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Getting Real : Faith No More

Are You Robbing God?

from Lauren - Thursday, November 13, 2003
accessed 13604 times

For most people, once out of the Family, the topic would probably have been of little interest. To me, it was, and always will continue to be an issue of importance. And so, here I find myself expatiating my thoughts for any others who might also find the subject worth the time it takes to read this article: Family finances and tithing.

Generally speaking, I don’t watch the news--the fact that we don’t have TV in our house sort of helps. It seems to me that you can drop off the face of the planet, resurface two years later, turn on the television and nothing has changed. The faces, dates, times & events are new, but the facts are pretty much the same: turmoil in the Middle East, a war or conflict somewhere on the globe that is in the daily news, some major natural disaster, the latest health discovery that either contradicts or confirms a zillion previous studies, and some major factor concerning the environment. If anything unusual happens, someone is bound to tell you about it.

On an infinitesimally smaller scale of both importance and interest, it’s much the same way with The Family. Drop out of membership and forget about them, then get your hands on a few mailings two years later, and nothing much has changed: A new revelation from Jesus, The Family is still tops in God’s eyes, the Endtime is right around the corner and there is a new list of things you must do to receive God’s highest blessing. And if something unusual happens, someone is bound to tell you about it.

Which is pretty much how I managed to find myself, last Saturday evening, sitting through a two-hour stretch of “Word time”. It was, I must admit, the most enjoyable “Word time” I’ve had in two and a half decades simply for the fact that I was free to criticize the content and to welcome Mr. & Mrs. Doubt & all their little Doubtlets to come and drink tea with me while we discussed the issues at hand.

For most people, once out of the Family, the topic would probably have been of little interest. To me, it was, and always will continue to be an issue of importance. And so, here I find myself expatiating my thoughts for any others who might also find the subject worth the time it takes to read this article: Family finances and tithing.

GN 1046 is a Letter titled, “Are You Robbing God”, and it takes all of about one neuron to figure out from the title that the content is 24 pages of Maria and Peter telling the Family why they need to give, give & give again. Does this mean I’m dense for sitting through two whole hours of what one nanosecond of logic could have told me? Probably. But in a form of self-torture and morbid curiosity spawning from a knowledge of the way the Family publications are written, I wanted to see what the other 22 pages that were not quoting scripture on tithing actually going to be about.

Basically, here’s what the GN had to say:

1. The Family is not doing well financially: (Maria: I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that a lot of Homes are struggling financially, WS income is down greatly, and overall in the Family we could be doing a lot more if we had more money – Par. 1)

What I don’t understand is why it’s taken them this long to notice. In 2001 the Conviction vs. Compromise series came out telling everyone to quit their moneymaking activities and be missionaries and that God will take care of them, and now there is no money. Isn’t this a no-brainer?

(From Conviction Vs. Compromise): 153. The God factor means that I have opened to you the riches of the universe, I have put before you a great reservoir of supply, and it’s yours for the asking, yours for the taking. The God factor means that if you will put your trust fully in Me, you will lack nothing. It means that if you preach the Gospel, you will live of the Gospel. It means that all things are possible to you. It means if you are trusting Me and doing what I tell you to do, I will never fail to support you, even if it means I have to drop the support out of the sky. It means good witnessing always pays. It means if you are obeying Me, I will take care of your needs…. 154. Practically speaking, it means if the Family will put their trust in Me, if they will claim My promises, if they will obey what I tell them to do, I will supply all their needs according to My riches in glory (GN 959 – Be Ye Separate)

Personally, I don’t give any credence to prophecy published in a GN. But I know that there are some of us that still do – if only out of fear or “what if”. First of all, if this prophecy is true, why is the Family STILL having trouble financially, and second of all, after all of the, “if you do this, if you do that” hoop jumping, “Jesus” says, “I will supply all their needs according to My riches in glory”. From a Biblical perspective, the verse that promises supply has nothing to do with “if”, nor, for that matter, does it have anything to do with the Family. It is a statement from Paul to the church that had been the only one supporting him in his time of need, “My God shall supply all your need….”

2. If you didn’t know before that it was a big no-no to question Maria and Peter and their financial modus operandi, you’d better know it now: (Maria: …it’s dangerous for you spiritually if you haven’t researched the Word and yet you debate the validity and effectiveness of the Family’s economic system, which is based on tithing. And it’s even more dangerous if you have partaken of the current debates on the ex-member sites, which are trying to undermine the Family’s faith in tithing and the credibility of those who manage the Family’s WS money. This uneducated discussion about the tithe is a growing trend in some areas, so Peter and I feel the need to answer some of these questions….” – Par. 4&5)

Hmmm. Last I heard, Family members were “discouraged” from visiting ex-member sites. Actually, they’ve been repeatedly warned, urged, cajoled & pleaded with to avoid the ex-member sites. So how the purpose of the debates on these sites could be structured to undermine the Family’s faith, if Family members are not even supposed to be visiting them, is beyond me. If debates on the ex-member sites, which are not even allowable reading material to Family members, are able to undermine the credibility of those who manage the Family’s WS money enough that WS has to publish a GN about it to do damage control, one HAS to wonder: what credibility?

Interestingly enough, if someone DOES research “the Word”, they would have even more reason to call into question the validity of the Family’s tithe based economic system than those that don’t research “the Word”. Could it be that Maria and Peter have themselves not researched “the Word” & don’t really know what they’re going on about?

Several months ago, while talking with one of our neighbors who is an adherent of the Jewish faith, I discovered (big surprise to me, having learned everything I know about tithing while in the Family) that in Judaism as it is known today, there is no “tithe” – no giving of a set percentage of ones’ income. In fact, the person I was speaking with really didn’t have any idea at all of what I was talking about.

Not wanting to take one person’s word for it, and assuming that perhaps this person wasn’t “religious enough” to know what I was asking about, I spent a month or more researching the topic in depth – both through my own study of the Old Testament, comparing the translated versions against the original Hebrew, as well as in further discussions with others from the Jewish faith.

The long and short of it is, that as far as I’ve been able to gather, the only precedent for tithing in the Bible as far as commandments or law were concerned, was a 10% gift to the priests on the increase of things that grew & animals that were raised – a land and animal tax, if you will. The only discussion of giving of anything other than the above foods & animals was in the New Testament when Peter pulled coins out of a fish’s mouth to pay taxes to the tax collectors. If Maria and Peter wanted to use that tax example to base their argument for tithing on, they might actually have a smidgen of a point. But I don’t think they’d take kindly to the reference of “rendering unto Caesar…” being about them.

The whole concept of giving 10% of your income has nothing to do with Biblical scripture or precedent. There are a few examples in the Old Testament of tithing (as in Abraham tithing 10% of his war spoils—which he was not even planning to keep anyway—to Melchizedek), but nothing actually written so far as commandments go. Granted, I am not a Hebrew scholar and I have not spent years studying and cross-referencing every word of the Torah. I’m willing to be told by a Rabbi that I am wrong. But until the Family can come up with an argument more convincing than the one presented in this GN, their whole guilt-trip inducing “you’d better tithe so God can bless you” explanation is nothing but smoke and mirrors and has nothing to do with the Bible.

3. The benevolent master syndrome begins with: (Peter: … “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, that what they get is a gazillion times more than the church people get for their tithe or offering….show me any church that gives each home of their parishioners any money at all for emergencies, let alone the $2,000 HER that goes to CM Homes…. – Par 18.)

What about the HER fund? Where did this money originally come from? I’ve tried to track down the letter where this all originated and I don’t have it, so I’m working from memory. As I recall sometime in 1992 or 93, in the ultimate recreation of Acts 2: 44 & 45, WS required all Family members to turn in all of their PERSONAL flee funds and any money the Homes may have had on hand for a rainy day including gold coins or foreign currency reserves (they clarified we didn’t have to sell our jewelry and turn that in too -- how kind). Once all of this was collected, WS redistributed it to each Home in, what I seem to remember an amount of $8,000 per home. This was later reduced to $2,000 per home when the number of homes started growing.

The money started out as belonging to the individuals in the Family, now it belongs to WS. This $2,000 is not GIVEN to the Homes; it is left with them for safekeeping. If you use it for any reason that is not an emergency, you are excommunicated, and no matter what the emergency, if you use more than $1,000 without CRO approval you get excommunicated.

