UK Christadelphian charities referred to Charity Commission: some thoughts


By Phynnodderee

As already reported, the National Secular Society in the UK has referred ten Christadelphian charities to the Charity Commission, the regulator responsible for registered charities in England and Wales. The NSS has identified content on the charities’ websites that it says promote “deeply intolerant messages”. Here are a few thoughts from an ex-Christadelphian perspective.

What is the NSS complaining about? 
According to the NSS press release, the charities referred to the Commission include six ecclesias, the Christadelphian Bible Mission, the Christadelphian Sunday School Union, the Christadelphian Advancement Trust and the Testimony magazine. The press release states: “The National Secular Society has referred 10 Christadelphian charities to the Charity Commission over concerns that they promote deeply intolerant messages, despite their legal requirement to provide a public benefit.” In a dossier submitted to the Charity Commission, the NSS cites material from the charities’ websites that it believes may violate the Charity Commission’s guidance.

The NSS summarises its objections by saying: “We believe this content does not meet the charity’s purpose for the public benefit, and may additionally have the potential to incite hatred [on] the grounds of religion or sexual orientation. In some cases the content seems to condone violence towards LGBT people, and physical punishment of children. We also found content promoting sexist and misogynistic views of women, and intolerant views of people with Asperger’s Syndrome.”

Charities are supposed to carry out their activities for the public benefit, and the NSS notes that, according to the Charity Commission’s guidelines, “views or activities that incite hatred on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation cannot be for the public benefit because they are illegal”. 

What is the background to this move by the NSS? 
The NSS promotes secularism, which means the separation of religion from the state. Secularism does not mean state atheism: it means religion is a private matter and the state cannot impose religious requirements or discriminate against anyone on the basis of belief or non-belief.

One of the issues the NSS campaigns on is the granting of charitable status to organisations that exist purely or primarily to promote religion. Under the current rules, the advancement of religion is treated as being beneficial to society and thus a legitimate charitable purpose. The NSS is calling for the advancement of religion to be removed as a charitable purpose “on the grounds that promoting religion is not inherently a public benefit and can sometimes even cause harm to society” (quoted from this report). The organisation argues that this would in no way impede charities with a religious ethos that do genuinely beneficial work, such as relieving poverty, because such activities would be covered by other charitable purposes.

In addition to this, the NSS objects to charities which abuse their status to promote intolerant views. It has previously referred other faith-based charities to the Charity Commission with concerns that they are promoting such views. 

Are the criticisms fair?
Let’s take a closer look at the material offered as evidence. The NSS dossier lists examples from ThisIsYourBible.com (six ecclesias apparently list this site as their official website on the Charity Commission’s register), CBM.org.uk, CSSU.org.uk, Christadelphia.net and TestimonyMagazine.com. Here’s a quick summary of the headings under which the offending quotations are categorised: 

ThisIsYourBible.com 
Intolerance of LGBT people, condoning violence towards LGBT people (1)
Advocating physical punishment of children (2)
Intolerance of Wiccans, condoning violence towards Wiccans (2)
Sexism, female subjugation (4)

CBM.org.uk 
Intolerance of LGBT+ people, equating homosexuality with child abuse and rape (1)
Sexism, female subjugation (1) 

CSSU.org.uk 
Intolerance of LGBT people (1)
Sexism/female subjugation (5) 

Christadelphia.net 
Intolerance of people with Asperger’s Syndrome (2)
Intolerance of LGBT people; association of LGBT with bestiality, disease, masochism, Nazis (1) 

TestimonyMagazine.com 
Intolerance of LGBT people (1)
Sexism/female subordination (1)

I think it’s fair to say that the dossier does not show the Christadelphian community in a flattering light. All of the material quoted is clearly objectionable, with some of it verging on the hateful and paranoid. To an ex-Christadelphian, it’s all depressingly familiar (though possibly more extreme than what some of us heard in our ecclesias). Here I'll just take one or two examples from each heading. 

Intolerance of LGBT people: The quoted material clearly shows condemnation of LGBT people (though I don’t agree with the NSS that it actually condones the use of violence or the death penalty). The most unpleasant quotation is this one: 

“The life of sexual impurity is an "ever increasing" downwards path; the endless quest for new relationships and sexual novelty doesn't need to be described. It is significant that having "left the natural use of the woman" (Rom. 1:27), male homosexuals descend on an "ever increasing" path of perversion; they rarely remain where they are, in moral terms. At least two independent surveys of gay men found that around 20% admitted having sex with animals, compared to 3% of heterosexual man (2). The majority of homosexuals have literally thousands of encounters over a lifetime (hence the rapid spread of disease between them), with very few developing stable relationships (3). There is also well documented connection between homosexuality and masochism. The top six male serial killers in the US were all gay; as were many Nazi concentration camp operators. The same connection is also witnessed Biblically (Gen. 19:6-8; Jud. 19:16).” (http://www.christadelphia.net/mm7-11.html)

I see nothing here but an attempt to vilify gay people with every possible crude slur. It's a mixture of ignorance, irrational fear, dubious ‘facts’ and illogical implications. 

