Hope Christian Church ASU has regularly, and in a variety of different ways, engaged in practices which create an unhealthy environment for students at ASU. These practices are detailed below.
NOTE: It is important to note that none of the behaviors epitomized by Hope Christian Church ASU here 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.
Dozens of experience reports were collected from former members which demonstrate these violations by Hope Christian Church ASU.
"The staff of Hope Church exulted in the fact that ASU’s official involvement in Outlaw Comedy events (though they were ignorant of the connection with Hope) provided the church with a tacit endorsement from the university, and legitimized its presence and activities on campus. It is my considered opinion that ASU is complicit to a degree in enabling Hope Church to exert spiritual abuse upon ASU students."
"Hope leaders coached him on how to lie more effectively to mask Hope’s affiliation with their front groups."
1.Building “front groups”/masquerading as other organizations, who are in fact subsets of Hope’s ministry, while not being transparent with students whom they engage about this fact (There is also a post on the Home page about this giving proof)
Summary: Five other campus organizations: The Respect Movement (composed of Man Up and WoW Factor), Sun Devil’s Wear Prada (a subset of WoW Factor), Outlaw Comedy, Sun Devil Survivor, and Sun Devils for Christ, are used for purposes of evangelism by Hope Christian Church ASU, without transparency toward the students they engage. These clubs are in no way independent organizations. They are front groups which are fully operated under the wing of Hope Christian Church. They exist so that Hope can get away with using them in various ways to further the interests of the church without ASU’s knowledge whether that be by securing funding, space, time, or resources from ASU, or simply deceiving the students they meet by masquerading as something other than a church group. This creates a situation where ASU is unknowingly a party to the recruitment efforts of Hope Christian Church ASU, and where students are often deceived as to what they are getting into.
**For documented proof of these facts, see the post regarding the front groups of Hope Church ASU on the Home page**
-All of the editors of the report confirm that almost all the student officers/leaders in these organizations are members of Hope Christian Church, and that the “board members” of these organizations are almost all leaders and pastors of Hope Christian Church. The lead pastor (Brian Smith Sr.) and his wife (Wendy Smith) are also the “lead character coaches” for the Respect Movement. The presidents and vicepresidents of these clubs are chosen by Hope leadership, and then presented before the congregation at Hope’s beginning of the year leadership camp, “Camp 72”
-One editor recalls a meeting being held in a conference room of the Memorial Union to elect new student leadership for a club for the upcoming academic year. It was held on a Sunday, immediately after the Hope Christian Church service that was held across the hall in one of the MU event spaces. As far as the contributor was aware, the only students present were members of Hope.
-One editor confirms that at Hope Christian Church’s leadership camps; “Camp 72” (held before the schoolyear), and “Winter Leadership Camp” (held over Winter Break), as well as at “Vision 72” (An event for students’ families and financial supporters of the church) these groups are explicitly described as part of Hope Christian Church’s strategy to perform evangelism on students and collect new members for the church
-One editor recalls that, during Camp 72 before the 2015-2016 school year, all of the attendees (all Hope members) were shown a flowchart where all five of these “student organizations” had arrows pointing to “Hope Christian Church”. The head pastor Brian Smith then began to remind everyone that they were to use these organizations as tools to meet students, build a friendship with them, and then bring them to church once we build their trust.
-All of the editors of the report affirm that these clubs, which again are explicitly involved in Hope recruitment, often enlist help from ASU in order to hold events which include either direct or indirect involvement with Hope. This includes the securing of time/space on campus to hold events, and the procurement of finances.
-All the editors of the report affirm that “Outlaw Comedy”’s “First Laugh” show is held at Wells Fargo arena (previously Gammage Auditorium) and the building is secured for free (on ASU’s dime, presumably). There is also a show held on West Campus using ASU facilities. Outlaw Comedy is run by Hope staff, and is explicitly a part of Hope recruitment. In fact, Hope is typically even mentioned during the show, as Pastor Brian and his wife make a plug for it at the end. The comedians enlisted are also always Christians and reference this during their routines. As with all things pertaining to “Outlaw Comedy” (see bullet later on), the primary purpose of the event is to find people interested in HC. This is commonly known and discussed amongst the members.
