The Pattern of a Double-Bind -- Free yourself.
February 6, 2008
Mountains - by Kristina
September 26, 2007
The importance in climbing mountains for me is that it has taught me so much about my self and life. When you climb a mountain, you set off with your lunch and a bottle of water and your backpack which is life. We tend to carry all our things, as we go from one youth hostel to another. So it can be quite heavy esp as I often take too much, which can be seen as lifes emotional baggage/history. But each time I think more clearly on what I REALLY need to take and make sure there is nothing that is just dead weight.
The further we go the steeper it gets and the air becomes thinner. we have to stop along the way for substanance and water from the stream. At times when it is very steep I feel the weight of the pack and my son might carry it for a while for me, as I did when he was younger. We spend time together but we hardly talk. There is no separation as self â€“ no moment when you are not present and aware of you being one with your entire physical body, experiencing each and every single movement of your entire body as one with who you are, as you walk with momentum within a specific direction. Where you are wholly â€˜presence of self' where no mind exist, where no thought exist, where no emotions and feelings exist except the silence of sound as who you are as one within. One with all. There is communication with the eyes and there is spontanious moments of fun and laughter, .
When I look back/ down at first I can feel dizzy and afraid that I might fall. So I tread more carefully and find my way to solid ground. Sometimes the weather closes in, we get out our gortex out and battle through the wind and rain. Sometimes we are navigagating our way in bogy conditions, other times in soft green grass, stones or forrest. Along the way I find a stick for the decent.
Sometimes the winding paths to the next summit seem to never end and then you find out that there is yet another to climb. This teaches me patience and the significanse of every minute. The sheep and wildlife look at you as you pass, they do not harm you or run away. We hear the music of nature and there is a peace in that. You belong there and you don't have to say anything, be anything, nothing is expected of you and you have time for reflection and solace. No ego-Just being, tather than always doing. The magnificence is breathtaking, inside as it is around.
There are still rules that are sensible like not leaving your rubbish for others to clean or not clean up. You have to close the gates, but there is no fear or threat, you do it because it makes sense. (How many times do you do something that is illogical or through fear?) When we reach the top we feel the elation of our achievement and progress. But more important than that is that now we can see the bigger picture during our rest, a wider perspective on where we came from and where we must go. We see the path we came from and the paths leading down. We celebrate the people who have come before and who have paved the paths ahead. We celebrate the freedom to have this experience and the know we are self-directed rather than outer-directed. For to be your self you must know yourself and be free from delusions.
The inauthentic 'mind construct' is dominated by guilt for not being independent. Guilt brings forth a multitude of sins and evils as one must now make themselves feel better for making the self impotent. When we lose our self -hood we have to self justify, to identify with others who are themselves controlled and outer-directed. We are left to banalities, endless appetites, depression, fear, control, slaves to others expectations, fashion, false ideas etc.. Open to violence and abuse, slowly killing yourself so as not to face reality. Denial, projection, escapism, gurus and leaders, big brother. You know you have given up your sovereignty so have no hope for a self fulfilling future because you have given over your control to the ego. which needs other people, needs praise, needs telling, needs keeping safe. And to save your 'self construct' from this duality you are projecting a schizophrenic Image on the world and worse, on your children.
The world is in division in many ways, mirroring us. We place it there. We create polarities. If one wins one must loose. We feed the conscessness grid energy everttime we live only in the mind.
Children see the hypocrisy like you used to see it, but just like your parents you reinforce there conformity to a lie and wonder why they grow up to believe in paradoxes, to give up, to become as lost as you. Empower your child by showing them selfhood and he will not be dominated. We create the future as we step into it.
Common Characteristics of Cults
July 30, 2007
1. Authoritarian structure
2. Isolation from society and use of mind control techniques
3. Control of the environment Mind Control Techniques
Peer Group Pressure - Suppressing doubt and resistance to new ideas by exploiting the need to belong.
Confusing Doctrine- Encouraging blind acceptance through complex lectures on an incomprehensible doctrine.
Verbal Abuse, Sleep Deprivation and fatigue- Creating disorientation and vulnerability by prolonging mental and physical activity and withholding adequate rest and sleep.
Dress Codes - Removing individuality by demanding conformity to the group dress code.
Financial Committment - Achieving increased dependence on the group
Controlled Approval - Maintaining vulnerability and confusion by alternately rewarding and punishing similar actions.
Control of the eviroment “Mystical Manipulation: “principles” can be put forcibly and claimed exclusively, so that the cult and its beliefs become the only true path to salvation (or enlightenment)
Demand for Purity - The world becomes sharply divided into…the absolutely good and the absolutely evil… tendencies towards guilt and shame are used as emotional levers for the group’s controlling and manipulative influences.
