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

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  1,361 ratings  ·  201 reviews
In 1979, Jane Whaley, a fiery preacher with a thick Southern drawl, attracted a small group of followers--twenty-two men and women drawn in by her passion, and promise that through prayer and deliverance, they could turn their lives around.

In the years since, Whaley's following has expanded to include thousands of congregants across three continents. In the eyes of her fol
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published February 18th 2020 by Hanover Square Press
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 ·  1,361 ratings  ·  201 reviews

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Jun 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"It was story after story of emotional and physical abuse—how children suffered, and how parents stood by and let it happen."

Broken Faith: Inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, One of America's Most Dangerous Cults is a well-written and well-researched account of the dangerous Word of Faith Fellowship cult.

At first I wasn't sure I would like this because it's written in the form of personal stories of some of the members and ex-members. Normally I prefer to read facts instead of human interest st
Judith E
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Thug and bully are not strong enough words to describe the evil devil, Jane Whaley. Her cult, the Word of Faith Fellowship, has manipulated the First Amendment of religious freedom to justify child abuse, torture of adults, and to control the sexual behavior of her membership.

I can’t stomach reading about the terrified upbringing these children have had and how the North Carolina justice system has repeatedly failed to protect them. The evil Whaley has coerced witnesses to lie in court, she has
Allison Sesame
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
It feels almost unbelievable that this sort of cult is still active today. This book was powerful and fascinating while at the same time horrifying. I could not put it down.
I sort of stumbled on this book by accident. I was searching for books on Scientology after watching the scathing documentary on the secretive religion, but this one struck my interest from the "if you like that then read this" pile. As a sociologist who regularly teaches about cults in relation to sociology of religion, I'm fascinated by how they form and entice/subdue members. I'll definitely be using this one in my classes for future discussion.

The Word of Faith Fellowship is an active churc
Feb 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to be clear about why I gave this three stars. The background reporting and research by the author are definitely five-star-worthy. The book is a great achievement in pulling together the different threads that combine to form a full picture of the Word of Faith Fellowship cult. It's just the writing that is so blah that it *almost* renders descriptions of horrible beatings and "blastings" mundane. If you have never heard of this cult, or of Jane Whaley, its leader, then this book will be ...more
Samantha Colwell
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How is this cult still active? I’m flabbergasted. I enjoyed this expressive look into the inner workings of a fundamentalist cult; the writing was vibrant and impactful. I’m unnerved by the fact that I live in the same state as this practicing cult.
Diane Yannick
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The hierarchy and psychology of cults has always been interesting to me. This one, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC, is alive and well today. Jane Whaley, an avid Trump fan, has risen to the level of sick stardom within her congregation, Word of Faith. First she and her closest associates make the potential member feel the love. Many people crave the sense of belonging that she aggressively sells. Once she had the newbies in her clutches, she begins to control their behavior. Her permission mus ...more
Cindy H.
Jun 02, 2020 rated it liked it
This was an eye opening read for me. Jane Whaley, leader of World of Faith Fellowship is an absolute criminal and someone abusing their position of power. Using coercion, blackmail, shaming, and a technique known as “blasting”, Ms. Whaley controls her followers in all aspects of their daily & personal lives. Shocking that this cult still continues, and law enforcement is still looking the other way.

This book suffered from information overload. Too many details, repetitive content and a lot of p
Alice Main
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is an absolute must-read. It will make you angry, sad, and terrified, but it is an eye-opening look at the horrors that are going on to this day inside the United States. I firmly disagree with the other reviews that claim this book is difficult to follow or has too many details. It is told chronologically, focusing on one extended family that escaped from a cult masquerading as a megachurch. This story will make you want to get up and do something. Read it as soon as possible.
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is maybe the heaviest cult book I've ever read. This book was written by an AP writer who also wrote the exposé on the word of faith fellowship, which you can read here

This book is PACKED with victim experiences and examples of abuse in the word of faith fellowship. I consume a lot of cult content and this was stunning. It has a lot of information and people cited, but you never feel like the information is irrelevant. There's so much that happens to
MM Suarez
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very well done, hard to read at times but very hard to put down!
Aug 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Carol Tilley
Dec 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, crime, scary
4.5 - excellent investigative journalism. Biography & Memoir
In a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, a little church has grown to a worldwide phenomenon, and has not escaped the attention of the press and law enforcement for its bizarre and --- in some instances --- illegal practices. Its history and the personal accounts of some of its congregants are collected here by investigative journalists Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr.

Word of Faith Fellowship was started from the inspiration of Sam Whaley, a former used car salesman. But once
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This story is incredible and infuriating. I feel like all that I wanted from this story was more, but the fact that it's nonfiction and none of the actual leaders will talk to journalists is no fault of the book. The slow but steady increase in the severity of abuse is so interesting to me, and the discussions around what is or is not a cult. Also the narrator Vivienne Leheny is stellar. ...more
Dennis Henn
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely horrifying account of a Christian cult still operating in N.Car. Through interviews with those who have left the church, detailed accounts are given of child abuse, adult abuse, slavery, intimidation of witnesses, mismanagement of money. The book left me wondering how money and muscle can destroy the legal system.
Why are people so easily duped? Why do we surrender our morals and conscience to follow evil people? Where is God when his children cry for deliverance and those in power try
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just slightly too comprehensive. I think some of the stories could have been shortened or eliminated. But the research is fantastic. I thought my cult was crazy. This place is insane. I can't believe how protected religions and cults are in America, even when there is evidence that they abuse, manipulate, and rob their members. END NON-PROFIT PROTECTIONS FOR RELIGIONS! End the acceptance of abuse as "religious freedom!" ...more
Melody Cook
It took me forever to get through this. It’s a dry read. Lots of information, so many (horrifying) stories. But overall, it’s just a collection of information about the Word of Faith Fellowship with very little analysis. In the epilogue, the writers briefly reflect on why Jane Whaley, the leader of WFF, is the way that she is and believes what she seems to believe. This was perhaps the most interesting paragraph in 300+ pages. The story is WFF is dark and unsettling, but I was looking for more/d ...more
Thomas A.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
According to this book, Word of Faith Fellowship in North Carolina is a crazy, power-hungry cult led by a woman with zero moral scruples who regularly broke laws with impunity because her church was wealthy enough to pay off local law enforcement to manipulate the legal system.

