By JOHN MACARTHUR, USA TODAY Church leaders in the 1990s are credited with turning a Christian congregation into a Christian cult.
Now, with a new generation of followers following the teachings of the new generation, it appears that the “Unification Church” may have gone too far.
The church, which is now called The Kingdom of God, has become the focus of a new lawsuit filed Thursday by a Kentucky man who says he was sexually assaulted at the hands of a leader who led the church.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Louisville, James “Johnny” Williams says he and his wife, Rebecca, were at a meeting in the United Kingdom in 2013 when he says he heard a voice tell him to leave.
He was in the back of the church and told the group he was leaving.
In Kentucky, the lawsuit says the leader, Pastor David Henson, told the congregation that the church was “not for us,” the lawsuit said.
But it also says the “unification” group, which was led by Henson and other pastors, was “more dangerous than the original church.”
It’s not clear whether Henson was aware of the threat, but the lawsuit alleges Henson took part in the meeting.
He denies any wrongdoing and says he only saw what he thought was a group of people talking.
The lawsuit says he told his wife he was going to the police but was not taken to police station and that the group went on to burn down a church.
The lawsuit did not provide details about what happened to Williams and Rebecca.
The church in Louisville was one of the largest in the state at the time, and a number of former members of the congregation have come forward with claims of abuse, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuits claims the church “went far beyond the original intent of the founding members” and led to a “cult-like environment.”
In 2015, the Kentucky Department of Human Services issued a report calling for the disbanding of the denomination and for a “complete overhaul” of the leadership of the Louisville congregation.
The report also called for “reform” of how the group’s beliefs are taught.
In a statement, the ministry of the Unification Church said it has taken action against those who were members of its “Church of the Kingdom of Christ” and has suspended members who were “in any way associated with the group.”
“We deeply regret the harm we have caused to our members and the community, and will be working closely with our ministry and local law enforcement to ensure the safety and security of the people we serve,” the statement said.
The ministry of The Kingdom also released a statement in which it said that it was “aware of the claims made in the lawsuit” and would cooperate fully with the police investigation.
“As the congregation we have a strong belief in and love Jesus Christ and the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the ministry said.
“As a Christian group, we have our own beliefs, but we also have our faith in the love and healing of God and others.
As such, we do not condone any behavior that is contrary to that.
We also deeply regret any harm that was done to our community, our church, or our members.”
The Unification Kingdom has said in court filings that it has no plans to disband and that it intends to continue “in accordance with the teachings and policies of The Ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
A church spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.