By Alexandra Figares
A rumor surrounding a religious group operating a sex trafficking ring on campus is spreading like wildfire on social media – and it is false, according to University Police Chief Steven Moore.
“I just wanted faculty and staff to be aware, if you hear the sex trafficking rumor around campus, this is something that has been going on at campuses around the country and is false,” Moore said in an email sent to students and faculty at FGCU.
The rumor, which involves people from a religious group approaching students in the area preaching a “God the Mother” narrative, has been spreading around college campuses across the country, from the University of Central Florida to the University of California.
Most recently, on Aug. 21 the Orlando Sentinel reported on a hoax where social media posts linked the same religious group to sex trafficking.
Online forums like Reddit have addressed the rumor, with one user describing a similar incident on a college campus in 2013.
“Last night a friend of mine and I were approached by a guy preaching about the ‘God the Mother’,” user Salohcin894 wrote. “He was talking about how if there was a father and a son that there must be a mother, and that she was waiting for her children to return to the kingdom, or something similar to that effect.”
The belief behind “God the Mother” can be linked to the World Mission Society Church of God, a non-denominational Christian church with origins in South Korea.
The church’s belief system centers around the worship of a South Korean woman named Chang Gil Jah, believed to be “God the Mother”, according to the church’s official website.
The website claims if there is a “God the Father” and “Children of God” then there must be a “God the Mother.”
The church has about 4,500 locations across the globe and about 2.7 million registered members in 175 different countries, according to the church’s website.
While links between sex trafficking and this religious group don’t appear to be showing up, human trafficking is a continuous issue in Florida.
Florida has the 3rd-highest rates in human trafficking in the nation, with 604 cases reported in 2017, according to the human trafficking hotline.
Check back with Eagle News for updates.