A Tempe church that sprang from a controversial campus ministry in Tucson has been disciplined by Arizona State University for hazing and other misconduct.
Hope Church, accused among other things of sexually humiliating ASU students, will spend the next four years under sanction after a recent disciplinary ruling by the school’s dean of students.
Church officials maintain no wrongdoing occurred.
The latest ASU ruling follows five others in February against Hope student clubs found to be posing as secular groups and collecting personal information from ASU students on the church’s behalf.
As a result, Hope now stands to lose the lucrative benefits it has been receiving from state taxpayers, including hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free rent on campus and access to steep tuition discounts for church leaders and their families.
Hope officials claimed — wrongly — in recent interviews with the Arizona Daily Star that the church still has ASU’s blessing despite the string of recent misconduct findings.
“Hope Church is in good standing with ASU,” Corey Vale, chairman of the church’s board of directors, said in an email Thursday. “ASU has encouraged us to continue our involvement on campus.”
Not so, said ASU spokeswoman Herminia Rincon, who released a statement to that effect Friday on behalf of the university.
“We disagree with the characterization of some Hope leaders that the relationship between the university and the church has not substantively changed,” it said.
Any person or group that engages in misconduct “is not considered to be in good standing with the university.”
The Tempe church, formerly known as Hope Christian Church until a name change several months ago, has been under ASU investigation since last summer. Fourteen people including eight current students filed a 123-page complaint that described Hope as a “bona fide cult,” as detailed in a Star investigation.
The Tempe church was founded and is still led by ex-members of Faith Christian Church in Tucson, which runs a campus ministry at the University of Arizona.
More than 20 former members of the Tucson church described it as a cult in a 2015 investigation by the Arizona Daily Star. The UA investigated but found no proof of misconduct.
Hope’s leaders say the two churches cut ties years ago.
In a June 9 ruling, ASU’s dean of…