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Source : 02/10/1986 Daventry Weekly Express

SIR: The national newspaper reporter who infiltrated the Jesus Fellowship is more likely to have perceived the reality as opposed to the cosmetic image that the Weekly Express reporter gave last week after accepting an invitation to 'come and see for yourself'.

There are, of course, no dungeons, handcuffs or locked doors at Bugbrooke. The repressive, binding chains there are psychological rather than physical, for the imposed fear of losing salvation and going to Hell if they leave can have a devastating effect on vulnerable souls who are subjected to relentless group pressure to conform.

I sometimes wonder whether even the elders fully comprehend the subtle indoctrination techniques which they themselves have experienced, and which they now practice on others. There is much talk about the 'needy' they profess to help, but never any mention of the university graduates - many from close knit Christian families - who are recruited as potential leaders.

If life in the fellowship is as happy and fulfilled for everyone as the member claims, why has it been necessary for me to answer so many cries for help from church leaders, welfare workers and families who have suffered heartbreak of a deliberately broken relationship over the past 10 years.

Former members who have had the courage to speak out form only the tip of the iceberg of concern, and are not motivated by bitterness. It is a genuine desire to prevent others suffering a similar fate as their own.

The Birmingham Baptist Church has publicly severed all religious links with the Fellowship, and Baptist Union general secretary Bernard Green says they are considering expelling it. The Fellowship has already been disqualified from membership of the Evangelical Alliance.

Finally, may I assure Fellowship members that this letter is not persecution of individuals, of their sincerely held religious beliefs or of their community lifestyle.

The criticism relates to the organisation whose religious credentials may be impeccable but whose practices exhibit many of the well-defined hallmarks of destructive religious cults which are repressive to a degree and totally unacceptable in a free society.