Sunday, 12 October 2014

Exclusive Brethren/Plymouth Brethren Christian Church and the UK Charity Commission

On 3rd January 2014 the UK Charity Commission (CC) issued a major document (http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/media/591398/preston_down_trust_full_decision.pdf) in which they set out their reasons for originally refusing charitable status to the Preston Down Trust (PDT)and subsequently for agreeing to accept a future application.

It is not known if the Exclusive Brethren/Plymouth Brethren Christian Church (EB/PBCC) has yet made an application. All EB/PBCC trust applying for charitable status would have to comply with the conditions set out by the Charity Commission.

The CC document is a powerful indictment of the EB/CC. The proposed trust deeds require that comprehensive rewrite of EB/PBCC teaching and practice is required. The CC has made it clear that granting charitable status is provisional iethat it is subject to review in approximately one year to ensure that all aspects of the proposals have been fully embraced.

It is quite evident that the CC has long thought that the EB/PBCC do not fulfil the requirements of providing, on balance, a public benefit which would enable the church to enjoy charitable status. At no time has the CC tried to tell the EB/PBCC what they can or can not believe or practice but as the statutory guardian of registered charities it is entitled, on behalf of the UK public, to be careful about endorsing by way of public subsidy activities which are considered harmful and detrimental.

In making its conclusions the CC considered the evidence of independent experts, ex-members and other interested parties as well as the trustees of the PDT. It is quite clear that there has been a huge body of evidence which has informed the CC view and which has formed the basis of the restrictionsimposed upon the EB/PBCC. The CC also took into account the recent activities of the EB/PBCC in its attempt to demonstrate that it carries out charitable activities. The CC has a statutory duty to consider all aspects of applications which come before it.

I apologise for the length of this document but it is important to avoid over-summarising. I also recommend that if possible people should read the entire CC judgementI acknowledgethat this may not be possible in all cases so I have attempted to make this paper reasonably comprehensive whlst retaining some level of brevity.

In its review, the CC have highlighted the following concerns(the words in italics are the CC’s own words):

Central to their beliefs is the doctrine of separation from evil and, to this end, they separate themselves to some extent from the world.


The Commission was concerned that the manner in which the expressed purposes of the PBCC is carried out may change over time due to the exposition of the teachings contained in the Holy Scriptures by named ministers of the Lord in the Recovery and their successors in the future. The issue was whether the purposes could be said to be sufficiently certain and definite so as to be able to determine that they are exclusively charitable for public benefit. The possibility of the tenets and practices changing in the future means that, even if the tenets and practices as currently expounded are for the public benefit, subsequent expositions by the current or future Minister of the Lord in Recovery might not be for the public benefit.


On the evidence, the Commission determined that this doctrine (i) resulted in both a moral and physical separation from the wider community and (ii) limited interaction between the Brethren and the wider public. Examples of restrictions imposed on members are in the following areas:


ieating/drinking with non-members;

ii. joining in worship with another faith;

           iii. joining in association with non-members, joining professional bodies, unions, owning  shares in a company, being in a business partnership with non-members;  

iv. living in adjoined premises;

v. voting or holding positions in town councils;

vi. marrying outside of the PBCC;

vii. children participating in a number of school activities including school dinners and religious worship; and

viii. as a result of other restrictions, not attending university.


The Commission noted that the doctrine of separation operates not only in a moral sense as submitted by the PDT but also in a physical sense. The Commission’s evaluation of the evidence supported the view that physical separation is a manifestation of the doctrine of separation which is a central doctrine to the PBCC. Accordingly, the level of interaction with the public is limited to some extent by the very nature of PBCC’s doctrines and practices


The Commission also had regard to the Disciplinary Practices, which also result in physical separation as well as giving rise to issues of detriment and harm.


In addition, the evidence presented to the Commission demonstrated changes in practice which gave rise to a concern as to whether it is possible to be certain as to the nature of the doctrines and practice and whether these are sufficiently certain and will continue into the future so as to be able to conclude that they may be exclusively charitable.