Confession - sessions in which one confesses to one’s sin are accompanied by patterns of criticism and self-criticism, generally transpiring within small groups with an active and dynamic thrust toward personal change.
Doctrine Over Person - If one questions the beliefs of the group or the leaders of the group, one is made to feel that there is something inherently wrong with them to even question….one is made to feel that doubts are reflections of one’s own evil.
intense Dispensing of Existence - those who are not in the group are not enlightened; impediments to legitimate being must be pushed away or destroyed….if one leaves this group, one loses their salvation/transformation, or something bad will happen to them. -Kristina
Tell Me Which Fear?
July 17, 2007
This poem was written by Davida a few years before she died. It was put to music by a Greek rock band, and became a hit in Greece. The translation is below:
Time is the worst kind of doctor.
It burns and freezes you till you shatter;
But in awhile you won't be here.
Someone else will be fighting the powder
You desperately want to finish
An endless path you journey alone.
But the oldest god awakes under your clothes;
You carry baggage from every road.
Which memories warmed your mind.
Which oceans dried up in your head.
Which wind carried you away from here
Tell me which fear you loved again?
Which dream awoke you limp and wet;
Which demons haunted your dizzy trips;
Which love pushed you far from here;
Tell me which fear you loved again?
The dream that once carried you here;
Today burns, rusts and drives you away.
It holds you to earth then spits you into space;
The same dream that destroys and saves you.
You desperately want to finish
The endless path you journey alone;
But the oldest god awakes under your clothes;
You carry baggage from every road.
Which thread strings you together through another needle's eye;
Which waves drive you away from this port;
Which destiny calls you from the other side;
Tell me which fear you loved again?
Which clouds hover over your parched heart;
Which stars herald your new confusion;
Which lie binds itself around your heart;
Tell me which fear you loved again?
Which words rot inside that you can't speak;
Which hope drives you to the sweetest delusion;
Which sorrow pushes you farthest from everything;
Tell me which fear won you again?
A RESPONSE TO OUR FATHER
February 28, 2008
A RESPONSE TO MY FATHER By Juliana Buhring
A series of articles were recently released in Uganda’s New Vision, addressing our book, “Not Without My Sister” and our father’s response to it. Below is my reply to our father and the newspaper.
In the interview, dad implies that we were paid to write our memoir to persecute the group. As I explained in our book, I began writing my story as a way to make sense of my past—a kind of self-therapy. My sisters and I put our hearts out there in the book with very intimate and emotional details that were difficult to tell. It was a story of our struggle and what we experienced when our father was not there as he should have been. I have put dad’s words and the article in italics and my own response below it.
“We believe in communal groups just like the Israel Kibbutz system where everything was shared. They share their children, clothes and there’s complete sexual sharing.” I find it interesting that he puts sharing children, and complete sexual sharing in the same sentence.
“We believe this is how Christians should live and it is how many of them are in Africa, Asia and Arabia live in extended families and that is very godly. It is not like in the West where people are selfish. If a father is called away, the others just pitch in, there are always other adults. It is the Biblical model in Acts 4,” This is instantly worrying. To allow your child to be passed to any willing adults, without knowing who they are and their background, is putting the child at instant risk.
“People adopt children. A child needs both a mother and a father and for fathers to just get up and leave is wrong. They should sacrifice their own ideas for the children.” People adopt children after very stringent checking to ensure that the adult is fit to adopt. Contrary to his above words, dad sacrificed his children for his own job and ideals. Children do indeed need a mother and father—something I did not have for the majority of my childhood.
