Holy Holy

Five North Carolina Churchgoers Charged In “Demon-Freeing” Kidnapping Of Gay Man

Matthew Fenner

It seems not all churches believe in simply praying away the gay.

QNotes reports that five members of the Word of Faith Fellowship have been indicted on several felony charges following the alleged kidnapping and assault of a young gay man.

Matthew Fenner, a 21-year-old student, says his fellow churchgoers attempted to free him of his “homosexual demons” during a two-day assault that involved slapping, strangling, verbal assault, and threats of confinement. He also claims his story was not initially taken seriously by law enforcement and that it took several attempts to get a formal complaint filed over the incident, which he says occurred in January of 2013.

On Tuesday, a grand jury charged parishioners Justin Brock Covington, Brooke McFadden Covington, Robert Louis Walker Jr., and Adam Christopher Bartley with second degree kidnapping and simple assault charges, along with Sarah Covington Anderson, who was also charged with assault by strangulation.

Fenner says that during the attack he was surrounded by 15-20 college-aged men, who demanded he confess his homosexual sins and that “deliverance soon ensued” — at which time he was pushed, shaken, kicked, punched, beaten, screamed at, and told to repeat various phrases in an attempt to free him of his demons.

But Patrick Covington, a brother of one of the accused and a self-identified gay man, says Fenner’s story is a lie, as does the church’s attorney.

Located in Spindale, N.C., the Word of Faith Fellowship is no stranger to allegations of cult-like abuse. In 1995, its “blasting” technique — a method in which a detainee is encircled by church members and subjected to “high-pitched shrilling sounds, screams, and prayers” was the subject of an Inside Edition report.

While Fenner has since left the church, his mother and brother remain members and even testified against their kin in the grand jury deliberations.