Three members of a controversial church were injured following a fistfight that broke out at an annual homecoming parade in Wells, Texas, Saturday.
Sean Morris, an elder at the Church of Wells and two members of the congregation, Taylor Clifton and Randall Valdez, had been "preaching harshly" and screaming "you're going to hell," at passers-by while they were street preaching during the homecoming parade, reported KETK.
After a county volunteer firefighter asked the men to calm their tone and words in front of children, Morris started a fight when he allegedly took his Bible and shoved it into the man's face.
Morris defended his church's preaching and said that he and Clifton had been violently attacked.
"There was no insulting, no threats, no mockery, and absolutely no focus on children. Our preaching focus was on the adults. We were preaching the Gospel. This town is steeped in crime, drugs, and religious hypocrisy and we care about their souls, so we open air preached the Gospel message like Jesus did!" Morris told KETK.
He added that those in the crowd had pounded Clifton "in the face without raising a hand in defense, his face bloody and dripping, his heart swelled with forgiveness. I was hit, head butted, and tackled to the ground by a man, and am at present unable to walk."
However, Morris' account does not square with those of anonymous witnesses who told KETK that the church elder was not present when the preaching began, though noted when he did arrive "it was as if Jesus Christ himself was walking outside because the other guys became silent and let Morris start yelling."
One witness denied that Morris was repeatedly hit, but rather was punched once in the jaw. The same witness also said that the Wells Volunteer Fire Department had turned on its sirens in an effort to drown out those church members who were shouting.
While the Cherokee County's Sheriff has filed a report, thus far the church has not pressed charges.
Church of Wells members have been under scrutiny from local residents after a missing Arkansas woman joined the congregation, allegedly cutting off ties with her family to do so.
In 2012, nursing student Catherine Grove, 26, disappeared from her home before turning up five days later at the church.
According her parents, Catherine told them over the phone that she was no longer able to accept their direction, but had to listen to the elders of her church. A 20 minute video of her baptism and testimony can be found on the church's YouTube channel.
The Church of Wells is located in a former Masonic Temple. In 2012, after a 3-days-old infant of two church members died, it was revealed that her father had waited until 15 hours after her death to call 911. When questioned about the delay, the Pursely's stated that following their church's lead, they had decided to pray for their daughter's resurrection.
Much of the Church of Wells website is written in old English. Embedded on its home page is a sermon by church elder Ryan Ringnald entitled "An Address to America," with a disclaimer that tells readers that if they want "to understand my address below, please see all the videos and pictures in order of this post, and read the Scriptures, hymns, and quotes. In all sincerity and love to you, friend, if this message is of God, and you reject it you may forever burn in hell."
YouTube videos on the church's website show congregants street preaching at public events.