-One contributor, as a Hope member, and officer in Man Up, I had frequent contact and was good friends with the “President” of Outlaw Comedy (on the student side of things anyway) and was roommates with one of the graduate “advisors” (a campus minister at Hope). He recalls discussions with both of them, where they mentioned that Outlaw Comedy “didn’t really do anything” during the school year, other than hold the one comedy show and provide the front for Hope Christian Church’s surveys and student information-collection at the beginning of each semester.
-One contributor served on the staff of HC as administrator from October 2007 to May 2010. He was part of the planning for the first few Outlaw Comedy events. He can corroborate that the event was begun and continued during his tenure to be a strategic recruiting event. The staff and volunteers of HC would “work the crowd” during the event in order to collect contact information from students who attended the event. This information was later used (via the database referenced later) to contact students and try to get them to come to HC church services, Bible studies, and other events. The staff of HC exulted in the fact that ASU’s official involvement in Outlaw Comedy events (though they were ignorant of the connection with Hope) provided the church with a tacit endorsement from the university, and legitimized its presence and activities on campus. It is his considered opinion that ASU is complicit to a degree in enabling HCC to exert spiritual abuse (discussed on other pages) upon ASU students.
-All the editors affirm that “The Respect Movement” also has held their “Rally for Respect” and other events using campus facilities, for free. Again, this group is run by the Hope ministry team, and even the student leaders are (almost) all Hope members. It is without question used as a tool for Hope recruitment. All the editors of this document affirm these facts.
-One contributor confirms that The Respect Movement also commonly secures propitiations from the University for their events both the small and large scale ones. As a former officer in Man Up, he recalls dozens of times this process was discussed in meetings. During these same meetings (provided no non-Hope-members were present as “guests” helping out) there would also often be prayer, and explicit talk about Hope Church and their use of Respect Movement events as a recruitment strategy.
-These clubs are all promoted at the Passport event at the beginning of the year, and Hope has “brief” and “debrief” meetings before and after Passport, to discuss the strategy and successes of the day for the Church, and how all of these groups will be used to attract students to HC.
-The Respect Movement club meetings (held in Neeb Hall, just like Church) are also organized, and overseen by Hope ministry staff, and there is often explicit discussion of church matters in leadership meetings before and after which connected the RM events with Hope.
-One contributor recalls having a “debrief” for the RM officers and advisors (Hope ministers) after a Wednesday night meeting. They discussed the “leadership training” event that Saturday, which was held in BAC 116. One of the Hope pastors was talking about the event and mentioned that “some of the students who are coming are already coming to church with us or doing Bible studies. Just to give you an idea of what our strategy should be going in.” Unfortunately, this created a difficult situation, because the only student officer who was not a Hope member was present, and was very taken aback by the explicit references to Hope. Afterwards, her brother (the student VP of Man Up, who has since left the church and RM) pulled her aside to discuss what happened, while some other student officers (editor included) watched and made comments like “that was awkward” and “I guess she kind of knows the deal now”.
-One contributor confirms that, at most "strategy meetings" for the RM, that they were a part of there would prayer involved and everything we discussed was a means to getting more people to church. The contributor's campus leaders would say, "Tonight is very important and let's pray that God works in the hearts of the men and women who come tonight, let's bring _ (insert number here) to church on Sunday." This was quoted very often before meetings were held and at leadership meetings.
-One editor would also like to mention that “Sun Devil Survivor”, an event put on in the Fall Semester by the Respect Movement, is also directly involved with Hope. The contributor refused to go (even after being bombarded about it by multiple members and staff), and had to use work as an excuse. Their statements of “it’s not really my thing”, “that doesn’t sound enjoyable to me”, or “I don’t want to pay to do that” were ignored and not respected. When they went to Hope service the weekend of SDS, there were less than 20 people in attendance including the editor, the people sharing stories, and the worship team. This should give a concrete idea of how deeply ingrained Hope community is with SDS and the Respect Movement.
