It's past time we cracked down on religious cults

Violent assault is not religious freedom:

Essentially what separates her [Jane Whaley’s] doctrine from other evangelicals is that she believes that Satan employs an army of invisible demons on Earth — supernatural beings sent from hell to manipulate humans into addiction, illness and wrongdoing. But her followers weren't helpless. They could use what she called a prayer — a high decibel, dramatic, technical blasting, shouting and screaming to drive out those demons. So literally scare them away.

And over the years, it just developed from, you know, screaming and shouting, to doing everything possible to get rid of those demons, and that included punching, choking, restraining people and causing physical harm to cast out those devils.

I listened to a large part of this podcast on the radio a few days ago, and it includes secret recordings of an actual "blasting" session. Ironically, the "minister" who started the yelling contest at a young man who was apparently too concerned about his MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) scores, was an actual Medical Doctor himself. This guy's hateful screaming was bad enough, but when everybody else joined in I wanted to throw up. Here are some of the traits of modern-day cults like Spindale's:

The de-centred quality of the US religious landscape, the proliferation of storefront churches and ‘home churches’, not to mention the potential of the internet, makes it easier than ever for groups to splinter and fragment without the oversight of a particular religious or spiritual tradition. And some groups are, without a doubt, toxic. I’ve been to compounds, home churches and private churches where children are taught to obey community leaders so unquestioningly that they have no contact with the outside world; where the death of some children as a result of corporal punishment has gone unacknowledged by church hierarchy; or where members have died because group leaders discouraged them from seeking medical treatment.

I’ve spoken to people who have left some of these movements utterly broken – having lost jobs, savings, their sense of self, and even their children (powerful religious groups frequently use child custody battles to maintain a hold over members).

Word of Faith has mastered the art of taking children away from their parents:

Now, the AP has uncovered numerous instances in which Word of Faith leaders turned children against their parents, with the children then taken in or adopted by other church families. Ex-members told the AP of at least two dozen such cases, which they attributed to the church trying to keep minors from leaving the congregation.

One former congregant, for example, said Whaley pressured her into lying about her sister being abusive when the woman wanted to depart with her four children, leading to a protracted custody battle that resulted in the kids living with a prominent minister.

Another former follower told the AP he was separated from his biological family as a teenager and locked up for months until he began referring to another church couple as "mom and dad."

In every case, children's lives were under the total control of Whaley and the leaders enforcing her rules. They were educated in the church school and largely isolated from the outside world, and prohibited from watching television or celebrating their birthdays or Christmas. Any violations could be met with physical or verbal punishment.

Members have infiltrated the ranks (or Whaley recruited them) of local government social services, in order to violate the Constitutional rights of families. Rutherford County is solid red, and refuses to lift a finger to help these people. The same goes for their Senator (Ralph Hise), who has covered for this cult and accepted campaign contributions from them.

The state needs to step in, and to hell with their "religious freedoms." They made a mockery of that every time they took somebody's child away from them.

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