Controversial WNC church asks network not to run docu-series

FILE - Word of Faith Fellowship (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

An upcoming documentary series on A&E will center on the Word of Faith Fellowship in Rutherford County.

But the controversial church is raising ethical concerns about former members being paid to be in the documentary.

The church produced an image of a check and has asked A&E to decline to air this series, like it did in a 2016 documentary when participants were paid. A&E claims the church is taking its past practice out of context.

According to A&E's website the docu-series produced by Collins Avenue will feature former members of Word of Faith Fellowship who tell a different story from the church. For years, former members have left claiming violence with "blasting" prayers. Recently, some claimed they were forced to work without pay in an unemployment insurance fraud, which led to federal charges against business owners and church leaders.

The church's attorney said it has clear evidence participants in the documentary were paid, and because that could influence participants to tell a filmmaker what they want to hear, the church is asking A&E to pull the series. The church’s attorney points to a previous pulled documentary titled “Escaping the KKK,” in which a third-party producer paid participants. A&E declined to air the documentary.

The network claims that documentary didn't run because in that isolated case, paying members of a hate group, violated A&E's policy.

A network executive told News 13 that A&E considers itself an entertainment company not a news provider and pays documentary participants for missed days of work, child care and licensing for use of their video. According to the network executive, the six-part docu-series titled, “The Devil Next Door” was expected to start this week on A&E, but now is being held off for a future date for additional information.

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