Advocating physical punishment of children: “So, from the start, the little child must be taught that some things are right, and others wrong. For example, it is dangerous to interfere with electric plugs. As soon as it starts to poke things into the wall socket, our little one should be rebuked sharply with the key word “No!” and if it persists, given a gentle slap. The tears will flow, but it has learned that “No!” means “I must not do this”. We must not be put off disciplining our children because they start to cry. Solomon is definite about this – “Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his crying” (Proverbs 19 v18, margin). The tears will not flow for long. Very quickly your son or daughter will learn you mean what you say, and the reaction to “No!” will be immediate. Later, for example when they start to cross the road in front of an approaching car, their automatic reaction to “No!” may save their life. / As they become toddlers, it will become more efficient to encourage good behaviour by little rewards and generous praise, and to punish disobedience by sanctions such as withdrawal of treats. Physical punishment will rarely be necessary.” (https://www.thisisyourbible.com/library/show/735)

I’m no child psychologist, and I know there are differing opinions on the use of mild physical punishment, but I find the sentence “We must not be put off disciplining our children because they start to cry” very unsettling, especially within the wider context of Christadelphian relationship models, based as they are on ideas of authority and submission. Note also that the only justification given is from the Bible – no reference is made to actual research on the subject. 

Intolerance of Wiccans: “Those who continue in Wicca will die in their sins.” (https://www.thisisyourbible.com/questions/show/1470) 

Sexism and female subjugation: Unfortunately, sexism and misogyny are clearly in evidence. There’s an attempt to hide it by suggesting that men and women can still be ‘equal’ by having different ‘roles’. Typically, when Christadelphians are arguing in favour of separate gender roles, they use language that is intended to sound balanced and reasonable, but on analysis reveals itself to be actually quite aggressive. What is especially alarming is the number of quotations from the Sunday School Union website on female subjugation. This suggests that the message of male ‘headship’ is being hammered home to young children before they are old enough to understand any of the issues involved. 

“In Genesis 2 v18 God observed ‘it is not good that man should be alone’, and he provided Adam with a companion. Here we have the key to the primary purpose of marriage. It is to provide companionship. Eve was not just another man, a duplicate of Adam. She was specially designed as ‘a helper suitable for him’. She was to provide qualities which would complement the man’s, so that together they would make a strong and practical partnership. Straight away, we see how the spirit of our age has spoiled this relationship. It tries to make women and men interchangeable, with the same opportunities. There must, it decrees, be no discrimination. Yet God’s arrangement was balanced. The softer qualities of the woman – her maternal instincts, geared to caring for children, her dexterity in spinning, sewing, and weaving, her patience, sympathy and affection, all match the virile characteristics of the man – physically stronger, organising, planning ahead, hunting and cultivating the soil, solving problems, protecting and defending his family.” (https://www.thisisyourbible.com/library/show/241)

These are no more than crude stereotypes which anyone with any experience of life (not just life inside Christadelphia) knows simply do not hold true in reality. 

“We do have to recognise though that God has made men and women differently and for a purpose. If we are honest, most women are better than men at preparing an ecclesial supper, talking to children and old people etc. and men are, in general, better at most of the more leading roles. We should all delight in what we can do and get on with it.”(https://cssu.org.uk/t/pdf/study/TW3T_27.pdf)

Here we simply have unsubstantiated assertions. It’s also an insult to women disguised as a compliment: women are only good at menial tasks, so should only be given menial tasks; men are good at prestigious tasks, so should be given prestigious tasks. To suggest that these different types of task are of equal status, or give equal status to the people doing them, is simply disingenuous.

This overt and irresponsible glorification of female subservience and disempowerment is surely incompatible with charitable status. 

Intolerance of people with Asperger’s syndrome: Our concern from a pastoral perspective is whether “Aspergers” can be used as an acceptable excuse for behaviour which the Bible condemns. It’s worth noting that medical and psychiatric diagnosis over the last 150 years has moved away from daring to define anything as “sin”; instead, much behaviour categorized as “sinful” by the Bible has become redefined as an intrinsic condition or disorder over which the sufferer has no power or ability to change. It must also be noted that because a “professional” has stamped a paper diagnosing someone with “Aspergers”, this doesn’t mean that the diagnosis is correct. … Aspergers – real Aspergers – is genetic. However, genes don’t define behaviour, nor do they force us to be sinful. There is a school of psychology which claims that human beings are basically machines, responding in predictable and almost inevitable ways to stimuli. The Bible, however, speaks of sin as being a real avoidable offence against God, and the requirement for repentance involves a recognition that our sin was really our sin- whatever the reason for it, it was our fault and we must repent. It’s no good blaming human nature, an external “satan” or Aspergers or any mental condition. These may or may not be explanatory background factors, but they don’t take away from the real guilt of committed sin, and our need to repent and find cleansing in Christ.”(http://christadelphia.net/wwa8-5.html)

To be fair, I’m not sure this quotation actually demonstrates intolerance or prejudice against people with Asperger’s per se. To me it reveals more about Christadelphian anti-science attitudes (you can’t trust those “professionals”) and unforgiving judgementalism (even if there is a good reason for your behaviour, you’re still to blame). There is also a cynical, disparaging assumption that people will use any flimsy pretext to excuse their own bad behaviour – and that so-called experts will connive at this by deliberately redefining ‘sin’ as ‘disorder’. This reflects typical Christadelphian attitudes about the outside world.

