The question appears to be can Shana Muse receive justice in Spindale?

Authorities in the small North Carolina community have not helped the mother of four regain her children from a purported “cult.”

Muse who escaped the “cult” and then went to a well-known licensed mental health facility for former cult members called Wellspring Retreat in Albany, Ohio wants her children out of the Word of Faith Fellowship. But Whaley and her followers seem to think they know what’s best for Muse’s kids and want to keep them.

It has been said that “silence is assent” and the sound of silence is deafening in Spindale.

District Attorney Jeff Hunt has decided to effectively do nothing to compel the Word of Faith Fellowship, its members or leader to return Muse’s four minor children, even though she is their custodial parent.

Instead the DA relies upon a dubious document obtained “under duress” according to Muse, through which church members assert a claim of contractual custody. Essentially, they say Muse gave them her children under contract.

However, a family law attorney in North Carolina says, “The contract would not likely hold up in court,” reports

But authorities in Spindale have decided to give this “contract” every possible consideration.

It seems that in the town of Spindale Jane Whaley has considerable influence. Some say through the votes, businesses and contacts of her church’s 400 active members, she effectively wields disproportionate power in this relatively small community.

The sheriff and District Attorney both seem reluctant to do anything that might potentially upset Ms. Whaley or her followers.

The local police chief even claims the flimsy paperwork signed by Muse may be “legally binding,” reports

Within this apparent vacuum of ethical and/or decisive civil authority Whaley and her people have so far gotten their way. But it is unlikely they will ultimately prevail in court.

The impoverished mother was at first helpless to fight the “cult” leader without the money to hire a lawyer, but now a coalition of churches have decided to help her.

The real question is this. Does a religious leader’s authority somehow trump parental rights?

Some in Spindale seem to think they do. Or are at least afraid to say otherwise.


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