Exclusive Brethren ‘cult’ sues over publication of sermons

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Exclusive Brethren ‘cult’ sues over publication of sermons

Post by LadyKiwi » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:04 pm

Exclusive Brethren ‘cult’ sues over publication of sermons

Billy Kenber Investigations Reporter


A fundamentalist Christian sect is using charitable funds to sue a retired Scottish academic for more than £100,000 after he published short extracts of its leader’s teachings online.  The legal action against Ian McKay, a former lecturer at Glasgow University, has been taken by the Exclusive Brethren, which previously promised to show restraint in taking legal action when it struck a controversial deal to protect its charitable status.

The Exclusive Brethren, described by critics as a cult, has about 17,000 British members who follow a doctrine of separation that does not allow them to eat or drink with outsiders. Members attend Brethren schools, work at Brethren-run businesses and are encouraged to make donations to the group’s Australian leader, Bruce Hales.

A charity linked to the group is suing Mr McKay, who left the Brethren in the 1960s, for £100,000 in damages after he published extracts of their leaders sermons online. They are also seeking to compel him to reveal any sources within the Brethren.

The charity, the Bible and Gospel Trust, transcribes speeches and teachings made by Mr Hales. It then sells them to members of the sect alongside those of former leaders.

Mr McKay, who researches the sect, is accused of breaching copyright by publishing extracts from these publications. In legal papers filed at the Court of Session, the trust also said that they contained private details of members.

The extracts included Mr Hales telling followers not to own a snooker table or enter a corner shop. In others, Mr Hales’s father, a former leader, called women having careers the “one single potent factor of the breakdown morally of the whole Western world".  

The legal action could contravene an agreement made by the Brethren with the Charity Commission in 2014 under which the regulator overturned an earlier ruling denying charitable status to one of the group’s gospel halls. Although the “deed of variation” does not prohibit all litigation, it states that “a proportionate and preventative approach should be taken.”

Critics questioned whether the action against Mr McKay adhered to these commitments. Rebecca Stott, author of a memoir about growing up inside the Brethren, said: “If the Exclusive Brethren win this case, they will make it impossible to quote from Brethren ministry at all and almost impossible to investigate their actions."

Graham Baldwin, of Catalyst Counselling, a charity that works with victims of religious cults and sects, said the action was “disproportionate”.

Friends of Mr McKay have started a crowdfunding appeal, which has raised more" than £15,000 for his legal costs.

Mr McKay is facing a second case lodged by an Australian company linked to the sect seeking £181,000 over claims he obtained its membership list.

Both Mr McKay and the trust were unable to comment because proceedings are ongoing. It is understood that the trust is satisfied that it has acted in accordance with the deed of variation.


For those interested in supporting Ian. http://tinyurl.com/ya7ylfvc


A year after Helen’s daughter moved out at the age of 16 she sent her mother a letter (Billy Kenber writes). “l’ve got such awesome and caring people around me every day [but] Still need you mum because you’re the one that knows me best,” she wrote. “I wish I could talk to you and spend time with you but I’m “I can’t because I have to do what’5 right and what’s pure.”

For more than 40 years Helen, not her real name, was a member of the Exclusive Brethren.  She attended church; six days a week and; married a Brethren partner. Having long had doubts about the groups teachings, in 2013 she decided to leave, estranging her from her husband and in time, her 7 children. “The fear when you. leave is unbelievable. We would be told that if you went into the 1 world we would be going into the sink of destruction, she said.  One of the core tenets of the Brethren is a ban on socialising with outsiders, known as ‘Worldlies”. In a deal with the Charity Commission in 2014, the group promised to take reasonable steps to protect family relationships, but Helen believes they are not living up to their commitments, although her daughter says their separation was for independent and not religious reasons.

Helen said: “It feels like they’re constantly punishing you in the hope that you’ll crumble and go back.  Losing your children, I don’t think the pain ' ever goes away.  It’s a living death.