Although Jane Whaley regularly attacked her own church members for behaving "unbiblically," she broke so many commandments during a marathon of criminality that the authors were mystified why so few members of her congrega
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Broken Faith: Inside the Word of Faith Fellowship, One of America’s Most Dangerous Cults by Mitch Weiss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and Holbrook Mohr, an award-winning investigative journalist for the Associated Press, is a captivating, meticulously reported story on the evolution of Word of Faith Fellowship, an evangelical Christian ministry, under its leader Jane Whaley and lives destroyed by the secretive church.

Weiss and Mohr explore the appeal of the church and its leader Jane Wha
Jan 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I burned right through this one. Extremely readable and nicely crafted. I’m amazed I’ve never heard of this cult before, given how long it’s been going on, how huge it is, and just how horrific the details of abuse, imprisonment, and control are. Worse than all that was reading about the total lack of response from local and state law enforcement. I expected it to some degree, given how cults operate and how cops operate, but this story was on another level. They had complete control over not ju ...more
Feb 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
WOW. Well investigated and well written. Very upsetting. Absolutely recommend for anyone interested in cults and true crime. Sort of a non-spoiler spoiler that I wasn't thinking about as I read the book but is honestly right there in the title, THIS CULT IS STILL ACTIVE. Normally when I watch/read/listen to media about cults it is in the past. Think Heaven's Gate, Rajneesh movement, Jim Jones, etc. What makes this book incredibly upsetting is how long this cult has operated and the fact that it ...more
Jeff McIntosh
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
I am by no means a religious man, and yet, I remain fascinated by cult practices. I must add, however, that the term "cult" is considered by many to be pejorative - the more commonly accepted term is "new religious movement" (doesn't have quite the same flavor, does it?)

Wikipedia define a new religious movement as " a religious community or spiritual group of modern origins (since the mid-1800s), which has a peripheral place within its society's dominant religious culture". But I digress....

Rachel Sauer
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It was shocking to see a classic cult story and also be cognizant of the timeline. Word of Faith Fellowship is still going strong today despite countless interviews with an incredible amount of people who had left the church. High-ranking members boast working alongside Trump and this current presidential crew.

A dynamic story relaying several people’s accounts of life in this “church”, what is most heart-wrenching and appalling is how many social workers and policemen chose to turn a blind eye t
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Listened via audible

I don't necessarily think this is a 5 star book BUT its super disturbing and hello - in North Carolina! In truth, I could not read this entire book because it is so disturbing. Not on the abuse of children but the fact that this church is still alive and well. Jane Whaley has paid off so many people for so many years and has scared the crap out of her followers that she still is getting away with everything but murder (well, there is debate about even that!). In this day and
Krista theliterateporcupine
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's going to take at least a few days for this book to sink in. Told from the viewpoints of former Word of Faith members, this is the story of a religious group turned cult. Much of the information in this book is taken from "survivors'" stories.

"Broken Faith" is not an easy read, and there are many trigger moments in this book. Child abuse, physical and mental abuse, homophobia, and bullying encompass the narratives of survivors.

Shocking, eye-opening, and haunting, I would recommend this boo
May 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is all about power and control. Whaley and her followers exert their power through coercion, physical and psychological and emotional abuse, manipulation. Local law enforcement and officials want to keep their powerful positions and do so by turning a blind eye to everything that occurs within the WoFF community. They extend legal advice to the group, accept financial support in bids for local office, and disregard the complaints and testimony of escapees. I'm appalled by the blatant b ...more
Itasca Community Library
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Krista says:
Told from the viewpoints of former Word of Faith members, this is the story of a religious group turned cult. Much of the information in this book is told from the viewpoint of "survivors." Some of the events are so fantastical that it seems made up or at least blown out of proportion, but that is something readers must decide for themselves. "Broken Faith" is not an easy read, and there are many trigger moments in this book. Child abuse, physical and mental abuse, homophobia, and bu
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
How had I not heard of this group before?! Unlike most cults I’m familiar with, the undisputed leader is female. Jane Whaley’s Word of Faith Fellowship is grounded in Pentecostalism but on steroids, complete with the rage. Verbal and physical abuse keeps kids and adults in God’s good faith and under Whaley’s complete control. It’s sick and sad that this organization exists in current day America. Audio is fantastic!
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If any WOF member is reading this review and wants out, there is hope! Jesus said the thief (a false shepherd) comes to steal, kill and destroy. He is the good shepherd and has freedom from this prison for you. He gave his life for you. He does not beat his sheep, unlike your false shepherd Jane.

Jane, I’m sure you read the reviews. Your reign of violence and manipulation is running out. You are not smarter than your creator, who holds your very breath in His hand. God will not share His glory w
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

Mitch Weiss is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist for The Associated Press covering subjects ranging from the Vietnam War to corrupt real estate appraisers to the British Petroleum oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. He is the coauthor of The Yankee Comandante: The Untold Story of Courage, Pas

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