PBCC Response to Good Weekend Article – 18th June 2016
Saturday 18 June 2016
Vindictive journalist continues decade-long attack on religion
An article published in today’s Good Weekend magazine suggesting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse investigate the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church is littered with errors and provides no evidence of any systemic efforts to cover up child sex abuse.
The article – Secrets of the Brethren – was written by journalist Michael Bachelard, who has run a decade-long vendetta against the Church, previously known as the Exclusive Brethren.
The polemic cites just two Australian cases of child sexual abuse, both of which were referred to police for a successful prosecution, to build a flimsy case in a crude attempt to coerce the Royal Commission to investigate the Church.
The Plymouth Brethren abhors child sex abuse and instructs all members to report any allegations to police.
Bachelard provides no evidence of a cover-up by the Church and writes that both perpetrators and victims of sexual abuse were encouraged by Church leaders to “go to the police”.
As with his previous efforts to vilify Church members and promote deliberate untruths, Bachelard takes isolated incidents and generalises them across the entire Plymouth Brethren.
He also reports decisions taken by individuals as if they were sanctioned or ordered by the Church leadership with no evidence to back this disgraceful assertion.
Bachelard cites highly-discredited research by psychologist Jill Mytton, which claims 27 per cent of 264 former Church members surveyed reported being sexually abused as children.
As Bachelard reports, the research has been dismissed as highly flawed by three distinguished independent academics.
Reports were commissioned by the Plymouth Brethren from Dr K.V. Petrides (Reader in Psychology and Psychometrics, University College London); Professor Adrian Furnham (Professor of Psychology, also at UCL) and Professor Jane Hutton (Professor in Medical Statistics, University of Warwick).
Dr Petrides described Ms Mytton’s recruitment methodology as “unscientific”; Prof Furnham described Ms Mytton’s research as a “disinterested enquiry: it sounds like a witch-hunt under the guise of scientific research”.
Prof Hutton said: “I do not think the quality of the study, or studies, which Ms Mytton has carried out is likely to be adequate to support any conclusions [about child sex abuse] with regard to members, or former members, of the Exclusive Brethren”.
Mytton’s research relies on a sample of respondents skewed by self-selection.
The victims of sex abuse reported in Bachelard’s article, including two sisters who were abused by a Church member in a NSW town, are in our thoughts and prayers. The Brethren community recognises the long-term effects child sex abuse has on victims and feels nothing but compassion for them.
Despite Bachelard’s repeated claims to the contrary, Plymouth Brethren are not secretive and cut off from the wider community.
We live and work within the wider Australian community. Our homes are situated amongst the homes of other Australians. We do not live in compounds or gated communities.
Our children attend schools that are fully accredited by relevant State and Federal education authorities and are staffed by non-Brethren teachers who follow the requisite state-based curricula.
Many Brethren own and run businesses, where they employ many non-Brethren and deal with non-Brethren customers and suppliers.
As Bachelard reports, the Church has “started undertaking some charity work”.
Last year the Church’s charitable arm, the Rapid Relief Team (RRT), provided assistance at over 325 events in Australia, served over 47,000 meals and involved 3,220 of its volunteers.
The RRT is a volunteer, not-for-profit organisation that supports local communities in times of need. Staffed by volunteers drawn from members of the Church, the RRT serves food and drinks to emergency services personnel, helps out at homeless missions and supports work for other charities. It is also active in New Zealand, North America and the United Kingdom.
The highlight of 2015 was the official launch near Hobart of 14 Tasmania Fire Service tankers fitted with the revolutionary Compressed Air Foam system. Six of the tankers’ systems were funded by a $166,000 donation from the Rapid Relief Team.
Members of the Plymouth Brethren community applaud the efforts of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to shine a light onto cases of child abuse.
The sexual abuse of minors is a heinous act and the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church will always strive to bring any allegations of such to the attention of police and other authorities.
Benjamin Haslem 0408 887 742
John Wells 0411 862 141
© Copyright Plymouth Brethren (Exclusive Brethren) Christian Church Ltd 2016