‘Peterson initially declines to discuss Not Without My sister, saying it would affect his relationship with his daughters. “They received a lot of money to publish the book. I don’t understand how anyone can do something like this,” he says.’ I call into question what relationship he is referring to, when since the release of the book he has refused to speak with us or allow us contact with our young brothers and sisters in his care. When I called with another brother and sister for Xmas to speak to dad and our siblings, he slammed the phone down on us and disconnected it. In February, I had to fly all the way to Uganda just to be able to see them, and he still would not speak more than the barest formalities required. During the time spent with my siblings, I was escorted everywhere by commune members shadowing me like guards. He has never been privy to any monetary dealings concerning the book and as this was a private matter, I don’t know how he can claim that we received “a lot of money”, when he has no basis for this assumption, nor does it have any bearing on the validity of the book. We have used part of the advance towards setting up our organisation, RISE International, which works to protect children from abuse in cults. ** http://riseinternationalcic.org
‘Peterson says accusations of sexual abuse in the Family are false. Each individual community is responsible for its own work. Kathleen emphasises that members of the homes carry out evaluation every six months to make sure they are on the right track. “We are made of people, imperfect people. It was never meant for the law of love to be applied the way it was. As soon as Berg found out that the law was being abused, he put a stop to it.” First of all, if dad had truly read the book, he would know that no accusations of sexual abuse in the present day were made. That it happened in the past is well evidenced and included in the court ruling of Lord Justice Ward. It is a laughable contradiction that Berg “found out about the abuse and put a stop to it” when he was the one to instigate it, having sexual relations with his own daughters and granddaughter. Lord Justice Ward, after hearing the evidence of Merry Berg, believed her account to be accurate. Berg admits to sleeping with her in his own words. (See ** http://xfamily.org/index.php/Berg_on_Incest http://xfamily.org/index.php/Merry_Berg)
“Sexual feelings are not sinful. We take a positive view of sex.” We also do not believe sexual feelings are sinful. We take a positive view to sex, as do, I believe, most of the world. We do not, however, take a positive view of pedophilia.
‘Juliana Buhring, in her story, alleges that most of the charity work is done to maintain the façade of a good Christian organisation. She claims that photos were taken to be used to ask for more donations and that many times they used some of the donated items, while the rest that could not be used were given out. Robin denies these allegations. “We do not get money, just goods. We have many good people who give tonnes of stuff, useful things and it is all going out to those who need them. We do not keep any of it for ourselves.”’ This is an outright falsification and it only requires stepping into their pantry to see the stacks of donated goods, which are consumed by the commune members. It is interesting that Robin should comment at all, as she was convicted of fraud in Canada and sentenced to eight months in prison, convicted of theft and fraudulent passport forgery for the cult leaders Berg and Zerby. She was also convicted of obstructing a police officer and it is well known that she assisted in the kidnapping of a 1 and a half year old boy from his mother. Based on this background, I would very seriously call to question any statements she may present. http://xfamily.org/index.php/Louris_May_Yamaguchi
‘Kathleen adds: “We are using particularly radio to teach Christians to love Jesus and to be effective witnesses and the chain goes on. To imply that we are trying to use these things ourselves is absolutely not true. We don’t have any ulterior motives; if we were selfish, we would not be doing all the work that we do.” Rather, it is selfish to be living a self righteous existence off other’s hard earned money and goods while condemning those same people who support your “sacrificial” existence as “systemites”. None of the commune members keep a job. Obviously, they rely on donations to survive, or does it drop from the sky?
‘However, they argue that it is not unusual for missionaries to sustain themselves by the donations they receive. Through the donations, FCU gives food, clothing, books and other necessities to children’s homes and other needy people.’ In the same sentence they imply that they are, in fact, sustaining themselves through the donations received. On the contrary to the above statement, it is not usual for missionaries to sustain themselves through the donations they receive from the people they are trying to help, Most legitimate missionaries I know are supported by their home base.
‘After a local newspaper printed a review of Not Without My Sister, Peterson met Sunday Vision again. He maintained that the girls made up most of the details to make it more sensational. He had found old pictures and hand-made cards that his daughters had sent him when they were younger, to prove that they were not angry children then. The letters and pictures showed that they loved him and were happy. There are photos of the girls visiting relatives, contrary to the view that they were not allowed contact with each other. There are photographs of Celeste and Juliana in Uganda.’ It’s all good and well to accuse us of making up details, but what details? That is conveniently vague, if he would be good enough to detail which details were made up, we can appropriately respond. Once again, if dad had read the book, he would know that we never claimed to be angry children. Confused and suppressed children, yes. However, we never claim to have been miserable all the time, as we speak of both the good and the bad memories as they occurred. The hand made cards are only proof that we were not with our parents, or there would have been no need to write to him. We frequently elaborate on how much we loved our father, and love him still. The book clearly details the times we were together and the times we were separated. Never did we claim that we were never in contact with each other, but rather that it was sporadic contact. Again, it seems, he has not read the book. What these pictures and letter do prove, however, is the validity of our story. The times and places we speak of in the book are backed by the hard evidence of the photographs and letters.
‘According to Peterson, they were happy until they met ‘apostates’ who made them see the Family differently.’ Which apostates? I still to this day have not met any apostates, unless by apostate, you mean my own sister? “First of all the book cover is a lie. Those sad looking girls are not my girls. You would not find any kids in the Family looking like that.” Of course you will not. One of the things we write about in the book is how we learned to wear smiling faces and not voice what we really thought or felt. The girls on the cover depict how we felt, but were not allowed to express. We were not allowed to not smile when sitting for photographs for our father, a fact he knows because I told him many times, and is also detailed in the book.
