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HOW IT STARTED-brief history of a cult family.

from moon beam - Thursday, November 18, 2004
accessed 18602 times

As I was reading whatever1037's article I thought to post a comment on the early years, when I remembered that, when I was about 14, I wrote about my past experiences as a kind of way to deal with my bizzare childhood. So instead of just a comment I thought I'd post part of what I had written.

It was summer 1981 Hyde Park I remember it as if it were yesterday. I lived in a block of flats in Victoria. I was five years old. The day was sunny and bright and we were all singing and clapping to the song “You gotta be a baby to go to heaven”. I felt slightly daunted by the crowd of people, I was so small compared to all the adults. We all sat in a great big circle and I savoured the happy atmosphere. I sang with all my heart as loudly as I could.

Unbeknown to any onlooker who saw this happy clappy facade, little would they have known what went on in our homes away from public view. From my earliest memory I was already sexually aware. Instead of teddy bears and dolls to play with my early childhood was mainly filled with travelling, memorising, singing, litnessing and witnessing on the streets, they gave me what they considered to be “ultimate love”. My mother stood beside me with her long hair flowing down to her waist, the men had beards and long hair, everyone was kissing and hugging and behaving so lovingly, they called each other “brother” and “sister” they were smiling and so was I. I was a miniature carbon copy of them and what lay ahead, in my life and my experiences were all due to what they tried to make me. We were “one big happy family.” We were the “Children of God” and we pledged our loyalty to God and our prophet and spiritual leader David Berg.

David Berg was born in 1919 in Oakland California .His father Hjalmer Emmanuel Berg was a pastor for many years before teaching at a Christian College. His mother Virginia Lee Brandt Berg was an evangelist with the “Christian and Missionary Alliance" denomination. David was their third child and his mother had a prophesy that he was “filled with the holy ghost” from the womb and believed that he was destined for greatness. As a teenager, he accompanied his mother on her trips as a chauffeur and singer, but became bored and frustrated as he felt pushed into the background, he felt that he never had the opportunity to develop himself as a person and difficult to come out from his mother's shadow. It would seem that he was plagued by insecurities and inadequacies. As a younger child was left with many nannies, he later wrote a MO letter about one of them giving him oral to help him sleep and how natural and enjoyable he found it.

In 1941 Berg was relieved to be drafted into the army as this was a chance for him to prove himself, but he was soon discharged because of a serious heart condition. In one of his many writings ("The Law of Moses") he describes how he called to the Lord and promised to serve him if he was healed and he was “raised instantaneously” out of his sick bed and went back to serving the Lord with his parents in the Los Angeles area where she was holding meetings. There he met Jane Miller (Mother Eve) a young Baptist youth worker, they fell in love and without consulting either parents, eloped in July 1944. They continued to travel and work with his parents until they had two children. He became the pastor of a Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Arizona and according to him built it with "his own hands."

He worked there for three years as the main pastor but was expelled for in his own words bringing in “Dirty, bare footed Indians” from a nearby reservation. However, there were strong rumours of him being involved in a sex scandal but this was never proven. His expulsion lead to a great bitterness in his soul against organized religion and latter described them the “Hypocritical Church system”. He went on to University to study communism, which clearly affected the way in which he was to lead his cult “David’s Mighty Men” as he called them.

He taught High School for a few years before attending “The Soul Clinic” an American missionary group led by a man called Fred Jordan. This dealt with training potential missionaries for working abroad.

After 15 years of working for Fred Jordan Berg found himself jobless, but took away with him several business tactics which helped develop his skills of being able to present facts in a way that will produce positive results. With his eldest daughter now married his wife and three children took to ‘the road’. He always felt he was destined for better things but at the age of 49 he was left “a nobody” nor any real achievements or self-worth. Even his mother’s church friends did not want him preaching in their churches.

