Leaders of campus ministries target Campus Advance

The Daily Targum/November 14, 1994
by Janice D'Arcy

A controversy brewing under the surface for years at the University will erupt tonight when leaders of campus ministries target Campus Advance, a non-denominational group sponsored by student fees, for using cult-like methods to recruit at Rutgers.

A forum this evening called "Cults on Campus" accuses Campus Advance members of using mind control, severe persistence and "love-bombing" to lure students into their organization. Members of the group deny the allegations, insisting that the criticism comes from a misunderstanding of their mission.

Father Ronald Stanley of the Catholic Center, a sponsor of the panel discussion, believes that Campus Advance's parent group, the International Churches of Christ, has chosen Rutgers for an intensive recruitment this year. He said, after speaking with students who were disillusioned with the group, Campus Advance attracts students by being extremely friendly, or "love-bombing" and then cutting off the new members from people outside the group.

"What they teach is often very loving at first, but it's lined with poison," Stanley said referring to the psychological hold he said the group has over new members.

Usually counseling three to four students a semester who have had traumatic experiences in Campus Advance, Stanley said he has seen triple and quadruple that number since April.

Members of Campus Advance deny these allegations. "We never do anything weird," Sammy Khalil, a member of Campus Advance for six years, said.

Khalil, a Livingston College junior who became involved with a teen ministry in Jersey City when he was 14, added that "Basically I don't know if there's a recruiting (method). We try to be people's friends."

By members' estimates, Campus Advance has about 70 members on campus. "The International Churches of Christ have targeted the world. We want everyone to know about Jesus that's all," Khalil said.

Stanley said he has worked to expose this group for several years, distributing pamphlets explaining their tactics and warning resident advisors during orientation of their recruiting methods.

He said the University-wide forum was prompted by an increase in recruiting by Campus Advance. "We want to be more aggressive and pro-active. I'm hoping the time spent now will save me more time later I'm getting continuous calls and spending all my time trying to undo the damage this group has done," Stanley said.

Khalil compared the criticisms of the group to Biblical persecutions. "Anyone who does something radical is persecuted. Look at Jesus, he was doing something new and they persecuted him."

Campus Advance members said they do not plan on publicly responding to the forum, "we're just going to keep on doing what we're doing," Khalil said.

The forum, which is also sponsored by Hillel, the Christos House and St. Michael's Chapel, will be held in the Graduate Student Lounge on the College Avenue campus.

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