FBI raid at Hinesville church connected to search at another Ga. church
HINESVILLE, Ga. (WTOC/Coastal News Service) - The House of Prayer Church in Hinesville was raided by a swarm of FBI agents and police on Thursday morning.
The FBI states it was conducting a court-authorized search warrant. No arrests were being made today.
A group of men and women were seen standing outside one of the buildings on the property being guarded by law enforcement. Law enforcement maintained a perimeter around all three of the buildings belonging to the church.
WTOC saw FBI agents wearing shirts marked evidence response team walking around the property and some of them wearing gloves.
According to the FBI, this raid is connected to a second raid being conducted Thursday at a church in the Augusta, Ga. area. FBI agents were at the Assembly of Prayer church on Old Tobacco Road.
A third raid by the FBI happened in Killeen, Texas at Assembly of Prayer Christian Church, according to WTOC sister station KWTX. That church is near Fort Hood.
“I can confirm the FBI was executing court authorized law enforcement activity today in the vicinity of the intersection of Massey St. and E. Rancier Ave., in Killeen, Texas. No additional information will be released at this time,” FBI Special Agent Carmen Portillo said in an emailed statement to KWTX.
The FBI also would not confirm if this raid was connected to the ones in Hinesville and the Augusta area.
All three churches are near military posts, Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Fort Gordon in the Augusta area and Fort Hood in the Killeen area.
Protesters called church a ‘cult’
The House of Prayer Christian Church in Hinesville has been the center of controversy in the community for years, including protests.
In 2017, former church members voiced their very personal stories of abuse from the church. Members of the crowd shouted everything from insults directed at the church leader, Rony Denis, to stories of how the church separated their families.
Many of the protesters expressed their belief that the church is a cult.
“The concern is that he has made us merchandise. It’s no longer a church. It’s just a fraudulent, money-making empire. It used to be a church,” former church member Jenessa Wright said.
Many of the protesters identified themselves as part of a group of former church members and ministers.
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