Leaders of the non-denominational Imperial Valley Ministries appear to have devised a new form of clergy abuse. They are alleged to have imprisoned dozens of homeless, forcing them to panhandle 9 hours/day on the church’s behalf .
The church’s programs are billed as drug rehabilitation. Destitute men and women were lured with offers of free food and shelter, along with promises of the funds to return home. Instead, victims were required to adhere to strict rules, and denied food if they disobeyed.
Church members held them captive in group homes with deadbolts, taking their identification documents from them. In some locations, windows were, also, nailed shut.
Meanwhile, church leaders stole Food Stamps and Welfare benefits from victims, threatening to remove children, if their parents tried to leave. Others were told their loved ones had abandoned them and only God loved them.
Whatever this was, it was not Christianity.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…Many will say to Me in that day, ‘…have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ “ (Matt. 7: 21-23).
 USA Today, “A church needed money, so members held homeless people captive and forced them to beg, prosecutors say” by N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 9/11/19, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/11/church-held-homeless-people-hostage-forced-them-beg-feds-say/2285143001.
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