Quote of the day

"You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts."

From On Children by Khalil Gibran


  1. The opposite of what CDs do. Can anybody assist with understanding the following, please? CDs know that they won't give their children unconditional love; it's against the rules. What kind of person has children knowing that they're in an organization that requires them to damage their children? What kind of person puts an organization ahead of the needs of their spouse and children? Thanks.

    1. David, I honestly don't think that a convinced CD parent will see any contradiction here. If they genuinely believe the CD way is the best way of living, then they will not expect it to damage their children, and they will not see teaching it as putting the organization ahead of the needs of spouse and children.

      However, what I would say is that when it becomes clear these teachings do cause problems for their children, different parents will respond differently. Some will decide it's the child's problem, maybe even cut them off. Some will start to see the problems themselves and become a little more liberal. And some will try and do both: think it's the child's problem, but still love them and accept the gospel isn't quite as perfect as they originally thought.

  2. Thank you, Jon. You've fleshed out the problem but not given any answers, unfortunately.

    Yes! I agree. They don't, won't, or aren't allowed to, see any contradiction here. That's the big problem. Why not? That's what I'm asking.

    Nobody can spend so much time on child abuse and restricting and stifling their children's lives and education without knowing that it's at least suspect. They know very well what they're doing. They're part of a cult that is a "danger" because of "mind control" and a "strong tendency to damage members/followers" (this is quoted from The Government of New Zealand's list of cults, of which CDs are fully aware).

    "It's the child's problem"! Why is it? How is it?

    "Cut them off"! Why? For what reason? How do they sort that out in their heads?

    I specified "unconditional" love, which is very different from the super-conditional CD "love" that isn't love that you identify.

    1. Ah, well, if those are your questions I can't answer them. The thrust of the question seems to be "How do people justify to themselves actions that seem wrong to an outsider? (and perhaps often seems wrong to some part of them as well)" That's a problem that stretches far beyond the Christadelphians, and I believe it has been extensively studied, but I don't know the answers. Presumably as I stated it starts with an unwavering belief that they are right, but what gives some that belief (and ability to rationalise away opposition) more than others I don't know.

      As for me, sure, I don't have children, and so didn't consider it from that perspective. But I do not recall hearing any references to religious education / indoctrination being child abuse until after I quit. And yes, I'm not in NZ, but I don't recall ever having heard of that NZ list of cults either. I have no idea how representative my experience is, but I suspect you over-estimate how much disconfirming information the average member is actually aware of (as opposed to being theoretically able to discover it).

      For the record, my parents doubtless believe I'm wrong, but they have not shunned me in any way.

    2. David,
      Is that quote actually from "The Government of New Zealand's" list of cults? It looks like a quote from www.cults.co.nz I do note though that the wiki article has the number of CD's in NZ at 1700, same as the 1996 census, however the later ones make no mention of them, so the data appears to be 22 years out of date at best...
      Other than to broadly agree with Jon's comment above, I would add:
      Christadelphian love is never unconditional. It's always dependent on you agreeing with them over what John Thomas taught, or their local interpretation of it. Move away from that and the love stops. As a child they cut you some slack, and send you to Sunday School so that you learn the right stuff. If you disagree,then you leave. Simple.
      Why cut them off? Same reason really. Difference of opinion on fundamentals is not tolerated, just because they are your children makes no difference. They are terrified of contamination.
      It might be worth remembering that cutting off from people who don't agree with you is what John Thomas taught, and is STILL taught from the platform. (specifically by Jonathan Bowen and his followers, most recently at the Rugby prophecy day)

    3. Thank you, Joseph. Yes, the info is at that NZ cult site; which is up to date (copyright 1999 to March 2018 currently). I don't know how I made an attribution error. Sorry about that. I haven't found the Wiki article that you refer to.