-One editor was elected to be a room leader for one of the cabins during Sun Devil Survivor. Before this event, there were multiple “room leader meetings” that were held and during those meetings the leaders were blatantly instructed that our purpose as room leaders was to build relationships with the people in our rooms so that we could invite them to go to church once the event was over. Every night of this three-day event, room leaders would meet and talk about each person in their rooms, and would get input from other leaders on how to build rapport with them in order to increase the chances in them bringing them into Hope. From the beginning of this event, the editor realized that the intentions of this event were wrong and deceiving so, the editor defied Hope's instructions of building relationships for the sake of the church, and throughout this event was scolded many times, and was constantly reminded that they needed to do this so that the students could eventually have a relationship with God.
-One editor recalls declining to attend Sun Devil Survivor, and being told by a minister that they (the minister) would make them attend, since they had to in order to be a proper member of the church.
-Hope Church also sometimes masquerades as these clubs in order to secure space on campus for meetings and such.
-All the editors of the report affirm that at least once per semester, Hope Christian Church would hold “strategy meetings” and “debrief meetings” on campus regarding the Church’s efforts to perform surveys of students in the dorms. (the purpose being to collect contact information for further evangelism). These activities were performed under the guise of Outlaw Comedy, but were in fact church meetings.
-Campus ministers and pastors always lead the above activities and meetings, prayer is involved during the “Outlaw Comedy” meetings, data entry into spreadsheets for easy access by Hope staff is performed, Church goals and “strategy” are explicitly discussed, and members are reached out to by ministry staff regarding their availability to participate in these activities and meetings. "Outlaw Comedy" plays no actual role in any of these proceedings.
-One contributor remembers these organizations being used to secure classroom space on Sundays, which were then used to host children’s church activities during Hope Christian Church services.
-Another contributor can corroborate this, as those serving at children's church were more than once mistakenly locked out by campus security, and the editor was specifically told to only state I was calling on behalf of Sun Devils for Christ, not Hope, when requesting to gain access.
-One editor can also recall numerous instances where he witnessed different staff members at Hope Church being asked by students about the affiliation of these groups with the Church, and denying their affiliation. (for proof that this is a lie, view the post regarding front groups on the Home page). They personally continually lied to students they were “reaching out to” if they began to “connect the dots” and asked if Hope was connected to the clubs. In fact, the editor reached out Hope staff members multiple times for counsel on how to handle such interactions, and the Hope leaders coached him on how to lie more effectively to mask Hope’s affiliation with their front groups.
-Another contributor recalls a conversation early on in her experience with a member of Hope Church regarding the Respect Movement and asked if they essentially go “hand in hand.” The editor was assured that the two organizations were two separate things. It was after she said that both organizations have the same people it was confirmed that “they are two separate organizations that ‘happen to have the same people in leadership.’” After that, the conversation was dropped.
-One editor, as an involved member, recalls attending a strategy meeting specifically describing the aforementioned groups as recruitment opportunities for HOPE. The members were charged with “making friends” at Outlaw Comedy to bring in more people to Sun Devil Survivor, to bring in more people to the Respect Rally, to bring in more people ultimately to Hope.
-One contributor once attended Sun Devil Survivor after being invited by Hope leadership. It was very clear to them at the time that this event was put on by, and for the church.
-One editor, as an active member of Sun Devils Wear Prada, could go to any meeting and point out every individual Hope was "reaching out to", because the rest of the people in attendance at the meetings were members of Hope. The same can be said for the Respect Movement. People don’t just show up to these meetings, they are herded. The idea was to encircle individuals so that their entire friend group was all members of Hope, eventually persuading them to be a part of the church.
