Wednesday, 3 August 2016

An Interesting Missive

Dear Mr Moffitt

your address popped up while I was reading up on the brethren.My mother joined the sect in 1949 when I was a year old. My Father remained in the Methodist Church where I was brought up.

In the 1960's when Big Jim Taylor was the ruler , my mother would not eat with my Dad ,brother & me ,but ate in the kitchen & slept in her own room away from my Father.I cannot tell you what sorrow she brought into our lives.I She couldn't leave the family home as my brother was diabetic & she had to care for him. I got no love from her - she said "get thee behind me satan "when I argued with her. I am 68 now & suffer depression as a result of my terrible mother's treatment.

She was "withdrawn from "in 1968 because she lived in the same house as my Father.She then had no contact with the brethren ,but would not go to church with us.My Father died in 1994 a luckily for her she had his pension until 2010 when she died. I know another "sister"who is living in poverty because she & her husband left & the ghastly bretheren don't allow their members to have pensions.

I will never forgive the brethren & my mother for what they did to my family.

This is just a quick mail to make contact with you.


  1. In the 1940s and early 1950s a few "outsiders" joined the Exclusive Brethren. It was not unknown in the 1940s for a member to marry another Christian from outside the sect and for the "outsider" to join the Exclusive Brethren. Even in those days it must have been a culture shock for a Christian to suddenly subject themselves to the EB rules that existed at that time. For example Trade Union membership was forbidden by James Taylor Senior (Big Jim's father) as an unequal yoke. As a consequence many unqualified EB men who were not in professional employment such as the civil service or banking had to settle for less well paid jobs where TU membership was not mandatory - not easy in the industrial post-war UK.
    Contact and socialising with non -EB relatives was however generally permitted up until James Taylor Junior completed the transition of the EB from a strict but fairly benign sect into a cult that destroyed family relationships.

  2. "Family Is At The Heart Of Everything We Do" say the HEB.
    Jesus wept.

    1. There may be an element of truth in that HEB claim. If you: disagree with Mr Bruce, purchase an unapproved computer, wear shorts, grow a moustache, watch a TV, listen to a radio, vote, join a professional body, attend uni, eat or drink with a non-HEB, visit the theatre or cinema, live in a non-detached house, refuse to show your last will and testament to HEB 'priests', acknowledge that you are homosexual, listen to music, or simply fall out of favour... it is your family that gets it. Forced apart by the harsh rule of separation that is applied. The primary punishment for those who don't toe the line. Think I'm joking? This has been the case for hundreds of people. Hundreds of families wrecked. Siblings torn apart, children taken from parents, husbands separated from wives. Family is certainly at the heart of their discipline and punishment process.

    2. Lauren and Anon.

      In the HEB city that I grew up in the majority of families were broken due to HEB directives; most of the HEB members were having to separate from at least one blood relative (up to first cousin). I am quite sure the HEB, if asked, would say that separation is the last resort. But the reality is that there are hundreds of broken families as a result of HEB punishment - perhaps thousands worldwide. I would expect the HEB to say that such things were a long time ago, not current amongst us, or "historical". But hundreds (probably all) of the cases of the HEB's "historical" abuse are still in force and continue (today) to cause harm. Such actions are also in breach of Human Rights legislation as signed up to by every civilised community on earth.

      Make no mistake. This group (HEB Exclusive Brethren, recently branded as Plymouth Brethren Christian Church - but who are NOT the Plymouth Brethren) is cruel, powerful, wealthy and manipulative. Ask them how many people around the world are currently considered to be withdrawn from. If the answer is less than a few thousand then ask again. They will lie. They have to. They will feel that they must do whatever they need to do to protect "the position". Why? They have nothing else. They also want the financial benefit of being seen to be charitable. They are taught that they have unique access to God. Their current leader, a furniture salesman who is on Australia's rich list, tells them that what he teaches them comes directly and uniquely from Jesus himself who is in heaven. They are also taught that earthly courts are below HEB authority. The teaching that 'we are the highest court in the land' goes back decades. A current HEB told me just the other day, "We need to defend separation. If we didn't have separation we would have nothing. Without it we'd be just like any other church".

      They do not need our acceptance or our tolerance... they need our help.

      Angus J

    3. It’s useful to read what PBCC/Exclusive Brethren members say and your contact, Angus J, may be confused when s/he talks about separation.

