Religion is supposed to make one feel safe. It is supposed to wrap us in the tenderness of its luminous and angelic arms, doting on us. Organized religion tells us to "Come as you are," but homosexuals condemned to a fiery hell for eternity is the language preached on a Sunday morning.
Shunned by family and friends over who they choose to love is another obstacle, but the least detrimental. In the depths of self-hate, if one allows time for such rhetoric, suicide is sometimes a relief.
But Matt Cook, an ex-member of The Brethren, now called The Plymouth Brethren Church, was strong enough to reveal his sexuality. He said he chose to leave his religious group and the only haven he'd ever known. Cook claimed it was his most difficult decision to date but not a regrettable one.
Inside The Brethren
An insider who secretly spoke out about The Brethren stated, "Part of the sense of our own importance is being under attack. It's a kind of justification (for not communicating with the outside world)."
Since the group formed in the 1800s, they've encouraged their followers to have large families. According to a BBC documentary on the group, the leaders of The Brethren have the status "The Man of God," meaning they have all power over their members.
How The Scriptures Define Homosexuality
Depending on who's at the pulpit, the bible is taken literally. Catholichawaii.org quotes Genesis 19:1-11, "So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. "Please, my brothers," he begged, "don't do such a wicked thing.
Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection." "Stand back!" they shouted. "This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he's acting like our judge!
We'll treat you far worse than those other men!" And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door. But the two angels reached out, pulled Lot into the house, and bolted the door. Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the house entrance, so they gave up trying to get inside." The Brethren don't give their members a choice to decide what parts of the bible they embrace. It's all or nothing.
A Man Of Sin
Cook stated in an interview that The Brethren's mantra was "No Compromise," meaning no contact with the outside world--no television, radio. There are strict dress codes and no contact with people outside the sect.
According to the BBC, The Brethren deem all technology as evil and quote bible scriptures to prove to its devout followers that "a man of sin" living in "the last days" will use computers to control the world. Brethren Priest Gordon Pollard says the IT system is "marked" for evil in the book of Revelations, along with the infamous 666 and "barcodes." Pollard said, "We seek just simply to live a life from that."
The Only Way Out
Drastic measures have to happen to escape the cult. Andy Giles said, "I knew I just had to get out of The Brethren." He committed adultery. He lost his family, home, and job. This partly happens in The Brethren because you are married to the organization before you are married to your partner.
The Fear Of God
Former Brethren Laura Knight said, "It was a known thing ever since you were a child that if you ever left, you'd burn in hell forever, and you'd never be able to speak to any of your family or anyone you've ever known in The Brethren ever again.
It would be like you didn't exist" She said she was aware of this but didn't consider how much it would hurt. Cook knew of this archaic and nightmarish possibility, too, but challenged the fear of God. His life is the polar opposite of what The Brethren planned for him.
Cook is married to his partner, has a career as a personal trainer, and created a solid unit of friends. Thirty years after leaving The Brethren, a former member hanged himself on the cult's property. Authorities ruled the death a suicide. The absence of family and friends was more than he could bear. Meanwhile, Cook is hoping time heals all wounds.