A bitter battle of Brethren
September 23, 2008
An elder of the controversial Exclusive Brethren religious sect says he feels sorry for his 85-year-old sister, who did not see four of her sect children for 20 years after being excommunicated.
But he says animosity to the group has “blinded” his sister, who described the sect as “grossly evil”.
Sydney man David Stewart said the Exclusive Brethren had apologised for its “harsh” treatment of his sister, Alison Alderton, and her late husband Bob when they were leading figures in the group in Bathurst in the early 1980s.
But she had refused invitations to rejoin the brethren, described last year by Labor leader Kevin Rudd as an “extremist cult” that broke up families.
“I feel sorry for her,” Mr Stewart told AAP.
“I feel sorry for the four (of her six) children still in the fellowship, because their mother has really shafted them, and their sisters, too.
“But the poor lady’s thoughts and mind are blinded by her animosity towards the fellowship.”
The Alderton case has been raised in a new book, Behind The Exclusive Brethren.
Mr Stewart said the case was among a number revisited in 2002 after Sydney man Bruce Hales became leader of the church which has 43,000 members worldwide including 15,000 in Australia.
“Some cases were dealt with rather harshly in a way they certainly wouldn’t be dealt with today,” he said. “That included my brother-in-law and sister.”
Mr Stewart said the Aldertons spent 20 years denigrating the church but the church still went back and said sorry.
“I went back and saw her four times, the children went to see her, but she came out very strongly with her continued attack on the church,” he said.
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