Behind the Brotherhood: In praise of the Brethren way

The New Zealand Herald/October 14, 2006
By Patrick Gower

Greg Mason is the owner of a pump and valve company in an industrial park near Mangere. He is also said to be the leader, or at the very least one of the leaders, of New Zealand's flock of Exclusive Brethren.

Mason has gone to ground since appearing as part of the "secretive seven" Exclusive Brethren businessmen in their infamous press conference to explain the reasons behind their funding of anti-Labour and Green election advertising.

But a rare insight into the family life of the man was seen before the political storm when a television camera was allowed into his house before the television documentary Leaving the Exclusive Brethren.

It showed Mason, his wife Josie and their four children leading a fairly Kiwi family life in a home that lives by Exclusive Brethren principles, such as no television or computers. The children performed a cover of Robbie Williams' song Angels using drums, a keyboard and microphone, while the husband and wife read on the couch. The parents talked about taking their children out of the mainstream education system for the Exclusive Brethren Westmount school network because of their different beliefs. Josie Mason: "We don't go in for adult fiction books. Novels, we don't really like them reading novels."

University is forbidden under their beliefs. Greg Mason said although it was valuable "we feel that for a Christian they cause a narrowing of the mind and a questioning of God's truths for us".

A young woman, Sophie talked of how she did not miss television because she had never had it: "I don't want to do it because it is a sin."

And a young man, Joel, talked about having friends outside the Exclusive Brethren: "To have friends outside the church goes against my conscience because you sort of feel like you are almost betraying the church."

Josie Mason described a life like that of an ordinary, non-working housewife: preparing meals, getting the kids off to school and helping with homework.

Greg Mason said men and women were equal before God but said they found there was a divinely set order of God, man, woman which Josie Mason agreed was "100 per cent correct".

"I'm happy being third in line," she said. "I don't feel suppressed. I don't feel as if, hey, I can't do anything without my husband waving a big stick. It's a really happy relationship."

Greg Mason also spoke of his pain at having family members leave the Exclusive Brethren.

Mason refused to comment when contacted by the Weekend Herald, saying simply, "The media are not our friends".

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