February 6, 2007
A man and woman accused of killing their 8-year-old son — in a case that led authorities to look into the practices of a Tennessee church — is expected to begin Monday in a suburban Atlanta courtroom.
Joseph and Sonya Smith have been charged with murder in the October 2003 death of their son, Josef. They are accused of confining him and fatally beating him, according to a Cobb County Superior Court indictment.
… The Smiths are members of the Franklin, Tenn.-based Remnant Fellowship Church, which grew out of church leader Gwen Shamblin’s Weigh Down Workshop, a Christian diet program she created in 1986. Authorities raided the church in June 2004 as part of the investigation of Josef Smith’s death.
Although Shamblin’s office did not immediately return a phone message for comment Friday, she said in an interview in July 2004 that the boy’s death was accidental and that the Smiths were being abused by law enforcement, anti-cult experts and the media.
“It’s an unfortunate taking advantage of the tragic death of a child so they can whip Remnant Fellowship and Gwen Shamblin,” Shamblin told The Associated Press in the 2004 interview.
Sounds like it was Remnant cult members who did the whipping:
On Oct. 8, 2003, police and emergency medical personnel went to the couple’s home to respond to a report of an unresponsive 8-year-old child — Josef Smith — who later died at a children’s hospital, according to a criminal warrant filed in the case.
Authorities found “an enormous amount of different injuries on the back side” of the child’s body and “a recent bruising and swelling to the head and shoulder area,” the warrant said.
Investigators in the warrant said the child had been struck with a glue stick “causing blood to show through the 8-year-old’s underwear” and that he had been locked in a closet and made to pray to a picture of Jesus on the closet’s ceiling. They said in the warrant that despite acknowledging the bloodied underwear, the Smiths had deprived the child of medical care.
… Former Remnant members have suggested to investigators and reporters that church teachings on discipline include corporal punishment.
Shamblin previously said the church leaves discipline to parents but believes in spankings as a last report.
But—Praise the Lord!—the results speak for themselves:
What about the children? We could write a book and probably will. We have never seen anything like what is happening with the children. It is so awesome to see all the children obey their parents the first time they are asked. Again, we are here to say that we have never seen anything like this before. What is God doing?
What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this.
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