Post by mia on Aug 22, 2006 10:06:04 GMT
There was a programme featuring this on Channel 4 last night.......
The Children of God (COG), later known as the Family of Love, the Family, and now the Family International, is a new religious movement, widely referred to as a cult by the media and some government organizations, that started in 1968 in Huntington Beach, California, United States. It was part of the Jesus Movement of the late 1960s, with many of its early converts drawn from the hippie movement. It was among the movements prompting the cult controversy of the 1970s and 1980s in the United States and Europe and triggered the first organized anticult group (FREECOG).
As it grew and expanded around the world, so did its message—salvation, apocalypticism, spiritual "revolution" against the outside world that they called "the System"—and resultant controversy. In 1974, it began to experiment with a method of evangelism called Flirty Fishing—using sex to show God's love and win converts and support. The practice was discontinued in 1987. Their founder and prophetic leader, David Berg, communicated with his followers via Mo Letters—letters of instruction and counsel on a myriad of spiritual and practical subjects—until his death in late 1994. After his death, his widow Karen Zerby became the leader of the Family.
The group’s liberal sexuality and its publication and distribution of writings, photographs and videos advocating and documenting adult-child sexual contact and the sexualization of children led to numerous reports of child sexual abuse. A number of judicial and academic investigations in the 1990s found the Family to be a safe environment for children, yet such investigations have also highlighted troubles in its past. Family leadership, admitting only that some children were abused from 1978 until 1986, created policies prohibiting excessive discipline or any sexual contact between adults and minors. Those found to have abused children after December 1988 are excommunicated from Family membership. The Family requires individuals who decide to report child abuse to a law enforcement agency or pursue legal action against an alleged abuser to leave the group's communal homes until the matter is resolved.
The January 2005 murder of a former member by the leader's son Ricky Rodriguez (who had also left the group several years earlier) and his subsequent suicide shocked both members and former members, and led to considerable, renewed media attention.