THE TIMES came down hard on the Exclusive Brethren, who
had fought a remarkably dirty fight to preserve their charitable
status. I am surprised that no other paper picked the story up.
"Leaked documents obtained by The Times lay bare the
extraordinary lobbying campaign waged by the Brethren to win
political support and overturn a decision in June 2012 to refuse
charitable status to one of its gospel halls.
"Mr Hales [the sect's leader] ordered elders to 'go for the
jugular, go for the underbelly' - referring to the Charity
Commission - to halt an appeal case which would have allowed former
members to testify. 'That's in hand,' a senior elder replied.
"Charity Commission officials were followed to unrelated events
by Brethren members, pressured by supportive ministers and MPs, and
had their offices deluged with more than 3000 letters from
"One Brethren member prepared a draft presentation showing a
photograph of a car being crushed by a brick wall accompanied with
the words: 'This must be our aim. No mercy. Nothing else will
As well as the news story, there were sidebars detailing the
really horrible treatment meted out to apostates: "Members are
expected to socialise only with each other, live in detached houses
and refrain from eating or drinking with outsiders.
"'We have to get a hatred, an utter hatred of the world,' Bruce
Hales, the Australian accountant who leads the sect's 45,000-strong
worldwide congregation, said in 2006. 'Un- less you've come to a
hatred of the world you're likely to be sucked in by it, and
seduced by it.'"
The Brethren hate the world to such effect that "Brethren
charities in the UK recorded £138 million in income in 2013 alone.
More than 1000 British Brethren-run businesses turn over £2 billion
a year. The Church receives as much as £13 million a year in tax
reliefs and rate exemptions from the British taxpayer."
QUENTIN LETTS, writing in The Spectator, had a go at
the recruitment ads in the back of this very paper: "Number one
word in these adverts is 'team'. Applicants need to be 'team
players'. Other hot words: 'passionate', 'change', 'management' and
"A couple of weeks ago the Diocese of Lichfield needed a 'team
rector' near Tamworth - 'a visionary, imaginative and inspirational
team leader, passionate for evangelism and discipleship, with
experience of managing change and able to enjoy modern styles of
worship'. 'Managing' change may be a euphemism for 'enforcing'
"Meanwhile, Chelmsford's archdeacon was seeking a
priest-in-charge for the Southend area - 'a strong collaborative
and compassionate leader who can grow mission and outreach'. The
use of 'grow' as a transitive verb for anything other than fruit
and veg always worries me. The Southend job will include 'nurturing
and discipling all in the church for every member ministry'. You
may wonder if the Archdeacon of Chelmsford is an 'effective
communicator'. Is English even his first language?'"
THERE were two sides to the Muslim stories in the press this
week. The case for the prosecution came from Andrew Gilligan in
The Sunday Telegraph, who attacked two organisations
urging Muslims to vote for their alleged links to unsavoury
characters and beliefs: "Both Mend and YouElect are clever fronts
to win political access and influence for Islamists holding extreme
and anti-democratic views.
"One of YouElect's leaders, Jamil Rashid, told the Islam
Channel: 'We're all part of this society, so I think it's extremely
important that Muslims stand up and be counted.' [But] when not
giving reassuring interviews, Mr Rashid is a director of the
London-based Muslim Research and Development Foundation, the think
tank of one of Britain's most notorious hate preachers, Haitham
al-Haddad, an extremist cleric and sharia judge from east
"On 6 March, Mr Rashid spoke at a rally organised by Cage, the
pro-terrorist lobby group which had the week before provoked
outrage by describing Mohammed Emwazi, 'Jihadi John', as a 'kind
and gentle' man who had been 'radicalised by MI5'. He described
Cage as 'the leaders in our community - we are all Cage, and we
stand with them in all their endeavours.'"
Bang to rights, I think. But compare Matthew Parris, in The
Spectator. "Something dangerous is brewing beneath the surface
in our country … a powerful generalised antipathy against
[Muslims]. What's so notable is . . . the hateful way the views are
expressed: hateful towards Muslims, all Muslims, and hateful
towards those of us who don't share the antipathy."
I am perhaps sensitised to this by the recent experience of an
old friend's (a former leader-writer on two liberal papers) getting
horribly drunk and claiming that Anders Breivik had a point.
Gilligan has a point, too, and he is doing good journalism.
But Parris is right. Something vile is stirring in response to
the undoubted vileness of the enthusiasts for a caliphate.