Source : 25/09/1986 Daventry Weekly Express
The Jesus People have spoken at length this week about what life is really like within their community.
They invited the Weekly Express to visit them at their headquarters at New Creation Farm, Nether Heyford. And the story they have to tell is a far cry from that of the 'sinister cult' portrayed by the national press.
Their message is simply:'We are happy to open our doors so that people can come in and see for themselves'
A community member says: 'People are welcome to come and ask questions and see our way of life.'
'We are all ordinary people and just the same as Joe Bloggs or anybody else. We are a large company of individuals who have all gone through a transformation and have been converted to Christ.'
Northampton MP Michael Morris is calling for the Government to hold an inquiry into the sect, and recent allegations have been made by former community members in a national newspaper. The Sunday Mirror investigation claims to reveal the 'ugly reality behind the face of a sinister religious cult'
'People have go their own minds and there aren't any dungeons and handcuffs here. We have marvellous grub, our clothes are washed, we have clean sheets on our bed and live in a warm house.' a member says 'If that is being exploited then there must be many out there who would like to be exploited.'
It is true that members have adopted 'a communal and sharing way of life' typical of early Christians, he says, and goes on: 'We are trying to show that there is an alternative to the outside world. We have found peace of mind and contentment - we are in sound mind and are very happy.' The member denies allegations that members of the community have died in suspicious circumstances and says that neither is there any evidence to prove that people have taken their own lives.
'It is so sad that there is a continual desire to rake things up that happened at least 10 years ago.' He says. 'We are a community which tries to help the depressed and needy. People die in hospitals there are lots of sick people, but no-one criticises hospitals.'
The Member laughs at claims in the press by ex-members that they were forced to cut themselves off from their families.
'I know of many cases where people who were previously cut off from their parents have only started to love and care for them since they became Christians and joined us.' he says.
And he adds: 'In some cases parents are sad and upset when their child hears the call because they don't have the depth of understanding to know that it is a noble calling.'
He accuses former members of turning against the community through bitterness, because: 'God stood in the way of them having their own way.'
He claims they were unwilling to go through the 'right and honourable' way to find a partner within the community and says: 'They became like spoiled children and it was the beginning of a rift which has grown.
The allegations about a Jesus People 'sex ban' are a result of the bitterness caused because there is a proper orderly procedure for finding a prospective marriage partner, he says.
'Open flirting is frowned upon within the community,' he told the Express. 'It is a great tragedy to walk into church and be looking for the prettiest girl. People come here to get away from all that.'
A man who feels he wants to marry a particular girl can arrange for the people whose house she is living in to be approached, he explains. She is then asked whether or not she would like to get to know the man better.
He admits that couples who flout the standards are checked, saying: 'It might be suggested that they are cool their relationship for a period of months to see if their hearts are right.'
Sex outside marriage is frowned upon, but claims that a sexual relationship within marriage is banned are 'ridiculous'.
'I am a happily married man with three children,' he adds.
He agrees that community members guard against allowing their children to form relationships outside the sect for fears of harmful influences, however.
He says that television and various other aspects of modern society are considered by the community to be harmful, and adds: 'We have made the painful decision that we must be guarded with the children and protect them from what we believe is wrong.'
Children are welcome to invite other young people to community homes and, when they grow up, they are free to make their own decisions.
Women are not viewed as subservient, he explains.
'Although men and women are equal before God, their roles are different and they are different emotionally.'
'Men are in basic authority but women still find the fulfilment and ability to express their attributes and strengths' Some have top jobs in the community's various businesses.
Accusations that community leader Noel Stanton is exploiting members as cheap labour and amassing great personal wealth are likewise dismissed as 'totally ridiculous and scandalous' by the community spokesman.
The man says that he lives with them in a farm house at Nether Heyford and 'shares the same meals and puts his socks in the same bin.' He has no more possessions than anyone else.
He adds that even if he wanted to, the head of the community would be unable to 'stash money away in a Swiss bank account' because the thriving business are open for public view.
Business profits are either channelled back in or taken out for evangelical work.
'In no sense are we afraid to have people coming in to see us and asking questions. We are confident that reasonable open-minded people will realise that the things we are trying to attain are both admirable and noble,' he adds