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December 06, 2012

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Ivor

John Handel:

I despair of MPs like Mr Bone who have not done any basic research to find out who these men in nice suits lobbying them are. Five minutes on a search engine is all it takes ...

Thankfully despite the Exclusive Brethren’s best efforts, spin doctors and PR merchants the majority of the Christian Church do not feel threatened by the Charity Commissioners. Why? Because public benefit is so interwoven into the fabric of their organisations they do not have to think twice about it.

But let’s be sure: The Evangelical Alliance met with the Charity Commissioners to be 100% sure this did not affect their members and got the following reassurances and clarification:

http://www.eauk.org/current-affairs/news/the-advancement-of-religion-and-public-benefit.cfm

1.under the current law the provision of services of public worship which are genuinely open to anyone to attend is in itself sufficient to satisfy the public benefit requirement even if, in practice, the numbers attending such services are small;

2.contrary to what has been reported in the press, the Commission confirmed that there is no difficulty in restricting access to the sacrament of Holy Communion in accordance with denominational requirements. Difficulties only arise if restrictions are imposed upon access to the worship services of which the sacrament forms a part;

3.the Commission will not involve itself in matters of doctrine except where the outworking of particular doctrinal beliefs impacts upon the public benefit of the organisation. In practice, we understand this to mean situations where the outworking of particular doctrines may give rise to detriment or harm in which case this must be weighed against the positive public benefit in order to determine whether or not, on balance, charitable status is appropriate.

There you have it - a storm in an EB teacup!

John Handel

To quote Peter Bone:
This is another sign of a growing secular movement against religious groups in this country and another example of the state interfering with the church.
He would know better than me.
So I believe him.

As for clarification, there could be nothing wrong in making their name clear if they wish to do so surely? You seem very strong about such a simple matter.

Stewart

John Handel in reply to Suzie Best - Dec 22, 2012

“I hear what you say against these Christians who are clearly fighting a tough battle for all religion, so I wonder what motive there is in your activity against them on many blogs……. I would ask you to refrain from persecution tactics on blog posts”

John, if you really think your fighting a battle for all religion you are deluded my friend. The issue with the Exclusive Brethren and the Charity Commission has nothing, zero, zilch, nought, nothing to do with other Christian religions.

The Charity Commission clearly stated that in their letter in June and restated it in November.

The major religions and Christian Churches have no problem with the Public Benefit Test, as they can easily prove they are for Public Benefit.

You have the temerity to claim it’s a battle for all religions and for Christianity but your own “Ministry” teaches you to separate from other religions and Christian churches on the basis of "Separation from Evil" !!!

You know full well that if a member of the Exclusive Brethren chose to leave and go to another Christian Church (exercising religious freedom), they would be “withdrawn from” !!

Can you please explain for the benefit of all here and the many hundreds of Christians, non Christians, Press and Others reading these blogs, what the big “clarification” is ??

You responded to Suzie Best with the claim – “tell me what does it matter what name they use, ever heard of a rebrand, and ever heard of clarification?”

So what is the reason ?
Why the rebrand ?
What is the clarification ?
Clarification of what ?

Ad

I still say look at the accounts from M.E, and S.B in this thread for the truth 'out of the mouths of babes'. Some people conveniently ignore these accounts.

john handel

Suzie

I hear what you say against these Christians who are clearly fighting a tough battle for all religion, so I wonder what motive there is in your activity against them on many blogs. I am also watching it with great interest, only my interest is the opposite to yours it seems. I would ask you to refrain from persecution tactics on blog posts and listen to this:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/house_of_commons/newsid_9779000/9779638.stm
Excellent speech not only to help you about the brethren, but about all religion. Proves the fight the Brethren are putting up is not only for themselves so why attack them in such a cowardly way??
Also read this to prove just one thing in the press the brethren have done to benefit community: http://www.hertsad.co.uk/news/churchgoers_go_to_aid_of_st_albans_firefighters_1_1705025
And as for the name Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, tell me what does it matter what name they use, ever heard of a rebrand, and ever heard of clarification?
What do you say to some of the blogs on Paul Flynn’s or indeed any articles where you hear similar talk with different names? Is there a law against it? Then better have a chat with Paul Flynn MP! Get him to get cross at his own blogs.

Suzie Best

Following this with great interest, especially the Exclusive Brethren's (recently re-branded as Plymouth Brethren Christian Church in the week after their submission to the Enquiry) and their willingness to not only bandwagon on the comment that this is a concerted attack on Christianity, when the Pagan's also were refused Charitable Status too.... but also their apparent deceitfulness in pretending to be still part of the original Plymouth Brethren Church when their founder split from them many years ago, a fact which can be easily verified by searching the history of religions or looking at relevant Theological information. One wonders what they have to lose to be going to such an extent in this case, other sects that keep separate like the Mormons willingly forgo their Charitable status as they honestly know they do not meet the criteria, surely the Exclusive Brethren/Plymouth Brethren Christian Church could choose to do the same thing, unless it meant they would lose millions of money, and that of course would hurt... but who? I guess not the general public anyway, as the majority of them are not even aware they exist, due to their living separate lives and not participating in all areas of daily community life... food for thought?!

