San Diego -- The San Diego Church of Christ has found itself in
the center of local controversy after a former member told newspaper
reporters her husband had "rescued" her from the church
and taken her to a cult deprogrammer.
While the 1,000 members of the church gathered June 12 at the
city's symphony hall, where they meet for worship, demonstrators
gathered outside to protest the church's practices.
Protesters carried signs urging members to reconsider their affiliation
with the congregation and shouted warnings at the church goers.
But church officials told The San Diego Union they believe
the charges stem from misunderstandings about church attendance,
discipling and other church practices.
San Diego elder George Havins told the Union the church
is "Bible-believing" and that they emphasize relationships.
"I wouldn't describe it as pressure, any more than a coach
would leading a team," Havins told reporters. Havins said
what others may interpret as manipulation, the San Diego church
calls caring and an outpouring of love.
Former Los Angeles Raiders football player Irving Phillips gained
media attention when he abducted his estranged wife, Helen, from
a supermarket parking lot. After taking her to see an area "cult
deprogrammer" the two conducted a press conference to bring
attention to the church.
Union reports included the following statement from San
Diego church leaders: "The San Diego Church of Christ is
part of the Crossroads Movement and is not associated with most
other local churches of Christ."