The Evangelical Alliance, which represents about a million charismatic Christians, has finally admitted the existence of false memory syndrome, the condition sceptics believe explains all accounts of Satanic ritual abuse and similar horrors.
The alliance's decision was reached at a private consultation held in London this week. It is to draw up guidelines for dealing with such cases, though it continues to believe in the existence of ritual abuse.
One of the cases discussed at the consultation was that of Rebecca Dallimore, now 21, who came to believe that her parents had abused her after she started attending charismatic meetings at the home of the Rev Arthur Rowe, Rector of Hockwold in Norfolk.
The revelation came in the form of a "word of knowledge" - as divinely inspired prophecies are called by modern evangelicals. Ms Dallimore had earlier learnt by the same means that she had stomach cancer, and, later, that she had been cured.
As a result of her new beliefs, she left her family and home, and is now living in a Christian community in Dorset. She still apparently believes that her parents molested her, though a police investigation was able to find no evidence of it.
The Bishop of Huntingdon has appointed two retired priests to mediate between the diocese and her furious parents. They have refused to see even these priests without the presence of a counsellor from the anti-cult group Catalyst.
One diocesan official said: "The Rector was out of his depth with what was happening. He had never imagined that he had activated this in her. What they have been doing has to some extent been a caricature of what has gone on in more responsible places."
A spokesman for the diocese of Ely claimed that the priest had been disciplined in unspecified ways. He added that it was extraordinarily difficult to sack a rector, as the Dallimore parents are demanding.
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