Basically what happened is the Family leadership took the money away, gave it back to the Homes to hold on to, only to be used under specified conditions, and are now saying, “see how generous we are, we gave you this money.”

Taking into consideration the possibility that WS has put more money into the HER fund since its inception, the concept is still the same. The money originated from the Family members & it has not been GIVEN back to them. They are only holding the money & the funds must relinquish it if required by WS to do so.

4. The benevolent master syndrome is expounded upon: (Peter: … “we give you publications for every age group of the Family. On top of that, we provide tools for you to do the job, to raise income, to both preach the Gospel and support yourself. Show me any church that does one-tenth of that giving back to the members who are giving their tithe. Those churches don’t exist. – Par 19.)

And I’m thinking: Show me a church that pretty much bans contraceptives for the first 25 years of its existence, then requires its members to home school the children and then uses the children as serf labor, requires its members to raise money using some of the least lucrative methods known to mankind (with the exception of FFing, which is its own whole can of worms not worth getting into here), and on top of this spend 20% of their time on church imposed activities (get-out, praise time, word time, witnessing hours, home meetings, etc.) and give 14% of their income straight off the top. Those churches don’t exist & what similar groups do exist are usually referred to as cults.

5. The benevolent master syndrome is expounded upon even further: (Peter: “The Family’s tithe, extra 4% and gifts also provide them with music CDs, books and booklets, administrational services, the board structure, Service Homes and local services (such as LIMs or Lit-Pics, ABMs, FED resource centers, reporting offices, and some of the local websites, production centers and audio studios), the tool fund, as well as help in financing meetings, VS trips and more!” – Par. 24)

It’s interesting to note, that now the official required giving is 14%. It used to be 10% to WS, 1% to the FAF & then each area would vote every six months as to whether or not they would continue giving 3% to the Common Pot. But now it’s been made official and there is no longer any vote on the 3%. As a Family member I would be jumping for joy over this news -- NOT. While still in the Family in Africa, our Home paid our 3% every month and never saw a single bit for that money. We got NO services. Even our ABM was unreliable and we used our own methods for getting email to where it needed to go. Half the time we never got the Family tapes and CDs because mail couldn’t get into our country & we didn’t even get paper mailings. We couldn’t get “tools” in the local language. Basically we were totally on our own. But we, without running water or electricity, with little food & intolerable living conditions were subsidizing Teen and YA meetings in Western Europe. Wow, whoopee!

6. Peter starts up with the scary stuff on why people had better give. (Peter: ... “but let me tell you, that ten percent that you’d be saving isn’t going to give you money for emergencies… If you didn’t send in your tithe you’d spend that money on something, or you might save a little on the side for a rainy day, but it’s not going to do you any good compared to the wonderful good it does if you give to God. Because when you do, God gives back to you – money, for one thing – but on top of that, God gives you back so many spiritual blessings through the Word, through the government of the Family, and through the peace and security of knowing that, “Wow, if I have an emergency I can get some help.” And, “Wow, I really want to go pioneer, and I can get an extra boost of a thousand dollars.” All of those things are God’s blessings. Your ten percent would never give you all of that if you kept it, or if you decided you were going to donate your ten percent to the local church. You’re getting a big bang for your buck, in my opinion, and you need to realize it. It’s just pretty good practical business sense to tithe, because it’s going to keep you afloat as opposed to your keeping that little bit of money and then going under. It just makes sense! – Pars. 25-27 & 55)

This is one of the most convoluted trains of logic I have read in a long time. (Peter: That ten percent that you’d be saving isn’t going to give you money for emergencies…) Are they really THAT dense? Have they never heard of insurance? Ten percent of my income buys my family some damn fine emergency coverage, thank you very much.

A thousand dollars to go “pioneer”--only $500 of that is actually in cash—the rest is in “tools” which do you absolutely no good if you can’t haul them to your new “field” & if you can’t sell them because you can’t get them in the correct language for where you’re going. Oh wow, yippee, I’m so excited. Five hundred dollars might buy half of a plane ticket. That is such a good deal, after 15 years of tithing, and having turned in, oh, I’d say maybe about $40-50,000, that $500 looks awfully good, thank you so so much. (Sarcasm intended).

(Peter: If you [don’t] send in your tithe…it’s not going to do you any good compared to the wonderful good it does if you give to God.) Since when is giving to God the equivalent of tithing to WS? There are millions, if not billions of people on this planet who give their money to their “God(s)”, but they are not giving to WS.

(Peter: It’s just pretty good practical business sense to tithe because it’s going to keep you afloat) . No, it’s not good practical business sense to tithe because it keeps you afloat. It is good practical religious sense to tithe if you believe in it. Tithing in and of itself is not going to keep anyone financially afloat. And what’s with this, “keeping that little bit of money and going under”? That kind of manipulation & preying on people’s fears is just absolutely criminal.

For a good example of tithing vs. not tithing, look at The Family. They’ve been tithing for what? 30 years? Many people in the Family have given above and beyond their tithe, some having given to WS hundreds of thousands from inheritances. Is their way of life, standard of living &/or health substantially better today than it was 30 years ago? Are they happier, more fulfilled & content in their service for the Lord than they were 30 years ago? What about the people who have left the Family and no longer tithe? Are they better off in any physical way than they were while they were in the Family? I know that for me personally, I’m doing MUCH better financially than when I was in the Family, not to mention the fact that I’m happier, healthier & generally have a much greater zest for life. I’ve been wonderfully “blessed by the Lord” & I haven’t done a damn thing to earn the blessings.

I do not tithe. I do give. I give because I want to not because I am afraid of losing the blessings of God. I give to causes &/or people I believe in, in amounts that feel right to me when the urge strikes. I will never again, so long as I live, tithe my money to any entity or religious body – particularly so to an organization like the Family that provides no actual accounting of numbers to its membership.

In fact, right after going through this GN the first time, and writing down my initial thoughts & having decided to not only “deliberately disobey” the “council from the Lord” but to rebut it & point out several issues with “God’s prophets” & their lack of money management skills, I woke up the next morning to find a nice fat unexpected windfall in my bank account. (No doubt, according to the Family, the Devil was rewarding me for allowing the Vandari to work through me.)

In case there is any misunderstanding here, I am not knocking giving or tithing – both of which have a healthy place in the lives of those to whom these concepts have meaning. Many of today’s greatest financial geniuses advise, as one’s social responsibility, to give back to the communities from which the money is initially earned. Giving is not a bad thing. Convoluted logic is a bad thing – especially when used to badger people into your way of thinking.

7. There is another grand announcement of how frugal David Berg was, and Peter & Maria now are: (Peter: So Dad was economical, let me tell you!.. we hope you also see that we’re not just sitting around on our rear ends in the lap of luxury. We are working…you’d be pretty surprised to see how frugally we live, and how our other WS Homes live too. So we’re not squandering your money, we’re managing it….please realize that we, to the best of our ability, are managing the money in a way that is benefiting the Lord’s work….” – Pars 11, 38 & 48)

Throughout the letters Berg continually harped on how economical, frugal and saving he was. Peter and Maria repeatedly bring up how Berg was saving & how they are frugal. Starting with the belief that they are truthfully frugal: Frugality does not automatically equate that the person actually knows how to handle money. Some of the poorest people in the world are frugal as can be. In researching this particular topic, I went back through 30 years of letters to get an idea of what Berg had to say about frugality and tithing & read one particular quote that pulled it all into a one thought compilation.

“I WOULDN'T EVEN CLIMB ON SOMETIMES WHEN WE WERE STANDING OUT IN FREEZING COLD WEATHER, and it happened a lot of times. We would be standing there shivering and the green bus would come by whose fare was 15 pence, but I was too chintzy to waste three pence to climb on the green bus, I insisted on waiting another half an hour or 45 minutes in the cold for the 12 pence red one!” – Par. 33 "THE TITHE!"--Malachi 3:10.--A Financial Crisis. MO 6/78 DO No.702

Berg did go on to say that he later realized it was a bad idea to do that. But that’s not the point. This is a man who had a 10-cent price tag on the value of one hour of his time. I don’t have the time to get into the pages it would take to explain how fundamentally backwards that is to the very heart of financial proficiency. This mentality may impress those Family members who don’t know any better, but it’s surely not going to assure people that know how to handle money that those at the head of the Family actually know what they’re doing so far as finances are concerned.

