01: The exclusive Brethren have long provided almost a textbook definition of a “sect.” Their members lead strict and separated lives that shun “worldliness” and outside attention. But judging by recent events in Australia and other parts of the world, the movement is taking a new interest in politics.
In Australia, the exclusive Brethren have been under investigation for one of its prominent members spending close to half a million dollars on advertisements and pamphlets attacking the Green party and pushing for the reelection of the Howard government. Investigators charge that the campaign was orchestrated by Brethren leaders.
This is a sea change for the Brethren who have generally condemned involvement in worldly politics and still forbid members to vote. Immediately after Howard’s reelection, the Brethren were reported to be advertising in support of George Bush’s reelection with its “America is In Safe Hands” campaign, and then plunged into a campaign against New Zealand’s Civil Union Bill.
The same drive against same-sex marriage led Brethren leaders to mount a similar campaign against Canada’s legislation on this issue.
(Source: Sydney Morning Herald, January 19)