Friday, December 29, 2006

Exclusive Brethren : The sinister cult aligned to John Howard and the Liberal Party

The 'Elect Vessel Bruce D. Hales and his family

Sect told girl: banish your dad

Michael Bachelard SMH December 26, 2006

THE world leader of the Exclusive Brethren church intervened personally to break up a family this year, telling a 12-year-old that she would lose her mother if she did not renounce her father.
The Sydney-based Bruce D. Hales - the "Man of God," or "Elect Vessel" of the separatist cult - urged the girl to cease contact with her father, saying: "Your mother will not be able to accept you if you continue contact with him."

Notes of the conversation, taken immediately after they met in Sydney in January, also reveal Mr Hales told the girl: "You cannot love Christ if you wear pants [jeans], and you cannot be a Christian if you leave the Brethren."

And documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate the Brethren's efforts over 15 years to bend the Family Court and the Federal Government to its will, in the hope of keeping lapsed Brethren away from their children.

After the January 17 meeting between Mr Hales and the girl, the mother - with the help of the church - moved the girl, her sister and brother 700 kilometres away from their father. He has not seen them since.

"My ex-wife went from having daily contact and decision-making involving me to nothing, just like closing a door," said the father, who has spoken on condition of anonymity. "It happened immediately after Mr Hales said that."

The Family Court has granted him joint guardianship of the children and guaranteed weekly access, but these conditions have been ignored.

His children had told him they were lured to the January meeting, at which another senior Brethren member, Neil Kennard, a Sydney businessman, was present, under the promise of an apology and a gift of money. But the church wanted to keep the father away from them because he had ceased being a member in 1999. However, he had been living with, or near, the girls and his former wife, at her invitation, through most of last year because she was ill and was dealing with unrelated legal proceedings.

During this time, he said, she had repeatedly said to him: "Please protect me from the Brethren. I can't deal with the pressure they put on me." He has kept notes and letters from his former wife thanking him for his help.

The Brethren enforce a strict policy of separation from the world: those who are "not in fellowship" are to have no contact with sect members, even if they are members of their family.
Mr Hales and Mr Kennard responded to interview requests with a flurry of legal correspondence, confirming that a meeting took place with the girl, but saying "all persons present … do not agree with the allegation that Mr B Hales broke up the … family".Brethren 'funnelled cash, hid child abuse'

Source: Sect told girl: banish your dad

Also see Brethren member guilty of sex assault

Brethren 'funnelled cash, hid child abuse'

September 25, 2006 AAP

FORMER members of the Exclusive Brethren allege that large sums of cash have been transported across international borders and accuse the church of hushing up child abuse.
The allegations are among several made by former church members that will be aired on ABC TV's Four Corners program tonight (Monday Sept 25).

The former Australian leader of the Exclusive Brethren Ron Fawkes alleged that he illegally transported large sums of cash across international borders for the former world leader James Symington.

"The vast amounts of money handed over are referred to as gifts to, particularly to the leading, leading man," Mr Fawkes told ABC TV.

"Now that money amounts in the course of the year to millions, all going untaxed,'' he said.
Mr Fawkes said that he often took large wads of cash from one country to another for Mr Symington.

"The amount of money that was transferred through interstate and international borders was just absolutely horrific, and I myself was given wads of money to carry for this person," Mr Fawkes said. "I hate to think what would have happened if I'd been, you know, arrested or caught," he said.

"It was totally illegal, totally illegal.

"Tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars in cash."

Another former member alleged that confessions of child abuse within the Exclusive Brethren were hushed up rather than reported to police.

Joy Nason, who left the church in 1968, said she had heard other members confess to child abuse.

"I have heard people confess to molesting children," Ms Nason said.

Ms Nason said during the time she was with the Exclusive Brethren the church forgave the perpetrators of the alleged abuse.

She said the abuse was not reported to police.

"Definitely not. No they were forgiven, if the person was sorry if the person showed enough contrition, the Brethren forgave them," Ms Nason said.

The Exclusive Brethren has 40,000 members worldwide, around half of whom live in Australia and New Zealand.

The current world leader of the church, who is known as the Elect Vessel, is Sydney accountant Bruce Hales.

