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Source : 04/09/1987 Kettering Evening Telegraph

Church leaders today warned people to think twice before joining a controversial religious sect which is buying a house for 12 of its followers at a secret location in Kettering.

The county-based Jesus People hope to move into the turn-of-the-century property next month. They now have around 50 community homes in Britain, all governed by strict rules including no television, radio or pop music.

The 20 year-old radical Christian group, led by preacher Noel Stanton, formed an offshoot, in May and this had been campaigning for new recruits throughout the county all week.

A convoy of 100 Jesus Army vehicles is due to drive through Kettering, Corby and Wellingborough tomorrow afternoon.

In an exclusive interview with the ET, Mr Stanton said the drive was part of a national crusade against falling moral standards. He said: 'There is a real need for the Christian Church to wake up and fight the evils that are spreading through society.'

Mr Stanton said the Jesus People achieved this in two ways - by bringing Christianity to drug addicts, criminals, prostitutes and other needy people and by building up the ranks of the Jesus Fellowship, which has an estimated 850 members in Britain.

But the Rector of Kettering, Canon Frank Pearce, said: 'I've had experience of these sort of sects before where people have been the subject of separation from their families and it has caused a great deal of sadness. People who go into them often let themselves in for something they probably didn't bargain for at the outset.'

'My own thoughts about these Jesus People aren't terribly complimentary but one has to accept there are different types of Christianity. This is a free country and people can do what they like as far as religion is concerned.'

Lance Keeling, a member of the Kettering Parish Church congregation who works as a volunteer counsellor with families torn apart by cults, told the ET: 'We're concerned that people are being sucked into an organisation which is preaching Christianity but which sets its own teachings above those of the Bible.'

He said the Jesus People or Jesus Fellowship as it is also known, contained many good Christians. But he added: 'When a group becomes restrictive and authoritative we have to worry about its doctrines.'

'Northampton churches are aware of this problem but many of the churches in this area have been very slow to recognise the Jesus People, which appears to be orthodox Christianity. But when you delve deeper you find it portrays all the characteristics of a cult.'

Mr Stanton said he was unhappy that people referred to his organisation as a cult or sect but added: 'It's inevitable when something is new.'