Home Christian News FBI Raids Churches Near Military Bases; Former Members Warn of Cult

FBI Raids Churches Near Military Bases; Former Members Warn of Cult

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U.S. Soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, drag a SKED Medical Rescue System 400 meters during the Iron Legion competition at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Nov. 26, 2013. The Iron Legion Competition was a grueling physical event that pitted each platoon with the 7th Infantry Division, against each other as they raced against the clock to finish an array of obstacles. Sgt. Ryan Hohman, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In three states last week, the FBI conducted raids of properties connected to the House of Prayer Christian Church. The organization, which also uses the name Assembly of Prayer, is active near U.S. military bases and for years has faced allegations of cult-like activity.

No arrests were made during the June 23 raids, and the FBI has not yet issued a statement about the raids or its investigation. But former church members and a veteran advocacy group claim that House of Prayer and its leaders target soldiers and their military benefits.

House of Prayer Churches in Three States Raided by FBI

Last Thursday, FBI agents entered House of Prayer locations in Georgia, Texas, and Washington state. The church campus in Hinesville, Georgia, is eight miles from Fort Stewart, and its campus near Augusta, Georgia, is just outside a gate of Fort Gordon.

In Killeen, Texas, the FBI raided an Assembly of Prayer Christian Church less than four miles from Fort Hood, the most populous U.S. military installation on earth. And in Tacoma, Washington, the raid occurred near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

An FBI spokesperson confirmed that agents were executing search warrants. Local police and sheriff’s offices were seen assisting investigators in each area.

A Fort Gordon spokesperson says the base “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 any claims on the church’s website.

The base’s law enforcement team had received reports “of recruiting/solicitation attempts by the church members,” the spokesperson confirms, adding that “there were no incidents, confrontations, arrests, or anything of this nature as a result.”

What Is the House of Prayer?

According to incorporation records, the House of Prayer Christian Church is owned by a foreign nonprofit and uses Hinesville, Georgia, as its mailing address. Of the group’s 12 churches, 11 are located near military installations. House of Prayer also operates Bible colleges in Georgia, Texas, Washington state, and Fayetteville, North Carolina (near Fort Bragg).

House of Prayer leader Rony Denis, who lives in Augusta, Georgia, has not been charged with any crimes related to the raids. Little is known about Denis, though some critics question whether he has ties to Haiti. Former church members claim that he and other leaders harass and retaliate against critics.

Former church members—and relatives of current members—characterize Denis as a “modern-day Jim Jones,” referring to the Peoples Temple cult leader responsible for mass suicides in Guyana in 1978.

Gladys Jordan, a former House of Prayer member whose 28-year-old son still belongs to the church, says Denis “is infatuated with Jim Jones.” She fears “that he’s gonna take my son to another country and do the same thing that Jim Jones did.” Her son is now $50,000 in debt because of the church, she says, and has cut off all communication with her.