Recently, I was asked to put in a few paragraphs how the Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) and Jane Whaley manipulate or cause family members to take a stand against one another. Let me say this is a brief explanation. The subject is vast and the process is not easily detected at first. Why do I say that? That is because the foundation for causing family members to divide over WOFF practices and beliefs begins when the family first comes into the “church”. As you enter and see other families dividing over “who will serve God (Jane) and who will not?” It is portrayed as normal to shun family members either inside or outside the church that do not “go with God” or “go in God’s ways”. After all, they are “in discipleship”. I witnessed the way the McGee children treated their father who had left the church and NEVER considered I would be in his place one day. I witnessed the reaction of the congregation as the Muse children told of their ‘fight for God’s ways” as they dealt with their mother. I heard the cheers and laughter as the children told how they “stood for God” and their mother went away.
Each individual situation is different, but, the results are pretty much all the same. Most EVERY time a spouse decides for whatever reason to leave WOFF and the other stays, the family becomes divided. There is strife. There is emotional upheaval and turmoil. There are hurts, questions and tears. And the reason is? Some will leave all family members and follow Jane to the very end- where ever that will be. Who knows but God Himself? “Standing for God” and denying contact with a parent or child who has left WOFF is seen as a badge of honor. It is rewarded with some sort of additional perverted “respect”. Why? It is because the ones who remain have no idea how easily they could be the one being shunned or cut off from their families.
On April 9, 2008, the shunning began as I was fired from a job I had with a company owned by church members. My children withdrew from regular contact with me and I believe from what I had seen previously, this withdrawal was expected and encouraged. My wife could only talk to me about repenting and how wicked I was and how I needed to “turn back to God”. I have no doubt that GS and LS were coaching her as to how to handle the situation. How do I know? I checked her cell phone calls and noted how many calls were to GS and LS and how long they were. After about eight weeks of shunning and eventually being “put out of the church” on June 6, 2008 for telling two thoughts I had; I left and moved to a town about 30 minutes away. Three days later I returned for more of my personal items. These items were placed in a pile in the middle of the garage floor. The children had been sent away. Only my wife was there and I was not allowed back into the house where we had lived. Early in the separation, my children did write me a letter telling me to repent and come back to God. It was the same words other children had recited to their parent who had left WOFF. It all seemed like it was coached- from whom? Yes, that was from WOFF leadership. That was only the beginning of the end for our family. I had to get an attorney and fight for joint custody of my son. My wife filed for divorce earlier this year and it is now final as of May 23, 2011. The same way I had seen other families experience emotional problems and separation when one spouse would leave is the same pattern my family has experienced. Today, my children do not respond to my notes or letters. My children refuse to talk to me on the telephone.
As could be expected, freedom of expression does necessarily bring with it a voicing of opinions and with that privilege we then must come face to face with the reality that there are different views and opinions. With the expression of different opinions can come heated discussion and in some minds controversy. For some, this is unacceptable. For some, the world should be a place for peace, peace. Reality tells us that is just not the case. And for that we should all be grateful.
When researching the concept of “freedom of expression”, we must cite some obvious sources. An obvious choice would be our U.S. Constitution: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Other sources that would help with the understanding of the idea of freedom of expression or freedom of speech would include some text found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech#cite_note-22
“A succession of English thinkers developed the idea of a right to freedom of expression, starting with John Milton (1608–74), then John Locke (1632–1704) and culminating in John Stuart Mill (1806–1873). Locke established the individual as the unit of value and the bearer of rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness. It was the role of Government to protect these rights and this belief was first enshrined in the US Constitution, with the First Amendment adding the guarantee that “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. John Stuart Mill argued that human freedom is good and without it there can be no progress in science, law or politics, which according to Mill required free discussion of opinion. Mill’s On Liberty, published in 1859 became a classic defence of the right to freedom of expression. Mill argued that truth drives out falsity, therefore the free expression of ideas, true or false, should not be feared. Truth is not stable or fixed, but evolves with time. Mill argued that much of what we once considered true has turned out false. Therefore views should not be prohibited for their apparent falsity. Mill also argued that free discussion is necessary to prevent the “deep slumber of a decided opinion”. Discussion would drive the onwards march of truth and by considering false views the basis of true views could be re-affirmed.
