CUFI Linked with Controversial “Demon-Blasting” Church

Charisma reports on Pastor John Hagee’s latest Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Washington Summit:

Participants said one of the most moving aspects of the summit was an art exhibit remembering the Holocaust created by students from the K-12 Christian school run by Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, N.C. The poignant paintings, drawings and sculptures captured not only the horror of the Holocaust but also the hope of Israel’s restoration, [CUFI Executive Director David] Brog said…

“What they produced is simply amazing,” Brog said. “Even students who have never really been artists [and] know very little about art produced such stunning works, works that reveal such a love of the Jewish people and such an appreciation of the horrors of the Holocaust and such a celebration of the renewal of Israel. Everyone who went there, including Holocaust survivors, were deeply, deeply touched.”

The exhibition also featured at a CUFI event in Charlotte last year.

Word of Faith’s website includes a section on its “Holocaust Project” and an associated “Museum“. The church has a whole team of pastors, although the most senior are Sam and Jane Whaley; in relation to the Charlotte event, CUFI in particular thanked

Leigh Valentine for bringing the Holocaust expressions…

A 2006 report in the North Carolina Daily Courier has some interesting background:

Valentine’s name was first associated with the WOFF back in the mid­ 1990s when she was mar­ried to televangelist Robert Tilton. In February 1995, T­he D­aily C­ourier published its first set of stories about the practices of the controversial church some call a cult.

Valentine and Tilton are mentioned in one of the first stories. Tilton trav­eled to Spindale and cred­ited Sam and Jane Whaley with saving his life through a blasting, or demon exorcising, experi­ence.

Tilton had recently been discredited through a series of media reports questioning the legitimacy of his ministry. He and Valentine later when through a contentious divorce.

Tilton is now remembered for cheesy TV shows that are almost self-parodies of televangelism; clips are widely available on YouTube, although many of these have alas been edited by scoffers who have added flatulence sound effects to create a popular series known as “the Farting Preacher”. WOFF leadership were listed as creditors in a cosmetics business run by Valentine which failed in 2006, leading to the Courier report; Valentine does not appear to have given an impressive performance in the bankruptcy court.

As the name suggests, WOFF is related to Kenneth Hagin’s “Prosperity Gospel” Word Faith movement, and the Whaleys have links with the Swedish Prosperity Gospel megachurch Livets Ord (a church which I mentioned previously in a blog entry here). However, the notion of exorcism through “blasting” is Jane Whaley’s original idea – and it has led to serious controversy. The church was the subject of a journalistic exposé in 1995, a follow-up to which can be seen below; the technique involves shouting and screaming at people to force the demons to leave them, and it was alleged that young children were subjected to this treatment, and to corporal punishment.

Further bad publicity came as the result of child custody cases involving church members; a 2003 Courier report states that the DSS regarded the church as an “abusive environment”.

Jane Whaley was interviewed by sociologist Michael W. Cuneo for his book American Exorcism (2001); Whaley told him that everyone is afflicted by demons and requires multiple exorcisms, including herself. She also clarified that it was not a “screaming” ministry; rather, the emphasis is on “wailing, groaning, and travailing” (p. 235). Cuneo also notes that WOFF has anti-Catholic views;  John Hagee also has an anti-Catholic record, although when this became controversial he backed away from his stance.