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Gwen Shamblin Lara’s Son Addresses Child Abuse Death of Boy Whose Parents Were Remnant Church Members

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Screenshots from YouTube / @newschannel5

“Get real,” says Michael Shamblin to Remnant Fellowship Church, which was founded by his now-deceased mother, Gwen Shamblin Lara. “Get real for once, and quit pretending to be the perfect place.”

Shamblin used to be a leader in Remnant but is finally speaking out on a group he now views as a “cult.” He told NewsChannel 5’s Phil Williams that the church needs to acknowledge the harm it has caused to many, including 8-year-old Josef Smith, who died in 2003. Josef’s parents, Joseph and Sonya Smith, were convicted of murdering their son through abuse and are now serving a life sentence in prison. 

RELATED: Son of Gwen Shamblin Lara Speaks Out on ‘Narcissist’ Mother and Her ‘Cult’: ‘It’s Like I Woke Up From a 20-Year Dream’

In the final installment of Shamblin’s interview with Williams, which has been airing in segments over the past two weeks, Michael Shamblin discussed Josef Smith’s death and said that Remnant needs to “take the damn filter off.”

Michael Shamblin: ‘People Have Been Hurt’

Michael Shamblin used to be a worship leader at Remnant Fellowship Church, which his mother founded in 1999 in Brentwood, Tennessee. Gwen Shamblin Lara, her husband Joe Lara, and five other people died in a plane crash in 2021. Michael Shamblin’s sister, Elizabeth Hannah, remains a leader in the church.

Shamblin first met investigative reporter Phil Williams over 20 years ago when Williams interviewed Gwen Shamblin Lara and Remnant leader Tedd Anger about Josef Smith’s death and the church’s posture toward disciplining children.

Shamblin said that when he first met Williams, he saw Williams as the enemy. But now Shamblin sees Williams as a “hero” and Gwen Shamblin Lara as a “narcissist.” 

During his interview segments that have already aired, Shamblin shared insights into his mother’s motivations and Remnant’s methods of controlling its members. Shamblin Lara was driven by “praise, power,” said Michael Shamblin. “She loved the attention. She loved the spotlight.”

The last part of Williams’ interview with Shamblin focused on Joseph and Sonya Smith, who in 2007 were convicted of murdering their 8-year-old son. The Max docuseries, “The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin,” addresses Josef’s death, implying that the Smiths’ actions were influenced by Remnant’s teachings on the use of corporal punishment and emphasis on children obeying their parents.

Testimony given in the case said that the Smiths beat their son with glue sticks and heated coat hangers, used rope to tie his hands, and locked “him in confined spaces for extended periods of time.” In 2010, the Georgia Supreme Court reviewed the case and upheld the Smiths’ conviction.