The Exclusive Brethren are spying on ex members
April 21, 2021
The Exclusive Brethren is a “high control” church run from Sydney by Bruce Hales, the “Elect Vessel”. “High control” is a term used to describe groups where the leadership exert a high degree of control over members’ private lives, including their finances, friendships and sex lives.
The Exclusive Brethren are a breakaway group of Brethren who split from the Open Brethren many years ago, and are much more insular and strict (opens new window) that their Open cousins, including limiting members’ internet access.
The new allegations (opens new window), made public by Radio NZ in an article written by Nicky Hager, are that since a UK based ex Brethren member visited local ex Brethrens in 2017, the church has made extensive use of the controversial private investigations firm Thompson and Clark to closely monitor around 20 vocal ex members. Although not necessarily illegal, this kind of surveillance is in a grey area, as harassment is a crime in this country. It’s also sad to see that a local company is willing to stoop low enough to work for what is essentially a cult that takes advantage of its members.
It can be a hard life for those who leave these high control religions. The tactic of disconnecting from ex members is frequently used, not only by the Exclusive Brethren but also by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Scientologists. And Scientologists are also infamous for their use of private investigators to harass critics, including well known documentary maker Louis Theroux and BBC journalist John Sweeney.
My advice to anyone who realises they’re in a cult-like group that controls large parts of their lives? Leave, as soon as you can do it safely. Although it can be hard at first, given that the group is your whole world - often your work, social circle, family and spiritual life - in the long run you will be much happier. I’ve talked to several ex cult members who have managed to leave, and without exception they’ve told me that they made the right decision, despite how hard it can be at times.