UK boy wants to stay with religious sect for life

July 26, 2000
By Jason Hopps

LONDON (Reuters) - A British teenager who left his home to join a religious sect dismissed suspicions he had been brainwashed and abducted and said on Wednesday he hoped to stay with the group for the rest of his life.

Bobby Kelly, 16, joined the Australian-based "Jesus Christians" two weeks ago after meeting members of the sect when shopping with his grandmother in Romford, Essex.

"I'm fine, I'm better than usual and enjoying my life," Kelly told BBC radio from a phone box at an unspecified location somewhere in Britain.

"I know exactly what I'm doing and exactly who I've joined...I'm staying with the group, hopefully for the rest of my life," he said.

The BBC won the right to broadcast the conversation after the High Court's Mr Justice Munby set aside an injunction brought by Kelly's family that banned any interviews with the teenager.

Munby on Tuesday made an impassioned plea for Bobby to come out of hiding, saying he had absolutely nothing to fear and his family would not be cross or upset. Because of suggestions that Bobby may go to one of the sect's overseas groups, the teenager has been made a High Court ward.

But Kelly, who was living with his grandmother before he disappeared, reassured his family he would remain in Britain.

"I plan to stay in this country for at least the next two years," he said. "The people in the group are normal, except they believe in Jesus and try to commit their life to his teachings. They don't burn babies and eat them or do anything nasty like that."

The Jesus Christians, who bill themselves as a "Live-by- faith, work-for-God-not-money Christian community" have been posting regular Bobby Kelly updates on their website.

The group, founded in 1981 by Peter Mackay, said it was seeking legal advice to challenge the decision to make Bobby a ward of the court.

"The real nitty gritty of this whole silly case has been over whether Bobby is either (a) being held against his will; or (b) being chased because he ran away from his family. Bobby and we categorically deny either of those suggestions," the Jesus Christians said on its website.

In the BBC interview Kelly gave no indication he would quit the sect to return to his family.

"I'm very homesick, I miss my nan and my mom and my sister, but it says in the Bible i have to give everything up for God."

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