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Getting Out : Media Reports

Update on Not Without My Sister

from Falcon - Friday, August 10, 2007
accessed 4588 times

Hi everyone,
We just finished appearing on the Irish Morning show, and are sitting here having a coffee.

Now that Not Without My Sister has been out for over a month, we thought you might be interested to hear some of the public reactions to the book, which have all been very supportive. We were three weeks in the top 10 bestseller list in the UK and are presently on the bestseller list in Ireland. We also have been no.1 in Australia.
Here are just a few messages we have received on our site. We'll be posting more there over the next few days.

Hi Celeste, Kristina & Juliana
I just wanted to let you know that I am almost finished reading your book and I have been unable to put it down. I admire each of you for your strength to overcome such adversity and pain and your conviction to put it down on paper. This sort of thing should never have been allowed to happen, and should never happen again. I am emailing from Australia and I remember quite a few stories about the Children of God when I was younger, if I remember rightly there was one particular woman in Australia who consistently drew the attention of the authorities and media, although I can't remember her name, although needless to say that is not important.
Your story is a true reflection of the strength of women and I wanted to thank you for your book. I have told so many people they must read it.

I have been thinking of you and your sisters and your book. My thoughts keep returning to the notion that I just feel in many ways that your story is not only extraordinary (you are the most well-travelled person I have ever
known!) but also, yours is also the story of every person that has ever lived within an abusive relationship and that is perhaps why it is a story that speaks so much to my little soul and no doubt to the souls of so many

What I mean to say is, Juliana, if someone were to say "Heather, please read this story about a young American girl living in Scotland with a man much older than her that is cruel to her daughter and weilds total control over
her life", I would honestly had never even been able to see that that story would have been My Story until 5 years ago. What is it about the unreality of abuse and brain washing that makes the daily impossible and unhappy seem normal? All I know is that someone, somewhere will come across your
book and it will save them. A light will go on in their head and it might take a while, but they will be on their way out of the darkness and into the light. For people like me, your book will be a reinforcement/reminder of how
abuse and mind control works and it will also have a postive influence in re-building their lives.
That is the gift that you sisters have given the world!

Kind Regards, Heather

wow, how brave of you all to tell your stories, the truth.good luck to you in all that you do.
i was a member of a so called "church" called the jesus army/fellowship uk. i joined in 1992 & left fully in 2002.
i myself never experienced sexual abuse but, there were at least 2 seperate incidents that i know were covered up from the highest level.
most of the members live in communitys operating from a common purse.this is where you pool all your money into this common purse, only takeing out money for "essentiels". this dos not include food, clothing, petrol, this all comes from a centrel disdribution centre that is owend by them. 1 time a friend of mine was driving back from newcastle to coventry, over night. i'm not sure on the millege, but it is not normaly a trip done in a day. it tooks us roughly 5,6,7,8 hours.she stoped at a service station and brought some chocolate bars and a can of pop. she was strugeling to keep awake. the next day whaen she had to "declare" what she had spent her mony on, verbaly, the elder of the householdshe was living in wipped the floor with her.
she was then told she was banned from driving thier cars for 2 weeks as she was not fit to drive if she felt sleepie. she was also told to fast for 48 hours and confess for her sins and seek forgivness from god, so that she may be spiritually more alive and closer to god.
today i would like to think i can allow anyone thier faith/belives. but i get very angry at so called churches door knocking on my door and trying to force there religion down my throat.
a comidian, billy conelly once said about such invasions of privacy, "you dont get people going round door knocking asking you to sighn up for the church of saten". how true.
thank you for speaking up about your abuse in "churchs" without meaning to put any wieght on your shoulders, you speak for those who have experience of abuse of any kind under the name of "god". whoever that is. many thanks and peacefull wishes for your futures.