But for one brief spell in his life when Berg was working two jobs, he never had money. When he was living with his mother, they lived off of donations. When he had his own family, they were always struggling. Until the Family’s tithes started rolling in, Berg may have been as frugal as hell, but he never had the experience of handling large sums of money & learning how to make that money work for him rather than him working for it.

WS seems to be under the impression that everyone out in “the system” is a slave for their money. What they don’t seem to realize is that people who are extremely wealthy do not work for their money. They are wealthy because they have learned how to make their money work for them. This takes financial literacy and an understanding of the way the world works. Obviously, for a group that has “declared war on the system”, believes that “the big boys are controlling the world’s economies” and refuses to allow an education that would help them in this regard, this concept is a lost cause. The image that WS presents to the Family in the publications about the system portrays the life of the poor slave-wage and lower income earners. Could it be that nobody there actually understands a life beyond that?

8. It’s all those evil ex-members’ fault (again!): (Maria: There seems to be quite a hubbub going on these days about tithing. Apparently some of you have tapped into the ex-member sites and read various questions about whether there is a scriptural basis for tithing. Some of these ex-members support their ideas with Bible verses. The main thrust of their arguments is that tithing is an Old Testament practice, one that is not required in the New Testament. While this might seem like a simple doctrinal debate, the underlying spirit of the questions implies that Peter and I are taking advantage of you, we’re ripping you off, we shouldn’t ask you to tithe, we should have a better way of supporting WS, we should just receive free-will love offerings, etc… -- Par 58 & 59)

Ever since the tithe was first instituted in the Family, the members have been writing in to leadership requesting modifications, asking for clarifications, and, yes, complaining about it & asking to have to pay less. This issue is nothing new to the Family, but this GN is the first time in Family history where Family leadership has claimed that these complaints about the tithe are a direct attack on their leadership & an attempt to destroy the Family’s faith.

9. Maria and Peter insist they are NOT bad money managers: (Maria: ….Some feel that if we just “used a little business sense” we could have plenty of support for WS, and still have enough to give away. The points being made are that Peter and I aren’t handling the Family’s money wisely, our requirements for Family membership are not right, we’re using the Bible to back up unscriptural demands, etc. Of course, I don’t know how much actual business experience or even practical experience the people who write these things have. It’s possible that they’ve been directing a worldwide missionary movement for years and years and have found a better way to do it than Dad, Peter, and me, but I think that’s rather unlikely. Still, since some people in the Family have asked about these ex-members’ arguments and wonder if there’s merit to them, we prayed about them.” – Pars 60 & 61)

I don’t know how “directing a missionary movement for years and years” suddenly becomes the criteria for whether or not someone knows how to manage money. In this case even Warren Buffet & Peter Lynch do not pass muster. Every single young person who has left the Family with nothing, gone out into the world, built a life for themselves and is now investing in their future has enough actual business and practical experience to tell Family leadership that the leadership does not have a good grasp of financial management.

During my time in the Family, I’ve seen so many bad business decisions come about from hearing from the Lord in prophecy, that, in good humor, I’ve come to believe that “the Lord” is a very bad businessman. When the Bible says that he “owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth in every mine,” that might have been before the Lord was actually running the heavenly family business, because if he handles his heavenly business the same way he instructs his Family “fold” to handle their earthly business, I’m afraid there aren’t going to be many mansions left in heaven – by now he might have had to mortgage the place to Mammon.

Managing money does not mean sitting at the top of a multi-level money making apex and deciding how to spend the money. Managing money means finding a way to make that money grow, to be responsible for its safekeeping & to the people that gave it.

After 30 years, the Family is no better off financially than it was at the beginning. I’ve gone back through the publications and found dozens upon dozens of Letters and quotes first from Berg, then from Maria, trying to teach the Family how to become financially successful. The problem is that it has always been spiritual, “do this so God can bless you, do that so God can bless you”, & of course, in the old days, Berg promoted various money making ideas that almost invariably had to do with begging (or prostituting). Since then, the “how to get wealthy” letters have contained 20 point lists with maybe 2 practical real life things on them: Budget and be austere. And then, as if to prove that WS & Family leadership are convinced that this is the best way to become financially secure, they repeated (and condensed) that list in a recent GN series titled “Show Me the Money” & included all the old money making mags in a reading list. In this series, Family leadership is once again attempting to tell the Family how to become financially stable. Perhaps (and for the sake of the Family members, I HOPE) some of their points will work, but for the most part, it is a repetition of the same spiritual factors that have been harped on since the Family’s inception.

A person can budget and be austere until they are blue in the face – that alone is not going to help them get forward financially – especially if their current income is not sufficient to meet basic living expenses. In the Family, the solutions from leadership have thus far always been “work harder”, “be more spiritual”, “follow these spiritual guidelines”, “budget and be austere” & “give, give, give”.

This is all that the Family leadership knows. Most first generation Family members are either high school dropouts or at best, have a few college credits to their name, the only experience most of them have gleaned in their lives is the work they’ve done in the Family. Unless WS has been snatching up the only college grads the Family has, it’s fair to assume that the people running WS &/or running the Family are on par with the rest of the bunch academically and experientially speaking. They’ve never invested, they’ve never actually gone out and made money & what’s more, WS & Family leadership doesn’t even have the same experience the average Family member has in figuring out how to support his/her own Home. WS is supported by the Family’s tithes.

With the exception of Maria’s job experience before she joined the Family she has never worked for money a day in her life (unless you count FFing). I’m not sure what kind of experience Peter has, but I doubt it was a whole lot more than that. They haven’t even gone out and beat the pavements selling the Activated or “Family tools” that they’ve spent reams of pages telling the Family they must do in order to please God. How are they supposed to teach the Family how to become financially secure?

All Family leadership really knows how to do is preach spiritual things. I am not knocking spiritual principles. They have their time and place – especially for those who place importance on them. This is not about trying to destroy people’s faith in God or a higher power & replace it with the worship of money. This is not about telling those who place an importance on being a missionary that there is no point in being a missionary. This is just plain common sense for anyone that is interested in getting beyond the living hand to mouth stage. – It is possible to be a missionary and still be financially literate.

Family leadership chose NOT to invest their money in anything that had to do with the world or “the system”. It was a conscious decision.

(Maria: Once when there were some extra funds, Peter wrote Dad a report asking him about the possibility of investing in certain moneymaking possibilities. Dad's response was, "Why give it to the Devil's people to invest and make money on? Let's invest it in the Family!" At Dad's request, Peter then proposed several possible plans to give the funds to the Family, and Dad and I chose one that would give a $1,000 Christmas tool gift to the Homes .Par 91#3049, MAMA'S NEWS AND VIEWS!--Part Two, 3/96)

I am absolutely not against giving the money to the Family. What I am against is the comment in the GN that followed the above example:

(Maria: The interesting thing about this is that Peter calculated that if WS had invested those funds in the System, WS would have gotten about a 10% return after one year. But when we gave the funds to the Homes, the Lord returned the full amount we'd given away through an inheritance within one month. So the Lord gave a 100% return in only one month, as compared to the System's 10% in one year! – Par 91)

I don’t have actual statistics for the year this event took place, so I’m working with the next best thing: (Maria: For the last five years we've had an average of 230 DO Homes worldwide. Par. 4, State Of The Nation '95! #3017, 10/95)

This means that not only did WS have an excess of roughly $230,000 (not counting whatever operating reserves they kept on hand), they also received an inheritance of roughly $230,000 the following month. This is over half a million dollars in surplus cash.

I ask: Where is all of that money today? Considering the current financial state of the Family as reported by Maria, obviously, the money is long gone.

There is a financial word that Family leadership seems to be painfully unaware of. It’s called “principle”. You never, ever, ever, touch your principle. But the Family policy with money for 30 years has been to eat the principle and pray for more to come in. Not only has WS devoured the principle that has come into its own coffers, it has taught the Family to do likewise.

If action has anything to do with thought, it would appear that WS’ idea of being a financial power has everything to do with bumming off of people who have money, and nothing to do with becoming financially literate themselves or understanding the fundamental concepts behind allowing money to work for them.

