Laurence has extensive knowledge about this Church because he worked as a teacher at their Nathalia School and was accepted as an “honorary” member. It is not possible to walk off the street and become a member of this religion because you must be “born” into it, hence the title “exclusive”. Brethren members are often successful in business and contribute generously to community charities but their strict rules for members, which includes no TV, university education, computers and other devices leads to the conclusion that it is a “cult”.
Our session finished with a searing critique of religion from a DVD video presented by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is a well-known atheist and sceptic who advocates for reason and science ahead of faith and belief. Perhaps the value of religion lies somewhere between the two extremes of fundamentalism and atheism because we are not just machine like rational thinkers but also passionate and feeling beings. While the influence of religions decreases as societies become more knowledgeable and sophisticated, it is unlikely that they will disappear any time soon.
With this final report and on a personal note; I am grateful to Benalla U3A for the opportunity to convene the Comparative Religion class. While it was not quite my “cuppa tea” it came close and I was surprised by many of the wonderful stories plus the rich history contained within this subject. Also my thanks to the attendees who persevered and contributed honestly for the benefit of all.