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The Notorious Children of God

from fragiletiger - Friday, May 04, 2007
accessed 970 times

And the prize for the most obscure link to the Children of God goes to...

Brisbane mother Philippa Yelland has flown out of Tasmania bound for Sydney with her two daughters and son, along with a cult-busting journalist, after her husband surrendered the children to police.

Ms Yelland, her children and the Reverend David Milliken, a Uniting Church minister instrumental in exposing the Children of God sect, flew out of Launceston this morning.

She was reunited last night with her children Bokkie, 10, Matilda, 9, and seven-year-old Barney after their father Murray Robertson surrendered them to federal police six weeks after he disappeared with them.
Father's sect link
Last night Mr Robertson revealed to The Age that he had close ties to The Family, a sect know as the Children of God.

Ms Yelland this morning refused to talk to reporters at the airport as she and her children boarded the plane, assisted by Mr Milliken.
The children were barefoot and dressed in light clothing when they arrived at the airport, on a cool Launceston day. They were wearing sandals when they boarded the plane.

They looked relaxed and a bit bemused.

Mr Milliken said last night that he was working for Channel 7 current affairs program Today Tonight.

This morning he declined to comment.

Nationwide search

Their disappearance sparked nationwide media coverage, which followed a Family Court decision to publicly name the children as missing and release photographs of them.

Mr Thompson failed to return the children to Brisbane from a weekend access visit to his home in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

In an interview with the Herald after he voluntarily handed the children to the federal police yesterday, Mr Robertson admitted he had close ties to The Family, a sect known as the Children of God before it was broken up by police a decade ago.

"They are wonderful Christian people, and I am very close to them," he said.

Mr Robertson defended The Family and said he and his children had regularly been in touch with members of the group.

Reader's comments on this article

Add a new comment on this article

from rainy
Friday, May 04, 2007 - 16:15

That was so completely bizarre. David Millikan works for Today Tonight AND current affair? The Family was broken up by police 10 years ago? Did a monkey type that?
(reply to this comment)
From rainy
Friday, May 04, 2007, 16:26

okay, my bad. It only says he works for Toda Tonight. Still quite a step down from the lofty academic titles he's accustomed to the media bestowing upon him.(reply to this comment
From cult buster
Friday, May 04, 2007, 16:33


It says he's a pastor of a church in Australia and a cult buster. Do you have something against him?(reply to this comment

From fragiletiger
Saturday, May 05, 2007, 00:25


yes, yes I do.(reply to this comment

From rainy
Friday, May 04, 2007, 16:45

Me? of course not. I just find it amusing that he's now reduced to being a pastor who works for channel 7 instead of whatever high-level small religion expert they usually say he is. And, I guess something irritates me about him. I always had the feeling he was like, on safari, and other humans were the rare animals. I don't know how to put that better...I'll think about it and get back to you.(reply to this comment
from Peter
Friday, May 04, 2007 - 15:47

The fact that he returned the kids after only 6 weeks is a good indication that he is not in TF. It would be very unusual for a Family member to do that as in most parental abduction cases involving COG/TF members the children were kept for many years rather than a few weeks.
(reply to this comment)
from Benz
Friday, May 04, 2007 - 13:57

Runaway dad denies Family link
By Nick Clark
May 05, 2007 03:00am

Mr Robertson 'not linked' to Children of God
Questions Dr Millikan's role in battle
Millikan introduced Robertson to The Family

RUNAWAY father Murray Robertson hugged his daughter yesterday, mouthed the words "I love you" through a taxi window and wondered when he would see his children again.

Mr Robertson bid a sad farewell to his three young children in Launceston as they returned with their mother Philippa Yelland to Brisbane.

Bokkie, 10, Matilda, 9, and Barney, 7, were reunited with their mother on Thursday night after she made a nationwide appeal for their return.

Mr Robertson and the children had been camping in Tasmania for six weeks after they disappeared from his NSW Blue Mountains home after an access visit on March 17.

Australian Federal Police located them in Launceston on Thursday and the children returned home yesterday.

"As Tilly was walking to the taxi I gave her a hug and her mother took her arm and pulled her away," he said.

"I talked to her about her pet mouse, Jakk Jakk Dash. I mouthed goodbye 'I love you' through the window to Bokkie and Barney."

He said that he had no idea what his future contact with the children would be or what his immediate future held.

Also yesterday, Mr Robertson denied he had close links with the religious group The Family, also known as the Children of God.

The children flew out with Ms Yelland and Uniting Church minister David Millikan, who also is working for Channel 7's Today Tonight.

Dr Millikan is known as a "cult buster" because of exposes of religious groups.

Mr Robertson said Dr Millikan had introduced him to The Family in 1994 about the time Mr Robertson met Ms Yelland.

He questioned Dr Millikan's role in the custody battle.

"I cannot understand why David is here," he said.

