Stephen Green wrote a list of his wife’s failings then described the weapon he would make to beat her with.
‘He told me he’d make a piece of wood into a sort of witch’s broom and hit me with it, which he did,’ she recalls, her voice tentative and quiet. ‘He hit me until I bled. I was terrified. I can still remember the pain.
‘Stephen listed my misdemeanours: I was disrespectful and disobedient; I wasn’t loving or submissive enough and I was undermining him. He also said I wasn’t giving him his conjugal rights.
‘He even framed our marriage vows — he always put particular emphasis on my promise to obey him — and hung them over our bed. He believed there was no such thing as marital rape and for years I’d been reluctant to have sex with him, but he said it was my duty and was angry if I refused him.
‘But the beating was the last straw. It convinced me I had to divorce him.’
Stephen Green’s monstrous and autocratic behaviour would, in any circumstance, be shocking. But the charge of arrant hypocrisy must be added — for while terrorising his wife and their four children, he was also revelling in his self-appointed public role as guardian of the nation’s morality.
Green, 60, is founder and director of Christian Voice, a fundamentalist group he set up in 1994, whose website thunders against the vices — family breakdown, crime, immorality and drink among them — that are ruining the lives of ‘real people’. Green’s pronouncements are often outrageous. For example, after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 and killed more than 1,600 people, he claimed it was a result of God’s wrath and had purified the city.
He routinely inveighs against the abolition of the death penalty, no-fault divorce, Islam,
abortion and, his particular bête noir, homosexuality. Violent crime and rape, he laments on his website, have risen dramatically in the past 50 years, while he points out that ‘virtue is derided’.
When Caroline, 59, contemplates the disparity between his public pronouncements and his private persona, she is sickened.
‘Whenever I watch him on TV spouting verses from the Bible, or see him quoted in a newspaper, it turns my stomach,’ she says. ‘I’ve decided to tell the truth about him now because the people who support him financially and morally should know what he is really like.’
The fact that Caroline remained married for 26 years is surprising. But, she explains, she was intimidated and terrified to leave him. She was also aware — because she had no money of her own — that she depended on the £800 a month that he gave her to bring up their children.
‘It was almost like living in a cult,’ she says. ‘We were all subjugated to his will and cowed by him. Over the years he belittled us and made us feel worthless.’
It was all so different when they first met in a pub in Streatham, South London, in the late 1970s. Green, who has an engineering degree from Cambridge where he rowed for the university, was charming, gregarious, good-looking and not remotely religious.
‘He was a very talented, outgoing man and with a great sense of fun,’ recalls Caroline. ‘He had a good sense of humour.
‘He was also an accomplished musician. He played in a ceilidh band and belonged to a Morris dancing troupe, which is ironic really in view of its pagan connotations.’
Caroline, who then worked as a kennel maid, lived with Stephen for a year before they married. She had been raised as a Roman Catholic but, not being particularly devout, deferred to Stephen’s wish for a Protestant ceremony.
Their wedding provided his first entrée into the religious world that now immerses him. He joined the choir, then the Parochial Church Council, then began to get involved with political groups. He became a vociferous member of the anti-abortion campaign Society For The Protection Of The Unborn Child, and joined the Conservative Family Campaign.
Meanwhile, he had set up a roofing company — he employed several gangs of workmen — which proved very profitable. The newlyweds enjoyed a prosperous lifestyle and moved to a spacious house in Carshalton Beeches, Surrey. Their four children, three sons and a daughter, born at two-year intervals from 1982, attended private primary schools and Caroline, who had set up a dog-walking business, gave up work to be a full-time mum.
They bought a holiday home in the Vendée in France; they had new cars and to their neighbours they appeared to enjoy a contented middle class life.
But Green’s views were already becoming extreme. In 1992 he wrote a virulently anti-gay book, The Sexual Dead End, which Caroline says marked ‘the beginning of the end’. Two years later, he abandoned the Conservative Family Campaign, which he regarded as too moderate, and set up Christian Voice in order to pursue a more radical course.
Then, in 1997, when their children were 16, 14, 12 and ten, the family moved from the Home Counties to a remote small-holding in Carmarthenshire, west Wales. ‘The boys loved the outdoor life and my daughter enjoyed riding. I thought she could have a pony. I believed it would work out well for us all,’ recalls Caroline.
But her optimism was wildly misplaced. Green had another agenda: he wanted to remove his growing family from urban life and isolate them from ‘evil’ influences so he could exert complete control over them. He forced them to live in a dilapidated mobile home into which the children were squashed in bunk beds; conditions were spartan and overcrowded and there were no home comforts.
‘The plan had been that Stephen would renovate the derelict farmhouse we’d bought, but it soon became clear he had no intention of doing so,’ recalls Caroline.
‘First, he told us the Bible decreed we should work the land before rebuilding the house. He used the kids as child labour. They had to plant seeds, cultivate crops and harvest them. They had very little free time.’
Caroline’s freedom was also restricted. ‘If I spoke to a friend on the phone for too long, Stephen would tell me off for “gossiping”. My free time consisted of visiting the supermarket.
‘Even when I helped out at a Christian centre, he would be insanely jealous.’
Friends and family, too, were alienated by his behaviour. ‘To begin with they visited, but Stephen made them work on the farm: digging potatoes, haymaking, cutting corn. It was nine to five, not just the odd hour.
‘He’d tell women visitors that they were dressed inappropriately if they unbuttoned a blouse too far or wore short skirts. He was downright rude. In the end, nobody visited. We became virtual recluses.
‘It is hard to overstate the extent of his control. We were shut off from the world. The children weren’t allowed to watch TV unless he approved of the programme; they were only allowed to mix with other Christians. They could only listen to Christian music.’