Dear Celeste, Kristina and Juliana
How are you all? Thank you so much for sharing your experience to the world.
I myself have never been in that type of situation but your book really got to me. I live in australia and my mum is orignally from the phillipines and she remembers things about the cult. I have never had as much sorrow and pain although i have had my fair share too. When i would read your book i would think and cry. How can anyone treat someone so inncocent that way. You all are amazing women. I look up to you all. I hope to have your courage and strength so that i may live through my days. Once again thank you.
I recommend many people to read your book and iam currently reading it again to see if i missed out on anything.
Thank You All
If you can survive a life like that it makes me feel i can do anything.
Maria (age 19)

Hi Kristina,

I bought and read your book in one sitting over the weekend. I'm at a loss as to how to even process the information in it but I am blown away with your survival skills (and those of your sisters). I cried for all the other children who either never got out, or didn't even know they were trapped.

What terrible terrrible crimes have been committed in the name of organised religion. ANY religion at that.

A a parent, I'm disgusted that I have to share that title with so many sick adults who are too weak to question their authorities and continue to perpetrate horrific crimes of betrayal - on their own kids! It's just wrong that no one is being made accountable. Turning a blind eye is JUST as bad as doing it in the first place.

I have picked this book for my bookclub to read next. As a proud agnostic who wants to rid the world of child abuse, I will definitely do my bit to raise awareness for the sake of your family - and I DO mean biological family. I deeply felt for your mother in the story and hope she has found peace to balance the turbulence in her young adult life.

Guy, Sydney Australia

Dear Kristina, Celeste and Juliana,

I do apologise for this lengthy e-mail, however it does arise from deep concerns which I have relating to some of the issues which stem from the publication of your book. I know just how busy you must all be at the moment, with book signings, interviews and other important matters relating to the publication.

I am halfway through your book 'Not Without my Sister' and I have found the experience of reading it both deeply distressing and disturbing. I have done numerous studies on the Holocaust and I am afraid your book has caused as much trauma as any book I have read on the harrowing accounts of the Nazi genocide.

May I first congratulate you on your remarkable courage, tenacity and the willingness which you have shown, to share with the world at large what happened to you and many others. For all of you, although the experience of writing may have been cathartic, nevertheless it must have also solicited a high degree of trauma as you set down the terrible experiences through which you passed. The book is an outstanding record of regrettably the most appalling accounts of child abuse and the consequent destruction which has accompanied such an experience. The photograph on the dust cover speaks eloquently, and is so like the many photographs depicting traumatized Jewish or Gypsy children on their way to the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Any parent or child counselor would immediately recognise the signs of abuse in those eyes . . .

My dear and sweet wife Sylvia (formerly Padilla - whom Celeste and Kristina know) is an ex member of the Children of God, and I am afraid I was so disturbed and angry over what I read that for two days I found it almost impossible to communicate with her as I normally do. Of course she is not in the least to blame for what occurred however that is the kind of impact your book has made on me. I am unfortunately not able to read your book in one sitting – it is just too unsettling. I am sure it will be the same for the many thousands of other men and women who read your book. There will be a sense of deep outrage that such a thing could happen.

Anyway, so much for my own reactions to the story which you have told. I must mention that one of the factors which disturbs me deeply (and has done since my first hearing of the COG through Sylvia), is that neither Karen Zerby, her partner Steven Kelly or (it seems) Paul Peloquin have ever been indicted by the United States government for the crimes they have committed against American children. This outrages me considerably; I am sure it will anger many other people who are reading your book.

I am not aware whether there are attempts being made regarding the prosecution of paedophiles who are still actively engaged in The Family, however there are a number of concerns which I would like to express. I notice Paul Peloquin was, until recently, involved with young children on the Ivory Coast on behalf of The Family. There was also a couple who had been awarded a medal in the USA for work they had been doing for children in some or other home. Due to publicity they returned the medal (I can no longer remember who they are but I am sure you will be aware of them). Karen Zerby is hidden away somewhere – together with her partner Peter Amsterdam – also mentioned in your book. As far as I am aware none of these people have been brought to justice. Further to the above, a known paedophile appears as the founder of The Family on The Family website. Can nothing be done about that, by regulatory bodies which have some say regarding website practices?

