Brandon Sun, Brandon, Manitoba
Sat, Oct 12, 1985 – Page 14
Winnipeg cult branch denies pressure tactics
WINNIPEG (CP) A Korean-based group whose activities are being monitored by U.S. cult-watchers has made Winnipeg its sole Canadian operation, and its presence has some residents worried.
Bruce Alexander, a former member of the University Bible Fellowship, said the group uses high pressure recruiting tactics, can alienate members from their families and uses forms of thought control during prayer meetings at a central Winnipeg house.
Alexander, 20. said he was a member of the group for about five months, beginning in July. 1984.
“They kind of pulled me in off the street. he said. They like to pressure you. They try to keep you out of your parents’ influence.
They say: ‘I’m your mother now. listen to me they try to run your life.
But Sarah Barry, co-founder of the group, said it would be unfair to criticize the two-year-old missionary project because of one person’s complaints.
Barry, in Winnipeg to conduct a worship service, said the group uses traditional Christian methods to interest people in the Bible.
“We are not a strange cult of any kind. said Barry, a native of Mississippi. We are an established organization with a good reputation.
But Gordon Gillespie, spokesman for the Manitoba Cult Aware ness Centre, said he is concerned about some of the techniques used by the group.
He said The Citizen’s Freedom Foundation, a cult awareness coalition in New York City, has a file on them.
They certainly exhibit cult-like tendencies. Gillespie said, referring to the use of high pressure tactics.
I know there was quite a kerfuffle at the University in Chicago after a couple of their members defected.
A recent edition of the University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus newspaper said two of the members were arrested following an altercation with a former member.
The mother of one of the Chicago defectors began a personal crusade against the group after past members alleged corporal punishment was used to discipline them.
University of Winnipeg Student’s Association president Sean MacDonald said he was aware group members have approached students.
We have had complaints that they are proselytizing. he said. They’re really trying to convert strongly.
We have a lot of very legitimate religious groups on campus, but this is the only one we’ve had any complaints about.
A local spokesman for the group, Sarah Lee, said there are 29 missionaries from her organization in Winnipeg.
She adamantly denied allegations against the Winnipeg chapter and said stories in the Chicago newspapers were slanted against the group. We don’t coerce people.”