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Please remember that there are those of us out there who advocate orthodox Christian principles such as Bible study, prayer and being accountable to those around you (both Christian and not) who are not involved in a wild cult like the ICOC.

Kory Stamper
via the Internet

I find it interesting that in this day and age a group can be so heavily criticized for nothing more than strong commitment. People who go to the bar in large groups three to five times a week and then drunkenly drive on our roads are okay--but do some good as a group and come under attack?! I have been a member of ICOC for six years, and the best times of my life are as a result of being in this church. No mind control. No all-exalted, arms-hoarding leader. Just biblical principal. Period. Find another group to attack, one that's actually causing detriment. Last I checked, this church was doing some good in this world. Maybe you should do further homework.

In addition, I find it funny yet predictable that you would attack in writing an organization whose sole endeavor is to follow Christ, yet "Jesus of the Week" is okay in the organization you probably spend the bulk of your time with. At least Westword is consistent with its anti-Christian stances.

Noel Hayes
via the Internet

Jargon's was a well-done story. As a former ICOC member for fourteen years, I can attest that Donald's experience was not an aberration. The goal of all ICOC members is to "convert" new members, and the ends justify all means.

I also want to take exception with Mr. Chisholm's statements that the ICOC never teaches that Christians outside the ICOC go to hell. Strictly speaking, he's right. The catch is that they believe that there are no true Christians (or very, very, very few) outside their church. This kind of false representation of their beliefs is all the more proof that this group is to be avoided at all costs.

Kenneth Hayes
Tulsa, OK

I just wanted to put in my two cents. I was converted into the Los Angeles Church of Christ, which is a member church of the International Churches of Christ. "Donald" was lucky. Too many people that I have known who have joined and left as teenagers have gotten pregnant, used drugs and completely messed up their lives. I left when I was nineteen, and some of the things that I had had to give up were my senior prom, several extracurricular activities and my old friends. I'm free now and successful in college, but the effects still linger. Thanks for writing this article.

Daniel de Sailles
via the Internet

I have been a member of the Denver Church of Christ since its inception in 1986. I found your article about my church disturbing. Our objective is simply imitating the church in the time of the apostles, bringing our faith today back to the simplicity of following Jesus in a personal way and structuring the church to facilitate meeting the needs of its members and those in our community. I have been involved in several different families of churches (denominations) but found what I thought Christianity should be in the church family of which I am now a part. To be sure, we aren't perfect, but to mark us as a group to be anathematized is a huge mistake.

I don't know the young man or family in question, but there are significant inaccuracies in the article that I do have personal knowledge about (in fairness, these could be the responsibility of the witnesses and not Westword). There is little to be gained by itemizing them here, except the obvious "don't believe everything you read."

When I hear people accuse my congregation of "milieu control," "information control," manipulations, "thought-reform techniques" and the like, I find these ridiculous. If one takes the time to investigate the basis of these allegations, the absurdity of the comparison is evident. Get serious: No one is subjected to "milieu control" in my church. People spend more time at work, sleeping, watching TV and with their families than they do involved in anything church-related. The exaggerated accusations of "thought reform" and cultism are an attempt on the part of critics to draw a connection where none exists. To be sure, many of those who criticize the ICC have had bad experiences; in cases I know of personally, my heart truly goes out to them. Churches are made up of humans, and we all mess up pretty badly at times, especially the more we try to accomplish. But to write the problem off as a symptom of a controlling "cult" is way off.

I myself have had my ups and downs in the church. Sometimes downs happen because God allows them, for my growth. Job received hardships precisely because he was faithful. Other times, my own personal downs were the result of somebody in leadership sinning against me. These have been resolved by speaking with the individuals involved and working out the problem, not by allowing myself to be made a victim. I think this biblical approach would have served the family in question quite well.

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