Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents raided the House of Prayer Christian Church on the morning of June 23. The church is located near Airport Road in Hinesville.
For years, former members of the church said it was less a church and more a cult.
According to Courier correspondent Lewis Levine, law enforcement officers were seen carrying weapons around the church and a group of women and men were seen standing outside one of the buildings on the guarded property. by a female officer with a gun.
According to various news agencies, two other churches affiliated with House of Prayer were also raided on June 23. One was the Prayer Assembly in Augusta, the other was the Prayer Assembly Church in Killeen, Texas.
House of Prayer church leader Rony Denis is believed to live in Augusta.
“I can confirm that the FBI is on scene executing a court-authorized search warrant,” said Jenna Sellitto, FBI Atlanta public affairs officer. “No arrests have been made. Our investigation is ongoing so I cannot provide further details at this time.”
Although the FBI cannot comment on the ongoing investigation, several former members have alleged child abuse, lack of accredited education for children, real estate fraud and fraud committed against veterans.
In August 2020, a letter was sent to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Georgia State Endorsement Agency by a group called Veterans Education Success, asking them to investigate alleged abuses of the GI Bill program by the Bible seminars of the House of Prayer Christian Church.
The letter stated:
“We recently received complaints from former students of the House of Prayer Christian Church (HOPCC). A Veterans Education Success staff attorney interviewed several former students, a current student, and former employees. Contact information for each student and employee are provided at the end of this letter. The information presented here is compiled from those interviews as well as publicly available information. Based on the interviews, Veterans Education Success respectfully requests that a targeted review based on the risk is performed on the HOPCC.
Some of the allegations in the letter include:
- HOPCC allegedly tricks VA and defrauds veterans of their education benefits
- HOPCC officials allegedly lied to VA inspectors
- HOPCC Reportedly Charges VA Students Significantly Higher Tuition
- HOPCC allegedly cheated on VA over teacher qualifications
- HOPCC students say they were required to recruit new students during class hours
- HOPCC reportedly changes program to keep students enrolled longer
- HOPCC student veterans exhaust their veterans education benefits and never receive a certificate of completion
- HOPCC provides students with a very poor quality education
- HOPCC does not provide students with financial or academic records
- HOPCC reportedly engages in other criminal activities and operates as a cult
- HOPCC allegedly manipulated veterans into donating their VA disability award to the church
- HOPCC allegedly involved in mortgage fraud
- HOPCC could be investigated by the FBI
Based on their interviews with former members, the letter further stated:
- HOPCC likely violates multiple VA regulations
- VA should disapprove of GI Bill listing at HOPCC under 38 USC § 3696
- HOPCC likely violates rule 85-15
The filling letter can be downloaded below.
This story is under development and will be updated as new information becomes available.
Previous posts here:
It’s a sect
Church draws attention of activists
Real estate fraud?
Members defend the church