Church Blocks Gay Rights Group
Updated: Friday, March 8 2013, 09:52 PM EST
"Even some of the most anti-gay churches that I have come in contact with, would never think of exposing someone to the type of practices that individuals that have come out of that church have said they were exposed to," said Brent Childers of the national non-profit gay rights group Faith in America.
Childers says this was largely the reason he emailed a guest speaker set to visit Spindale's Word of Faith church Wednesday night, warning her of the church's controversial past.
His email then prompted the church's attorney Joshua Farmer to send him a strongly worded letter warning him that he, nor his colleagues, were welcome at the event.
"All I know is his email disturbed the speaker," said Farmer.
"His statements that have been made against our church have been very aggressive in the past," said Farmer. "We're wise to take certain appropriate measures in response to those attacks."
Childers said he never had any intention of attending the event. His group monitors religiously condoned persecution against the LGBT community and he has been following Word of Faith for month, and has issued several press releases regarding developements related to the church. The releases are what Farmer calls "attacks".
"The number of former church members that I have personally spoken with who say that yes you are targeted for harsh-type discipline if you are gay or perceived to be gay," said Childers.
One former member told News 13 that they were put in isolation, verbally abused, targeted and segregated by other members who perceived them to be gay.
"We absolutely have nothing to hide," said Farmer. "These folks continue to attack our church."
"It's pretty clear to me that the reason that they were using that type of intimidation, that type of threats was because of our involvement in the Michael Lowery story," said Childers.
The FBI began looking into the church in response to hate crime allegations made by 21-year-old Michael Lowery, who fled the church after he initially said he was beaten for being gay.
A grand jury heard his case and voted to charge three church members with assault, but days before the Rutherford County District Attorney says he was prepared to recommend an indictment, Lowery returned to the church and recanted his allegations.