People with money know what money can do for them. Every dollar they have is not just a dollar; it’s the potential to earn another $700 over their lifetime. When they give that dollar away they are not giving away a dollar, they are giving away the seed to a $700 money tree, as well as the future exponential value of each of those $700 “money seeds”. People who are wealthy understand the true value of money (and, painfully, most Family members do not).

(There are others on this site, who, from reading their comments about money, it seems they have a much better grasp of this than I do, so I defer to them if the following numbers &/or reasoning is unsound):

Regarding the $230,000 in cash: Where is the money now? By Family definition, it has been invested into souls saved & each Home got $1,000 worth of tools (also now long gone). Fine. But apparently that is not putting food on the table.

If that $230,000 was placed into an investment earning 10% a year and allowed to sit without being touched, it would, today (10 years later) be worth nearly $600,000. A nice little increase for money that was extra to begin with, but not a LOT of money. If they had done the same thing with $500,000 it would under the same circumstances today be nearly $1,300,000. Again, a nice piece of change, but for an operation the size of the Family, it’s really not that much money.

As any investor knows, the power of money is in the long term. 10 years, is really not a lot of time for any investment to grow. Five years from now that 500,000 would be worth over $2,000,000 & with each year added on to that, the numbers start multiplying rapidly.

But what IF: What if, 35 years ago, the people who headed up the Family had realized that what they had on their hands was a group of pretty much uneducated drop-outs. What if they had realized that in 35 years, some of the young hippies in their group would be approaching 60 & shortly after that health issues, frailty issues & so forth were going to come into play.

What if they had sat down and said, “You know, we have a responsibility to these young people who have put their trust in us & in our connection with God. We believe that God is going to take care of us, and maybe even Jesus will be back by 1993, but just in case we don’t have all of our interpretations straight, how about we go ahead and plan for the future. Let’s invest $5,000 (five thousand dollars) & every month thereafter we are going to commit to take $5,000 (five thousand dollars) of the money our dear precious missionaries that we love so much send to us & we are going to give it back to them in the long-term by adding it to the original investment. Since they have given up everything to follow what we have told them God wants them to do, in return we’re going to look after them as best as we can as they get older.”

In such an alternate universe if such a thing had occurred & said investment had continued to grow at an average of 10% per year, that investment would now be worth over $17,000,000 (seventeen million dollars). One million & seven hundred thousand dollars a year from interest alone is not a little money when it comes to trying to help your aged, your sick & your poor.

WS could still continue to live off of the tithe that they require of the Family sends in if that’s what they want to do.

But would they even have to? WS keeps on hand, I believe, a total of 3 months working reserves. Knowing the size of the operation, and guesstimating a 3-month reserve of about $300,000, that gives them a tidy little sum to work with. (Considering that WS once used its reserves to give every person in the Family a $50 tool gift, and the average number of Homes in the 5 years preceding the Charter was 230 with an average Home size of 40 members, WS had to have at least $460,000 in reserves to work with – that’s IF they emptied the reserves completely, it could have been more.) In the 30 + years of Family history, I can only remember a few select instances where WS would have been called on to tap into this reserve (or when they did it anyway, such as when they gave each member in the Family $50 for their tool gift fund, or as they are doing again now to help lead the Family in the way of giving.) What this means is that they have had this tidy sum sitting around at their disposal. What has become of it? It’s possible that the reserve funds have been invested into at least the bare minimum – savings accounts or CDs. It could just be stuffed in mattresses or hidden holes in the wall, continuing to lose value, not even keeping up with the rate of inflation. But since this information is kept highly secret, we will never know.

The concept of long term saving & investing is not rocket science. Anyone with two working fingers and an internet search engine can find a financial calculator & punch in the same numbers and find the same answers. There have been times during the past 30 years when rates were better than 10% simply in a normal savings account. Today, with interest rates being so low, about the best you can get in a savings account is 2%, and with the kind of numbers in the above example, you might be able to pull 4% on a major Jumbo CD. But there are plenty of other growth opportunities around to provide up to 10% interest -- and rates are rock bottom. In an upswing economy, pulling in returns at 25 – 30% is totally reasonable.

The fact is, not only does the Family leadership not have these kind of forward thinking capabilities, but, if Family history is any indication of the way they work, “long term” means 3 1/2 years from now – in case the covenant is signed in secret. The power of compound interest is in the long term, not investing for a year.

But it’s not just a lack of forward thinking that makes it impossible for WS to pull out of the total dependency state of being. In order for WS to make the kind of investments & pull in the kind of returns I’ve mentioned in the examples up above, they would have to start paying taxes – which brings up another huge issue – because WS has been laundering money since it was born & is operating its financial structure illegally under just about every country’s law on the face of this planet.

As the whole point of this tirade is money management, this wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the issue of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars that have been spent over the past 15 years beginning projects that never got off the ground, producing “loser” witnessing tools & storing the tons of published material that never went anywhere. I wonder if any kind of feasibility or marketability study was done before producing the TIV, SOS or 20 Minutes to Go? What about the DFs? How many hundreds of thousands of DF #36 were produced, then sat in storage & were later burned. Yes, that’s great money management for you! The fact is, in the past, most Family witnessing tools were produced on the council or desires of Family leadership.

It would appear that today at least with Family productions, things are changing. Since the mid 90’s there has been more of an emphasis on mass marketing Family products & slowly but surely those involved are starting to get the idea of producing items that sell, not just items that put out group propaganda. What one person with an MBA could have saved the Family in time and money boggles the mind. And they say they are “managing the Family’s money” & wonder what kind of qualifications their critics have.

Again, speaking of “managing the money” what about the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars that went into supporting victor homes. Not only was that a poor investment as far as results go, it actually ended up costing the Family a huge amount of time, energy & money in terms of court costs and “persecution” due to the ill effects those homes had on the individual children sent to them. (I doubt the Family has seen the last of this yet).

I find it interesting how Peter in his justification of requiring the tithe from the Family, points out that taxes are meant to provide government services such as, police, fire, and whatnot, and how that is sort of what the Family’s tithes do for Family members – while at the same time, WS and Family leadership do not actually pay taxes.

WS can say that its goal is souls and not to make money. Fine. But if that is the case, I would suggest they stop acting like snooty know-it-alls when it comes to the subject of money. If after 30 years of sitting at the top of a brilliant multilevel marketing apex where they have a free sales rep force in the thousands and money just rolls in every month, they have still not figured out how to become self-supportive & have to roll the presses with guilt inducing “you better or else” GNs, WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE? Maybe a little higher education might come in handy?

10. The Family officially no longer uses the Bible as a solid doctrinal base: (Dad speaking: Like I told you when I was there, way back at the beginning of the Family, we’re not looking backward at the Old Testament, or even the New Testament, other than as a possible blueprint for how we can operate now, today, in this day and age and in this Time of the End…..the giving of the tithe is simply an offering to the Lord that the Lord says belongs to Him, and that he uses to take care of His priests and Levites, His ministers, and those who serve you. I’m not about to be dictated to by the examples of the past. I refused to let anyone pour God into a mold when I was there, and I refuse to let anyone do so now! We’ll look back at the Old Testament and at the New Testament and the way they did it simply as a pattern for what worked, and we’ll take from that pattern and ask the Lord about His plan for today, using and patching it into the final church in a way that fits and works today, now, as He leads us.

(Jesus speaking: You in the Family tithe because I asked it of you today, not because I asked it of someone in the past. I have included these examples for your benefit, to show you that it has worked before. But you’re not bound to do it just because they did it – you’re being asked by Me to do it today! – Pars 62 –63, 11)

This is so smooth. I wonder if anybody in the Family actually realizes what is happening on this one. My Family relatives certainly hadn’t caught it when I asked them about it.

Since in the prophecy above, “David Berg” says that he has never allowed himself to be dictated to by how they did it in the Bible, and “Jesus” says that the Family tithes because he has asked them to do it, and not because they did it in the Bible, I wanted to see how this jived with past tithing initiatives.

What I have discovered is that in every instance I came across (granted, my search was not all encompassing and there could be plenty of information out there I didn’t get at), not once did Berg ever say, “this is a new day and this is the way the Lord has showed us to do it for ourselves”. No. In every instance, he based his decisions for enforcing a tithe upon the Family using the principles of the Old Testament.