Brethren members do not attend university and are not allowed to have TVs, radios, personal computers or mobile phones.

They are also forbidden from voting or socialising with those outside the church.


Sect members behind political pamphlets

Wednesday September 07, 2005
By Errol Kiong NZ Herald

Costly anti-Government leaflet drops throughout the country have been identified as the work of a conservative offshoot of the Brethren faith. The revelation is a surprise, as the Exclusive Brethren supposedly divorce themselves from worldly matters and do not normally vote.

Exclusive Brethren socialise only with other Exclusive Brethren and eschew technology such as televisions, computers and cellphones. The anti-Green and anti-Labour leaflets printed by Business Printing Group in Onehunga are estimated to have cost between $30,000 and $40,000.

New Zealand Post estimated distribution to major centres alone to cost between $55,000 and $60,000. The Green Party's own inquiries confirmed the identities of five people listed on the smear pamphlets as Exclusive Brethren. All are listed in an Exclusive Brethren confidential address book that the party obtained.

Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons said she was shocked to hear that the secretive church had put its membership and financial weight behind the National Party. "The Exclusive Brethren have the absolute right to campaign for the National Party, but not to tell outright lies and half-truths about Green policy in a bid to get their man to the top. I do find it strange that a group that claims to be Christian can so easily break one of the Ten Commandments by telling such lies." Excommunicated church member John Wallis said the foray into politics was due to the church's new leader, Australian Bruce Hales, who took over when his father, John, died.

He said Bruce Hales had told members before George W. Bush and Australian PM John Howard were re-elected that if they were not returned to power, "the rapture", or end of the world, would be near. "They have been very politically active in the last few years since Bruce Hales has been involved." Church members were typically right wing, he said. "I'm tipping that they'll actually vote this time in New Zealand, which is something they've never done.

I can see it happening ... " Another excommunicated member said the Brethren's campaign for a change of government started with adverts in major newspapers, with the wording, "Wake Up New Zealand", and letters to the editor denigrating Labour and the Greens. "They are very right wing and obviously hope that National will get in, and have been active in supporting them." Stephen Win, who authorised "The Green Delusion" leaflet - which dubbed the Greens as "socially destructive" - is better known by his middle name, Myles, among fellow brethren. Stephen Myles Win's phone went straight to message service yesterday but he left a message with the Herald later, saying a press release on the matter would be issued today.

The Chief Electoral Officer has been called in to investigate the anti-Greens leaflet, which the party says breaches the Electoral Act. Election advertising by third parties that does not advocate support for a party or candidate requires only a statement on the advertisement stating the true name and address of the authorising person.

Exclusive Brethren

* Cannot eat or drink with, or marry, non-Brethren.

* Cannot live in the same building as anyone who is not in fellowship, including a semi-detached home in which a wall is shared.

* The men are usually self-employed businessmen, and the women fill traditional roles as wives and mothers.

* They number fewer than 2000 in New Zealand, and about 40,000 worldwide.


Greens call on Exclusive Brethren leader to condemn dirty tactics

Senator Milne, Saturday, 23 September 2006

The Australian Greens today called on the Exclusive Brethren's global leader Elect Vessel Bruce Hales, to condemn the spying activities conducted by the Brethren in New Zealand and to reveal whether such activities have occurred in Australia.

Under the leadership of Elect Vessel Bruce Hales, the Exclusive Brethren have become very active in trying to secretly influence the outcome of elections worldwide in spite of the fact that its members are not permitted to vote and refuse to stand for office, Greens Senator for Tasmania, Christine Milne, said.

"We know that the Exclusive Brethren took out print advertisements and distributed brochures during the 2004 federal election in Australia and in the Tasmanian election this year, practices which they replicated in the New Zealand national election," Senator Milne said.

"What we do not know is whether they employed private detectives to dig dirt on Australian candidates standing for Labor and the Greens, as has occurred in New Zealand.

"Elect Vessel Bruce Hales can no longer hide from public scrutiny. I call upon Bruce Hales to condemn the practices of Exclusive Brethren members in New Zealand who paid private detectives to dig dirt on Prime Minister Helen Clark and her husband, and senior Labor government members.

"It is difficult to believe that Bruce Hales did not know about these activities since nothing happens in the Exclusive Brethren church without direction from him.

