In the new issue, on newsstands now, In Touch uncovers disturbing claims about the church the stars of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines, credit with guiding their lives.
Chip and Joanna are active members of the Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, and In Touch has learned that the house of worship, which Chip has said is a “mandatory” part of his life, has been the target of claims by former members who allege psychological abuse, intolerance for mental health problems and practices that include exorcisms.
Lynda Gruen, a former member of Antioch, tells In Touch she believes viewers would be troubled to learn the realities of the church, calling some of its behavior “frightening.”
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“The church holds very strong beliefs,” adds Keith Reich, another former member who went to Baylor University with Joanna in the late 1990s and also led a worship group she was in. “I can see why people say it’s like a cult — it meets some of the criteria.”
Becky Oberg claims she was kicked out of the church in the late ’90s after she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. “They thought I was possessed by a demon,” says Becky, adding that church leaders told her it was her fault and tried to treat her with an exorcism. “They pinned me to my floor and yelled for Satan to leave. They want you to confess your sin and be healed or cast out the demons.”
But Antioch’s founder, Jimmy Seibert, tells In Touch that’s not the case. “We help people with prayer and healing and the recovery process and we send them to medical professionals as needed,” he insists. “It’s a prayer and truth journey.”
Jimmy goes on to say they don’t use the term "exorcism" but they do recognize "demonic oppression."
“It happens to people who have been through a tough time and have not submitted their lives to God, and darkness has a place in their lives,” Jimmy says.
For more on Chip and Joanna, pick up the latest issue of In Touch on newsstands now!