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Amen, Cult Leader, Back Behind Bars

June 19, 1987 GMT

HEMET, Calif. (AP) _ Last week, Lightning bolted. But authorities have proved that the long arm of the law can strike twice against the same cult leader.

Lightning Amen, leader of the Christ Family religious sect, was arrested with four followers Wednesday night after Riverside County sheriff’s deputies surrounded a trailer west of here, the sheriff’s office said.

Amen, 50, had disappeared June 10 just before a jury convicted him of possessing and transporting methamphetamine for sales, possessing a hypodermic needle and possession of a concealed weapon in October 1986.


He faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. However, further charges are pending following the seizure of suspected drugs, $4,200 in cash and several weapons when he was arrested Wednesday, officials said.

Amen was formerly known as Charles Franklin McHugh. His Christ Family has about a dozen members and roamed the California desert before settling in the Hemet area in the early 1980s. Followers are vegetarians who wear white robes and espouse non-violence.

In December 1985, 10 cult members were sentenced to jail for growing $900,000 worth of marijuana at the sect’s ranch.