My conclusion is that the NSS is entirely justified in criticising this material, which is clearly unacceptable coming from a group of “charitable” organisations claiming to serve the public benefit. To most Christadelphians, of course, it’s not intolerance, it’s just standing up for God’s truth. It’s hard to know how to break through that mental wall and make people really feel just how much pain their attitudes can cause to others. 

Representative of all? 
The stuff quoted here doesn’t represent the views of all Christadelphians (though it probably represents the views of a large majority). It’s possible that the members of the ecclesias mentioned have never even glanced at the website registered under their names. I can even imagine a few feeling genuine sorrow over this toxic stuff. But that doesn’t change the fact that as long as this material is being officially endorsed, the ecclesias and organisations featuring it on their websites can scarcely justify their charitable status. 

Final thoughts 
In my opinion, it’s hard to argue that the promotion of Christadelphian beliefs has any public benefit. In addition to the kind of intolerant and harmful views the NSS is complaining about – widespread, though not universal, among Christadelphians – the religion generally promotes a worldview in which people are supposed to passively watch bad things happen and just wait for Jesus to return and sort it all out. It explicitly refutes the idea of people having the power in their own hands to make the world a better place. It does not make engaged citizens; it does not promote individual self-belief or action; it does not promote informed compassion and understanding.

And surely that's the opposite of what a charity is supposed to do?

33 comments:

  1. Many years ago I was treasurer of an eccelsia and obviously had the job of re-claiming tax paid under the Gift Aid provisions.

    Even then I thought it was very generous of Her Majesty's Government to allow this money to be reclaimed and used for purposes which generally were narrowly sectarian - with a few exceptions Christadelphian money is used to promote their own view of Christianity or for the benefit of their own members.

    How this qualifies as charity for the general public good was a mystery to me even back then!

    However, any ruling on removing the tax concessions of religions would presumably affect all religious organisations - and in the UK this is a powerful lobby, so I suspect that the NSS will not achieve their aim of removing the special tax status of religious organisations any time soon.

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  2. Phynnodderee, I thank you for looking in detail at this, and producing an excellent article. I am aware that Jon is busy with work, so thanks to both of you.
    I am broadly in agreement, but I fancy that we diverge on a few minor points.
    It's clear to me that the NSS have a few targets in mind, the specific Ecclesias mentioned appear to just be linking to the prime targets. Actually my checking tells me that many more (who are not currently claiming charitable status) link to these prime targets. My former Ecclesia is one of them. I very much doubt that the membership of those mentioned in the report have any idea what is being linked in their name, my thought is that it is just "padding" for the websites of those too lazy or unconcerned to produce their own material.
    The first thing I notice is that www.christadelphia.net have soiled their underwear and pulled both the "ever increasing" condemnation of the LGBT community and ridiculing of Aspergers' and their medical professionals from their website. Were I being charitable I would think that they had realised that the material they presented was vile and belittling. But I'm not. I just think that they have realised that it might cost them a handout of money from the "world" and wish to avoid this.
    More brown stains, and bad smells have occured over at www.thisisyourbible.com since in the last few days, the reference: https://www.thisisyourbible.com/library/show/735 has vanished. It was replaced with a 404 "whoops looks like something went wrong". Dead right it did.
    "I see nothing here but an attempt to vilify gay people with every possible crude slur. It's a mixture of ignorance, irrational fear, dubious ‘facts’ and illogical implications". I could not agree with you more.
    Physical punishment of children: Once again, www.thisisyourbible.com/library/show/735 a 404 "whoops looks like something went wrong". Too right it did, children don't need to be slapped for doing something that isn't dangerous but needs education to understand what it is they are dealing with. Worked fine in my household with my DAUGHTERS.
    It seems that the Christadelphians have even let witches off the hook too, amazing, even they are now 404 "whoops looks like something went wrong".
    Sexism and female subjugation: As the (delighted and very proud) father ( I mean DADDY) of (sadly only) two (wonderful) daughters, you might guess that this nonsense makes my blood boil. A few months after I had first clapped eyes upon my future Christadelphian partner (and future mother of my children), I was on a Caledonian Lockheed L1011 Tristar, returning to Gatwick , from India, via Bahrain, in January, in thick fog, with my professionally qualified sister , when the captain (the pilot, the one in charge, running the show) announced that SHE (yes, SHE, in early 1997 FFS) was putting the plane on auto, and that the plane finding the lock on the ILS would cause it to drift from left to right as it locked onto and followed the ILS signal until SHE could see the runway for a manual landing. This was 6 months before I understood Christadelphianism. I was just pleased that a trained pilot was going to land a 300t plane with 300+ people on board and was competent and trained to do so with HER MALE first officer to ASSIST, and was telling us what SHE was doing. It never crossed my mind that SHE should be doing as she was told and should be making a soggy quiche for some clowns to enjoy after talking nonsense to each other for an hour or so.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8MoSCnUBwg
    Not the actual plane or pilot, but you get my drift for sure.....
    Aspergers. Agreed. Dismiss science whenever possible. Yet again this has been deleted.




