Pop stars inspired Gloriavale member to escape

Gloriavale Christian Community. Photo: ODT files
Gloriavale Christian Community. Photo: ODT files
Secretly listening to Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Eminem inspired a young member of the Gloriavale religious sect to flee and pursue a career in pop music.

Enoch Loyal, 20, was born and raised in Gloriavale, but revealed that he fled the Christian sect when he was 16 after he discovered "worldly songs" and wanted to become a singer.

He told Stuff that he would sneak away from the secluded West Coast community as a young teen, and reattach aerials to a transistor radio that had been removed by Gloriavale leaders.

During these secret outings, Loyal would listen to FM radio stations and for the first time heard popular music.

Tracks by Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Eminem inspired Loyal to dream of leaving Gloriavale and becoming a singer himself.

"All the worldly songs on the radio influenced me, I used to memorise them and sing them to myself, I trained my voice to sing like them," he told Stuff.

An image from TVNZ documentary Gloriavale: A Woman's Place. Photo: Supplied
An image from TVNZ documentary Gloriavale: A Woman's Place. Photo: Supplied
Loyal currently lives near Geraldine in South Canterbury with another Gloriavale escapee.

He explained how he left the infamous community, where his mother, three brothers and sister still live.

His father was excommunicated when Loyal was just 1.

Loyal said he would sneak out of the community and make phone calls to the outside world from a nearby farm.

He made contact with other Gloriavale leavers - and arranged for one of them to pick him up when he fled in 2015.

"I didn't tell my Mum I was leaving but all my family knew I wanted to leave," he told Stuff.

"I wish the rest of my family could leave but they are too scared to leave.

"It's brainwashing, in there you don't think for yourself, you get told to do things.

"My dream is to sing, to be a popular singer."

Gloriavale was started by Neville Cooper, aka Hopeful Christian, in 1969 at Cust, north of Christchurch.

Cooper, who was convicted and jailed for sex offending, moved the sect to Haupiri near Greymouth in the 1990s.

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