Getting Out : Media Reports
A RESPONSE TO MY FATHER
from Falcon - Friday, February 29, 2008
accessed 1207 times
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 quotations 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. Most of the proceeds, however, have gone towards setting up our organisation, RISE International, which works to protect children from abuse in cults.
‘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. http://xfamily.org/index.php/Berg_on_Incest
“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.
‘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, as we left much younger than the ages given above, but I suppose it would be too much to ask to keep up with the ages of all 16 of his children. 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.
Reader's comments on this article
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Monday, March 03, 2008 - 14:03
I am sure there are some of you who have decent parents, by cult standards maybe, but most of our parents are such fucking assholes, or utter sociopaths. It honestly astounds me that any of us are able to function, on any level, being forced to go through life with their genetic make-up. It makes me so angry. I love the way you stand up for yourself. Good on you, girl!
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Sunday, March 02, 2008 - 12:10
I read your book. It took a lot of courage for you and your sisters to write about your lives and share the horrible details of your past that under different circumstances you’d probably rather remain unpublished. I feel that the fact that it includes lot of the cults history makes it easier for people who did not grow up in that environment to understand where you are coming from.
I’m sorry to hear about your dad’s reaction. I guess it just easier for him to believe “it was all about the money” then face the fact that his life was spent in vain. I’m sure W.S and the “family” leaders significantly influenced his media statement.
When I decided to leave the cult (I was 19 at the time), I didn’t tell my parents I was leaving instead, I said I was going to go visit my sister (who had already left) and then go to a one of those “half way houses” but, I think my parents kind of suspected I wanted out. I remember I went on a walk with my step father. It was winter at the time and we were standing next to a swimming pool that had been drained. He asked me why I wanted to leave and I told him it was because I "wanted to have my own money.” I said that not because that was my reason but, because I didn’t think getting into the exact details would help the situation.
About a week before I left, after years of generally leaving me alone, he attempted one last shot: I was sitting on a bed feeling pretty depressed and he came into the room sat net to me put his arm around my shoulder (like he was trying to be “supportive”) his right hand “conveniently” cupped my breast. I grabbed his hand and swung it off in disgust and walked out of the room.
When the cult or anyone in it says “it’s all about the money” it’s just of many slaps in the face. And knowing their history, it’s kind of expected. They seem to be willing to go to any lengths to protect themselves including using their remaining children to do their dirty work and plotting family members against one another.
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|from exaggerations? I don't think so.|
Saturday, March 01, 2008 - 13:16
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Friday, February 29, 2008 - 16:16
Pretty ridiculous. ....
The only way anyone got out of Thailand was if their parents came and got them and took them elsewhere. In Celeste and Julianna's case, there was nowhere they could go and niether they or any of us I would argue were free to leave, the way we were kept there.
Lori Yammaguchi is a piece of work.
Juse very sad.
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| From rainy|
Friday, February 29, 2008, 18:57
Is that Maggie? Yeah I know what you mean. She used to make me pray against hitchiking spirits on mail from my mum -who was IN TF at the time- because the mail was coming from Australia! I think she was so beaten down by the whole Hong Kong Goolagong thing or something. She seemed to think being Australian was something to be ashamed of and pray against.(reply to this comment)
| From Jailbird|
Sunday, March 02, 2008, 16:04
Yes, that's Maggie.
She was a gatekeeper for W.S. for years. She has a lot of blood on her hands, not to mention being the on responsible for obtaining false identities for Berg and Zerby on more than one occasion and trying, in vain again in Canada. They made her the fall person while the good shepherds ran off and left her in custody.
Coming forward is never easy. As for the money aspect, my view on this is that authors get paid, that's what happens in the world. No amount of money can compensate these sisters for what they went through or the opportunity cost of what they could have accomplished were it not for their imprisonment. I also know that on more than one occasion these sisters passed up opportunity to make, what would have been considered considerable monies in their then circumstance, in order to help get the truth out with others survivors, so to speak. I believe them to be inviduals of honor and moral fortitude.
