Shops pressured to remove cult book

Members of a religious cult on the West Coast appear to have pressured at least one local store into pulling a book from their shelves that argues their leader is a manipulative sexual deviant.

The book, Sins of the Father, tells the story of Phil Cooper who escaped from his father Neville's strict religious community and in a daring night-time raid rescued his five children from the sect.

Neville Cooper, who now goes by the name Hopeful Christian, was jailed for 18 months for sex offences against his son and some young women in the community.

Phil Cooper told the story of his life growing up in the cult, detailed his father's offences and revealed how he and his children were able to escape the oppressive cult in the book that was released to stores this week.

About 500 people live in the cut-off community called the Gloriavale Christian Community at Haupiri on the West Coast, inland from Greymouth.

The group regularly shop in Greymouth and they run one of the largest dairy farms on the West Coast called Canaan Farming Ltd, which has dairy cattle, deer, ostriches and sheep.

The book was pulled temporarily from the shelves at The Warehouse in Greymouth after some of the Gloriavale members visited the store and spoke with a team leader, manager Craig Bryant told the Greymouth Star.

"The team leader at the time thought she was doing the right thing. It's back on sale now, it's in the book department."

Greymouth Paper Plus owner Doug Truman told NZPA he was selling the book but would not confirm if it was only available from behind the counter.

However, he said he had "chosen not to make a display on it".

He said the people from the Gloriavale community were in his shop "all the time".

"They really are pretty loyal shoppers in the community so we just give them the respect that they are due for that."

He would not confirm if he had been asked to pull the book display by anyone from Gloriavale.

A spokesman for the Gloriavale community would not confirm if any of their members had visited the stores.

"If you rang up the bookstores you'd find out whether that was the case or not," he said.

Phil Cooper, who is in New Zealand for the book launch in Christchurch last night, said he was not surprised the group wanted the book hidden from view.

"My dad's running scared. Financially he's going to suffer from this and he knows it. But (the book) wasn't written for that motive."

Phil Cooper said the more the group attempt to cover up the existence of the book, the more publicity it was going to receive.

Neville Cooper's grandson Israel Cooper, who along with his father helped author Fleur Beale write the book, said he understood that business people did not want to bite the hand that fed them.

However, he hoped freedom of information would be more important than money.

"It went through my mind this might happen, but I didn't think it would."

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