living not far from us who do not mix with the rest of the community unless they cannot avoid it. When the women go shopping they do not make polite casual conversation with the shop assistants. They never sit and have coffee with friends. They wear headscarves over their long hair. They don't buy newspapers or magazines. At morning recess and at lunchtime one of the grandparents will be there to ensure all the children of cult members are separated out from the other children at whichever school the children attend. They remove themselves as far as possible from the community.
At the same time they demand a great deal from that community. They don't vote - but they expect politicians to do their bidding. They don't take out insurance but they will sue for damages and accept money from an insurance company.
I could go on but I won't. They are, in one sense, no different from some other groups - the Amish or the Mennonites perhaps. And yes, if that is what they believe, then I have no business trying to stop them.
I have, over the years, had a little to do with them. Aside from their beliefs some of them appear to be perfectly pleasant. The life they have chosen would not be the life I would choose. I don't know that they are content or happy but they believe they will be in their after-life.
But, they are viewed with suspicion. They are generally disliked. I may be wrong but I believe the reasons for this are as simple as they are complex. If people don't mix - if they deliberately keep themselves separate - then others are going to wonder why. Is it arrogance? Is it because they have something to hide?
Sharing food with one another around the table or campfire or mat is an act as old as mankind. If people don't do this then questions will be asked about why?
This isn't about intruding on the lives of other people. It isn't saying we need to share the beliefs of those we eat with or mix with but it does, I think, say something about the essence of humanity.
We are being told we need to reach out. I hope I do. My friends and acquaintances come from many places, many faiths, many beliefs and many backgrounds. But - it's a two way thing. It won't work any other way.