More allegations surface, linking WNC church to reported child abuse

WYFF NBC News 4, North Carolina/July 24, 2018

By Joe Ripley

Rutherford County, North Carolina --The long list of accusations against a Rutherford County church just got longer. Former members and other concerned citizens met Tuesday to put more focus on complaints against Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale.

David Wheeler, a candidate running for the state senate, hosted a press conference in which former church members, former law enforcement, and other concerned citizens spoke out about alleged wrongdoing and what they perceived as a lack of pace in proceedings with various investigations involving Word of Faith Fellowship.

“I think they’re getting away with some practices that need to stop.” Wheeler said. “The loud preaching, the loud tormenting of children, trying to bring them into their religion, it’s not healthy for children.”

Along with the recent allegations, the church has had its fair share of controversy over reports that it forced members to falsely claim unemployment benefits to give more money to the church. Other accusations include meddling in church members’ marriages, beating a gay man to “drive a demon out of him” and sourcing in free labor from its Brazilian chapters, according to the Associate Press.

“I’m just real passionate about getting the truth out,” former Word of Faith Fellowship member John Huddle said. “Coming out of that group, you don’t know the harm, the emotional damages…I realized the way I was being treated was not how I thought a Christian should be treated.”

WYFF News 4 spoke with District Attorney Ted Bell to get an update on any cases involving Word of Faith Fellowship. Bell could not provide details, saying the SBI’s investigation was ongoing.

“We believe in truth, absolutely,” one church official, who did not give his name or title, said shortly after Tuesday’s press conference. “We’ll see.”

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