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  3. In fact all of the "thisisyourbible" references have been deleted, thus demonstrating that "bible truth" is in fact far less important than cash subsidies to be made by the non christadelphian UK tax payer.
    Representitive of all? Clearly not. But who cares so long as the tax relief rolls in?
    Lev 10, right through to 27 lists a good selection of those who Christadelphians want put to death. it includes men who sleep with other mens wives, (and the wife), men who sleep with animals, their mother in laws ( hell fire what a thought), women who sleep with animals or suggest it, etc. Of course if a christadelphian editor cheats and steals to the tune of £300,000 then the punishment is a ticking off and being let off from attending the meeting for a year or two, followed by lots of pushing prophecy bills through doors.
    merry christmas Christadelphians.
    enjoy your dinners. Next year you may not get tax relief on them :))

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  4. A big difference between a beating and a simple smack on the bum.A smack on the bum didnt hurt any of us, like no strap in schools. The kids show no respect for the teachers in the school my daughter goes too.. you know why, cause they know the teacher cant touch them.

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    1. While I agree that there is a difference, I disagree that smacking should be allowed, and I also don't think teachers should be allowed to physically inflict pain on children (which I assume is what you meant by "touch").

      Once upon a time I used to parrot this same line saying it "didn't hurt any of us" but over the years I have reflected on this a little more and realised that I probably didn't grow up as "unaffected" as I first thought. I now have a significant fear of male authority figures who even so much as raise their voice at me - probably because such an action was often followed by physical violence or the threat of it.

      You mentioned a lack of respect due to teachers not being allowed to harm children. But physical discipline does not cause kids to respect authority figures. It also doesn't teach kids what you actually want them to learn. Instead it teaches them to fear and avoid the teacher, or perhaps even just continue the prohibited behaviour after first making sure the teacher is not around to see. What it does NOT do is teach the child WHY the action is wrong or undesirable, nor does it teach them alternative behaviours they could follow instead. For that you need to talk to them - and if you can do that then the physical punishment would be redundant anyway.

      The other thing physical discipline teaches children is that the quick and easy way to solve disputes is through violence. They learn far more from what you do than what you say, and they will model the behaviour they are shown. If we can't resolve disputes with our children without resorting to violence, then perhaps we shouldn't be surprised when they copy us.

      Breaking the cycle of violence starts with us as parents. The goal of parenting is surely not just to stop kids doing certain things. We want them to internalise the lessons and try to better themselves even when we're not there. For that we need to foster a strong relationship with them and model the behaviour we want them to adopt. Harming them runs counter to both.

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    2. What's the answer then??.Im not talking a hiding. The kids respected the teachers back in the day far more than today.

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    3. I'd like to see more data on the idea that kids respected teachers more. I'm not convinced that is the case, but I only have very limited experience in this area, that being mostly my own plus a few anecdotes I've heard. I suspect what you mean is that kids feared teachers more, but fear and respect are not the same thing - not even close. Respect must be earned, not inflicted by force.

      Your request for an "answer" again implies that discipline must be physical or else it would be ineffective. This paints a rather pessimistic view of humanity if it were true.

      I would suggest that physical discipline, while somewhat "effective" is not *as* effective as other methods that involve actually instructing people on (a) why their actions caused harm to others and (b) what other paths they might take next time. While there are undoubtedly some kids for whom any single method would be ineffective, I think the vast majority of kids can be disciplined effectively without resorting to physical harm. It's not always easy, and often requires some form of connection or rapport in advance.

      Most kids simply want to benefit themselves either in the short or (hopefully) long term and sometimes all they need is some additional perspective on the wider consequences of their actions on others. They already have a natural empathy to help join the dots. Once they realise that the best and quickest path to getting what they want involves being a team player and being nice to others (thus maximising their chances that others will be nice back), they will change their behaviour. Why? Because they realise that being nasty won't get them what they want. Again, it's not one-size-fits-all, because nothing is that easy.

