Over the past 10 years, we have witnessed the gradual but determined efforts of the Exclusive Brethren World leader to reinvigorate and sanitize the Hales brand. His family brand.
Let’s face it, Team Hales has been besieged with flaws and ‘matters’ over the past 45 years, which have at times, left the family in tatters. A shadow of its former self. Gasping for recognition. Groaning for attention. Grasping for respect.
For all their arrogance today- the Hales have known what biting comeuppance means. They have sat there biting their bottoms lips as they watched their patriarchs, uncles, cousins and sons being given the boot for one misdemeanour or another. Three times in the case of Bruce’s father. And every time it happened, they clenched their fists under their bibles swearing silent but eventual revenge on any who dared be party to the coups that displaced their parents and relatives.
I have long promoted the theory, that despite being on the wrong side of the tracks today – a victim of severely misguided Brethren arbitration – I am not as big a sinner as John Stephen Hales. Or any other Hales for that matter. He got the boot thrice to my once. Nor have I delved as deeply into the sin-pits of the world as the current leader’s aunt – once the most recognisable Brethren woman of them all. Reduced to a life of booze and poker machines. And a whole lot more according to some witnesses which I won’t touch on here because it’s not fair or decent to sink the boot in to the Hales – even though they have sunk it in to a few of us.
Bruce is nothing but persistent however when it comes to relaunching the Hales history with all the bad bits erased and ‘whited out.’ His father may have been withdrawn from three times, but that was because the saints got it all wrong. It is them that need to take a good long hard look at themselves- not his father. How dare they get it so wrong! If you were a major player in this eviction of the main man, I daresay that today- you are looking in – from without.
Of course those that DO remember the shenanigans of the Hales brothers in the 1960’s and some fibs years later know better, but no doubt today, have had their minds bent to their master’s will. He did no wrong.
Hales’ determination to cleanse his family history -while admirable – is misguided. Moreover- it’s just not honest. Rather than just say “Look, my Dad – God love him – didn’t always get it right, but you have to forgive right?” Not a bar of it. He says – ‘Purge your filthy minds of any thought that he may have been wrong – and get right yourself. He was incapable of wrong! You were wrong.’
His Uncle Bruce was bought back after an eternity in the wilderness -twice- and had the fatted calf killed for him. Within months he was reading the riot act for his new master and nephew – a meteoric step for a cab driver – a giant leap for mankind. Well – Brethrenkind. His wife- and JTJnr’s daughter -from whom he spent a period of estrangement -was also booted out for 14 years and I have just read Bruce’s reversal of the assembly judgment on this which I will share in a moment.
His son – the rather grandly named (in Peeb terms) James Taylor Hales – was also delving that little bit too precariously in the pleasures of the world and the flesh -and from all reports spent a great deal of his life without- at the track where he also ended up without the where-with-all to gamble any further. Legend has it that part of his re-entry package involved having all his gambling debts paid off for him prior to his dovetailing back into the clan and the sect in the immediate role of accredited spokesman. He even bought his Catholic wife with him and I wonder today – does she still see her own family? I heard initially that there were no restrictions at the outset. Which when you think of the hundreds if not thousands who were withdrawn from for lapses in separation over the years- is a wicked Hales double standard in itself.
It’s at this point – if you look at Clan Hales in context – you can see an absolutely appalling lineup of sin and debacle and expulsions. I can think of no other family that was tinged with as much drama as the Hales. I’ve known some rotten Brethren families in my time- but no one holds a candle to Clan Hales.
Let’s take a look at the tally- and for non Peeb readers- being ‘withdrawn from’ is the biggest kick in the kidneys a Peeb can face in their lifetime:
• John S. Hales – withdrawn from three times.
• W.Bruce Hales- withdrawn from twice.
• Consuela Hales- withdrawn from once.
• Gordon Hales – withdrawn from for affairs with married sisters.
• Jessie Hales- withdrawn from once.
• Lois Hales (JSH sister) withdrawn from once.
• Stephen Hales- withdrawn from at least once.
• Jimmy (James Taylor) Hales – withdrawn from for over 20 years.
• Roger Kirkpatrick (Hales relative) booted out – leaving a couple of things in his wake when he returned.
No wonder Symington called them the ‘Hales Stones!’
Now I could be even more frank than I have been and divulge even grubbier grubby bits concerning Hales misdemeanours – but I am not going to. I have said before that one thing the world has taught me that the Brethren didn’t – was that forgiveness is given if repentance is evident. But what really riles me – and this is the point of this missive – is how Bruce Hales has campaigned tirelessly to restore his family and make them comfortable and to erase any wrong done to them.
I refer to a care meeting just over 5 months ago, where I read of Bruce telling the Sydney Brethren to reverse the judgment on Consuela Hales. It happened in 1976 when his father was in the midst of ‘a conspiracy against him’ and was basically forced by the Brethren, despite his better judgment, to withdraw from her. And so they took it back – they admitted they got it wrong. ‘While she is still with us’.
And here is where I get pissed off.
Why can’t Bruce Hales be even handed – and honest -in his reversals of judgment? Why can’t he look into the thousands of other families who were withdrawn from for ridiculous notions and reasons -wrongly! Why does it just have to be about the Hales family having their records expunged? Why don’t other people’s families matter as much as the Hales family?
I know of many people who were withdrawn from wrongly. Myself included. Why hasn’t Bruce felt the same pain and grief he feels for Consuela Hales- for them -and set about setting the record straight? Why hasn’t he fixed things up like he did for Jimmy and others of his family – for the rest of us? Why? Because we don’t matter to him. Other Brethren families don’t matter. It’s all about being Hales. He feels no such compunction for other people. Which in itself is a wickedness and one for which I hold him to account.
I can forgive the Hales family their appalling record (in Brethren values) quite happily -but I cannot forgive their nepotistic, self focused, selfish, distain for all of the other families that the Brethren have adversely affected and in some cases destroyed.
I feel your pain Bruce for your aunt. But where was your pain for the many people who were so affected by their treatment at the hands of the Brethren, that they took their own lives? Something I might add that affected the Hales clan – twice. Where was your pain Mister Bruce when I as a teenager who had committed no actual sin – spent my first nights cast out with a suitcase and no money in a bus shelter?
I didn’t hear any reversals of judgment or ‘humbling yourself under Almighty God’ as an 18 year old kid tried to work out what the hell had just happened to him all those years ago. But then again – I wasn’t a Hales. It’s good to be a Hales.
Think on it if you want to have any credibility at all. Think on it if you have a shred of decency and honesty at your core.
*Note- I am happy to be put right if the facts of Hales family assembly judgments stated above, are either incorrect or insufficient in their tallies.