International Churches of Christ Archive

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Father of two will not be jailed

A judge has dismissed an application for the father of two children who were kidnapped and taken to France by their mother to be held in contempt and jailed for violating court orders.

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Nicole Garson has some concerns that Scott Grant “is not honouring at least the spirit” of a March order asking him to set up a webcam so the kids can communicate with Nathalie Gettliffe.

The mother was sentenced to six more months in jail late last year after she whisked the kids away to France in contempt of a court order.

ICOC: a cult of Christianity

Theologically, the International Churches of Christ – which Gettliffe’s former husband belongs to – is a cult of Christianity.

Sociologially, the movement has many cultic elements as well.

She was returned to France and then released from custody early this year. Her lawyer, Vincent Pigeon, appeared in court yesterday asking that Grant be put in jail for seven days and fined a minimum of $1,000 for contempt. Pigeon told the judge that his client had been cut off from communicating with the kids for five months — a claim denied by Grant’s lawyer, Jane Reid.

“Mr. Grant has no lawful excuse for not setting up the webcam,” said Pigeon. “He’s intentionally, consciously and continuously breached this order.”

Reid told the judge that Grant was concerned that Gettliffe would take photos of the kids from the webcam and sell them and believed he was not in contempt since he allowed phone conversations to take place.

“He read that if the webcam could not be facilitated, communication could continue by phone.”

Reid said Grant has now bought a webcam and is prepared to install it as long as it won’t be misused.

The judge repeated the order for Grant to set up a webcam on his home computer but also said that the mother must not audio or videotape any of the webcam conversations. She said the children must not be punished for the fact that their mother was in contempt in removing them from Canada.

Grant, a Vancouver financial adviser, has had interim custody of the kids — a girl who is now 12 and a boy who is now 14 — since they were kidnapped in 2001.

Medical council to look at ethics rules after cult suicide

The Irish Medical Council has said it would welcome submissions from the family of a man who committed suicide and who have called for an urgent overhaul of the Council’s ethical guidelines to prevent further loss of life.

Niall MacMahon (40), from Watling Street, Dublin 8, was killed instantly after he stepped in front of the DublinBelfast train at Harmonstown Dart station on the evening of 2 March, 2006. He had suffered from depression. His brother and father told the Sunday Tribune that his involvement with the cult-like International Church of Christ group, which they damned had “undue influence” over him, was a “contributory factor” in his death.

MacMahon had been released from St James’ Hospital days before his death following treatment for depression. He had attempted suicide a few weeks previously in the Phoenix Park but his family were not informed about this.

ICOC: a cult of Christianity

Sociologially, the movement has many cultic elements as well.

Following his death, the hospital told the family that its hands were tied as it was not allowed to give out such information for reasons of patient confidentiality, an inquest into his death heard last Tuesday.

The Medical Council’s ethical guidelines state that a doctor must not disclose information to any person without the consent of the patient. “If we’d known, it would have given us the opportunity to talk him through his problems, ” said Niall’s brother Declan MacMahon. “We’re not saying it would have changed what happened. The only reason we’re speaking out about this is in the hope that families may be able to avoid a tragedy like this. We can’t change what happened but we want to potentially change what happens to other families.” MacMahon described his brother as “a great brother” and said he had “led an exemplary life.”

Dr Deirdre Madden, chairperson of the ethics committee of the Medical Council, said when contacted: “The ethical guidelines are about to be revised.

The council would take very seriously the concerns of a bereaved family. If there’s a call by a family, we would consider it. When a family makes a public statement, the council will pay attention to it.” A public consultation process in relation to the forming of the council’s new ethical guidelines will begin in the next few weeks.

Mike Garde of Dialogue Ireland, which seeks to promote people’s freedom to make informed choices about religions, said he was aware of seven individuals who had experienced “psychiatric destabilisation” following involvement with the International Church of Christ. One young man attempted suicide by drinking Domestos after he was ostracised by the group, he said. “This church had a very heavy-duty command structure and in many ways it was cult-like in its activities.”

The group collapsed seven years ago due to the disintegration of its leadership, leaving 100 or so of its members in Ireland lost, Garde continued. “There was a loss of meaning for people who had been in the group. They had been taught that if they left this group, they were going to hell.” The group kept its members “controlled” and “believed they were the only Christian church, ” he added. All members were also required to hand over 10% of their salaries each year, he said.

At his inquest, MacMahon’s suicide note was read out: it referred to a successful brain operation he had to cure his lifelong epilepsy. He wrote that he had made a “hasty decision” to have the operation, and this had “put money before my own brain. This was a blasphemous thing to do.”