The combination of a viral outbreak and social media is turning toxic in North Carolina, with threats being made against a church that include arson and lynching.
Rumors that the secretive and controversial Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale is fueling its host county’s high rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases has sparked some chilling social media threats against the congregation.
One person on Facebook called for an “old timey lynching.”
County officials have refused to give specifics about where clusters of coronavirus cases are located, citing federal and state privacy laws. The vacuum of information has generated widespread speculation that Word of Faith — a subject of debate in and around Rutherford County for years — is fueling the pandemic.
On its website, Word of Faith says only that it has been “100 percent compliant” with state and county health directives about the coronavirus. “Any suggestion to the contrary is reckless, defaming and a dangerous incitement to violence,” the church said.
The church’s statement did not indicate whether any of its members were suffering from COVID-19.
Despite Facebook’s public statements about hate speech, some posts about the church are startlingly violent and threatening, according to the Charlotte Observer.
“Could we just lock up the woff compound and burn it to the ground with them inside? That way, we can open up the rest of the county,” one post reads.
Another commenter says that if officials “just eradicated that compound & made it a crater this might get (the disease) under control.”
Other posts singled out Jane Whaley, the church’s founder: Said one: “If I had money and I knew where she lived, I’d burn her house down.”
“Sick woman all I can say! Hope they arrest her and everyone else involved,” wrote another. “Burn the place to the ground while at it! Show her the (expletive) devil.”