Columnist skeptical about church's motives

Canton Journal/August 30, 2000
By Bill Thibeault

By now, I assume that Supt. Allen Brown and the School Committee have finally gotten around to looking into the background of the controversial Boston Church of Christ (BCC), the out-of-town cultic group which has been renting Canton High School for their weekly Sunday morning religious services. When asked, Brown has been quick to point out that the BCC has been renting the school on the recommendation of former Acting Supt. Dr. James Lynch who was advised by "legal counsel" Michael Loughran that it was all nice and legal ... an opinion I disagree with.

While Brown insists the BCC rental wasn't his doing, the fact remains that Brown has been completely in charge of the Canton schools for the bulk of the 3 1/2 years the BCC has been our tenant.

And despite our criticism, Brown and Loughran continue to defend the propriety and legality of the rental arrangement, and Brown appears extremely reluctant to sever the arrangement ... especially since it annually generates more than $30,000 in rental revenue which he foolishly built into the school operating budget. Unfortunately, that means that if we tell the BCC to take a hike, the school budget is going to be $30,000 short ... so it appears that Brown has boxed us in pretty good.

Our Internet research found the following ... the Boston Church of Christ (also known as the International Church of Christ) is not connected to the United Church of Christ. It was founded in 1979 by a 25-year-old guy named Kip McKean, and he remains the leader of the BCC, at the top of the pyramid ... and it's claimed by many BCC followers that his word is the word of God.

The Boston Church of Christ is an international fundamentalist Christian church which has earned a world-wide reputation of being a cult, and it has been widely censured, restricted, or banned from meeting or recruiting on the campuses of over 40 colleges in the United States alone, because of their aggressive, high-pressure, and often deceptive and intrusive recruiting and proselytizing tactics.

The BCC is noted for the fact that they intentionally choose to rent rather than own property, not because they can't afford it, but apparently because it's a lot cheaper than buying or building a church. By renting, they don't have to pay the high cost of insurance, heat, utilities, maintenance, snow removal and upkeep.

Like many fundamentalist churches, the BCC is elitist, claiming to be the one true Christian church ... and they hold that only their members will be "saved" and go to heaven ... while you, me, and everybody else are doomed to go to hell ... an interesting claim which makes you wonder about the fate of everybody who lived prior to 1979 when their church was founded.

While most mainstream religions recognize other faiths, the BCC maintains that all other churches are "un-Christian." In fact, according to the San Diego Source (April 4, 1997) the BCC maintains that the Catholic Church, and the other Protestant churches are "highways to hell" ... and I therefore assume that they also include all the non-Christian religions and faiths such as Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, etc. on that apparently crowded highway.

According to the BCC, in order to be "saved" and be worthy to go to heaven, you must belong only to the BCC ... and to belong to the BCC you must renounce your previous faith or religion and undergo a full immersion baptism. Since they don't recognize any of the other Christian faiths, they don't recognize their baptisms either, so you must be re-baptized into the BCC.

And that brings us to "discipling" which most critics maintain is the BCC's controversial method of controlling members.

Once you've been baptized and become a member of the BCC, you must be completely submissive to the church. You are assigned a "discipler" ... a person with greater experience in the church who you must meet with regularly to confess your sins and be obligated to obediently do what they say, even in areas of opinion ... and if you refuse or start asking too many question, "you are questioning or refusing God" and will be denied heaven. The discipler is the mentor, advisor, and controller ... and there is a discipler over every discipler.

Every member in the BCC has a personal discipler except one ... Kip McKean at the top of the pyramid. He controls the entire church and the entire discipling process ... and thus, he maintains complete control over their entire BCC membership.

In their short history, the BCC has accumulated a large number of outspoken critics ... many of them former members who recount disturbing stories of abusive life and mind control.

Many of these former members have related that their personal "discipler" manipulated and controlled their lives ... telling them where they could work, who they could and couldn't date, where to live, how much they had to contribute to the church, who they could and couldn't associate with, who they could marry, how much time they had to devote to studying the Bible, how often married couples should have sex, what style of clothes to wear, what books to read, how much time they had to spend "evangelizing" (recruiting new members) ... and they were even required to avoid friends and family members, including parents, who are not members of the BCC.

I completely subscribe to the premise that everyone is entitled to believe and worship in whatever religion they choose, as guaranteed by the 1st Amendment, no matter how odd or silly ... but even if the members of the BCC are dedicated and sincere in their beliefs, I find it difficult to agree with the type of ongoing manipulation and control that causes their critics to accurately brand the Boston Church of Christ as a dangerous and destructive cult ... and now that Supt. Brown and the School Committee knows all this, they can no longer claim ignorance ... and it will be interesting to see what they're going to do about it.

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