Some background on the Boston Church of Christ

Canton Journal/August 23, 2000
By Bill Thibeault

For the past couple weeks I've been harping about the illegality and impropriety of our School Department renting a portion of Canton High School to the Boston Church of Christ for their Sunday religious services ... and I've told you how the School Department has been handsomely paid more than $100,000 over the past three-and-a-half years in rental fees from the church, which Superintendent Allen Brown tells us has been used to cover the cost of "custodial supplies." But you haven't heard the best part yet ... it seems there's a dark side to this little tale. It appears that neither Brown nor anybody else in the superintendent's office or the School Committee has ever bothered to investigate just who and what our Sunday morning tenants are and what they stand for ... or if they did, they've kept awfully quiet about it.

It's really not very difficult to find out about this religious group that calls itself the Boston Church of Christ. In fact, since there's hundreds of nice new computers in our schools, all Brown or anybody else has to do over there is do an Internet Web search for "Boston Church of Christ" ... and if they really want to get an eye full, they might search "Boston Church of Christ Cult." Overall, they'll find a mountain of eye-opening articles about this church ... some positive, but most, negative ... enough to make you wonder what the hell we're doing hosting these people each week.

First of all, their Internet search will reveal that the Boston Church of Christ is in no way connected and must not be confused with the more mainstream and conventional United Church of Christ which inherited the New England Congregational tradition. We already have one of those churches here in Canton, over at 1541 Washington St.

Their Internet search will reveal that the fundamentalist Boston Church of Christ (also known as the International Church of Christ) that rents our high school facilities here in Canton is a branch of the larger Boston/International Church of Christ which was founded in 1979 by a 25-year-old guy named Kip McKean, and claims an overall world-wide membership of more than 143,000 members in 292 churches in 115 countries, including 34 congregations that have an average attendance of at least 1,000 ... and they have a goal of planting congregations in every nation with a city of at least 100,000.

There are about 80 congregations in the United States, and here in Canton, it should be noted that the church appears to have no problem filling the 900-seat Morse Auditorium for their Sunday morning services with worshipers from all over the South Shore.

Their Web search will find that this church is without question one of the most controversial religious groups in the United States, and has been the target of many critical stories ... and it has been denounced and characterized as a dangerous and destructive cult by a number of religious scholars and observers, as well as by ABC's news-magazine, "20/20," in a documentary program focused on them.

That's right ... a dangerous and destructive cult ... and while they vigorously deny it, for years they have been widely accused of inappropriately using unethical manipulative, abusive, deceptive, and mind control techniques to keep their members in line.

The Web investigation will reveal that the phenomenal growth of this church has been attributed to their aggressive recruiting which involves what is known as "proselytizing" (converting new members from one belief or faith to theirs) ... and as a result, their church has also been described by religious observers as one of the "hottest" and fastest growing churches in the country.

It has been said by many religious experts that "cults recruit people, churches don't" ... and a story in U.S. News & World Report this past March noted that "religious groups have long flocked to campus, anxious to spread their messages to young minds at a time when they are most open to new ideas."

So it comes at no surprise that recent reports indicate that about 20 percent of the Boston/International Church of Christ membership was recruited from colleges. However, their aggressively persistent and high-pressure recruiting and cultic tactics have generated a multitude of critics, and reportedly has resulted in the Boston/International Church of Christ being censured, restricted, or banned from meeting or recruiting on the campuses of more than 40 colleges in the United States alone ... including such learned and prestigious institutions as Boston University, Boston College, Harvard, Northeastern, the University of Lowell, Tufts, Smith College, MIT, Brown, Providence College, Sanford, George Washington University, Marquette, Villanova, Georgia Tech, UCLA, DePaul, Emory University, the Universities of Arizona, California, Cincinnati, Miami, Southern California, and Kansas ... as well as the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Boston University, which openly takes pride in their history of religious toleration, and recognizes 23 religious organizations, has banned only one ... the Boston/International Church of Christ, which has been continuously barred from the BU campus since 1987 because of their continued pressure and harassment of BU students to attend meetings, to leave other faith traditions, and join their extensive church activities.

"I'm banning destructive behaviors, not religion," said BU's Marsh Chapel Dean Robert Watts Thornburg, after the church posted signs saying their meetings were mandatory. Thornburg, who has become one of the Boston/International Church of Christ's most vocal critics, said the church is "quite literally one of the most destructive religious organizations that we've ever had."

So, there you have it ... while BU doesn't have or want them ... thanks to Allen Brown and those in charge of our Canton schools, we do ... right here in good old Canton High School on most Sunday mornings for a measly 950 bucks.

Next week, as a finale, I'll discuss what this alleged cult, church, tenant of ours reportedly stands for and teaches ... and I don't think you'll be thrilled with that, either.

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