What a complete mess the Children of God have made of peoples lives. As I search the internet I find many websites which actively expose the Children of God and The Family; and yet there seems to be a lack of coherence and concerted effort at bringing these paedophiles to justice. I sense there needs to be far more focus – forgive me if I am wrong. I am wondering whether, as a consequence of the undoubted coverage you will be given for your remarkable efforts, it would not be possible for you to call for an international seminar/teleconference.

I would hope that such a conference would gain considerable press coverage. I have it in mind that a conference of this nature would focus on the authorities responsible for pursuing criminals of this nature rather than on the atrocities alone. I sense that perhaps, due to the trauma young men and women have gone through that there has probably been too much ‘bellyaching’ (a favourite term of the late Field Marshall Montgomery) and perhaps not enough pursuit of justice. The cathartic effect of ‘telling your story’ – as has been done on the numerous anti-cog websites – is a necessary palliative, however I feel it is now time to focus on the authorities who have, in my opinion, let traumatized children down.

Such a conference/teleconference would need time to prepare in order to make certain that a selection of reliable academics, attorneys and others from around the world who were originally COG members and who can be relied upon, could attend. Strong resolutions need to be passed regarding action which governments and other organizations need to take regarding the apprehending/indicting of people who created the personal fiascos should be brought to justice. I have seen this happening with women who have stood up for human rights in Pakistan and elsewhere. Eventually the guilty have been prosecuted after considerable and sustained effort has been exerted.

I am aware that resolutions alone are not enough, however I believe it will be an important step to take. Surely the whole question of indicting, pursuing and finally apprehending needs to done on a professional level where there will be no ‘letting go’ regarding the pressure which needs to be applied to all type of law enforcement bodies. I feel there needs to be a move away from the informative websites (which have of course been so helpful in accumulating the experiences of those who have suffered) to more meaningful, aggressive attempts at successful prosecutions. Surely that time has arrived.

I have seen numerous programs/videos on the Xfamily website, however it concerns me deeply to notice that I have never seen any concern expressed by interviewers as to why no prosecutions have taken place! If I am correct the US government can indict without the presence of the indicted being in the country – as long as the evidence warrants such an action. I had a lengthy conversation this morning with your friend Emmanuel Padilla and he himself felt the need to finally ‘pin people down’ and let The Family know that they will be hounded out of existence.

I do feel that the matter of David Berg’s images appearing on The Family website also needs to be urgently addressed. I also wonder whether there is not some or other professionally prepared document/booklet which needs to be published and sent out to governments wherever The Family operates. I am deeply concerned to notice that most of The Family’s work concerns young people, and that they are not prepared to publicly distance themselves from David Berg on their website – neither are they prepared to rid themselves of paedophiles who still have charge over much of their international work.

I have been in the print/publishing industry all my life. How I wish, after reading your book, that I had taken law instead . . .

Kristina, Celeste and Juliana, I do wish you the very best as you press forward in the tasks which you have no doubt set for yourselves. I do sense that your book may well be a major landmark in the struggle to finally hold people accountable for the sometimes irreparable damage they have brought upon children ensnared by the pernicious teachings of the ‘The Children of God’. May you be richly blessed in all your future efforts. I know the road ahead is challenging; I have absolutely no doubt that it will be a long road, and that much future writing and other work lies ahead for all of you. Your book tells me that you will be adequate to the task which lie ahead.

Let us hope that you will also receive a request for film rights in the near future, while the matter is still hot!

Yours very sincerely,


And, not unexpectedly, we have received our first bit of hate mail today from one of the hundreds of Uncle Johnnys in TF. If anyone would like to write to Uncle Johnny, I'm sure he'd love to hear from you!

Name: Johnny Andrews

I am so disappointed that you have written such lies about Tha Family, I read a load of rubbish in The Limerick Post newspaper about things you said about The Family in Limerick.I have known the Family in Ireland for over six years and what you have said could not be farther from the truth. I'm sure you wrote your book just for money, why? because the enemy seems to have taken you over.I hope and pray you will tell the truth, 'cause if you don't, you will regret it on the last day when you see all the souls that could have been saved.
Uncle Johnny.