“Secondly, that they were miserable is a lie. After meeting with bitter people, they reinterpreted their past experience, which is a psychological phenomenon that scholars have studied.” How does he know we were not miserable? He was not there with us for the most part. He saw me when I was severely depressed and anorexic. If that was not miserable, I don’t know what is. After “meeting with bitter people”? What people? Another vague, sweeping statement without any substance or factual backing.
‘Juliana lived with foster parents whom she was so attached to, that she cried when she had to leave them. She was with foster parents because as a single father, he could not take good care of her.’ First of all, I never cried when I left any foster parents, I did cry frequently when I had to leave my father. I had many foster parents, which set is he referring to? Some of them were good, some were not, and I certainly do not lump them into a general negative category. Again, he clearly has not read the book.
‘Juliana was very popular here in Uganda as part of the Radioactive dancers and even after she left, she worked here for two years at Club Rouge and Mamba Point. She was happy and had an active social life. As far as I know, she never suffered any abuse. She basically spiced up her story to fit in with the rest of the stories,” he says.’ I will agree with the first half of this statement, which only validates my own story. I was part of RadioActive dancers—I actually started the dance group. I also worked at Rouge and Mamba Point. I was happy after I left, and had an active social life. However emails between myself and my sister Celeste in 2002 indicate very clearly how unhappy I was while in the commune in Uganda. One such email is printed in black and white in the book, again begging the question, has he even read the book? As far as he knows I never suffered any abuse…well as far as he knows is very little as he did not raise me and all my letters to him were censored. I challenge him to detail which aspects of my story were “spiced up”?
‘Peterson says he cannot say Kristina was not abused because she was not in his custody. He says the stepfather whom she accused of sexually abusing her sent him a video apologising to him. “He said: ‘I don’t deny that I had inappropriate contact with her, but it was very mild, just fatherly love.’ He swore to me that it was nothing like she described. It was in her interest to make the story juicy.”’ It seems a gross contradiction to say inappropriate contact was mild, fatherly love. How is fatherly love inappropriate? And it sounds to me as if he is quick to believe the justification of the abuser over his own child. If he had not abused Kristina, then why the need to apologise?
‘Peterson reiterates that such behaviour was corrected long time ago and such people excommunicated, never to be readmitted. In the book, it appears that Kristina’s abuser was not excommunicated like Family rules state, but moved to different communes around the world, under different names as often happens in the group. Peterson says this man was doing missionary work in Kenya recently, but has left the Family.’ It is interesting that some of the worst abusers remain in top leadership positions within the family, including the heads of the group, Zerby and Kelly. If Kristina’s abuser left the group recently, then he obviously was not excommunicated, never to return, certainly not back in the day when he should have been.
‘Peterson states that Kristina is always there, when a witness against the Family is needed and in the media. He says her perception of Family homes is not based on current life since she left the home when she was 12. Her sisters left at 25 and 27 years, yet they were free to leave from 16 years. He believes they were instigated by Kristina and other people.’ This is a factual inaccuracy. I left at 23 years old. It is interesting to note that when Celeste was 17, we were being hid from her mother in Thailand, overstaying our visas and without our passports. How, pray tell, was she free to leave? Again, when fear of the outside world is instilled in you from the time you can speak, and knowing that you will be shunned from your own family and friends after leaving, having no money, resources or knowledge of how to function in the outside world, it is not so easy to just leave. Again, this is covered in the book, which, if he had read, has been addressed. It is interesting that he implies that Celeste and I were instigated by Kristina, and that my head was turned by “bitter people” and “apostates”. I began writing the book in 2005, long before I met up with my sisters or got a book deal. I sent these chapters to Celeste, however they did not write their stories until months later. I had no contact with any ex members, and all my friends in Uganda had no idea of my background. I moved from Uganda to the UK after a deal was signed, to finish the book there. If dad is going to make vague statements of “people and apostates” would he please be more specific as to who these said people may be? In fact, it only confirms what we describe in the book how for years he tried to keep us from our sister, Kristina, demonizing her because she spoke the truth to the world. His calloused reaction to the stories of his own children, and his willingness to side with The Family over his own family, hurts more than any words could justify.
I wish I could discuss things in honest dialogue with our father, but until he takes the steps to meet us half way, and be willing to listen to his own children, I cannot respect him as a father or a man. It is impossible to reason with the unreasonable. His quest for the “truth” has left him hopelessly entangled in a web of lies.
