Bob Brown’s vendetta against the Exclusive Brethren

The wacky Christian sect the Exclusive Brethren has been in the stocks this week. Some of the attacks, like today’s story in The Age about covering up child abuse, are fair criticism – even if offences by someone who has already been thrown out of the Brethren and convicted of his crimes are hardly front page lead story material.

But other stories reflect as badly on those generating the news as on the Brethren – if not more so. They document attempts by Greens Senator Bob Brown to use instruments of the state to get at a religion he does not like.

Brown started this off with (another) attempt to have a Senate inquiry into the Brethren. Their offence? They had written to the Attorney-General proposing changes to family law. These were not sensible suggestions and as The Age reported:

Mr Ruddock’s response to the Brethren’s approach gave them little joy. The Government’s changes would “emphasise the rights of the child and the right of the child to know both their parents,” he wrote.

Ministers receive lots of letters with crackpot ideas (I used to have to coordinate responses to some of them). But the remedy is not punishing their senders by hauling them before Senate inquiries. It is polite letters explaining why the government cannot take up their proposals. Every citizen has a right to put their views to government without harassment.
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