The Exclusive Brethren Church in Australia has denied that it is ‘resolutely anti-gay’, even though it mistreats its gay members, and has launched numerous political campaigns against the rights of LGBT people starting over a decade ago.
According to The Canberra Times, reports have surfaced that the cash-rich separatist religious cult, which donates secretly to the Liberal Party, has “virulently anti-gay” attitudes.
But articles exposing the cult prompted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, above, to say:
I’ve got no criticisms or complaints about that organisation … As you know, everybody is free to make political contributions.
In a statement to Fairfax Media, the Liberal-linked Sydney public relations firm Wells Haslem, which represents the church, denied it’s client was anti-gay, saying: The Brethren’s PR representative, Benjamin Haslem said:
It is not. The Church has never campaigned against LGBTI individuals or communities. The Church would appreciate [it] if you could amend our article so it is accurate.
However, Fairfax Media has obtained a number of internal documents that show this is a downright lie.
The Exclusive Brethren leader Bruce D Hales said in a meeting in his Sydney office in January 2006 that homosexuality was:
Unnatural against the anatomy.
In the meeting, with a young girl who had been sexually abused by the man she was staying with, Hales was discouraging her from leaving the church and going to live with her gay father. He told her:
God created man for the woman and the woman for man, not man for man and woman for woman.
Also in 2006, Hales’ brother, Daniel, told Fairfax Media:
When I was a boy, homosexuals went to jail.
In 2009, Bruce Hales sent a gay 18-year-old Brethren member, Craig Hoyle, to a Sydney-based Brethren doctor. In a later complaint to the medical board, Hoyle quoted Hales saying:
There’s medication you can go on for these things.
Hoyle said Hales had told him:
The doctor he was referred to, Mark Craddock, a radiologist, prescribed a potent drug called Cyprostat, which shuts off the supply of testosterone in the male body and is typically used to treat patients with advanced prostate cancer – or in some cases to chemically castrate “sexual deviants”. Craddock was later banned from practicing as a GP over his actions.
To never accept myself for who I was, and to always battle against my sexuality.
Over the past few years I have been contacted by a number of current and former Brethren members who are gay, describing similar treatment at the hands of the church. There is no doubt in my mind that the Brethren attitude toward homosexuality has not changed in any meaningful way.
As for Wells Haslem’s claim that the Brethren had not “campaigned” against LGBTI people, this is also a lie.
In the 2004 Federal election, the Brethren arranged, through the Liberal Party, to book a series of anti-Green advertising campaigns. Among the advertisements was a statement that transgender rights would:
Ruin families and societies.
The Brethren’s anti-gay campaigns have also gone global, in a number of jurisdictions contemplating legislating for gay marriage.
In January 2005, the church’s senior leaders in Canada wrote an “urgent memo” to the cult’s members on a proposed same-gender marriage bill. It said:
Preventing the passage of this bill is absolutely critical.
Gay marriage would mean, among other things, that:
Gay persons will flood Canada from all over the world, with disastrous social results.
The Brethren campaigned in the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell law change relating to gays in the American military in 1993, Canada Same-Sex Marriage law in 2005, and the Illinois Civil Unions legislation in 2007. Their claims included that gay people were incapable of controlling their sexual urges, spread disease, and contributed to the moral collapse of society.
When former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard – who was close to the Brethren – legislated in 2004 to define marriage for the first time as between a man and a woman, Exclusive Brethren members were present in Parliament every day of the debate.
Former Greens Leader Bob Brown called on Turnbull to send back donations to the Liberals from members of the Exclusive Brethren. Brown said that, during a meeting in his office in Parliament House in 2006:
The cult’s elders warned me … that I should read Romans I in which St Paul advises that homosexual men ‘are deserving of death’. They came with advice that I and my partner Paul Thomas were destined for ‘a lake of fire’.
Melbourne-based elder Richard Garrett had told then Senator Brown that same-sex marriage would:
Destroy society. We repel it because it’s against God’s word. People get themselves so perverted and they just can’t think morally.
In the public relations firm’s statement, Brethren representative Benjamin Haslem also wrote that the Plymouth (or Exclusive Brethren) has never been responsible for “covering up child sex abuse”.