Ex-brother community

              A significant portion of those who leave various religious communities (especially sects) have an inclination to describe their former congregation more negatively than reality. However, a smaller portion of them blame themselves, magnifying their actual faults and sins, to which the attribute their departure or expulsion. Neither behavior is truly characteristic of the friendly community of ex-brothers - recruited from several countries - who regularly meet. Even though there are some who express strong criticism, and some who seriously blame themselves. Albert and Antal started contacting their fellow victims, first by mail, for the purpose of processing and understanding the past which was a crucial part of their lives. This looking into the past is also self-examination: what is it that they did not recognize correctly in the theory and practice of the community. Most of them do not intend to establish a rival congregation or avenge the injustice they suffered. On their homepage[1] they simultaneously defend and criticize their former community, in this spirit of balance: “Many distorted opinions have appeared regarding the Congregation. This page was not created in the spirit of animosity, rather acknowledging the many values represented by the community. Here you can read the writings of those who lived together with the brothers for several years, and who comment based on their own experience. Facing our past cannot be easy, since this is also about facing ourselves, but clarity is beneficial. Let’s not call good evil or evil good. Only a person can deal with the weaknesses of others fairly who recognizes his own fallibility and is willing to examine if he himself has made similar mistakes in different forms. »For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you« (Matthew 7:2). After this a question to everyone follows: What would you do differently? What was good? What was good in theory and wrong application? What was missing? What questions would you propose for consideration?

              To the question what was good most mentioned the following: brotherly love; willingness to serve others, to share; the value of good teaching, joint Bible study, only Christians should be in the congregation, fighting against sin is important, rejection of evil practices and theories. On the one hand, these reflect the declared and desired values of the Christians as they appear on their homepage, on the other hand exactly such facts appear that happened to not function properly according to the ex-brothers’ accounts. To the question “What would you do differently?”[2] most responded as follows: allow more time for personal contemplation, prayer; act according to conviction, always say their opinions openly; fight more intensely against what they could see was evil; relationship with relatives and friends; have more respect for the freedom and diversity of others. It is well detectible that the responses given to the previous question are rather nostalgia, but these were given in the spirit of adulthood, self-consciousness and responsibility taking.

              In the subject of the wrong application of a good theory, the theoretical permitting and practical prohibition of marriage is shown, followed by the contrast between the principle of brotherhood and its impeded practice. The following were mentioned in addition to these: interest in the other and the inspection of the other; abuse of the public confession of sins while disregarding privacy, uniformity instead of unity, the declaration of open mindedness and the rejection of rightful correction, in the framework of fighting for sanctity too much attention to sins and neglecting self-assessment, instead of turning away from the world withdrawal from the world, reducing health preservation to wrestling.

              The following were mentioned most frequently among the things deemed wrong: heralding their own lifestyle instead of Christ; extreme rejection of parents and relatives; causing indignation in visitors (for example with wrestling); ambitious brothers could easily become influential; overvaluing activity; extreme labelling (“strong-weak, “obedient-disobedient”), dependence on each other; desire to conform and the wish to be liked. And what the ex-brothers missed the most: honestly facing what we have done wrong; immature teaching in substantial matters; allowing more space for guidance by God in the lives of individual Christians instead of the constant control of the congregation; stronger emphasis on mercy and salvation; having feasts; clarification of the “oath”; what happens to assets when somebody leaves or is expelled.

              One thing is certainly clear from these responses: revenge and becoming indifferent is not characteristic of them. The researcher gets the sense as if the ex-brothers just shared their reform ideas for the purpose of improving their ex-congregation. Practically everyone among them remained to be Christian, a majority of them in some manner one of the Christians, but the latter in a way that they no longer consider themselves the sole possible representatives of the path, justice and life. Their bond has remained to be so firm that few have entered another congregation, and even though most of them have started a family, to some extent they miss their former home. Their community and community practices have barely been “institutionalized” yet. Our meeting two years ago happened at their second conference[3]. On this occasion there were a dozen of them. At the program, beside the discussion of the topic “why did it happen the way it happened”, requests arose for a conversation about some Biblical themes. In my opinion, primarily the fact that they miss their former community (their home, support, everything) brought them together, with the dual emotion of “neither with it nor without it”, as Ági expressed it: “I feel that perhaps I would not be able to live like that today. On the other hand, without a community we can only experience a small fraction of LIFE. I desire a real community of love, but superficial and shallow religious communities repel me”, or the way the Polish married couple feel “We have sadness in us because we have not found another community” (Polish married couple), or the way Aranka sees it: “It was painful when they ceased contact with me. I felt like I was buried alive. I would be happy to be with them even now. I pray that God can arrange our reconciliation”


[1]             http://sites.google.com/sitenemleplezve

[2]             Which was supplemented by two sub-questions:  What would you have done differently in hindsight? (If you were introduced to the community today) What would you do differently if you were in the community today?

[3]             In 2007