At the 2014 conference for the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA), I was in a conference filled with cult survivors. We were sitting in a large circle, some of us child survivors, some parents who had been lured, yet all of us had one commonality, we were victims. We shared openly, and a comradely connection swept through the room.
There was a man with a great sense of humor who seemed to interject at just the right time with softly funny quips that seemed to break moments of heaviness. He had a gentle smile and kind demeanor. John Huddle, survivor of Word of Faith Fellowship cult and author of LOCKED IN, ended up spending time with our group of survivors. It was a great connection of healing and realizing that none of us were alone. I was thrilled to meet another author, and we exchanged our books with each other.
Huddle’s book, LOCKED IN, opens with a young John, innocent minded, with a heart to do good in his community, a working man who volunteered at his local church. He meets a like-minded woman and soon marries. Life seems fulfilling, with Christian oriented goals of giving and helping in the community. But this simple life quickly takes a turn when a woman named Jane Whaley enters the scene. John’s church, formerly led by Gerald and Linda Southerland, merges with the Whaley ministry and morphs into what would be re-titled as Word of Faith Fellowship. Jane Whaley rules her congregation with an iron fist. Her intensive and extensive set of rules are strenuous, dictating everything from styles of dress to her members’ employment, relationships, how children should be disciplined and much more. In time, John and his wife have a family, but as his family grows, so does the sadistic, abusing and controlling environment and rituals set out by Jane Whaley. The congregation travels to Brazil on recruiting trips. Over time, John becomes conflicted. He struggles to come to terms with the truth of what he is embedded in. Eventually, John is forced to make a decision that will ultimately change his life forever.
LOCKED IN is an excellently written, compelling and fast read. Well-crafted with a style that can be related with, LOCKED IN allows the reader to follow the slow unfolding of religious based mind control on an adult. The question of how an adult is slowly lured, turned and trapped into an abusive cult is lain out with brilliant precision. With an informative forward by Lorna Goldberg, L.C.S.W, Psy.D, former President of International Cultic Studies Association, and quoting cult experts such as Janja Lalich, PhD, LOCKED IN tells the story of how innocent humans are preyed upon by swindlers who use religion to extract everything they can from their victims.
I recently had the honor to guest host one of their broadcasts and sit down to talk with John about the experiences he details in LOCKED IN. John also discussed the current court case involving assault victim, Matthew Fenner by members of Word of Faith Fellowship. Click below to listen to John’s interview.
John’s blog is a hub which details the history and the current drama involving the criminality of WOFF. To stay abreast with the current events of the WOFF criminal case, follow John’s blog. Word of Faith Fellowship has been deemed an extremely brutal cult and is currently charged with human trafficking of its Brazil members.