Brown nipples make baby Jesus cry

24 05 2008

There appears to be an FLDS-esque situation brewing in Perth, Western Australia, concerning the Bethel Covenant Community, an Catholic Charismatic organisation founded in West Leederville in the 1980s, and whose 300-strong membership (in its heyday) bought homes close to the headquarters. Catholica Australia reports:

In early April this year allegations of sexual impropriety, financial irregularities and disquiet over “cult-like activities” first began to reach more public attention through the complaints of existing and former members of the community. Some of these were aired on internet blogs. Complaints were made to the Archdiocesan authorities as well as to the police and to the Catholic Church’s professional standards investigating authority (set up in the wake of the sexual abuse complaints the Church has been fielding in the last decade). Catholica understands that the investigations of what has happened are on-going and are being treated seriously by the relevant investigating authorities.

Details at this moment of the nature of the abuses are sketchy, and I will keep you posted, but apparently there have been forced resignations of many of the community’s leaders since April, including founders Kevin Horgan and Frank Carr. Bethel Covenant Community has issued a media statement and its own timeline of the events. This is as much as I can gather from the public record. What follows is hearsay, by which I mean that it is apparently all over the news in Perth (and I currently don’t live in Perth), including the print version of The West Australian, but has not yet appeared online.

It appears a significant leading personage would invite members of the Bethel community to his property in the south-west region of Western Australia. There he would instruct the women to show him their nipples, and then divide them into two groups: “pinks” and “browns.” Also, said significant leading personage once demonstrated to a male community member how to apply oil correctly to his wife’s nipples.

As I said, the aforementioned is hearsay, and more information would be appreciated. The important thing is that the matter is being investigated by both Church and secular authorities, counselling (involving, as an interesting aside, former Greens Senator Christabel Chamarette) has been established for the victims, and justice (hopefully) will be done. The moral of the story? Isolationist religious cults are bad for you.