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Those who break the rules can be punished by being banned from worship meetings and ostracised by members of their own family and other Exclusives who "withdraw from" such a person.
Members who sin can also be 'shut up'. This is based on the Biblical procedure for the treatment of lepers, and involves being isolated from family and friends and only allowed to see specially chosen church members until local church leaders believe that God has forgiven the person.
All members must follow the rigid code of behaviour and rules that govern the contact they can have with outsiders. This is far from the Open Brethren idea that individual churches should have a great deal of freedom in their dealings with others.
Members of Exclusive Brethren churches are expected to be totally loyal to the leader of the Exclusive Brethren. This leader is given titles such as 'The Man of God' or 'The Elect Vessel'.
The leader is regarded as a person of inherent moral power, following in the tradition of the leaders of the past and upholding their teaching in such a way as to lift the membership out of the world of wickedness.
The leader of the church has overall power over members of the sect. He appoints local priests, resolves disputes, approves all marriages and decides on levels of punishment for breaches of discipline.
Members see the head of their church as a servant leader who puts his lives at the disposal of others. Outsiders see him as an autocrat.
- Source: The Exclusive Brethren, BBC
This cult-like control is unbiblical, and is one of the reasons why the movement has attracted negative publicity.
In addition, it appears that the movement's leaders are hypocrites - a trait common to cult leaders. While putting heavy restrictions on the movement's members, the leaders engage in dirty tricks campaigns.
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