North Carolina megachurch was used as a hub of slavery

North Carolina megachurch was used as a hub of slavery

She loves Jesus. And dogs. And infants. She’s got big hair and a well-practised smile. So why is Jane Whaley, of North Carolina’s Word of Faith Fellowship, getting mercilessly savaged by the press, AP in particular?

Well, back in February this year, we reported that Whaley, 77, was running her megachurch like a sadistic dictator. This was based on an AP investigation which detailed widespread abuse carried out over many years at the church.

Whaley and her husband Sam, an ex-car salesman, vehemently denied it all in a press release, but AP wasn’t through with the Whaleys … not by a long chalk.

Today, the Freethought Project reported that, in addition to abusing homegrown members of its congregation, the Word of Faith Fellowship was trafficking slaves from Brazil to work without pay under atrocious conditions at the church.

Its report, based on a new AP investigation, revealed that  scores of former slaves have come forward to expose the Word of Faith Fellowship congregation as a hub for modern slavery in the US in which hundreds have been victims.

The Word of Faith Fellowship set up two churches in Brazil and used it as a means of siphoning young labourers to the United States to used them for forced labour.

One of those slaves, Andre Oliveira, said he was forced to work 15 hours a day, usually for no pay, first cleaning warehouses for the secretive evangelical church and later toiling at businesses owned by senior ministers. Any deviation from the rules risked the wrath of church leaders, he said, ranging from beatings to shaming from the pulpit.

They trafficked us up here. They knew what they were doing. They needed labour and we were cheap labour – hell, free labour. We were expendable. We meant nothing to them. Nothing. How can you do that to people – claim you love them and then beat them in the name of God?”

Whaley, left, was part of an ecstatic crowd who welcomed Donald Trump to North Carolina. Her husband Sam is behind her.

One of the dozens of victims interviewed by the AP told reporters that she was put to work for no pay when she was only 12-years-old. The males were used as construction workers while the girls were often used as babysitters in the church’s K-12 school and forced to sew during the night.

Whaley would travel to Brazil and tell the members of the church there that salvation awaited them in the United States.

Ana Albuquerque was another victim who came to the church when she was only five. Over time, she witnessed so much verbal and physical abuse that she began to see this behavior as normal.

They come to you and say, ‘You will get to know the United States of America. You will get to go to the malls. But when you get there, everything is controlled.

Other victims of the church describe horrifying scenarios in which they were crammed into the basements of other church leaders’ homes to be used a slave labour.

26 responses to “North Carolina megachurch was used as a hub of slavery”

  1. Broga says:

    Ideal Trump fodder. They will be safe as Trump contends he can pardon anyone for anything, including himself and his family, as he is President. Trump and Christians are a marriage made in heaven.

    Can impeachment be delayed much longer? Any moves on that and we can expect the churches to be filled by people praying.

  2. Billy says:

    OT … More religious bigotry here … prods v teagues.

    Orange Order calls on Protestants not to use the phrase ‘RIP’ – BBC News

  3. barriejohn says:

    Hers isn’t a church in the sense that most people would imagine one to be:

    Apologies for the quality of the video, but it seems about the best that is available.

  4. Robster says:

    Their nasty old bible offers specific instructions, more specific than anything else as best I can tell, on how to punish the godly believers slaves, advice also offered on “caring” and “feeding”. These gross folks are only following their nonsense as writ.

  5. Broga says:

    @Billy: They are worried about trivia like using RIP when the planet is going to hell. We are increasingly having mercury absorbed into our bodies, often from eating fish, and there are so many thousand tons of plastic in the seas that we cannot deal with it. And so much else. Meanwhile the Prods are worried about RIP.

    I suppose that is religion at work. Perhaps our all loving God will look after us.

  6. andym says:

    When I worked in a hospital, we used to write RIP in the notes when recording the death of a patient. I never realised it had religious connotations. To me it was a way of showing respect and acknowledging that their suffering had ended.

    On this issue. Criminals can always hide their behaviour behind a facade. Often it’s hard to know what came first, the religion or the scam.One of the reasons they get away so often is because of how so many non-religious people still see religion as basically, “a good thing.”

  7. Broga says:

    @andym: The other frequent opinion I get from Christians when I say I don’t think there is a God is, “But there must be something.” That’s it.

  8. Paul says:

    That’s like being an agnostic is it not.
    But which god or gods isn’t one sure about might or might not exist: there are literally millions.

  9. barriejohn says:

    Despite my predilection for Dennis Wheatley’s works and admiration of Christopher Price’s acting skills, I never use the term RIP, as I don’t believe that people have “souls”, so how can they “rest in peace” (or otherwise) after death?

    Frauds like Whaley owe much to people like Aimee Semple McPherson (qv), and the appalling Kathryn Kuhlman, whom some Pentecostalists virtually worshipped when I was a young man (anathema to the Brethren, of course, to whom she was “of the devil”). You can see how ideas have been borrowed here:

    The comments are quite pathetic. Sadly, her god could not heal HER, and she died relatively young after open heart surgery!

  10. Broga says:

    @Paul: I think I can help with the numerous gods issue. My excessively religious cousin tells me the Christian God is the only true one. Why? Because only Jesus amongst the prophets dares to declare he is the son of God. He would not dare do that if he wasn’t.