-One editor brought a friend SDWP as a fun thing for the two of them to do together. Shortly after her coming to the club, they were encouraged by Hope staff to introduce the friend to other members of Hope and invite her to church. The editor clearly remembers how surprised her friend was when she came to her first Hope service, and she saw who all was in attendance. The editor remembers her friend saying something to the effect of, “Wow, literally everyone from SDWP is here!”
-One editor was brought into Hope through SDWP, and they were inseparable activities. If they missed a week of church they would skip that week's SDWP meeting to avoid being guilted for missing, and vice versa. The editor also thinks it’s important to mention that they (the ministers who ‘helped’ run SDWP) pressured her into bringing her roommate whom she was (and am) incredibly close with to SDWP, for the express purpose of ultimately bringing her to Hope. The roommate is devoutly Jewish, and Hope knew this at the time they were pressuring the editor to do this. There was one afternoon that one of the ministers told the editor that it was my christian duty to save her (the roommate) soul, and that if she wanted to be a "real friend" for her she should never stop trying to convert her, even if it damaged their friendship.
-As a former officer in Man Up, one editor also recalls the student President saying he needed to talk to Hope Christian Church leadership before officially appointing me to the position. Likewise, he was included in offering his thoughts on the appointments of two new officers in fall 2015, and remembers speaking to the President, again, about consulting church leadership about which choices were made. Likewise, the Presidents and VPs are appointed by the Church before each school year. They are then introduced to the Church, at Hope’s leadership camp, “Camp 72” (Mentioned previously) before the start of the fall semester.
2. Implicit and explicit pressuring to forgo academic studies in favor of church activities.
Summary: While officially stating that “school comes first” in practice, Hope Christian Church often covertly, or even overtly pressures students to attend Church functions and engage in activities to assist the Church, at the expense of their academic lives. Often, students failing to participate in enough “Church work” for academic reasons is categorized as selfish and ungodly, and students are chastised for it. This can, and does result not only in discomfort for many students, but also poor academic results, which can be attributed in large part to excessive time commitment to the Church. This excessive commitment is manipulatively enforced by Church leadership in the face of academic concerns from students.
-One contributor recalls sharing with a campus minister that they had class at the time of a church-related event, and being told something to the effect of: “Well, pray about whether God would rather you go to class or come to the event”.
-The same contributor also went through a time period where his parents were concerned that he was spending too much time involved with Hope, and not enough time involved with academics, and were also concerned that he would completely dismiss their advice in almost any area of life. This behavior was a direct result of Hope leaders telling him that because his parents were “lukewarm believers” they could not possibly understand his involvement with Hope and how crucial it was. He was told once that his father was being influenced the devil, and that he needn’t listen to his advice.
-One editor recalls multiple instances in which campus ministers told him something to the effect of: “If you are not completely swamped with schoolwork tonight, then you really need to be at (this event)”
- One contributor can confirm multiple times being told that they were not managing their time well, even being told that they were “selfish,” if they were unable to help with church events due to work, homework, or even trying to just rest in between.
-One contributor was asked many times to help with surveys and the like. Due to school and work responsibilities, they were forced to decline often. Eventually, staff members had multiple conversations with him questioning his “heart for the lost” or his “care for the next generation”. Contextually, this is code to suggest you are not behaving as a Christian should. Because these phrases are consistently used by pastor Brian in sermons to explain Christian virtues, and because there is a reinforced culture that questioning the messages of the sermons is tantamount to questioning the gospel, using these phrases in conversation as a staff member are very powerful tools to get members to participate in church functions when they normally would choose not to.
-One contributor failed out of ASU due to Hope. They coerced and guilted her into helping the church out instead of working on their studies. They would say school comes first, but when they needed the editor, if they told them they had schoolwork, Hope would respond with something to the effect of, "Well God's work is more important". The editor was also told to ignore their mother's advice because she was not a believer, and had also been told the world was influencing her not God.