Reader's comments on this article

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from NWMS is no. 2...
Thursday, January 31, 2008 - 07:05

.. in this weeks UK Bestsellers ( paperback ) chart.

(reply to this comment)
Tuesday, February 05, 2008, 07:23

is now Number One in this weeks UK Non-Fiction Bestsellers list. (as listed in the Sunday Times) (reply to this comment
from limerick
Tuesday, August 21, 2007 - 05:20

Castleconnell connection to Family international

Allegations that local businessman encouraged young womans involvement

limerick forum
(reply to this comment)
from vix
Friday, August 17, 2007 - 14:08

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Julie, Celeste, Kristina,

I've waited a long time to write something up about the book. I find it hard to express myself when I feel that the subject is one that deserves my best efforts. But as long as I wait it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. I'll just go ahead and write something now and hope it conveys something of what i'm trying to say.

I think you girls have accomplished a great thing. The first book written from the perspective of second generation, that's something to be proud of in itself! But more than that, you've made our collective experiences accessible to 'outsiders' in the way that only in-depth, honest explanation can, and anyone who reads it will come away with a much clearer understanding of the specifics of the cult experience and the psychology behind it. Well done! You each did a great job writing your respective stories and the overall effect is one of a multi-layered yet cohesive look into the complexities of your (and our) background. I respect your commitment to raising public awareness. It's not always easy to deal with the ramifications of such openness, I'm sure.

(reply to this comment)

From moon beam
Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 07:21

Thank you vix, I hope you are well. x (reply to this comment
From moon beam
Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 07:21

Thank you vix, I hope you are well. x (reply to this comment
From cassy
Sunday, August 19, 2007, 10:00

Thank you Vix. It means a lot to get written support from our own espeially now that we're getting the usual denial comments on places like Amazon. Even though we are prepared for it, it still hurts.

We just read today the article posted in the Irish Independent last Friday. We personally think it's the most different, personal and accurate article yet. Posted below.

Feature Article

Friday August 17 2007

'We went to The Square in Tallaght yesterday and I realised I'd been there before. I was on the very same spot where I stood 10 years ago with the other kids, getting money by ballooning -- twisting balloons into shapes, animals, cartoon characters and selling them. I saw lots of Ireland like that. It was strange to be there again."

Juliana Buhring is sitting with two of her sisters in a Dublin hotel, as they revisit their often cruel, lonely and highly controlled lives in The Family, the cult also known as the Children of God -- though there is little that is Godlike in its many activities.

Juliana (26), her sisters Celeste (32) and Kristina Jones (31) were born into the cult. While Juliana has a different mother, all are daughters of British-born Christopher Jones, who at age 56 has already fathered 15 children by seven women, his youngest still a toddler.

Each sister has now left the cult. Juliana was the last to go, in 2004.

They have written Not Without My Sister, a harrowing story of betrayal and abandonment by their parents and the many other adults in their lives. The book is dedicated to their sister Davida, who committed suicide in 2005, aged 23.

The organisation was founded in southern California by David Berg in 1968. In its heyday 5,000 children were born into the cult, including actor River Phoenix, who died of a drug-related seizure in 1993, aged 23.

In the initial years after its founding, communities of the cult were opened across the US. In 1972, the cult left America to evade negative publicity and began to to recruit in other countries, starting in Europe and eventually spreading to the Far East.

The Family is most infamous for sex acts between adults and children, revealed in chilling detail by the sisters, who were sexualised from the age of three. 'Sex dates' with men of their grandparents' age were an early fact of life, initially being kissed and touched inappropriately.

Before age 10, many children had to provide oral sex or masturbate the adult, leading all too soon to coerced underage intercourse.

If they resisted, they were accused of being selfish, evil or ungrateful. "David Berg said that children liked sex, so no matter how we felt, they chose to believe we liked it," said Juliana.

