Wal-Mart owned “Sam’s Club” in Natick, Massachusetts has decided to prohibit fundraising at its store by “Hope Worldwide,” reports Metro West Daily News.

The store responded to complaints from the community regarding “Hope Worldwide,” which is an extension of the “International Church of Christ” (ICC). This group has frequently been called a “cult.”

The ICC is an independent religious organization and not affiliated with any denomination. Kip McKean, a former college ministry leader once funded by the Houston Memorial church of Christ, founded it in 1978.

The Houston church of Christ, as a result of serious allegations, ended their support of McKean shortly before he began his own church.

The ICC recruited the teenage daughter of a Natick family. That family became concerned due to the extraordinary control the group exercised over their child’s life. Their daughter later left, but the parents now have begun a campaign to expose the group throughout their area.

The ICC is known for its use of “discipleship training,” through which each member is matched with a partner for accountability. This can be seen as a pyramid scheme of control, culminating with virtual dictatorial power at the top.

The ICC’s recruiting and “discipleship” efforts have drawn bad press and complaints from around the world. However, the “cult” has grown to more than 100,000 members.

The ICC frequently targets college students and has been banned from many campuses. Apparently they are now including high school students within their recruitment efforts. This may ultimately raise the issue of the ICC abrogating parental authority with minors.

The “International Church of Christ,” has often been called a “cult.” The group was founded by Kip McKean in the Boston area of New England, but quickly spread to old England as well. Its membership went from a mere dozen in 1978 to more than 100,000 in twenty years, though now its numbers appear to be slipping.

Damian Thompson, an English journalist spent a week with the group to make a documentary and said, ” I did not get the impression that they were a sinister group,” reports The Times. Maybe Mr. Thompson should have stayed longer.

In the United States and around the world Kip McKean’s “International Church of Christ” has received perhaps more bad press than any other group called a “cult,” with the possible exception of Scientology.

These reports have included suicides seemingly linked to the group and its influence, the “deprogramming” of members and its expulsion from numerous college and university campuses.

A troubling issue has also been the lack of detailed disclosure regarding the total compensation received by some of the ICC’s top leaders. ICC founder Kip McKean is a resident of an exclusive gated California community. He calls a half –million-dollar condo home. Mr. McKean recently went on a “sabbatical,” presumably with pay.

Whatever the “politically correct” description is for this “new religious movement,” it has apparently hurt many participants. And its attrition rate has continued to climb in recent years. There now may be more former ICC members than current ones.

The ICC requires each candidate for baptism to “count the cost” before becoming a “disciple” and officially entering the group through ritual immersion. But shouldn’t the real question be what cost those who left personally paid?