I used to enjoy debating the 'Brethren'. I used to love to pull them up on their inconsistencies and their outright dishonesty. Their deluded dishonesty. But today they have gone from just pulling down the shutters on their closeted world to a contrived barrage of manipulated lies - written by professional spin doctors to Brethren orders - and designed to paint a picture of worldly compliance in all manner of things. There's only one problem with this. It is still untrue. It is still dishonest of them. Let's take their latest rebuttals of a number of points given bythem in haughty disapproval of a recent article in the media.
They say - "The Brethren (PBCC) do not have a set of rules or creed to follow."
The Truth - They do. There is a huge list of things they are not allowed to do. Sure they don't have an official 'Rule Book'. But if you look at the Bruce Hales Ministry Index Book - it liststhousands of things that are allowed and not allowed and reasons along with scripture and verse justification in some cases is given for the ruling. It is one of the most comprehensive religious 'Rule Books' on earth!
They say -Many Brethren are employed by non-Brethren businesses.
The Truth - show me one! I was thrown out for refusing to work for a Brethren business - but had to get out due to poor treatment. They threw an 18 year old out on the street - penniless! And there were hundreds like me. So if you ARE allowed to work for non-Brethren businesses - let me know for sure so I can sue the bastards for wrecking my life over this exact issue!
They say - They do stay in hotels and motels - but generally rely on the hospitality of fellow Brethren members.
The Truth - I remember getting into dreadful trouble with another young 'brother' for staying at a hotel for one night. The truth is - it never happens. Well - not unless they all go out and stay at a motel/hotel for a night to give their rebuttal a chance of truth.
They say- They consciensciously visit the graves of their loved ones.
The truth. They don't. I've never witnessed it even once when I was in and I am frequently in the Brethren sections of two cemeteries and have never seen a Brethren member there in over 40 years. I distinctly remember being told when young that we do not visit cemeteries after a funeral service has taken place. 'We don't 'glorify' death.'
They say - Many Brethren undertake post secondary education studies and students are encouraged to continue formal education.
The truth- is in the detail. Firstly it is a 'withdrawable' offence to attend a University for any of their young people. Bruce Hales their leader - said that if his kids wanted to go to Uni - there would be no place for them at his table. That means - they'd be kicked out. Secondly- no female member would be encouraged to undertake a degree by correspondence or at a Further Education campus. If they can - then show me one. Just one! Better still - show me one Brethren member who has obtained afull degree in the past 20 years. I was told when I wanted to study architecture that "We do not undertake tertiary studies anymore. You must work for a Brethren business" - which usually meant menial work. Or sales. That ruling has been in place since 1971 at least.
They say -Many Brethren churches have windows.
The truth - again, show me one. One that you can see through like every other window in the world. I am surrounded by Brethren churches and not one has anything resembling a window as such. They do not have windows. They do not want their members looking out during a church service nor do they want the world looking in.
They say - regarding role of women - that they are fully involved and give out hymns and such.
The truth. Women are expected to be 'subject'. They do not speak in church services apart from the solitary task of announcing a hymn number - and do not take a leading role of any kind. Where most churches today have women pastors or vicars- no Brethren women are allowed to do such a thing. If they did - they would be ruled 'in-subject' and thrown out. They are supposed to do menial tasks at churches such as baking and cleaning. That's it. It's not even a grey area. They will bang on about a woman's role in the home and in their businesses - but again - show me one woman who is allowed to stand and deliver a gospel reading or to make a comment in one of their church services. It does not happen. It is not allowed to happen.
They say - they are diligent in ensuring that suitable care and compassion is extended to persons who have left the church.
The truth. Categorical bullshit! Dishonest statements like this offend and wound all those who know that this is not the case and never has been. If this is true- why did I spend my first two nights -after I was expelled from their church- in a bus shelter? I have not received one cent in assistance nor one phone call from anyone senior among them asking how I am faring. In over 40 years. To top it off they take your inheritance too! This is a blatant lie - they may have changed their rule on this in the past few months to support this longstanding lie - but it is still an enduring lie. And I and hundreds - if not thousands of others - can attest to this. We are dead to them. There is no other way to describe it. How come I haven't enjoyed any sort of relationship with members of my family at their insistence - for over 40 years? Better still - if you want real hard proof - type in 'Exclusive Brethren' in You Tube. You can actually see it happening there.
They say - that their Women's dress lengths are a matter of personal choice.
The truth - Rubbish! A good way to test this would be for one to be seen with a dress that is 4 inches above the knee. Or in a pair of slacks. It will never happen. It used to be worse though a few years ago. Women were withdrawn from for NOT wearing a 'token' - a strip of velvet across their head when they went out in public. I saw many disciplined over this myself. The 'token' then became a head scarf 35 odd years ago - and heaven help you if you went out without one. Their older members religiously wear them although the younger ones have learned ways around the issue and wear fascinators and suchlike. No woman is allowed to wear jeans or slacks because they are expressly forbidden. It is only a recent phenomenon that the younger women are allowed to trim their hair. They are forbidden to wear it short though. The lie is in the depth of the 'personal choice'. They have little if any choice in these issues - and any 'sister' wearing a dress that was deemed too short would be thrown out immediately if she refused to do as she was told. As a result - the attrition rate among young women is not insignificant. Many leave after they have tentatively formed secret relationships with men outside - whom they have met through business dealings or suchlike. I can think of three cases local to where I live. One even absconded with a worldly teacher at a Brethren school which must smart a bit.
They say - their young people are completely free to marry whom they want to. There is no network for matching up younger people around the globe.
The truth- Not quite right. They do have photo albums so young people can see who is around the place and 'available.' But any 'choice' that was not agreed to by a leading brother or even the world leader himself is not going to happen. And forget anything interracial. It is strictly not allowed. Nor would anyone who is deaf- be allowed to marry a non-deaf person. I witnessed both cases being refused myself. Some brothers who have been the subjected to the sudden death of their spouse and still have children - are practically forced to marry again - fast and local. This rarely works but there is no escape clause here. Of course they won't admit this - because the subjects would be turfed out if they agreed.
They like to say on their web sites that they have no divorces.This is actually rubbish. If a husband or wife is 'dealt with' - the church insists on divorce. If there are children involved these days - they simply turn a blind eye to the whole situation as they now know it would attract to much hostility in the press. The truth remains- they themselves have caused many divorces -where they have forced couples to separate if one was not in the church any more. They then turn the children away from the 'outed' parent with the result that they never see them again. I sent a father some pictures of his kids and their kids the other day. He had never seen them in 40 years and was not aware of the existence of his own grandchildren. Rebutt that Exclusive Brethren!
So - the Brethren continue to lie to protect their 'position'. But they will issue rebuttals to try and make themselves look good and normal. The trouble is - they are NOT normal. They do hurt people. They do destroy families. They do destroy young people's ambitions and lives in some cases. And they do continue to lie about it!