Former members of NC church describe years of abuse, strict rules
SPINDALE, N.C. (AP) — Forty-three former members of an evangelical church in western North Carolina say they were subjected to years of emotional and physical abuse. They say even young children and babies were abused.
Ex-congregants of the Word of Faith Fellowship tell The Associated Press in on-the-record interviews that 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.
Newcomers to the Word of Faith Fellowship live by a list of strict rules for daily life, which sect leader Jane Whaley says God revealed to her. They include:
— Whaley’s permission is required to buy a house or a car.
— Members are not allowed to wear Nike products because Whaley believes the company’s iconic “swoosh” logo is a pagan symbol.
— 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.
— 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, sex is limited to 30 minutes, no foreplay is allowed, the lights must be turned off and only the missionary position is sanctioned.