This Christian missionary group is notorious for their practices of free sex, prostitution, homosexuality, adult-child sex and incest.
Its founder David Berg believed the Bible provides scriptural justification for incest. He said he regretted not having sex with his own mother. His granddaughter was one of his regular sex partners.
The present leader, Karen Zerby, is an enthusiastic follower of Berg’s teachings, going as far as having sexual intercourse with her own son Davidito when he was 12.
After leaving the group, Davidito sought to locate his mother with the purpose of killing her. Unable to find her, he settled for plan B – killing Zerby’s secretary, one of the women who had sexually abused him as a child.
Controversy has surrounded the group since its beginning in California in 1968. They caused church disturbances, which at times led to violent, physical confrontations. The police had to be called and the intruders jailed.
During the early to mid-seventies the group started using sex to make converts. Close to a quarter of a million men were sexually serviced by the group’s prostitutes. They even operated their own escort services. Fixed prices were set for various sexual acts. There was cult-directed child prostitution.
In 1978 they staged a fake disbanding of the group in response to the negative media attention following the Jonestown tragedy. Shortly thereafter, members were sent to infiltrate churches and fundraise. They were to keep their association with the Children of God (COG) secret. By the use of such deception they were able to raise a lot of financial support.
Most of the adult-child sex took place during the early to mid-eighties. This practice was normative and institutionalized. Mothers were giving their children to adults for sex. Parents were sexually involved with their own children. There was sexual contact between parent and child of the same sex. According to Zerby, half or more of the adult men in the group had sexual involvement with minors.
Several raids of the group’s communities took place in the early nineties and a number of court cases started. There was a great amount of publicity world-wide. Huge TV audiences watched in shocked disbelief footage from videos smuggled out of the group showing ten-year-old girls dancing naked for Berg.
Members of the group conducted a massive cover-up at this time deceiving and misleading many investigators and judges. Some of them have since left the group and have admitted to such lying. The group pretended that they never promoted adult-child sex, that they didn’t even know such things were happening, and that as soon as they “found out” in 1986 they stopped all such practices. They have repeated this lie for many years. The truth is that adult-child sex continued at least into the early nineties.
They claim that Berg never believed in, or promoted adult-child sex. The problem was that it had not been communicated more clearly to the group that the sexual freedoms he preached did not apply to children. They should have explained better that adult-child sex was not allowed. A greater lie could not have been told! It is as plain as day in their literature that Berg pushed adult-child sex. There were sex schedules posted on the walls with names of adults paired to have sex with minors! Adult-child sex was a practice that was officially sanctioned from the top. It most certainly was not just random pedophilia on the part of some. They were not just a few isolated cases, as the Family claims.
Many first hand accounts of child sexual abuse can be found at the various former member websites as well as other places. Even members of the group have admitted to such crimes. In reading these accounts, it becomes very clear that these abuses were going on in many of the group’s homes all around the world and for a long period of time.
The greatest milestone as far as bringing the truth out to the public was a nearly 300-page court document, the “Judgment” of Lord Justice Ward of the High Court in London, England (1995). He found that there had been widespread cult-directed adult-child sex. He spent many pages in the “Judgment” proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the organization had indeed pushed these practices.
What really happened in the mid-eighties is that partly because of fear of the law and partly because some of the minor girls were being traumatized by these sexual encounters with adults, this previously-widespread practice was restricted.
What will erase once and for all any and all doubt concerning the group’s beliefs and practices is reading their own literature. That they promoted adult-child sex is very clearly stated in their writings. They explain in great detail that the changes that have taken place were not because there was anything wrong with such practices.
It appears that by the end of the eighties adult-child sex was completely stopped among the rank and file. However, it continued in Berg’s household and among the top leadership around the world. There is really no way to determine if at present (2006) adult-child sex still continues.
Just when it seemed that this slippery cult had gotten cornered and caught, the group succeeded in deceiving Judge Ward in London that they had reformed. He concluded that though bad things had happened in the past, things were now OK. His false reassurances led many to believe that the problems of the past no longer existed.
I have no problem admitting that changes have taken place and that things did improve during the second half of the eighties. The truth remains, however, that there has not been a fundamental or true change. Most of what has taken place is nothing more than necessary adjustments to external pressures. Berg flatly stated that he would rather die than deny his doctrines. Zerby had a meeting with her top leaders from around the world in 1992 where she stated that there was nothing wrong with sexually fondling children.
Judge Ward got it wrong. There is no question about that! He was led to this false conclusion by various uninformed academics among whom Gordon Melton and Susan Palmer. It is truly remarkable how ignorant these pro-COG apologists really were on these matters and the degree of bias they showed in favor of the cult. The “research” of these supposed top authorities on cults is inexcusably poor. It is downright laughable.
Though they promised they were becoming more mainstream, the group is getting crazier and crazier. In 1995 they came up with a new doctrine that promotes sex with Jesus! Zerby turned out to be just as delusional as Berg. She believes she pre-existed and was Jesus’ lover. When she returns to heaven she will sail in her favorite yacht having sex with Jesus day and night!
“Jesus” encourages 14-year-old boys to masturbate and ejaculate to Him! These teenagers are instructed to imagine they are female and to visualize that Jesus is penetrating their vaginas! Elsewhere Jesus tells the teens to have oral sex and masturbate each other.
You need to read some of this literature to appreciate the degree of this insanity. They talk dirty to Jesus, they ask Him to “f..k” them. They tell Jesus they want to perform oral sex on Him. They tell Him things like, “I’m desperate for Your big, hard penis!” Picture thousands of members, both male and female, in their well-hidden communities all around the world, spreading their legs at night and moaning and groaning and masturbating to Jesus!
Contrary to cult propaganda, The Family International (TFI) as the group is now calling itself, is not a fit place for a child to be raised in. What parent in his or her right mind would allow their child to spend even a short time in this kind of an environment? Yet, there is no public outcry, no strong outrage, no real concern—the kind that moves one to do something. Have we reached the point where these things don’t shock us any longer? God help us all!
Back in the late eighties many members of the group were expelled by various governments. In the late nineties, The Family established a multitude of humanitarian front groups. Hiding under the cover of these organizations, members of the cult have been able to return back to the countries from which they were expelled. Child abusers, who should have been locked up long ago for the many crimes they have committed, not only are free to walk the streets, but are providing direct services to children.
These NGOs (Non Government Organizations) operate under the umbrella of Family Care Foundation (FCF), a fundraising arm of the Family. Though FCF denies any connection with the Family there is no question that FCF is a Family front. I know the FCF president, Grant Montgomery, well. I lived with him when I was in the cult. He was Berg’s right hand man and later become the group’s Prime Minister, the third person in the hierarchy of the Family. FCF has raised millions of dollars from unsuspecting donors. Some of them were shocked when they later found out where their money was going!
I was a member of this group for ten years (1969-1979). Since 1990 I have been heavily involved in former-member activism. Over the years I have published more than a dozen newsletters and have authored two booklets about the Family. In 2005 I self-published a 300-page book entitled The Children of God Cult, aka The Family. (ISBN: 0-9774519-0-9)
The content of The Children of God Cult, aka The Family is sexually explicit. It is not an easy book to read. But it will show you very clearly what is going on under our noses, in these TFI communities all around the world.
This book is a call to action! What can be of higher priority than reaching these children? One day they are going to point an accusing finger at us and demand to know why we didn’t do more to rescue them. There is no excuse for such apathy! It is an outrage that a group like the Family can continue as long as it has.