In December 1967 Berg and family found themselves in Huntington Beach, California, where they stayed with his mother who was now 80 years old. She had started a small ministry of feeding peanut butter sandwiches to the hippies, surfers and “dropouts” who congregated on the pier. Mrs Berg was an associate of a man called David Wilkerson who ran a organization called “Teen Challenge” who opened a coffee shop called “The Light club” but their clean cut image was not attracting the long haired hippies. She saw the opportunity for her son and grandchildren to “minister” to these people as their youth and musical talent appealed to them.

So David Berg and his family started feeding and helping the “dropouts” of society, some who were fed up with the modern way of life and disagreed with the Vietnam War. Not only did Berg start feeding them food physically, he also started “feeding” them spiritually. Berg came into his element; he had at last found himself a following and proceeded to make quite sure not to loose them.

The death of his mother in 1968 saw Berg "pull out the stops" There was no longer his churchy domineering mother to be careful of. He preached against the hypocrisy of the established church system, the social establishment and the American government; which all the "kids" understood, as they themselves were already in "a state of rebellion." He perpetuated this idea, which just so happened to match his own feelings on the subject.
Berg says. "Their parents want them to follow in their footsteps in a selfish dog-eat-dog economy in which they not only murder one another, but they conduct massive slaughters of whole nations. The young people are sick and fed up with what amounts to a pagan, cruel, whore-mongering, false Christianity." He than goes on to say, "Who are the real rebels of today?. We are the true lovers of peace and love and truth and beauty and God and freedom; whereas you, our parents, are the most God -defying, commandment breaking, insanely rebellious rebels of all time, who are on the brink of destroying and polluting all of us and our world if we do not rise up against you in the name of God and try to stop you..."quote pars.5.29.

His own children were deeply rooted in the evangelistic lifestyle, they sang and played on guitars, they knew the bible and were not afraid to not "Hide their light under a bushel." which showed a good example of living simply for Jesus. As word spread about this man and his radical approach, his popularity increased, he started to use the pseudonym Moses David. The fellowship grew; members preached the Bible according to Berg and recruited more lost souls with their controversial love bombing. This became known as “witnessing”. Potential recruits were told that they had found a God who cared through the "Revolution for Jesus." They attracted a lot of press coverage and became known as the "Children of God".

Their message was alive, exciting and unique, totally unlike the normal churches, which at that time seemed dead, mediocre and boring. Berg's little following travelled and preached his gospel, recruiting more along the way, living off donations, belongings and funds of newly recruited members, as new members were expected to give all their worldly goods.

He maintains that god revealed sexual freedom to him whilst "on the road" for Fred but I would strongly suggest that he had been battling with the scriptures and couldn’t stay faithful to the moral standards in the Bible. It appears he suffered from temptations and as he admits frequently, he was highly sexed. It seems that he convinced himself of a loophole. "if god created all this wonderful sex ,surely we should be able to participate freely in it..." He says in. "Law is love" His continued tactic off "Reject scriptural morality and redefine it "seems to be used with all of his latter policies and so-called "New revelations" The COG. by D.Davis pg.34 seems to hit the nail on the head as Deborah describes her fathers need to make exceptions to the rule, which came as matter of course, imbedded since childhood. D.davis looks into this character trait describing him as some one who had learned to justify his own ends by using the scriptures and clocking it with Christianity. QUOTE FROM D.DAVIS pg.33 ("If using the gospel for the promotion of self was part of my father's social hereditary, then his response to it was to adopt this as a part of his mental and moral fabric. There is good reason for her to feel this as I also do. There was a story which we all learnt from the "Kids Comics" which told how his mother was paralysed for 5 yrs from 19 11-1917("Hem of his garment” by V.Brandt) but in 1992 his daughter found out that this was far from the truth, that in fact, she gave birth to her second child whilst supposedly "a pitiful invalid...confined to bed...without the slightest chance for recovery...."her big "testimony" relied on the fact that she was "instantaneously raised and made whole..." D.Davis asks "Why is it necessary to fabricate stories about God for people to believe in Him?"

