The Left have hated the Brethren ever since they advertised in favour of John Howard in 2004. EVERY other religion at that time advocated for the Labor party. Howard won that election in a landslide.
The Brethren are very Bible-based. Their talk about being separate from "the world" is straight from the words of Jesus Christ. e.g. John 15: 18,19. Jesus would be called a cultist by some if he were alive today. The Sanhedrin certainly saw him that way
A private school linked to the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, a group once described as an “extremist cult” by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, has received an estimated $9 million in JobKeeper payments.
In addition, the OneSchool Global network, which provides education for the children of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church members from the ages of eight to 18 years, also received $34 million in federal and state government grants last year, or about $16,000 per student.
The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church was established in the early 19th century in southern England and is now led by multi-millionaire Sydney businessman Bruce D. Hales, who is known by his congregation as the Elect Vessel, or the Man of God. It follows a strict doctrine, known as “separation”, under which church members are discouraged, on pain of excommunication, from eating, drinking, forming friendships or communicating with outsiders, except to do business with them.
They aim to live a life apart from worldly pleasures and associations, refer to themselves as the “saints” and to outsiders as “worldlies”.
However, under another doctrine called “spoiling the Egyptians”, the church is also assiduous about seeking as much public funding as is legally available. In 2004, Mr Hales told his global flock: “You charge the highest possible price to the worldly people. That’s the way to get ahead, I mean, materially, you’ve got to spoil the Egyptians. It doesn’t belong to them anyhow, so we’ve just got to relieve them of it!”
The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have retrieved the accounts of the OneSchool Global network that operates 31 schools across six states, and has 2413 students. Children under the age of eight attend government schools.
In the year to December 31, 2020, OneSchool Global declared a total of $13.3 million in “other revenue, JobKeeper and cash-flow boosts”. It’s estimated that almost $9 million of that is stimulus payments, such as JobKeeper.
A OneSchool Global spokesman said 70 per cent of the schools’ operation costs were staff wages. “The COVID-19 pandemic impacted on the schools’ revenue base,” the spokesman said. “The schools were eligible for, and complied with, all the obligations set out by the government in relation to the JobKeeper program.”
The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, which was once known as the Exclusive Brethren, has been the subject of intense scrutiny and controversy over the past two decades because of its alleged treatment of former members, and also accusations that some of its members have been involved in campaigns against political parties, even though its members are not allowed to vote.
They grew close to former prime minister John Howard, and visited him in his office before the 2007 election, while Mr Rudd criticised the group as an “extremist cult” that “breaks up families”. Some church members who have left the group have also referred to it as a cult.
Members of the church have donated to the Liberal Party, and some members became involved in anti-Green and anti-gay advertising. When Helen Clark was New Zealand’s prime minister, she said members of the group ran a smear campaign against her.
On its website, the church states it has never made political donations nor instructed any of its 15,000 Australian members to be politically active. The church has about 50,000 members worldwide.
However, NSW Liberal Party records seized by the Independent Commission Against Corruption show that in December 2010, dozens of PBCC members donated individual payments of less than the disclosure threshold, which together made up $67,000. The Liberal Party operatives who accepted the donations labelled the sheet recording the payments as having come from “friends”.
OneSchool was one of 700 private schools that were eligible for the federal government’s $89 billion JobKeeper program, which has been controversial. On Monday, the federal Treasury disclosed that $27 billion of JobKeeper payments were to recipients that didn’t experience the requisite 30 per cent decline in turnover.
But in that calculation, the Treasury excluded not-for-profits, new businesses or those too small to submit a quarterly activity statement to the tax office, and subsidiaries of larger businesses. This means the actual payment to businesses that didn’t meet the requirements to be eligible for JobKeeper could have been as much as $40 billion.
According to Australian Tax Office data, 700 private schools received $750 million in JobKeeper payments. Among the many non-government schools that received stimulus payments, including JobKeeper, were Melbourne’s Wesley College which received $18.2 million, and Sydney’s Moriah College, which qualified for $6.8 million.
When students graduate from OneSchool Global, they can enrol at university but only through distance education because they are not permitted to attend campuses in person. Many complete certificate-level courses in office studies and accountancy at school, then typically go to work in businesses run by members of the church.
Businesses run by its members operate in sectors as varied as building, manufacturing and aged care, and according to the church’s website, generate a combined turnover of $22 billion. The church is also linked to a charity, the Rapid Relief Team, which has provided assistance in regional areas in recent years to drought-affected farmers and families affected by bushfires.
Former Greens leader Bob Brown has accused the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church of having a contrived and cruel religious dogma.
The church came to greater public attention during Mr Howard’s prime ministership, after its members spent $370,000 on anti-Greens campaigns at the 2004 election. They also met with then Greens leader Bob Brown after he unsuccessfully called for an inquiry into the group.
In his book Optimism, Mr Brown dedicated a chapter to the PBCC, a group which he wrote had a contrived and cruel religious dogma. He quoted Mr Hales as telling his members: “You come in touch with worldly people, you’ll have some sense of defilement … and you’re in control, you’re superior, I mean morally.”
Mr Brown also wrote of how Mr Hales advised church members to scorn, disdain and hate the principles of the outside world.
In that chapter Mr Brown also told of how he had met several former members who reported harrowing stories of excommunication from the church, including from their spouses, children, siblings, parents and grandparents.
The church has said it follows up on members who decide to leave the congregation.