      The same strategy works just as well with adults, because really we are all just children at various stages of development, and it's not always correlated with age. We don't use physical punishment in the workplace - and somehow we've figured out how to make that work. I don't think raising kids is all that different to resolving disputes in any other situation. If you think nations should be able to settle disputes without war (and I do), then surely we can solve the far-easier problem of what to do when Sammy snatched Jonny's truck in the sandpit, also without violence.

      The word "discipline" actually comes from the root word "disciple", which means "to teach". When an adult smacks a child, they may *hope* the child learns the right lesson, but what the child more likely learns is "don't do this or else I will get a smack". What you actually want the child to learn is "don't do this or else someone else gets harmed by my actions, and I don't want to harm them because I know what it's like to be harmed, and wouldn't want others to do that to me". Do you want to smack them and cross your fingers hoping they eventually learn the lesson on their own? Or would it not be better to actually sit with them and teach them the broader consequences and how they can do much better and live a better, happier life as a result? I've seen kids who, once they've internalised the lessons, will teach other kids too. That's a whole other networking effect you won't get from smacking them.

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    4. I should also mention that I am not suggesting that telling little Jonny "don't do that again dear" is all that is needed.

      Discipline is still needed, in the form of real consequences and in some cases making reparations for harm done. Parents and caregivers should set boundaries and enforce them with both rewards for good behaviour and punishments for bad. I'm just saying the discipline can be just as effective (and often more effective) without being physical.

      Obviously there are cases when physical intervention is necessary in order to protect a victim. But I just can't see the logic in beating or smacking a child because they hit another child (or worse, because a child did something wrong but non-violent). It sets up a "do as I say, not as I do" rule that will surely be challenged as the child grows older. Kids are fantastic at spotting unfairness, and they will point it out and begrudge you for it.

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    5. D. I dont agree with you. I hope you find the data you ate looking for..even if it proves me right..you will still disagree..i would think as it doesn't suit your way of thinking. Come to the school and listen to language and how tjey treat the teachers..i went to that same school..it certainly got worse .from what ive seen..

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    6. "even if it proves me right..you will still disagree..i would think as it doesn't suit your way of thinking"

      This is quite unkind and uncharitable of you. I changed my entire belief system based on evidence despite the high personal cost of doing so. What makes you think I wouldn't do it in this instance?

      I'm sorry to hear your anecdote from this one school. It sounds nasty. I have no doubt some students in some schools treat their teachers very poorly indeed. The reverse is probably also true in some cases. However your claim was much broader than that, and it was this broader claim regarding longer term trends that I was questioning. And since I made no positive claim, I am not the one required to provide data. I acknowledged that all I have is anecdotes, which is not enough to draw any conclusions from. Thus while I have my suspicions, I remain agnostic on this.

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    7. Will leave it at that.I can only go off my experience as i also deal with the public day in and out..and also with many younger generations coming threw. You can do business with the older guys with still a hand shake .. that is the big difference. A yes is a yes..a man's word is his word. Those guys had the odd kick up the bum..now and then. Not a beating .

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    8. In the 40`s/50`s at school, the "fear" of the teacher, their ability to punish with cane or ruler-on-knuckles, taught us to know, and mostly keep to, the line of misbehaviour we dared not cross. We also respected/feared others in authority, such as Doctors, Police, even bus conductors, and our parents. This fear/respect seems to be lacking today in young people in the main, they do-as-they-like - what is to stop them? It has been announced that teachers in the UK are to receive compensation for the violence meted out upon them by students. There is no reason for CD publications to continue to promote a "spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child" stance. As Churchill is supposed to have said, Jaw-Jaw is better than War-War. Reasoning with someone, child or adult, to achieve a mutual understanding, is better than poking each other in the eye.

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    9. I bet every generation has made similar comments about the one following it.

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    10. Think you want the last word on it...have it..agree to disagree with you mate

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    11. I've been following this discussion with interest, but haven't had time to contribute. Like Thom, I used to say that physical punishment didn't hurt me. Also like Thom I've started to question that statement, though more because of some of what I've read than because I see direct effects on me.

      Just a few of a number of links I've come across in the last few years:
      1. Review of 50 Years of Spanking Research Reveals Sobering Truth"In a recently published meta analysis in the Journal of Family Psychology, developmental psychologist Elizabeth Gershoff and University of Michigan professor Andrew Grogan-Kaylor sift through 75 studies, for a total data pool of nearly 161,000 children, and find “no evidence that spanking is associated with improved child behavior.”

      What’s more, the analysis finds evidence that spanking is associated with troubling outcomes — like increased aggression, increased anti-social behavior, and mental health problems later in life…. "

      2. American Academy of Pediatricians Now Advises Parents Not to Spank Their Children
      I found this comment particularly interesting:
      "The third study is more recent and used MRI scans.

      “The study looked at the brains of children — some of whom had been spanked, some of whom had not — and the ones who were consistently spanked had differences in their brains compared to the other ones,” explained Sege. “In particular, the region of the brain responsible for self-regulation appeared to be smaller in kids whose parents spanked them consistently.”"

