Mother moves to remove daughter from 'cult'

Nine News, Australia/January 6, 2011

A mother is set to appeal a court ruling that allows her daughter to live with an alleged cult.

The Family Court ruled the woman's 14-year-old daughter could live in a Queensland settlement with her father, that her mother described as a "destructive cult," the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The girl was born into the community which follows an "orthodox Christian lifestyle" and is led by a Sydney based man described as a "spiritual elder".

The girl's mother, who is separated from her father, is fighting for sole custody, saying the group taught her daughter that women were "sub-citizens".

The court heard evidence that women were beaten in the community and violence was "necessary to teach conformity with God's way".

Witnesses for the father denied there was systemic violence in the community but several former members of the group supported the mother's evidence.

The teenager had been sharing her time living between her two parents.

She told the court she had seen her father slap and push her mother.

The teenager told the judge that she believed it was okay if her husband slapped her because "everything that I believe I get from the Bible … If I deserved it, I guess I deserved it".

She told a psychologist she wanted to return to the community, "even if it meant she would be victimised".

"[If the girl]" married a man who beat her, she would be okay with this because she would rather put up with domestic violence and have children than to not marry and not have children," the court heard.

In his ruling, Justice Gary Watts said the community's leader did not have control over the group "as total and ultimate as portrayed by the mother".

Mr Kingsley was brought to tears when talking about the reaction of his children to the news.

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