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Exclusive Brethren

News Summaries from ICSA Periodicals

Evidence contradicts Exclusive Brethren denial that group is antigay
“The Exclusive Brethren (EB) church has denied that it is ‘resolutely anti-gay,’ even though it mistreats its gay members, and has launched numerous political campaigns against the rights of LGBTI people starting over a decade ago. Fairfax Media has reported that the cashed-up separatist religious sect, which donates secretly to the Liberal Party, has ‘virulently anti-gay’ attitudes.” Fairfax Media obtained a number of internal documents, including a note in which EB leader Bruce Hales “tells a young girl she should not live with her father because he is homosexual.” . . . The EB’s PR representative Benjamin Haslem said, “The Church has never campaigned against LGBTI individuals or communities.” (The Age, 06/19/16) [IT 7.3 2016]
Exclusive Brethren school gets record funding
 “An exclusive private school run by an ‘extremist cult’ that warns children to stay away from the outside world and bans its graduates from physically attending university receives more in government funding per student than up to a third of the state’s public schools. Data obtained by Fairfax Media from the MySchool website reveals that a school [Meadowbank Education Trust (MET)] run by a Protestant religious sect, the Exclusive Brethren, receives $800 more in public funding per student than Homebush West, which has been forced to ban children from running in its playground due to overcrowding.  . . . Private schools that receive a similar level of public funding, such as Emmaus Catholic College in Kemps Creek, have one-twentieth the level of private donations. The combination of a high level of donations and public funding has meant that the Brethren school has been able to guarantee funding of up to $22,000, per student per year, more than many private schools secure through student fees, according to MySchool data.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 7/5/16) [IT 7.3 2016]
Exclusive Brethren leader Bruce Hales says man “in torment” should kill himself
At a meeting in the United Kingdom, Bruce Hales, an Australian man who leads the Exclusive Brethren, was asked how to deal with a 25-year-old man with “mind trouble” because he was in contact with “opposers”—people who have left the Brethren. It is believed that the opposers in question are members of the man’s family who left the Brethren. Hales said that the man would be better off committing suicide than dealing with “the opponents of the truth.” Former members of the group, who note that some members are heavy drinkers, see similarities between the comments of Mr. Hales and past instances of outbursts associated with alcohol. A Brethren spokesman said, “Mr. Hales makes it very clear he is not advocating any person taking poison or committing suicide. He is using a common, everyday metaphor … It is hardly unusual for a preacher or minister in any religion to warn a congregation to avoid people who extol certain beliefs and that those beliefs are ‘poison.’” (Sydney Morning Herald, 09/19/15) [IT 7.1 2016]
Excommunication from Exclusive Brethren costs man his family 
Robin McLean, a former member of the Exclusive Brethren, recently described his life inside the group and the price of leaving his family. The 58-year-old was born into the church community known as the Plymouth Brethren. Mclean began to question the rules the group had. He hoped the Brethren leaders would realize that forcing families to separate because of their differing beliefs was too callous to continue, or that governments would force the group to cease. Instead, the church withdrew from and excommunicated him. His family who is still with the group said Mclean chose to leave his family and pursue his own life. For his part, McLean said the small community’s withdrawal brought a pain he would not wish on his worst enemy. “All your support is taken away from you. That’s a terrible feeling.” (The Dominion Post, 5/18/15) [IT 6.3 2015]

The Exclusive Brethren—also known as the Plymouth Brethren, which Australia Prime Minister Rudd once called a cult, may be cleared by the West Australia Housing Minister to build their proposed Parkville Hall. The minister has moved to modify the local council’s new planning scheme so that restrictions on “places of worship” in residential areas are relaxed. The council says it’s not concerned about Brethren religious belief; it simply wants to discourage development believed to be inappropriate for the neighborhood. (West Australian, 7/26/13) [IT 5.1 2014]

