (Mug shots)