David Berg: ALL WE CAN DO IS LAY DOWN GOD'S LAW & SAY, "HERE IT IS, HERE'S THE SCRIPTURAL MINIMUM!--If you are not willing to give your all, the New Testament minimum, then for God's sake at least give the Old Testament minimum of 10%, which is the absolute minimum to help support God's Work!

WHEREAS, IF WE JUST TELL THEM A FLAT OUT, THAT'S THAT, THAT'S GOD'S PLAN THAT'S [THE] BIBLE!….SO PART OF THE TEMPLE MINISTRY WAS TO CHANNEL ALL OF THIS GIVING of gifts & tithes to wherever it was most needed including the support of the temple & all of its ministers, priests & Levites--which in this case is us, WS, your today's spiritual leaders & Levites, the elders & deacons of our modern church.

SO IT IS TO TODAY'S TEMPLE MINISTERS, WS, THAT YOUR TITHES MUST BE GIVEN. So, the value of any such material gifts could be estimated, & if you are unable to pay the cash value of the 10% tithe, you might consider selling enough of it to do so, if WS cannot find a place to use the goods. – Pars. 84, 106, 135 & 138 TITHING & THE FN! DFO928 7/80)

Like I explained earlier, complaining about the tithe is nothing new in the Family – you can find references to that all the way back in the 70’s. But what, apparently, has never come up before, is someone challenging the Biblical principles of tithing. So what we have here is a case of Family leadership going back to research the Bible on the subject and realizing that the Biblical notion of tithing is not quite the same as what they’d had in mind.

For 30 years, the Family has been tithing because “the Bible said so” & Berg required it of them because “the Bible said so” NOT because, “this is what Jesus has asked us to do in this day and age”. Now that this Biblical principle is challenged, boom, bang, they are tithing because “Jesus said so” and they are doing what Jesus has led them to do in this new day and age and it has nothing to do with what the Bible says or does not say. There is no evolution of this change found in the publications. Until this GN was published, the principles of tithing in the Family have ALWAYS been based on Biblical references.

The above quotes from “Jesus” that originated this line of thought also set precedent to the fact that the Family is no longer basing its belief system on the Bible. For people who call themselves Christians, this is extremely dangerous and should send off a whopper of an alarm bell, as it means, quite literally, that the previous foundation upon which their belief system is based is now defunct & can be replaced at the whim of the group leaders. Although this has been obvious for years from reading the Family publications, this is the first time I have personally seen in print a case of, “who cares what the Bible says, this is the way God told us to do it today”.

There is no longer any standard to go back to. It opens a Pandora’s box of possibilities and problems. While my faith in the Bible may be less than complete, I have a lot more trust in the veracity of what is contained in the Biblical texts, which have been passed down for at least 2000 years, than I do for those coming from Maria’s household. Remove the standard and all you have left is what Maria and Peter say. If this doesn’t scream CULT, I don’t know what does.

11. A whole big spot for comic relief: (Dad speaking: Some people have been circulating questions about tithing – whether it’s scriptural, and even it if is, if it isn’t just an Old Testament practice that doesn’t carry over to the New Testament….Now when I say, “some people” have been circulating questions, I mean ex-members in this case – and not just ex-members, but enemies who would like to tear down the family by destroying your faith. So they don’t write to Mama and Peter and others of your leadership, but they go around sowing their little doubts, murmurs, critical thoughts and skepticisms wherever else they can, in any receptive ear or e-mail box, including yours! I don’t mind legitimate questions, and neither do Mama or Peter – we welcome them, including those from you who’ve asked about our financial setup. But the type of questions that are designed to sow doubt and discord and attack the work are an abomination to God and to me. If people have questions, they should ask, but they should ask the right people! – Pars 79-81)

Now this one really cracks me up. I realize that this paragraph is not talking about me – at least I don’t see how it could be – but since I did write to a friend of mine who lives in Maria’s house to tell her about my initial discoveries on tithing in the Bible, it’s easy to write about the above paragraphs in a personal way.

This “prophecy” says, “So they don’t write to Mama and Peter and others of your leadership” and “If people [referring to the ex-members who wrote] have questions, they should ask, but they should ask the right people!”

Peter and Maria are not my friends. As far as I’ve been able to gather, they don’t have a lot of friends in the ex-member community. I don’t exactly understand what would make them (or anyone else for that matter) think that any of us would write to THEM about anything. And even so, what is writing to them supposed to accomplish? Are we supposed to expect an answer? I can personally attest to about 3 or 4 non-answer answers to my own inquiries while I was still in the Family & I have seen plenty more of them on the site, the granddaddy of them all being the “Maria Refuses” article.

In case they haven’t noticed, we’re not in the Family anymore. We don’t have to abide by their stupid rules any more and we most certainly don’t have to follow any sort of protocol in who of our friends still in the Family we write to about any particular topic.

Again, I really don’t understand how trying to discern what the Bible does or does not say could be attempting to destroy someone’s faith. Isn’t a Christian’s faith supposed to be based on the Bible? So if something is not being lived the way the Bible says it should be, shouldn’t we be happy if we figure it out and not condemn people for the discovery or call this search for truth, “doubts, murmurs, critical thoughts and skepticisms”.

12. Maria and Peter insist they are NOT trying to explain away some shady business: (Maria: …Peter and I aren’t trying to explain away some shady business practice, and we’re certainly not covering anything up. We have tried to be as open and honest with you as possible regarding the finances.)

Is it just me, or does this paragraph scream “blatant lie”? I’m not stating that there is some shady business going on (although the IRS might think differently), but are they trying to be as open and honest with the Family as possible regarding finances? No.

Open and honest means numbers, it means open books. Maria and Peter like to go on and on about all of the services they are providing and how no church does the same. Well what the churches do provide, that they don’t, is an accounting to the congregation of where the money went. Not ambiguous pie graphs with percentages that have little meaning. Actual numbers. This is not an accident that they do not allow the Family to see the numbers for the financials. In some past GN (which I don’t have time to research at the moment), Peter took the time to explain WHY they do not give the Family numbers to look at, which basically amounted to the fact that since they can’t please everybody they’ve decided to keep it a secret.

I wonder: If the Family saw how much money was being turned in each and every month, if they saw numbers put to the cost of producing the GNs, FTTs, and tools and supporting WS, would they feel their hard-earned money was being put to its best possible use?

I guess we’ll never know.

Reader's comments on this article

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from Corpus Outreach
Sunday, November 04, 2007 - 09:06

Average visitor agreement is 1 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
I teach a bunch of stuff on my site against tithing. I do it from a biblical perspective. I basicaly teach the curent idea of tithing as taught by most churches is realy an abuse of people. Robbing God, according to Jesus, was mistreating your fellow man[who is in the image of God] check it out at THANKS, jOHN
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From cheeks
Sunday, November 04, 2007, 11:11

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?)
Why do you people come here and comment on this site? Why is it that you cannot read and understand that you are not wanted here? It is rubbing salt into the wounds of all the people who have left we don't come here for religion, if we want that we have that in our personal lives. So go away and take your poor spelling with you.(reply to this comment
from etm
Wednesday, May 12, 2004 - 10:58

Average visitor agreement is 1 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)

Are you required to pay tithes of your income? No! Come to our website at: and find out the truth. The Church has been lied to for generations regarding the tithe, as numerous so-called preachers have lied about Malachi 3:10 in order to generate baseline income that will be there even if they don't bring in another penny! And they are going to have to answer to Jesus Christ for it! There are also some interesting facts about Abraham, Melchizedek, and Jacob that so called preachers have attempted to hide from the people of God, and we expose the truths that they were attempting to hide. Also, the Word of God itself states exactly who had the command concerning tithes in Hebrews chapter 7 verse 5 and Numbers chapter 18 verses 21 and 26, and these are just a few of the verses. Read these verses and you'll see who God gave the command to concerning tithes. In our message entitled: "The Truth About The Tithe", we deal with everything concerning tithes and we expose deceptions that Satan has released on the people of God through his ministers of unrighteousness who are lying to the people of God about the Word of God in order to generate money!
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From @
Wednesday, May 12, 2004, 11:31

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(

Are you required to have a global outreach ministry preaching and teaching the "truth of Gods Word" in order to get multitudes throughout the world to receive Jesus Christ and become unskilled laborers for your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, in order to build up his kingdom? No! Come to our website at: http://reality.hello and find out something that makes sense. The world has been lied to for generations to distract them from reality, as numerous so-called preachers have lied about "god" in order to generate baseline income that will be there even if they don't bring in another penny by doing a day's honest or useful work. And they are going to have the karma to show for it! There are also some interesting facts about stuff that's actually useful that so called preachers have attempted to hide from the people of the world, and we lament the so-called truths that they were attempting to distract us with. Also, the TV Guide itself states exactly who is getting what shows as long as they have command of the remote concerning watching channel 7, 5 or cable numbers 18, 21 or 26, and these are just a few of the choices. Watch the News broadcast and you'll see who Rummy gave the command to concerning Abu Ghraib. In our program entitled: "Wake Up and Smell the Coffee", we deal with everything concerning wishful thinking and we expose deceptions that christians have released on the people of the world through their ministers of fantasy who are lying to the people of the world about their "Word of God" scam in order to generate money!