-One contributor has a friend and current member, who related a story where she informed campus ministers that she did not want to advance to a further leadership position in the Church, due to academic concerns. Her Church “mentors” did not take kindly to this request, pressured her to rethink her decision, and requested that they be allowed to help formulate her schedule to fit in the Churchrelated time commitments they wanted from her.
-One contributor constantly felt guilty when they were unable to serve, because it was stated by Hope staff that they were “hindering the kingdom of God” and “not allowing God to use them” by doing so. Although they were able to maintain their academics, they were absolutely miserable and incredibly stressed out. They ended up starting counseling for stress management because it was really difficult for them to deal with everything. They were unable to back out of any time serving with Hope because of Hope's manipulation.
-One editor says “They told me that sometimes God calls you to go to church and to forgo homework and studies. If you choose to stay home and do homework, you are disobeying God.” Looking back, they now know that they were being instructed to put the church’s needs above my own personal and academic needs.
-One editor had a class during the time of a bible study, and was encouraged to skip that class because if they didn’t spend more time with Hope in Bible study, that their soul was in danger. This felt like a threat.
3. Implicit and explicit pressuring to forgo future career goals in favor of becoming a staff member with Hope Christian Church ASU
Summary: Hope Christian Church ASU early and often, will inquire about students’ goals in terms of future careers. Initially, they implicitly pressure students to drop these goals in favor of campus ministry, by treating the students’ goals as less than serious, and dropping subtle hints that they might like the students to eventually go on staff with the Church. Later down the line, this pressure can move from implicit to explicit, as attempts are made (sometimes manipulatively) to get students or recent graduates (at least, the ones the Church wants to work for them) to forego their personal career goals in favor of employment in the ministry of Hope Christian Church ASU.
-One editor recalls a conversation with a female friend from the church, who said something to the effect of: “Some of the girls have felt pressured recently to re-consider what they want to do with their careers, and think about whether they are ‘called to campus ministry’”
-One contributor confirms Hope clearly had a strong pressure to become a staff member. Interns were essentially glorified. Intern only parties were frequently held in absence of any focus on the other element of membership. Whatever the motivation behind this, a culture of want has formed where it is considered honorable and Christian to go on staff, yet it is considered lame and worldly, selfish even, to pursue a traditional career path. This lead the editor in my first year, to forgo his studies completely in favor of attending Bible studies. It was primarily this culture that made him feel that to be a good Christian, that is what he needed to do. He eventually was disqualified from ASU and dropped out due to low GPA, but is now a current student again.
-Shortly after graduating, one editor was struggling to find a full-time job in the field they desired. They were offered a part-time job as an administrative assistant in the church office, which they gladly accepted. A few weeks in, they had lunch with two of the pastors who asked the editor if they would consider joining the staff as an administrator, since full-time work “obviously wasn't working out for them”. They recommended the editor continue their job search for one more month before switching over to raising financial support for myself and joining Hope staff.
-One editor confirms Hope creates a culture built on a faith based on works. The more one serves, the better one is “hearing God”. As a result, there is an immense pressure to serve. There is a glorification of those who are ‘higher on the ladder’ than you. You want to become a catalyst leader, an intern, a staff member because they are seen as the ones who are really hearing God and following His plan for their life.
-One editor was informed that they would not be able to fulfil my role as a Christian if they pursued a career in law enforcement, and that they should study something that will benefit the church (here used to denote the body of Christ) instead.
4. Unauthorized sharing of the personal information of students
Summary: Typically while masquerading as one of their aforementioned “front groups” (See Item 1 on this page), Hope Christian Church ASU will collect data on students, including contact and residential information. Church members, campus ministers, and pastors are then given open access to this data often without students’ knowledge.
5. Micromanagement of members’ personal lives
Summary: Campus ministers at Hope Christian Church ASU insert themselves and their “authority” into every single facet of student members’ lives. This is not exaggeration, as micromanagement occurs of students’ time, finances, friendships, family lives, and romantic lives. More often than not, manipulative tactics are used by Hope staff to conform the life choices of students to their will, and failure to comply with campus ministers’ wishes in any given area has negative consequences for the student, in regards to their relationship and “standing” with the Church, as well as their emotional and psychological well-being.