By contrast, their father is suppported by a stipend, from the organization and has been for years. More than likely he is terrified of what the world would have to offer him if he ever distanced himself from the cult. It's sad, because as older generationers go, in my view, he is/was one individual who had the potential to if nothing else, see the truth and try to be a father, but pissed it all away for whatever the cult offered him. Not unlike my father in this regard.
Nothing is more difficult for a child, of any age, to confront one's parents especially when the desire to reconcile and share an honest relationship exists, which I believe is the case with the Jones sisters. However, in my view, no relationship built on the denial of painful truths, can or will last. Confronting my father was the single most difficult thing I have ever done and to this day it is the most painful thing I have ever done emotionally. We were children, they were supposed to be parents, but to this day they're more concerned with being cultists than the emotional well being of their adult children.
Much of this reaction has to do with the leadership pressuring these parents to take a hard-core stand, while before admissions of remorse and honesty were forthcoming from some of these adults, who, I have to believe are in a great deal of pain, confusion and denial. The only way to deal is to take a hard-core stance, and even that could not be accomplished on their own, but has to be done in a very emotionally co-dependent environment with a lot of "support" from their cult buddies.
As a teenager and young adult in Thailand I had two experiences involving older people and mortality that impacted me profoundly, and helped me reflect on the position some of these older people are in. Before I turned 21, Liz Grey died of cervical cancer (sadly one of, if not the, most preventable/survivable type of cancer in existence if detected and treated early), as did another woman, Renee T.S..
I had known Liz Grey since I was a child living in the south of France in the late 1970s and early 1980s, then again in Thailand from 1989-1995, when she passed away. I spent some of my time taking care of Liz, she always had someone with her during the time when her cancer progressed and she was bed-ridden and in a great deal of pain. She wasn't even that old by many standards.
There's a lot I could say about that situation, but I was near by during the weeks, days and hours prior to her death. I know what her last thoughts were. They weren't thoughts of heavenly reward, they weren't thoughts of a life well lived and accomplishment. She suffered a great deal of pain for having abandoned her children, and been harsh and judgemental and having lost years she could have spent with her family, her children, her grandchildren, etc. ...
As a 20 year old having no exposure to the outside world, this was an eye-opener for me. A woman taking inventory of her life when she knew she was on the verge of taking her leave of this life. She cried, she spoke, she lamented to those whom she believed she could trust and even that was sad to see. Her last thoughts were thoughts of pain, remorse, sadness, lonliness, wishing, hoping, longing, but with no ability to do anything about those years. She looked at doctrines, ideals delusions, as just that, and wished she had known her grandchildren, wished she had been able to spend a few more memories with her sons and daughters. She wished she hadn't written letters promoting cult ideas, etc, all that seemed so inconsequential to her, all she wanted was the love and closeness of her family and those she brought into this world etc. ...
I've thought about her a lot through the years, and what her thoughts and opinions were when she knew she was passing, which were very different than those which the cult attempted to portray in their "coverage" of the situation. In her case, her abandonment of her children were adult children, not children in their formative years in brutally abusive environments. In the end that was all that mattered to her, her children and the pain associated with having "lost" so many years with them.
Before some of these people pass, they will have this same experience, and in the case of my father, and probably mr "Peterson" as well, it's going to be a very traumatic experience.
It saddens me that they are loyal to a team of sociopaths who would turn them out on the street in an instant after years of "service," without a second thought, except how to do damange control and prevent them from speaking up. When that happens the only thing that is / will be meaningful in their lives I'd imagine would be their children and those relationships, which sadly, in many cases, won't be there.
This is a situation which has required an incredible amount of honesty and bravery on the part of the authors. The current cult-member's comments are fairly transparent. It is extremely important to keep communication lines open with one's siblings within the group, although they've gotten a lot more controlling and brazenly hostile towards survivors, in the last couple of years.
I haven't been able to read the book end to-end without becoming furious, experiencing shortness of breath, elevated heart rates, etc. ... There are no embellishments in this account, if anything the horror, hopelessness, deceit and criminality that these sisters were subjected and exposed to is underplayed.
