Since Sam Brownback is running for president in 2008, you'd expect him to pay a few visits to churches. No problem with that. But if he'd troubled himself to do some due dilligence, he might have reconsidered one visit he made--because it turns out that it was to a church which is part of a Christian cult.
Last January, Brownback spoke at Morning Star New York, a nondenominational charismatic church in Manhattan, about leadership principles. There's just one problem. MSNY is part of Every Nation, a network of charismatic churches. There is overwhelming corporate and historical evidence that Every Nation is a repackaged version of Maranatha Campus Ministries, one of the more notorious "campus cults" of the 1980s. I know from experience that Every Nation is just Maranatha with blush and makeup--I was suckered into joining this group in college (more about that here).
The large majority of Every Nation's major leaders were once part of Maranatha. One of them is Ron Lewis, the pastor of MSNY. He founded one of Every Nation's most important churches, King's Park International Church (ironically, the church that burned me). Although he doesn't like to admit it, this church grew out of Maranatha's outreaches in the Triangle, starting at Carolina in 1981. While KPIC claims to have been founded in 1990, it was actually incorporated in 1986 as Maranatha Christian Church of the Triangle--and still operates under its original bylaws (as amended) today. Rick Ross has a ton of information on these guys here.
Maranatha caught all kinds of hell in the 1980s for its outright cultish practices. Leaders exercised very close supervision over members' lives--for instance, they weren't allowed to date. It got kicked off three campuses after former members complained. One of them was Kansas State University--Brownback's alma mater. K-State's Maranatha chapter, among other things, engaged in door-to-door solicitation in violation of school rules and also lied to school officials about who was getting money from a fundraiser. To get an idea of what went on in that chapter, check out this video in which Bob Tedford, a former member of Maranatha's K-State chapter, talks about his experiences there. The Kansas State House actually passed a deprogramming law in response, but it died in the State Senate.
Brownback HAD to know about what Maranatha was doing at K-State--not only is he an alumnus, but at the time this whole thing came down, he was practicing law in Manhattan, Kansas--K-State's hometown. If his staffers had troubled themselves to do even a little bit of due dilligence, they'd know that Lewis was once part of Maranatha. He claims to have renounced Maranatha's overtly cultish teachings--but if that were true, what's his name doing on this list of former members and friends of Maranatha?
Bottom line? We've got a senator running for president speaking at a church that is part of a recognized cult. For now, it looks like Brownback simply didn't check Lewis and friends out--but even if he wasn't running for president, one would think he'd be a bit careful where he appeared. He's got some explaining to do. If you live in Kansas, put a bug in his ear.