Stranger danger on campus

Church’s recruitment tactics unnerve students

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“Do you know God the Mother?”

Two women approached a student on Feb. 7 and asked her this question in Seegers Union. Although the student, who will remain anonymous due to safety and privacy concerns, made it clear she was not interested in engaging in a conversation, the women “would not go away” and were incredibly persistent in asking for the student’s email address.

The student found the conversation “weird” and felt “targeted” because she was sitting alone.

The student went to Campus Safety after seeing a viral tweet that has been circulated nationwide, claiming the group is a front for sex trafficking. However, there is currently no concrete evidence to support that this group is directly involved in human trafficking or that they are stockpiling weapons. World Mission Society Church of God, aka God the Mother, is a South Korean based church that has congregations across the east coast. The church, established in 1964, claims to be a Christian non-denominational church. According to People magazine and NBC’s Ronan Farrow, ex-members claim the church acts like a cult, a claim that the church denies.

“Campus Safety first became aware of this activity when notified by a student the afternoon of February 9th,” said Brian Fidati, Director of Campus Safety.

“Campus Safety first became aware of this activity when notified by a student the afternoon of February 9th,” said Brian Fidati, Director of Campus Safety. “The student reported that the interaction with the group members occurred the evening of February 7th”

On Feb. 10, an email was sent to Muhlenberg students regarding an “Unwelcome Solicitation on Campus.” The group reportedly responsible for these approaching students on our campus is the World Mission Society Church of God.

“Since the student message was sent, Campus Safety has heard from several more students that reported contact with group members shortly after returning from winter break, or approximately the third week of January,” said Fidati.

The incidents have been followed up on by Campus Safety and they have conducted their own investigation, including interviewing students, scholars and law enforcement agencies (including a specialist at the Department for Homeland Security).

So far, none of the interactions on Muhlenberg’s campus have been violent or aggressive and have all happened in Seegers Union.

“This group failed to secure the appropriate approvals for religious solicitation from the Office of the Chaplain and therefore is not permitted on Campus,” Fidati clarified.

“If Campus Safety becomes aware of the presence of group members on campus and officers make contact with them, the members’ information will be gathered and members will be notified in writing that they are not allowed on Campus,” said Fidati.

Typically the members will approach students, attempt to have a conversation with them and then ask for their contact information. Fidati recommends that students refrain from having conversations with the group and furthermore are not obligated to share their information with strangers, including their full name, phone numbers or email addresses.

The group aims to recruit individuals and convince them to join their organization, which has been described by several sources — including NBC News, clergymen from other denominations and law enforcement officials — as a cult.

Anyone who has been approached by the group is strongly encouraged to speak with Campus Safety to report the incident.

1 COMMENT

  1. At first I was alarmed at these stories… But as each newspaper publishes a story, it is a redundancy of what another school paper already published… If there is truly an issue with this church and human trafficking please help us see some depth to what is going on and present some cases… If not then lets turn our attention to the real issue of human trafficking and do our part to fight it. Lets find those who have fallen victim and extend our hands to them and stop bashing an organization based off of speculation spread through social media

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