FBI agents on Thursday stormed three churches across the South, all of which are located near military installations and have previously faced accusations of being cults.
One, the Assembly of Prayer Christian Church in Augusta, Georgia, is situated less than three miles from Fort Gordon and has for years been accused of sinister activities. Now, one ex-member is speaking out, comparing the organization to the infamous People's Temple and its leader to Jim Jones, who convinced more than 900 of his followers to commit "revolutionary suicide" in 1978 .
Former parishioner Gladys Jordan told The Daily Beast on Friday that she hasn't been able to see her 28-year-old son, Cesar Vargas, since she left the church nearly six years ago.
"Basically, you leave the church and you're excommunicated," Jordan said. "That's it, they separate you from your family. I haven't had contact with my son since I left in September 2016. Every time I call him, he doesn't even call me mom, he says, 'Ma'am, how did you get this number?'"
Vargas, who has previously dismissed the "cult" label , is now some $50,000 in debt thanks to the church, where he serves as a minister, Jordan continued. He has never held a real job, she said, and dug himself into such a severe financial hole by spending money he didn't have on materials necessary to conduct services.
"And I know because my son still receives mail at my house," Jordan said, adding, "The cult leader, Rony Denis, is infatuated with Jim Jones. This is a modern-day Jim Jones cult. That's my scare, that he's gonna take my son to another country and do the same thing that Jim Jones did."
Denis lives in Augusta, according to local reports . He has not been charged with a crime, and no arrests were reported following the raid. The Assembly of Prayer is also known as the House of Prayer, and the names are used interchangeably, Jordan said.
The voicemail on Denis' cellphone was full on Friday, and he was unable to be reached for comment.
In 2020, advocacy group Veterans Education Success called for an investigation into allegations of abuses of the GI Bill program at the House of Prayer Christian Church's seminaries. Veterans alleged that the church "targets veterans in order to access GI Bill funding, VA disability compensation, and VA home loans," according to a letter asking the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to probe the organization .
The church intentionally picks locations near military bases, where it can draw from a steady stream of service members with steady paychecks and educational benefits under the GI Bill, Jordan alleged.
"They have a fraudulent Bible college and a so-called 'home' for the soldiers," she told The Daily Beast. "They bring them in and give them a home-cooked meal, and from there… they have them lie to the VA to get into the Bible college, they steal their benefits, and they never get a diploma from there that's worth anything because it's not valid."
In a statement to the Augusta Chronicle , a Fort Gordon spokesperson said, "Fort Gordon was aware of the organization called the Assembly of Prayer Church through our law enforcement channels but the installation had no bans against the organization or any official dealings with them (despite their websites claims)."
The Assembly of Prayer Christian Church in Killeen, Texas, was also raided by federal agents early Thursday. The church stands just under six miles from Fort Hood , the most populous U.S. military installation on the planet. Dozens of reviews of the church on Google and Facebook make allegations that the congregation is a "cult" which has habitually recruited Fort Hood soldiers, according to the Killeen Daily Herald .
Amber Fitz-Randolph, a local resident and administrator of the Ft. Hood Fallen Facebook page, which honors servicemen who have died, told The Daily Beast in a text message that from what she had heard from within the Ft. hood community, House of Prayer/Assembly of Prayer is "absolutely a cult."
"The ones in Killeen were sneaking into barracks at all hours to torment and threaten soldiers who wanted to stop going, or wouldn't give them enough money," said Fitz-Randolph.
And on Thursday morning federal agents executed a separate warrant at the House of Prayer Church in Hinesville, Georgia, which is located around six miles from Fort Stewart. In a statement, the FBI told WTOC it was conducting a court-authorized search warrant and that no arrests had been made.
The station also reported that the church has been the subject of controversy for years, with former members sharing allegations of abuse and leaders isolating worshippers from their families.
"The concern is that he has made us merchandise," former member Jessica Wright told WTOC. "It's no longer a church. It's just a fraudulent, money-making empire."
The FBI confirmed to KWTX that the raids in Hinesville and Augusta were connected, but it's not yet clear if the Killeen search was part of the same investigation.
To Jordan, the raids came as welcome news, she told The Daily Beast.
"I tell everybody, if the FBI wants to put all of us in a room, each and every one of us will give our testimony [about House of Prayer]."
- ‘One of America’s Most Dangerous Cults’ Insists It Wants to Spread God’s Love: What Ex Members Say Really Goes on Inside
- Children of the damned: How my mother gave me to a sinister cult as a baby
- Lori Vallow's niece DENIES she knows where the missing children are as its revealed she met with FBI on three separate occasions
- Jonestown Cult Victim’s Daughter Was Haunted Until Her Death: 'I Wish that Bullet that Got Mom Had Killed Me’
- I Brought Down a Cult: Ex-Member Helped Catch the Child Molester Running an Egyptian-Themed Sect
- Mock Suicide Drills, Child Labor and Armed Guards: Inside Jonestown in the Days Before Mass Poisoning
- Movies on TV this week: Sunday, Mar. 1: ‘Seven Days in May’ on TCM and more
- Will Black Voters Save Doug Jones?
