Letters in reponse to “Church of the Poison Mind”
PitchWeekly, 7 December 2000
Thou shalt not think
- Many thanks to Deb Hipp for a well-researched, well-written article on the International Churches of Christ (“The Church of the Poison Mind,” November 23). An especially large thank-you to those ex-members who courageously shared the stories of their journey to, in, and past the ICC movement.
I spent most of my 20s involved with this movement. I was involved with the campus ministry that was attached at that time to a mainstream Church of Christ in Lawrence. Although I can relate to many of the experiences and sentiments shared, I know that my experiences pale compared to those who have been involved in “The Church” in more recent years. As more power and authority was centralized in one congregation and one individual, Kip McKean, so too was more mind and life control exerted over the lives of members under the guise of discipleship.
The most frightening thing about the ICC is the subtlety of its control over members. Members experience classic mind-control tactics and lots of what I call “crazymaking.” As a result, every individual thought or question is labeled as rebellion. Soon, people don’t know how to think for themselves. The process back is a long one, because it’s a complete reconstruction of who one is and what one believes. Most people I know who left The Church, especially those who led Bible talks or served in other leadership roles, did not leave because they consciously believed The Church to be wrong. Rather, they left believing they would go to hell. However, they were no longer able to live with the disintegrated psyche and that still-small internal voice saying “No!”
As I have written about my experience over the years, I have called it the Huck Finn choice. When Huck decided to free Jim the slave, he knew absolutely that he was sinning against God by doing so. Yet, to continue to be Huck, he had no choice. As he freed Jim, he proclaimed, “All right then, I’ll go to hell!” I can still remember the day I stood on a street corner and said those very words, and the strange freedom that resulted. There is life after the ICC, as well as a greater appreciation for the gift of who you are.
- I was a member of the International Church of Christ several years ago. Like most new converts, I was really excited about the energy these people exhibited toward the work for Christ. But I, too, started to feel smothered by the demands of the disciples to share all my thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions with them or else I was “being selfish!” It didn’t take me long to realize this was something I did not want to be involved in. I remembered that God is in control of my life, not individuals, and that Christ is the only mediator between God and man. Why did I need to confess my sins and shortcomings to a person? They could not forgive me. If that were the case, then Christ’s death would be in vain!
To those out there who have been approached by these people, be very careful. Make sure this is what you want to involve yourself in. In the end, you will answer to God for your efforts and your life, not them. Also, by giving your life to him and asking him to forgive you, you have already entered into the kingdom… no church membership needed!
Kansas City, Missouri
- Thank you for an accurate portrayal of the mind games that the ICC plays and how it targets college students. I agreed to do the interview not because I still hurt over the ICC but in the hopes of helping at least one person avoid the mind games that I went through.
I would like to add that anyone is vulnerable to the ICC’s spiel if approached at the right time in their life: a transitional time, when they feel lonely, nervous, in a new town, on their own for the first time — in short, a lot of freshmen. Although you wouldn’t guess it from the pictures of me, I am generally a very outgoing and cheerful person. Life goes on and, unfortunately, so does the ICC in its quest to “save” the world.
I would recommend that anyone looking for additional factual information about the ICC visit www.reveal.org for information or contacts in your area if you have a loved one or are yourself involved in the ICC. What you find there could save you a lo t of heartache.