Cult link with the victims of distress

Manchester Evening News (UK)/December 1996
By Ray King

Community care staff have been put on alert after links emerged between a religious cult and people with mental health problems.

An employee of an agency which provides special-needs housing for Manchester social services and the health authority revealed several vulnerable clients with schizophrenia had attended services staged by the "love bomb" sect, the Manchester Christian Church.

The source told the Manchester Evening News that he knew one care-in-the-community client in south Manchester who had become involved with the church and had recruited at least three others. The Evening News passed the information to the town hall's social services department and the Manchester Health Authority who both expressed concern over potential dangers.

Social services chairman Martin Pagel said: "We would take very seriously any risk of vulnerable people being exploited for any purpose." Edna Robinson, in charge of community care issues for the health authority, said: "We would alert support staff working with individuals and keep a watching brief."

Governors of Ducie High School last month suspended permission for the Manchester Christian Church to stage services there. The cult has also been banished from college campuses across Britain after ex-members claimed it broke up families and used brainwashing techniques - charges denied by its Manchester head, Malcolm Cox.

The social worker who contacted the Evening News said: "I have no evidence any of our clients has come to any harm and only a small handful may be involved, but it's a potentially very risky situation. If people suffering from illness are weaned away from supervision and any controlled medication they could become a danger to themselves and to other people."

But Mr Cox, of West Didsbury, said: "I don't see there's any problem. We have members of our church who are social workers."

He added: "We would encourage people on medication to take it and to listen to the advice of their social workers."

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