Women stand by Paton

The Sun Times, Canada/February 25, 2009

Five women belonging to Mount Zion Full Gospel Ministries Inc., near Acton, have issued a statement denying Pastor Andrew Paton brainwashed them into leaving their husbands to devote their lives to the church.

They all were the subject of a W-FIVE investigative broadcast Saturday that looked into the activities of the church and why six church members, all female and apart from their husbands, live together in two houses in Acton.

Paton, who lives near Wiarton with the daughter of members of the tiny congregation, denied Tuesday the allegations of brainwashing or what he views as the implication that he presides over a cult.

"It's untrue because there's no proof to back up their allegations," Paton said in an interview Tuesday. "They don't have proof. All they've got is one family's story . . . who else has come forward and said that I did that?"

He said he "never" counselled a woman to leave her husband, including parishioner Alice Sanderson, as was alleged on the W-FIVE broadcast. He said he hasn't watched the report, but he has an audio tape of it from his parishioners, which he hadn't heard.

Paton delivered to The Sun Times signed letters from women who all live in the two Acton homes. Paton had nothing to do with those marital partings, he said.

One letter was signed by five of the six women who belong to the church: Edith Giles, Frieda Paton, Alice Sanderson, Mary Anne Stewart and Catharine Morden.

"We the members of Mt. Zion Full Gospel Ministries deny the allegation that women are being influenced to leave their husbands and families." All have "a relationship with their families," to some extent, the typewritten letter says.

The letter says they also deny any allegation of "brainwashing." "In fact we are all productive busy citizens who are responsible to jobs, families and personal duties in our lives."

The members also "deny the allegation of being a cult." Their letter says six parishioners live together in two homes as a "cost-saving measure." Two parishioners each own a home and others pay rent to them, the letter says.

They've never been told by Paton that people outside the church are "contaminated," as they say Saturday's broadcast alleged. Paton "is paid a house allowance from the church, and is not paid any monies by the congregation," the letter further said.

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