Stewart

Jerry, thanks for that, but it would help much more if you explained what "the concerns" actually are ?

It obvious they are concerned by the amount of lobbying going on, but about what ?, what is the aim of the lobbying ? and what are the "concerns" ?

Regards
Stewart

Jerry

Stuart

Thanks for your question, and I think the straightforward answer is that Individual Plymouth Brethren trustees throughout Britain, having noted the action of the Charity Commission in relation to the Preston Down Trust, have become concerned, as they take their Trustee responsibilities seriously for their own particular Trust. This concern has led them to speak to their own individual MP’s for advice.
There seems to be a growing awareness amongst MP’s as evidenced by the vote in Parliament today, 166 for, to 7 against a bill in favour of the Plymouth Brethren.
I hope this in some way answers you question, Stuart.

Kind Regards
Jerry.

Stewart

“Jerry” @ 15th Dec 10.11pm @ 3 Posts Down

I don’t know what you mean by a “loaded” question, please explain ?

Re my original question @ 15th Dec at 4.22

I am a Christian who goes to an Evangelical Church, and I am finding it difficult to understand what the Exclusive Brethren are hoping to achieve by the intense lobbying of Hon Members in Parliament, what is the aim and purpose of it. The whole purpose of Blog sites like this one, is for debate and discussion.

Jerry

Sorry AD, too cryptic for me.
I expect Stuart will answer me in his own time.

Ad

Jerry, it seems to me that you want nothing to do with the outside world but expect to be recognised by it.

Jerry

Stewart
I'm very happy to answer your question if you can explain why you're asking, ie am I answering a loaded question, or not?

HuwOS

"this group seem to be at the orthodox end of the Christian spectrum"

I think someone needs to look up the definition of orthodox before using it in a sentence.


Stewart

"Jerry", in the post below, (15th Dec @ 4.02pm), thanks for being honest and declaring you are a member of the Exclusive Brethren. I appreciate your honesty.

You have the unique honour of being the "only" poster here to declare themselves as a member of the Exclusive Brethren.!

Please can I ask a very straightforward question,

By lobbying Members of Parliament as the Exclusive Brethren are, what exactly are you looking for the Members of Parliament to achieve on behalf of the Exclusive Brethren. ? What is the aim and the purpose of getting Hon Members to support you ?

Jerry

I am not afraid to say I am a member of the brethren and am intrigued by Mr Flynn's last post (Dec 15th). He says 47 turned up at the debate, 610 didn't.
Here's another interesting statistic. Of the 47, only Mr Flynn was in support of the CC's position. That's 47 to 1.
If you look at Mr Flynn's voting record, it's not a new experience to find himself in the minority!
See the link below for details.

http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=Paul_Flynn

Paul Flynn

The majority of MPs are still silent. 47 turned up to the debate. 610 did not. If there was a serious debate involving evidence from both sides, the majority would support the CC.

JosephF

Stewart, thanks for picking up on my earlier blog.

Just a comment, the word 'separate' seems to cause consternation and condemns this group. Do we not all 'separate' in each and every decision we make in our lives? For example, we all decide which TV programs we watch or allow our children to watch; we all know which type of websites we are comfortable with and those we would avoid; we all have a standard code of conduct we go by. Some are more stringent than others and this group seem to be at the orthodox end of the Christian spectrum. So what? It doesn't seem to stop them from being charitable! Forgive me if I've banged this drum before but anyone who upholds a standard in this world of decline needs applauding!

Puzzled

Stuart Flynn
Craig J, says "Hey, Flynn,"
I’m having difficulty finding this in anything that Craig J has posted. Have you removed it?

Paul Flynn

MPs who backed The Exclusive Brethren had been lobbied by constituents.They are mostly gullible and seeking victimhood. The Charity Commission took the right decision. MPs concerned have now heard both sides of the argument and a proper debate in the Commons would now support the Charity Commission.

Libellous postings have been removed including serious accusations of mis-conduct.

Brian

Stewart, aren’t these postings enough? Don’t decry me because I live near to these people and have even spoken to ex-members who have no axe to grind. Just because no Exclusives may have openly joined this blog what’s the problem. Whoever these people are they are saying the truth about these people, take my word for it.
I say again, I know these people as close neighbours and will fight for them. Just because a handful of people have got serious personal axes to grind doesn’t stop the fact they are charitable and demonstrate this in the community.

