Members follow a rigid code of conduct based very strictly on Bible teaching, which provides a firm moral framework and is focused on a strong family unit.
They keep themselves separate from other people (including other Christians) as far as possible, because they believe the world is a place of wickedness. They regard ‘exclusiveness’ as the only way to keep away from evil.
The main group of Exclusive Brethren is called ‘Taylorites’ after James Taylor Senior and Junior who led the church for much of the twentieth century.
Most of the information available about the group comes from people who have left it. As a result the Exclusive Brethren often gets a bad press and is referred to using phrases like “an exclusive and secret religious sect” or “a secretive church”.
There are thought to be approximately 43,000 (2008 figure) in the Taylorite branch of the Exclusive Brethren worldwide.
The exclusivity requires members to remove themselves from the world in many ways. For example, the activities below are forbidden for members of the Taylorite Exclusive Brethren because they are too worldly and therefore sinful:
- watching television
- listening to the radio
- visiting places of entertainment
- owning pets
- taking out life assurance
- going to university (this exposes young Brethren to morally unhelpful influences)
- standing for political office
- voting in elections
- bearing arms (though Brethren do serve in the non-combatant corps of the armed forces in times of war)
Some must receive a more worldly education, as this particular story involves a doctor and his 18 year old gay patient. As with most evangelicals, the Exclusive Brethren believe that being gay is a disorder that must be cured.
A Health Care Complaints Commission committee found Mark Craddock guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct over his treatment of the 18-year-old at a 10-minute consultation at his home in early 2008.
Both men were at the time members of the Exclusive Brethren, a conservative Christian group whose members shun television, radio, and the Internet and do not vote.
In a letter of complaint to the commission, the patient wrote that he came out as gay at the age of 18 and was informed by a church leader, “There’s medication you can go on for these things.”
The patient then consulted Craddock.
The commission argued that during the consultation the doctor did not provide appropriate medical management of the patient’s needs by failing to physically examine him or take a medical history.
He also failed to refer him to a counsellor or psychologist.
Craddock instead prescribed cyprostat, a drug used to treat prostate cancer and manage sexual deviation by reducing testosterone, in circumstances which were not clinically indicated, the commission alleged.
The committee found that Craddock, while well qualified and experienced, also failed to organise appropriate follow up with the patient.
Craddock, 75, admitted most of the particulars of the complaint.
“The outcome of this inquiry was that Dr Craddock was found guilty of unsatisfactory processional conduct,” the committee said in its decision made public on Tuesday.
“He was severely reprimanded and practice restrictions were placed on his registration,” it said, including that he only practise in the field of radiology.
Cyprostat (Cyproterone acetate) is a medication that can cause liver disease and depression along with other serious side effects. There are a number of preexisting conditions that preclude the use of Cyprostat, even for cancer treatment. It is also critical for patients to be monitored while taking the drug. Craddock’s religious hatred of homosexuality blinded him to the risks associated with this medication.
The story does not indicate how the young man, who would have grown up unaware of the wider world, discovered the inappropriateness of this treatment. The important thing is that he did, he reported it, and the Craddock had restrictions placed on his practice. We can hope that the victim is coping with the abuse and loss of his family and friends, and is able to move on with his life.
When religion trumps science, real people suffer.