Some call a local church “cult-like”
MSNBC, 18 August 1998
By Rhonda Hughes
OKLAHOMA CITY – It is called the International Church of Christ. And its members are going door to door in neighborhoods, sometimes approaching people at grocery stores. They say they’re trying to win the world for God.
The International Church of Christ is not part of the traditional Church of Christ denomination. Some religious leaders and former members say the group uses cult-like tactics.
Sarah Akers says she got involved with the group when its members were knocking on doors at her Edmond apartment complex. She agreed to attend a bible study.
Sarah said, “I wanted to believe. It’s something you want to believe in. It’s God.”
Sarah, a single mother, was out of a job. She says the friendly group caught her at a time when she was needy. She studied the bible with church members for two weeks solid, hours at a time – depriving herself of sleep and time with her children.
She said, “The following day, because I didn’t go to church, they wouldn’t speak to me. They kept giving me evil looks. They were really mad at me. But they were supposed to be Christians. That boggled me.”
Steve Hopkins got out of the movement nine years ago. He says the group tried to control every aspect of his life, from money issues to who he dated.
Hopkins said, “It got to a point that I said, look if I’ve got to do all this stuff to get to heaven, if this is who God is – that he’s going to punish me every time I make a mistake, then I would rather go to hell than serve a God like this or be a Christian.”
The International Churches of Christ Web site says the group is committed to the teachings of the bible, and helping others.
It says they’ve planted churches in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Stillwater.
Kent Allen, a pastor at the Memorial Road Church of Christ (not affiliated with International Church of Christ), said, “The bible talks about mercy, grace, love. And even though in some misguided way they may be trying to bring people to the lord, it really doesn’t fit what Jesus talks about in the bible at all.”
The group came to Oklahoma City about ten years ago, but didn’t have luck recruiting members, so they left town.
We tried to contact local leaders of this movement. One man, who did not want to talk on camera, told us members are free to worship whenever they want, without pressure.
But the Sarah Akers says the pressure started when she started asking questions.