Since the following series of events happened on Tuesday evening, I have been debating whether or not to spend time on this blog recounting them. Finally, I decided the readers not familiar with such things needed to know that stuff like this happens in Rutherford County. This post will not be reciting from a book or drawing conclusions from experts on cults. I will retell certain events that took place at the Great Wall restaurant in Rutherfordton. First, let me acknowledge that the workers probably had no idea what was being said or why there were loud words being uttered in their restaurant. After the events were over, the lady behind the counter acted so polite and tried to carry on as if nothing had happened. For that, I was shocked and very grateful.
From time to time, I drive another former member around town for him to run some errands. He does not drive or have his own car. After I retell this evening’s events, I will relate what he has told me about his time at Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). From what I can tell, Jane Whaley is very aware of this former member named Tony. His story is his story, but, in reality the results are not much different from other former members. I will explain as we go along.
Tony decided he wanted to eat at the Great Wall restaurant. He likes the food and often takes his leftovers home to eat for a second meal. We had eaten there before and the last time we were there we encountered a present WOFF member who was very friendly. This evening was much different. I let Tony out in front and he went in as I parked the car. As I opened the front door, I immediately recognized a present WOFF member who I had known since 1992. Her family was one of the first we met when my family arrived at the Greenville church. She had her back to me as she was chatting with Tony. I stepped in behind her and then backed up realizing she would turn and run into me. I also noticed to my left, her father. We had called him –Vadi. I think that is a Swedish(?) term for Papa. As this WOFF member, LB, turned to leave, she met my eyes, her countenance changed and she took on a very deadpan look. For more background, she was the one who accompanied my then wife to my front door on or about February 16, 2010 and told me I was “telling lies” on this blog. (see link here: http://religiouscultsinfo.com/?p=572 ) My first contact with her after I left had been the summer of 2009. I had met her family in Charleston and actually enjoyed a meal with them and my family. That is a story for another day. Going back further she was the one who on June 6, 2008 passed on from Jane Whaley the news that I was “out of the church” and to not come back on the property. So, yes, we go way back.
Recently, while working from home, I received a knock at the door. This in itself was strange as the number of visitors has been limited. The door to my place had been recently replaced and thus no peephole installed. So, I asked, who is it? The person identified themselves and I knew it was a WOFF member. So, I opened the door to two WOFF members. They expected an invitation inside, but since they had given no call ahead of time, I refused them entry and we talked in the hallway. I asked them why no call ahead of time? “We could have met somewhere”. The reply – “We just wanted to show-up.” There were smiles at first, but they soon faded.
Before I go any further, let me say that I was not recording and have no real way to tell everything that was said on either behalf, mine or theirs. So, upfront know that this post is NOT a full account of this encounter. Also, I am leaving some parts out on purpose to not reveal the identities of the two ladies. For now, it does not add to the purpose of the post to identify them. For sure, you the informed reader will understand the main points and get the gist of the events. I purpose to make it plain as possible.
The first lady admitted she had been reading this blog. She then went on to assess the content as being “lies, full of lies!” I asked which part? She said “All of it. It is all false!” I got the message she did not like my blog. 😦 I mentioned to this person that I was telling my experiences. (Remember, my experiences cannot be taken from me. Learned that at WOFF.) She asked at some point, “How could you have slipped so far?” She gave me the impression that she thought I was “backslidden”.
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.” – Thomas Jefferson
Am I wrong about the list of similarities between a group like FLDS and another group such as WOFF? Am I wrong based on the facts and not emotion? It matters not how much you or anyone else love and admire Warren Jeffs or Jane Whaley. What are the observed facts about the control methods used in both groups?
If you are in WOFF; you may say you are not being controlled. If that be the case, then express a desire to watch the news and not depend on the father-son news reporting team to funnel the “important” events to you in a service. If it be the case that there is no control over the information allowed; then subscribe to the local newspaper and read it and talk about what is in it to other members. If you are free to chose, then buy a new television and subscribe to satellite service as Jane does. A source that knows, says there are two satellites on Jane’s roof. (or at least there were a few years ago.) If there is no control going on at WOFF, then listen to your radio in your car with other members present. Why would WOFF members not be allowed to do these things?
