Re: International Church of Christ
Date: January 06, 2008 03:53AM
I was a member of the Detroit ICOC for 6 months in 2001. I am still recovering.
I don't think that it is necessary to equate one cult as more or less cultish than another. Simply because one cult believes in alien spaceship theology and another doesn't doesn't make it any safer than the other.
I was invited to a bible study on a college campus. I was always a Christian and was excited to see young people my age devoting their lives to God and excited about their faith. So, I went. I went through the studies. I had to write down every sin that I could remember committing and hand it over to a group of five women who I thought were loving and seeking my best interests.
I invited my bff since the second grade to start studying, too, and she, who had never set foot in a church, did, too.
I was told that there was one church, and I believed that, meaning one faith, not that the ICOC was it, but later I was informed that Mother Teresa was not saved and that we were the Kingdom of God. Cultish? Hmm, yes. There's so much more I could say, but it would take too long and too much space.
I was put into a "discipling' relationship with a group of women who dictated my every action. Although, I had cleaned up the majority of the sin in my life and had begun to read the bible everyday and pray constantly, I was never good enough while in ICOC. I was labelled as prideful because I had valid questions that needed to be answered. I was "encouraged" to break off frequent contact with my family and former friends and when I did not, I was told that I was prideful and needed to humble myself. All of my actions had to be run by my discipler who would give me "advice" that I would be admonished/punished for if I chose not to follow. This advice went from the clothes that I wore, the number of classes I enrolled in at school down to who I dated.
We were not allowed to date outside of ICOC, and furthermore, it was almost an arranged dating situation because if you liked a guy, you had to get approval from your discipler prior to being allowed to date him or her and every action that you made as a couple was heavily scrutinised and monitored for approval.
The members who invited the most guests and brought in the most disciples were considered to be spirtual and those who did not were somehow "in sin".
The reason why I left was because I was praying and seeking God for answers and following what I believed to be the Holy Spirit in my daily decision-making process and then I would be admonished for not talking to my discipler first and getting her approval. It occured to me after lying in bed and thinking for hours that the Holy Spirt was being stifled in my life and that my discipler had essentially become the entity that I sought spiritual direction from. Which was not the direction that I intended to go in.
I stayed for awhile longer, and eventually left after I was told that I could not go home for an extended holiday weekend. Instead, I was expected to remain on the deserted college campus and that weekend I was firmly encouraged to move in with a group of five sisters who shared a three bedroom apartment off campus.
I decided to leave. I just stopped going and stopped accepting their calls.
I happened upon them in the student center a week or so later and I was cornered by ten people who I had considered to be very close friends, practically family for the last six months (I had been contemplating moving in with five of them!) and I was told that I was sinful, divisive and prideful and that I needed to repent.
On the contrary, I had done no wrong! I was being 'better' than I had ever been in my life and I looked at them with the clarity that comes from distance. I told them I loved them, but ICOC just wasn't for me. I was shunned and haven't spoken to five of them since. The other five have left over the following years and contacted me to talk about the damage this cult has done to them.
Some have lost husbands, family members, their homes, their jobs, their faith because of this organization.
When I left ICOC, I left my best friend behind. She refused to have anything to do with me. I have not talked to her since. I pray that one day, I will again.