The Questioner
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Re: Exclusive Brethren ‘cult’ sues over publication of sermons

Post by The Questioner » Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:09 am

Any organisation which is partly funded by the taxpayer must be held to scrutiny. That is particularly true when that organisation is secretive, high maintenance and contoversial. The PBCC deny that they are secretive but their actions in trying to to both silence critics and suppress the analysis of their teachings says otherwise.

One of the main avenues of this scrutiny is an examination of words and deeds.

Jill Mytton
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Re: Exclusive Brethren ‘cult’ sues over publication of sermons

Post by Jill Mytton » Thu Jan 24, 2019 8:33 pm

Please could you all consider supporting Ian financially? This is serious and has implications for us all - anyone writing on these forums could be next.

Just £5 would help

By the way when Go Fund Me ask for a tip! you can simply click on other and insert £00.00 and you won't be charged.

https://www.gofundme.com/Ian-McKay-defe ... -extremist

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Re: Exclusive Brethren ‘cult’ sues over publication of sermons

Post by Simon » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:41 pm

Readers’ comments from The Times

Time to remove their charitable status and the tax benefits that go with it. Use of charitable funds for legal use is unethical.

I've had (business) dealings with this lot in Australia. When travelling (train, bus, plane) the women must sit at the window with their husband next to them. Weird.

And they won't live in a semi-detached house if the other side is occupied by those not of their church.

This is one of many cults which are "religions" Vulnerable sad people make up the congregation. The same people who would have been paying for indulgences before the reformation.
Difficult but it is something the government should address.

Makes you wonder what criteria the Charities Commission consider when it approves a charity. Too many people are abusing the charities system & going unpunished. Gives the ones who may be providing a good service a bad name.

If these people knew their Bible as well as they claim to know it - for example I have been reading it from cover to cover on a regular basis for the last 43+ years with Holy Spirit to help me understand it, they would know that to take a brother to court is anathema to Jesus. Ergo they are not Christians no matter how much they claim otherwise and I pray Ian McKay wins his case.

They treat their women as second class citizens too. Jesus certainly wouldn't have agreed with that!

I agree, and also hope they lose their charitable status as a result of the litigation.

Totally agree.

The EB also runs a very large multinational fitout company called Unispace.

An organisation with a central principle of excluding a section of the population cannot be called a "charity" by any reasonable definition.
As this' cult' or whatever seem to be flexible as to what and when they interact with the rest of the population, we have to fall back on the old but true aphorism. "When in doubt, follow the money"

I know a guy who was a part of this group growing up. When he finally had the courage to tell his parents he didn't believe in God, he was disowned by the whole community. He told me he won't even be able to go to his parents funerals now.

And that, more than anything else tells us everything you need to know about this disgraceful body of people who bring the name of the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth only unique Son of Almighty God into disrepute. Yes, we are called to no longer love the world and be apart and separate but this does not mean what these people have chosen it to mean. I have heard of many people who have been so spiritually abused by these people, not just those who no longer believe in God and who can blame them considering the examples they have grown up with, but those who have decided that the EB do not have the whole truth of the Word of God and they have joined a church where more of the truth is preached. What really, really causes me pain is that all this awful exclusivity is done in the name of Jesus Who is calling ALL men to Himself not just the Frozen Chosen!

Quelle superstition!

Quite amazing how some people - in this 17000 of them in Britain- are so easily duped! One does have to wonder whether raising children in this fashion constitutes abuse or at least neglect?

Taught many children from this group...they do not all go to Plymouth brethren schools nor are they all home schooled...
as I WANTED them educated in a school I was easy with their needs , easier than many staff wanted .... the exclusiveness was or could have been an issue but we didn’t let it become one...
and as an atheist I thought that except for their all encompassing religious fanaticism they were nice people who looked after their children far better than many of their neighbours

Thanks Adrienne - good to know that some of their children at least are exposed to wider views and values than just those of their very cloistered group. However, are you sure this group the same as the Plymouth Brethren you have dealt with?

Hi, we reported on life inside Brethren schools a few years ago which you might find of interest - https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the- ... pfwhm2d35z

Thanks. Yes I recall reading this when it was first published. These cults really have some rather sinister overtones. Their charitable status looks very questionable.

