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From Log Cabin in Vermont, Couple Fights Reclusive Religious Sect

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What would you do if your upbringing inside a fundamentalist Christian community left you scarred and confused — and estranged from family members still inside the sect?

For Tim Twinam, a software developer living in Williston, Vermont, the answer was: Launch a website dedicated to re-connecting lost members driven apart from family and friends by the religion's "doctrine of separation."

Twinam was raised inside The Exclusive Brethren in 1960s England. He couldn't eat or socialize with anyone outside the sect, and TV, radio and university education were strictly forbidden. Internet is also banned.

Today he is the webmaster of Peebs.net, an online community made up of former members of The Exclusive Brethren, which is the subject of this week's Seven Days cover story.

Twinam, and his wife Sallie (pictured), have devoted the last four years to exposing the secrets of the reclusive Brethren and creating a network of "helpers" to assist those who want to leave the religion but don't know how.

Now the Brethren are suing the Twinams in Vermont federal court for copyright infringement, claiming Peebs.net downloaded Brethren-owned sermons and letters that are property of the Brethren.

Lawyers for the sect say they're just protecting their legal property. The Twinams say it's a lawsuit meant to silence their criticism by bleeding them dry financially.

Two attempts to settle the suit have failed and a third attempt is slated for later this month. Meantime, the Twinams told their story in the hope it would raise awareness about a relatively unknown religion with 43,000 worldwide followers, one they say wields outsize influence in the worlds of business and politics.

We've linked to the story here to allow readers to comment.

Photo by Andy Duback.

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