      I too broadly agree with most of what Jon said (and you) but I'm trying to understand the mentality of CDs. For example, if I try to imagine expecting my children to think like me because I tell them exactly what to think, it's impossible. Also, I understand from the hate preacher that my parents may be looking forward to killing me in a bloodbath with all other non-believers. To put myself into those shoes is impossible. Somewhere on here at some time I read of a woman whose son hadn't joined and, as she couldn't bear the thought of the bloodbath, she decided to leave. That's what you'd expect to be a normal reaction from a mother.

      "If you disagree,then you leave. Simple." Leaving is simple, but the spin-offs aren't simple, as related elsewhere on this site. "Leave" is their back to front way of looking at it. The children are never asked if they want any part of it. It's a case of not joining something, not a case of leaving it.

      Not giving unconditional love is unspeakable, in my view, and making their conditions is plain and simple child abuse.

      Thanks for the Bowen info. Illuminating.

    4. Joseph. I mailed the Government Of New Zealand (whose census figures cults.nz uses). The numbers of CDs are 1996 - 1743. 2001 - 1686. 2006 - 1785. 2013 - 1686. It's interesting to compare the numbers with other denominations. Go to http://archive.stats.govt.nz/Census/2013-census/data-tables/total-by-topic.aspx then scroll down to religious affiliations.

    5. David,
      Thanks for that information. I did look directly at the census site, but found it very difficult to abstract the figures from what was presented. That link and spreadsheet solve the problem. What should worry these jokers is not that they have only declined a bit from 1996, but how few they are compared to all the other loony fake Christian groups. 3 times as many (Plymouth) Brethren, 14k SDA's, 18k Jay-Dubs, etc etc.

  3. Joseph, I think when a child is born of CD parents and is sent to Sunday School from age four or five (having previously been taken to CD meetings, and CD friends and family homes, almost from birth), it is normal in CD families that the child is unable to reason after a while, is unable to even consider disagreeing, doesn`t leave, gets baptised. Because of their indoctrination they "know" they have been taught the truth. The difference between a community and a cult is that in a community members can come and go. A cult is closed. It shuts people off from the greater community. Rigid. It demands conformity to the beliefs. I believe that disabling a child`s mind from the culture and normalcy of the world around that child, denying choice, the result of indoctrination, is a form of abuse.

    1. Mancott. "Disabling a child's mind". A superb choice of words.

  4. To continue this thread about children, if I may. Take a standard CD scenario from an imaginary committed CD's point of view -
    I abuse my parental position of trust daily and indoctrinate my child for fifteen years and more into the view that every person in the world apart from me and my CD "friends" is bad/evil. However, psychological abuse, emotional neglect, isolation etc. fail to force it to think exactly as instructed. So I, and my CD "friends" cut it off i.e. cast it adrift in a world that it believes to be bad/evil, with no parents, no friends, no experience. As a parent, I know exactly what I am doing and that this isn't in any way normal or acceptable behaviour in general society. It's sociopathic as per this definition - "patterns of attitudes and behaviours that are considered antisocial by society at large, but are seen as normal or necessary by the subculture or social environment in which they developed. Sociopaths may have a well-developed conscience and a normal capacity for empathy, guilt, and loyalty, but their sense of right and wrong is based on the norms and expectations of their subculture or group."

    This raises several questions.

    Q1. Are all CDs unfit to be parents?

    Q2. Are words such as "devout", "committed Christadelphian" etc. obfuscatory and excuse/justify what is, in fact, evil behaviour?

    Q3. Is evil the right word? If not, what words are appropriate, taking into account that they need to cover the pre-meditated, calculated and co-ordinated nature of the behaviour.

    Q4. Similarly, are "sick, deluded, brainwashed" words that, even unwittingly, minimise the behaviour to some extent?

    Q5. Under law, parents have a duty to act in the best interests of the child. CDs clearly don't act in that way. Why are they getting away with it?

    1. Well, to be fair, there are many CD parents (my own included) who do not cut their kids off for disbelief etc.

      There are some who fit the description you gave though. I don't know how representative they are of CDs as a whole. I've met many diverse CDs and everyone's experience seems to be a little different.

