Church group denies brainwashing claims

Cape Times, May 2, 2000
By Moses Mudzwiti

We do not brainwash, demand cash or split up families, the International Church of Christ (ICC) claimed in a media release posted on its website.

The media release is in response to reports that authorities, families and theologians are worried that the controversial international cult - outlawed from several universities for its brainwashing tactics, aggressive proselytising, demanding cash and splitting families - is recruiting vulnerable youngsters on Cape Town and up-country campuses.

"On the contrary, students who are members of our church enjoy recognition as a society at many South African universities," said Natalia Louw, the ICC spokesperson.

Asked to comment on the allegations that the ICC demanded donations equal to 10 percent of the donor's income, Louw admitted that it sometimes "talks about it because it is in the Bible".

"They make their donations of their free will and the money is used to administer the church."

Louw said newspaper reports were "poorly researched, filled with hearsay and innuendo, and caused trauma in the lives of church members across the Cape".

Freelance television presenter Bongani Bingwa, who is a self-professed ICC member, came out in support of his church.

"As an entertainer, my inter-personal relationship skills have improved and have made me a much more effective communicator."

Not so, said a radio listener who identified himself as Mahoba Mpeta. He described the ICC on a Cape Talk radio programme last week as "extremely harsh, very strict and lacking in compassion".

"Members must seek permission for everything in life. The ICC indoctrinates members and tells them they will go to hell if they don't follow rules," said Mpeta, who has since left the ICC.

The Anglican chaplain at UCT, Wilma Jacobsen, said the ICC was not banned from the university.

"It was decided not to do anything dramatic, but just to deal with the immediate problem, which was that students were being pressured and were being confused, told that their churches were not biblical and that baptism was only valid if it happened in the ICC."

Cape Town ICC evangelist Werner Vos insists that the UCT branch only has 10 members, who cannot possibly be a threat in a university with thousands of students.


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