The book admirably succeeds in its role to lift the lid on the dark world of The Family, characterised by beatings, manipulation and exploitation. David Berg predicted the world would end in 1993, with Family members destined to become God's Endtime Soldiers, free from the shackles of the System, as life outside was called.

Disparate groups lived in overcrowded conditions in large houses, moving round the world, obeying no laws but the rules of David Berg, which dominated every moment of their lives, and allowed no space for thought, reflection or peace. "The whole atmosphere kept you 'up'," says Juliana, hunching her shoulders, "you were constantly in a state of fight or flight."

In approaching the project, each sister wrote her own story, then came together for an intense time of editing and discussion. Through access to cult documentation, personal details seared into memory and discussions with other former members, they have created a chronicle of the bewildering, oppressive maelstrom that was their lives.

Celeste and Juliana were separated from their mothers by age six. Kristina was taken from her father at age three, but the remaining parent, often physically or emotionally absent, fell far short of providing the loving security that children need. Their positive survival seems a tribute to their own strength of characters.

Sitting together in Dublin, they present an affectionate, easy threesome. "We didn't know about each other, really. Dad liked to keep his families separate. But when we finally met as adults we got on famously. We had a shared background with the same reference points. Meeting people from other cults, they all say exactly the same things about abuse and control," said Celeste.

Juliana lived in Ireland for a year, abandoned by parents, based in a large house behind high walls in Castleconnell, Co Limerick, under the domination of an angry and violent house leader.

Aged 16, she had been raped the previous year by a cult member, and was deeply depressed and anorexic.

One day she ran away, and remembers walking along bog-lined roads while the house was ransacked to find her. Today, healthy and well, Juliana remains in contact with her father as she feels a responsibility towards her five siblings still living with him.

She is also the one who challenges him most. "There was no honesty from dad; he never had pride in me. I never felt love coming from him, probably my love for him died the soonest. I won't play the little scenes with him. I call his bluff and he hates that."

When her father heard about the book, he flew into a rage, and sent her a long text describing his daughters as 'enemies' who are 'slandering and betraying' The Family.

Kristina says because the break was so early, she remained attached to an idealised father. "Then when I left the cult at 12 and began to see it objectively, I had sympathy for him and for many years did not lose hope of him and in him. Later I became very angry towards him but I've learnt to work through that, and more recently I am at peace with it all."

Celeste's feelings are different again. "When I was small, he was a good father, and when I left The Family, I had sadness and pain and worry. But he has never acknowledged that what happened to us was ever wrong. I have now no need to talk to him, and there has been no contact for two years. I'm sad at that."

Equally, there is no close relationship with their mothers; more a feeling of some compassion for the lives they endured. Their take on forgiveness for all they themselves have suffered is equally mature. "You can't forgive unless your abuser wants to be forgiven. You need an admission from them that what they have done is wrong," said Juliana.

"Forgiveness has been a long road for me. Today I don't hold grudges. I've let a lot go for my own peace of mind so that I'm not still caught up in the past," said Kristina.

Today, David Berg is dead, Family membership is greatly diminished and the organisation is globally discredited. Thousands have left over the years, but many children born into the cult do badly in the outside world, turning to alcohol, drugs and self-harm, often leading to an early death.

The sisters, in contrast, are strong, caring and making new lives for themselves. Kristina works voluntarily with the Safe Passage Foundation, which helps ex-cult members, and lives in Nottingham with her 15-year-old son, Jordan, and partner Carl. They plan to marry next year.

Juliana and Celeste live in Bristol -- Juliana paying her way through university studying for a BA in philosophy and psychology. Celeste lives with her nine-year-old daughter Cherie, has a degree in Psychology and Education and recently landed a job as a project worker with a national children's agency.

They have all helped set up RISE International, (Resources, Information, Socialisation, Education), which works to protect children from abuse in cults.

Not surprisingly, their attitude to religion is negative. "I see religion as a method of control and abuse. It'd be difficult to see it as a source of happiness," says Kristina. "My philosophy would be humanist; to be good and kind," says Celeste.