Ad

It seems to me that the Exclusive Brethren have only got themselves to blame. Their deliberate rejection of 'outsiders' has come back to haunt them.

I would like to hear from actual Exclusive Brethren, as Stewart has just said it seems like they are not owning up to being members in this discussion.

I think the truth has been stated in numerous contributions from former Brethren such as that by S.B who suffered at the hands of the Exclusive Brethren.

Stewart

I have noticed something quite odd about all the posts loudly proclaiming support for the Exclusive Brethren, on this blog and on Paul Flynn’s other blog called “Exclusive brethren - the whole truth?”

The posts are all from people claiming to –

- live nearby the Exclusive Brethren
- live next door to the Exclusive Brethren
- have known the Exclusive Brethren for many years
- either have in the past, or are currently working for the Exclusive Brethren

Yet, we have “not” seen any post from someone being honest enough to say

- I belong to the Exclusive Brethren
- I am a member of the Exclusive Brethren

Yet, we “have” had posts from those who have been honest to say

- I was a member, I am an ex member
- I know ex members
- My family was hurt
- I was hurt

Where are the “Members of the Exclusive Brethren” ?, or are they in fact visible but under a different umbrella ?

Concerned

Stewart and/or Mr Flynn
“It is the Character of the World that the Christian Hates”
My comment was posted to counteract the attempt to portray these persons as preachers of Hate.
The fact is, whether or not you agree with their doctrines, you can’t unchristianise these people.
To get back to the original article posted on this website these people deserve Charitable status for their education and spread of religion as does any Church, Chapel or Gospel Hall in this country

Stewart

JosephF says “And acknowledge the power of good of Christianity particularly in the western world including the UK”

Absolutely, however, extremism is not in the Public Interest, nor is it of Public Benefit.

An organisation which purports to be “Christian” but which then splits up families and declares other Christians as “iniquitous” and “evil” and “worldly” and does not allow its members to even “Eat” or “Drink” with other Christians, is not working towards “Public Benefit”, nor is it working to the “Good of Christianity”

How on earth can it be “to the Good of Christianity” for the Exclusive Brethren to “Separate” from “all” other Christians !! and not allow members to freely go to another Christian Church service, under the umbrella of “Separation from Evil” !!

JosephF says “Every good and venerable organisation has elements or members that sadly don't live up to it's ethos or standards which cannot be excused”

Yes, that is true, but the Exclusive Brethren claim to be “Christian” so why would they need to “Separate from Evil” from another Christian who leaves to go to another Christian Church !!. It does not make any logical sense, nor does it make any Biblical sense either !

And why in the process of a Christian leaving to go to another Christian church are they “Separated” from relatives, family and children ! – What is “Christian” about that !, that does not make any Biblical sense either !

JosephF says “Even Parliament has members that let the side down in this great establishment!”

Rather an odd comparison !

Yes, Parliament has members that let the side down “However”, they don’t split MP’s from families !!

JosephF

I guess we all noted the date today? 12/12/12. Interesting that whenever we write or say the date we have to acknowledge Christianity; AD - year of our Lord.

And acknowledge the power of good of Christianity particularly in the western world including the UK.

Can't we leave all this personal bitterness and focus on the priniciple at stake here?

Christianity is a force for public good and benefit. Period. If this group is a Christian group then they need to be recognised as such by the CC.

Every good and venerable organisation has elements or members that sadly don't live up to it's ethos or standards which cannot be excused. Even Parliament has members that let the side down in this great establishment!

Again we have to focus on all the good that Parliament stands for.

May the CC be given help to judge on the principles that govern and not be swayed by factions either way.

S.B.

I was a member of the Exclusive Brethren now re-branded as the Plymouth Christian Brethren) for the first 30 years of my life and here’s a small portion of my story:

My older brother was 14 when he was kicked out of our home, on the direction of the brethren, with no means of support - because he refused to attend the 6:00 AM breaking of bread meetings. He felt so strongly about it that he used to set the alarm and get up before my parents, to hide - rather than attend this meeting. Thankfully when he was kicked out by my parents and the Exclusive Brethren, a real Christian took him in to their family and supported him until he was of an age to look after himself.

What was even sadder was that I was so indoctrinated that I thought that putting a child on the street was an acceptable thing to do, until I myself left the Exclusive Brethren and started the process of de-programming and realized how horrifying this actually was. Compassion and really feeling for someone else is a hard thing to come by in the Exclusive Brethren.

So now fast forward about 35 years and this same brother, who was put out on the street, was dying of cancer. These same brethren who had unceremoniously kicked my brother out on the street at age 14 decided that they needed to convert him to their way of thinking on his deathbed and they were relentless in their attempts to try to convince him to allow them to visit. So relentless that one Saturday morning they called to announce that they were all getting in the car to drive 2 hours to visit with my brother. No doubt Christianity at its best. Needless to say he again refused to see them and it got to the point where he was just too weak to deal with them and my younger brother had to step in to tell the Exclusive Brethren in no uncertain terms that they absolutely were not coming to see him.