The Commission noted that the history of the PBCC reveals schisms and changes of practice introduced in an unstructured way by different leaders.


In making its representations PDT indicated that some of the allegations must be of an historic nature but did acknowledge past mistakes in relation to its Disciplinary Practices. They further demonstrated a willingness to make amends for these and to do what they could as a Christian organisation to ensure, as far as it was consistent with its religious beliefs, it would act with Christian compassion in the future, particularly in its dealings with disciplines of the Disciplinary Practices and in its relations with former members of the Brethren.


Having fully considered all of the available evidence albeit untested by cross examination, the Commission concluded, on balance, that there were elements of detriment and harm which emanated from doctrine and practices of the Brethren and which had a negative impact on the wider community as well as individuals. In particular the nature and impact of the Disciplinary Practices and the impact of the doctrines and practices on those who leave and on children within the PBCC may have consequences for society.


The most serious detriment and harm related, in the Commission’s view, to the allegations of the treatment of ex-Brethren and to the Disciplinary Practices. The Commission asked that the PBCC address these issues, which they were willing to do. After discussion with the Commission, the PBCC acknowledged that its doctrines and practices should be explicit and integral to its trusts and could address the allegations made against it.


Unusually, the PDT deed of variation to their trust includes a statement of “Faith in Practice and below are some details:


i.The principle of separation is set out which confirms that it“involves drawing away from the world in a moral sense, rather than in a physical sense” and permits inter-personal communication and social interaction with non-Brethren (including former Brethren) and service to them because we seek to do good to all in the world, as opportunities arise.”


ii. Living a Christian life is upheld “We seek and are encouraged to live exemplary lives in all our relationships with others in the wider community (including former Brethren), in accordance with the teachings of Holy Scripture.” “Holy Scripture commands us to be good neighbours to others, and deal with all other people (including former Brethren) openly, honestly and fairly and consistent with these principles, we should give our time and money to assist those in need in the wider community, in so far as reasonable given our abilities and available resources.”


iii. The concept of showing compassion to others is set out: “As Christians, we are to follow the example of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and show compassion to others… We are expected to care for those who are receptive to such care in our own community, but then also in the wider community (including former Brethren), to the best of our abilities and within our resources.”


iv. Compassion is to be shown in relation to Disciplinary Practices – “When church admonition is necessary, due provision will be made for the welfare of the church member who is under review. This should cover emotional, health, family and financial considerations… The Holy Scriptures require the practice of admonition and discipline to reflect justice and fairness


Compassion is to be shown more generally in the treatment of individuals – “No action should be taken in any way to treat vindictively, maliciously or unfairly persons whether within or outside the community, including those who were within the community and who are leaving or have left the community


Support for those who leave the PBCC is expressly provided for –“Where persons seek to leave the community, reasonable assistance should be afforded to them in terms of support and/or financial assistance relating to employment or other matters, where they have been dependent on the community for that support.”


The importance of maintaining relationships when a person leaves is recognised – “Reasonable steps should also be taken in these cases (consistent with and subject to any legal requirements applying to the persons involved and the human rights of the persons involved) to allow the continuation of family relationships where a family member has left the community, including providing access to family members, in particular children.


The ability of former Brethren to attend funerals is confirmed – “Where a person within the community dies, the principle of separation allows members of the extended family of the deceased, including former Brethren, to attend their funeral service.”


Where young people do decide to attend university there may be a severing of ties so individuals are not in fellowship for the period of their studies. They may decide to return as members following their studies


If the trustees do not comply with the trusts, the Commission will be able to regulate on the basis of a breach of trust. If the trusteesare unable to comply with and carry out the trusts, the Commission may regulate on the basis that a cy-près occasion has arisen and the trust property will be applied for charitable purposes of a similar nature.


This means that in the event of a failure to comply, the trust once established cannot simply revert to a private organisation without oversight but would be taken over and operated in a way which does operate for charitable purposes.


It is essential that compliance is monitored. It is not known what systems and processes the CC has in place to monitor compliance. It is therefore important that a channel is established to compile report all known breaches.

