Friday, May 01, 2009

(For My Aussie/New Zealand Readers) Father Tells of Rescuing Kids from New Zealand’s Gloriavale Cult

I am drooling at the mouth for having enough money set aside for Melton's Encyclopedia Of American Religions, I wonder if the "Cooperites" have a contingent here in the U.S.

New Zealand — For hundreds of people living in a cut-off community called Gloriavale on the West Coast, Neville Cooper speaks the word of God.

For his son Phil, Neville Cooper was a controlling, manipulative, sexual deviant who set out to dominate every aspect of his life - from who he could marry to what he named his children.

Phil Cooper has told his story in a book, Sins of the Father, which has been released recently.

Australian-born Cooper moved to New Zealand as a five-year-old with his father, his mother Gloria and 10 siblings in 1967.

Neville Cooper had already set himself up as a Christian preacher and was invited to speak around the country. However, his brand of fundamentalist preachings saw him at odds with mainstream religious groups.

He ended up establishing a community at Haupiri on the West Coast, inland from Greymouth - where the group of about 500 people still live and obey his word as law.

They are known as the Cooperites.

As a head-strong teenager, Phil Cooper clashed with his father, left Gloriavale and moved back to Australia. But without the support of the community or his siblings, the 16-year-old returned to the West Coast and tried to be an obedient son.

The move proved difficult as Cooper disagreed with his father’s tight control over the community.

Women were only allowed to wear long modest blue dresses, men were leaders of their families, while children’s names had to reflect the philosophies of Neville Cooper.

Phil Cooper says the use of sexual images and movies were prevalent among the older men.

He says he had to endure watching his wife being fondled by his father and young girls were sometimes told to join community elders in hot tubs.

In 1995 Neville Cooper was jailed for almost a year on sexual abuse charges. He was convicted on the testimony of his son and some young women who had fled the compound....