To add to this story - at this same time - my father who was still in the Exclusive Brethren was also dying of cancer. My younger brother and I had asked to see him one last time and Exclusive Brethren refused to allow it. So, right around the same time that the brethren were trying to visit with my older brother to convince him of the evilness of his ways, my father died. How did they treat us - they buried him before they even told us he had died.

To me one of the very saddest things that the Exclusive Brethren practice, is the splitting up of families. No "worldly people" I have spoken to since leaving the Exclusive Brethren can understand the concept of parents that are willing to abandon their children and the Exclusive Brethren family members are so programmed that they don't even see how wicked this is.

Try to imagine how scary it is to know that you will be cut off from your family and your friends if you leave. It's one of many ways that the Exclusive Brethren use to control their "little flock".

The people who leave this group are not evil people. They just want to live their lives and make their own decisions without being controlled at every turn. It is very sad that freedom of choice (one of our rights) and using our brain (given to us by God) brings about this kind of consequence.

Stewart

Craig J, says "Hey, Flynn,"

I am not sure that is a very polite way to talk to someone you have never met ?, never mind the fact Mr Flynn is a respected Member of the UK Parliament "Just saying"

Craig Jones Says - "It seems to me from other statements he makes that he questions how this group, because of their separation, can benefit the public like other groups of Christians. He is agreed Christianity is a benefit in itself so what does he think is missing I wonder?"

Craig, if you read my post made at December 12, 2012 at 11:58 AM - you will find the answers to your question

Craig Jones says "I would like to know if others on this blog would know if Shawcross or other members of the CC have already made a proper inquiry into how they benefit the public before they turned down the application from Preston Downs Trust? Did they give them a chance from the start or were they only listening to their opposition all along?"

Craig, there is documented evidence that proves that discussions have been ongoing for nearly 7 years regarding the "Exclusive Brethren" and the Charity Commission.

Then there was the 1981 Court case as well

craig jones

Shawcross made a jolly good statement during the debate, did you notice?
It was the "highly important role that Christianity has played in the charitable purpose for the last 4 centuries". What do you reckon to that, do you believe that?
So what is the problem he has with the Plymouth Brethren if he believes this statement? They tell me they are Christians and I believe they are so?
It seems to me from other statements he makes that he questions how this group, because of their separation, can benefit the public like other groups of Christians. He is agreed Christianity is a benefit in itself so what does he think is missing I wonder?
I would like to know if others on this blog would know if Shawcross or other members of the CC have already made a proper inquiry into how they benefit the public before they turned down the application from Preston Downs Trust? Did they give them a chance from the start or were they only listening to their opposition all along?

D.G.

Good point, Concerned. I've been having a little spat with Them Next Door for a quite a while now, but your post has opened my eyes.

I don't hate my neighbours... I just hate the *character* of my neighbours.

I'm going to go and explain this to them right now. I'm sure they'll feel much better once they understand the distinction. After all, it's the Season of Goodwill, right?

Stewart

“Concerned“ – who posted the explanation about “hating the world” which is interpreted as “hating the character of the world” in the previous post

I would like to make a few points if I may

1.
Every Christian would keep away from wrong doing or evil etc, that is not unique to the Exclusive Brethren. It would be natural for a Christian who believes in Christ Jesus, to shy away from “evil”.

2.
In what way does this justify the doctrine of the Exclusive Brethren that prevents their members from going to another different church to hear the Word of God, or enjoying fellowship or communion in another church ?. Other Christians are also keeping away from wrong doing and evil, so why make division or schism between Christians or in other words, between the Exclusive Brethren and Other Christians ?

3.
What has your explanation go to do with the doctrine of not eating or drinking with those “outside” of the Exclusive Brethren ? There is no element of “hating the character of the world” in this ? The Exclusive Brethren refuse even to eat or drink with other Christians ? why drive division and schism between Christians, those in the Exclusive Brethren and those “outside” ?

4.
The Bible teaches that we are to “accept one another (other Christians), as Christ has also accepted you ?” Romans 15” – So why are the Exclusive Brethren separate to the rest of the Body of Christ (other Christians) ?

Concerned

Mr Flynn

To any Christian the Bible is the Word of God, I quote the following verses from the writing of St. John to help clarify the meaning of “the World” to a Christian.

The Gospel according to ST. JOHN, Chapter 17;

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

The First Epistle General of JOHN, Chapter 2;
15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him;
16 For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

It is the Character of the World which is what the Christian Hates

HuwOS

"You must hate the world, every feature of the world, at every point you hate it.”