The Family has all the appearances of a “legitimate organisation” until you begin to dig into the heart of the matter. When the foundation of the group was built on evil, and the leaders to this day refuse to admit to or make retribution for the widespread abuse of a whole generation of children, then no matter how shiny the apple looks from the outside, the inside will remain rotten to its core.
Thoughts on Strength
June 10, 2006
Strength is when wounded and beaten , you still rise.
It's believing in the impossible.
When you are yourself near death.
Strength is staying in control when the situation is not.
It’s accepting an insult without retaliating.
Strength is going against the crowds for the sake of morals;
And being willing to die for those morals
Without making too much song and dance about it.
Strength is backing down in an argument,
To save the pride of a friend.
Strength is holding on when there’s nothing left to hold on to.
It's fighting for a goal that is forever out of reach.
Strength is the fruit of weakness.
May 28, 2008
August 13, 2007
When we decided to write our memoir we were keenly aware of the controversy and notoriety that has surrounded the Children of God, now called The Family International. We endeavoured to produce an accurate account of our lives as children born into this evangelical breakaway group that started in the late 60's. As part of our research, we re-read through many of the Children of God's internal publications and watched the only remaining video footage of ourselves as children that was recovered only recently.
The memories these images evoked were disturbing and painful. (Much of this information is now available at www.xfamily.org.) As children we were always told what we should feel and think, and were never allowed to express our own emotions, thoughts and feelings. In order to tell our story we had to unlock painful memories, which we had kept long suppressed. The freedom we now have to speak our minds without fear and intimidation has been cathartic and has helped us come to terms with our past.
Through writing the book, we saw clearly the full implications of the power that one human can hold over another - that one man - David Berg, held over the lives of thousands. The power of a narcissistic leader, that both created our family and destroyed it. David Berg believed that he could mould the children of his followers into a form of his own choosing and often boasted that the second generation would turn out to be the "proof of the pudding." His attitude mirrored closely John B. Watson who said that given "a dozen, healthy infants" and his "own specified world to bring them up in", he could turn them into whatever he wanted. (Watson, 1930)
If Watson’s theory were true, then a group like the Children of God would be the perfect place to find the results to prove it, as the world we were raised in was completely controlled and cut off from everything but its own reality. In the short term, it seemed like the approach was effective. As children, we didn’t even question that Jesus Christ was supposed to come back in 1993, riding out of the sky on a white horse to rescue us from the evil Anti-Christ's one world government.
Twenty years on, however, statistics have shown considerable flaws in this line of thinking. An estimated three-fourths of all second generation over legal age are no longer part of The Family or believers in Berg’s doctrines. The present-day leadership are having to deal with the embarrassing truth of their past, exposed by their own children, and the disappointment of their unfulfilled hopes and dreams for the second generation who did not turn out as their prophet had promised they would.
Although it is true that we are partly the product of the social environment we are raised in, it is not what completely defines us. It was our inborn desire to seek out answers and listen to logic rather than accept unsubstantiated faith that ultimately freed us to think for ourselves and choose the way we wanted to live our lives. It is our hope that those who read our story, who are trapped by fear, whatever the circumstances- in an abusive relationship or organisation - will find their inner strength to break away from those who wish to control them, and build a new life for themselves and their children.
