Clearly the JA will not answer for the past, not publically anyway. But as those who remember the past carefully avoid the public spotlight and are defended by people who weren't even around back then, and who have had the past carefully guarded even from them, perhaps nobody should be susprised.
And if those zealots defending the JA don't know of its past offenses and are genuinely indignant about the criticisms they are defending their church from, does that not perhaps suggest that the church has changed? I'd like to think so.
I think that my unfortunate recent experience of the JA was down to the house elder, who had joined his house church to the JA, being so determined to be a hardliner in order to impress the centralist elders; hard-liners of the original, unreformed JA. His need to be seen to be the big man cost the JA's new reputation. But it can perhaps be seen as exceptional behaviour?
It would always cause me concern that new elders recognise the hard-line centralists as the people to impress and that the leaders who date back to the JA's more cultic days are still in charge...principally Noel Stanton and Mick "Temperate" Haines(Noel's Timothy).....but right now I don't feel there is a lot of point being a critic.
In the past I always saw to it that what I wrote could be recognised as the truth by ordinary members, who would be challenged to think, "Yes, I see where Peter Eveleigh is coming from. I don't agree, but I need to think about how to answer that criticism, because if I can't, maybe he has a point."
But when current JA's first response to anything I say is one of disbelief and is coupled to a sense that I must be lying out of some sense of bitterness which has lasted twenty-plus years, I have no chance of being a force for good. The remodelling of the JA has clearly been very effective but with the pre-reform elders still in charge, I am afraid that some way down the line the young or new members will discover that actually the warnings I have been given were justified. Fortunately for them, there are lots of support groups, etc, and though they won't see it now, having forums like the Sheffield one will give them a way of making contacts. And if that is all that so-called "discussion" forum has become, well that is not such a bad thing.
So, for now anyway, I am going flying.