Well it seems like they're off to a good start as they definitely hate the charities commission right now. Onwards and upwards.

D.G.

It is utterly dishonest - and in the light of the Brethren policy of separation, *breathtakingly* hypocritical - for people to be conflating the issue of this specific church not getting charity status, and the wider issue of whether Christianity is beneficial to society.

Most Christian groups have had no trouble at all being recognised as charities.

Paul Flynn

The ‘Universal Leader’ of the Exclusive Brethren Mr Bruce David Hales of Sydney, Australia, declared in March 2006 “We have to get a hatred, and utter hatred of the world. Unless you’ve come to a hatred of the world you’re likely to be sucked in by it, and seduced by it. You must hate the world, every feature of the world, at every point you hate it.”

Brian

JosephF, I believe it is both ignorance and arrogance to continue to believe that Christianity has no public benefit. These people are deceiving themselves. As an 'independent regulator' they have no right to judge whether Christianity has any charitable benefit attached to it. This country acknowledges it without the CC having to comment, the very fabric and foundation of the western world is the fruit of it's outgoings. The CC need to own there principal error in this and keep within their remit. It shouldn't be difficult to acknowledge a mistake and save the public arena 100's of thousands of pounds in the process.

JosephF

For the CC chairman to state that it 'had no intention of withdrawing from the tribunal or reconsidering its position' must be at best ignorance or at worst arrogance, in the face of overwhelming reaction from MPs, the public and Christians throughout the UK.

If they are meant to be an independent regulator, let them do so with equity and be prepared to hold their hands up if they've made an error of judgement.

I wish those being bullied the very best!

Law Watch

The commission needs to be answerable to someone.
But who to?
The minister wipes his hands of it and says what he thinks is irrelevant.
The new chairman says they are doing their best.
And a large number of MP’s feel they were duped into agreeing a law that is simply not working.
Certain persons at the commission don’t like the idea that Christianity is of public benefit so they are trying to set a precedent that will affect more and more other churches. The letter refusing this registration apparently says even the Church of England isn’t necessarily for public benefit.
It doesn’t take much investigation to see what is happening in the charity commission. A number of staff have spoken out over the injustice within the department
So what are we going to do?
The PASC committee is in a position where it can call time on this charade and insist on a better system for the good of all.
I hope you don’t allow the millions of Christians in England to be let down.

john handel

I cannot think Mr Flynn that you can justify the statements you make about your fellow MP's.
When it appears you are outnumbered, we all find it better to consider our position and the stance we take in any matter.
This whole thing is beginning to give the appearance of a malicious attack on Christianity.
I say that as having been more and more alarmed the past month or so as I have followed this matter.
Being a Christian and in close contact with a lot of these brethren, I do agree Parliament has been made a laughing stock and Shawcross saying it is 'unfortunate' shows his preparedness to wash his hands of what he is now responsible for.
I trust you begin to see the need to be fair rather than take the opposite side to other MP's.

M.E.

