Bizarre Christian cult banned from Swansea campus amid radicalisation rumours
Strict college profs dominate younger co-eds
A shady Christian operation has been banned from Swansea as uni chiefs say students need to be “protected” from their “cultic style of operation”.
Now the Swansea branch of the Freedom Church has had permission withdrawn from holding services on campus and had posters torn down after fears the cult was trying to manipulate vulnerable members of society.
The Hereford-based Freedom Church—which boasts franchises in Cambodia, Uganda and Worcester—maintain they are legit and deny all accusations.
The group push out slick hype videos like the one below, which may be the only Christian cult video soundtracked with a drop.
A concerned parent raised the alarm about Freedom Church by contacting the director of Swansea Student Services, fearing their child had been inducted in the cult.
An anonymous ex-member told Swansea paper The Waterfront: “After attending for a period of eight months I started to have my suspicions as I climbed up in the leadership tree [a tiered system used by the Freedom Church to categorise members].
“The church uses a profiling system in which existing members approach new members as friends and use conversation to collect personal details to use to target them in future.
“I was on a VIP team set to make first time guests feel welcome. My aim was to make a lasting impression to attempt to get them to return the following week.
“I did this every week for six months and had a team of people working with me to do so.
“I started to view things differently and noticed how new attendees were being treated with flattery and were being profiled as they came in so somebody who had more in common with them could talk to them to make them feel more accepted.”
Uni chiefs explained the cult is at odds with their anti-extremism and radicalisation policies – and the group was banned because it is not affiliated to the union.
A spokesperson said: “Swansea University is committed to the protection of its students through its Safeguarding Policy and the UK PREVENT Agenda, which urges public bodies, including education institutions, to have a critical role in preventing extremism, terrorism and radicalisation.
“Concerns have been raised by various organisations and individuals in Wales and elsewhere about the operational methods used by the Freedom Church to recruit members by targeting vulnerable members of society and their cultic style of operation.
“When information came to light that the Freedom Church were holding religious services on campus permission for the use of any of its premises was immediately withdrawn.”
They added: “Only student union affiliated faith organisations are permitted to hold services on the campus.
“Members of the Freedom Church were not removed from campus but the 250 posters which appeared just before the Freshers arrived were taken down.
“Only approved posters are permitted on campus.
“Swansea University has a duty of care to its students and has taken these actions on campus with this in mind.
“We have also been sharing our concerns with other organisations in the Swansea area to ensure that our students are protected from organisations such as the Freedom Church when outside of the campus as well.”
The Freedom Church refute the uni’s allegations, in particular those surrounding questionable recruitment practices.
Freedom Church member Chris Cooke said: “Completely refute that, completely refute that.
“We do not profile people whatsoever. It is more likely that if a young woman arrives at a church service, a young woman from Freedom will talk to her instead of a 45-year-old man because that’s a bit weird.
“But there’s no there’s no sense of profiling about wealth, vulnerability, or age.”
A spokesperson added: “The accusations that have been made against Freedom Church are not true and in no way reflect our character or approach, and we have requested a meeting with the university to discuss this matter.”
The Evangelical Alliance, the overlord group running Freedom Church and another 3500 churches, said: “Freedom Church has demonstrated exemplary commitment to serving in areas of social concern and throughout its history has also exhibited an enduring commitment to mainstream evangelical Christian beliefs and practices as is required of members of the Evangelical Alliance.”
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