    She also insists that the King James bible is the inerrant word of God. When I pointed out some contradictions and asked which, if any, was the true one because one must be wrong she said, “Now you are being silly.” Not exactly a stimulating dialogue.

  11. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Re the planet “going to hell”, did you read this today?

    Of course, God is “not going to allow man to destroy the earth”, so that’s all right then!

  12. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Thanks for that. I had not read it. What I did hear a while back was a scientist saying he thought that we were now past the critical point and there was no way back. He was despairing about the views of Trump and thought that only a minor part of the human population were concerned.

    Humans: the most destructive pest on the planet. Their destructiveness is fuelled by religion which does everything it can to increase the population.

  13. Paul says:

    I wonder if you can record these conversations I think it would make a good series and they’d make for more hilarity, which we all need.
    (Well I’m going to be silly now too).
    Of the 44,000 Christian religions – which one god does she absolutely know is the one.
    It is sad she believes it’s the inerrant word of god, I don’t believe many, if any, are taught that who go into the clergy. But then if they told their flock that, there would be no
    flock, so better to keep up the deception.

  14. barriejohn says:

    Broga: The Pope has turned of the water fountains because of his “ecological fears”. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!

    PS How come one of these “healers” or other religiots couldn’t manage to save Charlie Gard? “God’s power” is still the same, and they all knew about the case!

  15. Broga says:

    @Paul/barriejohn. About belief. I have started reading on kindle “Caught in the Pulpit” by Daniel C. Dennett and Linda LaScola. It is based on interviews with clergy who remain anonymous.

    It is about the mental and emotional struggles of USA clergy who have lost their faith. Many continue preaching what they don’t believe because of fears about the reactions of family and community and having no job.

    They discover in the seminaries that the bible is cobbled together from various sources and the explanation of the professors is, seems to me, don’t think, just accept and God will sort it out. I have only just started the book but was pleased when I read about the effect of Richard Dawkins and Dan Harries on a seminarian. He abandoned his training and said getting out was like having a shackle removed.

    The increase of non believing preachers who share their problems as part of an online group is encouraging. The churches are punitive when doubts are voiced.

  16. Cali Ron says:

    “It also reminds us that if we need guidance in any matter, we should refer to what the bible teaches.” Really? I’d like to see the passages about the use of RIP. There seems to be no end to the trivial and silly things the religious find to quibble about. Like Nero, they play the fiddle while Rome burns.

    Broga: Why do those with doubts stay preachers? Let’s take my brother as an example. He had been a preacher years ago in Ohio, the bible belt, but lost his license to preach in the Assembly of God when he got remarried (married and divorced 3 times now), then went into finance and got convicted of white collar crimes. He recently got released from federal prison after doing 9 1/2 years and found part time employment working for an evangelical church doing the music and helping to lead services. As a 61 year old ex con the church is one of the few places that will hire him so American’s reluctance to give those who have paid their debt to society a second chance has pushed him back into the waiting arms of religion. You can lose the shackles of physical imprisonment easier than the shackles of religion . I don’t know if his convictions are sincere and he’s hardly an example of the ‘good’ christian, but I doubt he sees any other options at this point in his life. I consider him and my mother ‘lost’ to religion and beyond ever seeing the ‘light’.

    Ironically, I was the ‘bad’ son, history of drugs and such, but it was the ‘good’ christian brother that wound up in prison.

  17. Broga says:

    @Cali Ron: From what I have read so far the preachers stay because they cannot face being rejected by family, community and the punitive reactions of the church. If they do stay they pay an emotional penalty in living a life of pretence. They feel they are fake people.

    One of the most successful leavers is Dan Barker a former devout evangelical. I read his book some years ago.

  18. Cali Ron says:

    Broga: It’s never easy having to choose between acceptance from those you care about and being true to yourself. Societal and familial pressures can be very intense, especially when your career and life has revolved around an extended family like in a church setting.

    I was lucky to have my moments of doubt in faith at the same time I was going through my rebellious stage, so I rejected those pressuring me and sought a new life with new friends. For some, that acceptance is very important to their sense of self worth.

  19. Broga says:

    Cali Ron: I became an atheist as a teenager although my family, including aunts, uncles, cousins were all Presbyterians. However, they were all unthinking Christians and never thought about what they were believing. My mother abandoned her faith after some debates with me. When she was dying, at home with us, she made me promise not to involve any clergy.

    My adult children are atheists although we never put any pressure on them. I’m sure my young grand children will be the same. That’s the way it goes. Remove the indoctrination and the likelihood of growing up religious will be minimal.

  20. Cali Ron says:

    Broga: “Remove the indoctrination and the likelihood of growing up religious will be minimal.” Indeed. My wife was raised Catholic, but she rejected it years ago so our children were raised in a non religious household and even though my wife’s aunt took them to church occasionally when they were young they are both atheist today. That’s why the religious are always trying to inject religion into our educational systems. They know they have to get them while they’re young and impressionable.

  21. Larrisa says:

    Who do you think you are to post my child’s picture on this article Barry Duke! This is very grievous and blasphemous to God! My child is precious and will not be used for mockery !!

  22. Hahahahaha Larrisa will you be my best friend?

  23. barriejohn says:

    I thought it was Rosemary’s Baby!