The roots of Hope Christian Church ASU can be traced back three generations to a Christian church and two Christian organizations which have been widely acknowledged by evangelical leaders and scholars as religious cults. On the second level, Maranatha Campus ministries (headquartered in Gainesville, FL) was the direct parent organization of Faith Christian Church in Tucson (the mother church of Hope Christian Church ASU).
NOTE: It is important to note that none of the behaviors epitomized by Maranatha Campus ministries which are listed here (many of which are present in Hope Christian Church) are considered “normal” for Christian ministries or faith-based groups to engage in. Any ideas such as “that is just how Church-groups operate” would be egregiously in error.
1: According to the Arizona Daily Star Maranatha campus ministries in Tucson changed their name to become Faith Christian Church in 1990, making them the direct parent organization of FCC.
● Despite dissolving in 1990, many affiliate movements, and Churches planted by Maranatha still exist today.
● The article containing this information can be found here: http://tucson.com/news/local/starinvestigationtucsonministryacultform erfollowerssay/article_8824efc5f21050418088a654585e4673.html
2: Per her testimony, Maranatha Campus Ministries was the group that led Wendy Smith to God while she was a student at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
3: The slogan of Maranatha Campus Ministries is still used as one of the slogans of Hope Christian Church, at least suggesting some direct influence (See the page involving signs from Kathleen Taylor’s “Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control”)
4: The Christian Research Institute in the 1980’s published a report on Maranatha Campus Ministries, categorizing them as a cult, and in spite of the leader Bob Weiner’s insistence that the organization was being changed for the better, issued the following statement:
● “Until we have clearer understanding of the changes which MCM claims are being implemented, and until we see more discernible evidence of change in the lives of people being impacted by MCM, we would not recommend this organization to anyone.”
5: The “questionable” practices of MCM included, but were not limited to:
● A strongly authoritarian structure and a large amount of control over members’ lives
● Complete dependence of members upon the group leadership for even the smallest of life decisions.
● Aggressively enforcing the Biblical principle of tithing
● Arranging marriages between members
● Blatantly distorting scripture in order advance the interests of the church ● Equating the arbitrary opinions of Church leadership as being on par with the voice of God himself
● Considering all other sources of Christian thought or community to be ultimately inferior to Maranatha Campus Ministries.
6: Many of the unhealthy practices of Maranatha Campus Ministries closely or exactly parallel those of Faith Christian Church, its offshoots, and Hope Christian Church.
7: Chapters of MCM were expelled from multiple Universities during their tenure
8: MCM is cited several times as a spiritually abusive cult by Ronald M. Enroth in Churches that Abuse
9: There is a roughly 2 hour independent documentary cataloguing the cult practices of Maranatha Campus Ministries
● The film is viewable on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVzWX9KUy1s