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