Gay Man Says Evangelical Church Members Tried To Beat The 'Homosexual Demons' Out Of Him

Photo: WSPA-TV

This is outrageous!

A gay North Carolina man says that members of his evangelical church beat him in an effort to for the "homosexual demons" from his body.

In his court testimony, Matthew Fenner said that as he endured two hours of relentless abuse, he thought that he was "going to die."

Photo: WSPA-TV

More from the AP report:

Matthew Fenner was the first person to take the stand in the assault and kidnapping trial of Brooke Covington, a 58-year-old minister at Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina.

Fenner, 23, said Covington was the leader in a 2013 beating involving numerous congregants. He said Covington pointed out his sexual orientation, saying, “God said there is something wrong in your life.”

Fenner said he had cancer as a child and had a biopsy one week before he was assaulted.

“I’m frail and in my mind, I’m thinking, ‘is my neck going to break, am I going to die?”‘ Fenner said.

Covington faces up to two years in prison if convicted. She is the first of five church members to face trial in the case. Each defendant will be tried separately.

Prosecutor Garland Byers said during opening statements that Covington “directed and participated in” the assault.

The Washington Post adds:

When Fenner brought the allegations three years ago, it was not the first time the church had been accused of beating members over their sexual orientation. Two years earlier, former church member Michael Lowry said he was beaten and held against his will at the church as an effort to eliminate his gay demons.

Lowry testified before a grand jury, but about a year later, the same month Fenner says he was beaten and strangled, Lowry rejoined Word of Faith and took back his allegations. He has since left the church, and later said in a statement that his original claims are true.

The Word of Faith, opened by Jane and Sam Whaley in 1979 in a former steakhouse, began with a handful of followers and grew to a 750-member congregation in North Carolina. Eventually another 2,000 members would join affiliated churches in Brazil, Ghana and other countries.

The church was described in a 2012 profile in the Charlotte Observer as a diverse and close-knit congregation with an ecstatic style of worship. Sometimes members would hop, sway, shout prayer songs and speak in tongues. “God has freed us” to be loud, Whaley would say.