Student describes experience with International Churches of Christ

The Collegian (Penn State University)/November 11, 2002
By Nichole Dobo

Taylor is a typical, outgoing Penn State student who is active on campus. Joining a cult in Happy Valley was the last thing on Taylor's mind.

However, Taylor said this all changed after a member of the International Churches of Christ (ICC) invited Taylor to a "Bible talk."

That's where it all began.

"It was just the right place and the right time," Taylor said. "They prey on the vulnerable."

The ICC members were welcoming and they talked to the student frequently, Taylor said. Oftentimes they even wanted to go out for a meal or meet for a social event, Taylor said.

"I never really thought anything of it at first," Taylor said. "I went to the Bible meetings and the social events."

Meeting with the group members was enjoyable, but then the group started expecting more, Taylor said.

"It got really suffocating," Taylor said.

The now ex-member watched as others involved alienated themselves from friends and family -- all for the ICC.

"There was this one [member] who completely cut themself off from the outside world," Taylor said.

Strange things continued to happen.

"They looked down upon my social life as it was, and encouraged me to spend more time with people who were 'living the life,' " Taylor said.

The group continued to grow in size. Currently, there are about eight baptized members in State College, Taylor said.

Taylor said people in a position of power in the ICC labeled the student as "struggling" and used a series of "guilt trips" to persuade Taylor to agree with their beliefs.

"They never really just came out and said things," Taylor said. "But they would lead you to the conclusion."

The ICC group on campus "attacked" other religions such as Roman Catholicism, Taylor said.

Fear later replaced the curiosity Taylor originally felt for this group.

Since disaffiliating, Taylor has been contacted, but not harassed.

Taylor, now an anti-ICC activist, has met with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and several religious administrators on campus. Taylor wants to bring attention to this controversial group and its involvement on the Penn State campus.

Taylor contacted USG because the State College ICC group had plans to gain club status at Penn State.

"This is something that shouldn't be happening in State College," Taylor said. "I don't want this to sound sensationalist. I just think that people should be aware that this group is active on campus."

Though Taylor said the ICC has pressured some members by singling them out and labeling them as "struggling," it could employ more extreme recruiting tactics in the future.

"But, I do want to make it clear that many of the things that this group is known for, they haven't started yet," Taylor said.

Taylor said that since leaving the ICC Taylor cannot even fathom involvement with the group.

"Now when I think about it, I realize how bizarre this all sounds," Taylor said. "I think to myself, 'Why didn't I see this before?' "

Editor's Note: The name of the student in this article has been changed to protect the student's identity

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