Towards Learning and Healing

From 2009 onwards a series of conversations took place with more than 50 people who, while appreciating the benefits of the years they had spent with Moral Re-Armament (MRA), had had experiences that had prompted them to distance themselves or leave the movement. 

These experiences were summarized in a 2014 report, Towards Learning & Healing, authored by Glennis Johnston, David Bunton and Helen Stacey Bunton. The report comments critically on some past practices of MRA, suggesting that these practices were driven by unwritten beliefs that had evolved over generations, and that should be re-examined. Examples are cited of individuals in the movement who claimed to know ‘the will of God’ for another person, without giving the person concerned the space to find it for themselves, and a belief that MRA/IofC had the whole truth, more than mainstream religious groups.

In November 2014, Dr Omnia Marzouk (as President of IofC International) met about 20 of those who contributed to the report in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, with one member of the Australian IofC Council of Management present at each meeting — the purpose being to listen, learn and respond. 

Then in March 2015, the eight members of the Australian IofC Council of Management signed a letter of acknowledgement and apology to 44 of the report’s contributors, thanking them for their part in the report and for ‘many hours and years of dedicated service’. It went on to acknowledge that 'many have experienced exclusion and rigid conformity', being 'marginalised when they tried to raise concerns or doubts' and that 'while in theory it was up to each person to work out how they responded to moral standards and the “guidance” of God, in practice too often expectations were imposed which limited people rather than liberated them.' The letter continued: 'For ourselves, personally and collectively as today’s official MRA/IofC, we are sorry for our participation in these cultural practices and group attitudes, and for the pain and damage they caused to you and others'.

Concurrently, IofC Australia embarked on a ‘Cultural and Structural Change’ process, intended to bring generational change within the movement.  Consistent work has been undertaken with its leadership groups to move from informal and often obscure ways of working to more transparent and inclusive decision-making processes and structures, accountable to an expanded membership. Written role descriptions, built-in reviews, operational ‘portfolio teams’ and a framework of operational values have been put in place, and a process has been launched to consult the national network on evolving the movement’s purpose and long-term strategic directions in Australia.