25 Mar 2011

Exclusive Brethren demands apology for discrimination, survivor says cult should apologize for breaking up families

Goulburn Post  -  Australia     March 23, 2011

Former Brethren wants national apology


MEMBERS of the Exclusive Brethren in Goulburn have demanded an apology from Cr Geoff Peterson for offensive comments he allegedly made to them in a council building on September 23 last year.

It has prompted a former member of the Brethren, also living in Goulburn, to ask for a national apology from them for “ex-communicating” him and separating him from his family.

David Lidgard, of Goulburn, said last week he felt a national apology from the Brethren to him and others was overdue.

“I, along with all others who have been excommunicated from the Brethren should get a national apology from them for how we have been discriminated against,” Mr Lidgard said.

“I want an apology from them on behalf of all who have suffered from their ‘doctrine of separation’, whereby in the past they have excommunicated a person and separated them from their family.

“We talk of the Stolen Generation, who Kevin Rudd apologised to - we ex-Brethren also lost our families.”

Mr Lidgard said he was ex-communicated from the Brethren in 1961 for owning a transistor radio. “I have not had any contact with my parents since I was kicked out in 1961,” he said.

“I was ex-communicated from the Brethren on April 9, 1961 by the late Bruce Hales senior, who was then their Elect Vessel of God, and he instructed my parents that I had to leave the family home - because I had the transistor radio.

“Then three of my other brothers were treated the same. My eldest brother Arthur Lidgard was married with five children and he was excommunicated in 1962. He came home from work to find his wife and children had been removed by Brethren members from the family home.”

Mr Lidgard said his brother’s family was later reunited. He said the current issue with Cr Peterson had brought up personal “stuff” for him.

“I have been out of the Brethren for 50 years, but this opportunity has come up for me to express my opinion of the Brethren to the general public and about what the Brethren do to former members and what they are now doing to our councillor (Peterson),” he said.

“They are making a mountain out of a molehill,” he said.

“As far back as I can remember Brethren women have worn the ribbons in their hair - so what I am getting at is - why are the Brethren making such an issue of it?

“The Brethren should follow the teachings in the bible - such as Matthew 5-39 and Luke 6-29 - that is when someone strikes you on the right cheek you should turn the other cheek and not fight back.” Mr Lidgard said over the years he had written to various MPs, the NSW Anti- Discrimination Board and the Human Rights Commission in relation to his complaints against the Brethren.

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