Religious sect's new Swiss home prompts concerns

By Gareth Wyn Williams   |   Local democracy reporter   |
Sunday 12th August 2018 8:27 am
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Scenic Wildhaus in north east Switzerland

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A co-operative linked to a controversial religious sect that tried to set up a venture in the Isle of Man is creating a stir at its new base in Switzerland.

In 2010, concerns were raised with the Bishop over the arrival of German Klaus Pesch in the island and what his plans might be for a site off Crossags Lane, Lezayre.

Herr Pesch is spiritual leader of a global religious organisation called The Team.

Former members of The Team mounted a highly critical online campaign against the activities of the organisation which they branded a ’cult’.

They claimed members were manipulated and isolated from their families.

Herr Pesch was director of Crossags Ltd, which was refused planning permission to build a barnhouse containing living accommodation, a workshop and storage area in a field hidden away from other buildings.

Now a Swiss publication Beobachter (The Observer) has reported how the activities of a co-operative linked to Klaus Pesch is causing rumblings in the ski resort of Wildhaus, in the Toggenburg region of north east Switzerland.

The Bionarc co-operative has bought up the old town hall and has plans to replace it with a four-storey residence.

Neighbours are objecting to the plans.

According to its website, Bionarc provides consultancy and training in the renewable energy sector. Herr Pesch is a co-director of Bionarc in Germany and is a member of the co-operative in Switzerland.

Beobachter reports: ’Behind the wooden clapboard facades, discontent is spreading.

’Without looking carefully, the local council has rolled out the red carpet for a sect, it is said in the village.’

Mayor Rolf Zullig said there had been no adverse information about the buyer and the current planning application will be treated like anybody else’s.

He said: ’A destructive sect could become a problem for the tourism destination. We do not want that. And if the political community can prevent it through legal action, then it will.’

But co-operative president Patrick Rupf told Beobachter that he denied all allegations against Herr Pesch and The Team.

He said he himself belongs only to a group of believing Christians, a loose circle of nine friends who seek the truth in the Bible, and who do not believe in the end of the world.

He said they came to Toggenburg because they have family roots there.

Herr Rupf insisted there is neither an organisation nor an organisational structure, nor a leader.

He said: ’Klaus Pesch enabled me to enter into a personal relationship with God.’

He described his spiritual mentor as a ’harmless’ man, who is ’not a manipulator’.

There is no blind obedience to the team, no control delusion, no healing exclusivity and no contact ban, he added.

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