Controversial cult using borough hall
Merton local newspaper, 11 November 1993.
A controversial religious cult, alleged to have misused 1.3 million pounds of its funds, is meeting at one of the borough’s main venues.
The London Church of Christ, which is being investigated by the Charities Commission over the allegations, has started holding weekly bible meetings at Merton Hall in Kingston Road.
More than 150 members turn up for the gatherings each week but the activity has angered former cult member Ayman Akshar.
Mr Akshar, a member for seven years, is campaigning to stop the cult. He said the cult uses brainwashing tactics and tries to split up couples church leaders deem unsuited meeting in the borough. He told the Guardian: “I want them out as soon as possible – before they inflict damage on the community.”
Earlier this year, after claiming he discovered discrepancies in the church’s accounts, Mr Akshar and his wife Jane were kicked out of the cult. Mr Akshar claimed the cult put financial pressure on members by demanding a percentage of their gross income without giving them access to detailed accounts.
A spokesman for Merton Council, which owns the hall, said they checked with the Home Office before agreeing to let the hall to the London Church of Christ. He added: “We understand the Home Office has extensively investigated this group and it saw no reason for the council to decline to let the hall. Since letting the hall we have received no complaints from local people about the behaviour of members either during meetings or at other times.”
John Partington, of the London Church of Christ ministry staff, confirmed that the venue was being used by one of the church’s 10 London branches or “zones” but refused to comment further.