      At the start in Dublin in the late 1820s/early 1830s, the earliest Brethren group was a secessionist gathering, following the precedence set at the beginning of C19 by the Dublin secessionists Thomas Kelly and John Walker. Like Kelly and Walker, J N Darby was also a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, and as he became prominent among the Brethren he wrote and spoke often of his concerns about other churches, whether established or dissenting. As an ordained deacon and priest of the Irish Anglican church, he became anxious about its involvement with the state and began to be of the opinion that the clerical orders of bishop, priest and deacon were not sanctioned in the New Testament.

      I find it helpful to think of that as ecclesiastical separation, and there is a lot of documentary evidence that the early Brethren, while meeting outside the churches, nevertheless maintained personal contact with their non-Brethren relatives, colleagues (including members of the clergy), friends, neighbours and so on.

      By contrast, separation from non-Brethren people began to be widely practised in the 1960s following the decrees of James Taylor Jnr, and that was the beginning of the break up of families and the acceptance among the Exclusive Brethren that non-Brethren people had to be ostracised and blanked.

      So I wonder, Angus J, did your contact mean ecclesiastical separation, the raison d’ĂȘtre of Brethren secessionism, or interpersonal separatism, the add-on of James Taylor Junior in the 1960s?

      (A useful book, published this year, about C19 Ireland and its religious movements is ‘Discovering The End of Time’ by Donald Harman Akeson, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press.)

    4. Joan. This was a blood relation in discussion about the HEB need to forbid social interaction with nonHEB, eating with nonHEB and having nonHEB to stay at their houses. He told me that the principle of separation and the eating matter could not change, even for close family. He went on to say "If the brethren were to relent on separation then we'd be nothing. No different to any other church".

      Angus J

  3. Thank you, Angus J, for that clarification.

    Your relative can be assured that if the PBCC/Exclusive Brethren were to remain secessionist, but at the same time be well-mannered and welcoming to non-Brethren people, they could still retain their original identity as a group that preferred to be ecclesiastically separate from other churches.

    Mainstream Protestant churches generally have an educated and trained leadership - they may be the deacons, priests and bishops that J N Darby so despised or they may be ordained ministers and pastors - but the PBCC/Exclusive Brethren could continue to reject those forms of ministry while behaving inclusively towards their non-Brethren family members and other outsiders.

    I have some sympathy with young and middle-aged members of the PBCC/Exclusive Brethren who have never known a time when their group treated non-Brethren people openly, honestly and fairly. The extremism of Exclusive Brethren ministry since the early 1960s has meant that people growing up in the group during those years have been primed to treat all non-Brethren people as sources of contamination, and therefore unworthy of conventional social contact like shared meals and mutual hospitality.

    In Paris recently, I experienced a jolt when I read that Adel Kermiche, the young Islamist assassin of the priest Jacques Hamel, had apparently been normally friendly, polite and inclusive of others in his community in Normandy until about a year ago when he started to blank them, not saying “Hello” or engaging in conversation with neighbours and people he’d known through school and village life. His friends and acquaintances linked that with his adoption of extremism. It reminded me of how the brethren decided to behave in the 1960s.

    In the UK, there’s a lot of concern about extremist groups, and I’m surprised that Bruce D Hales and his colleagues are not urgently examining their own extremism. It’s baffling that they haven’t yet instituted a programme of correction and reform, freeing up their members to worship in their distinctive, separatist, non-clerical way, but never hindering their Christian obligation to love their neighbour as themselves.

  4. The EB(PBCC) have spent over half a century digging themselves into a large hole and are unlikely to find their way out any time soon. To abandon separation would eclipse the power of the Hales despotic family, and senior henchmen who enjoy a share of the power and material gain.

    Perversely, although the EB(PBCC) appear to have abandoned some of their strictures and superstitions, principally in order to increase material wealth, they now appear to be more of an introverted cult than previously as the glossy websites, advertising, PR and business infrastruture towers ominously over and around a group of so-called simple *Christians*.

    Furthermore, to abandon separation might open the flood
    gates of dialogue and a requirement for apologies and acknowledgements of wrong doing leading to recriminations and legal issues. Also, as previously inferred, the Brethren grip on family and business finance would be diminished.

    It is not really baffling that the EB(PBCC) remain as they are, they have too much to lose by way of power and wealth. Decency, honesty and moral sruples are simply not part of the equation.