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s government has given more money ($13.9 million) than his predecessor (who gave $9 million) to support Exclusive Brethren schools, even though Rudd labeled the group a cult when he was in the opposition. [csr 8.2, 2009) 

A senior Liberal Party (Australia) source has confirmed allegations made in a new book, Behind the Exclusive Brethren, that members of the Exclusive Brethren tried to offer large donations, anonymously, to help the re-election campaign last year of Prime Minister John Howard. The source said, “What the Liberal Party stands for should not be confused in the mind of the electorate by the acceptance of donations from fringe groups.” Brethren members, active lobbyists who are urged on principle not to vote, took advantage of the Howard government’s lax disclosure law to put $370,000 into a pro-Howard and anti-Green campaign in 2004. [csr 7.3 2008) 

Despite having been accused of being an “extremist cult “ that “breaks up families” by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, before he was elected, his new government has now guaranteed the Exclusive Brethren $10 million for its 31 schools. Rudd, who had promised in his electioneering to maintain funding levels for all non-government schools, said in 2006: “Based on my advice [the Exclusive Brethren] actively discourage children from using information technology [and] from learning how to use computers properly because they will provide avenues of contact with the outside world.” [csr 7.1 2008) 

The New Zealand government has accused the Australia-based Exclusive Brethren of lying when it denied that, as an organization, it attempted to influence New Zealand elections. Senior Brethren members in New Zealand, however, spent more than $1 million on literature deriding the Government and its supporters. [csr 6.1 2007] 

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has found that a company run by a member of the Exclusive Brethren, which is deeply involved in political lobbying, totally funded a $420,00 (U.S.) advertising campaign attacking the Green Party and calling for the re-election of the Howard government in 2004. . . Prime Minister John Howard has now warned his MPs not to accept donations from the Brethren.[csr 6.1 2007] 

Extremist Group Drops Worship-Hall Plans 

The conservative Christian group known as Exclusive Brethren or Plymouth Brethren Christian Church and described by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as an extremist cult has walked away from plans to build an 800-seat hall in the Perth Hills of Australia. Mundaring Gospel Trust, acting for the sect, has withdrawn its plans for a meeting hall in Parkerville. Whether the trust will look at an alternative site is not clear, with a spokesman saying the group was “considering its options….” 

The 13-month dispute began in April last year when the shire rejected the proposed hall, arguing it would breach the shire’s proposed planning scheme, was inconsistent with its existing scheme, and would “have a detrimental visual impact.” The trust appealed to the State Administrative Tribunal and wrote to Acting Planning Minister Bill Marmion. Mr. Marmion initially moved to relax the council’s restrictions on allowing places of worship in residential areas, but subsequently endorsed a scheme that was not compatible. Once it was determined the trust’s proposal would not be allowed under the shire’s scheme, the SAT provisionally dismissed the application and the trust withdrew its application. (The West Australian, 5/26/14) [IT 5.3] 

The Exclusive Brethren, said to have 18,000 members in Australia, is likely once again to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to influence a national election. Representatives of the organization led by “Elect Vessel” Bruce Hales — whose members don’t vote, believing that governments are chosen by God — often shares it’s views with conservative politicians it supports in elections. . . Prime Minister John Howard has refused to disclose what he said in talks with Brethren members on the grounds that such discussions are confidential. . . A 40-year member who fled the Brethren six years ago, with her children, has told TV reporters that she knows of many cases of sexual abuse that the Brethren have covered up and dealt with internally. . . Senator Bob Brown said the Prime Minister has criticized extreme Muslims for repressing women but not the Brethren for repressing women in the workplace, in church, and in the home. [csr 5.3 2006] 

Exclusive Brethren followers in Melbourne, Australia, have threatened Green political party leader Bob Brown with “eternal damnation” if he goes forward with a parliamentary inquiry into their activities, which have included a campaign against his party in a recent election because of its position on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Brown called the group a “shadowy right-wing religious sect” that had “invested heavily in politics.” [csr 5.2 2006 2006]

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