About 200 members of the Full Gospel Assembly, an obscure American religious sect, barricaded themselves in their Benson, Arizona, homes July 4 to await an "imminent" atomic war which would destroy the world but leave them sole survivors.
About 200 members of the Full Gospel Assembly, an obscure American religious sect, barricaded themselves in their Benson, Arizona, homes July 4 to await an "imminent" atomic war which would destroy the world but leave them sole survivors. News of this event, they claim, was given to a member in a "vision from God".
Two unexpected setbacks have been suffered by sect members so far. One: Scheduled dates for the world's destruction -- July 4 to July 9 -- have passed, leaving the world still intact, the other was the July 10 arrest of two members on charges of kidnapping brought by two irate husbands on the grounds that the men had forced their wives - who were sect members - and children to enter basement bomb shelters from which they have yet to emerge. The arrested members deny the charges.
Sect members, mostly from Ohio, settled in Benson just over a year ago, during which time they have built houses and businesses on a tract of about 100 acres they bought on the outskirts of town. Firmly convicted that the end of the world was in sight, they had dug large atomic-bomb shelters beneath their homes, all connected to each other by tunnels. To last them over the "period of devastation", they had stocked the shelters with about GBP15,000 worth of food, much of it obtained from local tradesman on credit.
No one was aware that they had withdrawn to their shelters until officials of the County Highway Maintenance Division began enquiries about a sect-member employee who had failed to report for work. Later, two fathers reported that their wives and children were missing and local police investigations revealed that they were with the entombed group.
Undismayed that their prophecy had misfired, members insist on remaining underground at least until July 16, in the event of a delay of which they have not yet been "informed".