(reply to this comment

From exister
Wednesday, May 12, 2004, 11:36

Excellent parody!(reply to this comment
From @
Wednesday, May 12, 2004, 11:42

Merci, monsieur ;-)(reply to this comment
from Dani
Sunday, January 25, 2004 - 06:55


Reminds me of the lyrics of a film we watched as children:

Hair: Easy to Hard

How can people be so heartless
How can people be so cruel
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold

How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no

And especially people
Who care about strangers
Who care about evil
And social injustice
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd?
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend

How can people be so heartless
You know I'm hung up on you
Easy to give in
Easy to help out

And especially people
Who care about strangers
Who say they care about social injustice
Do you only
Care about the bleeding crowd
How about a needing friend?
I need a friend

How can people have no feelings
How can they ignore their friends
Easy to be hard
Easy to be cold
Easy to be proud
Easy to say no

(reply to this comment)

from Jules
Saturday, January 24, 2004 - 15:46


Here are some comments from Family members on the subject of tithing from Grapevine 167. The last comment is from my mother and the irony of her "inspiring story" speaks for itself.

Obedience Comes Before the Blessings, Part 2
-Reactions to "Are You Robbing God?" (ML #3461), and "Show Me the Money, Parts 1-5" (ML #3462, GNs 1046-1050)

The secret of life is obedience

Carmen (CO), SACRO: I haven't heard a lot of bad-mouthing of our tithing policy, and in fact I myself-and others I've discussed it with-have admired how Dad came up with such an ingenious plan to help the Family support itself so totally independent from the System. Pretty amazing! Had to be the Lord! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this GN, and getting such a good review of our beliefs on the subject.
I guess I never questioned tithing because even when I was very young my parents had a real fear of the Lord about the tithe being the Lord's money, and they passed that on to us kids. They taught us to faithfully set aside the tithe from our witnessing and any donated goods, etc. I'm so thankful that they ingrained that fear and respect in me, because to this day I believe with all my heart that if we give the Lord our tithe (which is pretty measly when you put it in perspective!) He totally outdoes our wildest expectations! I've experienced this many times and prefer to leave it up to the Lord to surprise me with His blessings. Which He does, amazingly!
That got me thinking about our kids and asking myself if we are passing on to them these very basic and important principles. I don't think I've read the tithing MLs, at least not since I've been of an age where I could really understand them, but I realized that I do have the principles pretty deeply ingrained, and I owe that to my parents. Tithing was not negotiable; it was a way of life. I can't help but notice that our compromises are really affecting our kids in a big way.
Dad's points about the lack of fear of the Lord hit the nail squarely on the head. That answered my questions as to "what, where and how" so much compromise got into our lives. For me this is the most important point: grasping how dangerous it is to become familiar with the Lord, or take His love or blessings for granted. This lack of a healthy fear of the Lord is at the root of all the weakness in the Family. It's so sad to see how it's even filtered down and is affecting our children. It boils down to lacking the respect or awe that comes from knowing what it's like to be in the hand of a living God, both when He's loving and when He's angry. There is so much compromise even at our kids level. GHU! If the foundation we give them is diluted with compromise, how will they ever have the conviction they need to be Endtime witnesses?
The point about our tithe being what we give to the Lord, regardless of how it is used , was very good! It's so funny how we start thinking it's "our" money, or that we have a right to have a say in how it's spent. That's pretty backwards if you think about it. I always remember Juan's testimony, and it encourages me that when you give to the Lord-if you're truly giving -you don't have to worry about what happens to it. Shortly after Juan joined and gave his whole inheritance to the Family, he visited Jethro's Home where they were-among other extravagances-drinking French wine (which was even illegal at the time and couldn't be bought within the country!), and Juan started putting two and two together and it kind of stumbled him. Faithy prompted Juan to write Dad about it, which he did.
Dad's answer was pretty simple: "Son, you gave it to the Lord , and the Lord will reward you for that. Whatever happens to it after that is between the people who handle it and the Lord." I love Dad's answer because it shows his faith in the Lord's justice, and that he really wasn't hung up on money for himself, and in Juan's case his giving to the Lord was the only part that he had to worry about.
I think we've developed a serious case of selfishness, only wanting to give to specific people, and only wanting those people to spend it on specific things. It doesn't seem to be very Christ-like to give only if the money will be spent "your way." That's not really giving, and it sounds like the System. I believe that we would be a lot "richer" if we weren't so stingy with the Lord.
It feels really good to have the Lord setting the record straight on all these compromises that have slowly crept into our discipleship. As the quote says: "The big secret of life-everything good in your life depends on having My blessings, and having My blessings depends on your obedience to Me and My Word" (ML #3461:125, GN 1046).

Immediate results
Thaddeus English, Iceland:
While it came as rather a shock that there would be some who would not be giving their tithe, it came as a bigger surprise that we were included in that number as we were not tithing the funds we used as seedcorn for balloons and face paints, as we had lumped it all together with the Activated seedcorn.
After going back and correcting this and transferring the funds to the tithe account, I thought nothing more of it. It wasn't a large amount, but it just felt good to have got it sorted out with the Lord. Imagine our surprise when the next day we received a gift for US$300, followed by a new fruit and veggie contact. and a real breakthrough in our Activated subscriptions, which has resulted in the greatest number of subscriptions we have ever received, along with the greatest number of mags distributed here!
The challenge is clearly laid out before us and we can trust that, by taking a step at a time, we shall see the fruits of obedience to His Word.

Blessed through tithing
Heidi Butterfly, USA:
Tithing is something that I have never had a problem with, even when I was FM and there were times that finances were very tight (especially when I was a single mom with three kids). I always knew that the Lord would take care of us, and that the tithe was the Lord's and not ours. I saw over and over again how much the Lord supplied in miraculous ways, and I always knew that the Lord would continue to take care of us as long as we didn't rob Him of His tithe.
During that time we didn't get a lot back, but we never ever thought not to tithe. Even if we didn't get anything back in the physical, we still would receive the Lord's blessing for being obedient. I can honestly say that in my 30 years of tithing, I have never once suffered because of it. In fact, I have felt blessed many times over because of it.

Just $10 a month
Vine, Canada:
I recently heard an inspiring story about tithing and giving. A woman in the '60s or '70s gave $10 a month to help support a child in India through Save the Children. She saved and sent this $10 every month for some years until the child reached 18. He sent her thank-you notes and they exchanged occasional letters.
Thirty years later she received a phone call from this child she had been supporting, who was now a man. He was overcome with emotion, and told her how because of her he was able to get an education and become a successful businessman. He was helping 1,000 poor children in the Philippines, because she'd helped with that $10 a month. This story inspired me that though we may not see it now, the fruit of our tithing will be exceedingly and abundantly more than we ask or think.

(reply to this comment)

From Nancy
Saturday, January 24, 2004, 18:11


Oh, this is rich!!! And the support for your own children? What of that? Isn't there something about seeing to one's own house, say before trying to "save" the world?

