Cultists give up bad ways

More than 50 followers of cult leader Steven Tari, also known as “Black Jesus”, surrendered to authorities at a remote village in the Gogol area of Madang on Saturday.

They have reconciled with their fellow villagers and churches they had belonged to before joining the cult. Because of that, police will not charge the villagers, which included women and children.

The event took place on Saturday at Opi village, and was witnessed by more than 300 people from Matepi, Sanepi, Mes, Karog, Brahim, Gal and Opi villages. Madang police witnessed their acceptance back into their villages and the Christian churches.

Police said the people promised not to follow Steven Tari and his cult activities again.

A ward councillor from the area Paul Sume, who had organised the surrender and reconciliation ceremony, urged the people not to follow the cult activities. He told them to return home and start businesses and lead normal lives. He said the cult had resulted in deaths and other major problems for the people in the area.

Recent reports of a young girl being tortured and murdered by cult leader Tari shocked the country, with calls for concerted efforts by police and other authorities to put an end to the cult movement.

Steven Tari, or “Black Jesus”, continues to carry on his activities, supported by a large number of followers. He has evaded several attempts by police to capture him.

Early this year an operation code-named “Operation Black Jesus” only rounded up 50 flower girls, some of whom are serving time in jail while others were ordered by the court to undertake community work. Reports from that operation were that Tari is protected by armed guards.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday November 8, 2006.
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