Former member tries to find peace after the BCC

Former member tries to find peace after the BCC

Daily Free Press (The Independent Student Newspaper at Boston University), 22 January 1999

By Mary Beth Polley, DFP Staff

Anna thought she finally found a religion that suited her when she was first introduced to the Boston Church of Christ.

Now, the college-aged girl from the Midwest is trying to break from the group that had become a major part of her life.

“I’m still trying to figure it out,” says Anna, whose name has been changed to protect her identity. “I still feel evil for leaving. I have gone through so much.”

Within six months of attending her first meeting, Anna–who is not affiliated with Boston University– found herself spending more than 20 hours a week at BCC classes and services. She abandoned her old friends to spend time with members, and she made weekly donations to the organization, a requirement for membership, she says.

It wasn’t until her family confronted her about the changes in her life that she took a closer look at the organization and the people who had so quickly befriended her. She realized something was wrong and decided to get out.

But it hasn’t been an easy process.

Church members encouraged her to stay when she told them of her decision to leave, Anna says, and it has been difficult to shake the guilt she feels.

“Once you join, when you leave you have so much confusion about God, the Bible, being a Christian,” she says. “It’s very hard and confusing.”

Anna’s voice becomes a near-whisper when asked about her time with the church. She hesitates, then says it is too soon to discuss it. She says little more than that she wants others to understand the BCC is a manipulative organization.

Former members have said the BCC draws people in, pressures them to reveal their secrets and uses that information to control their lives.

BCC members made her feel it was her duty to bring God into the lives of others, Anna says, so she helped recruit in the Boston area by talking to strangers about the Bible and religion.

Anna says she believed what she told people, and she thinks other members feel the same way. Most do not recognize the organization’s controlling nature, she says.

“When I approached people I thought in my heart I was going to introduce them to the Bible, God and Jesus,” Anna says.

BCC recruiters recently approached four BU students and claimed to be associated with the campus ministry, according to Marsh Chapel Dean Robert Watts Thornburg. Members lie about their ties to the school to make students feel more comfortable, he says. The BCC, which was sanctioned by BU in 1988, is the only religious group banned from meeting on campus.

Anna says she always told people she was with the BCC when she approached them. However, not everyone was so forthcoming, she says.

Members sometimes gave alternate names for the organization and invited young people to participate in social events like putt-putt or trips to an amusement park and then told them about the church, she says.

“Cults recruit people, churches don’t,” Anna warns. “Before you join any church, research it. Those people catch you when you’re vulnerable and off-guard, so catch them off-guard and ask questions.”

Despite the confusion Anna feels when she thinks of the BCC, she is grateful she was introduced to God and the Bible. Now, as she rebuilds her life, she hopes to find a church where she can be true to her religion and herself, she says.

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