29 Oct 2010

Breakout - How I Escaped From The Exclusive Bretheren

News.com.au - Australia May 27, 2009
Big Brother contestant writes book about cult

Helen Ganska | TV guide editor

REMEMBER David Tchappat?

He was a "cult busting" contestant on Channel Ten's Big Brother last year telling his remarkable story about escaping from the sect Exclusive Brethren.

He has now told this story in his book - Breakout - How I Escaped From The Exclusive Bretheren.

Big Brother viewers heard how he "escaped" from the Exclusive Brethren when he was 19, and that until then he had never eaten in a restaurant, been to a movie or kissed a girl.

He then joined the police force not long after leaving the Brethren, including work as a detective at Maroubra, and then switched to fire fighting after being on the force for six years.

His family are devout followers of this sect and he grew up in a household which shunned the freedoms of the outside world.

The Exclusive Brethren has a strict regime of religious doctrine. Followers deny themselves and others around them associations with non-believers and access to television and music.

They place restrictions on employment and even ban simple pleasures like home swimming pools.

Moreover, it is almost impossible for people to break free from the group but the 34-year-old fire-fighter did just that.

Last year he was nominated for Cleo Magazine's Bachelor of the Year - which was won by musician and former Australian Idol contestant Axle Whitehead.

The book is a unique insight into the Exclusive Brethren, how they operate and how they harass members to stay part of the sect.

In the end, Tchappat had to choose between family and freedom.

Leaving the Brethren, he had to endure constant visits from priests, phone calls from other members and harassment from his own parents.

At a neighbour’s barbecue, he saw his father crawling under a garage door, pleading for him to return to the fold.

To break free from the Brethren , he had to commit what to the sect is an unforgivable sin – having pre-marital sex.

His story is not one of bitterness – he still dearly loves his family; but it is one of sadness borne out of an interpretation of religion that is, by its nature, divisive and unwilling to compromise.

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