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This church kidnapped, beat and traumatised gay people to turn them straight. Now its leader has fallen victim of gun crime

Josh Milton May 1, 2020
Former member of ex-gay church breaks into leader's home with a gun

Stephen Cordes. (Facebook/Rutherford County Sheriff's Department)

A former member of an American church roiled with allegations of ex-gay torture has been accused of breaking into the cult leader’s home with a gun.

North Carolina law enforcement arrested Stephen Cordes on April 26 after being caught inside the homer of Word of Faith Fellowship minister Brooke Covington.

Rutherford County authorities said that Codes was found armed with a handgun in a closet in Covington’s residence. With a shotgun found in the trunk of his car, police were called to the scene and disarmed and arrested him, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Cordes told ABC 13WLOS that he allegedly has no recollection of the night after smoking marijuana and blacking out, he claimed: “I don’t know how I ended up there [in Convingenton’s house].”

In 2017, a congregant at the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale claimed that church leaders trapped him after a prayer session before they slapped and choked him to expel his “homosexual demons”.

Church at centre of ex-gay controversy now accused of hoarding coronavirus cases. 

Cordes was a member of the church until 2017. His parents, however, both remain members.

He expressed on a Facebook post seen by police that he feared in April that loved ones who still belong to the group might be exposed to the coronavirus. Cordes also lashed out against the church in numerous posts, too.

“If anything happens to my family that is still in there so help me,” he wrote in an April 8 post.

In a phone call from jail, Cordes claims that he was in the town

The secretive sect has, yet again, become a lightning rod for controversy after Spindale locals accused the church of harbouring an outbreak of COVID-19. The accusations were seeded as the county’s confirmed rate of the disease continues to climb.

While having a population of less than 70,000, it has suffered around 420 cases at the time of writing.

As county health officials refuse to release specifics of where the coronavirus clusters are, this information vacuum has heightened paranoia among locals.

Word of Faith’s attorneys claimed that three church members who were sickened with COVID-19 have died.

‘We believe it is clear that he intended to do her, and perhaps others, physical harm.’

Sherif Joshua Farmer stated that Corde has been charged with breaking and entering to terrorise and injure, as well charged with two drug offences including a felony.

He noted: “We believe it is clear that he intended to do her, and perhaps others, physical harm.”

The church was founded in 1979 by Sam and Jane Whaley, tucked in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains between Charlotte and Asheville.

Members considered Whaley a prophet, where members alleged that church leaders dictated the minutia of their lives and armed security patrolled the premises.

Many of the inner workings of the groups were catapulted into the public eye after Matthew Fenner claimed that church members assailed him. He also said he was subjected to “blasting” – a form of intense screaming – to try and cure his “homosexual demons”.

More: Crime, Religion, US, Word of Faith Church

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