August 13, 2007
By Lucy-- This book does an excellent job of capturing, in a matter-of-fact narrative delivered in unembellished prose, a picture of what it was like to have been born circa the 70's to parents who joined the "Children of God" cult (which now goes by "The Family International"), and to have been raised there. Although I grew up in "Family" cult communes in another continent half a world away, not knowing the authors (except for seeing videos and pictures of Celeste Jones at Music With Meaning, which the cult published and circulated), as I read "Not Without my Sister" I recognized the various directives from the cult leaders' "letters" that the authors mentioned - and the unfortunately mirrored consequences when the adults around us implemented those directives on me and the other children around me. So many of the incidents that the 3 authors recount and the trademark environments, atmosphere and modus operandi during the various phases of the cult's history, echo uncannily with what I experienced and saw when I was confined in that insular world. Like the authors as children, it was the only world I had ever known; escape from servitude and a better future seemed impossible dreams. I think the authors handled particularly effectively the challenge of communicating, in a direct and almost conversational manner notably devoid of melodramatics, a child's inner experience of confusion and entrapment in the face of cult-approved and sponsored molestation and exploitation delivered by the perpetrators in tones of religious devotion and of being all "sweetness and light". Disabling distress is felt when one has no other frame of reference to confirm the unruly feelings that all was not well, feelings that went against something we were raised to think was "of God" while surrounded only by grown-ups who embraced that ethos (or were not sufficiently concerned about us children to confront it). I should note for others raised in that cult that the reading brought back so much of what I experienced and saw that at times the painful memories were too much to continue and I had to put the book down for a time. If, on the other hand, you are unfamiliar with the cult, you may wonder why I would continue reading when that was the case. This brings me to one reason why it is so important that a book has finally been written about childhoods in a cult that has sunk enormous efforts and resources into rewriting its history (aided by certain "academic" types and others that have come within its sphere of influence) in its pursuit of recognition, acceptance and the resulting financial success it craves, all while being unwilling to make reparations to the children who were abused by it. There is a source of pain far greater than bad memories, which can be lethal to sanity and hope: being told that what you remember did not happen, that you are crazy, that you are lying. It is maddening enough when it is various perpetrators; it is absolutely devastating when it is, say, a parent. As part of the first wave of children born into captivity in the "Family", I ran away one pre-dawn into the unknown, a minor in a 3rd world country at a time when those born in the cult did not leave it (unless, say, you became a runaway, perhaps never heard from again). I had never met or spoken with any relatives outside the cult to whom I could turn. For what seemed like forever, I felt so alone without anybody else who could bear witness to what happened. I had no examples to show that there could be a future after that childhood, that one could get an education and carve out a fate other than the self-destruction the cult predicted for its "backslidden" children. If I were to dare that today, I would have this book, and my suffering would be immeasurably lessened. In fact, back then, Kristina Jones' was one of the first voices I heard that bore witness. It seems that her sisters Celeste and Juliana take after that same courage. This book strikes a blow against child abuse in all its guises, because the perpetrators' wager is that even if you live, you will not tell. However, this book also renders a very specific public service because, while The Family International may not be original among child abusers in the crimes it committed against children, it definitely pushed the envelope in its sustained operation - under the guise of a "Christian" movement - of an international clandestine conspiracy that carried out, covered for and profited from such exploits as child abuse, rape, incest, kidnapping, false imprisonment, torture, child slave labor and trafficking, prostitution, money laundering and medical neglect of minors (like me - I suffered severe and irreversible consequences affecting basic physical functions) and of vulnerable adults, which neglect sometimes resulted in negligent homicide, as my case almost did. The Family International is now intent on strengthening its foothold in respectable circles that do not know its past, often putting forward as Project Managers of its charities (projects which more often than not focus on vulnerable youth) cult members who severely abused children. The constituencies that it is targeting have a right to know who they embrace or champion. Perhaps progress will bring the day when institutions such as the USA's Internal Revenue Service will be informed enough so as to stop granting to the Family Care Foundation and other alter egos of such enterprises as The Family International the aegis under which to make millions through tax exemptions. --------------------------------------------------------------------------
By John Malloy-- After reading this book I realise just how lucky I have been and how happy my own childhood was. I have no connection to this cult and simply came across this book on a recommended reading section of a friend's website. It is a fantastic insight into a world find hard to believe exists in this days and age. I was astounded by some of this books content. The courage the three authors have shown in exposing what they had to endure as children has to be acknowledged and I admire all three for this. This book is well written and makes for a very emotional read. I'm only a few years older then the three sisters who wrote this book and have two young children of my own. As a parent I found it very hard to understand the virtual abandonment of children that happened a lot in this cult along with the level of abuse these young children had to endure. I would highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys well written true life story's but be prepared for a highly emotional read.
From Mir -- Kristina, I've just finished reading yours and your sisters book... I'm stunned. I laughed, I cried, I empathised... I recongnised names and places, its all of OUR story's... Some of us suffered more than others... Your sisters and you are very brave and courageous women. Survivors. We all are, but you three wrote it down for posterity. It is brilliantly written, unputdownable. I'm proud of you! I wish you all the success in the world. --------------------------------------------------------------------------
From Celeste Addressing the Sunday Vision Articles in Uganda
March 3, 2008
It was difficult for me read the article in the Sunday Vision where my father said clearly that he thought I made up my own story. This was especially difficult as in an email to me previously he had apologized. I include a part of that letter in the book....
Email from Dad sent Dec 20, 2005 ‘I truly am sorry that you suffered some gross encounters at MWM that continue to haunt you. I honestly had no idea that you had been forced to do these things by Paul and others. Nevertheless, as your parent, I was responsible for your protection and care, and so I take the blame for not knowing about these goings on. What sexual encounters there were between adults and children, I believed were very mild, and more along the lines of cuddling, not what you have described, which is so gross I don’t even want to type it here. Yes, it was absolutely wrong, and thank God the Family put down strict rules many years ago to put a stop to it. What I, and no doubt many others, haven’t fully realized, is that those who were unfortunate enough to be children in a Home where such excesses were practiced, are still hurting from it, even though it is so many years ago.’