      3. End Corporal Punishment - FAQs
      Makes a fair attempt to answer the questions you may have. You can choose whether to agree with the answers, of course. I like what it says about the dignity of the child and the rights of the child, as I have heard far too many bad stories to believe that parents (or teachers) are always right or know what's best for the child.

      Moving to the anecdotal level:
      The school I went to had no physical punishment, and I don't recall a breakdown of law and order. Nor am I convinced that, in presence of such a breakdown, physical punishment would have been the magic fix to make children respect teachers. Like Thom, I suspect at best it drives behaviours underground. Compliance may be able to be forced (at a cost), but respect has to be earned (I'm not suggesting this is easy - and, depending on the background of the children and probably a host of other factors, it may be almost impossible to achieve).

      The more I learn about the world, the more I come to believe that, where possible, intrinsic motivation is better than extrinsic motivation. And that applies to my upbringing as well. I personally was a fairly compliant kid. By and large, I think I did the right thing (or what I thought was right) because I believed it was the right thing and because I wanted to please my parents, not because of fear of punishment by parents. And I think what this has meant in adulthood that I've been able to make my own decisions and do what I think right, sometimes completely different to the path my parents have taken. Being punished for not complying with my parents' expectations did not help with any of this.

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    12. The previous comment got too long, but I think a few other points are in order:
      1. In the hypothetical case that corporal punishment made school work better but made students perform worse in the Real World after school, we still shouldn't permit it. School is not an end in itself.
      [and, from the studies I've linked and others, I don't think this hypothetical is true].

      2. I've come to realise that "spanking" as a term is dangerous because it sounds innocuous and forms a shield for more dangerous and abusive cases. There are horrific stories out there of abusive "discipline" meted out, and I've seen believers defend this kind of behaviour just because they think physical punishment is necessary - not realising what they are really supporting.

      3. (Which comes back to the NSS report): Just because the Bible prescribes physical punishment (and threatens serious consequences) is not sufficient justification for physical punishment. Period.

      Basically, there needs to be an actual reason to believe it will improve things, and I personally don't recall hearing any arguments in support of it other than "The Bible says it's necessary" or "It didn't hurt me / the world was better in my day so corporal punishment is necessary". I used to make both arguments, and I now reject them both.

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    13. Question. What if somone murdered a loved one of your two blokes family.Just for arguments sake lets say somone walked up to them and shot them in pure cold blood.You would stil be happy with no physical punishment??

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    14. That's - completely irrelevant. Now you're talking about vengeance, not about discipline with the goal of making a better person.

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    15. Ok yes different.Still whats your opinion??

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    16. I've been watching this thread and how it has gone "off topic". In the civilised UK, physical punishment of children in public schools was outlawed 33 years ago. Like it or not, Christadelphians have to accept that, the same as everybody else.
      The offending material, as I've previously stated, here and on another thread, used a particularly poor, but very telling example. In the UK, domestic electrical outlets are intrinsically safe if maintained in good order. The fact that a Christadelphian wants to lash out at a toddler over such a matter tells us that he is not well educated, and is using violence rather than education. The way that the piece is written is archaic too, the words used seem very old fashioned. The chances are that this individual spends many, many hours studying his Bible,but no time at all enlightening himself on electrical safety. In fact he reminds me of a typical Christadelphian, unable to take on new information and work with it, just trotting out the same thousands of years old nonsense all the time. My anecdotal experience is that Christadelphians can be rather "neglectful" parents. So much time is taken up with Bible study, Bible schools, fraternals, specials, Sunday schools, etc, etc, that the normal activities and learning/enjoyment experiences are a bit marginalised.
      The most important thing now is that these references have been, for the most part, removed. As predicted, and predictable, while they may be "The Truth", when faced with truth, or free money, Christadelphians prefer easy money.
      Paul. I suggest you look for a better school for your daughter. My two went to/are at a selective entry girls school, where they have to pass exams at age 10 to obtain entry. After consulting both of them, and from what I know from parents evenings, there is very little "trouble" there. Sometimes it is easy to see problems with the kids, but not to look past that and see that sometimes the problem is one of parenting, such as the poor example that the Christadelphians have outlined for us.

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    17. Last one. Yes off topic. I wasnt actually arguing from The Bible.Just what ive seen and my experience . There are.plenty of people out there who have had a small smack on the ass growing up and are not all mentally wrong now. I still stand by what I say. Not a beating..not by a long way.You can say dont do that till you blue in the face..and doesn't do anything. As I said agree to dis agree/ over and out.

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  5. Hi there - interesting stuff and agree with pretty much all of it.

    A slightly different angle on this and a more general point. I remember a traditional CD meeting (UK) refusing to implement safeguarding legislation for their youth circle. It was pointed out to the ABs, that if there was a case of (alleged) childhood abuse at that CD meeting they could be legally, accountable with a dim view taken by the Judge for not, implementing the Safeguarding legislation.