      While I found it quite traumatic and difficult to discover my beliefs didn't match reality, and subsequently leave the only community I had ever known, I've heard from others who have managed to leave with much greater ease, although the thinking and behavioural patterns will always leave their mark.

      There have been cases where the authorities will step in to save children from abusive parents. The difficulty is that psychological abuse is much more difficult to prove - especially if it is religiously motivated. Our society still holds religion on a pedestal and people tend to naively assume that religious people are more moral, and that religions themselves are relatively harmless. Little do they know.

      People associate religion with things like charities and giving (and there are many religious people who are genuinely trying to make the world a better place) but they are blind to the other reality where religions cause harm, often psychologically but sometimes physically as well.

      Many/most of the Christadelphians I knew who perpetuated the psychological harm were simply well-meaning but misguided. If their religion was demonstrably correct, then doing whatever it takes to get people into the afterlife might actually be morally good, depending on whether you view salvation as a higher priority than personal autonomy etc.

      The behaviour I think is inexcusable (which I think is exactly what you were saying) is where parents know they are bringing their kids up in a way that will make it extremely difficult for them to get by in the real world, all because they want their kids to remain Christadelphians. This is not ok.

      "Train up a child..." etc. That verse still gives me shivers. If one's childhood indoctrination is known to have such a great influence over behaviour later in life, isn't that evidence that the beliefs aren't rational? Aren't they just admitting that no sane person would believe it unless they were taught it as children?

  5. Thank you, Thom. Yes, cutting off completely isn't always the case. However, it is always the case that there is a degree of cutting off, the minimum being having only a limited interest in non-believing offspring. Also there's always the background thing, as per Jonathan Bowen, of the future "bloodbath" which will include CD's own offspring. For non-CDs what their parents really think and believe is a big unknown as the worst of CDs beliefs are kept very secret, unsurprisingly.

    1. It is not my experience, my parents were initially upset but got over it. They have not in anyway cut me off. They have more than a limited interest in me and my family.

    2. Agree with Jacobus. Critical though I am of the CD community, it's only fair to say that I know many CD parents who treat their non-CD children with all the love in the world.

  6. This is confusing. CDism is very rigid. Joseph said above "cutting off from people who don't agree with you is what John Thomas taught, and is STILL taught from the platform. (specifically by Jonathan Bowen and his followers, most recently at the Rugby prophecy day)". Does this mean that people like Jacobus' parents, and parents of others who've replied, are defying the CD rules?

    Further thoughts. CD parents are members of a cult that keeps attendance records, whose founder taught that non-compliant children should be cut off, which has unqualified "teachers" that teach creation as a fact, has unqualified elders that instruct "don't let your children study English Literature" (what?!) or biology (what?!) and make pronouncements such as "Psychology is nonsense" (how would they know that?!). Is there any doubt that this is a very unhealthy environment for children? Unless I am mistaken, these are people who believe that they'll disappear and travel to another dimension, where they will be appointed to run cities (no previous experience of running cities necessary). Whilst doing so some of them intend to take the opportunity to kill all homosexuals, CDs who don't wear hats, probably, and their own children. Again, is there any doubt?

    By the way, does anybody know what CDs think will happen to babies, toddlers, teenagers etc. when their parents do the disappearing act?

    CDs live in intense hope that they will disappear, This will leave their non-believing children in a very strange and worrying situation (and it could be tomorrow). I would describe that as having a limited interest in their children's welfare.

    1. David,
      If I have time later,I will comment on some of your wider points, however, for now, what Christadelphians believe will happen to THEIR children was covered by Br Don Pearce at the Rugby prophecy day, 2017.


      View from 1:03:18 for the specific answer.

      Also not that over a year ago, I publicly requested some more details from Don. They remain unanswered. Also note that after 3000+ views, there are only 2 comments, suggesting that there are no dissenting Christadelphian beliefs.

      If you have time, have a look at www.christadelphianschooling.co.uk for discussion later.