The following information would be needed as a minimum:

1.Your name (this will not be revealed)
2. The name of the person making the breach
3. Time, place, date of the breach
4. A brief description plus copies of any written documentation (please retain all written communications)
5. What your expectation of the contact was if the breach arose from personal contact.

Since it is quite possible that this will lead to presentation to authorities it must be capable of being said under oath at a tribunal/court. Whilst UK charitable law clearly applies only within the UK, the behaviour of the EB/PBCC anywhere in the world indicates whether or not they are complying with the requirements of their own trusts, especially since the individual with the deciding voice on all things belongs to their universal leader who is an Australian citizen.

The person who provided you with this information sheet will be able to verify that this is bona fide  andwill be able to vouch for the credentials of its author.

Responses should be sent to:ebcompliance@outlook.com


  1. All seems to be above board. Case closed.

    1. I see nothing flippant about 12:08's comment. In fact he said it in a nutshell..Beautifully simple!
      Jesus went before and sanctified those who put their faith and trust in him and love his commandments.
      Claiming to love him? Then we have to follow Jesus.

      Case closed indeed....Words of conviction and truth. Do you accept truth? His work on the cross is finished - Case closed 100%

      See heree....He the Lord went before and stood in our stead. Attack the brethren and you are guilty of attacking those whom God died for.

      ISIS is attacking Christianity and would prevail if the brethren were removed from this scene.
      Don't be hasty to underestimate just what they represent. Disliked or different doesn't make them wrong.

      When Christ comes on those clouds of glory, every knee will have to bow.

      Bow the knee Rev whilst you have today...a day of amazing grace calls to you and me. Wash your robes and come into his wonderful presence and blessing..

      Leonardo J Octavianus

    2. Leo
      Your arrogance is amazing. Could you please elaborate as to how ISIS would prevail if the brethren (I presume you mean the Exclusive Brethren) were removed from this scene? Are the EB going to have a private rapture or are other Christians not going to be taken up to be with Christ? If ALL Christians are taken up to be with Christ simultaneously then your statement is as meaningless as most of your other posts.
      However your post does provide yet further insight into the false and distorted self importance of some members of the cult you support.
      I wonder if you realise how silly you sound?

    3. It's often a fairly normal knee jerk reaction for humans who've made a mistake to turn the spotlight on those whom they perceive to be their accusers and blame them instead. Some contributors to this site who support the PBCC have suggested that I've been "boring" when I've protested that I don't fit the New Testament categories of people with whom Christians shouldn't eat; others have been condescending and patronising to me.

      I think there's evidence that from an early date it's been an Exclusive Brethren trait to pillory those who in good conscience raise difficulties and problems which have arisen because of Brethren behaviour and practice.

      I recall that John Darby did this in August 1848 when he published his 'Bethesda Circular'; and it was alleged that in Bath, UK, in the autumn and winter of 1855 he even tried to maintain that children - one as young as four years old - were responsible for his misdemeanours. There is a pamphlet in the British Library entitled "A Statement of Facts [in reference to certain charges brought by a Mr. D. against some members of the family of a Mr. G.]." which outlines the problems which John Darby's behaviour caused a family who had been his friends for many years. This pamphlet is available online.

      I'd like to suggest that a better way of dealing with problems is to discuss them openly, honestly and fairly, as the Charity Commission has proposed, and I hope that the PBCC will come round to valuing and implementing a more constructive approach.

    4. LJO...I would also love to hear how an insignificant, unchristian cult would
      impact the advance of ISIS, if no longer present. I hardly put the average EB/PBCC member in the same division as an ascetic , battle trained Knight Templer, plying his sword above the walls of Jerusalem.

      I think you should stop posting as you sound more and more ridiculous with each and every comment. However, you do serve a purpose in that people coming across this site will receive confirmation of the arrogance of the EB/PBCC position that has allowed the organisation to behave in cruel, inhumane, and unchristian ways; this leading to much harm, anguish, detriment and, even, death. How great the darkness.

