The Catherine Controversy
Catherine Grove sought out the church after baby Faith passed, elders say. They contend Grove learned about the church online and made plans to visit and learn about parishioners on her own.
Grove's journey to Wells essentially began in July, at which point she fell off her parents' radar for a week.
Catherine Grove later telephoned her parents, letting them she was all right — but added she would be staying with the congregation of the Church of Wells for the immediate future. The Grove parents followed and the current situation began.
The Groves have made it clear that they oppose the church and want their daughter back. At their behest, Cherokee County Sheriff's Department deputies have spoken with church members and with Catherine Grove at least three times. They have come to the conclusion she is not being held against her will nor has she been brainwashed.
The Groves have gone on Facebook and created a special page (membership 2,475 as of Friday) dedicated to their opposition to the church. There have been many disparaging comments about Church of Wells members posted on that page; several have been posted by people purporting to be family members of the church elders.
The strategy of Grove family against church members is simple: Hurt them financially. The Groves have urged the public to boycott all aspects of the Church of Well's store at 502 Rusk Street in downtown Wells, which includes the gas station/grocery store/lumberyard /lawn service.
Ironically, the parents are doing this at the exact same time they are also trying to raise cash donations so they can afford to stay in town and continue their campaign against the church.
And as it continues, many people from throughout the United States find themselves absorbed into this snowball of criticism.
"This is not a church," one out-of-state reader fumed in an area publication. "This is three average Texas college mates with rich parents and entrepreneurial backgrounds, with a cool idea and some iPhones. ... I admit that I don't even want to glorify it as a 'cult.' It's the new Amway."
A former member of the Arlington congregation described the group on TV as “kind of cultish.”