    2. Thank you very much, Joseph. I've listened to youtube once (somewhat aghast) and will have to listen again. At one listen it seems to be devoid of coherence. The obvious immediate question is at what age is the cut-off point for this get-out clause that's been tailored for children?

      I also looked at the website, which says as you know - "We are able to tailor-make our teaching to benefit our children, so that girls can be taught how to run the home, how to bake, how to knit and sew. The boys can be encouraged to adopt subjects and careers that will not conflict with their embracing of the truth. The possibilities are endless and exciting because we are in control." My blood runs cold. How can theirs not? "Benefit our children"?! "encouraged"?! "The possibilities are endless and exciting"?!

  7. Antonina (and Jacobus). If you refer back, you'll see that what I was asking about is "a standard CD scenario", one that occurs and can be read about many times. It's "a" scenario. I haven't suggested that it is the only scenario. To clarify. I'm not asking about the "many CD parents who treat their non-CD children with all the love in the world".

  8. David, after your latest clarification, I'm a little unclear about what you're asking, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

    I think your comment highlights the diversity of Christadelphian belief. I don't recall there being anything in the BASF about how to treat unbelieving children, so with ecclesial autonomy different ecclesias and individuals are able to treat it differently. As a result, I don't think they are defying any "CD rules".

    Even if there were such rules, it's difficult to see how they would be propagated. Imagine you have an ecclesia which subscribes to the BASF but is not in the UK, has very few members subscribing to The Christadelphian or venerating "the pioneers", doesn't use the Ecclesial Guide, and doesn't go mad over "signs of the times". That is I think an accurate description of my former ecclesia, and it was well within the mainstream here (I don't know how it compares with the rest of the world). How could people in UK exercise control over it?

    Worldwide, I have no idea what is the majority or standard view. But as far as I can tell here it is normal for parents to accept their unbelieving children. I also think that is easy to spout firm black and white teachings from the platform as generalisations, then be more nuanced when dealing with a real situation rather than a generalisation. Also, as I mentioned earlier, some people do change their theoretical opinions when it is their child who is involved.

    1. David, Jon's reply is a good summary of the situation. The fact is that the CD community is very diverse, with views ranging from extreme to fairly liberal, with most people being somewhere in between. There is no 'standard CD scenario'.

      In particular, I think Rugby is considered pretty extreme and is not representative of the community as a whole. The videos they produce would make most of my old CD friends cringe with embarrassment. And yes, the home schooling site is appalling, but again not I think representative.

    2. Antonina,
      I think your observation that the views of individual CD communities from autonomous ecclesias, range from the Sublime to the Corblimey, is correct.
      This is also my take on it. It`s the Corblimey ones that make the headlines here.

    3. Yes, but that home school website is shocking. It basically says they should educate girls differently from boys, and girls should be trained to 'sew and bake' the website has been there since 2004. Surely if the 'Sublime' CDs objected as they ought they could have gotten the author to take it down by now ? Personally I support the view that women can and should be overseeers in the church, I had thought the mainstrem CD view was that they can not have any role of authority over men in the church, for some reason not explained they say the St Paul's apparent bar on women having authority over men applies only in two spheres - the church and the home - but not in secular employment. This homeschool website throws that into question.

    4. Jacobus, isn't that kind of the point of autonomy? If this site is run by a particular ecclesia, what ability does any other ecclesia have to get the author to "take it down"? And if it's a group of individuals, who has the authority to take it down? Others may disagree with all the best will in the world, but if the author(s) don't accept their argument it's probably staying up. And that's even assuming the "sublime" CDs know of the site's existence - will people who aren't interested in home-schooling be out looking for websites about Christadelphian home-schooling? I certainly wouldn't know about the site if it hadn't been posted here.

      Personally, I would be hesitant to try and take it down, because I'm not keen on the implied censorship involved. I might make my disagreement known, or I might just assume there was too much difference in viewpoints to waste time trying to persuade them. But I remember a different time with a much more liberal personal website when a brother said to me "This website is causing trouble. We need to take it down". It made no sense to me, and I'm not a fan of stifling dissent. Apart from threatening disfellowship (which was discussed but didn't feel likely to happen) I don't see how in this day and age an ecclesia can control a member's personal website.