After reading this email, I was ready to believe that he was truly sorry, but knowing how many times he’s been two-faced to myself and my sisters in the past, I wanted to see his change of heart in actions, not just words. I was waiting. Surely, I thought, after reading in black and white what went through during our childhoods, he would understand how we felt, and this would draw us closer as a family. For our dad to now say that ‘we made up most of the details’ means that he has chosen to ignore not only the mountain of evidence we have from the Family’s own internal publications and videos, our peers and friends who lived with us and who have written affidavits with supporting evidence, but also the judicial findings in which these allegations have been tested and proven to be true in a court of law.
Our sister Kristina won compensation in 1994 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for the abuse she suffered from her step-father, David Murdoch, while living in cult homes in England. How much more proof does our father need that Kristina is and always has been telling the truth? Her story has not changed from then to today.
Gideon Scott refers to past criminal investigations of members of the Family, and that they were exonerated. However, though claiming they ‘won’, The Family has never released a complete copy of a single one of these documents. This is because their claim that they have won every single court case has been proven to be untrue. In most cases, there were no convictions due to a ‘lack of evidence’. This, however, does not disprove that there was no abuse taking place or that the children were ‘happy and healthy’ as Gideon says. In our book we go into detail about the ‘Deceiver’s Yet True’ belief were we were coached to lie. This policy is outlined in their own publications. To read it for yourself, please see:
Many of those same children Gideon refers to have since grown up and left the cult, and have spoken out of being coached to lie to the social workers and the court officials. Similarly, the claim that examinations of Family children have never uncovered a single case of abuse has also been proven to be absolutely false. The claim is only plausible if you completely ignore the cases in which abuse was found.
Here is a summary of some:- Gerald P. Curran - a long-time member of The Family/Children of God and convicted child molester who sexually abused a child over a period of 9 years in Children of God/The Family communues in Europe and the United States. Unfortunately, after pleading guilty in Henry County, Illinois to "aggravated criminal sexual assault of a child under the age of 13," on July 6, 1995, he received a sentence of 11 years. Contrary to the claim that "not one single case of abuse was found", in fact the Honorable Judge Jay M. Hanson did find that the victim had been abused.
More info http://www.xfamily.org/index.php/Gerald_P._Curran Philip Sloan
-On April 23, 1998, Judge James Milliken of the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, ordered a child abused by long-time Family member Phillip Sloan removed from the custody of two members of The Family. Here are some excerpts from the records of the case
-begin quote- SEXUAL ABUSE (Welfare and Institutions Code 300(d)) The child has been sexually abused, or there is substantial risk that the child will be sexually abused, as defined in subdivision (b) of section 11165 of the Penal Code by his or her parent or guardian or a member of the child's household. The parent or guardian has failed to adequately protect the child from sexual abuse and the parent or guardian knew or should have reasonably known that the child was in danger of sexual abuse.
COUNT 1: On or about and between 1986 to 1990 the child's stepfather PHILIP SLOAN, a member of the child's household, sexually abused said child, including but not limited to, requiring the child to wash his penis and massage his penis. Mr. Sloan would wash her vagina with his fingers including digital penetration. * Source: Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, Juvenile Dependency Petition 512134, page 3, 1998-03-05.
EVALUATION: [redacted] has grown up in a family with nine children. Her family has been active in the "Children of God" religious group. This group has advocated sexual activity with minors as a pathway to God. As a result, [redacted] has experienced multiple incidents of sexual abuse with numerous men. The sexual abuse has occured in several countries and in several states. * Source: Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, Juvenile Dependency Petition 512134, Social Study, page 18, 1998-03-04. The petition is sustained and the Court makes a true finding on WI300 (D) Count 01 These findings were made by clear and convincing evidence. Source: Judge James Milliken. Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, Juvenile Court Minute Order, Petition 512134, DSS No. 0L97355 S3 11 1998-04-23. -end quote-
More information is at http://www.xfamily.org/index.php/Philip_Sloan Stuart Harris Baylin
- Mr. Baylin is still a member in good standing of The Family International. He lives in Mexico City where he is not only reportedly held in great respect and esteem by Family members in the region but is allowed to have contact with children. Sadly, due to the statute of limitations and the stringent child abuser protection policies The Family instituted, Mr. Baylin has never been convicted in a criminal court of child abuse but he was cited to appear before a criminal court in Argentina 3 times but never appeared, instead opting to flee the country as a fugitive with two abducted children.
more info http://www.xfamily.org/index.php/Stuart_Harris_Baylin
More importantly, articles published in the Family’s own publications condemn them, such as the following written by Fiona Spencer - Fiona was the first wife of Jeremy Spencer, and was my teacher in MWM (Music with Meaning) which I talk about in the first 3 chapters of my book.
