Confronting the Cults – The Exclusive Brethren

Confronting the Cults - The Exclusive Brethren

Confronting the Cults - The Exclusive Brethren

The Exclusive
Brethren are a Christian-centred religious cult,
sometimes called Darbyites, after John Darby, who separated them
from the Open Brethren in 1848. They are also an extreme offshoot
from the Plymouth Brethren and are found throughout the English
speaking world.

The word "Exclusive" has real meaning. They are isolationist
by nature, believing it is the duty of God’s chosen to
avoid all contact with the ungodly. Friendship, business, or even
eating with those outside the Brethren is forbidden. The founders
of Exclusive Brethren believed that this isolationism should not
be compromised in any way - today’s members are not allowed
to own television, radio, newspapers, fax machines or computers,
although some businesses use them. They do not vote, join unions,
take civil office or allow their children to take part in sports
or social activities at school. Modest clothing is the rule, with
long hair and no makeup for women.

Exclusive Brethren either own their own business or work for a
business run by another Brethren member. The aged and sick are
cared for by (possibly unrelated) Exclusive Brethren families.
Children are required to marry within the fellowship.

Although the Exclusive Brethren have further divided, one
group, the Taylorites, is best known for its uncompromising
‘separatist’ teachings. The current Taylorite leader
is Australian businessman Bruce David Hales, known to them as
‘the minister of the Lord in the Recovery’. There are
approximately 1,000,000 who can be classified as Plymouth
Brethren worldwide however the vast majority of these are Open
Brethren. The 40,000 Taylorite Exclusive Brethren meet in 300
assemblies throughout 19 countries. In Australia, there are about
18,000 members. (Ref Wikipedia)

There is no church, sect or cult which has such intense
meeting schedules. Amongst the Taylorite Exclusive Brethren,
meetings occur at the meeting Rooms (highly secure with blocked
out windows) once a day on Monday through to Saturday, and four
or five times on Sunday. These meetings include the Lord’s
Supper (6am Sunday), a prayer meeting, scripture readings, and
gospel preachings.

I personally know an ‘escapee’ from Exclusivism,
who told me of the pressure of Sundays. All wives were rostered
to provide lunch in the midst of meetings. After the 2nd meeting
they had to rush home, prepare lunch for maybe a quarter of the
congregation, feed them, and then rush off to meeting number

General participation by all adult males is encouraged, but
apart from communal hymn-singing women are required to be silent
in church meetings, which they believe is according to

In the case where someone chooses to leave the Taylorite
Exclusive Brethren or is excommunicated by the fellowship, their
parents, spouse and family are forbidden to associated with them
– surely a Doctrine of Demons. The Australian Sydney
Morning Herald printed an article telling how Bruce Hales (the
Taylorite Exclusive Brethren leader) instructed a 12 year old
girl to separate from her father.

DAVID LANGE, former Prime Minister of New Zealand said - There are some things in my electorate I could do without. There is an Airport and a Sewage Farm, but less appealing still is the presence among us of a large number of Exclusive Brethren. While most religions have elements of wackiness about them, the rules by which Exclusive Brethren live are unusually abnormal. Their sewer pipes must go straight to the mains. No shared driveways or cross-property ownerships are allowed. Their cars must not be turbocharged. The closest they come to having sense is banning Television. Computers are out, as are cellphones, record players and bar coders. To engage in swimming, team sport, entertainment or friendship outside of membership brings swift exclusion from the sect. It goes without saying that their views on the status and role of women make St Paul look like a feminist!

Hales reportedly told her that ‘Your mother will not be
able to accept you if you continue contact with him’ and
‘You cannot be a Christian if you leave the
Brethren’. The girl and her mother were moved 700 km away
from her father with the assistance of the Brethren. The father
lost all contact with the girl, despite having been awarded joint
guardianship and weekly access by the Australian Family Court.
That is a disgrace in our society!

Personally, I have had some experience with this Cult. The man
who became my Pastor immediately after I was born again from
years ago, was in fact himself, an ‘escapee.’ He had
been brought up in the choking, restrictive practices of the
Exclusive Brethren. Although the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is
not taught by Brethren, both he and his wife sought the
experience privately. With the illuminating power of the Spirit
of God within them, they saw with clear eyes the cultishness of
the Church they were born into, and made a momentous decision to

This was done secretly, but such was the hold of bondage on
them, that the husband did not know whether his wife would join
him, or whether she would be restrained by her family and
re-indoctrinated. She did leave on the same night, whereupon they
entered a Pentecostal Baptist assembly and began to worship
there. In time were made Elders, then at the Lord’s
leading, they planted a Church which became the biggest
Pentecostal Church in our City, and the place where my family
found fellowship.

The sad thing about this was the fact that my Pastor never
spoke to his parents again. They were apostates in the eyes of
the Brethren, unaccept able even to family. For a Church member
or family member to have even called them by telephone to see how
they were would invite excommunication. It has been well said
that some of the most hideous things in the world are done in the
name of religion. Surely this is one of them.

This is nothing less than spiritual abuse. When a Church has
flaws in its leadership, including moral, spiritual and human
issues, all questions, however innocent, are taken to be a
challenge to the ruling authority. Therefore performance of
spiritual requirements brings blessing. Failure is condemned, and
those who do so are considered apostates and may be invited to

This spiritual abuse, and the lack of flexibility, often leads
to Draconian solutions. The Exclusive Brethren will often force a
married couple to live separate lives if one of them is under
Assembly discipline.

I helped a young lady ‘escapee’ some years ago.
She was lucky to have found her freedom, as her brothers had been
assigned as a 24 hour guard, because the family were suspicious
of her commitment to the Brethren. We found her a job with a
friend, and she attended our Church. It was not long before her
parents demanded a meeting. We met with the regional head of the
Exclusive Brethren and the girl’s father. It was very
cordial for a while, but eventually the gloves came off. By
questioning them thoroughly, I managed to get them to admit that
they believed there was no salvation outside the Exclusive
Brethren Church, and in fact we ourselves had no salvation.

They saw this girl being on her way to hell also. I said to
them, "In a year’s time, if this young lady loves the Lord
and loves her family in the same measure, or more so, than she
does today, what would be your conclusion then as to her
salvation?" They couldn’t, or wouldn’t, answer

On the basis of their belief that they were the only channel
of salvation, I asked them why it was they met behind locked
doors when they should be sending Missionaries all over the world
and running Evangelism and Outreach programmes. The lame excuse
was that they preached on a City street corner each Friday night.
I replied that I had seen them, it lasted 10 minutes, and if
anyone approached them, they bolted for their cars and took

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that success
with ‘escapees’ is a little like climbing Mt Everest.
When someone’s life has been so regimented, so controlled,
where they couldn’t think for themselves, entry into the
normal world is fraught with danger. Most still feel loyalty
rather than resentment towards the movement. However, a large
number suffer from a variety of psychological symptoms, with
feeling of alienation from society adding to the trauma of
separation from the cult. A lack of interpersonal skills is also
a major psychological hurdle. This can arise from their closed
schooling system, which does not utilise computers and other
modern aids.

As a result, former sect members find it hard to form
relationships with other people, especially when the boundaries
and elements of personal friendship differ so much from inside
and outside the sect. Boundaries in fact, are the major hurdle.
Because there are no major boundaries anymore the
‘escapee’ often has great difficulty in establishing
a new set of Godly values. As a result, many just go too far in
their new-found liberty, and get caught up in other bondages like
sexual immorality, alcoholism and drugs. Paul must have known
about this when he rebuked the Galatians for falling back into