      Basically what I would say is that the internet makes more points of view visible, from liberal to conservative. That's fine. What people do with that information is up to them.

      Re: Your women point, yes, some CDs would apply this to all spheres of life, including employment, though probably far fewer than in the past (when it was more generally societally acceptable). As for why many only apply it to two spheres, I think the answer is that the context of the various verses about women is considered either "in church" or in a husband-wife relationship. I've heard this argued in more detail, but I won't try to repeat it because I don't agree with it or remember it properly.

    5. Jacobus, I would say on a simple level the answer to your question "Why hasn't anyone made them take the site down?" is that no one has the power to. Also, as Jon pointed out, probably most people have never heard of it anyway. But on a more general level, the question this raises is why don't liberal CDs speak out more? Call people out on their sexism/bigotry/whatever? Why so timid and reticent? I still can't figure out the answer.

    6. Jacobus,
      I'm agreeing with most of the above comments. No one would try to take it down because moderate Christadelphians ignore it, or cringe,and nobody outside cares anyway, and, at any time, only a tiny number of kids are affected, and nothing would change anyway. The comically 50 year out of date opinions expressed, are just that, comical, and are amplified on the pages of "The Lampstand"-just search for "schooling" and you will see.

      At a quick check (I am a subscriber) Rugby produce between 5 and 20 hours of this material a week. What Mancott might call "corblimey" material, with the help of a dozen or so UK Ecclesias, and a large number of speakers. Please understand that I do not care in any way what any Christadelphian chooses to believe. I simply made the reference for David because it stuck in my mind for the time of the event. It stuck, because it is not based on scripture AT ALL, but is simply made up. It is broadly similar (and equally ludicrous) to Catholic beliefs regarding the fate of children, something that ALL Christadelphians would mock/denounce.

      What strikes me most is that these people do not appear to care that they embarrass (cause to cringe) OTHER Christadelphians. That seems to be very unbrotherly,and as Antonina asks, why don't liberals speak out? Can they simply not be bothered to the degree that they let these people give a (false) impression of their beliefs?

    7. If they actually do it - that is not educate girls for other that domestic servitude - it would be illegal though in this country (UK), I note most of his links are broken. Anyway its a useful site to argue that CDs are a cult since it is published in their name.

  9. Antonina,

    "But on a more general level, the question this raises is why don't liberal CDs speak out more? Call people out on their sexism/bigotry/whatever? Why so timid and reticent? I still can't figure out the answer."

    One reason I have witnessed is that speaking out often comes with a significant social cost, and inevitably leads to disfellowship or at the very least being demoted to second-class citizens within their respective ecclesias. This tends to happen quite quickly, since anyone who dares to challenge the status quo very quickly makes a name for themselves, and there are few things in the world more efficient than the Christadelphian "grapevine" (i.e. the gossip train).

    It's tempting to think that if enough liberals got together they could form their own ecclesia in which they held the balance of power, but this has been tried and the result is that the whole new ecclesia is either outright disfellowshipped (not considered part of "central" fellowship) or they are branded as potentially heretical. Consequently other Christadelphians are discouraged from attending there (and sometimes criticised and/or questioned if they do attend there) and over time a rift begins to form.

    Liberal CDs tend not to like the idea of starting an ecclesia that quickly gets cut off from the mainstream. I suspect it is because they see the obvious ridiculousness of joining/becoming an even smaller religion consisting of just a few dozen members, but personally I don't find the idea of belonging to the Christadelphians any less ridiculous, given their relatively tiny size compared to the world's population.

    It is, in my view, precisely because liberals want to remain part of the larger Christadelphian community that they keep their mouths shut and toe the line. Probably they need the religion more than the religion needs them.

    1. Thom, I guess you're right. Maybe your last sentence sums it up.


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