NC Senate candidate denied tour of Word of Faith Fellowship after bringing media

David Wheeler feels like the church broke its promise

WYFF NBC News 4, North Carolina/August 1, 2018

By Joe Ripley

Rutherford County, North Carolina — A North Carolina legislative candidate feels a Spindale church reneged on its promise. David Wheeler, a Democrat running for NC Senate District 47, says officials from Word of Faith Fellowship Church invited him for a meeting and to tour the church.

However, when Wheeler showed up with a former member and several local news crews, church staff turned him away.

“I’m sorry, this is private property and we’re asking you to leave,” one woman told Wheeler. "We have asked you to leave. No, the cameras will go off our property right now.”

At one point, a staff member threatened to call the police. Law enforcement showed up on the church grounds soon after, and they patrolled the area through the afternoon.

“I was genuinely surprised, very disappointed," Wheeler told WYFF News 4. "We put a lot of effort into preparing for the meeting. The issue seemed to be press and cameras.”

Word of Faith Fellowship Church has a cloud of controversy hanging over it. Former members accused the church of physically abusing a gay man by "trying to beat a demon out of him." Others have complained about how children are treated at the church, saying some at the church have verbally tormented kids.

While the church fights a state investigation and criminal allegations, it seems no one from the media can get onto the property. Joshua Farmer, the church's attorney, says the meeting with Wheeler was private, and media members were not invited.

"We weren’t interested in your presence or anyone else’s presence," Farmer said. "It’s pretty straightforward. It’s our decision to make."

Wheeler said he will try to meet with one of the church pastors later in a one-on-one setting with no media present.

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