Mr Robertson said the children were not members of The Family religious movement and that he had not stayed with any members of the movement while in Tasmania.

"I am friends with them but that is not links to a sect," he said.

Mr Robertson is not expected to face charges for taking the children.

Ms Yelland said after arriving in Launceston on Thursday night that she did not want her former husband to be punished.

In the early 1990s, officials from the NSW and Victorian Departments of Children's Safety removed 150 children from members of The Family.,23599,21673261-421,00.html

(reply to this comment)

From moon beam
Friday, May 04, 2007, 18:39

A couple of past threads and Lord Justice Wards assessment on David Millikan.

The Reverend Dr. David Millikan

He is a Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia who for 20 years has been involved in working with new religious movements and monitoring their activities and evolution in Australia. When the "raids" took place in Australia and children were removed into care, he felt that the authorities had overreacted and, without any sympathy for The Family apart from that, and possibly even a degree of antipathy felt towards them, he became involved and began his investigations. He began his report in this way:-

"It is a complex undertaking to understanding a group such as the Children of God - Family of Love - The Family. There are a large number of sources one must contact before judgments can be made. There is the testimony of past members, the research of others, the literature and other materials produced by the group, and contact with the group itself and the experience of people within it."

At this stage of a judgment, which is already too long, I could say, "You're telling me!"

He had approached his task seeking openness with The Family. He made considerable progress but was denied direct access to Berg or Maria. He knew of the "Deceivers yet True" philosophy and he guarded against being deceived. The use of Victor camps had made him wary but he felt satisfied by their explanations until the events in this country gradually emerged. He was not told the full facts. That caused him concern but not enough completely to modify his views about The Family. He felt manipulated by them and angry. He told me, "I am still making my judgments about this group".

He has endeavoured to speak to a broad range of Family members from those newly-joined to many long-term members including several who were present at the beginning of the movement in the late 60's. He has many hours of recorded conversation and hand-written notes. He has been able to talk with several who are known as the key thinkers of the movement. He has visited homes in Australia, Japan, Thailand, India, Russia and the United Kingdom. He has had extensive conversation with people who are ex-members of the family some of whom look back on their time in The Family with generally happy memories but others of whom are hostile.

I formed the view that he was by no means an apologist for them - on the contrary he struck me - if he will forgive me for describing him and if the World Services will understand my so describing him! - as a typical hard-headed Aussie who would have been treated as one of the lads on the hill at Sydney cricket ground. In other words, he was an impressive witness!

His conversation with Family members convinced him:

"That they believe they have freedom to make their own assessments of David Berg's writing. But they also live with the belief that gives them no expectation that David Berg could ever lead them astray."

He also expressed the opinion:-

"That there are some groups whose life is so aberrant and destructive that they move beyond the realms of what is acceptable in human society. Such a group I would call a cult. I do not believe The Family fits this description."

Because the group so strongly believe that they will witness the great events which will see the end of the world, their educational efforts are directed to equipping the children with the skills of management and decision making which will be appropriate to the task of ruling the world with Christ in the millennium. Dr Millikan expressed this opinion about their education:-

"I am not without some reservations concerning the education of the children above the primary school level. Up to that point what I have seen of the education of the children around the world is excellent. They are taught in a loving and open atmosphere and they appear to enjoy the experience. ...For the teens, the educational materials available are limited to a narrow band of publications emerging from the fundamentalist creationist frameworks, although it must be said that there is a concerted attempt within The Family to address this situation. ....What is primary in my mind is the emotional and spiritual health of the children. That I believe is not at risk."

He expressed this strong opinion:-

"I believe we must retain within society the right of groups such as this, when driven by powerful religious or philosophical beliefs to put themselves at a distance from the dominant values of our culture. The rights of children in this situation are complex and under certain conditions should be allowed to compromise the right of a group to stand against our culture. But it is not a sufficient argument to say that a group is aberrant and dangerous to its children when the only reasons advanced are that the group is isolated, or holds eccentric beliefs, or restricts access to the state educational system for its children, or advocates an openness in sexual expression. ...There were certain forms of behaviour prior to 1986 in relation to child sexuality which I believe are alarming...I am of the opinion that all sexual encounters between adults and children have ceased. The present literature is unequivocal in its rejection of this behaviour and the people within the group are clear about their own changes and that earlier lit. has been removed or destroyed. ...The Family as they present themselves now have a right to be respected within the diversity which makes up the contemporary pluralist nature of our society."------(reply to this comment
from Nick
Friday, May 04, 2007 - 13:45

What a sleazy bastard! He kidnapped these kids from their own mother, pulled them out of their element and flew them to a new country?

He should be in jail!!!
(reply to this comment)
From neez
Sunday, May 06, 2007, 23:44

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(
Tasmania is part of Australia... unfortunately.(reply to this comment

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