Parent support group's ad warns students about church

Lincoln Journal, September 15, 1992
By C J Schepers

A parent support group formed earlier this year to share concerns about the Lincoln Christian Church decided to take an active approach and ran a full-page ad warning University of Nebraska-Lincoln students about the church's tactics.

"Obviously, I didn't like it," said Jay Kelly, the church's lead evangelist. "It's the same old thing it's always been. It's the same former member who has a bad attitude to toward the church." Church members were not surprised, he said, because the same ad has been posted on campus bulletin boards.

Kelly said he has been doing a Bible study on persecution. "The Bible describes that anyone who's striving to live a godly life is going to get persecuted. That's definitely what's happening."

The ad ran Monday in the Daily Nebraska, UNL's student newspaper. Parents pooled their money to pay for the $725 ad, said Peg Blake, assistant vice chancellor in the Student Affairs Office.

No official UNL role

Blake is UNL resource person for the support group, which has between 30 and 40 members.

"Unfortunately, we (UNL) don't have an official role. We can only monitor and express concern when we see things happening that affect the lives of our students, and try to educate people," Blake said.

Lincoln Christian Church was founded in the Capital City last year and is part of a fundamentalist movement defined by the Chicago Cult Awarenes Network as a Christian cult. It is known by several names, including the Boston Church of Christ and the Multiplying Ministries Movement.

[Webmaster's Note: WARNING! The Cult Awareness Network (CAN) was bankrupted and bought up by Scientology since this article was written. We strongly recommend you do not contact them for assistance.]

Critics claim the Boston movement alienates students from their family and friends, makes unreasonable demands on members' time, pressures them to proselytize and keeps control of members through a one-on-one discipleship program.

According to a Cult Awareness Network brochure, marks of a destructive cult include mind control, charismatic leadership, deception, exclusivity, alienation, exploitation and a totalitarian world view.

Blake said that Campus Advance, the college section of Lincoln Christian Church, is not an official UNL student organization.

"Recruiting stepped up"

"The recruiting has been stepped up," said Blake, but that is not unusual, because it is the start of a new school year.

Blake said her office is getting an increasing number of reports from residence hall students. "It's almost to the point of harassment, but they're not there yet," Blake said.

"They are most likely to identify people who are isolated or in trouble... academically confused," said the Rev. Larry Doerr, a campus pastor for United Ministries in Higher Education.

"I think they misuse friendship as a tactic," Doerr said. "I think they manipulate people at vulnerable times. But at the same time, I recognize the freedom (of religion) to be who they are."

"It felt like they took so much of myu life away," said 20-year-old Mark Larson, a UNL sophomore who was a part of the church for nine months. Larson said he left after he was forbidden to date a female student outside the movement.

Church members continued to contact him about coming back. "I got calls galore," he said. Members still go through the checkout lane where he works at a local grocery store, where church members initially contacted him.

Anyone with questions can call the UNL Student Affairs Office. "We don't protect students from making decisions. They have to make the decisions and live with the consequences," Blake said.

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