Student Life receives additional complaints about religious group
The Observer / Broward Community College / February 24, 1992
By Willam Wachsberger
The Feb. 10 edition of The Observer reported a BCC-Central student, Kim Cunningham, had filed a written complaint regarding the questionable recruiting practices of Campus Advance, a religious student organization sponsored by the Miam/Fort Lauderdale Church of Christ. Subsequently, two more written complaints have been filed with Student Life Director Penny McIsaac (only one of the complaints was available to The Observer at press time).
Randy Kleiner, a Central Campus honors student and former member of the Miami/Fort Lauderdale Church of Christ, submitted an eight-page complaint in which he stated that “a destructive force is attempting to rob the hearts and minds of young people on [Central] campus.”
In the complaint, Kleiner said “the [Miami/Fort Lauderdal] Church of Christ, aka Boston Movement, aka Crossroads Movement should not be allowed to continue recruiting under the auspices of BCC.” He urged McIsaac that “they and their leadership be banned outright, as many colleges and universities have done.”
One university that has banned the Church of Christ and its affiliates from campus is Boston University. According to the Rev. Robert Thornburg, dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, “A major obstacle to healthy religious growth and mutual understanding is found in the methods and abuses of the Boston Church of Christ.”
Kleiner was approached in September 1991 by Harry Stamile, currently a member of the Miami/Fort Lauderdal Church of Christ and president of Campus Advance at Central. After voluntarily submitting his phone number to Stamile, Kleiner received numerous phone calls from Stamile urging him to attend a Bible study session at Central.
“During the week of calls he [Stamile] made to me, we had discussions. He asked general questions about me which I answered. When I got the session, the scripture that was used seemed to be skewed to my being there, as if it was a coincedence,” Kleiner said.
According to Kleiner, “He [Stanile] told me that he was dedicated to me I was naïve and I took it as flattery. Here is a person and a group that took an interest in me. I took the bait.”
Kleiner said that from that point on, he attended personal Bible sessions at Stamile’s apartment. The scenario was similar, if not identical, to Cunningham’s experience, as reported in the Feb. 10 issue of The Observer.
The Bible sessions were usually led be either Stamile of Jeff Arias, according to Kleiner. J.P. Tynes, a minister from the church, identified Arias as a minister-in-training under Cameron Coors. Kleiner acknowledged that Arias is “an evangelical responsible for the South Florida colleges, Cameron Coors.” Kleiner said that Coors is the leader at the church.
Three days after his first Bible session, Arias insisted Kleiner come to church to attend a service. “In the middle of the service, Arias insisted I be baptized,” Kleiner said.
“I did have second thoughts What happened was they [Arias and Stamile] took me into a back room and Arias said to me, ‘And you do what your church leaders tell you to, even if you think it’s wrong. You let them suffer the consequences with God.'”
In November, Kleiner announced that he was leaving the church, but Arias pressured him to stay in. “It was always in the back of my mind that the friendship and love being given to me [by the fellow members] could end at any moment. The whole thing was a facade,” Kleiner said. However, in January, Kleiner cut all ties with the church.
Kleiner also mentioned in his complaint that just after New Year’s Day, Sam Laing, an evangelist at the church, used an ex-member’s departures as a rallying call for members to flee from familial persecution. “Basically, he was telling us to run from our families if they disagreed with our belonging to the church,” Kleiner said.
At press time it was unknown whether Student Life would pursue an investigation into the activities of Campus Advance and/or the presence of Miami/Fort Lauderdale Church of Christ.
Neither Stamile, Laing or Arias could be reached for comment.