When asked about their greatest regret, they agree it is that they did not feel able to leave the cult sooner and were unable to protect their sister Davida from the despair and abandonment that ended in suicide. Their greatest hope is that their younger siblings will leave the cult soon and begin a life of freedom in the outside world, and that the current leadership of The Family will pay with imprisonment for the abuse they have presided over.

Their good-bye was warm and sincere. As I walked away, I looked back and saw the three young women sitting together, each looking forward to carving out a new life. to this comment
From live_fast-die_young
Friday, September 14, 2007, 04:12


Ahh, shame I missed your visit to Dublin. My relatives have all bought the book, it seems to be a great seller here in Ireland and the UK. Congrats on that.

Curious about the home here in Ireland mentioned. Is it the same one I lived in...I believe the area was Duleek? (reply to this comment

from wind
Friday, August 17, 2007 - 02:16

Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Uncle Johnny, you may not be a pedophile, but there were plenty in the the "family", have you ever read the "Story of Davidito" where he is shown sucking on womens breasts that are not his mothers and being jerked off as a young kid, "Life with grandpa" where Mo makes love to Techi in heaven , or "Heavens girl" where she gets gang banged and likes it, and uses sex to get what she wants like "Flirty Fishing" or call it what it was prostitution, or "Macumba" where Mo gets fucked by wierd godess spirits? Are you for real , I feel like screaming out of frustration. I grew up with these books as my childhood bedtime stories. How dare you deny these girls the right to tell their story. What, you think the abuse stopped when sex with children was banned in 1987, it just got more secretive. The child abuse happened, and it was condoned in writing by Mo and Maria. And what about the damage done to the kids who grew up with sharing and love dancing, I remember very clearly girls as young as 12 on the sharing list. David Berg was a sick freak who was insetuas with his own doughters. Making Deborah his queen, thats why she freaked out and left, things got really wierd and they lost touch with reality and Karen Zerby should be held accountable. I hope Moses David is burning in hell, for the hurt he has coused and the permanent damage felt by many. Two of my sisters suffer from schitzophrenia coused by post traumatic stress and I hold Family Care International responsible , you are choosing to be part of the continued abuse by denying it happened. May you find the truth someday and get out. Its unbelievable you can pretend it never happened by burning a few books, well I'm sorry but people have copies and it's a fact, the Children of God( you should be called Children of the Devil), condoned sexual encounters with children until 1987, and I don't think they ever kicked out the predators so you know it went on after that. Shame on you - M
(reply to this comment)
From reality check
Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 06:36

Average visitor agreement is 1 out of 5(
No, he's not for real. Wind, don't get so worked up...this "Uncle Johnny" is obviously a joke, prank or someone trying to pull your leg. --"Typical Family "Love" ", come on! Who would write that?-"Uncle Johnny"?? It doesn't sound real, I don't think that is from someone really still in the cult. What you wrote is true, (most of it anyway...Mo doesn't make love to techi in Life with grandpa, I believe that happens in Heaven girl) and I totally agree with you but I don't think "Uncle Johnny" is real.(reply to this comment
From historian
Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 07:42

Cartoon drawing of David Berg and Karen Zerby in bed with techi, where he describes having sex with them is on the last page in the orange 'Heaven's Children'(reply to this comment
From moon beam
Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 07:20

Oh he was real alright. It was sent to our website.
There is another TF member who posted a 'review' on entitled

'Who are the real child abusers? ' I thought David Daniel Lykins deserved a response, which was written and posted by Peter.

The book "Not without my Sister" is a great work of fiction but the three sisters who supposedly wrote it should be ashamed of themselves for passing it off as a true story.

The Children of God/The Family International has always been held in controversy because of their commitment and lifestyle, but they are one of the most studied and documented new religious movements in existence. There are dozens of books written about them by respected sociologists and academics who are leaders in their fields including an excellent book "The Endtime Family" by William Sims Bainbridge based on questionnaires and interviews with over 1,000 members of the group. Bainbridge is unquestionably among the most able scholars in the sociology
of religion today.

