House of Prayer Christian Church: Why were these churches raided by the FBI?

Three churches were searched by the FBI on Thursday Augusta Chronicle reports. The churches, all located near military bases, are affiliated with the House of Prayer Christian Church (HOPCC). The organization, a 501(c)(3), has five Bible seminaries and 12 churches (11 near military bases).

In 2020 the Veteran Education Achievement organization sent a Letter to the US Department of Veterans Affairs in DC, requesting an investigation into the Church after interviewing 14 former Church members and one current member.

The organization is a nonprofit organization that provides free legal aid to veterans and military-affiliated students in higher education. The purpose of the letter was to “disagree HOPCC to fund the GI Bill.”

FBI raids

Raids took place near Fort Gordon in Hephzibah, Georgia, near Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia, and also near Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Local law enforcement cooperated with the FBI, but no arrests could be confirmed.

Allegations against Bible seminars

Advantages of the GI calculation Help “qualified veterans and their family members obtain money to cover all or part of their school or college expenses.”

The letter outlined many allegations against the church and focused on the Bible schools that accepted funding for the students’ GI bill. Some of the most notable are:

  • “Fooling VA and cheating veterans out of their educational benefits.”
  • “[Changing]curriculum to keep students enrolled longer.”
  • “(lying) to VA inspectors.”

In 2018, after September 11, 2018, the church received at least $708,145.53 in funding from the GI bill and is accused of draining students’ credits without issuing them a certificate of completion. One student participated for 12 years and completely exhausted his GI Bill funding. They couldn’t transfer credits anywhere, and their job wouldn’t count those “credits” toward promotion.

The Bible Seminaries are designed to equip students to be pastors and teach in HOPCC churches. They accept female students, but the churches do not allow women to teach or preach. Many reported having to recruit more students during class time and going to nearby bases to accomplish this.

allegations against the churches

In addition to the allegations against the seminaries, the House of Prayer churches are said to:

  • “Involved in other criminal activities and operating like a cult.”
  • “Manipulate Veterans into Donating Their VA Disability Compensation to the Church.”
  • “Involved in mortgage fraud.”

Rony Denis and the Church of Hinesville

Accordingly, there were protests in front of the church in Hinesville in 2017 coastal carrier. Some members felt the protesters’ claims that the church was a cult were unfounded, while the pickets told a different story. A former member accused church pastor Rony Denis of separating her son from her after learning of Denis’ alleged property fraud.

Embittered former members of the Church began one website to collect testimonies about the alleged abuses they were subjected to. Some reports from the site claim Denis manipulated families, committed identity theft, and more. The following are testimonies from the website and uncorroborated accounts of the experiences of former members who have worked for and attended the Hinesville Church:

  • Arlen Bradeen: “(Denis) uses the Bible to manipulate people, to destroy families, to rob them of their money, and if anyone dares to question him, he will publicly destroy them.”
  • JM Rodriguez: “Ten years working in the “ministry” and all I did was generate over $100,000 in real estate income every month and give it all to Denis, and on top of that they forced me to buy property and bought property without my permission in my name, had me put it up on the rental market and give them all the money that came out of those properties. I never benefited from all this work that I did.”
  • Adam Boles: “He took over $40,000 from my account, Julie divorced me and let her move in with him, took Anthony Oloan’s credit cards in my name, increased the limit and never paid. He made me pay for a car he took back from me and had the sheriffs provide the foreclosure papers for my house, and the list goes on and on. I had been living off credit cards where I owed over $50,000 and had to default and destroy my credit.”

Many others have submitted their stories, but none are currently verified.

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