- Ex-white supremacist group leader is charged over 'swatting' calls targeting Virginia residents including a former member of Trump's cabinet
- Legal System practices Catholic "Dangerous Psychology" is Demonic
- Socrates of the streets
- Tribeca Fest 2020 Sets Feature Film Lineup With 95 World Premieres
- From Weiner to Making A Murderer: this is the golden age of documentaries
- In search of the real Philip Larkin
- Judges practice their Catholic upbringing in Court: A Cruel Trap
- FMIA, NFL Scouting Combine: Thirty Bits of Buzz From the Scene in Indy
- Kris Kristofferson: The Last Outlaw Poet
- When Blago Gets Home Let's Talk About Calls He Got From Pritzker
- Imagine a world without YouTube
- PlayStation Plus March 2020: all the free PS4 games you can get this month
|Jim Jones: A Day in the Fastlife$11.17||Occult Principles In Modern Day Life check it now at Amazon||Disney Jim Shore Modern Day Mickey Mouse Figurine5.0★ / check it now at Amazon||Jim Shore for Enesco Disney Traditions Modern Day Mickey Figurine, 6.125-Inch check it now at Amazon||Blood and Honey The Secret Herstory of Women: South Slavic Women's Experiences in a World of Modern-day Territorial Warfare$59.95||Angels in My Hair: The True Story of a Modern-Day Irish Mystic$9.99||Kings of the Grail: Discovering the True Location of the Cup of Christ in Modern-Day Spain$12.01||Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood$13.49||UnCivil War: A Modern Day Race War in the United States$11||Tales from Shakespeare: Henry V: Retold in Modern Day English check it now at Amazon||Sales-Side Negotiation: Negotiation Strategies for Modern-day Sales People (From Great Moments in History)$5.94||Dancing in the Fire: A Modern Day Encounter with Rumi$9.99||Tales from Shakespeare: Twelfth Night: Retold in Modern Day English check it now at Amazon||Tales from Shakespeare: Hamlet: Retold in Modern-day English check it now at Amazon||Tales from Shakespeare: Julius Caesar: Retold in Modern Day English check it now at Amazon||Medicine Wheel Ceremonies: Ancient Philosophies for Use in Modern Day Life (Native American (Paperback)) check it now at Amazon||The Modern-Day Pioneer: Simple Living in the 21st Century$6.48||City Son: Andrew W. Cooper's Impact on Modern-Day Brooklyn (Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies)$27.65||Gang Intelligence Manual: Identifying And Understanding Modern-Day Violent Gangs In The United States$9.5||Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood (Focus on the Family)$23||In Lieu of a Dragon Tale: A Modern Day Fable for the Young at Heart$9.99||Tomorrow You Go Home: One Man's Harrowing Imprisonment in a Modern-Day Russian Gulag check it now at Amazon||The DNA Selling Method: Strategies For Modern-Day Sales People in the From Great Moments in History Series check it now at Amazon||Crafty Bastards: Beer in New England from the Mayflower to Modern Day$17.57||Written in Stone: An entertaining time-travelling jaunt through the Stone Age origins of our modern-day language$29.99||The Most Loving Place in Town: A Modern Day Parable for the Church check it now at Amazon||Our Father Who Art in Hell: The Life and Death of Jim Jones$20.95||Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan check it now at Amazon||The Most Daring Raid of World War II: D-Day-Pointe-Du-Hoc (Most Daring Raids in History)$35.45||Hey God!: Modern Day Miracles in the Lives of an Italian-American Family$0.01||Not in My Town: Exposing and Ending Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery$19.99||To Skin The Cat: A comedy adventure mystery based in modern day Las Vegas. check it now at Amazon||Off in Zora: A Modern-Day Tale of a Traveling Bookseller$7.99||Salvation and Suicide: An Interpretation of Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and Jonestown (Religion in North America)$20.95||An Unusual Story: The True, Sad, Quirky and Even Funny Tale of a Christian's Survival in Modern-Day Iran$16.95||In My Father's House the Story of the Layton Family and the Reverend Jim Jones check it now at Amazon||Angels in Savannah: A Modern Day Fantasy check it now at Amazon||Malignant Pied Pipers of Our Time: A Psychological Study of Destructive Cult Leaders from Rev. Jim Jones to Osama bin Laden$10.7||At Home in the Heart of Alaska: Modern Day Pioneers check it now at Amazon||Proven in Battle; Tells story and life of a Modern Day True American Hero, Jonathan Kephart check it now at Amazon||Bloodlines: Fictional story about old world pirates set in modern day times$5.78||Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Fathers Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood by Robert Lewis (Nov 16 2012) check it now at Amazon||Human Trafficking Handbook: Recognising Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery in the UK5.0★ / $14.57||Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan check it now at Amazon||Divorce- No Law No Order: A modern day cage fight fought in Divorce Court - A story about money and cruelty.4.5★ / check it now at Amazon||Grandma's Ways for Modern Days: Reviving Traditional Skills in Cookery, Gardening and Household Management$26.62||The Modern-Day Service Professional : Succeeding in the Hospitality Industry check it now at Amazon||Death of a Cult Family: Jim Jones (Days of Tragedy)$28.26||S.O.S!: Success Over Stress For the Modern Day (Anti-Aging) Mom in Motion! Plus The Motivating Manual check it now at Amazon||Major Events in World History: 50 Defining Moments from Ancient Civilizations to the Modern Day (People and Events in History)$12.99|
‘Modern-Day Jim Jones Cult’ in FBI Raid Targets Vets, Ex-Parishioner Says have 1922 words, post on www.thedailybeast.com at June 24, 2022. This is cached page on USA Breaking News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.