An Evangelical church in North Carolina is being accused by dozens of former parishioners of engaging in brutally abusive behavior aimed at controlling every aspect of members' lives.
The Associated Press, via local news station WYFF, reports that former congregants of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Rutherford County, N.C., are publicly accusing their one-time church of physically abusing parishioners -- including babies and children -- and of enacting strict control over their adult parishioners' sex lives.
Among other things, the parishioners tell the AP that "they were regularly punched, smacked, choked, slammed to the floor or thrown through walls in the name of the Lord." Being young didn't shield a member from abuse either, as the parishioners claim that even babies were regularly shaken as a method for banishing "demons" from their bodies.
Additionally, the church set out strict guidelines for dating, marriage and sex among parishioners -- couples were only allowed to give each other a peck on the cheek on their wedding nights, they allege. What's more, married couples were only allowed to spend a maximum of 30 minutes having sex, and that sex had to be consummated without any foreplay.
The church, which is led by an Evangelical minister named Jane Whaley, denies any wrongdoing.