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Cult Is a Four-Letter Word

I am writing in response to Betsy L. Draper's letter ["Christian Student Association Has Cult Ties," Sept. 2]. I am currently a member and former president of the student-run organization, and a member of the International Church of Christ (which by the way is not required to be a member of the group), in Boston.

Ms. Draper's question, "Why is the Boston/International Church of Christ recognized as a sect amongst other religious groups?" is a good question, although it is not a new one. In fact, first century Christians received the same response from the religious community in their fight for truth: "But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect." (Acts 28:22). Unfortunately, as in the first century, America's watered down, people-pleasing religious community has branded any controversial group as a cult.

As for the CSA and the BCC we admit: we are controversial! If that makes us a cult in Ms. Draper's eyes, so be it. However, we are not a cult in the eyes of: former Mayor Flynn and the City of Boston in which 800 tons of garbage were collected around the Boston area and $500,000 was raised for the needy, including free medical clinics for the poor; the Red Cross for whom we have sponsored blood drives; lepers in India for whom a village was built through our benevolent efforts; AIDS victims for whom free clinics have been opened; orphans in Atlanta who now have homes; and ex-gang members and ex-drug-users right here in Boston who have traded their guns and needles for Bibles.

Yes, we are controversial. Why? Simply because Jesus was, and that is what it takes to make the difference that we have made. Jesus stood for truth, and our truth and authority is the Bible. And unfortunately, when you live by the Bible, or any standard for that matter, you will be criticized: "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. . ." (2 Timothy 3:12). Put simply, Ms. Draper's allegations are preposterous, and I have no intention of debating her uninformed allegations. Yes, we have been banned from some campuses, which I believe is the result of close-minded and gossip-breeding people who go as far as to override the First Amendment of our forgotten Constitution.

In times like these, with David Koresh's Branch Davidians and other obviously destructive groups, to a certain extent I sympathize with Ms. Draper's rash assessment. However, the International Church of Christ is a movement which started with 30 people in 1979 and now has grown to 45,000 worldwide. The church is made up of current and former professional athletes, from the Los Angeles Clippers and Cincinnati Reds, for example, professional businessmen , doctors, lawyers, ex-gang members, ex-drug users, ex-prostitutes, and MIT students of all races, creeds, and colors. Consider the impact that the ICC is having: the Johannesburg Church of Christ is the first South African Church made up of both blacks and whites. Cult? I think not.

When I was invited to a CSA-sponsored bible talk, I too was critical; however, I was soon impressed by a group that took a stand for biblical truth. Unfortunately, history has proven that being controversial usually means a plethora of criticism. Consider Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and even Jesus Christ, who were ultimately murdered for their fight for truth.

James P. Ryan G