Members of the Boston Church of Christ (BCC), which is forbidden to recruit on campus, said yesterday that they have been actively encouraging Harvard students to attend an introductory meeting.
The religious group, which has been called a "cult" by critics, is not a part of the Harvard-Radcliffe United Ministry since its practice of proselytizing violates Ministry policy.
BCC member Damon K. Roberts '93 said he and other members had been telling both friends and acquaintances about the January 24 meeting and the church in general.
"There are no rules about it, as far as I know," said Roberts. "I do know something called freedom of speech. I'm not aware of any restrictions--and if so, I probably wouldn't hold to them anyway."
Kimberly E. Neat, a first-year Divinity School student who was passing out BCC flyers yesterday on Mass. Ave., confirmed that undergraduates are recruiting for the meeting.
Sister Mary Karen Powers of St. Paul's Catholic Church, the Harvard-Radcliffe parish, said the group is not likely to enter the ranks of the Ministry inthe near future, a step it would have to take inorder to gain sanction for campus recruiting.
Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III said thatthe University "has had difficulties with Harvardstudents who have been members in the past."
"I know we're very critical of the operationsof the Boston Church of Christ," said Thomas M.Ferrick, the University's Humanist chaplain,"because its influence on students is a bitoverpowering and it has been known to usedeceptive practices."
G. Stewart Barnes, the University's Episcopalchaplain and one of the authors of the Ministry'sofficial guidelines, said students should be waryif "one is often being less than explicitly honestabout who they are...[and does not have] the senseof boundaries, of respecting individual privacy."
Barnes, who often counsels students on mattersof religion, cautioned against drawing conclusionsabout all BCC members.
"I've known [some] undergraduates who were partof the Boston Church of Christ--I've had no reasonto doubt their sincerity or integrity," Barnessaid.
"But to be a member of the United Ministry youhave to respect religious commitments other thanyour own," he said