10 Jan 2009

Sunshine Coast woman calls for cult inquiry

The Daily - Australia January 10, 2009

A Sunshine Coast woman who blames the Brisbane Christian Fellowship for breaking up her family has called for a Senate inquiry into “cult” churches.

Helen Pomery has been divorced by her husband of 30 years and cut off from two children and three grandchildren since she was ex-communicated from the BCF in 2001.

She was given a week to leave home after refusing to “submit” to the orders of her husband and other BCF elders, who had banned her from contacting a daughter who had already been ex-communicated from the church.

Ms Pomery, who has relocated to Maleny, wants a once proposed Senate inquiry into the right wing religious sect, the Exclusive Brethren, to go ahead, and to include the BCF.

She said the BCF, which is a part of a network of 25 churches, including one at Forest Glen, used intimidatory and abusive tactics to maintain control over members, and was responsible for family break downs.

Senator Bob Brown has twice proposed an inquiry into the Exclusive Brethren to examine its role in family breakdown, the psychological and emotional effects related to its practices, and its exemptions from regulatory requirements.

However, his proposals have been defeated and the matter was instead referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs late last year.

Ms Pomery said organisations such as the BCF were granted government concessions as churches but were not subject to regulation or answerable to any external authority.

The Daily contacted the BCF for comment but had not received a reply.

Mrs Pomery has written to all Federal and State politicians about the BCF but she said feedback indicated Labor politicians were reluctant to support an inquiry because they believed that religion and politics should remain separate.

She said France had already set a precedent by establishing a group to look at sectorial aberrations.

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