I'm going to take a backwards step on Tony McCorkell. I gave him considerable grief in these columns years ago, because I could see what he was doing. And I knew why he was doing it. If he's honest today, he will say I had a point. I even predicted well in advance, his rejoining the Exclusive Brethren as they were called then and his departure shortly thereafter, because I knew his position was completely untenable. He was a young man in his 20's then and if I was kinder to him then, I could have seen that he was like me at the same age. Tony and I could tap dance with the best of them when it came to selling in a strategy. And Tony tap danced his way into Bruce Hales affections like no other Peebclose to Hales could do.
Fancy Bruce Hales having a worldly spokesman for his church we pondered at the time, which screams total separation from the world. Of course, Hales' motives were quite clear. He knew he could never front the media (and he still hasn't) because he knows the outcome will not be good for him or his church. He can hide behind his 'belief' that the Brethren are the only high court in the land, but of course that is sheer fantasy, as he is part of society and subject to its laws, regardless of whether he respects them or not.
Sadly, I could also see what was behind Tony. Bruce Hales. And I could see the enormous lack of real wisdom in this man and it wasn't hard to work out his bottom line at any given time. So much for his apparent 'Man of God' status. He was no Man of God, but a man filled with his own self importance and greed. Something that he would never admit. And when evil was put before him, he would instinctively refute it firstlyand then try hard to mitigate it and get rid of the problem. Sadly, today, this has not entirely worked. As Michael Bachelard's expose in the Weekend Magazine in Australia shows. When they welcome back convicted paedophiles to their midst, you would have to wonder whether there is any inherent decency or integrity in their group at all. They paid the young women who were wrecked by one individual a reported lousy $25 grand and washed their hands of them. They told other children that they were probably complicit in their own misfortune.
Bruce Hales knew about paedophiles in his so called church, but he refused to do anything decent about it. He fobbed the victims off and told them to go to the police because it was nothing to do with him. Or the church per se. Some leader. Some church leader! But I'll come back to him in a moment.
Tony McCorkell, for all his former bravado and blustering, and whiskey laced jaunts and brainstorming sessions with Bruce Hales, the man he called 'Boss' has, in the intervening seven odd years, matured that little bit more and a decency, a willingness to address his past more honestly has descended upon him. He has done a brave thing here in telling the truth and I commend him for it sincerely. It takes a big man to do that.
He will have made an instant and lifelong enemy in Bruce Hales by so doing. Hales has a word for people like Tony McCorkell. He's an 'opposer'. But I doubt very much that Hales will be waving any confidentiality clauses under his nose by way of retribution either. It's simply gone too far for that now. There comes a time in a man's life where he must tell the truth and stand up and say so. Hales has not and probably never will, because it appears, he is not possessed of the same character or decency.
But Tony has. The pressure of guilt on his conscience has weighed heavily. So heavily that not even the PR man that he is, can spin this any other way. Truth is truth. And wrong is wrong. And PR can only go so far before it becomes complete bullshit. So I commend Tony for that. I won't apologise to him for all the things I said about him, because I was right about him and them. But that was more about Bruce Hales and his wisdom at the time than Tony McCorkell who was a young hotshot and going for it.
Hales problem all along has been his lack of wisdom and his total transparency. He too is a blusterer and a man who thinks he can buy people off. And sweep things under the carpet. Hence his teams of PR men over recent years, putting their spin on anything and everything associated with his church. All of which is designed to make it more palatable. And to appear more 'normal'. Which it most assuredly is not.
Their current PR guru, Ben Haslem has today, at Hales' insistence I will wager most assuredly, headed up his almost wicked rebuttal, under the heading of "Vindictive journalist continues decade-long attack on religion".
It is NOT an attack on 'religion' Mister Hales. It is an attack on you and your church for not dealing with YOUR paedophiles appropriately and in looking after their victims decently and responsibly! Don't you dare spin it any other way! And shame on you Ben Haslem for not looking at this as any responsible practitioner in your profession should. Truth is truth Ben. And what the PBCC is peddling is rubbish. Is the Catholic church 'defending an attack on religion' Ben? No it isn't. It was trying to mitigate and resolve evil in their midst which they now admit. Why can't the PBCC do the same thing? The decent thing!