It simply constitutes brain-washing and indoctrination!!
Draw your own conclusions as to the harm that does!!
If it looks like a cult and behaves like a cult....chances are.... It's a cult!!

The Charity Commission needs to do its job of supervision better.

It does seem from yesterday and today's news that 1 Corinthians is out of favour in "religious" circles these days - "If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people?"

"The Exclusive Brethren, described by critics as a cult, has about 17,000 British members who follow a doctrine of separation that does not allow them to eat or drink with outsiders. Members attend Brethren schools, work at Brethren-run businesses and are encouraged to make donations to the group’s Australian leader, Bruce Hales."
There is nothing Christian or evangelical about this cult. Jesus ate and drank with anyone, Peter was instructed to do likewise. Evangelising means going out and sharing the Gospel with those who don't know it.
Perhaps such cults should be prefixed with "so called " or just called cults.

Jesus actually did what to their eyes would be considered the unforgivable - He ate with tax collectors and sinners, but then He loved them which is more than can be said about this body of people and their attitude to those who do not agree with them, including their own children!

Deus vult !

The Brethren sound like a bunch of weirdos to me.

The vast majority of religious groups are perfectly happy for their sermons to be spread as wide as possible. That’s kind of the point. Always a bit suspicious when a group sues over the publication of something which most reasonable people would suggest is meant to be public by definition.

It truly does make no sense at all, unless of course they are not actually preaching the truth as revealed in the Word of God which they so revere! There are loads of bible scholars on the internet and they would pick up error in a heartbeat!

Why do you believe that?
Is it your view that a religion that has secret ceremonies is inherently wicked?
It is true that the C of E does not have such secrets, but I am a bit suspicious when others assert that practices with which they are not familiar merit suspicion.
Why should religion "by definition" be required to be public rather than private?

The Charity Commission could consider it has the duty to publish the list of members and to republish the extracts of the leaders’ addresses and instructions.
Alternatively or additionally the Commission should conclude a review of the charitable status. The Court can strike out the action which is a threat to journalism make available to all what is known to a few.

A simple question:- "Is there a serious consequence of knowing where 17000 people live?" I know where many of them live but I do not disturb them or their activities. I have met some of them in recent years and found them to be very personable and friendly. I even went to one of their meetings and was treated very well indeed. I have many "old" friends in there from yesteryear and they are still decent people. My children are the great-great-grandchildren of a former leader who died in 1953. He was a very nice gentleman from Sligo, Ireland and troubles began after his death. In essence, my argument is that the people who make up the PBCC are actually generally honest and upright people. However, they are taught basically not to think for themselves. Perhaps if they did, things might change for the better.
Perhaps my perspective is not as biased as some.

According to Wikipedia PBCC (Plymouth Brethren Christian Church) is pretty much the same thing as the Exclusive Brethren in this article.
With social change moving in directions and at a pace that concerns many people, it is not surprising to find like-minded individuals and families banding together in groups, communities, sects and cults to maintain standards and live by values they see as important and under threat. Jewish and Muslim sects are like Christian sects in this respect. There are probably pagan and even secular ones too for all I know.
As Guy says, they are not all ranting nutters or oppressed victims.

Their fear of exposure says it all.


The article would benefit from the input by experts in the law of intellectual property and of free speech rights.
It is impossible for a reader to analyse the legal claims made by the Brethren, and such claims are important to understanding the significance of this lawsuit.

If what they are preaching is from the Word of God which every one of us has access to they should have no fear of their sermons being seen by anybody. Jesus came to proclaim the truth and to reveal that which was hidden - they want stuff hidden? Hmm one has to question whether they are in fact preaching the truth, therefore, they are terrified of it being revealed.

My understanding was they were required to spread the word of the lord ... hence them quietly standing in the local town square reading aloud from their books of prayer... but they were NOT recruiting outsiders

So much for Matthew 28: 18-20! How incredibly sad!

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Re: Exclusive Brethren ‘cult’ sues over publication of sermons

Post by DavidT » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:32 pm

I notice the Times article now says 'This article is the subject of a legal complaint.'
I bet it is. When while Bruce and the boys realise that what they have in their cross-hairs is actually their own feet?

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