Or some of the excellent research done by Eileen Barker, professor in sociology, and emeritus member of the London School of Economics and probably the leading scholar on new religious movements in Europe today. The number of serious books and studies about this group runs to the hundreds. This book however is bunk!

It was ill responsible and sensational books - and reporting - like this that led to police raids on their communities in France, Australia, Spain and Argentina in the early 1990's resulting in over 600 children being forcibly taken from their families in Gestapo style raids at gunpoint. After weeks, and in some countries months, of imprisonment and thorough examinations of the children for abuse to try to justify their actions not one single case of abuse was found. You can find all this information as a matter of public record. So who are the real child abusers?

If you really believe the story these girls are spinning then I have a bridge in Brooklyn up for sale you might be interested in.
peter frouman-

Mr. Lykins,

It is generally expected that someone who writes a book review has actually read the book. To write a book review without having actually read the book is intellectually dishonest. I strongly suspect that you have never actually read this book. Your transparent attempt to pass off regurgitated Family PR statements as a "book review" of some sort is pathetic.

You claim the book is a work of fiction yet fail to cite a single example of anything in the book that is untrue. If your claim that the book is fiction were true, you should be able to come up with thousands of examples of things in it that are untrue yet you can't even find one. However, there is a small mountain of evidence to prove many of the allegations of child abuse by the authors of this book. This evidence includes not only publications by The Family/Children of God and sworn testimony under oath by numerous witnesses but even photographs and video recordings. To dismiss their allegations as fiction you have to ignore not only the mountain of evidence but also the judicial findings in which these allegations have been tested and proven to be true in a court of law. For example, you have to reject both the 1994 decision of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board as well as the 1995 ruling of The Right Honourable Lord Justice Ward (W 42 1992 IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE FAMILY DIVISION PRINCIPAL REGISTRY IN THE MATTER OF ST (A MINOR) AND IN THE MATTER OF THE SUPREME COURT ACT 1991h). While not all the allegations of abuse in the book have been tested in a court of law, the ones that have have been proven to be true. One important reason for that is because the evidence is both voluminous and irrefutable.

I doubt you have read everything that has been published about the Children of God/Family of Love/The Family cult. If you had, you would know that even the "scholars" which The Family International PR boards strongly endorse and recomend as being the most fair and objective have all confirmed what child abuse survivors who were raised in The Family already know: that children in The Family/Children of God were sexually, physically and emotionally abused and neglected. There are, of course, some disagreements and disputes about certain issues including how widespread the problem was and the veracity of some allegations. In many cases, The Family and its supporters have also attempted to convince people the child sexual abuse is rarely harmful, that what society and the law defines as child sexual abuse isn't actually abusive and that insincere, vague and general statements they dare to call apologies are an acceptable substitute for providing some restitution to the victims (although no amount of money could ever be enough), incarceration and accountability for child abusers and enacting policies that actually protect children and deny child abusers access to more victims. But the fact that some children in The Family were abused is irrefutable and no one (except some Family spokespersons) have seriously attempted to deny this. For example, the Family of Love itself published photographs (in the first edition of "My Little Fish") of an adult woman (Sara Stevenson Kelley) performing fellatio on a toddler (Ricky Rodriguez - the adopted son of cult founder David Berg and the biological son of cult leader Karen Zerby and a hotel employee she had sexual intercourse with while practicing the cult's religious prostitution ministry - Flirty Fishing). Even the most loyal academic supporters of The Family agree that it is criminal child sexual abuse for an adult woman to perform oral sodomy on a toddler and that some of the acts described and photographed in the "Davidito Letters" and the "Story of Davidito" book were acts of criminal child sexual abuse. Only its primary spokesperson for North America was stupid enough to tell both the New York Times and ABC News in 2005 that Mr. Rodriguez was never sexually abused despite the existence of photographs and written accounts published by the cult which document his abuse at an early age in graphic and explicit detail.