Looking back, she says: ‘I suppose we survived by being devious. When he was away on Christian Voice business, they were allowed to play by my rules.’
By now Stephen was immersed in Christian Voice, which allowed him the autonomy and freedom to express his increasingly bizarre views unchallenged. As its founder and director, he was answerable to no one.
His roofing business wound down as his lobbying was sponsored by generous supporters. After he put out a ‘prayer alert’ once, asking for money to buy a car, Christian Voice’s backers sent him £2,000. However, Caroline says he didn’t buy a new vehicle but simply put a reconditioned engine in their old one.
And the more his religious crusade consumed him, the more extreme Green’s behaviour became.
‘He had very high expectations of the children; nothing they did was ever good enough,’ recalls Caroline. ‘He bullied them mentally and manipulated them.
‘And they always had to be chaperoned. He wouldn’t countenance them having boyfriends or girlfriends.
‘When our daughter wanted to visit a boyfriend, just to have dinner with his parents, he said she was flouting his authority and advocating evil. There was a terrible row and I said: “How will the kids ever get married if they’re never allowed to meet anyone?”
‘He would respond by quoting the Scriptures — his knowledge of the Bible is encyclopaedic — and according to him, everything that wasn’t biblically sanctioned was the Devil’s work.’
Green’s double standards also galled her. When their middle son was seriously ill, Green claimed to be too busy to accompany Caroline to hospital with him. Yet later, as his son underwent surgery, Green was playing the concerned father, entreating followers, by email, ‘Please pray for my middle son who has been rushed to hospital in terrible abdominal pain.’
While there were still flashes of his old charisma, his behaviour was growing increasingly volatile: he could switch from charming to aggressive in an instant. There were occasions when his explosions of wrath became physical. He assaulted not only Caroline, but their sons.
‘He beat our middle son with a belt, in front of his best friend, for answering him back. I tried to intervene but he pushed me away,’ she recalls.
‘My eldest son was hit with a broomstick and kicked on the back of his legs. He still has scars on his shins. On one occasion Stephen beat him so hard with a piece of wood that we thought he might have broken his arm. When we took him to hospital, my son pretended he’d fallen because he didn’t want to incur his father’s anger.’
It took the smallest of misdemeanours to trigger Green’s wrath. Caroline says: ‘They were trivial things. He’d say the children had been disobedient or insubordinate. He would retaliate really spitefully.
‘When our youngest son left a small heater on in the bedroom of the mobile home, Stephen confiscated it as a punishment for wasting electricity. The boys slept in freezing conditions for two years. A window was broken and he replaced it with plywood, which in turn got damp and froze. These were the sort of privations we all had to endure.’
The Christian Voice office, meanwhile, prospered in its spacious Portakabin which Green had installed on land at the smallholding. He furnished it with laptops, an industrial-size printer and computers.
At one point he employed three staff. One of them was his god-daughter Emily, 28, who has also since stopped working for him.
She now shares a home with Caroline and her middle son not far from the ramshackle smallholding where Green now lives.
Emily recalls how Green and 1,500 Christian Voice supporters picketed the BBC when it screened the controversial show Jerry Springer: The Opera in 2005, a production they regarded as blasphemous.
Green also forced the cancer charity Maggie’s Centres to decline a four-figure donation from the proceeds of a performance of the show after his organisation threatened to picket its centres, which offer care to cancer sufferers.
He inflamed the row by publishing the home phone numbers of BBC executives on Christian Voice’s website.
‘As a result of all this lobbying, we received death threats — awful stuff arrived in the post,’ recalls Emily. ‘Someone threatened to burn us all alive in our beds.
‘We were terrified — but Stephen treated the reaction with glee. He thrived on controversy because he could go on TV and get publicity.’
Caroline describes his state of mind at this stage as ‘hyper-manic’. She says: For years he’d been controlling, spiteful and self-righteous. But later he became delusional and completely uncontrollable.
‘I’d obeyed him as a dutiful wife, but my love for him had corroded away. People must wonder why I stayed as long as I did. I was embarrassed and humiliated by his behaviour.
‘But actually we were all brainwashed. My self-esteem ebbed away to such an extent that I felt worthless and stupid.’
She finally cut free from him in 2006. A loan from her brother — in whom she confided about Green’s behaviour — allowed her to buy a caravan in which she established herself and her children while she awaited her divorce.
That same year, Green faced court for alleged threatening behaviour after handing out leaflets at a gay rally in Cardiff, although the case was dropped when he appeared before magistrates.
Today, Caroline lives quietly with her four dogs, her son and Emily, who remains a trusted friend. She helped her escape the clutches of this monster who hid publicly behind a mask of sanctimonious piety.
As for Green, he met a Kenyan woman 25 years his junior at a Pentecostal meeting after his divorce and they married last summer.
When invited to respond to his ex-wife’s allegations, Stephen Green made no comment.
For years Caroline has buried the horrors of her past. Exhuming them has been an act of supreme courage which her children applaud.
There is another reason why she feels she wants to speak out: she says that Stephen has told a neighbour that he and his new wife want to have children as soon as possible.
‘My concerns are, what will he do to these kids?’ says Caroline. ‘My middle and youngest sons have been almost suicidally depressed because of his mental bullying. They still bear the scars.
‘When I see my ex-husband on television quoting the Bible, I think: “Please let this all end”.
‘If people were able to know the real Stephen Green, my hope is that at last it will.’
Source: The Daily Mail (yes, I know, but it's an interview not an editorial. Still, I advise avoiding the source comments)
This is the guy the BBC interviewed for ~balance~ on the Elton John baby story, if you remember. Nice person, huh?