Source : 25/08/1988 Northampton Citizen
Sinister cults are posing a growing threat to local youngsters, according to religious watchdogs and church leaders who this week warned parents to be on the lookout.
Roman Catholic Bishop of Northampton, Francis Thomas, backed a call from the recently set up Cult Information Centre for local parents to beware of religious sects.
The CIC says the next two months are the real danger period for young people who are increasingly falling prey to min-bending cults.
The controversial Bugbrooke based Jesus People come in for some criticism from the CIC, but spokesman Ian Howarth says they are not on the danger list.
'Definitely from what I have heard from ex-members, that group would feature highly as a cult to warn youngsters about,' he told the Citizen.
'I have talked with former members and from what we know the Jesus People are a group I would worry about.'
But he stressed that the Jesus People are not linked with brainwashing tactics the CIC claim some sects use to lure even the most intelligent youngsters into their clutches.
'Every parent with a youngster should be aware of the dangers,' he said. 'But we are aiming mainly at those with youngsters at college or university.'
'Very often parents don't realise what is going on until it is time for youngsters to come home from a holiday or return to college.'
'The Northampton area has it's fair share of potential victims of these groups. If parents have any doubts they should contact us immediately.'
Jesus People spokeswoman Liz Donovan attacked the CIC's comments: 'We are an orthodox Christian church proclaiming the Christian gospel,' she said. 'We are very careful not to speak to very young people.'
'We will go anywhere and try and help anybody of any class or race, very much like the early Salvation Army. Everyone who is with us is here out of their own choice.'
'I am here out of my own choice. I have been here for 14 years, but I can leave whenever I want to. People say things about us but we just have to accept it, they don't come and see, they just say.'
Bishop Francis Thomas has called for parents to be on the lookout for cults and sects which prey on often bright and intelligent young people.
'There are sufficient examples around of people getting caught up in cults to cause concern,' he said this week. 'There is a wide range of groups which people have some cause to be worried about.'
'Some possess a Christian character, but the main thing is if it takes a person's time over and inhibits their independence and freedom, it is wrong.'