-Members friend-groups and romantic lives are closely monitored and, in some cases, outright controlled by Hope leadership. As referenced in more detail later, in-group/out-group biases are employed to an extreme where the thought is that the only “outside” friends a member should have are those they are attempting to “bring into the fold” at Hope. Dating and relationships are also all but expressly forbidden until a member reaches a certain age, and “position in life”. Any dissent from this is met with opposition. Furthermore, members are encouraged to seek “approval” from church authority to begin a relationship with another person, or even to further build a friendship.
-One editor, many times while at Hope was ostracized by Hope leadership for being too close with too many female friends (in Hope's estimation). He was constantly being warned to “examine his heart” with regard to these friendships, and to strongly consider the idea that his only possible motivation was to manipulate the emotions of the women in his life, in order to cause romantic or sexual attraction.
-One contributor recalls many of the female leaders were very disapproving of her strong friendships with other male members. She was told she needed to distance herself from my male friends and “heal from my past relationships with other women”. When she began to date someone during January of her sophomore year, it was strongly opposed by her leaders. She was told she needed to evaluate her heart and see where she was at, because she was deemed to not be spiritually mature enough to be dating another Christian at the time.
-One former member recalls being made to feel like she was doing something wrong by sitting next to a male friend during Church.
-One editor recalls it being explained by Hope leadership that relationships form after two years (or more), and that they must be deemed appropriate by staff. That is how it was described to the editor. They told that they could only hug some people of the opposite sex and not all. They were told that they were only allowed to be around members of the opposite sex until a certain time of night. They were also told that they couldn't share details of their life with any members of the opposite sex, so as not to "defraud" them. They were also chastized for texting a member of the opposite sex too much. One of the editors friends (who was in Hope at the time) had similar experiences.
-The ironic thing about this “defrauding” business is that, the central premise is one should not exchange information with another person (usually of the opposite sex) that is too personal. And yet, Hope’s entire “discipleship” model, and model of ministry hinges on excavating such information from students
-Another contributor had a very similar experience. This control was especially prevalent in their friendships with people who did not attend Hope, whether or not they were Christian.
- Members are also constantly pressured to allow campus ministers into the process of building their schedules and budgets. One editor personally was asked once if they would let some of their mentors work on the editors schedule with him after indicating he didn’t think he needed much help in this regard. He was “followed up” about it four separate times, with increasing passive-aggressive sentiment, until he finally relented and let them help. Interestingly, this process ended up being less about “getting help” and more about “being controlled”. Rather than simply assisting me, the Hope staff wound up essentially creating the editor's schedule (other than class). They also insisted on having a copy, that way they would know exactly what the editor was doing at any given time during the day, enabling them to contact him and encourage him to help them with church activities. This put the editor in a bind, because Hope staff would know when he had no official commitments on his plate (i.e. class) that would necessitate abstaining from church activities. When this was the case, he was robbed of any possible “excuses” (Hope's words, not the editors) to not engage in church-related activity. This was a blatant exercise in seeking to micromanage the editor's personal time.
-The same contributor also had the same procedure occur with the creation of a financial budget.
-Another editor had the same experience. Creating the schedule would allow campus ministers to call members during their free time and request help in serving the Church. As previously mentioned, members didn’t really have leeway on the matter, because Hope knew when members were free.
-Another contributor too was forced to create a schedule with "mentors", where they wound up basically creating it for me, and was forced to let ministers know when they available. This also happened with their budget which they were not too happy about.
-Another editor was pressured into doing this, but refused to share their finances.
-One editor was once notified by a pastor that they were not permitted by Hope to date anyone, as they did not see the editor as fit for it by Hope's assessment.
