Lawsuit Against Cult-Like Group

KWWL Television, Iowa/November 30, 2005

There are new developments over the controversy surrounding a religious group called "Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission." The group, based in Chicago, is accused of preying on hundreds of people, including many Iowans. Many call the group a cult because of its secretiveness and how members are encouraged to disconnect from their families.

Now, the city of Chicago is taking the Mission to court. Ask anyone who has family members in this group and they will tell you this is huge. It's finally a legal step that could help expose what's really going on inside the group. It's a lawsuit by the city of Chicago against Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission. The issue is zoning violations, but Alderman William Banks of Chicago says it could lead to a lot more.

Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission has hundreds of members in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. The group calls itself "Catholic." But in September, leaders of the Catholic Church decided it would no longer recognize the group.

Francis Cardinal George with the Archdiocese of Chicago says, "\Without making any final judgement the thing I thought to say was we will not welcome them officially into the parishes so that's what we've done."

Good, but not good enough for families who have loved ones inside the Mission. Lora and Roger Knott of McGregor have not seen their daughter Ashley Fahey for 14 weeks now. Ashley is a member. Her parents want answers. Lucky for them, Alderman William Banks of Chicago has been investigating Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission for more than two years. The group's headquarters is in his ward. "It's rather scary, the word cult always seems to come to mind in situations like this. I don't know if that's appropriate under the circumstances, but it certainly seems like it," he says.

Alderman Banks is also the city's zoning commissioner. He has denied the group's request for special permits in the past. About four weeks ago, he sent a city worker out to remove the group's signs. The signs said this building is a communication center, but no one is allowed inside. He says that's a violation. "This just seems to be very, very sinister. Nobody wants to answer any questions. Everything is a secret. It's just very unusual."

Like the massive number of security cameras. "I just think if you're going to hold yourself out to a certain standard then you've got to make certain disclosures. This group seems immune to that," Banks says.

Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Chicago is staying quiet, basically leaving the situation in God's hands. "There's a thing in the New Testament where in time it will show that it is. And, if not, then it won't succeed," Cardinal George says.

No one from Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission has returned KWWL's calls over the last three months, including our calls about the lawsuit.

The civil court date is set for December 16th in Chicago.

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