The darkest side of religion: Word of Faith "Fellowship"

This nightmare needs to be closed down, and quickly:

Congregants of the Word of Faith Fellowship 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, 43 former members told The Associated Press in separate, exclusive interviews.

Victims of the violence included pre-teens and toddlers — even crying babies, who were vigorously shaken, screamed at and sometimes smacked to banish demons. "I saw so many people beaten over the years. Little kids punched in the face, called Satanists," said Katherine Fetachu, 27, who spent nearly 17 years in the church.

When stories like this emerge you can't help but ask questions like, "Why would people stay in such an environment?" and especially, "How could you allow your children to suffer this way?" But the truth is not so simple. Religion can be twisted in such a way that you get caught between Hell and the high water of abuse, and sociopaths like the lady who runs this cult know just how to trap people there. That's why the rest of us (through our government) need to be willing to poke our noses in and save these families, even if they don't necessarily want to be saved. No doubt Social Services and other local authorities were (and are) well aware of what's been going on there, but they've let it continue, probably for fear of legal ramifications:

Those interviewed — most of them raised in the church — say Word of Faith leaders waged a decades-long cover-up to thwart investigations by law enforcement and social services officials, including strong-arming young victims and their parents to lie. They said members were forbidden to seek outside medical attention for their injuries, which included cuts, sprains and cracked ribs.

In the past, Whaley has strongly denied that she or other church leaders have ever abused Word of Faith members and contended that any discipline would be protected by the First Amendment's freedom of religion tenets.

She and church attorney Josh Farmer turned down repeated AP requests for interviews to discuss the fresh allegations from the dozens of former congregants.

The 1st Amendment doesn't allow you to beat children and shake babies, you evil cretin. Regardless of how you feel about overly-aggressive law enforcement, that is desperately needed in this case. Execute a search warrant, take every child into custody that has even the smallest bruise, or whose biological parents can't be located immediately, and get them the hell out of there. Reserve rooms in local hotels/motels and tell everybody they are welcome to stay there until things are worked out. And take some ground-penetrating radar and/or cadaver-sniffing dogs, because there are bound to be some bodies buried on the premises. Because make no mistake, this entire "church" property is a crime scene.

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