But I digress. Even one of The Family's favorite authors -James D. Chancellor - acknowledges that some children in the Children of God/The Family were sexually abused. If you doubt this, perhaps you should read his "corporate autobiography" (see Introduction - page xxii) of the cult titled "Life in The Family - An Oral History of the Children of God" (Syracuse University Press, 2000). Perhaps you should ask Mr. Chancellor what he thinks about the horrible things that happened to many of the children at "Music with Meaning" (MWM) in Greece and elsewhere. It seems it is only people like you, Mr. Lykins, who are so eager to dismiss the accounts of child abuse survivors as "fiction" and apparently without even reading the book you claim to review.

Similarly, you refer to the legal records of the criminal investigations of members of the organization. However, I strongly doubt you have ever read those records in their entirety. If those records from all the civil and criminal cases involving members of The Family/Children of God and their children truly vindicated the individuals involved in every single case, then surely the cult would make all those records publicly available rather than merely providing a few snippets of the portions of the documents they like. Even though most of these records are public - it is an expensive, difficult and time consuming process to get them from dozens of jurisdictions in numerous countries. However, if they wanted to, The Family International could easily make them publicly available. The fact that they have never released a complete copy of a single one of these documents speaks volumes. I think one reason they haven't is that their claim that they have won every single court case has been proven to be a bold faced lie and that releasing all the records they have would further expose them as untruthful. 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.

However, you did ask an important question - "So who are the real child abusers?" which deserves an answer even though I only have time to list a few of the "real child abusers."

Here are a few of the "real abusers" - in no particular order.

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 an extraordinarily light sentence of 11 years of which he only served 5. Contrary to your 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 and I think any rational person would agree that aggravated criminal sexual assault of a child under the age of 13 meets the definition of child abuse.

More info

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.


[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

While Judge Milliken did find that Mr. Sloan had abused the child in question, Mr. Sloan has never, to my knowledge, been convicted of a criminal offense involving the sexual abuse of children.

Fiona Spencer - Fiona was the first wife of Jeremy Spencer.

While I could summarize the allegations against her, it is far better I think to let her own words speak for themselves.

-begin quote-
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!
-end quote-

Coincidentally, Fiona is writing here about the same "MWM" where one of the authors, Celeste Jones, lived.

Stuart Harris Baylin - Unfortunately, I still have physical scars on my body as permanent reminders of what this creep did to me and other children. He seemed to really enjoy torturing children. Perhaps Mr. Lykins will disagree but I think that beating young children until they bleed, breaking their bones and teeth, giving them black eyes and bloody noses and traumatizing and terrorizing them so much that it takes years and years before they can literally be close to another human being without the ever present fear of being hit and get rid of the involuntary defensive reflexes that accompanied the fear are some of the things that make someone a "real abuser." It seems you feel that those who tried to protect children from monsters like Mr. Baylin are the "real abusers." If so, I couldn't disagree with you more.

By the way, 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. 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

This is probably already too long but I hope it helps you understand who the "real abusers" are.

(reply to this comment
From aka_hannya
Wednesday, August 22, 2007, 16:29


I believe that David Lykins is Josh Lykins father. You did mention Josh in the book right? I don't have the time to go back and look at it at the moment, but I thought that I did recall it. I think that may be the reasoning behind his response. I started to type a response to him the day before yesterday, but it just made me way to emotional and had to stop. I lived with them for about a year in Norway. I actually have good memories of him and his 2nd wife; they were probably the best people there.

I know his kids don't like to get into big conversations about him here.(reply to this comment

from Typical Family "Love"
Sunday, August 12, 2007 - 18:07


"I am so disappointed [...] you have written such lies [...] I read a load of rubbish [...] what you have said could not be farther from the truth. I'm sure you wrote your book just for money, why? because the enemy seems to have taken you over.I hope and pray you will tell the truth, 'cause if you don't, you will regret it on the last day [...]

Uncle Johnny."
(reply to this comment)

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