London, Sept.9 (ANI): The American pastor who plans to burn 200 copies of the Koran to mark the anniversary of 9/11, has been accused by former members of his evangelical church of using his own supporters as unpaid labour in his furniture business.
Rev. Terry Jones, who heads the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, has been accused of using his own flock to work in an antique and used furniture business owned by him and his wife, Sylvia.
According to The Telegraph, while the pastor moves between two homes, a 300, 000 dollar house in Slidell, Louisiana and a holiday apartment in Tampa, Florida, his unpaid workers, motivated by their Christian beliefs, live in low rent accommodation owned by Jones.
The pastor has repeatedly refused to answer questions over how what percentage of the profits generated his company and the unpaid workers goes to the church, only conceding that only "at least a portion" is donated.
Shane Butcher, who was expelled from the Dove World Church for disobeying Jones, told the Gainesville Sun newspaper that he worked for the pastor's TS and Company for up 72 hours a week without pay, meals were provided from a "food bank".
Butcher said that punishments for disobedience ranged from cleaning the barnacles off Jones' private boat in Tampa, to carrying a life-size wooden cross or writing out all of Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible."
"We carried a card that said 'obedience is always blessed'," he said.
Jennifer and Daniel Engel, a German couple, travelled to Gainesville on special religious work visas hoping to do mission work but quickly found themselves working in the furniture business.
Engel said that when her husband decided to return to Germany, she was instructed by a senior church pastor to divorce him.
"The church totally ruled our lives, who can I marry, what can I do," she said.
Meanwhile, police in Florida's city of Gainesville are braced for violence at Saturday's book burning after gun-toting members of the Dove World Church's congregation threatened to bring their weapons as a "precaution" against attacks from Muslims.
Jones has confirmed that he has started wearing a .40-calibre pistol strapped to his hip since announcing his Koran burning ceremony to mark the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. (ANI)