And let me just initerate what I think I read, the Almighty, God who created the heavens and earth, needs you, little FM single mother with three children, to send in your income, even if it puts a strain on you? So, God can create the heavens and the earth, but he cannot mint US currency?!(reply to this comment

from Gar
Sunday, November 23, 2003 - 12:23



This has nothing to do with this article but I wanted to get the word out ASAP: I just heard from a very credible source that family leadership is going to take the same action it did in Brazil on TF as a whole. In other words they are going to excom everyone! (according to my source [who is in TF] there will be a few exceptions that will only be FM'd) I just posted and article that will come out in the next day or so but wanted to get the word out ASAP for all of you that have family in TF in case you want to prepare for this somehow.
(reply to this comment)

From Noodle User
Sunday, November 23, 2003, 13:07



"We do not plan to take away everyone's CM or FM membership for a period of time‚ as was done in Brazil‚ but there is a restructuring in the works for 2004 that will help to strengthen the sample of the Family overall and boost the integrity of each circle of membership." (New Year's Challenge for 2004!, Summary of Summit 2003, By Peter A., CM/FM 3468 10/03)

As I understand the above quote, Maria and Peter are NOT going to be doing what they did in Brazil. So unless they are doing a flip-flop on the Family, I doubt they will be excommunicating them.(reply to this comment

From banal_commentator
Sunday, November 23, 2003, 15:12

Every once in awhile TF comes out with a new "shake up revolution" to ensure that its members know that they are in an elitist group and that if they aren't "100% on board" TF won't want them. Just another attempt at keeping the cult members fearful that they will lose their "privilege" and thankful that they are still part of the chosen. (reply to this comment
From Gar
Sunday, November 23, 2003, 13:30

Thanks for the info. I guess my source is not very credible after all, or they just don't read the letters very carefully, which actually might be a good thing for them in the long run.(reply to this comment
From exister
Monday, November 24, 2003, 12:17

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?)
Dude, that would be hilarious if they excommed everyone. In their spirit fueled stupor they probably wouldn't even notice until the checks stopped rolling in.(reply to this comment
from Gar
Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 19:41

This article is a good example of the kind of information this site needs to keep it credible! Good going Lauren and good for you for doing your homework. I think if we can get these kind of articles into the hands of family members, and actually get them to read them (which is the hard part) it could make a huge difference.
(reply to this comment)
from Big Sister
Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 03:41

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?)

This is a facinating article and makes me wonder this: if the Family members were actually EARNING money then they might be more interested in knowing if it was being put to good use? Isn't most of the tithed money collected as donations and gifts? If family members can't hold system jobs, how can they have any "hard earned money" to care about?

I don't think family members care that much about the best possible use of their tithe because they don't tithe their own money. It's just money passing thru their hands. They may complain about the tithe but they are effectively in no position to make demands. To do that they would have to have earning power.

When i asked my sister in TF what attracted new members to the cult back when she joined in the 70's, she said "People who were turned off by chasing after a boring career and money, money, money." She told me that in America, all people talk about is money and careers and that she herself never could develop an interest in material things or working at some dull job all day.

This comment contrasts sharply with the reality of my sister's life today in TF that i observe when we visit each other. She spends more time in a day trying to get money or goods than I do at my job and she has less to show for it. More time is spent dealing with the chaos of disconnected phones, lack of money for food and gas, having landlord problems, moving every few months, etc. She does ballooning to earn money too, a job she recently called "so boring I could scream".

The sad thing is that for my sister and her home it is a rough scramble every month to make the rent, phone bill, etc. When she comes to visit me I can see that she is exhausted and really needs a break. So obviously the 14% tithe is a stretch. Seems to me that if she had a regular 8 hour a day job she would have more time, much more time, left for missionary work. But then again, more time to wonder how her tithed money is being used.....

Sometimes i wonder if this cult isn't just an elaborate excuse for its members to avoid having to earn money by working for it. If my sister is right, the cult attracted a first generation of 20 year olds who self selected as the least entrapreneurial possible people. People who are "turned off by chasing a career" will never figure out how to earn money because working, earning, focusing on money is shameful, crass and base way to live. Saving? Investing? I don't think planning is a part of this picture, do you? Demanding accountability? That's for responsible adults with power to make changes.

(reply to this comment)

From Wolf
Wednesday, November 19, 2003, 08:08

Most members DO earn their money by begging / peddling / etc. I'm sure they're not so crazy about giving it away.(reply to this comment
From Wow
Wednesday, November 19, 2003, 08:00

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(
For someone who has not been in TF themselves, and coming from an "outside" perspective, your perception is tremendously accurate and insightful. For the first time in my life, I have things that I have earned, that I have worked for myself, and the experience of owning things instead of being owned certainly changes ones standpoint on many things. And you are very right; accountability will never be understood by members still in TF. No one caught in that trap has ever truely grown up--they are still children on so many levels. (reply to this comment
Friday, September 03, 2004, 02:29

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(

I beg to differ... for yrs in the family me and my younger brother slaved away on the streets soliciting donations, peddling "tools" and balooning in order to keep our home afloat and food on the table.

It was our hard earned money... for the most part raised by the second generation. We often wondered just what exactly the FGA men would do with thier time, as they didnt bring in any support, and unlike the fga women, didnt spend thier time teaching the kids, cooking and cleaning.

A typical day was: wake up at 6.30... sit thru an hr of devotions. As soon as that was over its out the door all day going STS, OTO DTD... whatever you could do. In the evenings and on the weekends we would hit the streets as clowns selling balloons often not coming home till 3 am (in the summer). When we did come home, it wasnt to relax or have off time... like as not there was a huge pile of dishes waiting for us to finish and assorted JJTs and jobs to be done, kids to be taken care of etc... We were only 16 yrs old when this started!!!

I often questioned the necessity of sending tithes... but what could we do? At 16 u may be bringing in the money, but u dont even have the right to vote on financial issues till ur 18! Not to mention that once u are old enuf, there are enough superfluous FGA s around to counter ur vote... even if u are the main breadwinner.

I once actually asked one of the FGA uncles y he didnt join us ever in the fundraising... u know what he said?

"PPL like to give to young ppl... they wouldnt give anything much to me cus it would look like a waste of money... at my age only losers would still be going around asking for donations"

Hell yes!!!

Now that i am out i can actually take pride in my job and in earning my own money, and more than that... actually getting to keep it and decide what to do with it... its great!

But i guess my point was... just because it came in the form of donations rather than a legitimate paycheck doesnt mean we didnt work for it. We slaved away for much longer hours than i have ever been obliged to work here in the "system" (reply to this comment

from porceleindoll
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 18:56

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?)

You have an incredible ability to put things together! It quite amazes me. The ironic part of this is that your dad spent so much time being a Bible Whiz, which you obviously picked up from him, but you have turned it around on the group and gone into the Bible from the Hebrew and the Greek and all that in order to expose their twisted interpretations.

I think it was about 11 years or so when we got the first 'revelation' that God had promised to make us into a financial power to be reckoned with. I was pretty excited cause at the time I was Jett teacher and we had 9 kids I think, and a bulk of the home's finances seemed to rest on our little shoulders, we took up busking during the Christmas season, on the streets in odd places. It was really hard, it was cold, it was embarassing, and these guys were ages 9-14 (I guess OC to teen). I hated it, so the prospect of becoming financially powerful was great.

But as the years went by and it became obvious it wasn't happening, what a drag man! At the time I only blamed myself or the Home, we were failing somehow, even though our schedules were pretty wrapped up with trying to fulfill all the commandments, word time, witnessing, praise time, giving, sharing, etc... But it was never enough, or maybe it was our hearts, surely, our hearts were wrong somehow, we didn't love Jesus enough, we didn't love God enough, we didn't love our bretheren enough, we were too SR, whatever.

Then the LJR and 'Go for the Gold' and 'Prophecy' revalations came out, and I knew for sure I was doomed to poverty cause no matter how hard I was trying in every other area, I could not practice LJ, I didn't want more than 3 kids, and I didn't have the gift of prophecy. It was just plain depressing, every GN about how we wouldn't receive the full blessings of God unless we obeyed in every area just rubbed it in that I had gone as far as I could and was becoming--God help me!!-- a 'could have been'--what a tragedy!

So, I left the group, save myself the depression and the money.

