Religious cult denies recruiting accusations

Religious cult denies recruiting accusations

The Weekly Journal, 30 September 1993.

The Charity Commission is investigating a cult organization which in recent years has been aggressively recruiting members from the black community. The Commission confirmed that they are carefully considering complaints about the London Church of Christ which had denied any wrong doing.

The scandal centers around money from a ?,000 foreign missions appeal raised in Britain for work abroad. Under the 1993 Charities Act, this money cannot be spent in Britain.

But a tape recording reveals that a senior Church member had intended that at least some of the money stays in Britain to boost the mission work here.

Dr. Tommy Chan, the Church’s third most powerful figure and the Lead Evangelist for north-west London, is heard on the tape telling a fellow member what he intended the money to be spent on. New branches of the London Church of Christ set up in Edinburgh, Bristol and Oxford were to receive cash to buy computers and office equipment, said Dr Chann.

Dr Chann and other leaders of the Church have denied that the money would have been spent in Britain and that it was a mistake to say it would be, but they admitted that the recording obtained by The Independent was genuine.

On the tape, Dr. Chann is heard saying that as well as being used for foreign missions, the money “is for churches in and around the UK like Edinburgh, Bristol…, Oxford…To support them, they all need a computer or something, some way to record things, so we buy them computers and support them. They need an office or mail envelopes, paper, all kinds of things. We pay for them because they need help; they have only just opened…So the special contribution is purely for mission work – here, but mainly abroad.”

There are around 1,000 London Church of Christ members in Britain who each have to donate much of their income as possible.

Last month the membership were told by their leaders that they had to make a “special contribution” in an urgent effort to raise ?, 000 for missionary work in 17 over seas locations.

The Charity Commission is already investigating allegations relating to the Church’s funding and pyramid-selling scheme which raise income and membership.

One former member of the Church who did not want to be named told The Weekly Journal that the pressure to recruit and to donate money was always intense. “You can’t miss payments,” she said. “It may be over looked without fuss if you’re a new member because they want to draw you further in, but once you’re in, missed payments are no-no.”

One man who was recently recruited and is still a member said he was confident that the allegations were untrue and that the Church’s demands for money from their membership was a necessary part of the organization. “How else would they function?” he said. “They don’t get government funding or anything for their work.”

The London Church of Christ came under scrutiny in the media during the Waco tragedy where followers of David Koresh’s Branch Davidian cult – many of whom were black – died.

Back to other media reports about the International Churches of Christ.