'Trust in God and everything will be alright'

In the second part of an investigation into cults in Ireland Kellie Russell looks at the case of student Mairead Furlong with the Dublin International Church of Christ

Irish Times, March 22, 2000

'Trust in God and everything will be alright,' they said, but it wasn't DIT communications student Mairead Furlong joined the Dublin International Church of Christ, also known as the Boston Movement, after she was approached on the street.

"The first sermon I went to was a lot of fire and brimstone, but the singing was absolutely beautiful," she says. "It was very moving to see so many people in their 20s and 30s singing so powerfully after being in the Catholic Church where nobody really bothered."

Soon she was locked into what she describes as the church's fear-driven autocratic regime of street evangelising, bible study and analysed confessions. "They paired you up with members who'd been turned into amateur psychoanalysts, but they didn't have a clue," she says.

"They blamed problems or temptations on my relationship with family. Basically they said all my friends and family were going straight to hell. They didn't even want me to go home to Wexford for Christmas."

Each member was forced to knock on doors for donations to "overseas missions" and to contribute at least 10 per cent of their gross weekly income to the church - for Mairead that meant a large portion of her meagre student grant. She also had to make "special contributions" amounting to at least 16 times that sum. She still has no idea where the money went.

"I actually went into debt for the first time. Everything was `trust in God and everything will be alright', but it wasn't . . . I became depressed and was ignoring my family, but they came up to see me in Dublin at Christmas after researching the group. They gave me the information and I realised my family weren't the monsters the church made them out to be." The Dublin International Church of Christ was not available for comment on Mairead's experience.

She herself has rejected the mainline churches, so is reluctant to endorse Dialogue Ireland. But she says there's a real need for independent study of new religious movements in Ireland.


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