    The point made in some of the comments, about self-interest driving the actions of the CD establishment is valid. But with the CD meeting above, not even self-interest (risk of legal action) got them to do anything.

    The point I am making is that CDs tend to be so out of touch with the real World and the CD establishment in particular, tends to be so arrogant that they wait until consequences are very obvious and imminent. Instead of considering, their intended action before, they act.

    With the former Editor of the CD Magazine, it astounds me how lax (non existent) the checks and balances were on the accounts. What was more farcical was the incompetent and evasive way it was dealt with afterwards.

    I am so grateful to be out of this devious, dishonest cult that claims to set the standard for "The World" but does nothing of the kind.

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  6. Yes the criticism is right you only have to show someone a video by jim cowie to see how much hatred the christadelphians have in their hearts

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  7. I'm very shocked that duncan heaster would write this about aspergers since life is a left wing CD however he did come from an ultra Orthodox christadelphian background so I'm not really surprised just shocked also in the pdf file many of the links the urls have been removed so CD are trying to cover this up I believe the best way to expose the christadelphians is to go after there youtube videos I know there is a lot of stuff in these videos that would expose them I used to run the bible prophecy channel myself I know what is said in these talks is utter nonsense and hatred of other religions if you are a Roman catholic or Russian the christadelphians have real hatred for them

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    1. To be honest, I hadn't realised that it was Duncan Heaster's site that was carrying the Asperger quote, so thanks for pointing that out. It is indeed shocking that he would hold such a nasty opinion given that he seems so reasonable otherwise. In fact before I had joined the Christadelphians, it was one of his books that convinced me that they were not a crazy cult but a fairly reasonable denomination. How wrong one can be. I see that this quote has now been taken down too.

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  8. I think that there is a relationship between the size of the church group (very small) and the horrible views expressed against the "other" - Asperger's, gays Roman Catholics etc. As some CDs say "the falling away" (declining membership in Europe) is a sign that they are "right". With this kind of mentality, it is very difficult for brainwashed CDs to think differently. So it's not such a surprise that Duncan demonised Asperger's persons. The psychology of a cult being "right" is that those who are different to CDs, are "wrong" - they need an enemy to function.

    I speak as someone who was brainwashed from a young child with the CDs and so I totally get why CDs are printing/posting such horrible stuff. I was taught that the Catholic Church is the Antichrist and used to go to Elpis Israel classes - a sure fire way to get brainwashed! The Roman Catholic Church seemed to be responsible for half of the evil in the World - which is nonsense!

    My favourite book is 1984 by George Orwell because Orwell got it spot on. In 1984 history is rewritten and that re-writing of history is denied. Elpis Israel has been significantly amended a number of times in a similar manner - something I was never told at the time! In 1984, the three mottos of the Party are "Ignorance is strength", "War is Peace" and "Freedom is Slavery". These mottos certainly describe the CD Cult very well.

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    1. Oh boy, yes!

      What is faith if not a celebration of one's ignorance?

      "War is Peace" is a little more difficult to fit but the metaphor of "fight the good fight" and the idea of believers being in a perpetual battle against "the world" seem to come pretty close. By keeping the sense of conflict with the world alive, Christadelphians can manipulate their members into trying ever harder to achieve a future peace by resisting/rejecting the world. This feeds back into the ignorance thing too as some of the more extreme Christadelphians will blindly reject "worldly science" too.

      Some even look forward to Armaggeddon thinking it will bring future peace. But the "peace" they propose is simply the killing of everyone who disagrees with the dictator (which was literally the exact same goal of every dictator who ever ruled in the past).

      And as for "freedom is slavery" - just read Romans 6. That chapter could not be more outdated at a time when slavery has been made illegal in every country in the world.

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  9. Happy New Year all! Hope the festive season went well however you celebrated (or didn't celebrate) it.

    I've said it before, and will probably say it again - I view Christadelphians' reliance on the OT as a weakness, not a strength. Joseph's list of some of the crimes condemned by the Law of Moses is a good example - I think it irresponsible for Christadelphians to quote any of the provisions of the Law of Moses when they don't expect to apply all of them.

    At the same time, though, I think the NSS has misread those quotations, or misunderstood their implications. I doubt (at least to most Christadelphians) that saying "the penalty under the Law of Moses was death" means that they condone that death, or think it worthy of death now (as opposed to in the kingdom). Though the words are still dangerous because some could take it that way.

    Even more so with the Wiccan statement: "Those who continue in Wicca will die in their sins." Bluntly, to be a Christadelphian, or at least a conservative one, means thinking almost everyone will die in their sins. I don't think Wiccans have been condemned in the larger quoted passage any more than any group considered a rival religion would be. The message is more that "The (Christadelphian) Jesus is the only way to eternal life". It may sound disturbing (it does to me in retrospect), but with my former-Christadelphian hat on I don't think there's any particular malice intended in the statement.

