Michael Lowry, 22, has accused a North Carolina church of holding him against his will because he is gay.

Lowry has filed a complaint against Word of Faith Fellowship Church, a controversial nondenominational Christian church, in which he claims that he was confined in a church building for more than 3 months in 2011 along with other men and boys experiencing problems at home.

“The doors were locked, it was jail,” he said. “You weren't allowed to speak to your family. Many of the men had wives and children but they weren't able to communicate with them.”

He said that many were “blasted” – a form of screaming prayer practiced by church members.

Lowry, who was born into the church, claims that on his first day of confinement staffers accused him of masturbating while taking a shower at the church.  The altercation ended with Lowry being knocked unconscious.

Jane Whaley, the church's pastor, dismissed Lowry's allegations on Sunday, calling them “lies.” She told The Charlotte Observer that Lowry came to them last year seeking shelter after he was thrown out of his house by his parents and was free to come and go. She added that she was not aware of Lowry's sexual orientation before he went public with his claims.

Lowry said that he faced harassment and abuse from church members since he came out gay roughly six years ago. He said church members turned on him after he came out to his family and Whaley.

The church has faced previous allegations of forcing control over its members.

Gay rights advocate Faith in America called the abuse a hate crime and called on the federal government to open an investigation.

“[T]here's no question that these actions constitute a hate crime,” said Brent Childers, the group's executive director.

Local police are looking into the allegations.