Former Word of Faith Fellowship members speak out

Former Word of Faith Fellowship members speak out


REMOVE THE DEMONS OUT OF MEMBERS, ANYWHERE FROM CHILDREN TO SENIOR CITIZENS. 43 MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH HAVE GIVEN INTERVIEWS AS PART OF A MAJOR INVESTIGATION BY THE “ASSOCIATED PRESS.” AND 7 NEWS REPORTER BRIANNA SMITH SPOKES WITH MORE VICTIMS. THIS IS THE FIRST — SPOKE WITH MORE VICTIMS. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THEY’RE SAYING THEIR STORY ONLY ON 7. BRIANNA. TOM FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF I TALKED TO BEN AND MICAH COOPER ABOUT THEIR CHILDHOODS GROWING UP IN THE WORD OF FAITH FELLOWSHIP CHURCH. THEY WERE TWO OF THE 43 MEMBERS THAT TALKED TO THE “ASSOCIATED PRESS” OUTLINING YEARS OF ABUSE IN WHAT THEY NOW CALL A CULT. HAND-IN-HAND, MICAH AND BEN COOPER EMBRACED DAY THAT SECRET OTHER CHILD HOOD IS EXPOSED. HOOD IS EXPOSED. Reporter: THEY WERE BROUGHT TO THE CHURCH AS CHILDREN FROM THEIR FAMILIES TAUGHT TO THE START THEY WERE UNCLEAN AND WICKED. I GREW UP GENUINELY BELIEVING I WAS AN EVIL PERSON AND I WAS A REPEELOUS CHILD BECAUSE I LIKED SPORTS. Reporter: WORD OF FAITH FELLOWSHIP WAS FOUNDED BY JANE WHALY AND HER HUSBAND IN THE 1970s. THE CHURCH HAS HUNDREDS OF MEMBERS THAT HAVE FLOCKED FROM ACROSS COUNTRY TO WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA, INSTILLING THE WORD OF GOD, WHICH FORMER MEMBERS SAY COULD ALSO BE INTERPRETED AS JANE’S WORD. Reporter: DO YOU CALL IT A CULT NOW? ABSOLUTELY, YEAH. ABSOLUTELY. IT’S GOT EVERY CHARACTERISTIC OF A CULT AND YOU KNOW, THE THING ABOUT BEING BRAINWASHED IS YOU DON’T KNOW YOU’RE BRAINWASHED WHEN YOU’RE IN THERE. I HAD NO IDEA HOW BRAINWASHED I WAS EVEN AFTER I LEFT. AS A TEEN, BEN COOPER SAYS HE WAS SUBJECT TO ABUSE, MENTAL AND PHYSICAL, BUT HE SAYS HE WASN’T ALONE. WHEN SHE SLAPS YOU, OR YOU SEE HER SLAP SOMEONE ELSE, YOU’RE JUST LIKE, I’M NOT GOING TO THINK ABOUT IT, AND YOU JUST PUSH IT DOWN. Reporter: COOPER DESCRIBED A PLACE CALLED THE LOWER BUILDING, WHERE THOSE IN TROUBLE WERE OFTEN PLACED WITH NO OUTSIDE COMMUNICATION TO BE TAUGHT A LESSON. IT’S THERE WHERE HE SAYS HE SAW BLOODY BEATINGS BY A MINISTER. AFTER BERAIDING HIM, HE WALKED UP TO HIM, AND SMART START — STARTED SMACKING HIM IN THE CHEST. THE WHOLE TIME HE WAS SCREAMING AT HIM, AND STARTED SLAMMING HIM ON THE GROUND, FACE FIRST. AND THEY’RE GOING TO SAY HE HAD TO DO THIS BECAUSE JESUS TOLD HIM? CORRECT. YEAH, HE WAS — THIS WAS SHOWING THIS YOUNG MAN THE LOVE OF GOD. Reporter: IT WAS ONE OF THOSE BEATINGS THAT SPURRED THIS CONVERSATION WITH THE CHURCH’S FOUND THEY’RE BEN COOPER DECIDED TO SECRETLY RECORD. WE WENT TO HER TO CONFRONT HER ABOUT WHY THIS MINISTER DID THIS AND WHY SHE HADN’T DONE ANYTHING ABOUT THAT MINISTER DOING IT, SO THAT’S WHAT THIS MEETING IS ABOUT. “IT’S NOT RIGHT TO USE FORCE LIKE THAT “. “STOP IT!. WE’RE NOT USED TO YOU. THAT’S THE DEVIL SPEAKING OUT OF YOU.” SO THAT WAS THE VOICE OF JANE WHALY, WHO YOU JUST HEARD THERE, AND YOU KNOW YOU HEARD THE VOICE SAY, THEY’RE RESPONDING TO HER AS JANE. SHE IN INSTRUCTED THE ENTIRE CONGREGATION TO CALL HER GRANDMOTHER. IT SEEMS FROM THE ABSOLUTELY RULES, SHE HAD POWER, AND MARRIAGE AND CHILDBIRTH. WHO YOU MARRY, WHEN YOU CAN HAVE A CHILD, AND YOU KNOW, BEN EVEN EXPLAINED THAT HE WASN’T ALLOWED TO STAY WITH HIS BIOLOGICAL PARENTS. THEY PICKED NEW PARENTS AND HE LIVED FROM THE TIME HE WAS 16 UNTIL HE WENT TO COLLEGE, AND YOU KNOW A LOT OF THESE PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO LEAVE BECAUSE THEY DON’T WANT TO LEAVE THEIR OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS BEHIND. THIS ISN’T THE FIRST TIME WE’VE TALKED ABOUT ABUSE WITHIN THE WORD OF FAITH LEADERSHIP. WE TALKED TO MATTHEW FINER AFTER HE CAME OUT AND FIVE PEOPLE WERE CHARGED IN AN ASSAULT AGAINST HIM. LET’S TAKE A LISTEN TO THAT INTERVIEW. “MY VISION WAS GOING BROWN AND BLACK. I HONESTLY THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE.” NOW YOU REMEMBER THERE WERE SEVERAL INCIDENTS LISTED ON YOUR SCREEN, 2013, HE SAYS HE WAS ATTACKED FOR BEING GAY IN 2011. A MAN SAYS HE WAS HELD AGAINST HIS WILL FOR BEING GAY AND IN 2003, CHILDREN TAKEN TO A MINISTER’S HOME FOR AN ABUSIVE ENVIRONMENT. YOU WONDER HOW IS IT THIS CHURCH HAS BEEN ABLE TO EXIST FOR SO LONG. I KNOW THEY HAVE A FENNER COURT CASE. WHICH IS STILL SPENDING. WHAT DO PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THE FACT THERE’S BEEN SO MANY EXAMPLES OF VIOLENCE AND YET THE CHURCH IS STILL THERE? I THINK THERE’S SO MANY QUESTIONS THAT CAN’T BE ANSWERED RIGHT NOW AND I KNOW THE A.P. OBVIOUSLY DID AN EXCELLENT JOB INVESTIGATING THIS FOR OVER A YEAR, AND NEXT WEEK WE’RE GOING TO GET A PART TWO OF THAT AND A LOT OF THOSE QUESTIONS WILL BE ANSWERED. FOR PERSPECTIVE, HOW BIG A CHURCH? RIGHT NOW THEY HAVE ABOUT 700 MEMBERS. SO IT’S A LOT OF PEOPLE, NOT JUST HERE IN SPINDALE, CAROLINA AND IN BRAZIL AND GHANA, THEY HAVE SEVERAL OUTSIDE THE U.S. THAT PEOPLE TRAVEL BACK AND FORTH TO.

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