"Bruce Hales must tell the Australian public whether Exclusive Brethren members have engaged in similar conduct in Australia.

"Australia has prided itself on transparent, free and fair elections. It is now becoming clear that
we can no longer take this for granted. Secret sects are operating Australia."

Exclusive Brethren sect target Greens

Michael Bachelard and Kenneth NguyenNovember 24, 2006

RADICAL sect the Exclusive Brethren has intervened in the state election campaign, buying large newspaper advertisements to decry parties with "radical and extreme policies".
Authorised by Brethren member Ernest Morren, advertisements in The Age and the Herald Sun yesterday were headed "Warning: the future of Victoria is at stake on Saturday".

The move came as New Zealand Opposition Leader Donald Brash resigned amid claims he sought to cover up a book detailing links between his conservative National Party and the contentious sect.

While the Victorian newspaper advertisements mention no party by name, they are clearly aimed at the Greens, warning that "persons promoting radical and extreme policies could gain control of the upper house" in Victoria. The radical policies named include those allegedly promoting drug use, same-sex marriages and extreme social policies, and opposing new dams.

"Do you want our young people subjected to homosexual education programs?" the advertisements ask. "Don't take a risk with Victoria's future."

Though they do not vote, the Exclusive Brethren members have recently begun advertising in state and federal elections in Australia and internationally to support conservative parties and oppose the Greens.

The Age could not contact Mr Morren last night but has confirmed with former Brethren members that he is a member.

The property listed on the authorisation is not his address, but is the factory of a company, Production Packaging Innovations, owned by senior Brethren member Barry Joyce.

Greens national leader Bob Brown said: "If the ad is coming from the Exclusive Brethren, they should identify themselves. We have no trouble with people advertising, or the Exclusive Brethren entering the campaign … but it should say so."

When Brethren members have been quizzed in the past about political campaigning, they have claimed they are acting as individuals, not as members of the sect, but former Brethren say any decision must be cleared by sect leaders.

The Age reported last month that the Brethren were about to make their debut in Victorian politics, after they held a successful meeting with Nationals leader Peter Ryan.

After a political furore, Mr Ryan distanced himself from the group, saying he would accept no donations or help from it.

In New Zealand the controversy started last week when Dr Brash, leader of the National Party for three years, obtained an injunction stopping publication of emails to and from his office that had been leaked.

Greens question Howard links to Brethren

The injunction prevented the release of investigative journalist Nicky Hager's much-anticipated "expose" of the National Party, and was attacked by the ruling Labour Party as "cynical".

Hager's book, The Hollow Men: A Study in the Politics of Deception, will claim that Dr Brash misled the public about the party's links to the Exclusive Brethren and US neo-cons, and that the party broke election spending laws.

The Brethren have attracted criticism for their strict separatist codes and secretive campaigning on issues including abortion and gay rights.

Dr Brash denies the injunction was aimed at the book, claiming that he had no knowledge of the book at the time he obtained the order.

Announcing his resignation yesterday, he said it was leadership speculation that had led to it, not the book. He slammed Hager's claims, but said he would move to allow the book's publication.

"That the National Party is in some way beholden or linked or in cahoots with the neo-conservatives in the United States is absolute crap. That we've got funding from the Exclusive Brethren is absolute crap. That we broke election spending rules is absolute crap," he said.

The controversy over the alleged cover-up was the straw that broke the back of Dr Brash's leadership, already weakened by a number of gaffes. In 2004, Dr Brash, who had regularly attacked Labour by emphasising the sanctity of marriage, was wounded by his admission of an extramarital affair. In 2005 he said he had gone easy on Prime Minister Helen Clark in a debate because she was a woman.

In September this year, allegations of another affair emerged and Dr Brash, who did not deny them, took leave to sort out marital difficulties. The party's finance spokesman, John Key, is expected to be his successor. Hager's book is expected to be released within a week.

John Howard just what is your and the Liberal Party's connection to the Exclusive Brethren - currently accused of protecting serial child abusers??

Not voting is Brethren's right, says Howard

September 27, 2006 The Australian

THE beliefs of the Exclusive Brethren Christian sect, which includes a refusal to vote, should be respected, Prime Minister John Howard said today.

