World Mission Society Church of God and the Media
If you’ve been keeping up with the blog over the past few months, you’re probably asking yourself, “What’s up with the Church of God and the media?” I’ve been addressing stories from different news outlets that have labeled the World Mission Society Church of God a “cult.” So through this article about the Church of God and the media, I hope you’ll realize why I continue to analyze in detail everything that’s been said about the Church of God. These stories all feature a very outspoken ex-member, Michele Colon, who has literally made up lies about the Church of God for fame, without regard for the thousands of people she’s affecting.
WMSCOG & PEOPLE.com
In December 2015, Chris Harris wrote an “investigative” story for PEOPLE.com called “Former Members Allege New Jersey Church, South Korea-Based World Mission Society Church of God, is Actually a ‘Cult.’” Chris Harris is PEOPLE’s “true crime reporter,” where he reports about “real” crimes taking place in our community. Some of his pieces include homicides, violent crimes, etc.
However, Harris featured a story about the opinions of ex WMSCOG members regarding the church — without providing factual information. His story is basically Michele Colon’s opinions and fabricated lies. But even though his story is simply based on the allegations of former members, he presents it to the public as facts, letting people create a biased opinion about the Church of God without having ever studied or attended the church.
WMSCOG & The Bergen Record
Just a month later, in January 2016, Chris Harris co-authored a story for his former employer, The Record, called, “Controversy engulfs Ridgewood church; officials praise deeds; ex-members callout a cult.” Coincidence? Probably not.
In this article, Harris and Abott Kolof portrayed the Church of God as a dangerous organization giving the readers a biased opinion about the Church of God.
“These ex-members – from New Jersey as well as other parts of the country – offered similar, independent accounts of being lured into the church, slowly at first, without being told all of its beliefs, then frightened into devotion and donating large portions of their savings by talk of impending end of the world – in 2012.”
Without providing any factual information to prove their story, The Record claimed the Church of God deceives people into joining and “love bombs” them into remaining a member; frightens people by teaching about the end of the world; forces people to give up all of their savings and large portions of their income; and even forces pregnant members to have abortions.
These are all made-up lies.
The Church of God teachings come directly from the Bible. And these people have essentially twisted the teachings of the Bible to fit their story or just simply made them up.
- The Church of God teaches members to follow the example of Christ who Himself said He came to the earth to preach. To the media and former members, such as Michele Colon, sharing the good news about Christ is apparently deceptive recruitment.
- The Church of God teaches members the command from Christ to love your neighbors as yourself. The media presented this a psychological technique called “love bombing” used to brainwash people.
- The Church of God teaches God’s biblical law of tithes and offerings, which is a basic Christian belief. The media presented this as a means to become wealthy blaming the church of being a “profit-making cult.”
- The Church of God DOES NOT teach or force members to have abortions. These matters are personal decisions families make whether or not they are members of the Church of God. However, the media presented this as if the Church of God forced members to have abortions. In reality, the rumor arose when an ex-member of the Church of God admitted that her “common sense” drove her to believe that Church of God members shouldn’t be having kids.
By the way, The Record claims that the Church “quietly blended… but here is an article The Record published in 2011 where the Church of God in Ridgewood is praised for providing disaster relief to families in Pompton Lake in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene.
And here is an article from just this past Sunday where Church of God members volunteered at Bergen County’s autism awareness walk, featuring Church of God members on their front cover.
What’s the difference? The journalist. So I wonder… did Chris Harris have an ulterior motive behind his two back-to-back articles about the World Mission Society Church of God? I’ll leave that for you to decide.
WMSCOG & the Today Show
And in February, Ronan Farrow aired a story on NBC’s Today Show Undercovered series where the topic of the segment was the prevalence of religious cults in America. And Ronan used the Church of God to fit his profile. How did he do this? He interviewed none other than Michele Colon and the family of a current member who has consulted with “cult expert” Steven Hassan. Ronan also mentioned talking to several reporters who added to his story about the Church of God being a “cult.” I wonder if one of these was Chris Harris…
Ronan made some of the same allegations that the previous two articles made. However, in this case, he interviewed current member Rebecca Gardner as well as a missionary of the Church of God. Both of them explained their side of the story.
Rebecca explained her family dynamics and why they are convinced that she is in a cult. Because of the unethical counseling of Steven Hassan, Rebecca’s family believes she has a dissociative disorder that makes her have a second “cult identity.” Steven Hassan has never met Rebecca in order to diagnose her with a mental illness.
But what we have to realize is that people like Steven Hassan and Michele Colon are so intolerant of the Church of God’s beliefs that they are leading others, including the media, to also believe their lies and false allegations about the Church and become equally intolerant about our beliefs.
Both Rebecca and Missionary John explained to Ronan our side of story — why the Church believes what it believes and why this is a source for many people to have misconceptions about the Church. However, our side of the story was not included in the segment that aired.
Click on the links above and watch all three parts of my series about the World Mission Society Church of God, Rebecca Gardner and the Today Show.
If you’re thinking about joining the World Mission Society Church of God, or you recently became a member of the Church of God, visit your local Church to have your questions answered rather than take everything the media says as fact.
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