Title: Who are the Exclusive Brethren? Credit: Craig Young Comment Tuesday 6th September 2005 - 12:00pm1125964800 Article: 899 Rights
The Exclusive Brethren are a right-wing separatist group of authoritarian fundamentalists. Why were they involved in recent pamphleteering against Labour and the Greens? Until 1959, there was nothing to distinguish the Exclusive/Closed Brethren from their more moderate Plymouth Brethren counterparts. In New Zealand, the Plymouth Brethren tend to be centre-left on social policy issues, although conservative when it comes to LGBT issues. In 1959, James Taylor Jnr led the Exclusive Brethren out of communion with their more mainstream counterparts. Their churches are decentralised and shun contact with the outside world, as well as contact with most modern communication technology. Taylor was a confrontational and divisive leader who was responsible for much family fragmentation, and there is also an Australasian connection. Two Australians, John and William Hales, became involved with the sect. Amusingly, James Jr fell from grace in 1970 after the discovery of an extramarital sexual encounter. However, the sect hasn't abandoned its tradition of authoritarian leadership. After Taylor's fall, James Symington (1970-1987), John Hales (1987-2002) and Bruce Hales (2002- ) controlled the fortunes of the sect, whose estimated global membership is 27,000. The sect tends to be entrepreneurial, favour homeschooling, is anti-welfare and shuns involvement in higher education. In 2002, it contributed to the re-election of George W.Bush. More recently, concerns have been raised about the authoritarian na ture of the sect and its crushing psychological repression of its hapless membership, in Britain and New Zealand alike. Little academic investigation has been conducted of the sect. In the late nineties, National MP Nick Smith (Tasman) helped to reunite a sundered EB family. More recently, Ngaire Thomas has expressed concern about the repressive attitudes of New Zealand EB leadership and family structures. In July 2005, Canadians found that their EBs were involved in campaigning against same-sex marriage in their country. Recommended Reading: Wikipedia: Exclusive Brethren BBC Religious Affairs: Brethren BBC News: Sect Leaves Psychiatric Problems (20.05.00) Books: David Barrett: The New Believers: A Survey of Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions: Cassell: London: 2001. Ngaire Thomas: Behind Closed Doors: A Startling Story of Exclusive Brethren Life: Auckland: Random House: 2005. Official EB Website: Ex-EB Website: Queer Day: 19.07.05: EB Involved in Canadian Anti-SSM Campaign. Craig Young - 6th September 2005    
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