Ex-cult members speak out

June 23, 2008 - 5:11AM

Former cult members have spoken out to warn others of a Brisbane church they say is emotionally abusing its followers.

Former followers have told ABC's Four Corners program, to air tonight, the Brisbane Christian Fellowship, in the north Brisbane suburb of Stafford, was ripping apart families under a veil of secrecy.

They said elders, including leader Victor Hall, made all members' decisions and drove wedges between couples, siblings and parents and children to create fear and control followers.

Followers are banished if they disobey directions.

The church is linked to others worldwide, including the Melbourne Christian Fellowship, and has been operating under different names in Australian since the 1950s.

Former member Helen Pomery, who was expelled for refusing to shun her excommunicated daughter, said she had considered suicide during her time with the group and had to travel to a deprogramming centre in the USA after she left.

"I was very sick emotionally, mentally, and I was at the point of suicide and I knew if I didn't get help then I would probably suicide... but if anything that infuriated my husband and the elders even more that I should go outside of the home for help," she told Four Corners.

Ms Pomery said the emotional abuse was dished out as a way to control people.

While she was disciplined for things such as cooking too much food or making the bed the wrong way, her husband had obeyed orders so that he was not responsible for his family's "damnation", she said.

Former BCF group leader and electrician David Lowe, whose job was to provide counselling to members, said the congregation's secrets were immediately conveyed to elders.

He said he had spoken out as a way to reach his wife and three children who remain church members.

"They need to know from me as a husband and a father that I believe they're in a bad place," Mr Lowe said.

Ms Pomery said she and a handful of others had spoken to the program to save others from the "evil, wicked place".