    I agree with Phynnodderee that the large majority of Christadelphians probably hold these views. As I said in a comment on the other post, most of what was in the document seemed to me fairly standard Christadelphian teaching. And I know that ecclesias which have tried to be more inclusive of women have been criticised and sometimes basically cut off from fellowship by other ecclesias.

    Another consideration to add to Phynnodderee's final thoughts: Christadelphians explicitly teach that members are not citizens of their country, but citizens of heaven. Is this a teaching in the public interest?

    Finally, I agree with Phynnodderee about which was the most unpleasant LGBT quotation (it seems it's also from Duncan Heaster - can now be seen here). It struck me as the most dangerous because it claimed to be based on research (research which didn't seem plausible to me), so I went looking and came across this post: How religious right groups distort legitimate research to demonize the gay community. The Bell and Weinberg study referenced there is the one being referenced (incorrectly) in the quote.

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    1. Jon, thanks for going to the trouble of finding that reference. I knew that stuff couldn't be for real but to be honest I couldn't be bothered figuring out where the writer got it from.

      I agree with you that some of the quotations have been construed in the worst possible way, but overall they leave a very bad taste in the mouth. While I find all the quotations pretty disgusting for various reasons, the question at issue is obviously whether they actually breach the charity guidelines, because that will be the material point as far as the Charity Commission is concerned.

      In the case of the death penalty thing, I don't think an actual endorsement of the death penalty in this day and age was intended, though as you say, there is always the risk it may be interpreted that way. (This might be clear to an insider, but if it needs explanation to an outsider - say, the NSS - then at the very least there is a problem with inability to communicate with people from a different background. They can't assume that only CDs will be reading their website and applying their insider knowledge to understand what is really meant.)

      You're probably right that there was no intent to single out, say, Wiccans for special criticism, since all other religions are considered equally wrong, but it's an example of a more general intolerance that is pretty, well, uncharitable.

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    2. Phynnodderee, I would like to politely "disagree". The possibility that the quotations can be construed so badly is not the fault or overstatement of the NSS. It would have been easy for the Christadelphians to make the quote, but then also make it very clear where they actually stood on the matters, such that they could not be mis-construed. The same applies to the death penalty, they could very clearly spell out exactly what they mean/understand/hope for. By not doing so, they enact the classic "trick" of saying one thing, but when called to task over it, denying that that is what they actually meant, and throwing the problem back to being down to lack of proper understanding by the reader. I don't fall for this line anymore and I doubt the NSS would either

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    3. I've had another quick glance through the dossier and on the whole I do in fact think the NSS's interpretations are fair. But I still think a few have been misconstrued, or may have been. For example, I don't see any intolerance of people with Asperger's per se (though I do see a bunch of other attitudes I have no patience with). I'm not trying to let anyone off the hook here, I'm just trying to be scrupulously fair. As far as the claims of "condoning violence" are concerned, I guess the problem is deciding at what point all the nasty insinuation actually amounts to condoning violence (does mentioning Mosaic law imply a condoning of the death penalty or not?). I take your point that they could have made their stance clear instead of hiding in all the implication and insinuation.

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  10. "Here we simply have unsubstantiated assertions. It’s also an insult to women disguised as a compliment"

    I have to disagree with you on that one, in common with a lot of Christadelphian teaching, it is generally patronising and insulting remark to all, not just women. To suggest that men cannot prepare food, cannot speak in a kindly manner to old people, or bring up children, is not just insulting, but demonstrably wrong. What it probably shows is that the writers of this material have spent too long in an environment where these roles are enforced, and mistake it for reality.
    My girls love this quote from "I believe in Angels" Simeon Guntrip's UK homeschooling website. I never fails to enrage them.
    "One of the greatest benefits of teaching our children at home is that we are in control. We decide what is taught and how. We have total control over our children's safety. 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. We are in a position to equip our children for a spiritually governed approach to life. 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".

    As a single parent (shared care), had my parents not taught me to be able to do all those things that Christadelphians consider to be "girls activities" we would all be much the poorer. Thank goodness they were not brought up by Christadelphians.

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    1. Joseph, I completely agree with you that gender stereotypes are harmful and restrictive to all. That homeschooling quote demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of what education is meant to be.

      But my point was really about the specious claim that men and women can fulfil different "roles" while still being "equal". The writer is presumably trying to counter the arguments of CDs who are calling for more active involvement for sisters. He (or she?) can't come straight out and say that women are inferior because even he can understand how crude that sounds. So he tries to create an illusion that males and females are identical in status, just different in "role". He appears to compliment women by saying how good they are at certain things, but by a remarkable coincidence, the things that brothers are supposedly naturally good at are high-status tasks, while the activities that sisters supposedly have a natural affinity for are low-status tasks. To claim that these two roles carry equal status, you would have to be either extremely naive or deliberately disingenuous.

      That said, the implication that men are not good at nurturing or domestic roles is stupid and insulting. But although the intention is to keep both genders in firmly fixed roles, I think it's fair to say it's women they want to keep down.

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