Saturday, September 11, 2010

Christian fundamentalist pastor Terry Jones set up German base in quest to 'awaken' Europe

By Kate Connolly

Fundamentalist preacher left Cologne in disgrace after being accused of using fear and control to run sect-like movement
Pastor Terry Jones poses in front of his church
When he arrived in Germany on what he called his "God-sent" mission in 1982, charismatic bible fundamentalist Terry Jones came with a message of hope, promising to show his followers the "riches of the kingdom of God".

Germany, he said, was "central" to his plans to lead the "Christian awakening of Europe". 

At prayer rallies that were used as recruitment drives, congregations dropped to their knees in worship or danced ecstatically in the aisles, so taken were they by him.

But when Jones left Cologne 26 years later it was as a disgraced preacher who was accused of running a sect-like community with an iron fist, forcing members to give him a percentage of their earnings, making them work for little or no money and causing the breakup of families and friendships. He also faked a title as "Doctor of Theology", for which he was fined.

As tension mounted ahead of Jones's plan to burn Qur'ans at his Florida church, it emerged that he had been dismissed by the board of the Christian Community of Cologne in 2008 after years of strife.

Andrew Schäfer, an official sect monitor for the protestant church in Germany's Rhine region who has closely observed the activities of the community, said Jones had "enormous manipulative potential" and believes that his failure in Germany led to his increased desire to achieve fame and notoriety in Florida.

"He has clearly not been able to cope with the immense loss of his power and significance," said Schäfer.

Bankrolled by the late US businessman Donald Northrup, the founder of the Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainsville, Florida, that Jones now leads, the pastor's brief was to establish a branch of the community of Gainsville in the west German city.

Kate Connolly's story continues here.


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