The Word of Faith Fellowship in North Carolina is under several investigations, and now kidnapping children has been added to the list.
The church in Spindale, North Carolina, used its relationship with a social worker to take more than a dozen children from their families, reported The Associated Press.
As a child advocate, Nancy Burnette visited the church to ensure two foster children were safe while a family was working to adopt them. The pastor decided to point at Burnette and accuse her of being “wicked.”
″You are here to cause strife!” she recalled pastor Jane Whaley shouting during a fiery sermon. At that point she said she felt the church members converge upon her. “You don’t think these kids are supposed to be here!”
North Carolina’s social services laws cite “family preservation,” so as to prevent “unnecessary placement of children away from their families.” Yet, many children have been taken from their families and put into the custody of church members. Three single mothers have alleged a county court clerk bypassed the foster system so that church members were able to obtain custody of their children, despite a judge calling the conduct inappropriate.
“What I didn’t know was how hard Word of Faith would fight — and the tactics they would use — to keep the kids,” Burnette said.
One mother begged a judge to keep them in foster care to protect her children from the “abuse” of the church. Each time, the lives of the children came under total control of preacher Jane Whaley and her church leaders.
“One thing that is confusing for people in the community is how these children can be so well-behaved and so well-dressed if things are so bad,” said John Huddle, who lost his children after be severed ties with the church. “But the clothing can cover the bruises and the smiles can hide the hurt.”
Keela Blanton was pregnant and fearful she would lose her child if she was incarcerated. So she temporarily signed over custody of her child to Word of Faith and Rutherford County clerk Laura Bridges. According to documents, after her release, it was stipulated she would take over “full responsibility for my child.” After two months, she was out of prison, but Blanton said Bridges and her husband claimed that they loved the boy and wanted to continue to care for him. Blanton ultimately filed child abuse reports in 2012 after saying she saw bruises on her 4-year-old son’s face. She alleged that the boy seemed anxious. A clinical assessment concluded her boy showed “signs of being coerced and brainwashed.”
The Word of Faith Fellowship “has grown to about 750 congregants in North Carolina and a total of nearly 2,000 members in its churches in Brazil and Ghana and through affiliations in Sweden, Scotland and other countries,” the AP reported.
The church faces many allegations and has previously been accused of kidnapping a homosexual man and attempting to beat “the gay” out of him. They’re also currently under investigation for bringing in hundreds of Brazilian worshipers and allegedly turning them into slaves. They also allegedly taught the church members how to commit unemployment fraud so that members could continue to give more money to the church.
The church is also under investigation because at least 43 previous members reported the churchgoers regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in a violent form of deliverance meant to “purify” sinners by beating out devils. Victims of the violence included pre-teens and toddlers — even crying babies, who were vigorously shaken, screamed at and sometimes smacked to banish demons.
Watch an interview with the mothers below:
(Article By James Carter)