Court documents allege cult-like teachings from Wichita Falls pastor

CW 39, Houston/March 1, 2024

By Joshua Hoggard

Wichita Falls — The pastor of a local congregation who is awaiting trial for child sex crimes is also accused of alarming teachings at his church, according to recently filed court documents.

Ronnie Allen Killingsworth, 78, of Wichita Falls, is charged with six counts of indecency with a child by sexual contact. His trial has been specially set to begin on Tuesday, April 30, 2024, in the 78th District Court, with Judge Meredith Kennedy presiding.

On Tuesday, February 27, 2024, officials with the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, tasked with prosecuting the case against Killingsworth, filed a notice filled with multiple alleged bad acts or offenses they intend to introduce into evidence.

In addition to previously unreleased details regarding the allegations against Killingsworth, the prosecution listed several of his teachings in the notice of bad acts they intend to bring up during his forthcoming trial.

A brief history of Rephidim Church

Killingsworth is the longtime “Pastor-Teacher” of Rephidim Church, a non-affiliated congregation located on Allendale Road in Wichita Falls, founded in 1972.

According to former members of Rephidim Church, Killingsworth previously served as the pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Iowa Park before he was asked to resign. A small following of members split from that church and formed Rephidim Church.

In January 1999, several former members of the church told reporters with KFDX and KJTL that they’d decided to leave the church due to the teachings of Killingsworth, claiming they contained “the tell-tale signs of a cult.”

However, during a phone interview with former KFDX Reporter Megan Henderson in 1999, Killingsworth adamantly denied being a cult leader.

After the recent indecency with a child charges were filed against Killingsworth, several former members spoke out with similar allegations.

Many of the “extraneous offenses and bad acts” alleged by the prosecution in the notice filed on Tuesday are teachings from Killingsworth that appear to confirm the statements made by former members of Rephidim Church.

Killingsworth’s alleged teachings at Rephidim

According to the notice, the prosecution alleged that Killingsworth “controlled the congregation through fear, manipulation, and brainwashing.”

The state’s notice alleged that Killingsworth taught his congregation that they weren’t allowed to have a personal relationship with God. They said Killingsworth taught that they couldn’t know God without the teaching of their “right pastor teacher,” who was Killingsworth.

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth discouraged his church members from reading the Bible and to only listen to his interpretation. The notice said the congregation was not allowed to question Killingsworth, his teachings, procedures, or authority.

The notice alleged that Killingsworth “preached that he was the only pastor in the United States who is teaching the truth.” The notice said Killingsworth claimed to be the only person in the area authorized to teach God’s word and that “all other pastors in the area are considered evil and leading people astray.”

The prosecution alleged in the notice that Killingsworth taught his congregation the doctrine of separation, meaning that his members were only allowed to socialize with people within the congregation.

The notice said Killingsworth taught that congregants were not allowed to associate with family members unless they were members of the church and that Rephidim members were only allowed to marry someone in the church.

According to the prosecution’s notice, Killingsworth taught that once someone left the church, they were to be shunned or exiled, that people who left the church were called “Satan’s minions,” “enemies of the cross,” or “dead flies.”

The prosecution’s notice also alleged that Killingsworth would single out people from the pulpit, would yell for people to sit down and shut up from the pulpit, and would kick people out during his sermons. Members were not allowed to miss church unless there was a serious medical condition, and if they did miss, they were required to listen to recorded lessons.

More shocking allegations against Killingsworth

The prosecution listed in its notice of extraneous offenses and bad acts several additional teachings and actions of Killingsworth that don’t qualify as a warning sign of a cult but are nonetheless shocking and alarming.

The prosecution accused Killingsworth in its notice of having lunch with a minor child and the child’s parent just days after he was indicted for indecency with multiple children.

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth would preach in front of children about sexualized topics from the Bible, including sodomy, rape, homosexuality, bestiality, BDSM, and demonic influences during sex. The prosecution also alleged that Killingsworth taught “rape is divine discipline from God.”

The prosecution alleged in its notice that Killingsworth preached that “all homosexuals should be put to death” and that “gay people are demon-possessed.” They also accused Killingsworth of kicking his own daughter out of the church due to her sexual orientation.

The prosecution also accuses Killingsworth of racist teachings. The notice alleged that Killingsworth taught “the Black race is cursed by God” and that “their skin is black because they are cursed.”

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth allegedly told his congregation not to read certain books or watch certain TV shows and movies. He’s accused of teaching that “Harry Potter would cause children to practice witchcraft” and that “the rhythm of rock music came from African tribes who were worshipping Satan.”

Killingsworth is accused of not allowing women to hold positions of power or be deacons in the church.

The state’s notice alleged Killingsworth told parents to spank their children for any infraction that went against his teaching. They also alleged Killingsworth himself would spank children.

According to the prosecution, Killingsworth allegedly taught that if something bad happened to a member of the congregation, they were being disciplined by God. He’s also accused of dissuading congregants from seeking outside therapy or counseling for mental health medication.

The prosecution also accuses Killingsworth of plagiarizing his sermons and writings. The state also alleged Killingsworth taught lessons by a theologian who was an open antisemite and a supporter of Nazi Germany.

Alleged doomsday teachings and building of ‘The Farm’

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth is accused of preaching “doomsday prophecies” and “end of the world teachings.”

The state’s notice alleged that sometime between 1998 and 2000, Killingsworth preached that the rapture was coming. Specifically, the state alleged Killingsworth taught that the rapture would come on January 1, 2000, and August 16, 2015.

In 1999, Rephidim Church was the subject of local controversy in the Clay County town of Thornberry when a church retreat with 30 cabins and a meeting hall sprung up seemingly overnight in a valley just outside the small community.

Former KFDX Reporter Megan Henderson investigated the retreat in 1999. According to her report, Killingsworth denied that the land was a Y2K compound for his members to hide out during the turn of the century. Killingsworth also denied being a cult leader.

However, the allegations in the state’s notice seem to paint a much different picture of the controversial compound.

According to the state’s notice, Killingsworth and Rephidim Church bought land called “The Farm” and “West Bank Memorial” for each family to build cabins.

The state’s motion alleged that Killingsworth would “continually tell his congregation that the rapture was about to occur” and that “when the rapture would come that children would be stolen from their parents and raped.”

The state’s notice claimed Killingsworth would preach that eventually, the police and/or government would come for him. He allegedly taught that the government is evil and is trying to stop him from preaching “God’s true word.” He’s accused of encouraging his congregation to stockpile guns, ammunition, medicine, and food.

Furthermore, the state alleged that Killingsworth “fortified the church, filled the walls with sand, stockpiled firearms, and added metal detectors and security guards.” He’s also accused of installing cameras and listening devices in the church.

A recent search of the area revealed no signs that the retreat is still maintained. A Google Earth search also revealed many of the cabins are no longer there.

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