Amid the chaos and danger at today’s Rotherwas fire were a group of people serving refreshments to the emergency services: the Plymouth Brethren.
With their local base on the Beacon road at Rotherwas, the Plymouth Brethren (or Exclusive Brethren as they are also known) are a shadowy evangelical Christian movement, accused by some of being a cult.
Characterised by strictness, they have a reputation for isolating themselves from the world and sticking to a rigid moral code.
Members cannot watch television, listen to the radio or go to the cinema; if the fire had happened on the Three Elms trading estate they probably wouldn’t have heard about it.
They also run many schools in the country.
In January a local authority investigated claims of child cruelty at the Exclusive Brethren Wilton Park school in Wiltshire.
Claims made against the school included punishments imposed upon six pupils for setting up a Facebook page, elders tearing pages from textbooks to remove information about gay rights and sexually transmitted diseases, and teenage boys and girls being banned from talking to each other.
Pupils are also banned from emailing because, according to a memo: “such communications promote special friendships and are beneath the dignity of our calling”.
We pray people reading this don’t have an email address—if you do you’re going to hell!
Last year at least 15 Exclusive Brethren schools made attempts to gain free school status but were turned down by the Department of Education.
TES reported how the Brethren “members do not marry outside the sect; women are expected to take on traditional female roles and men are expected to be breadwinners; former members have claimed the church works like a “cult” with those who choose to leave isolated from friends and family”.
It seems from today’s actions that Christian cults have a big love for providing street food, with Hereford’s other Jesus freaks Freedom Church known to get the garden furniture out and use free cakes as bait to suck in new recruits.
We’re sure the essential emergency services—the fire brigade and paramedics—were grateful for the refreshments.
But it’s pretty obvious they would’ve left a bitter taste in the mouth.