-The same contributor was also told to come over to one of the leader’s houses so the minister could create a budget for the editor, despite their not having any financial issues or even soliciting Hope's advice in the first place.
-One contributor had been friends for years with his roommate, and they were not big on having lots of people over when they were at home unless it was for a scheduled event, and therefore resisted the constant pressure from Hope to move into separate Hope houses, which were basically used as event and outreach houses with little notice. This resulted in some light teasing like “When are you two getting divorced?” but escalated into hours-long conversations at social events where they would try to convince the editor and his roommate to do as they were telling them. Explaining that the editor needed quiet stability in life sometimes and that he and his friend were comfortable with how they operated, he was told that being comfortable was not spiritually right and that he was, quote, “lying” about his reasons.
-One editor was confronted on the spot by a Hope leader during a lunch-break about the fact that the leader noticed he had invited two high school friends who were girls from out of town over for a party at my place in which Hope members were also invited. The minister asked if they had stayed over and, upon receiving confirmation they had (in separate rooms, obviously) since they stayed late, he told me that this was spiritually unwise and that I should have had them stay in one of the Hope girls’ leadership houses instead, as I might be tempted by them or begin to sleepwalk and take off all my clothes in front of them.
-One editor recalls a campus minister relating similar advice to himself and a guest in a Bible study once. The advice was to be cautious about getting too close with female friends, because if the men weren’t careful, they would inevitably wind up “having lustful thoughts” about their female friends, masturbating to them, and potentially committing sexual sin.
-Another editor was also told that if they got to close to members of the opposite sex, they would have lustful thoughts and commit sexual sin through masturbation, intercourse or just adulterous thoughts.
-One editor was told repeatedly that their relationships with members of the opposite sex would “get in the way of a healthy marriage”. They were accused of emotional defrauding with both themselves and in their friendships, and was told that they taking something that didn’t belong to them by being friends with members of the other sex. They were told that this behavior was sinful, and tefore was not pleasing to God
-One editor recalls a time when he organized a number of people (close friends) to go on a trip to Sedona. On the day of the trip, a staff member who lived with the editor called him and was very upset that he (the staff member) was not only not notified of the trip but that the editor didn't get permission to organize the trip in the first place. Without the editor's knowledge, another staff member was on the other side of the line listening in and reinforcing every argument against editor, to justify the mentality that he should've assumed that he was wrong by majority opinion; the 2 staff members vs the editor. The editor's response for the minister was that the minister was not being honest with some of his statements. Later, an executive pastor likened that response to accusing a spouse of adultery.
-The same contributor was many times strong-armed into agreeing with campus ministers based on majority vote. He felt compelled because a lot of the social structure in the church depended solely on the staff member's opinion of members. If you weren't seen as a “up and coming leader” then you would not be invited to leadership retreats, you would not be invited to live in a house. All of these things were talked about by members and invitations were highly sought after because of the excitement and community surrounding them. The brunt of social interaction with other members happened at these events and so the prospect that you might not go to these events was tantamount to a downgrade of your access to the community you were a part of. Therefore, not being invited to these things was a powerful motivator to stay “in line”.
-When one contributor started slowly pointing out some of these issues with Hope, it became very clear very fast that the editor was heading towards treacherous waters. They went from one month being well on their way to becoming a catalyst leader to the next being intentionally excluded from social events and gatherings. They confronted their leaders on this and the leaders denied any such behavior. The editor was told that they were projecting their insecurities on other members and that it was all in their head. As soon as the editor stopped pointing out issues in the Church, the behavior stopped, but the editor was never as involved with the community afterwards. There was definitely a lot of pressure not to step out of line because you would be treated differently by the community.
