Follow this link to read a more recent version of this story, including reaction from former church members.
The University of Arizona's University Religious Council has revoked the membership of Tucson-based Faith Christian Church, which ex-members say aggressively recruits for members on campus.
The church will be included on a list of spiritual groups that have had their membership revoked — a list that will be published inside a directory distributed to students during orientation, along with the council's list of red flags for "religious practices gone awry," said URC treasurer Michelle Blumenberg.
Faith Christian and its affiliated on-campus recruiting arms will be the only groups on that list, she said.
"The number, seriousness, and pattern of red flags raised compel URC members to no longer believe that Faith Christian Church and its affiliates operate at the highest level of integrity, transparency, safety for students, and respect for students," which are standards required for council membership, said a statement from the URC, sent to the Arizona Daily Star today.
"This has come to light via numerous letters and testimonies recently sent to URC members which have brought to a head historic and current concerns related to the campus activities of Faith Christian Church and its affiliates," said the statement.
The council's decision should send a message to UA students and their parents that the church's practices are not endorsed by other spiritual groups on campus, Blumenberg said today.
Blumenberg said the council began investigating the church, which has been recruiting on campus for 25 years, after an Arizona Daily Star investigation was published earlier this month. The investigation, based on interviews with 30 former church members and parents, found that the church can be highly controlling with members, requiring them to tithe and isolating them from non-church members.
A separate UA dean of students' office inquiry is looking into the church's on-campus ministries, but the school does not have jurisdiction over the church itself, UA officials have said.
Last week, religious council board members met with Faith Christian senior pastor Ian Laks and two other pastors to discuss the allegations, but Blumenberg said she could not give details of the meeting.
Executive pastor Stephen Hall did not attend the meeting and has not responded to the council's questions, she said.
For the past five weeks, Hall and Laks also have not responded to the Star's repeated request for comment about the church's practices.
Faith Christian's three on-campus student clubs — Wildcats for Christ, Native Nations in Christ and the Providence Club — are still official clubs at the university. It's up to the dean of students' office to determine whether to revoke their club status.