Alpha Omega's tactics questioned

The Central Florida Future/September 22, 1993
By Robin Longaker

Some of the practices of Alpha Omega, a religious organization at UCF, have been questioned by John Arnold, psychology major and former member of the Boston Church of Christ.

Arnold believes Alpha Omega is a cult since the club is sponsored by the Central Florida Church of Christ, a church that is affiliated with the International Church of Christ, formerly known as the Boston Church of Christ.

The Boston Church of Christ is listed with the Cult Awareness Network as an organization which has received numerous complaints from callers.

Arnold said Alpha Omega has practices which resemble cult-like symptoms: "…a seeming monopoly on the truth, financially and emotionally, requirements of submission to authority, a communal lifestyle and a phobic-like fear of leaving the group."

"The people who don't want to chagne their life call us a cult," said Gregg Eargle, a minister with the Central Florida Church of Christ and a member of Alpha Omega.

He said, "We are trying to be as much like the First Century church…because the thing we really emphasize is total commitment to Jesus."

Arnold said his first contact with the group came about when he attended his first "informal Bible talk."

"I didn't know that the Bible talk was only a front used to get people into personalized studies with the goal of getting them to join the group," said Arnold.

Later he realized "…that the series was designed, like most cults, to convince me that I was lost and going to hell, and that they, coincidentally, had the only viable plan to prevent the occurrence."

Arnold also said the International Churches of Christ "…maintain an hierarchical and authoritative structure of control over its members."

Eargle said, "We are building a family, God's family…We need each other to stay strong."

He compared Alpha Omega and the International Church of Christ to the UCF football team. "The reason they have football practice is so that everyone can learn what they have to do," said Eargle. "They are devoted to a cause…They are learning what the coach teaches. They are disciples of the coach.

"We get accused of being a cult because we challenge people to love each other," he continued.

Another issue raised is how the club receives funds.

According to Student Government member Robert Morris, each club at UCF is eligible to receive up to $500 for registration and up to $150 for office supplies.

Eargle said to his knowledge, Alpha Omega has not received money.

However, David Poole, president of the Alpha Omega, said he believes they have received money for office supplies.

"We are able to be funded by them [SG]," said Poole.

Tim Shields, internal auditor of SGA, said they have issued a check for $13.90 for office supplies to Alpha Omega, but the chick has never been picked up.

"We have no record of them receiving any money in the last two years," said Shields.

According to the UCF Clubs & Organizations Handbook, to form a club on campus, the Students Organizations Office, "will inquire about the type of organization…and decide whether it is appropriate to start such a club."

Chris marlin, SG president, said he has not received any complaints about Alpha Omega.

"If there is a need for us to look into it, we certainly will," said Marlin.

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