A Christian church has been branded a disturbing ‘cult’ by worshipers who claim they were exploited by its leader.
Destiny Church was set up in Glasgow by Andrew Owen and his wife Sue back in 1990.
He claims he was told by God to go to Scotland to form a church and spread his word. Shortly after, Owen made a name for himself as a healer, ‘saving’ David Foden who was starved of oxygen when he was a baby.
In 2018, he said: “Every leader I knew told me what a hard place it was to plant a church.
“Today we are probably the largest church in the nation and have planted hundreds of other churches. I don’t say this to boast but to simply explain that faith works.”
However, over three decades on, a number of people have come out and made claims against Owen and his organisation, with some women saying they were even told by one preacher it was God’s will to give their husbands oral sex.
According to the investigation by The Times, the comments were made by a visiting pastor from the US.
Speaking during an event, Mark Driscoll allegedly said: “I am glad to report to you that oral sex is biblical.
“Jesus Christ commands you to do so.”
Recalling a conversation he had with a worshiper, Driscoll said: “I said, ‘You need to drop his trousers and you need to serve your husband’.
“When he asks why, say: ‘God has changed my heart and I’m supposed to be a biblical wife’.”
And if that wasn’t shocking enough, Driscoll allegedly went on, telling the congregation to treat their wives’ breasts like a ‘petting zoo’.
Adding: “I said to my wife, ‘Those are my breasts. You just get to carry them around’.”
Others who considered leaving the church claim they were threatened with cancer if they did so.
Speaking about her own experience, Cat said Owen exploited people’s weaknesses.
Worshipers would confide in him, sharing their secrets, such as addiction and illness, which she says he used as leverage.
She told the publication: “He would tell them they would relapse and end up on the streets if they walked away. I was told that I would get cancer and that my kids would die when I said I wanted out.”
Cat went on: “One time he told me that I had to marry this guy, who was also in the church. He was a friend, but there was absolutely nothing more to it.
“When I told him I would do no such thing he became angry and said it was God’s will. I used to believe in Andrew but now I call him the greatest showman.”
Another follower, Aileen, said she also saw Owen’s dark side.
Recalling a conversation she had with the leader, she said: “It was incredibly sinister and straight out of the Scientology playbook.
“Later, when I questioned another decision, Andrew became angry and said: ‘Remember what happened to the last leader who disobeyed me’. I took it that he was referring to a well-known former Destiny member who died suddenly in a car crash only the year before.”
Others say they have fallen into financial difficulty after handing over thousands to the church.
“I would trudge home pushing a pram in the pouring rain after handing over my last fiver,” said one ex-member.
“My baby and I went without, while [Owen] had a big flash Range Rover with personalised plates. We were told it was God’s will.”
While another added: “My husband and I struggled to pay the bills and got ourselves into serious debt because we gave all we could to the church.
“That is what we were told to do. We were clearly struggling but no one from the church ever helped with money for our shopping or electricity. The giving was strictly one way.”
As a result of the worrying accounts, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has confirmed it is investigating Destiny Church.
In a statement, Owen denied all allegations made against him but said he would cooperate with any investigation.
He said: “These allegations would be considered deeply disturbing but we deny there is any substance to any of them to the best of our knowledge.
“We highly value all of our employees and co-workers and we thank God for each and every one of them. We retain the services of fully qualified HR managers and consultants, who keep all our employment issues and concerns up to date.
“All giving into the church is entirely voluntary, and raised without coercion. Church giving is taught and encouraged in line with biblical teaching and is common to most evangelical churches.”
UNILAD has reached out to Destiny Church for a comment.