At a Glance: Gloriavale

  • 24/04/2015

Gloriavale is a controversial Christian community in Haupiri on the West Coast.

It was founded in 1969 by Australian-born evangelist Neville Cooper, who had "a vision to build a better community for our families".

With more than 500 residents, the community strictly adheres to teachings from the Bible, such as "do unto others as you would have them do to you" and rejects the use of birth control and the borrowing of money.

According to its website, the community seeks "to live a practical Christian life that mirrors life in heaven" and that "about 35 babies are born a year, keeping the population young and keen".

Members who have left Gloriavale, however, claim the community is "controlling" and suffocating", with 'elders' often resorting to psychological or physical abuse to keep people in line. Members are forced to abide by a dress code and taught that makeup and jewellery is "wrong" and "not Biblical", they say.

Ex-members also say those under the age of 16 cannot decide to leave for themselves and allege the practice of the sexual abuse of girls by older men.

Cooper, also known as 'Hopeful Christian', served almost a year in jail in 1994 for sexual abuse charges, though ex-members say they were never informed of the reason for his imprisonment.

The community has hit the news in recent years as more and more members have left and gone public with what goes on there, with the New Zealand Herald estimating 22 people have left in the past two months alone.

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source: newshub archive