Students worried after social media rumor spreads

A viral social media post warning of human traffickers fronting as a religious organization inviting “people to bible study” alarmed some Seton Hall students after similar occurrences were reported on campus.

The author of the post, which appeared on Twitter, stated that two women in their late 20s or early 30s tried to recruit people for their organization, discussed “God the Mother” and seemed fixated on women.

A rumor spread about church solicitors reportedly being tied to human trafficking after a post went viral on Twitter.
Merinda Gruszecki/Staff Photographer

“After Googling God the Mother, we found out it’s a ploy used by human trafficking groups right now,” the post stated. “They are abducting young women from campuses and grocery stores.”

The post worried some students who shared that they experienced a similar situation to the one described in the post.

However, Patrick Linfante, the associate vice president for Public Safety, said that Public Safety does not believe the solicitors to be tied to human trafficking.

“Public Safety has contacted other law enforcement agencies and has found no evidence or information that suggest or indicates that they are part of a human trafficking group,” Linfante said in an email. “At this time, all the information available to us indicates this was a rumor started on social media and we have no information to suggest otherwise.”

Linfante said that there were three separate incidents related to the organization that were reported to Public Safety. The incidents occurred in mid-January, right around the time students returned from winter break, but were not reported to Public Safety until mid-February, according to Linfante.

The solicitors did not tell students what organization they were a part of. They asked students about their belief in God and said that God was a woman and that the Virgin Mary was actually God, Linfante said.

Other colleges like the University of Memphis, the University of Mississippi and Vanderbilt University have experienced similar situations.

WREG News, in Memphis, Tenn., attributed the solicitors to an organization called the World Mission Society Church of God. On the World Mission Society Church of God’s website, there is a page that discusses God the Mother.

“The existence of a father naturally indicates there are children,” the site states. “Children can only have life if there is also a mother because it is the mother who gives birth. Christ showed us to pray to our Father in heaven because, as children of God, we also have God our Mother.”

WREG News, The Daily Mississippian (the University of Mississippi’s student newspaper) and the Vanderbilt Hustler (Vanderbilt University’s student newspaper) all reported that law enforcement officials said that the organization did not appear to be tied to human trafficking.

Victor Lozada, a missionary with the World Mission Society Church of God, said that there are members of the church who previously attended Seton Hall. He said in the past those members spoke about their organization with students.

Lozada said that the rumor of the church being tied to human trafficking spread like wildfire on social media.

“This rumor has now been linked to our religious activities, without any type of proof or foundation,” Lozada wrote in an email. “Not only are the allegations completely false with no evidence to support such claims, this rumor has caused unnecessary fear among our congregations and our members.”

Lozada said that the rumors have spread fear among members of the church. According to Lozada, some social media users have threatened violence against members of the church – members have also received threatening phone calls.

Morgan Smith, a senior psychology major at Seton Hall, said members of the church once approached her on campus.

Smith said that she felt uncomfortable talking to the members, but that the talk never felt malicious. She didn’t think to report the incident to Public Safety because the situation seemed normal on a Catholic campus.

Smith said she first heard the rumor that the organization was tied to human trafficking on Twitter.

“I immediately Googled it and tried to find as much information about it as possible,” Smith wrote in an email. “The more I read about it, the more I realized that it might not be a front for human trafficking, but it still seemed pretty sketchy. I was a little nervous, but I tried to brush it off because you can’t always believe what you read on the internet, and especially on social media.”

Though the rumors about the World Mission Society Church of God were found to be untrue, Linfante wanted to remind students that they should always report suspicious persons or activities on campus.

Linfante said, “Remember, ‘If you see something, say something.’”

Ashley Turner can be reached at

Author: Ashley Turner

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  1. The article clearly states there is no confirmed report linked to the accusation but for some reason it still casts doubt on the church’s integrity. I have been a member of the church of God for many years and never noticed any criminal activity in the church. If the church of God is involved in human trafficking, where are the victims or witnesses? No one has come forward and said she fell victim to the church. All the cases this article mentions are just about some students who felt a little bothered by the church’s preaching. Is sharing one’s belief criminal? It is sad that this article seems to raise unnecessary concern about this great church.

