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The University of Memphis campus police have been notified about individuals around campus handing out religious literature.

The individuals, who said they are from the World Mission Society Church of God located in Southaven, Mississippi, do not have permission to be on campus, according to Derek Myers, assistant chief of police at the university. Myers said the people can be charged with trespassing if they are caught on campus.

Last week, the group was given a warning about trespassing after a police report was filed. 

Police services have made contact with several individuals who were possibly involved, and the individuals have been placed on criminal trespass status, Mary Balee, chief of the U of M police, said in an email to U of M students and staff.

The group uses Bible verses to prove their belief God is “not only God the Father but also God the Mother,” according to their pamphlet. Students have said the people have been going by the names of Markita, Malia, Mercedes, Chaeri and Jason. They would not give their last names.

There were reports of the individuals being involved in suspicious activity, but Myers said those claims are largely unsubstantiated. Campus police will run background checks of the individuals to check for anything in their past. When asked about the allegations against the church, Malia said they were not true.

“Someone somewhere said that we were trying to kidnap somebody, so we meet at Starbucks to avoid things like that,” Malia said. “We do a lot of good stuff, and it’s so sad that people say that.”

Malia also said the group is a registered student organization at the U of M called “Elohist.” In Tiger Zone, the database for U of M registered student organizations, the group is described as “zealous U of M students who are active members of the World Mission Society Church of God, and who are geared towards displaying the glory of God the Father and God the Mother through various movements.”

Jason said it is sad people are saying these things.

“They don’t want to hear this, don’t want to see this in the Bible,” Jason said. “I feel sad for their souls because when God comes back, they’ll have to answer to God.”

Antaun Andrews, 21, a civil engineering senior from North Augusta, South Carolina, said he was approached by an Asian girl and a black man who wanted to talk about “God the Mother.”

“They were really pushy and asked us to meet up for a one-on-one Bible study,” Andrews said. “After I said no, I just took the pamphlet and said I would call later.”

In addition to Andrews, 20-year-old biology junior Mackenzie White said she was also approached by three members of the group in December.

“I was alone studying in the UC, and three women approached me while I was trying to study,” White said. “They essentially surrounded me, since I was against a wall, so I couldn’t really leave.”

White said one woman asked if she knew of “God the Mother,” and White was asked to come to a bible study.

“The main lady, Markita, started reading from a Korean bible and just saying things at me,” White said. “She asked if I would come to a bible study, so I asked when they were since other organizations on campus have them on certain nights." 

White also said Markita asked for her phone number.

“I reluctantly gave her my phone number, and a few days later, I got a text asking if I would make an appointment for a bible study,” White said. “I just blocked the number because I’m not really a religious person in the first place.” 

Myers also said if someone on campus encounters these individuals, they should clandestinely take a photo and post it on the LiveSafe app to help police identify the people. 

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