I no longer have any direct part in helping people leave the JA, but if anyone does require that kind of help, I am willing to forward your request to someone better placed to help you. If you ask for help or advice, nothing you say to me will be published or find its way back to the Jesus Army.
Talking to Noel Stanton and Mick Temperate again more than vindicated all our whistle blowing activities. This was a life affirming experience. We had always hoped that we'd had an impact, but we could not have anticipated quite how massive an impact it had been. Their candour on this point was illuminating.
The most important outcome, was an acknowledgement made by Mick "Temperate" Haines that throughout our campaign we had not been untruthful, only "unhelpful". Given their legal threats in the 1980s, this was quite a revelation. I'd always been scrupulous about only telling the truth, but I'd never dreamed that anyone in the JA would ever admit this.
Who are the JA anyway?
In this blog I make frequent reference to the JA (Jesus Army) despite the fact that when I was a member the JA didn't actually exist yet. I left the New Creation Christian Community (a commune), which formed part of the JFC (Jesus Fellowship Church), then regarded by many as a cult, in 1984 after 3 years there. When I was there, we were known as the Jesus People (or in Christian circles as Bugbrooke). The JA came into being in 1987. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Army I co-wrote the Wikipedia article with a "neutral" editor, Rumiton and with the JA's Representative, John Campbell. I wrote as Bristol Sycamore. Here you can read the some of the negotiations. There are 2 archives as well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Jesus_Army
However, I eventually stopped contributing a couple of months ago when the JA team stopped consulting and started comprehensively sanitising the wikipedia article. It now reads very much like an advert for the JA.....and cannot be considered neutral in any sense at all.
I'd originally got involved in the writing process because an earlier version of the Wikipedia article (as now) had acted as a PR exercise for the JA, so something more critical was called for -to balance things up. As the earlier article had been very pro-JA (and had led to censorship of dissent), the critical version was strongly worded (9nd Nov 07) http://ja-1984.blogspot.com/2007/10/wikipedia-someone-please-re-write-crit.html However, the more embarrassing revelations made the JA more willing to negotiate a more neutral article.
Things have come full circle. I don't know if I have the energy or inclination to get involved with the process again; there seems little point when you know that ultimately you will be steam-rollered. But hopefully someone else will pick up the baton and run with it from here.
The censored version
Interestingly, Answers.com and halfvalue.com picked up the more critical version of the Wiki article and it still shows in Google searches. The former have subsequently picked up the sanitised version, but halfvalue still carry the one John Campbell suppressed
The photo comes from an article about the Jesus Fellowship's attempt to use legal action to have me silenced. Western Daily Press was also threatened with a lawsuit if they published! When they wouldn't, the JFC's response was to issue various statements designed to rubbish my character.
Angry Young Man circa 1989
My beardy period! Front page articles appeared in most of the National tabloids. More in-depth articles appeared in the Guardian and the Observer and there were numerous TV documentaries. I was even interviewed on Newsnight! I was invited to talk to a lot of church congregations, to a regional Samaritans meeting, to a number of anti-cult gatherings, etc. There was a lot of concern. I was even asked to contribute to a House of Commons sub-cttee on cults.
In my element
I'm never happier than when I'm in my workshop being creative.