Election row ‘nightmare’, Exclusive Brethren say

The Exclusive Brethren Church says the way it was dragged into the 2005 election was “a nightmare” and getting involved in politics was never officially sanctioned by the sect.

Brethren members circulated pamphlets attacking Labour and the Greens, and were accused of hiring private detectives to shadow ministers in an initially covert campaign the Government said cost about $1 million.

The aim was to help National win, but some MPs said after the election the Brethren damaged its chances and could even have been responsible for the narrow loss.

Exclusive Brethren

Many of the Exclusive Brethren movement’s teachings and practices are abusive to such an extent that this movement can rightly be labeled as an abusive church, and possibly even as a cult of Christianity

As its political smear campaigns demonstrate, hypocrisy is a hallmark of the Exclusive Brethren – members of which are not allowed to vote

The head of the secretive sect, Australian Bruce Hales, has appointed its first ever spokesman, Brisbane businessman Tony McCorkell.

“There was no church-sponsored, organised involvement in anything political,” he said today.

“The church itself wasn’t involved.”

During the election campaign the Labour Party furiously accused National of being in collusion with the church, and of holding secret meetings to help organise its campaign.

Mr McCorkell said “some over-enthusiastic members” were the only ones involved.

“That is a very regrettable situation, but it is very important to understand that there was no church-sponsored involvement in anything political,” he said on Radio New Zealand.

“The church itself wasn’t involved.”

He said he had used the word “nightmare” to get his point across, because the issue had turned into “some sort of tabloid story”.

“It embroiled the church and the church should never have been brought into it.”

But Mr McCorkell said the church would not issue instructions to its members telling them not to become involved in politics.

“No edict has ever been given to get involved in politics, and I wouldn’t imagine an edict would be given not to.”

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the Brethren had been involved in campaigns against the Greens in Australia as well as in New Zealand.

The way those campaigns had been conducted indicated they had been co-ordinated, he said.

Labour Party president Mike Williams questioned the credibility of the assurance that the church had not been involved in the campaigning.

“This campaigning erupted all around the world from the Exclusive Brethren,” he said.

“But we think that what was said this morning is in the nature of a directive from the leader of the church to stay out of politics, and we welcome it.”

Nicky Hager, author of the book The Hollow Men which detailed contact between National and the sect members, said he did not accept assurances that the church itself was not involved.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday February 26, 2007.
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