Fundamentalists religious sects like the Muslim-based Taliban and Christian-based Exclusive Brethren remain unruffled by damming media exposure. If anything, such exposure strengthens their faith in themselves and consolidates their unwavering conviction in the righteousness of their worldview.

Whilst the rest of the word is shocked by alleged inhumane and brutal activities, they alone have ‘Truth’, their critics are messengers from the devil incarnate and they don’t watch television anyway.

Yet, before other Christian denominations become too smug, the Brethren are not alone in the use of intimidation and fear to keep their flock from drifting apart. Other fundamentalist Christian groups in our midst use similar intimidatory strategies, resulting in the isolation of individuals from their families and awful trauma experienced by those that have been captured by their spell, and then try to break away.

I know of a number of such cases in my own social arena. How fascinating it is that, in a liberal society such as Australia, signatory to the International Charter of Human Rights, such brutality can keep going on without intervention by the law? 

As for the multinational Christian churches, they have their own sordid histories that they would, no doubt, like to suppress.

When my hard working Catholic mother, a widow with eight children, impoverished by years of relentless school fees, transferred one of her children to a state school she was immediately threatened with excommunication from the church. That act of stupendous cruelty almost broke her indomitable spirit.

Maybe the Catholics have learned the lesson of their ways, and maybe, in time, the Brethren will too.

But the lessons of history (global and personal) have left me with a firm conclusion: for every person who finds solace and comfort in religion, there is at least one other who is the victim of religion-induced persecution, bigotry or bloody religious warfare.

The carnage is so huge, it is incalculable. 

Chris Harries
September 2006

(Chris is a Tasmanian-based writer and social advocate. He is a former adviser to Green MP, Senator Bob Brown.)

Chris Harries

When my hard working Catholic mother, a widow with eight children, impoverished by years of relentless school fees, transferred one of her children to a state school she was immediately threatened with excommunication from the church. That act of stupendous cruelty almost broke her indomitable spirit.

Maybe the Catholics have learned the lesson of their ways, and maybe, in time, the Brethren will too.