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

Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr. Hanover Square, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-335-14523-9
Journalists Weiss and Mohr provide a fast-paced, harrowing exposé of the Word of Faith Fellowship, an evangelical Christian ministry. Weiss and Mohr explore the appeal of the North Carolina church and its charismatic leader Jane Whaley by following the experiences of Rick and Suzanne Cooper, who joined the church with their six children in 1993. The Coopers grew increasingly devoted, even as Whaley exerted ever more control over the family, including forcing their children to live away from the family in Word of Faith housing and dictating when the couple could have more children. Whaley preaches a strict vision of spiritual warfare in which she singles out individuals at each service for “blasting”: long session of being violently berated and sometimes hit by other congregants in order to force the demons out, particularly accusing members of not sufficiently suppressing sexual desires. Defectors, including Suzanne’s sister, face orchestrated efforts to lure them back and discredit them. In 2014, after over two decades as congregants of Word of Faith, the Coopers left the church. The ballooning number of characters and some unresolved trajectories can make the narrative feel jumbled, but the stories of prolonged abuse and powerful control tactics are transfixing. This is catnip for readers who enjoy investigative reporting on shadowy organizations. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 11/27/2019
Release date: 02/18/2020
Genre: Religion
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