The Church of God & The Record
World Mission Society Church of God and The Record:
Everything The Paper Got Wrong in Their Story
In January, The Record published a pretty biased story about the World Mission Society Church of God, “Controversy engulfs Ridgewood church; officials praise deeds; ex-members call it a cult.” The Record took the opinions of a handful of former members of the Church of God and presented them to the public as facts, without considering whether or not the allegations were true. In this post, I will clarify each of their claims and show you how they twisted the teachings of the Bible to their own advantage.
In the article, the reporters framed the Church of God as a “cult” from the beginning, already giving the readers a biased opinion. These reporters have never studied at the Church of God and are only getting their information from a handful of former members, showing just one side of the story.
“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.”
WMSCOG & Deceptive Recruitment
“[…] being lured into the church […] without being told all of its beliefs”
The Record portrays the World Mission Society Church of God as an obscure place that hides its beliefs from people. However, this is completely untrue. As I mentioned in a recent post, the first time I heard about the Church of God, I was told about God the Mother and was shown the testimony about Her in the Bible. And all of the Church websites clearly have the Church’s beliefs upfront.
Can you study the history of Christianity in 15 minutes? Can you read the 66 books of the Bible in 30 minutes? And what if I meet you in passing at a supermarket — do you think we should sit down in the middle of the aisle and study all about the life of Christ, why He was crucified, why people didn’t believe in Him, and why the Bible says He must come a second time?
What would these former members and The Record have said to Jesus when He said the following to Apostle Philip?
John 1:43 (NLT) The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come, follow me.”
Judging by the standards of The Record and these ex-members, clearly Jesus deceived His disciples by not telling them right away they’d be persecuted for the name of Jesus.
WMSCOG, Fear & Guilt
“[…] then frightened into devotion […]”
In The Record article, Michele Colon is quoted saying, “People are systematically influenced to join cults by members who are trained to manipulate and use fear and guilt as weapons.” Not only are these former members bold in making such statements, but it’s irresponsible journalism for the reporter to post such statements as if they were true. The United States Constitution gives us, as Americans, the right to practice a religion of our choice — freely. However, these people, including the reporters and The Record, strip us of this right by posing the Church of God as a threat and a “cult.”
The Bible has more than 100 verses teaching believers to fear God. This is not a topic unknown to Christians and Christians pride themselves on having the fear of God.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NLT) Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for that is everyone’s duty.
The Church of God does NOT use “fear and guilt to manipulate members,” as these people claim. The Church of God teaches people who want to learn God’s teachings the truth about the Bible, and that includes the fear of God.
WMSCOG: “Profit-Making Cult” Label
“[…] donating large portions of their savings […]”
The Record says that the World Mission Society Church of God frightens members into donating large portions of their savings. This, again, is completely false and simply irresponsible journalism. The Church of God practices the law of tithes and offering – ironically, the one law that every other Christian church does keep in accordance with the Bible. Both the Old and New testaments teach that, as the people of God, we must observe the law of tithes and offerings, just as we observe all the other laws of God.
Malachi 3:8-10 (NLT) “[…] You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. […]” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Matthew 23:23 (NLT) “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore that more important aspects of the law — justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes…”
The Church of God does not force anyone to give up their savings or to donate large portions of money to the Church, as The Record claims. The Church of God delivers the teachings of God recorded in the Bible and, as all Christians know, it includes the law of tithes and offerings.
In any case, if the Church of God were really about making profit, how come it doesn’t charge for baptisms, Bible studies, or even collect tithes and offerings during its Tuesday services? The Record has twisted the teachings of God for the sake of a headline.
WMSCOG & End of World Claims
“[…] talk of impending end of the world – in 2012″
The World Mission Society Church of God boasts about being the only Church that keeps the teachings of the Early Church, which came directly from Christ. We follow the laws in the Bible — the Sabbath day, the Passover, the feasts of God, etc. Yet The Record claims (without facts, by the way) that the Church of God proclaimed 2012 as the end of the world. But let’s see one verse in the Bible:
1 Thessalonians 5:1 (NCV) Now, brothers and sisters, we do not need to write you about times and dates. You know very well that the day the Lord comes again will be a surprise, like a thief that comes in the night.
So if the Bible says that no one knows the end date, how can the Church of God proclaim an end date? It just doesn’t make sense. The Church of God has NEVER taught about a date for the end of the world.
The Record goes on to make more false claims against the Church of God.
WMSCOG & Love Bombing
“But former members say the church has a largely hidden dangerous side, recruiting young people at malls and on college campuses and showering them with affection eventually encouraging them to cut ties to family members…”
The Record voices former members’ opinions who claim that the World Mission Society Church of God showers members with affection as a “brainwashing technique.” Their main claim is based on the notion of “love bombing.” Because we are nice to people and welcome people into our church, we’re blamed for “love bombing.” This is a term used by psychologists, mainly “cult experts,” and is used to explain a “coordinated effort to flood new recruits or members of an organization with flattery and affection in order to brainwash them.” However, they simply cannot understand why the members of the Church of God are genuinely happy and polite. The Church of God just practices the teaching of Christ to love one another.
Romans 13:8 (NLT) Owe nothing to anyone — except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.
WMSCOG & Abortions
“None of those interviewed recalled witnessing a member being told to have an abortion, but one former California church leader, Ron Ramos, said that at his church, ‘It was insinuated. It was more like, ‘Why are they still having kids?’’ Colon said a church leader in Ridgewood had told her it was ‘pointless to bring a child into the world because the end is near.'”
Ron Ramos claims that the Church of God forces members to have abortions. But something to keep in mind is that he admits the Church never actually said that but it was insinuated by what the Church never says. And his counterpart, Diane Sims, contradicts their claims and admits that forceful abortions is not a teaching of the Church of God. Oh, and not to mention that Ron himself had a daughter while he was a member of the Church of God.
Members of the Church of God (may I add that The Record did not interview any current members) can confirm that the Church does not force or teach members to have abortions. In fact, here is another testimony of long-time Church of God members who have families.
WMSCOG & Michele Colon
Michele Colon was the most vocal contributor for The Record article.
“Michele Colon, a nurse from Passaic, said in a lawsuit filed in state court that church leaders had ostracized her and had contributed to the end of her marriage when she quit the church in 2011 while her husband remained a member.”
Michele Colon has been very outspoken about her enmity toward the Church of God. She claims that the Church of God “ostracized her.” In reality, Michele Colon attended the church irregularly according to her ex-husband.
Michele was never “recruited,” as she makes it seem, or manipulated into believing anything. She invited herself to the Church of God. Michele also blames the Church of God for her failed marriage when in fact she is the one who destroyed her own marriage. Since she stopped attending the Church of God, she has made it her life mission to defame the Church of God.
As you can see, The Record twisted the practices and teachings of the Church of God, though they are directly from the Bible, for the sake of a headline. If you’re truly interested in knowing God and the truth, I encourage you to visit your local World Mission Society Church of God and see for yourself what we’re about.