Concerning the beliefs in each group, they do differ. But, does that matter? No. The beliefs in many groups actually go through changes just as the methods to control individuals go through evolution and change. As far as the individuals in each group, there are very likely sweet, loving people in both groups. I can vouch for many in WOFF as being good hearted, decent people who would help you do most anything needed.
It is the control methods used in everyday life of the members that has caught my attention. That is where lives are controlled and hurt – in the daily application of the control techniques seen in both groups. It is not just these two groups. As will be shared in weeks to come, the control methods are pretty much the same in most EVERY religious controlling group that I have studied. It is as if a “Handbook for Religious Cult Leaders” has been written and is being sold to certain individual leaders! Maybe the “book” is handed out for FREE! But, as people follow the instructions in this common scenario for controlling folks; it costs dearly. Families are broken, relationships are torn, individuals experience fear, confusion and anxiety. Children experience intense fears not beneficial for them and which may well scar them for years to come. Irrational fears begin to govern the lives of otherwise stable group members. It is amazing the dynamics of how individuals succumb to the “group think” and group pressures felt as the leaders mold and fashion the lives of their followers.
Recently, in a discussion on Facebook®, this question was posed. It is a valid question. For one, is there any other church in North Carolina besides Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF) that has been so taken up with this historic event? If there is one, it has not crossed my radar. Also, there were academic areas of emphasis in years past, remember the science conferences or the Thomas Jefferson conference? None of the others have developed into a road show. Road show? Yes, see the article here from an online newspaper in Deming, New Mexico. WOFF is taking it on the road, again. http://www.demingheadlight.com/ci_18082999?IADID=Search-www.demingheadlight.com-www.demingheadlight.com
Here is an excerpt: “Guests to the Night to Honor Israel will have a chance to see works of art on display, courtesy of the Holocaust Museum in Spindale, North Carolina. The museum was a dream come true for the Word of Faith Fellowship and the Word of Faith Christian School in North Carolina. Students, grades K-12 have their works of art across the nation, and now Deming can tour choice works on display at the DPS auditorium.”
Let me say I was there during the gestation period for the budding event. Who could have seen the development of this academic interest into a full blown take it on the road display? Some years later, I took the online Holocaust class through Cleveland Community College taught by Karel Reynolds from WOFF. The class was enjoyable though the irony did not fully hit me until I left the group. We were studying the beginnings of the Third Reich as Hitler came to power as Chancellor. Some of the restrictions he imposed on the Jews, as well as the Germans sounded awfully familiar. Why did I not see them while inside? I believe it was because of the blind zeal for Jane Whaley and the WOFF cause. Regardless if Hitler stole and violated personal freedoms of the Jews and then the Germans, we at WOFF were “learning God’s ways and walking with Jesus”. It was as if we were thinking, “If we are in a cult, Jane will tell us!” Really?
“To follow by faith alone is to follow blindly.” Benjamin Franklin
A few nights ago, I was in Wal-Mart® in Forest City, NC helping someone get groceries. This person was a former member of Word of Faith Fellowship (WOFF). As I stood by the entrance to the store talking with the greeter, who I had not seen in a long while; a present member of WOFF walked by me. I was not sure she recognized me. I knew who she was immediately. Later in the evening, I responded to an email from another ex-WOFF member and mentioned this person in my email. I wrote, “I saw (her name) tonight at Wal–Mart® and felt sorry for her. Her “zeal” was blinding at times, as was mine- I am sure.” The term “zeal” stuck with me as I remembered a song we used to sing in years past at WOFF. If I remember right, Jane stopped us from singing it. My first time singing this song was in 1984 at a church in Sheldon, SC. It was titled simply- “The Zeal of God”. Though different groups may modify the original words, here are the words as I remember them:
THE ZEAL OF GOD
THE ZEAL OF GOD HAS CONSUMED ME
IT BURNS IN MY SOUL
A DRIVING FORCE THAT CAN NOT BE STOPPED
A FIRE THAT CAN NOT BE QUENCHED
OH HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH