Get Thee Behind Me, Satan!


     SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (CN) – A Christian pastor assaulted a parishioner to “cast out” a “demon,” then bragged that he had “punched the devil and knocked the devil’s tooth out,” the parishioner claims in court.
     Andrew Byrd sued Joel Arwood individually and dba Family Chapel Church of God and dba Church of God International, in Sevier County Court. He also sued the pastor’s wife, Theresa Arwood; a second alleged assailant, Charles Shields; and the Church of God at Cleveland, Tennessee dba Family Chapel Church of God.
     According to the complaint, Joel Arwood is a pastor at the Family Chapel Church of God in Sevierville. Family Chapel operates under the umbrella of the Church of God International, a Pentecostal denomination based in Cleveland, Tenn.
     Byrd claims that Joel Arwood and Shields attacked him, knocked out a crown and cracked other teeth, while Arwood’s wife egged them on.
     “On or about Feb. 21, 2012, the plaintiff attended a meeting at Family Chapel Church of God at the request of the defendants,” the complaint states. “During that meeting defendant Theresa Arwood made statements to the effect that the plaintiff had a demon or spirit that needed to be cast out. Thereafter, defendants, Joel Arwood and Charles Shields, physically assaulted the plaintiff, while being encouraged by the shouts of defendant, Theresa Arwood.”
     Byrd claims that Arwood and Shields refused to let him go, falsely arresting him in a “vicious attack.”
     “Thereafter, defendant, Joel Arwood, bragged to the congregation that he had ‘punched the devil and knocked the devil’s tooth out,'” the complaint states. “Although the plaintiff’s name was not mentioned, it was well known that defendant, Joel Arwood, was referring to the plaintiff inasmuch as the plaintiff’s crown was, in fact, knocked out during the attack, and other teeth cracked, and there was no other similar attack that week to the plaintiff’s knowledge.
     “Thereafter, defendant, Joel Arwood, further made statements to the effect that he had prayed that anyone who came onto the property that was ‘against’ them would have a heart attack and die.
     “Thereafter, defendant, Joel Arwood, published specific allegations accusing the plaintiff of murdering three (3) people, in Sevier County, Tenn., including a sixteen (16) year old girl, and having a contract to kill two (2) more people, knowing that said statement was false, or at least having no reason to believe in the truthfulness of the statement which is, in fact, false.”
     Byrd says Arwood shared with other people confidential information that Byrd had confided to him as a parishioner.
     He seeks medical and dental expenses and punitive damages for personal injuries, emotional distress and damage to his reputation.
     He is represented by Rebecca McCoy.

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