A North Carolina woman admitted in court last Friday that she led approximately 30 parishioners from her church to attack and beat a gay member of the church in an effort to “expel his demons,” Pink News is reporting.
Sarah Anderson is one of five members of the Word of Faith church in North Carolina in Spindale, N.C., who has been charged with assault on Matthew Fenner in 2013 and who spoke in court about the attack on Fenner.
Anderson said she believed Fenner was “unclean and sinful,” after the minister of the church, Brooke Covington, launched into a reported 2-hour long verbal assault on the man. The minister told Fenner that “God said there is something wrong in your life.”
In a testimony, Fenner said that Covington, who faces charges of kidnapping and assault, pointed out his sexual orientation during the attack which was intended to “expel his homosexual demons.” Fenner stated that the church members blocked him from leaving the church, slapped, beat, and choked him for two hours.
“You can’t imagine the emotional toll this has taken on my life,” the 23-year-old Fenner explained, adding that he feared for his life during the attack. Following the attack, the 23-year-old has revealed that he thought he was “going to die”.
According to reports, members of the non-denominational church have previously been a accused of being abusive to members. The AP also revealed from a series of interview with former members that “sinners” regularly faced the same type of attack that Fenner faced with punching, choking and beating being an accepted way of “expelling demons”.
News reported on this case by Pink News on June 3rd reports that Anderson could get up to 2 years in prison for what occurred.
Fenner is no longer a member of the church and he is now an anthropology student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His mother and brother are still members of the Spindale church and testified against Fenner in the grand jury deliberations.
LGBTQ individuals being targeted by religious organizations is nothing new, and this LGBTQ hate crime against Fenner is one tragic example of what happens to LGBTQ people in many religious organizations frequently.
Keep an eye out for updated news on whether or not the court treats this hate crime appropriately and gives Matthew Fenner the justice he deserves.