Back to the article, most of Maria and Peter's ramblings are really quite funny and laughable, I mean, if they haven't scared off any group members who still have their wits around them, I'm sure this will help. But, this is what scares me:

10. The Family officially no longer uses the Bible as a solid doctrinal base: (Dad speaking: Like I told you when I was there, way back at the beginning of the Family, we’re not looking backward at the Old Testament, or even the New Testament, other than as a possible blueprint for how we can operate now, today, in this day and age and in this Time of the End…..the giving of the tithe is simply an offering to the Lord that the Lord says belongs to Him, and that he uses to take care of His priests and Levites, His ministers, and those who serve you. I’m not about to be dictated to by the examples of the past. I refused to let anyone pour God into a mold when I was there, and I refuse to let anyone do so now! We’ll look back at the Old Testament and at the New Testament and the way they did it simply as a pattern for what worked, and we’ll take from that pattern and ask the Lord about His plan for today, using and patching it into the final church in a way that fits and works today, now, as He leads us.

(Jesus speaking: You in the Family tithe because I asked it of you today, not because I asked it of someone in the past. I have included these examples for your benefit, to show you that it has worked before. But you’re not bound to do it just because they did it – you’re being asked by Me to do it today! – Pars 62 –63, 11)

One comforting thought to me while in the group was that Berg had taught us that everything he said in his 'Letters' could be backed up in the Bible, that it was all there. And that at least made me feel that we were Biblically based. Of course, it's obvious that he and the present leadership have been leading the group into their own personal doctrines and revelations, but in order to snag so many original members, I guess they had to be somewhat true to original Christianity. Berg even said that if it wasn't in the Bible then we could chuck him entirely!

But now they have come out totally in the open to say they are no longer bound by the Bible! They have their own private NewAge connection with Jesus and Heaven, and so their revelations don't need to be in accordance with the Bible! That sort of freaks me out a bit, cause they have removed what few guidelines of normalcy they have, and are now able to pull any doctrine out of the hat and the present members are so conditioned that they accept it without question? How and when did this happen?

(reply to this comment)

from Spring
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 18:24

Good job, Lauren! I had no idea that the 10% tithe on all income wasn't mandatory in the old testament (shows how much time I spent actually studying the Bible). Even after I left I was still sending in a "tithe" (to my family) because I felt so guilty and was hoping to convince the Lord not to strike me with lightning. I did eventually wizen up, but not before sending thousands of dollars to the cult! Ugh! I hope some current members read this and get some sense knocked into them.
(reply to this comment)
From banal_commentator
Saturday, November 22, 2003, 00:58

Sad thing is, a current cult member could read this and it would just be like reading some of the devils doubts (otherwise known as logical thoguhts) that they would glaze over with Jesus's witty come-backs, he never fails. Point being: they are so fucking brain-washed if their leaders shot their heads off they'd proabably think it was all part of God's wonderful plan. "The lords ways are not our ways." ....At least my parents are like that. Can't even talk to them like a normal human being its like talking to some programmed robot. I told my mom that she made life really hard for her kids and immediately its just like this wall "Oh no, I'm not going to listen to the devil" Hello!!! Wake up intelligent life forms are trying to communicate with you. Can you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth??? These nonsense sentences should reflect some the frustration of talking to a person whom you call your mother but who would rather waste her life following someone shes never met then listen to a few legitimate concerns from her children. (reply to this comment
from Blondieboy
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 17:45

One of the many things I still don´t understand about the Family is that how can thay not see what the "leaders" are doing with them? The blind faith that they have isn´t faith but pure stupidity. After being brainwashed so long do they have a chance to be "normal" again?
(reply to this comment)
from DarkAngel
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 17:17


Beautifull Lauren ,you are wonderfull ,such a gift of expression ,right on the money .All you said is inspired and clear I wouldn't attribute this to the Vandari's spirit helpers ,but more to the Spirit of truth .

Keep it coming.I hope more fam. will read this and let it seep in their feeble minds although I sometimes feel sorry for some of them as I was one of them for so long ,I realised recently how harden some of those folks are to listening to any contrary ideas or opinions .the fruits of brain washing and fears in action.
(reply to this comment)

From neez
Tuesday, November 18, 2003, 18:53


wtf is a "spirit of truth"? Mr. 'Im so open minded'

Is there some sort type of 'trooth fairy' floating around space dispensing little snippets of truth(as she sees it) at random?(reply to this comment

From DarkAngel
Wednesday, November 19, 2003, 10:10


Hello neez .I don't really want to go into arguments with you ,are you upset at almost anyone that happened not to speak your language?

Let it rip then ;go on sock it to me !!!

But i'll move on to some more interresting ....(reply to this comment

From neez
Thursday, November 20, 2003, 03:09


Yes, my cult-speak is a bit rusty. That happens.

I don't know about socking anything.. But I can keep smacking those cheeks of yours.(reply to this comment

From DarkAngel
Thursday, November 20, 2003, 08:38

LOVE YOU TOO!(reply to this comment
From Benz
Wednesday, November 19, 2003, 01:17

DarkAngel certainly appears to be blessed with the "Spirit of Abrahim" honey!!!

- I personally think he has recieved Berg's mantle and is here to punnish Zerby & Kelly for being too carnal and not caring for their flock enough....those fleecers!

Sock et too em DarkAngel!!!(reply to this comment
From DarkAngel
Wednesday, November 19, 2003, 10:04


Thanks Benz ,I don't know about Berg's mantle but anyone on my side is welcome...

Was Abrahim the good guy?

Sorry Nezz I forgot that in your world the Spirit of truth has disapeared never mind call it what you like as long as it gets the job done.(reply to this comment

From neez
Thursday, November 20, 2003, 03:22


Well not really.. I never saw any spirits. Or heard any honest fairies.(reply to this comment

from George
Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 15:49


Excellent job, Lauren. Thanks for taking the time to put this together. Total disillusionment with tithing finally led me to do some serious research on the subject several years ago, which agrees completely with what you have said here. If you're interested, I've written it up as a kind of expanded outline, viewable at:

Ed Priebe's article gives still more confirmation:
(reply to this comment)

from Joe H
Monday, November 17, 2003 - 18:57

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?)
Excellent analysis Lauren! The part about "We just use the Bible as a blueprint" reminded me of the zombie pirates in Pirates of the Carribean, curse of the Black Pearl ("They're more like guidelines really!")
(reply to this comment)
from exister
Monday, November 17, 2003 - 16:46


The rantings of Zerby and Kelly sound disturbingly similar to a Carlton Sheets Infomercial.

"Send me $499 and you will get my original 'Real Estate Get Rich Quick Toolkit'"!

That cat was in trouble with the feds a while back. The only reason Zerby and Kelly aren't in the same boat is that their victim count is lower, financially at least.
(reply to this comment)

From Joe H
Monday, November 17, 2003, 19:03

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?)
I think Carleton Sheets' program is a lot more believable. He hypes it up, but you really CAN make that kind of money with real estate if you're smart (but it does require "money down" unfortunately). No, Peter Amsterdam's shpeal sounds suspiciously like Homer Simpson's telemarketing scam: "Greetings, friends. Do you wish to look as happy as me? Well, you've got the power inside you right now. So use it and send one dollar to Happy Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. Don't delay. Eternal happiness is just a dollar away"

Maybe when our lawsuits are finally successful we'll all get phone calls a la:
"Hello, this is Homer Simpson aka Happy Dude! The court has ordered me to call every person in town to apologize for my telemarketing scam. I'm sorry. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me, send one dollar to : Sorry Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. You have the power!"(reply to this comment
From Christy
Sunday, November 23, 2003, 16:19

It's spiel, not shpeal. Sorry Spelling Nazi, I couldn't resist!(reply to this comment
From Gar
Tuesday, November 18, 2003, 10:01


You can buy real estate with "no money down" and even walk away with money in your pocket if you can get owner financing, which is the whole idea behind the Carlton Sheets program. It's called creative financing and requires you to find different loan sources to cover the down payments. It's just not as easy as he makes it sound.(reply to this comment

from Blondie_B78
Monday, November 17, 2003 - 14:37

Great article! :-) Wonder if there is anyone out there who could enlighten us as to some actual figures for WS expenses - ie. printing, operations budget etc. Do you know what the WS population is? Roughly? I suppose it would be hard to "guestimate" how much $ it takes to support a unit when nobody knows where they are located as living expenses vary so much from place to place.
(reply to this comment)

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