2012 photo of Jane Whaley, provided to the AP by a
former member of the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF)
A nightmarish story we went undercover to research along with Inside Edition in the spring of 1995 is back in the news, and sadly, things have only gotten worse. (Watch a shortened 10 minute clip from the Inside Edition report here)
The Associated Press has published a well-researched exposé (here) of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, N.C., and its leader, Jane Whaley, detailing the same patterns of abuse we uncovered 22 years ago:
– a constant series of “exorcisms”
– beatings and other physical abuse
– public humiliation
– unreported sexual abuse
– hours of shouted “prayer” directed at the devil
– forced separation of family members
One difference is that Word of Faith Fellowship today has twice as many members.
Forty-three ex-members, in separate exclusive interviews, told the AP that the congregants were “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.”
As part of Trinity’s previous investigation, Pete Evans infiltrated the group and recorded dozens of hours of hidden-camera footage, which he provided to Inside Edition producers at secret rendezvous points. He emerged from the 5-month-long undercover operation with an incredible story, which the AP report confirms.
During hours-long, nightly church services, Evans recalls, entire families, including young children too old for the nursery, would rock back and forth shouting and shaking their fists at Satan while rebuking “systems of witchcraft,” “generational curses” or other maleficent “spiritual systems.” At some point during the service, Jane Whaley or another church leader would call out individuals that she thought needed “deliverance.”
“Whaley would divide the congregation into multiple smaller circles surrounding the called-out souls in order to cast out demons of rebellion, sickness, various ‘evil networks,’ or just plain laziness,” Evans said. “The unlucky human at the core of these circles was encouraged to shout and scream along with the others at whatever lurked within, and the sessions would continue until that person spit or vomited into a small plastic tub conveniently provided for the moment.”
Evans was in the middle of 11 of these sessions, and that allowed him to secretly obtain some graphic footage.
While parents were occupied with “worship,” Evans said, young children and infants in the nursery were tied to their chairs with bed sheets to keep them from fidgeting. Crying infants were taken aside from time to time and screamed at in the tight quarters of the nursery bathroom, in sessions intended to cast out their “demons of rebelliousness.”
The AP article shows that the abuse Evans’ undercover investigation revealed has not only continued, but worsened over the years.