To whom it may concern
In light of the current situation concerning the charitable status of the Exclusive Brethren (recently renamed as the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church), I as an ex member of the Brethren and would like to tell you a little of my experience with them.
I am aware that the Brethren have chosen to re-vamp their public image, to appear to outsiders as though they are an open church, doing much in the way of good for the general community. However, this is simply not true and their new website is particularly misleading. They do not disclose how they split families, casting out their own relatives in the name of Christianity, and treating those that have left with callous disregard. They also do not advertise how racist they are, including forbidding marriage between those of different skin colours.
My late parents were from Cape Town, South Africa, and would be described as "Cape Coloureds", (as opposed to "blacks"). My brother and I, therefore both have a “tint” to our skin.
I experienced racism from the Brethren and grew up being told by my peers that I would never be allowed to marry; the Brethren are for the most part, white skinned people. My family suffered racist taunts from Brethren and we were often made to feel very uncomfortable. When my mother found out that I told my friends in defiance that “I could marry if I wanted to”, she told me that we must be humble, and know our place, and that any marriage for my brother or me was highly unlikely.
An example of the racism I suffered is described here, when at the age of around 20, a friend and I went to stay for the weekend with a young Brethren couple in the Worcester area. The husband, Johnny Ball, blatantly racially abused me for the entirety of my stay, and although I didn't show it outwardly, it was a very upsetting experience. When I went to pick up the baby from the cot, he told me to leave the baby alone, saying "you will frighten her, she has never seen a 'jungle bunny' before". He thought this was hilarious and laughed loudly at his own joke. When we socialised at the houses of other Brethren, my tormentor continued his onslaught, by announcing loudly to those present that they were not to offer me any food, because I only ate yams, or curry. Johnny constantly referred to me as a "wog" or "the black girl". All the brethren present laughed every time Johnny made a joke at my expense. No one would have any idea that I was upset by his words, because I laughed along with the others. The racial taunts didn't stop, they kept on coming. By the end of the day my face was aching from the amount of laughter I had to fake. I learnt very early on in life, that I must not show my emotions. To do so would be to show others that I was weak, which would result in the bullying intensifying.
As a young child there were two periods when our family was excommunicated, the second episode lasting nearly five years. We returned to the Brethren when I was around 14 years old. We were any excommunicated many times after that, for sins such as watching Prince Charles' wedding, amongst other things
When I was 15, the Brethren introduced me to, and tried to force me to marry an Indian man who was 28 years old. His name was Alvin Dhamaraj. They quoted a scripture, taken totally out of context, which they felt was relevant to the situation, and when I refused to agree to the marriage proposal, they accused my parents of influencing me. This wasn't the case. There was immense pressure on our family at that time from the Brethren and we had numerous "priestly" visits, in which the pressure was increased. For months afterwards, the scripture that was most often read at church meetings, was the scripture they had used to try to push me into marriage. It was a dreadful time. The Brethren manipulate situations to suit themselves, for example at this time, two new rules had just been introduced - one was that there were to be no marriage where there was more than a five year age gap between the couple, and the other was that there were to be no marriages of couples that came from different countries. However, purely because neither of us were white skinned they chose to ignored the recent rules, decided it would be best if we were married to each other, and therefore tried to force marriage upon me, a child.
When I was around 19 or 20, my older brother was instructed by Mr Symington, the Brethren's "Man of God" of the time, to travel to Barbados and Jamaica to find a wife with a similar skin colouring to his own. Although my brother was already very friendly with a female member of the local Brethren they would not have been allowed to marry. Their friendship was frowned upon as it was obvious that it could go no further as his friend was white skinned.
I found the time while my brother was on his travels to find a wife, especially difficult. Towards the end of every church meeting, the local leader publicly asked my father in front of the whole congregation, if there was any news on Clem (my brother) "finding a wife"? It was like we were a family of freaks, forever under the spotlight. I used to cringe at each meeting, because I knew the inevitable question would be asked. I started to leave church straight away afterwards because people used to question me too.
My brother eventually found in Toronto, someone whom the “Man of God” deemed suitable for him to marry, and they were married shortly afterwards. The Brethren were very excited because they discovered that my brother's wife had a brother, and it all started again, the comments and the suggestions that I should meet him. I had to be very blunt to make it clear that I was not interested in any introductions, and my attitude was frowned upon.
A couple of years later in 1986, I left the Brethren. I was 22 years old. I was very unhappy and found I just could not live my life under such strict rules. My decision to leave the Brethren meant I was totally cut off from my friends and family and completely shunned.
A few years after leaving the Brethren, I met and married my husband. We have two children and slowly, over time, the four of us developed a secret relationship with my parents. My brother did not know about this initially. The relationship had to be hidden, because if it was discovered my parents would have been punished, most probably by excommunication. This would have meant that my parents would then have not been able to see my brother and his family. The relationship had to remain hidden for my parents to be able to remain in contact with both their children.
In 2008 my father passed away. My brother rang me and told me that I must respect Mum's wishes, in that she did not want to see me and she did not want me to contact her. I do not believe these were my mother's wishes. My brother was by now aware to some extent, of the relationship we had with Mum and Dad, because my father, although he had always been rather rebellious, had become far more outspoken in his old age. Towards the end of his life he had told me that he didn’t care any more what the Brethren thought and that he had purposely let things “slip” to my brother about the relationship he had with us. I believe my brother just wanted to keep me away from Mum and therefore had told me that she didn’t want to see me.
The following day, our family visited Dad in the Chapel of Rest at the local hospital. Afterwards, we felt that, despite what my brother had said, that we really needed to see my mother. So we called at the house. My brother and his wife came to the door and stood in the doorway, preventing us from crossing the threshold. They would not let me speak to Mum alone. Each time I said something to my mother, my sister in law, or brother answered for her. Mum looked totally defeated. All Mum and I longed to do was to comfort each other and grieve together and we were prevented from doing this. We told the Brethren we were going to attend the funeral, and as a funeral is a public event, they could not stop us. At the funeral, my brother did not make any eye contact with me. At the graveside, the Brethren asked us to stand aside, away from the grave, on the path, whilst they prayed over the coffin containing my father’s body. My husband refused and said we were there to pay our respects to a much-loved man, and therefore we were going to remain at the graveside. The Brethren circled the grave and tried to stand shoulder to shoulder to force us out, but we stood our ground. My husband stood with his arms around our two children and me. It was very sad, but I was unable to show any emotion because all the Brethren were staring at me, and it just brought it back to me, how I used to hide my emotions. It wasn't until I was home with my family that I could really grieve.
Seven months later, my mother (who had mild dementia) told my husband that my brother was sending her on a short holiday to New Zealand and that she was leaving in two days' time. I was very concerned about Mum going on such a long journey as she was in her mid eighties, in poor health, suffering with back problems and having recently undergone a mastectomy due having had breast cancer. The day after Mum left for New Zealand, I received a letter from the UK Court of Protection, advising that my brother had applied for Sole Power of Attorney, in relation to Mum. I objected, as I was most concerned that my brother was not acting in my mother's best interests.
