Mr D J Carder complains to the Australian Press Council that three related articles published in The Australian Women's Weekly of May 1988 under the overall heading "COMBATING THE CULTS THAT PREY ON OUR CHILDREN" are factually incorrect and misleading in as far as they relate to Christadelphians. He says the statements and implications grossly misrepresent them.
The major article deals primarily with the activities of the Unification church (the so-called Moonies), and the Scientologists. It is critical of their methods of keeping members.
Christadelphians are specifically mentioned in a second article where it is said that there are more than 500 cults in Australia which fall into six categories. The first such category noted is "Western pseudo-Christian exclusive" which "includes Christadelphians, Worldwide Church of God. These groups believe they are the only ones with The Truth. They have strong indoctrination programs and dogmatic interpretations of the Scriptures. They rely heavily on study. They do not threaten but they make it difficult for people to leave; eg, if you wish to resign you are summoned to their own court and put on trial.
"They mostly recruit by door-knocking and try to involve whole families. They also insert advertisements in newspapers and place promotional material in letter-boxes."
The editor of The Women's Weekly received a number of letters objecting to the reference to Christadelpians in the second article, and published one of them. The Press Council commends her for this action.
It is not the role of the Council to rule on the competing claims of The Women's Weekly and the Christadelphians.
The Council notes that The Women's Weekly has informed the complainant that it plans a more general article on religion in Australia for later in the year. It will be seeking statistics and information from some of the smaller groups, including the Christadelphians.
They will be given, the magazine says, an opportunity themselves to give a brief account of their beliefs.
Especially with sensitive, emotional issues like the categorisation of religious groups, it is the duty of the Press to attempt balance before publication. It appears that was not done in the article in question.
The complaint is upheld.