N4T Investigators: Investigation launched into Tucson's Faith Ch - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Investigation launched into Tucson's Faith Christian Church

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TUCSON- It's a church that's been around for more than a dozen years. But now Faith Christian Church is under the microscope after several former members, and even parents of current members are alleging their religious practices border on deceptive and abusive.

"We miss you, if it's God's wish, we'll see you," said John Kluge, who is talking about his son Jason.

He attended the University of Arizona in the 1990s and was studying to become a nutritionist. During Kluge's tenure, he told his parents, John and Lois, he wanted to be closer to God. At first, everything seemed normal when he joined F.C.C.
"He just wasn't the Jason that we knew," said John Kluge.

But during Jason's junior year, the Kluges said their son had a change of heart.

"I need to call for people to donate for what I'm doing, Evangelizing to other students," said John Kluge, describing a time he found his son going through the phone book, and apparently asking people to donate to F.C.C.

The Kluges said their son became a campus minister for F.C.C. and gave up a potential career in science. After Jason graduated, he moved to Colorado and opened a church which is an offshoot of F.C.C. The family told the N4T Investigators, their son no longer speak to them and has cut all ties with his family.

In April, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA) heard complaints from former F.C.C. member and former U of A student senator Cody Ortmann. He made a presentation to student senators recommending the church be banned from campus, a place Ortmann described as F.C.C.'s main recruiting ground.

"When you first meet them, they're super nice and friendly and warm," said Ortmann.

Over time, Ortmann said F.C.C. manipulates and micromanages students every day lives including their friends, family and money.

"You see over time people leaving, you see friends you once had, and now they're no longer there," said former F.C.C. member Jeff Phillips.

Phillips and his wife Lisa expressed similar accusations to the N4T Investigators. They are allegations serious enough the University of Arizona Religious Council revoked the membership of F.C.C. and its three student organizations. In a statement, the URC 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, standards required for URC membership."

Currently, F.C.C. holds services every Sunday morning at Amphitheater High School. The N4T Investigators found out the district is investigating F.C.C. The district released a statement saying:

"The allegations do concern us, and have necessitated the investigation that we are undertaking."

Its lawyer Todd Jaeger confirmed with the N4T Investigators the church pays the district $51,000 a year which includes rent, custodial fees and utility cost reimbursements.

The N4T Investigators made several attempts to contact F.C.C. for an on camera interview, but our requests went unanswered.

"There's a lot of healing that comes when we reconnect and realize we are not alone," said Jeff Phillips, talking about the Facebook Page "Former Members of Faith Christian Church Tucson and Its Offshoots."

It's a page hundreds of former members find solace, and open up about the alleged mental and emotional abuse they suffered as members.

"To disagree with the authority in the church, is the same as disagreeing with God," said Jeff Phillips, talking about high ranking church members of F.C.C. specifically senior pastor Steve Hall.

While former members are opening up and warning parents and students, one family is desperately trying to reconnect with their son.

"Please, I hope it never happens to anyone else," said John Kluge.

F.C.C. and its student organizations are now on a "red flag list," for questions about its integrity and safety of students. This publication will be given to students in the fall. The church's lease with the Amphi School District expires in June.

If you have a story for the N4T Investigators, email investigators@kvoa.com or call the tipline 520-955-4444.

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