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  2. It’s really sad and unfortunate that this false rumor has spread and caused so much unnecessary fear in student bodies and members of the World Mission Society Church of God alike. This all started from a few peoples’ careless words on social media, which are now causing the defamation of an organization that has done nothing but positive things for society. Not to mention, members of the church are being harassed and threatened. I am a member of WMSCOG and I can proudly say that the church as absolutely no connection with human trafficking.

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  3. The World Mission Society Church of God can be found throughout the whole world only carrying out great deeds for the better of society. But such a simple little rumor blinds people who actually visit the church’s website from seeing any of those things. It would be nice to see these reports to be a bit more thorough and link to the videos and sites that show all the community services being done by the Church of God. Here is one for example:
    And a more recent example after Hurricane Maria:

    You can see the church carrying out the same good deeds after almost 10 years in the United States through these links. And that’s just a couple of example where there are thousands.

    It’s interesting to actually see how someone who was approached by a member speaking about their belief, did not feel anything was wrong. Until they read something on social media, which is evidence that those false rumors are affecting people’s points of view towards the organization. In a time where social media has this much power, it is easy to see how it’s actually making people more anti-social. It is easy for those claiming false rumors to just state something so ridiculous and hide behind the screen not taking responsibility for the outcome of their doing. This is a form of bullying that reporters should take serious consideration when writing these articles.

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  4. The teachings of the “World Mission Society Church of God” are grossly erroneous!They are certainly not in keeping with the teachings about Jesus and Mary found in the Bible and Apostolic Tradition. Jesus is God’s Only-Begotten Son from all eternity. As the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed puts it: “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through Him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.” Jesus’ Father is heavenly and spiritual– not physical! The “Church of God” has turned theology on its head, transforming a spiritual reality into a purely human one by treating Jesus’ sonship as physical and biological rather than metaphysical and spiritual. God has no consort — divine or human! St. Thomas Aquinas and the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach us that God is essentially neither male nor female. Rather, He is “Pure Spirit.” The Fathers of the Church, who were the bishops and theologians of the first Christian communities, taught that Jesus, the Son of God Incarnate, was “without a mother” (à meteor) according to His Divinity and “without a father” (à pateor) according to His Sacred Humanity. The “Church of God” therefore professes a heterodox theology that conflicts with what Christians have always believed about Jesus the Christ from the very first centuries of Christianity’s existence. Moreover, one wonders why “Church of God” members feel the need to engage in prosyletism on a Catholic campus? Should they not show more respect for the “Catholic identity and mission” of their “Alma Mater”?To suggest to Catholics, or any orthodox Christian, that Mary is a goddess is disrespectful and blasphemous! Christians have never considered the Blessed Virgin Mary on a par with God. Rather, orthodox believing Christians have always venerated (not worshiped!) Mary as the highest of all creatures by virtue of the singular grace she received to become the Mother of the Son of God, Who, in the fullness of time, became man,like us in all things save sin. All of Mary’s privileges (e.g., Immaculate Conception; Assumption) depend on this fact: that God the Father chose her among all women to be the “Theotokos,” the “God-Bearer.” In the Bible, Mary refers to herself, even in the presence of the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation, as the “lowly handmaiden of the Lord.” This is hardly the language of a goddess! God is One Divine Essence in Three equally Divine Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). In other words, God is a “Trinity,” not a “Quaternity”(with Mary being treated as the goddess component). In the early Church there was a sect of women known collydrians who worshiped Mary as a goddess. But this sect was swiftly condemned as heretical by the official Church. The notion that Mary is a “goddess,” is in fact a pagan one; and consequently has nothing to do with the biblical portrait of Jesus’ Mother. Furthermore, it is most unfortunate that the “Church of God,” has fallen into the grave error of politicizing theology, corrupting it with a radical feminist ideology that is manifestly foreign to Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, which Church (not “sect”) is, historically speaking, the most ancient, most complete and most authoritative expression of Christianity.

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