Church denies ‘gay demon’ attack

Church denies ‘gay demon’ attack

A north Carolina church – The Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale – has been forced to post a statement on its website following indictments brought against one of its leaders and four members who allegedly kidnapped, beat and strangled 21-year-old Matthew Fenner, above, to cleanse him of ‘gay demons’.

The statement from the cult-like church’s founders – Pastors Sam and Jane Whaley –reads:

We are deeply saddened by the allegations  being made by Matthew Fenner. We love Matthew and have always been a church that has loved everybody, because God is love. What Matthew claims was done to him is absolutely not true and we would never allow something like that to happen. The outlandishness of Matthew’s story continued to grow and it is clear that he has been influenced by several individuals who have vowed to destroy our church.

We ask for your prayers until we are vindicated. It’s a shame how people believe lies over the truth, which is causing these five precious people to have to fight to prove their innocence and clear their name. Again we ask for your prayers.

The church’s accuser, according to this report, is a UNC Chapel Hill pre-med student who says he left the Word of Faith after being assaulted for more than two hours after a Sunday night service.

In an affidavit, Fenner alleges that in January 2013, a church leader, her adult children and some 20 other Word of Faith members repeatedly punched, shook and knocked him down to expel what they felt was Fenner’s “gay demon”.

He said he also was strangled at one point. Fenner said the episode left him bruised and fearing for his life.

His allegations closely track those made by former church member Michael Lowry in October 2012. Lowry said he was beaten and held against his will at the church as members tried to rid him of a “gay demon”.


The church leader indicted is Brooke Covington, 56, of Rutherfordton, above right, who is the daughter of church founders Sam and Jane Whaley (pictured above.) She faces a felony charge of second-degree kidnapping and a misdemeanor charge of simple assault. Covington’s children, Sarah Anderson, 27, and Justin Covington, 20, both of Rutherfordton have also been indicted.

Anderson faces felony charges of second-degree kidnapping and assault by strangulation, along with simple assault. Justin Covington was indicted on second-degree kidnapping and simple assault charges.

The indictments are the latest chapter in Word of Faith’s stormy 35-year existence in the North Carolina foothills. Church leaders say they have created a spiritually and financially thriving community that includes 15 nationalities and missions in several parts of the world.

Word of Faith also aggressively defends itself in court, claiming to have spent millions of dollars in legal fights with local governments or to defend its leaders and members against criminal charges and in custody battles.

Its accusers in Rutherford and surrounding counties say Word of Faith is a cult that dominates its followers’ lives, breaks up families and wrecks lives.

Said Brent Childers, executive director of the Hickory-based nonprofit Faith in America, a frequent critic of Word of Faith:

Churches are free to preach against homosexuality and sinful behavior … but members of a church clearly cross the line if they target an individual with physical, emotional and psychological abuse because of their sexual orientation.

In his affidavit, Fenner says he was a church member for three years when the attacks “to break me free of the homosexual demons they so viciously despise” took place. At one point, Anderson grabbed him by the throat, then shook and beat him, Fenner said.

Before the two-hour incident ended, as many as 25 church members had taken part.

I really didn’t think I was going to get out of there. I thought I was most likely going to die.

He said he escaped from the church the next night.

Hat tip: M Dolon Hickmon


14 responses to “Church denies ‘gay demon’ attack”

  1. Trevor Blake says:

    “It’s a shame how people believe lies over the truth.”

    Well, yes. Try starting with “there is no God” and watch many other lies fall away. It stings for a day or two to tell the trurh, then you get used to it.

  2. Cali Ron says:

    I’ve tried to post here twice now with links and they just disappear when I submit the comment. Can anyone help me here?

  3. Cali Ron says:

    Well that post worked, maybe it’s the links?

  4. Robster says:

    The Americans must have a mould to produce all these strange but similar looking evangelical cult leaders and televangelists. I can see the order form: Lots of teeth: tick, lots of hair: tick, Two functioning brain cells: tick and so it goes. Destroy the mould, quick!

  5. Marky Mark says:

    “The Americans must have a mould to produce all these strange but similar looking evangelical cult leaders and televangelists.”

    Their located in the south, confederate states during our Civil war…and some are still fighting that war.
    Not many evangelicals in the north where the well established child abusing traditional religions rule…if a catlick priest found out through confession that a child was gay he’d be more likely to take them out to dinner than choke and beat them.

    …I’m guessing gaud works in mysterious ways!

  6. barriejohn says:

    Their website is full of the usual Christian mumbo-jumbo:

    Unfortunately, I can’t copy and paste, but you soon get the drift. We all know what it really means for young people to “walk godly and holy”; they talk in a sort of code, which the enlightened fully understand. And what a lot of Biblical quotes!

    “We are crying out to God daily to be pure, holy vessels that Jesus can flow through and use. We were born to be God’s ministers, to walk righteously as Jesus did on the earth.”

    How about thinking for yourselves just for once?

  7. barriejohn says:

    A note to the prosecutors of this case; if the defendants don’t plea out and this case goes to trial, you will need to understand WOFF-think WOFF-speak and WOFF-culture in order to successfully discover what happened on that fateful day in the sanctuary. You will need to frame your questions carefully and expect WOFF answers which will have hidden meanings. A member of that group will be able to look you straight in the eye and give you an answer that to others will be a lie, but to them it is Truth. In their thinking, the Truth they live and give you is what you need to understand God and His ways. You should feel honored just to be able to ask them the questions and learn what and how God thinks.

  8. barriejohn says:

    We did some digging and this isn’t the first time an accusation like this was made.

    In 2011, a young man said he was held against his will by the church for months because he was gay. He later recanted.

    In 2003, the church was involved in a custody dispute between a former church member and the same Brooke Covington accused today.
    Reports show the mother gave Covington temporary custody, but in October of 2003 those children were ordered removed from the home after a district court found the environment abusive.

    Two daughters went back to the church after an appeals court tossed out the ruling.

    They seem to have a very powerful hold over their members, but they are, of course, “lovely people”.

  9. barriejohn says:

    You have to take the following on trust, but as an ex-member of a cult myself I know that they are speaking the truth, and recognize much of their behaviour and practice very well indeed:,_NC

  10. Brian Jordan says:

    @Call Ron,
    I find one link is ok – as it seems to be for others today – but two links get the post held for modding in case it’s spam. Maybe you’re trying more than two and there’s some sort of deleting system? Although I suppose a glitch is more likely.

  11. Cali Ron says:

    @ Brian Jordan. Thanks! I had 2 links to sites with more detailed info on WOFF. Next time I’ll try just one. Barriejohn posted one of them later anyway.

    I got involved with an evangelical cult in the 70’s called Victory Outreach that used a lot of the same psychological conditioning, peer pressure and environmental manipulation. They were targeting young, disaffected refugees from the excesses of the drug and free love movement. They started homes and encouraged these young people to move in so they could turn them into good little soldiers in god,s army. I was fortunately too young and by the time I was 18 had gotten over my infatuation with them and alternative religion. Typical evangelical BS. Like Marky Mark said, they are mostly in the south, where religion is excessive and obsessive, but education is not! These people are just sadist in god’s clothing.

  12. tonye says:

    It’s almost a uniform of sorts, bad hair and rictus smiles.

  13. barriejohn says:

    I looked up Victory Outreach and there are the same people staring out at you: