Plymouth Brethren’s Chicago land scandal could be tipping point in making the cult a household name

Aug 31, 2023

There is another controversy brewing for the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, the worldwide cult with a history of abuse, coercion, and deep political ties.

This time, however, people, and the media, are watching a Chicago suburb closely.

The controversy stems from a deal involving the South Barrington Park District’s sale of a 34-acre piece of land to the PBCC for 1.7 million dollars. Critics of the sale are concerned the PBCC is paying about half what they should be paying, and that the proposed planning for the development of the land is not what it seems to be. The PBCC said they want a house of worship built that can hold a maximum of 1000 people, despite providing plans to build a structure that can hold 3000 people.

The PBCC also want to build a school, complete with a cult members-only grocery store that will sell alcohol. The idea that one structure housing grade school kids could also sell booze has made some residents question how Cook County officials could make the deal in the first place.

About 100 residents forced the district board to move their meeting to a local gymnasium in order to handle the volume of protestors and residents who are requesting a temporary restraining order to block the sale.

Of the many criticisms levied at the PBCC, one is the probability that this public land could be sold to an organization that will keep out local residents. The cult is infamous for its members-only way of life, which includes never eating meals with non-members, viewing non-members as tools of Satan, and a vicious doctrine of separation that rips families apart if someone decides to leave the cult.

On the surface, this land deal isn’t really all that controversial, especially for a cult with such a sordid history of sexual abuse and subsequent cover-ups, or its penchant for prescribing chemical castration drugs for members who are gay, or any of the numerous scandals involving the cult over the past century.

But the fact that the media is taking note, and that residents are actually protesting, means this story has the potential of being a tempest in the teapot that could damage the cult’s carefully cultivated public image. On social media, various groups populated with ex members of the PBCC, each with their own stories of abuse and familial estrangement, are buzzing with excitement over mainstream outlets digging into the cult’s background, something that almost never happens, especially in North America.

Prolific ex member and whistleblower, Richard Marsh, appeared on Blackballed recently, citing this case’s potential for greater awareness among the public about the dangers of this closed organization.

“This is turning into a big story. This is actually unprecedented…I’ve never seen placards out on the street and people chanting “NO PBCC.” You might say it’s small but it’s a precedent that the Brethren are going to be extremely scared about,” Marsh said.

“When it comes down to it, it’s everything coming home to roost.”

Blackballed will continue to monitor the developments of this story.

Contributing Writers

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