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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.'


The CIC was formed earlier this year to help families all over the country who have been torn apart by some of the hundreds of different cults and sects now active all over Britain.

Organiser Ian Howarth was himself a victim of a mind bending cult when he signed up for a course to help himself stop smoking while he was staying in Canada.

'I signed up for a four-day course and at the end of it I was ready to give them everything I had,' he said. 'Luckily for me a journalist showed me newspaper clippings about the cult.'

'I was very shocked, but after talking to the journalist for a long time I managed to break away, but it was frightening how quickly I was taken in.'

The cult is similar to many which have appeared in this country, and at London University's Centre for Religious Movements, Dr Peter Clark is thought to have identified more than 500 cults and sects active in this country.

The CIC says young, intelligent people with inquiring minds usually make the best victims for the cults, many students at colleges in the country and all over Britain are typical of those they like to prey on.


The Cult Information Centre claim that cult organisations use a variety of high pressure tactics to recruit members.

The mind control methods the CIC say are used by many of the cult groups in this country include:

Hypnosis often disguised as meditation;

Isolation and change of diet, which causes loss of reality and disorientation;

Chanting and singing, which can narrow the mind and induce cult ideals;

Sleep deprivation which makes victims more vulnerable;

Financial commitment, many cults make victims dependant by encouraging them to turn over their assets;

Love Bombing, a technique which creates a false sense of family through hugging, kissing and flattery;

Dress code and confessions, which destroy individuality.

CIC spokesman Ian Howarth said all these techniques are dangerous and often victims claim they are happy despite suffering from lengthy exposure to mind control methods.

He stressed that the did not link the Bugbrooke-based Jesus People with any dubious mind control techniques.