But as a number of people have pointed out to Hales, if you have been abused as a child, you cannot sweep it under the carpet, because it lives with you every day of your life. And no retrospective apology from the PBCC is going to make it right. Brethren apologies are not worth the breath they utter them in. Look at the wrecked families and lives they sought to redress with their crappy "Period of Grace' exercise in 2003.
"We were wrong. We are sorry. Come back now - or we will ignore you and treat you as dead again if you don't take us up on this once in a lifetime offer." Then Bruce Hales shut the door again.
The totally broken went back. Well a handful did. The rest saw it for what it was. A PR exercise. And if I was cynical I would say it had someone like Tony's input written all over it. It was a 'strategy.' And it was worth nothing.
So how do we fix this wickedness that happened in their midst? As a fellow child victim of this sort of abuse, I will tell you what I think. If the case is proven and I mean by that, if the Brethren knew about it and had to deal with such a case and addressed a stated issue of paedophilia or abuse, it then becomes a 'local' assembly problem. Sure we all know that Hales was not responsible (in a local assembly jurisdictional sense) for most of these cases, but as their leader today, he must act definitively and make a stand and make it worth something. And no, an apology is not going to cut it. He must, for the first time in his life do the decent thing. Believe it or not, he would actually get a lot of credit for doing so. But not so far! They are currently going down the ridiculous line of "This is an attack on religion!"
With anything restitutional, there must be a cost. Otherwise there is no lesson learnt and people still feel that someone has gotten away with something. If you jail a person wrongly for years for example, you have to put it right financially. You cannot pay fully for what they have lost in terms of years and life and loss of family, but you should pay very generously for the damage done to him or her so that something can be salvaged from what remains of their lives. It is why we fine people today. It can hurt a bit. And it should.
In every case like this, the PBCC local localities should, on Hales instruction, pay those known victims a significant amount of money as a partial restitution for the great suffering that this evil causes. They have never and will never offer any form of counselling and I for one, don't want it from them. Because they don't know the first thing about it and they are not equipped to provide it. But given that they take everything from you when they kick you out including your family in many cases as well as your inheritance, on the instruction of their Men of God, they should feel a little of the pain of the victims of the evil members of their church. Otherwise they simply keep just getting away with it and there is no consequence at all for their apathy.
The other thing that Hales needs to look at in the coming months is that of proper prospects and endeavours and education. This banning of university education should bevirtually illegal in today's society. Prior to 1970, there were plenty of Brethren with university degrees, or going to university who were maintaining their faith. The education did not affect their faith. And if the PBCC faith is strong today, it will be for all time. Regardless of the rigours of getting an education. This total closeting of people from cradle to grave is a cruel and unnatural thing and Hales should have more faith in his people.
Under-educated people become puppets to people like Hales, who are unable to fully distinguish between right and wrong. Which is what they have done with the victims of crime in their midst. Maybe some further education might have helped them see that this is not an attack on religion, but on their absolutely rotten response to people that were hurt by them and in their midst. It is one thing to be molested as a child. It is another to not be believed. And it is entirely another to be ignored and condemned when the evil against you was proven. This fobbing it off for the Police to sort out, is an act of complete cowardice. In fact it's worse that than. It's unconscionable.
Today I acknowledge the small part Tony McCorkell has played in setting the record straight. I have further information on this which I won't disclose but his decency at this time was something that Tony McCorkell would not have done a few years ago. I'm glad he has grown up a little and I would be happy to extend my hand to him in future.
I can assure the PBCC however, that their total apathy for the people they have hurt in cases like this is not going to endure for much longer. Not a threat. It's now a reality. It's about men doing the right thing for the first time in their lives. And getting PR statements plastered up on your website is not the way to go. PR in cases like this, is both pointless and insulting. It adds insult to injury.
So we have seen what sort of man Tony McCorkell now is. I wonder what sort of man Bruce Hales really is.