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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, August 5) - Twelve members of a religious cult in Kaupena in the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea have been convicted, censured and released for misleading residents there.

Provincial police commander Superintendent Simon Nigi said this week more than 700 people gathered at Orie village in Imbongu district on July 29 after a woman claiming to be a goddess, promise rapture taking place.

"The followers of the so-called goddess who call themselves God’s Holy Words Church conducted rituals to make themselves holy before 3:00 p.m. on July 29 because they were told by one woman who claimed to be the goddess that all the faithful followers of Jesus Christ would be taken back to heaven," Nigi said.

He said the cult movement was the first of its kind in the province and a lot of people were misled.

He said the group gave away all their personal belongings including pigs, saying that they would not need them because the self-styled goddess allegedly told them that the rapture would take place on July 29 at 3:00 p.m. They began their fellowship on July 25.

"The speaker (goddess) proclaimed that everyone at the gathering would go to heaven. She also claimed that she would purify the sinners’ souls and take then to heaven," said Nigi.

"Police arrived at the scene and arrested the ring leader who was the ‘goddess’ including 23 strong followers of the cult movement. The other 12 were later released because they were old men and women," said Nigi.

He said the other 12 followers of the cult movement were charged under the Summary Offence Act, for willfully misleading the people and caused ill feelings among groups of people of Oreia village and the whole of Imbongu District.

Nigi urged the people not to be misled by false prophets and cult groups.

He said the 12 cultists including the ringleader appeared in the Mendi District Court on Tuesday and were convicted. "Although they were convicted, they were released on good behavior bonds," said Nigi.

August 6, 2004

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