Any honest and honorable father would be proud. I can't bear to think of this any longer, it makes me very angry. Anger is an honest emotion which should be accessed and validated, but I'm exhausted with anger over these, people.
"Every day is like a battlefield.
When you fight with anger, you're part of the problem.
When you fight with joy, you're part of the solution."
-- Carlos Santana(reply to this comment)
| From Annie|
Tuesday, March 04, 2008, 16:37
Hi, Ron, my husband, was Elizabeth Grey's son. He was there in Thailand when she was on her deathbed. Maybe he met you? He said when he walked in the room she said, "You waited for me!" and she proceeded to tell him how wrong she had been choosing judgment over loving her family. She loved seeing the pictures of her grandchildren she had never known. It was very sad but he said he felt they had made their peace. She was so unforgiving for years that we had left the cog and this was a time they needed to heal the rift.(reply to this comment)
| From Falcon|
Saturday, March 01, 2008, 07:14
How many names did the psycho woman have? She certainly hated the colour of her own skin. She is as racist as they come--against whites. She is in love with black people; little wonder she's in Africa. Her happiest day came when her grandkids were born half African. The one complaint she made, however, was that their skin was disappointingly light.(reply to this comment)
| From rainy|
Monday, March 03, 2008, 23:25
I must say one thing for her though. When I decided I wanted to go home to Australia I was almost afraid to ask; but she organised the whole thing for me. Looking back I suppose holding a minor in a country where neither of their parents lived (against their will) would probably not have been an option for the post-raids family, but at the time I was amazed and grateful for her open-mindedness, and not making me feel that I was backsliding or something which was what I was expecting to come up against.(reply to this comment)
Friday, February 29, 2008 - 13:33
How sad that he obviously did not read the book properly. He should have memorised that thing cover to cover. What a gift to him, to truly see your lives from your angle. There is a lot of love for him in those pages too, in spite of everything.
But, he reads a few lines and in comes the double-speak and double-think straight away. "Oh! A sneaky lie of the devil! It only looked like the truth! Wow, the enemy sure is subtle and clever! Lord help me stay on guard!"
I'd love to give my parents the book too because it could easily have been written about them, but I'd expect the same reaction from them as your dad's.
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| From afflick|
Friday, February 29, 2008, 16:40
I imagine from his reaction that he didn't read the book at all. When pondering how this could be, I thought WS might have had a role. What if--pure conjecture--they wrote him and told him that because of their deep love and empathy for him and his faithfulness to TF over the years, they decided to have a member of the staff read the book for him and then send him a summary of the book so he could react when the media came calling. In that scenario, everyone is happy as CJ wouldn't have to read the book and TF could insert their influence into whatever media resulted.
But, my theory is not supported by the really lousy job he did, IMO, in refuting the allegations against him. And the comment he made concerning Kristina's sexual abuse by her step-father was beyond the pale. It is quite obvious from reading that comment alone that CP does not consider adult-child sex a criminal act or even wrong. This could be because he has had to detach himself from his own encounters with children at MWM. Who knows? The best thing for him to do, from a PR standpoint, is not speak to the media because he unwittingly betrays TF's ugliest secrets.(reply to this comment)
Friday, February 29, 2008 - 09:34
"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."
How does this coorespond with what Maria said during the British isles case, 1992 "If the Law of Love is right, then it applies clear across the board, no matter what the age is."?
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Friday, February 29, 2008 - 07:47
Thats interesting how he compares the cult communes to the Israeli Kibbutz.
My mother is from Israel and grew up in a Kibbutz from the time she was a baby till she was about 18. There is little or no comparison between the two. For a start each family has their own little house within the community where they can operate as a family. They work together like a co-op on the farms and whatever else they produce on the Kibbutz and share the profit. While they do have community dinning halls and facilities, you are able to keep your identity and remain as family unit as long as you do your work and contribute to the kibbutz. They are fully integrated into society and allowed to come and co as they please. A lot of the Kibbutz even send their kids to outside schools if they can not afford to have a properly trained teacher and facility.
They do not "share kids" or pass wives around or subject their followers to endless brainwashing. And they encourage outsiders too come and work and stay for a spell if they please.
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