-One editor once received a call from a minister who informed them that he had been looking over the amounts of money the editor had been giving to the church over a period of six months. The minister accused the editor of giving less than the 10% tithe that God expected of him. At the time, he was working a part-time job, and he had never divulged his income to any of the ministers. Since he had been a volunteer in the church office, he knew that records of individual giving were kept, but he assumed that (like most churches and charitable organizations) this information was only used so that members could claim charitable contributions on their taxes. This particular minister was NOT part of the administrative staff, so it can be concluded that he either went looking for this data within church records himself, or Hope regularly compiles these statistics and distributes them to the ministers so that they can rebuke the members they are shepherding.
-Another contributor has heard similar stories. One member, who had likewise not disclosed income details to campus ministers, was accused of “stealing from God” for not donating enough to the Church. He naturally relented, and agreed to give more money
-One editor was at an event composed of a small group of girls using a pink book to facilitate conversations about relationships (she does not remember its exact name) and there was an immense pressure put on her to share incredibly personal information. After the information was shared the group would talk about it. She was forced to talk about my rough family life but when the subject changed to intimate relationships she excused myself and in (semi private) had a panic attack in the bathroom. After the event was over, she confided in the minister why she had freaked out, and asked her not to tell anyone. The next Sunday at church I was approached by another minister who said that she prayed extra hard for me when she had heard what had happened to me. After clarification, the editor discovered that she was referring to the incident that she had confided in the other minister earlier that week. Later that year at a Respect Movement meeting the editor was pressured by a different member that she should share her story (referring to the incident). It was clear to her then that no information shared was ever kept private. This was further reinforced by the numerous times she heard very intimate details about other people's lives such as if they were a virgin, if they had been sexually assaulted, abused, or if they were in a relationship with a non christian.
6. Creating an intense “Us vs. Them” mentality
Summary: Hope Christian Church ASU manipulates the psyches of its student members to view other students, or other people generally outside of the Church as unwise to associate with, and even inferior or negative, unless they demonstrate interest in being involved with the Church. Not only are members’ psyches manipulated to align with this point of view, but campus ministers at Hope Christian Church ASU will use their “authority” to enforce these ingroup/outgroup biases in the lives of student members. This practice often extends to creating separation between members and their close friends or family.
-One contributor recalls a conversation he had with a friend and former member who told me, that Hope ministers in a Bible study had explicitly told him with regard to his friends who were not a part of Hope, quote: “Either you are bringing them into the church, or they are pulling you away from it. If you can’t bring them into the church, you need to cut those friendships out of your life”.This comment was made in regard to the member’s two best friends, who were not involved with the Church, and another person, who was a Christian, but not in Hope
-Another editor affirms that he has heard similar rhetoric from Hope ministers directed toward various people, on multiple occasions.
-One editor was told explicitly that if someone didn't want to come to church with him that being friends with that person was quote “not a profitable use of his time”.
-Another editor also experienced this. One of their biggest issues with this is practice that it isn’t a biblical viewpoint, it is twisted. By this ‘logic’ that Hope presents, people should not even be in communication with family members who are not Christian or interested in Hope because they will be pulling members away from the church.
-Yet another contributor was told their suitemate was not a good friend to have because the suitemate no longer went to Hope and thus their Christian foundation was flawed. This obviously infuriated the editor and the point was dropped. The editor was told the very same thing however, if someone isn't coming to church then they are pulling you away.
-Another editor, when his best friend expressed interest in leaving Hope to find a different church, was strongly encouraged by staff members to seek new roommates (pushing me towards one of the Hope-sanctioned houses). Hope explained that it was because the editor and his friend would be “growing in a different direction,” and that it would be better for the editor's spiritual health if he was living only with other Hope members.
-During one editor's time at Hope they were developing a strong friendship with a student on their dorm floor who was not a Christian and had no interest in it ever. They both were respectful of each other’s viewpoints and the editor said that if the non-Christian ever wanted to go to church, the editor would be glad to bring them. The editor's mentors caught wind of this friendship and said the editor should bring the friend to church. The editor responded by saying that they already offered the idea but the friend was not wanting to go to church. It was then that the editor's mentors said it is possible that the friend could pull the editor away from Hope, and the friendship needed to be cut off.