We managed eventually to obtain a telephone number for the relatives with whom Mum was staying in New Zealand and kept in contact with her there. After three weeks, Mum remained in New Zealand and we were concerned as to what the future held for her. Mum repeatedly told me when I phoned her, that she wanted to return to her home in the UK and she didn’t know how long she was going to be in New Zealand.
The three weeks turned into six months and then Mum disappeared. My relatives in New Zealand told me that Mum had returned to England to live with my brother. I was unable to reach either my mother or my brother on the phone. I rang my relatives in New Zealand again and they told me that Mum had actually gone to live with my brother in Australia. He had emigrated there, completely unknown to me. I was devastated. A few weeks later, my brother rang me, but he refused to tell me where he lived (just said North of Sydney). He would not give me his phone number and refused to let me speak to Mum, saying she was "unavailable". He put the phone down on me when I questioned him further. The following morning I decided to contact hospitals in and around the North of Sydney area, and surprisingly the first hospital I rang told me that Mum had been admitted two weeks previously. I was put through to Mum's bedside phone and she was clearly delighted to hear from me. However, my brother took the phone from her and he told me he would not allow me to speak to her, and put the phone down.
My family abandoned our holiday to Portugal and flew to Australia to try to bring Mum home. We were unsuccessful, sadly. However, we had been visiting Mum for six days before the Brethren were aware of our presence. The hospital told us that Mum rarely had visitors. Hospital staff advised that Mum was actually by now medically fit, but the family had refused to have her back at home. The Brethren found out we were there because Mum took a phone call from a member of the Brethren one day when we were visiting. She excitedly told the caller that her "baby girl" had come to visit from England. Within fifteen minutes my brother had arrived, together with a Brethren leader. They questioned us regarding where we were staying, when we had arrived and when we would be leaving. When we left, some Brethren followed us, it seemed they wanted to make sure we had left the hospital premises. One day my brother took Mum out of the hospital for the entire day, from 08:00 in the morning and did not return her until late in the evening. The hospital staff were very apologetic that this had happened and advised it was completely out of character, in fact Mum had never before been taken out for the day like this. I believe this was done to prevent us from seeing Mum.
My brother alleges that it was planned for Mum to emigrate to Australia with him and that Mum was aware. However, Mum’s house was left with all her possessions in. Even her engagement ring was left on the dressing table. My brother’s statement does not concur with hospital notes, in which it is recorded that upon my mother’s admission to hospital, my brother’s wife told staff that Mum was “holidaying” with them. This seems to indicate that the plan was to move Mum into Australia via the “back door”. Whilst we were in Australia with Mum, hospital staff informed us that my brother had signed an application on Mum’s behalf, for a bridging visa. Mum did not have the mental capacity to make that decision herself, and my brother did not have Power of Attorney as it had not been granted, so it was illegal for him to do this. I believe my brother deceived my mother into thinking she was merely going to New Zealand to see her relatives, when in actual fact, his intention was to force her to relocate to Australia.
Mum was eventually transferred to a nursing home. Whenever I rang to get updates about Mum, the staff would not give me any information, advising that they were not allowed to tell me anything, because my brother had forbidden it. Not only had he taken my mother almost as far as he possibly could, to sever all ties with me, he was doing his utmost to stop me getting information and updates on Mum's health, also.
Following legal proceedings in both hemispheres, I was successful in securing guardians in both the UK and Australia, and also a Financial Manager in Australia. In the Australian Guardianship Tribunal that took place in September 2010, my mother was specifically asked by the presiding member of the panel, if it was her intention to stay in Australia, or if she was only there on holiday. My mother answered that she was on holiday, that she wanted to go home, and that if she had intended to emigrate to Australia, she would have brought her possessions with her. When my brother was questioned by the presiding member as to why he did not let his sister know of the plans, he answered that he didn't think it was "appropriate". He also voiced in the Australian Guardianship Tribunal that he would not allow our mother to return to the UK, even if it was her express wish. He said it was "unthinkable".
My mother's house was sold and the proceeds were transferred to the New South Wales Trustee and Guardian, to safeguard. My brother arranged for all of my mother's and father's possessions to be shipped to Australia. I was not given the opportunity to choose any small keepsake by which to remember my parents. When I did enter my parents' house after the possessions had been removed to be shipped to Australia, it was as if a burglary had taken place. The house felt like it had been raped. Cupboard doors were agape and draws open with items such as tea towels etc hanging out of them. There was a bag of rubbish on the floor and on top of the bag, ripped up, was the card I had given Mum when Dad passed away. Framed photos of my children lay trampled on the floor.
In August last year Mum became very ill with recurrent chest infections and we thought it was time to say goodbye. My husband and I flew out to Australia and thankfully Mum made a recovery and we spent some lovely days with her. Once more though, my brother took her out of the nursing home for one entire day, to stop us seeing her. I was heartbroken when we left Australia for the second time, knowing I may never see my mother again. This proved to be the case.
On 23 July this year, my mother passed away. The flights of 2009 (for all four of us) and 2011 (very expensive for two of us, because they were in the UK school holiday period) had hit us hard financially. During legal proceedings in which I was successful in securing a guardian both in the UK and in Australia to protect Mum, my brother's solicitor had advised that the Brethren would make a payment of £2000 every other year, towards us travelling to visit Mum. (Previously, the Brethren tried to bribe me to drop the legal proceedings with the Court of Protection, in order to receive payments "from the funds" to enable us to travel to see Mum. I refused). I asked my brother if the Brethren would now honour this promise to enable us to attend the funeral, and if the funeral could be postponed to enable us to attend. He responded with the offer of an ex gratia payment of $5,000 AUD which would be forwarded to us 7 days after the burial and subject to us accepting and agreeing to comply with the following conditions:
- Since the church service is a private service, we are happy to make provision for you to attend the burial service at the cemetery, but must observe the Brethren’s directions:
- Stand where directed at the cemetery
- Not interfere with the committing of Mum’s body to the Lord
- You will be given opportunity to view the casket in the grave, then must stand back while it is filled
- The names of any other persons you wish to bring must be submitted to the local Brethren for consideration
- You agree that you will not cause, or incite anybody else to cause, any publicity or unwanted attention to come upon the Brethren before, during or after the burial.
We did not have the finances readily available to fund the trip up front, and in any case the payment offered was nowhere near enough for the four of us to travel to Australia at such short notice, and there was no allowance for accommodation of any kind. Further, my brother refused to postpone the funeral.
We did not believe that we would have received a penny of the payment after the funeral. It is most likely that the Brethren would have decided that we had contravened one of their rules, and would have refused to make the payment. We did not go to the funeral.
I hope the above has given you just a little snapshot into my story. It is extremely abridged and I could go into far more detail to explain the lengths to which the Brethren went and the deceit involved to try to ensure that I never again made contact with my mother. I hope you can see that this group of people are not what they purport to be. They are an exclusive, introverted, wealthy, judgmental group who look down on those who are not members and treat those that have left their membership with utmost cruelty, as I have outlined above.
If I can be of any further help to you, or you wish to discuss any element of the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Paul Flynn

