‘Cult’ orders faith before family
Teenage members of a Sunshine Coast church have been ordered to put the church’s teachings before family or risk excommunication.
Young adults aged 17 to 25 have been warned if they do not sign a commitment form at tomorrow’s meeting of the Sunshine Coast Christian Fellowship, they could be cut off.
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Helen Pomery of Maleny, a former member of the fellowship who was excommunicated in 2002, said contacts in the church had expressed their concerns to her. Many feared they would “lose their children”.
“There is so much pressure on these kids to sign the commitment form. If they don’t, they will be kicked out. People are very scared,” Ms Pomery said.
“This has put strain on a lot of parents too because if they express their concerns, they are labelled ‘evil’ and the elders will try to turn their children against them. The fellowship is not a church.
“It is a cult and it thrives on fear.”
The Daily obtained copies of the commitment forms and “doctrine” written by church elders, which outlines some of the fellowship’s extreme teachings.
Most controversial are documents placing the importance of the church above family, including statements like: “Come and commit to being the Lord’s disciple first, and that will provide the opportunity for Christ to come to your family”.
Last year the fellowship, which is based in Brisbane, made national headlines after the ABC’s Four Corners ran an expose of its teachings and doctrine. Ms Pomery told her story on the program and in a book by Morag Zwartz, Apostles of Fear: A Cult Church Exposed.
According to Ms Pomery, church elders believe they are “God personified”.
“Members are taught that God actually speaks through the elders. This creates an air of fear because members are told if they disobey the teachings of the elders, they will be damned for eternity.
“The fellowship isolates people. Members can’t socialise with people outside the church and young people can’t date people that aren’t in the church. Arranged marriages are common.
“Basically people become trapped in the fellowship because if they leave, they have nothing. I lost my family to the fellowship so speaking out against them isn’t hard because I have nothing left to lose.”
Dean of the Catholic church on the Sunshine Coast, Father John Dobson, said he did not know much about the fellowship but thought it displayed “cult-like traits”.
Related: Coast woman calls for cult inquiry “A Sunshine Coast woman who blames the Brisbane Christian Fellowship for breaking up her family has called for a Senate inquiry into “cult” churches.”
Four Corners, an investigative program of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, provides much background information about the Brisbane Christian Fellowship, plus advice and support for emotional and spiritual counselling.
The God of Broken Hearts, watch the Four Corners TV report on the Brisbane Christian Fellowship online. Plus extended interviews.
Read the program transcript from Chris Masters’ report “The God Of Broken Hearts“, broadcast 23rd June 2008.
Who Are The Brisbane Christian Fellowship? A theological examination
Churches That Abuse – Online book, by Ronald Enroth