(Excerpt from Fiona) ‘Where we live at MWM we do have a lot of fellowship, a lot of sharing, & the children are very fortunate to be able to partake of this. As I said before, it's easy for our little ones to share & stay with one another, even make love if they can, they're all small and they can manage it. But when they get 10, 11, 12, & on, our children like to share with the adults. I found some adults in our Family are very helpful, very loving, & very patient towards our children, & will take time to really help them & love them & even teach them. In fact, I haven't really heard of a bad experience in our Family with our children sharing. I have talked a lot with the children about my own testimony and I treat them as adults, because, although it was a long time ago when I was their age, 12-13, I would have loved to have been in the situation we are now. I feel that almost all of our Family, the brethren are really understanding, very gentle, very loving, & there is no need to fear for the children, & they should be really free to love and share with the other brethren just as we do. When they have sperm, when they start their period, that's the testing time, how much do you trust the Lord, how much do you believe His promises, His blessings, etc? Being worried like our parents, the older generation are watching us, their grandparents; or not caring, only wanting to flow with the spirit, with this love, helping the children to be really free, & helping them to bring forth fruit!’
In the article, Gideon Scott says, “The group's current policy (as of 1995) forbids sexual contact with minors. The Family also denounce Berg's writings which were responsible for past sexual abuse.”
This wording is important as he says ‘writings’ rather than doctrine or beliefs that led to such abuse. This is because he was instructed by Zerby which you can read in the cult’s internal writings.
See excerpts below:- [Transcript of Karen Zerby speaking] Someone suggested that we say, "These radical far out doctrines from the past, we no longer espouse them". Yes, well, I don’t have any quarrel with that either. What I had even said was that we're going to drop these practices. You see, that could be interpreted several different ways. We can just drop them from our practice, but not from our heart. You may say that's a question of semantics also, but I don't think so... 1 can easily say I renounce my literature, that's one thing, but to say, "I renounce these doctrines & these beliefs..." I can't do that. And I think it's important. What's in a name? What's in words? I want to be truthful, & I think it's important to be truthful. Like Dad has said, we don't have to tell them the whole truth, we can let them interpret it any way they want.’
ANSWER TO CHILD ABUSE ACCUSATIONS--13/3/91 By the way, I think the best answer that we can give when our people are questioned about, "What about this lit, what about all of this child abuse you're into & all of this evidence of it in your pubs." I think we should say something like, "Well, in the last few years we've come out very strongly against child abuse & will excommunicate any members who would ever be found to be engaged in it." And I think the Lord could use that answer to help prevent any further questioning. Of course, our bitter enemies probably wouldn't want to stop there & would want to keep goading us, pushing us, "You did it, you've done it, see, it's right there, so how can we believe you?" etc. etc.
But my suggestion would be if they do this, just keep repeating our answer. "Well, in the last few years we have come out very strongly & publicly & privately against child abuse & we have excommunicated anyone who has ever been engaged in it. We definitely do not tolerate it & do not practice it" etc. You find that interviewers who keep goading & prodding interviewees on TV do that sometimes & keep repeating their questions, but often the one questioned, if he doesn't want to get any further into the subject will just stand his ground & keep repeating his answer, & pretty soon the interviewer almost has to go on to something else. I think most of the public understands that a lot of people, probably many of them included, have engaged in some sort of what would be called at least child abuse today, & they don't want to be blamed for their past either.
So there are quite a few people that are pretty tolerant & pretty merciful & forgiving if you've "turned over a new leaf". Maybe it wouldn't satisfy our very bitter enemies, but it's a good answer to give in public, I think, & then you don't get into all the nit-picky questions that the Devil would like to draw you into.
After reading this from their own leader, it’s not hard to see how our dad is not truly sorry for what happened to his children, but is more concerned about protecting the image of his group, rather than standing by his children. This is heartbreaking beyond words. I don’t think I would have had the strength to endure this, if it weren’t for the support of my friends and peers who lived through those times with me, many who I was not in touch with for years, who have contacted me and have confirmed my experience was not just a figment of my imagination, but something we went through together, and have been lucky to come out the other side.
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