The Arizona Daily Star is reporting that the Faith Christian Church, accused of being a cult by former members, is now without a building for services. The Star also disclosed that the University of Arizona found no violations of the student conduct code in the operation of FCC’s student groups on campus. The action by UA doesn’t relate to the church nor does it prevent the school’s University Religious Council from keeping the church’s student groups from membership.
In March, Tucson, AZ church Faith Christian Church was rocked by allegations that church leaders encourage spanking of infants and practice coercive cult-like control over member’s personal lives and finances. FCC runs three student groups on the UA campus where many of FCC members begin their relationship with the church. FCC boasted membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability but later dropped membership amid an ECFA investigation. ECFA never released results of that inquiry. Former members were disillusioned by the lack of transparency.
Now the church will no longer meet in Amphitheater High School following a school district investigation into the church.
As pointed out in the Star article, students might wonder why the UA cleared FCC’s student groups while the URC removed them from membership. I asked URC spokeswoman Michelle Blumenberg about the apparent discrepancy. She told me:
The standards are different for a public university than for our organization. Because we are a member organization we hold our members to a higher standard, and it is one which all organizations agree upon when they are accepted for membership. Organizations need to go through an application and voting process in order to join the URC.
FCC’s groups were voted out by the religious council last year. This year the organization’s membership directory connects the ban to characteristics of a cult.
On the back of the directory page are these warnings:
After investigative reports from the Arizona Daily Star in early March disclosed numerous complaints from former members of the Faith Christian Church (Tucson, AZ) about child rearing practices, mind control, and financial control over members, the University Religious Council of the University of Arizona revoked the membership of Faith Christian Church’s campus ministries. I just received the following statement from URC’s representative Michelle Blumenberg.
University Religious Council
University of Arizona
Effective immediately, the University Religious Council (URC) at the University of Arizona revokes from membership the organization known as Faith Christian Church and its affiliates Wildcats for Christ, Native Nations in Christ, and Providence Club.
Reason: The number, seriousness, and pattern of red flags raised compel URC members to no longer believe that Faith Christian Church and its affiliates operate at the highest level of integrity, transparency, safety for students, and respect for students, standards required for URC membership. This has come to light via numerous letters and testimonies recently sent to URC members which have brought to a head historic and current concerns related to the campus activities of Faith Christian Church and its affiliates.
Unanimous decision of greater quorum gathered—
March 30, 2015.
This action follows similar actions by two colleges in New Zealand regarding an affiliate of Faith Christian Church there.
A couple of events have occurred in the story of Faith Christian Church (Tucson, AZ). I want to provide the following updates:
Last week, I reported that an executive from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability planned to interview a former member of Faith Christian Church. According to Rachel Mullis this phone meeting took place. Mullis considered the meeting fruitful and she told me that Executive Vice President of ECFA, John C. Van Drunen planned to contact all former members who signed the former member’s letter to the ECFA.
According to Mullis, contacts have been made by email with an unknown number of former members providing information to the ECFA.
Victory Christian Church (New Zealand) Banned from Colleges
This from the Manawatu Standard (3/26/15):
Another Palmerston North education institute has issued trespass notices against religious leaders of a “cult-like” church from its campuses.
UCOL, a polytechnic with campuses in Palmerston North, Whanganui and Masterton, has confirmed it has trespass orders filed against a group of Manawatu-based church leaders connected with the Palmerston North Victory Christian Church.
The move follows the stance of Massey University, which on Monday issued trespass notices to nine church leaders from it campuses in Palmerston North, Wellington and Auckland.
Nearly a dozen people with connections to Victory Church have come forward following a series of stories highlighting concerns about the parish’s practices, including manipulating marriage pairings, public shaming of members and excessive control over the congregation’s strong student membership.
Most recently, North Victory’s pastor Joel Miller contested the claims of former members and offered to meet with them. To my knowledge, none of the U.S. pastors have spoken publicly.