LAW & CRIME

Broken Faith: Inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, One of America’s Most Dangerous Cults

Hanover Square: Harlequin. Feb. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9781335145239. $28.99. CRIME
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The Word of Faith Fellowship, an independent evangelical church, has thousands of members spread across three continents. Despite their numbers, the inner workings of the church are secretive and hidden to outsiders. Jane Whaley founded the church which is based in Spindale, NC, in 1979, and church members view Whaley as a prophet. She exerts total control over members lives, deciding who gets rewarded or punished. This punishment can mean separation from family for weeks, or “blasting,” which consists of church members yelling, screaming, pushing, slapping, and hitting people to drive out demons and evil spirits. Journalists Weiss (The Heart of Hell) and Mohr detail how a local sheriff and county prosecutors refused to investigate or file reports naming church members, and advised church leaders on the status of lawsuits. The authors rely on interviews with former members, court documents, and secretly recorded conversations to paint a truly terrifying picture of life inside this cult, and the price paid by former members to escape.
VERDICT Those interested in cults and true crime will be enthralled by this account, which should be read in conjunction with Susan Ashline’s Without a Prayer.

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