Ministry’s conduct, not its religion, at issue

Ministry’s conduct, not its religion, at issue

The Cincinnati Post, December 2, 1998
By Stephen Huba

The University of Cincinnati’s pending review of a controversial campus ministry is not about religious expression but about the code of conduct all student groups agree to follow, a university spokesman said.

Campus Advance, a campus ministry of the Cincinnati Church of Christ, may be permanently suspended as a student organization if the Student Activities Board finds it misrepresented itself or violated the code.

“We have a prohibition against harassment and menacing,” UC spokesman Greg Hand said. “Those are two of the words students used in describing the situation with members of this group.”

The Student Activities Board, which met Nov. 19 to solicit complaints about Campus Advance, met again Tuesday, intending to hear rebuttal from the Cincinnati Church of Christ. Despite being invited, no church or campus ministry members showed up.

The 18-member board can either continue the group’s indefinite suspension, put it on probation, ban it permanently or restore its registration.

The Student Activities Board is scheduled to meet again Monday in closed session to make a final decision.

UC officials believe Campus Advance is the same group that once called itself Christians on Campus and was suspended in 1989 over allegations of “mental and physical” abuse..

Students who left Campus Advance complained they were being harassed.

Critics of the church including several UC campus ministers, describe it as authoritarian, legalistic and manipulative.

The Cincinnati Church of Christ is affiliated with the controversial International Churches of Christ, whose national college ministry often goes by the name of Campus Advance.

According to REVEAL, an organization of ex-International Churches of Christ members, Campus Advance has been “banned” on 37 college campuses in 14 states and three countries.

Hand said the Student Activities Board is considering two issues: whether Campus Advance misrepresented itself during the registration process and whether the actions of its members violate the student code of conduct.

“The practice of religion is not at issue,” Hand said. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has said it supports the ministry’s right to aggressively proselytize on campus and will monitor the case.

UC campus ministers say the negative experience with Campus Advance has had a chilling effect on their own work. Students often get confused over which group is which, they say.


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