Two by Twos / The Truth
Special Guest: Laura McConnell
Laura McConnell Conti left The Truth as a 19-year-old in 1999. She found herself alone and knowing little about the world outside her community. She rebuilt her life, spent 15 years working in finance, and recently co-founded social enterprise #GoKindly.
Laura is a feminist activist and storyteller, passionate about supporting women from non-mainstream backgrounds (like her own) to study, work, and have successful careers. She supports women contemplating leaving The Truth (and similar groups) by providing information and referral services at her website.
Laura lives in Melbourne, Australia – a long way from the red sands of Far Western NSW where she was raised inside The Truth. A piece of her heart was left there, in that red sand and searing heat where she was raised with no TV and no idea about the world outside her cousins, second cousins, aunts and uncles inside The Truth.
Laura writes and tells stories for indie media and is passionate about raising awareness of the lives of women inside Fundamentalist Christianity.
Special Guest: Chris Johnston
Chris Johnston is a journalist and author in Melbourne with a special interest in cults, sects and quasi-religions.
Written and Hosted by Sarah Steel
Research by Haley Gray and Sarah Steel
Music by Joe Gould
Edited by Corey Green at Transducer Audio
October 14th, 2020
1 hr 15 mins 47 secs
Season 4 presenting partner:
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
Laura McConnell was born into a fundamentalist Christian sect that claims it has no name. Former member Elizabeth Coleman told reporter Nathan Jolly, “It is of utmost importance to them that they do not have an official name or headquarters or centrally identifiable presence anywhere on earth.”
From his investigative reporting in 2013, journalist Chris Johnston estimated there were 20,000 members in Australia, and hundreds of thousands around the world. Sometimes referred to as The Truth, the Two by Twos, or the Friends and Workers, the sect has seen multiple leaders face accusations of child sexual abuse, some of which are currently in court. Laura and many former members believe that this highly secretive group should certainly be considered a cult.
Wings for Truth — support site for sexual assault survivors of the Two by Twos
Friends and enemies, truth and lies — by Chris Johnston, The Age, 23 September 2013
Secrets, lies and sex abuse as ex-sect leader chooses life on the inside — by Chris Johnston, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 2014
The Truth Church: Inside the nameless church cult where TV and dancing are "the devil's work" — by Amy Clark, Mamamia, 21 April 2019
Woman recounts life raised in secret Australian religious sect — by Nathan Jolly, news.com.au, 8 February 2020
Cutting ties with a cult: 'It’s a grief I will carry for life' — by Rebecca Baillie, SBS Insight, 29 June 2020
Two By Twos — Christian Research Institute, 13 April 2009
Submission to Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations — by WINGS, 30 August 2012
Chris Allan Chandler’s Death Notice — The Advertiser, Herald Sun, 6 May 2020
Supporting environment to the end — by Keith Platt, The Mornington Peninsula News, 12 May 2020
The Secret Sect — by Doug & Helen Parker, self-published, 1982
Samantha Fraser escaped religious cult before alleged murder by former husband, court told — by Kellie Lazzaro, ABC News online, 23 October 2019
I Was Raised In A Christian Religious Sect Called ‘Two By Twos’ — by Cody Boyte, Thought Catalog (first published on Quora), 31 July 2015
Allan Kitto's CSA letter on Professing Open Air — Truth Meetings Board (‘The Truth’), 13 May 2019
Telling the Truth — a website curated by a former member that collects and makes available historical documents relating to the Two by Twos
Workers Sect — a website curated by non-profit corporation Research and Information Services, Inc.
Two by Twos — entry on World Religions and Spirituality website, curated by various academics from universities around the world