    5. No, I would prefer that Leonardo does not stop posting. I agree with very little that he says here, but if we are ever to understand the problems that arise from Brethrenism, or work towards resolving them, it is important that we listen to one another and try to understand. Almost any kind of dialogue is better than no dialogue at all. I support Laurie’s policy of allowing all views to be heard, except the most grossly offensive and illegal posts.

    6. Ian
      It says a lot therefore that the PBCC site does not allow the posting of comments that are even mildly critical of the Exclusive Brethren. It is probably safe to say that over 90% of the comments made on that site are from the Exclusive Brethren members themselves.and these are generally sycophantic platitudes.
      Nevertheless the fact that Laurie's blog produces a reaction from within the EB makes it worthwhile.

    7. Yes, but what is confusing is LJO writes as though he's talking about a Christian organisation, mentioning the Bible, God and Jesus, rather than an evil family-splitting cult. He never mentions BDH, their conman leader. Yet when we speak to our in-relatives all they mention is why they have to be separate from us, and "Beloved Mr Hales says ..." - no mention of God, Jesus or Bible. It's like two separate organisations.


    8. LJO
      'Jesus went before and sanctified those who put their faith and trust in him and love his commandments'

      I seem to recall LJO you claim not to be a member, so I felt compelled to let you know this -
      I have current knowledge that some EB members have faith in Bruce Hales far more than The Lord, they also trust in their system and materialism rather than in the Bible
      Perhaps you'd reply and it can be proven further


    9. Leo. You say "ISIS is attacking Christianity and would prevail if the brethren were removed from this scene."

      I wasn't aware the Exclusive Brethren were at all involved in the Middle East. The scant news from the BBC does not mention them. Nor the more comprehensive news from 'The Vicar of Bagdad'. So tell where, when and how are they involved and how are they holding back the hand of this evil, ethnic cleansing, believer-beheading bunch of terrorists?

    10. LJO 'When Christ comes on those clouds of glory'

      The ever pedantic but admittedly non-Brethren LJO misquoting the bible. I believe the bible refers to a cloud. Oh, I hear you say, what difference does an 's' make? All the difference in the world, actually .For example, it is scriptural to have elders, overseers and teachers rather than one MOG.

  2. That’s a very arrogant, flippant and dismissive comment Anon 13 October 12:08.

    - physical family separation still continuing
    - family members not allowed to see each other, stay for a meal, visit for birthdays, weddings, funerals etc
    - parents still separated from children, grandparents, uncles, aunts etc
    - family members still physically separated at funerals
    - intimidation, legal threats, attempts to silence
    - no compassion - only this week we learn of a lady withdrawn from and separated from family and friends at a time when she needs such as she has cancer

    All of this and much more still continuing, despite the fact PBCC EB signed up to a Charity Commission agreement stating these they would change. Therefore, this means the PBCC EB are in breach of compliance with the Commission.

    Anon 12:08 - That’s the opposite of “above board” and “case closed” !

  3. Anon 12.08...My case isn't closed and the CC will be hearing from me very soon; likewise, from many others

  4. You have a great sense of humour, Anon12:08 - unfortunately the case is far from closed and it won't be funny when the time comes. Some will experience blessed relief, my main concern is for the thousands of duped individuals who will be suffering a terrible loss of direction. Hopefully ,as a spin-off, the conman Australian leader of the brethren Bruce David Hales will be banned from entering UK by the Home Office as an undesirable person. Time will tell whether he then tries to literally fly in under the radar.

  5. Read all about Bruce Hale's 2014 manipulation of Barbados Immigration. You think the PBCC have changed?


  6. The original anonymous comment on this thread is very revealing. 'All seems to be above board'. That sentiment is apparently about the standard that the PBCC aim to achieve. As long as it doesn't look too bad and fools most casual observers it passes muster.

    A vehicle of mine looked OK, passing a cursory inspection, but when driven it became abundantly clear that the wheel nuts had been loosened and was extremely dangerous to drive.

    For the recently renamed PBCC, deceit has become an art form. Little wonder that close scrutiny is never welcomed, even though Mr Christie publicly claimed it is.