An Open Letter to the Bruderhof Communities from a Workshop of the Friendly Crossways Conference

File I

August 19, 1990
Almost fifty of us former members and children of the Bruderhof communities gathered for a weekend of sharing memories and concerns. Many of our memories are happy and precious. Many are not. This open letter addresses the latter.
Our former association with you gives us a unique insight into various problematic aspects of the Bruderhof communities. We therefore request that you give careful consideration to the concerns we here express:
1: The frightening prospect of expulsion leads to community-wide fear of honest communication. Members and children dread the effects of their candor. Genuine honesty is only possible if its results are not calamitous. Guaranteed financial support and the right of continuing contact with family and friends are minimal requirements for making the prospect of departure from the Bruderhof less traumatic.
2: Children must be educated and acculturated so that they may easily leave if they choose. They need to be able to make meaningful choices, get training in a field of their choice, and know that if they choose to leave the Bruderhof, they will still be respected and will not be cut off from family and friends.
3: Physical and psychological abuse has definitely occurred in the past. At the Friendly Crossways Conference, we heard numerous, detailed personal accounts of such abuse. We are really concerned as to whether this is continuing. We have many thoughts on this important subject, and want to start a serious dialog with you about it. We believe that our insights and concerns in this regard could help you understand more of the nature of this problem, address it effectively and thereby immeasurably enhance your witness to the power of love and reconciliation in the world. That witness remains ours too, and we have made this plea in that spirit.
We ask that this Open Letter be read in membership meetings on each hof. We ask that you let us know how we can help you address these questions. And we invite you to respond through the “Keep In Touch” Newsletter, now going into its second year of monthly publication.
All this we ask in deepest sincerity and seriousness,
The Friendly Crossways Conference Workshop
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