The sect has been criticised, particularly by the Greens, in recent times for its alleged activities in elections but Mr Howard says he has seen more fanatical groups in his time.

"The Exclusive Brethren as an organisation within the law, a Christian sect, is entitled to put its view," Mr Howard told ABC Radio.

"I did make the observation that I've met a lot more fanatical people in my life than the Exclusive Brethren.

"They have a different, a more disciplined, perhaps some would say a more narrow interpretation of the Christian religion than others, but I respect their right to have (this interpretation)."

Mr Howard, who yesterday said he had met with the group, said the more unorthodox views of the sect, such as not voting, did not means its members should be vilified.

"I have to say that strikes me as what you might call an unorthodox Christian ... it strikes me as a little unusual, but that is their right and it should be respected," he said.

"It shouldn't be the subject of some vilification campaign against them."


Exclusive Brethren’s exclusive patrons

The New Zealand Herald Sep. 30, 2006
Nick Squires

Growing concern in Australia about the dirty tricks campaign the Brethren waged in New Zealand and fears that similar tactics have been used in state and federal elections.

Prime Minister John Howard revealed this week he had met members of the fundamentalist religious group but refused to disclose any details on the grounds that the meeting was confidential.

It took 11 months for him to disclose the encounter after the Greens Party lodged a query under freedom of information laws late last year.

He defended the Brethren as a conservative Christian group with reasonable views and every right to its tax-free status.

“I’ve met a lot more fanatical people in my life than the Exclusive Brethren,” Howard said.
The sect’s abstention from voting in a country in which casting a ballot is compulsory was valid, he said.

His deputy and likely successor, Treasurer Peter Costello, also defended the movement, which espouses ultra-conservative social policies.

Ignoring the furore surrounding the Exclusive Brethren in New Zealand, Costello insisted the group was “just a religion that is not as well-known” as the Catholic Church or the Church of Scientology.

But those assurances are sharply at odds with the warnings of former Brethren members who are campaigning to expose a movement they describe as manipulative and reactionary.
“I regard them as dangerous and a force to be reckoned with,” said Ngaire Thomas, 63, a former New Zealand member of the sect who lives in Australia and has written a book about her experiences.

“They are using the same tactics on the world at large as they’ve used on their own people over the last 40 years. What we’ve seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg. They see themselves as God’s chosen people but they are the biggest liars on earth.”

Exclusive Brethren

Many of the Exclusive Brethren movement’s teachings and practices are abusive to such and extend that this movement can rightly be labeled as an abusive church, and possibly even as a cult of Christianity

A glimpse inside Exclusive Brethren
The power behind the Brethren
Behind closed doors
The Brethren sent us to Hell
Abusive Churches
Cult of Christianity
Research resources on the Exlusive Brethren

The leader of the Greens Party, Bob Brown, called the reclusive group a “radical and devious sect” and said Howard should clarify the exact nature of his association with it.

“Here we have a Prime Minister who, much like Don Brash, refuses to say when and where he met the Brethren,” Brown said yesterday.

“My information is that the Exclusive Brethren have had extensive meetings or conversations with a whole range of ministers in Canberra.

“They campaigned against the Greens and told straight-out lies about our policies. It’s a pattern we’re seeing in all the English-speaking democracies.”

The concern is not that a fundamentalist group like the Exclusive Brethren is becoming involved in politics, but that they try to do so anonymously and put out political advertisements without clear attribution.

The Greens proposed a Senate inquiry into the Brethren this year, but the motion was voted down. They allege the Brethren ran a clandestine campaign against them during the 2004 federal election and a state election in Tasmania in March this year, funding pamphlets and newspaper advertisements.

“This secret sect puts a huge amount of money into changing the outcomes of elections, but never allows itself to be identified,” said Christine Milne, from the Tasmanian Greens.
The Brethren are also at the centre of a political row in Victoria, where residents go to the polls in November.

Politicians from the conservative National and Liberal parties have admitted they have met Brethren members, defending the movement’s interests as “part of the democratic process”.
The head of the Nationals in Victoria, Peter Ryan, denied his party had been offered funds by the Brethren. But he said National was united with the Brethren in opposition to same-sex marriage.

