A North Carolina man has described being attacked and beaten at a church prayer service — because he is gay.
According to the Washington Post, Matthew Fenner told police that more than 2o people — including a church leader — surrounded him after a meeting at the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale in January 13.
Fenner reportedly said the fellow church members beat on him for two hours, punching him and at one point grabbing his throat and shaking him.
His alleged assailants wanted “to break me free of the homosexual demons they so viciously despise,” Fenner told the news station WSPA.
Brooke Covington is the church leader accused of organizing and participating in the assaults. She and four other members of the Word of Faith fellowship were arrested in connection to the alleged assault.
At Covington’s trial this week, Fenner testified he thought he was going to die when he was allegedly being choked.
“I’m frail and in my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Is my neck going to break, am I going to die?’ Fenner reportedly said in court, according to the Associated Press [AP].
The AP conducted an investigation of longstanding allegations against the church in February. The investigation found that World of Faith leaders and members had repeatedly been violent towards church members in targeted assaults “meant to ‘purify’ sinners by beating out devils.”
According to the Daily News, one of the co-defendants testified against Covington at the trial, admitting her own participation on the alleged assault and kidnapping.
Sarah Anderson admitted that she told other congregation members that Fenner was guilty of a “sexual sin” and hit him in the face on the day he says he was beaten.
Anderson also reportedly said that congregation members told her lie about what happened.
Covington faces up to two years in prison if convicted. All of the accused will be tried separately.
Photo: Associated Press