Statement Regarding Unsanctioned Religious Group at Holy Cross: To all Members of the Holy Cross Community

February 23, 2001
Katherine M. McElaney, Director of the College Chaplains College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA

To all Members of the Holy Cross Community:

I want to inform you of the existence of an unsanctioned religious group which has become active at Holy Cross and at other Worcester colleges. This group is distinguished by many features commonly associated with cults and has achieved widespread notoriety across the country.

Affiliated with the International Church of Christ (not to be confused with the mainstream United Church of Christ or the Churches of Christ), this group uses different names including the Boston Church of Christ and Christian Family Fellowship.

This group has been banned from Boston University, Northeastern University, Harvard University, Seattle University, St. Louis University, Loyola Marymount University (Calif.), and nearly 35 other colleges and universities across the country. Generally, the ban is a result of the group's tactics rather than its theology.

These strategies often include:

  • Heavy proselytizing and religious harassment for the sake of gaining converts.
  • Deceptive recruitment - often calling the "Church" by another name so as to avoid negative stereotyping.
  • Mandatory, one-over-one "discipling." New "members" are assigned a spiritual guide or mentor whom they must obey.
  • Mandatory tithing. Members are required to donate a certain percentage of income and may be shamed into this.
  • Psychological and spiritual abuse. This may include mind control or "brain-washing", strict obedience to leaders without questions, violation of confidentiality, punishment through slander or exclusion, threats and intimidation.
  • Eventual pressure to cut ties with family and friends, education, careers.
  • Manipulation of Scripture to support goals of the group.
  • Promotion of dependency on the group and fear of reprisals for leaving it.

The College of the Holy Cross supports the rich diversity of the world's religious traditions and the expression of those religious traditions. We affirm that the breadth of these traditions in dialogue with Catholicism enriches the spiritual heritage of the College. The Office of the College Chaplains, in particular, is committed to supporting and facilitating the faith lives of all students.

However, any group which utilizes disparagement, harassment, intimidation, fear-based tactics, or pressure explicitly violates both the principles of religious freedom and free inquiry which this College prizes and the Community Standards which govern our common life here.

Therefore, neither the Boston Church of Christ or any of its affiliates is free to meet, organize, or proselytize at the College of the Holy Cross. Over the course of the next several weeks, the Chaplains' Office will work to make additional resources available.

For immediate information, please check the Internet: or or the Boston University Web page at Or if we can be of assistance, please contact us at x2448.

Kim McElaney
Katherine M. McElaney
Director, Office of the College Chaplains
College of the Holy Cross
Worcester, MA 01610

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