There is also disquiet in New South Wales, where an election will be held next year. The state’s Greens Party fears it will be the target of a Brethren-funded smear campaign in the months leading up to the poll in March.

“We’d be expecting an attack considering what happened in Tasmania, New Zealand and to a lesser extent, South Australia,” said Greens MP Lee Rhiannon.

“We think they’ll be up to some form of dirty tricks - maybe they’ve already got private investigators out there checking on us.”

Conservative political parties should disassociate themselves from the movement.
“We’re used to the rough-and-tumble of politics, but this is a whole new bag of dirty tricks and they’re not appropriate here.”

The Brethren claim 40,000 members worldwide, around half of whom live in Australia and New Zealand.

The world leader of the sect is an accountant from Sydney, Bruce Hales, who is known as the Man of God, or the Elect Vessel. He took over the leadership from his father, John Hales, also an accountant, in 2002.

In the 2004 federal election, a newspaper advertisement endorsing Howard was authorised by S. Hales, Bruce’s brother. But there was nothing to clearly identify it as being associated with the Brethren.

The movement is deeply conservative and reclusive to an almost paranoid degree.

Women and girls are expected to be subservient to their husbands and fathers. Contact with the outside world is kept to a minimum. Members are not allowed to have televisions, radios, personal computers or mobile phones.

They are prohibited from going to university and are not allowed to vote.

Kevin Rudd, a front bencher with the main opposition Labor Party, said he was vexed by the fact that the Brethren discourage children from using computers and other technology.

“I have real reservations having federal taxpayers’ money going into those sorts of schools,” he said.

Children at Brethren schools were brainwashed and ill-equipped to deal with the modern world, several former teachers told the Australian this month. Books were censored and strict control maintained over what pupils were allowed to read.

“One science book had all the chapters on reproduction cut out,” a teacher told the paper. “Most modern texts were banned.”

The chief executive of a Brethren school in Hobart, Tasmania, said many modern novels were banned because they were “contrary to the truth of scripture”.

The sect has 31 schools in Australia, with nearly 4000 pupils. The schools receive A$20 million ($23 million) a year in government money - funding which is now being questioned by some opposition MPs.

The Brethren first emerged on the political scene in Australia during the 2004 federal election, when members heckled Andrew Wilkie, an intelligence whistle-blower who stood against Howard in the Prime Minister’s Sydney constituency.

The sect has claimed that any campaign literature which appeared in support of conservative parties was the work of individual members.

But the fact that their rhetoric has been nearly identical in elections in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, suggests it is part of a well co-ordinated campaign.

The Australian Electoral Commission is deliberating on whether the Brethren broke electoral rules by failing to declare their expenditure during the 2004 campaign.

Founded in Dublin in the 19th century, the Protestant movement’s rigid belief system and cruel treatment of some ex-members is as controversial as its political activities.

In the 1960s the Brethren’s leadership decreed that members could not be married to non-members. Families were ripped apart, husbands and wives forbidden to see each other and children estranged from their parents.

Dissenting members were excommunicated or, in Brethren terminology, “withdrawn from”. Shattered by their treatment, some members have committed suicide.

By working hard and eschewing luxuries, the Brethren have amassed vast sums of money. In an ABC TV documentary this week, former members alleged the group avoided paying tax by smuggling cash into countries.

“It was totally illegal,” said Ron Fawkes, a former Brethren leader.

Another former leader, Selwyn Wallace, whose life was turned upside down by his involvement with the Brethren, said: “These people claim to represent Christianity in its purest form, but you look at the history stretching back 30 or 40 years, and it’s just carnage - broken families, broken lives, children who don’t know their parents, brothers and sisters who haven’t seen each other for 20, 30 years.

“If we don’t speak out, the wheels of pain will just keep turning.”

The Greens are bracing themselves for a renewed campaign of attack in the next federal
election, due by the end of next year.

In a meeting with Brethren elders this year, Brown, who is gay, was told that homosexuality was “completely and utterly wrong” and “against God”.

“I have no doubt I will be a prime target,” said Brown.

“They are a homophobic, misogynistic sect. But the veil of secrecy is being lifted.

“There’s a lot more yet to come into the public arena about the Brethren’s activities.”
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