Sect ready to fight for survival; Police raid captured arms

The Press – Christchurch (New Zealand)
Publication date: 2002-08-01
http://– BROKEN URL -/pages/newsreal/Story.nsp?story_id=31874372Off-site Link

Armed men and women were prepared to fight in the 1970s for the survival of Camp David, near Waipara, says a former member of the Full Gospel Mission Fellowship.

John Turton, who is now a Presbyterian minister at Reporoa in the central North Island, said men and women marched as a military group “basically preparing for what I consider was anarchy”.

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The group’s military might was thwarted by a police raid on the camp and members’ homes throughout New Zealand in 1977. Firearms and ammunition were confiscated and charges were laid against several sect members, including some against leader Douglas Metcalf that were later dismissed.

The group is in the news again because of a bid by former members to sell up the Waipara property and give the money to charity.

“I commend the police because they prevented a WacoOff-site Link,” Mr Turton said.

Waco became the scene of a 51-day stand-off between a religious cult led by David Koresh and United States authorities. It ended with Koresh and 85 of his Branch Davidian followers dead.

Police raided again in 1987 by which time a special “hit group” had been set up. But a glitch with the search warrant gave members 48 hours to bury their arms along the highway between Waipara and Murchison and in forests, said Mr Turton.

Mr Turton does not want to see a repeat of the those days and, like another former member Marie Squires, wants the 48ha property at Waipara and the Murchison property sold, to give closure to an era that has left many reeling.

The foundations of the camp collapsed in 1996 after it was revealed Dr Metcalf, the man they were indoctrinated to believe was Jesus, was an adulterer. He died in 1989.

Mr Turton was a 25-year-old airman at Whenuapai Air Force base when he was introduced to the fellowship as a young man looking for direction.

He was excommunicated in 1984, the first to be kicked out of the camp, after writing a 15-page thesis questioning the teachings and interpretation of scriptures at Camp David.

He blames society for sects and cults forming. Society left young people to find their own identity and vision and it was often in sects and cults their questions were answered, their visions formed, and they found community and intimacy.

Mr Turton said the Full Gospel Mission Fellowship offered these qualities but, while people loved and supported each other, there was a seedy side to the lifestyle.

Women were the “lesser creatures in more ways than one” at the camp and children were left to run riot as strict regimes of work and long scripture meetings took their parents away for hours nearly every evening, leaving them mentally and physically tired.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday August 2, 2002.
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