The M.L. contribution was sent directly to me. I have omitted her telephone number but I will contact her in the hope that she can get a further platform for her views.

HR

When one MP views over 40 others as gullible you realise they are probably enjoying something he isn't. Christians of every denomination are concerned about the stance the charity commission is taking on this case and we should pray to God that Christian churches in England are allowed to retain charitable status.

Concerned

Hurd said the commission had been given "an incredibly difficult job by parliament and was doing it to the best of its ability".

If 350 Druids can be granted Charitable Status Backed up by over 20 Pages of justification, then the Charity Commission have certainly lost the Plot over the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.

"Laughing stock" or is it something more disquieting.

With the ability to force a Christian Church to spend hundreds of thousand of Pounds defending itself. This should be a Wake Up call to all Christian Churches, The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church are defending Charitable Status for you as well, they are just the "thin edge of the wedge".

Law Watch

The Conservatives aren’t bullying the Charity Commission but they have every reason to be concerned about their biased behaviour at present. The Commission are happy to classify the Druids and the secretive Masons as charities but are forcing a relatively large group of Christians to go to court to prove their eligibility. The government never gave them the remit to judge between religions and are absolutely right to question whether they should change the law to prevent this scandalous waste of money.

Brian

Let’s stick to the matter to hand and not fill this blog up with irrelevant rubbish. Yes, the CC has a very difficult job on hand in every sector, I would ask that they stick to what has been defined in law and take in to consideration what persons and establishments are doing to forward great charitable acts and services in our community. I support every charity doing good things; take the Protection of Cats for example and Battersea Dogs Home, as an animal lover there passion and care is outstanding, the same goes and even more so for Christianity and it’s out goings and anyone who picks this up and demonstrates charitable benefit. Let’s stick to principals and evidence; this is what counts and long live churches and people who drive this through the community.

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