Losing Faith & Family: Church accused of stealing children - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Losing Faith & Family: Church accused of stealing children

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(NEWS 8) — A recent investigation by the Associated Press found that a secretive evangelical church has allegedly used lies and intimidation to bring in and keep children.  

Critics of Word of Faith Fellowship say kids are exposed to sometimes violent church practices.  

Mother of four Shana Muse, still feels deep heartache, when she watches a video from more than a decade ago, of her own son telling her to go away. 

"I'm angry at these people," said Shana.  

On the video her son can be heard saying, "you're not my mommy and we want nothing to do with you. We love the people we're with." 

In trouble for drugs, and writing bad checks years ago, single mom Shana turned to Word of Faith Fellowship for help.  Instead, she says, leaders at the Spindale, North Carolina church stole her faith and her children, raising them as their own and fighting her in court.   

"Finally hope just left me and I didn't want to live anymore," Shana said.  

Three of her four children have since left the church and reunited with Shana and she's hoping the fourth will come home soon. 

Critics of the church question its tactics, alleging people are beaten and screamed at in so-called "blasting sessions" meant to drive out demons.  

In a 2-year investigation, the AP found a number of cases in which leaders and members allegedly used lies and intimidation to bring children into the church and keep them there. 

Keela Blanton says it happened to her nine years ago when a church member offered to care for her newborn, so she could turn her life around. Keela hasn't seen her son in five long years. 

"Momma didn't do it," Keela said. "Momma didn't walk away. I love you with all my heart, everything that's in me. I love you." 

An attorney speaking on behalf of church founder Jane Whaley said: "The notion that church members separate children from their parents at Ms. Whaley's urging is preposterous." 

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