Christian pastor and 7 others indicted in beating 19-year-old to death for his sins

Lucas Leonard, 19, wanted to leave the Word of Life Christian Church. The pastor, Tiffanie Irwin, and her family had other plans.

Lucas Leonard, 19, wanted to leave the Word of Life Christian Church, based in New Hartford, New York. The pastor, Tiffanie Irwin, and her family had other plans. Over the course of several hours, Irwin and others beat Leonard and his younger brother Christopher, 17. Christopher survived. Lucas did not.

According to the New York Times, Irwin was indicted on 13 counts along with her mother Tracy Irwin, the pastor’s two brothers Joseph Irwin and Daniel Irwin, the victims’ father Bruce Leonard, the victims’ half-sister Sarah Ferguson, as well as two other congregation members Linda Morey and David Morey (Linda’s son).

The victims’ mother, Debra Leonard, is expected to be charged for the murder and near-murder of the two boys separately.

Christopher Leonard testified last month that after a typical eight-hour mass one Sunday, Pastor Irwin asked the congregation to stay for a meeting. The meeting was called because Lucas Leonard had mentioned he wanted to leave the church. For six hours, the 8 indicted members beat Christopher and Lucas with fists and whipped with an electrical cord all over his body.

The word “church” may be in the name of this organization, but this is undoubtedly a cult.

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Bruce and Deborah Leonard (Twitter)

The Word of Life Christian Church claimed Lucas Leonard was practicing witchcraft and brought in the two boys for a “spiritual counseling.” They accused the boys of molestation, but authorities say the accusation is unfounded.

So far, Joseph and Tiffanie Irwin have pleaded not guilty. It’s hard to say what drives a family and their religious congregation — which should be a safe space — to beat children so badly they kill (or almost kill) them. As of now, Christopher Leonard has fully left the church.

Featured image via Twitter



  1. Avatar

    Michael Vinson

    November 26, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Some will say these people are not ‘true christians’. The problem there, is that if you choose to follow the bible literally – as these people do – then yes, they are indeed ‘true christians’. Punishments prescribed for non-believers, or those who ‘stray’ from the faith, largely mirror those of the qu’ran and islam, and sharia law.
    For those who pick and choose which parts to follow, why follow the bible at all? You either follow the ‘word of god’, in its entirety, or you don’t. So why call yourself a ‘christian’?
    I have never understood religion. It’s not only absolutely pointless. it is truly absurd in its application.
    Why is it so difficult, when encountering someone who chooses to not believe in your fairy tale, to just simply say, “ok”, and leave it at that? Why do some find it necessary to inflict violence upon those non-believers, or tell them their magical deity will in their stead? Oh wait, my apologies. Magical deities don’t send you to ‘hell’, you somehow oddly ‘choose’ to go to hell because you’ve come to the conclusion that believing in magical deities makes no sense.
    What is so hard about, “I have this big bowl of candy, would you like some”? “No, thank you”. “Oh, OK”. No, to the faithful it has to be, “I have a bowl of candy, would you like some”? “No, thank you” “Well then, you’re going to eat a steaming pile of dog turds, after which you will be kicked in the balls, covered in honey, and staked out to an ant hill. But no one is forcing it on you. This is a fate you have obviously chosen”. How does that work exactly?
    These people, like so many believers, say they were only doing what was laid out in the bible, following its edicts and god’s rules, thereby absolving themselves of any personal accountability for their actions. The genuine authorities have fortunately decided otherwise, and they will pay for their actions. It is truly sad that someone had to die to get these lunatics out in the open.

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    November 26, 2015 at 5:37 am

    Never heard of “Thous Shalt not Kill” ey ? They are not true christians.

  3. Avatar


    November 26, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Amen brother.

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    November 26, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    What say you Theo?

  5. Avatar

    Michael Vinson

    November 26, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    You need to actually read your bible before you make comments, since you’ve obviously missed some critical points.
    Which parts of the bible would you like me to point out that prescribe death penalties for non-believers? Let’s just start with Genesis and work our way up, shall we?
    Ever heard of Noah and the Ark? That’s always a good one. According to YOUR bible, this magical deity of yours wiped out an entire planet on a whim, because some people chose to not believe in and worship him. Just a tad bit narcissistic and egotistical, don’t you think? So humans aren’t supposed to kill, but this magical deity can kill willy-nilly, and apparently that’s ok? How odd. But wait, there’s more (plenty more…). The very first one applies to this case.
    1. Jeremiah 48:10 – Cursed be he who does the Lords work remissly, cursed he who holds back his sword from blood.
    2. Ezekiel 9:5-7 – 5 As I listened, he said to the others, “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. 6 Slaughter the old men, the young men and women, the mothers and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the old men who were in front of the temple.

    7 Then he said to them, “Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go!” So they went out and began killing throughout the city.
    3. Hosea 13:16 – Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.
    4. Sins of the fathers – Isaiah 14:21 – “Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities”.
    5. Jeremiah 51:20-26 – “You are my battle-ax and sword,” says the LORD. “With you I will shatter nations and destroy many kingdoms. With you I will shatter armies, destroying the horse and rider, the chariot and charioteer. With you I will shatter men and women, old people and children, young men and maidens. With you I will shatter shepherds and flocks, farmers and oxen, captains and rulers. “As you watch, I will repay Babylon and the people of Babylonia for all the wrong they have done to my people in Jerusalem,” says the LORD. “Look, O mighty mountain, destroyer of the earth! I am your enemy,” says the LORD. “I will raise my fist against you, to roll you down from the heights. When I am finished, you will be nothing but a heap of rubble. You will be desolate forever. Even your stones will never again be used for building. You will be completely wiped out,” says the LORD.
    6. Leviticus 26:21-22 – If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins. I will release wild animals that will kill your children and destroy your cattle, so your numbers will dwindle and your roads will be deserted.
    7. Isaiah 13:15-18 – Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children.
    8. 2 Samuel 6:3-7 – The ark of God was placed on a new cart and taken away from the house of Abinadab on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab guided the cart, with Ahio walking before it, while David and all the Israelites made merry before the Lord with all their strength, with singing and with citharas, harps, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.
    When they came to the threshing floor of Nodan, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God to steady it, for the oxen were making it tip. But the Lord was angry with Uzzah; God struck him on that spot, and he died there before God.
    9. 2 Kings 2:23-24 – From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. “Go up baldhead,” they shouted, “go up baldhead!” The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces.
    10. Exodus 31:12-15 – Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.’

    This is only ten of a couple hundred examples of how your notion of ‘thou shalt not kill’ falls apart at the seams. Any questions?

  6. Avatar

    Mark À Irvine

    November 27, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    These are “bible” believers, not Christ believers.

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