Investigation Discovery’s “Let Us Prey” Docuseries Highlights Michigan Cult Church
It's not uncommon to find people that have had sour run-ins with religion. Plenty of people who have a falling out with organized religion will take an "All Religions Are Cults" mentality, but that stance pails in comparison to the worst of what can actually happen within those environments.
Real religious cults exist, and like any successful cult, they often present an inviting atmosphere. Being disguised as a true religion, it's easy to see how the average person can fall into the trap.
One of the more recognizable, though still plenty shrouded to have an active operation, religious cults is the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) Churches, which is the subject of Investigation Discovery's Let Us Prey: A Ministry of Scandals. The four-part docuseries premiered on November 24, and is currently available for streaming on Max (HBO), Discovery+, Futo, and Amazon Prime.
From the outside, Grace Baptist Church looks like any other church that has a bit of extra money to hold a large congregation and create a warm, inviting environment. Their website and Facebook page are fairly par for the course. Even their Google Reviews require a bit of scanning to find claims of inappropriate behavior.
Still, after 33 years, Jon Jenkins, the church's founding pastor, resigned in 2019 after nearly 17 years of accusations and criminal sexual conduct cases that were linked to the church and its school.
The first episode of the series follows Ruthie Heiler, who at 12 years old enrolled at Grace Baptist Christian School where she was introduced to her teacher and volleyball coach Aaron Willand. Willand allegedly repeatedly raped Heiler after befriending Heiler and her mother and having the teenager babysit his own children.
IFB churches are not centered in the Midwest, as it is a national "denomination". They hold ultra-conservative beliefs and mostly hold to a King James Onlyism standard. IFB churches have been the subject of many scandals and documentaries over the years. The most notable being Shiny Happy People: Duggar Family Secrets which exposed the many controversies surrounding the once famed Duggar family of the reality show 18 Kids & Counting.