This is closely linked with the distorted ethic, which showed itself in his constant quest for sexual pleasure, and his self-belief in indulging in these otherwise "sinful" liaisons with other woman at such an early stage. (Years with Fred Jordan) He drew upon biblical figures Solomon, David and Abraham as men with more than one wife and declared that as his own wife was not fulfilling his need, there were exceptions for Gods special people, like him self! This, as well as sexually abusing his two daughters came long before the start of the cog in is clear that he was working his own life and his young family's in the spirit of the "Family " long before it came to pass.

Many prophesies given by this self ordained prophet in these early days had failed to come to true, this really should have made his followers (known as disciples) question his authority, but Berg somehow wormed his way out of each and every false prophesy. For example in 1972 California was to have fallen into the sea, sackcloth and ashes were donned by the members, they staged parades and demonstrations in the streets and outside churches. “The end is near, leave California” was one of the messages written on the yokes around their necks. "God will smite the wicked" was another.

The group came under close scrutiny by the media and the public even at this early stage, parents whose children were recruited and abandoned started an anti-cult network to raise awareness and try and discuss the dishonest and controlling methods they used. The members of COG would go as far as staging protests, where the message was doom and gloom. They'd march into churches declaring them to be wicked they relied on the bible to back up their stance. One man died of a heart attach through shock, as these unannounced visits would have caused offence and stress.

When this particular prophesies on California failed to come true, David Berg explained it away by saying it was a parable. It was not the land he was speaking of, it was the souls of the inhabitants of California that were falling into the hands of Satan. The sea was symbolic of hell and the Devil and those that had fallen spiritually into his Kingdom.

America soon had enough of Moses and vice versa. Moses David wept for the souls of America that could not be saved for their un-acceptance of the word of God.

Therefore the group left the USA to start to evangelise and recruit, in other countries at that time, i.e. Europe. He explained that the persecution was an open door to spread worldwide. In 1971 David Bergs Daughter Faithy appeared on Magnus Magnuson in England. The program gave the Children of God some much needed "good publicity” Berg likened his followers to “Gods Army” with one mission in mind - save the world. Soon the only contact between David Berg and his members would be through his many writings called the Mo Letters in which was written in detail his policies, beliefs and instructions of how the communes were run and commands, he said, were given to him directly from God.
Soon Moses David became increasingly afraid and paranoid, parents of members were not happy about him and the message he was giving to the youth.

After going undercover, no one was allowed to know of his whereabouts. Mainly down to his fear of persecution, INCLUDE QUOTE and looking back believe it was to keep him shrouded by mystery. He could of chosen to visit his colonies and meet his members, we never even met the man and were never likely to, accept in heaven, but he controlled all of our lives. He was soon seen as untouchable like God. Closed off from criticism but worthy of total, unquestioning obedience and loyalty. Older, more established members who had been with him from the beginning, were given personal leadership training by the "prophet" himself so that wherever you were in the world, in whatever commune, your life was strictly dictated, monitored and kept in sync with his teachings and beliefs, under the careful and watchful eye of the “leadership/shepherds”, who were his only eyes, he had to trust them to give him correct information and to make sure his teachings were being followed to the letter. In 1972 he explains in one of his writings “Revolution for Jesus” it says “Read Matthew 31-46 are you humble submissive sheep or an old goat? We will know by how well you submit to your shepherds don’t be surprised if your shepherd (elder or leader) wants to know everything about you and always seems to be watching you they are commanded to do so by God’s word”. Many reports were written and compiled on members and their ‘walk with the Lord’.

You can see how he had stretched the meaning it really says, "they watch over your souls" heb.13.17. He completely ignored scriptures like. Mark 10,42 "The disciples come to Jesus wanting to exult themselves, ye know they which rule over the gentiles exorcise lordship over them and there great ones exorcise authority upon them..43.but so shall it not be among you, whosoever shall be great among you shall be your minister.44.And whosoever of you shall be the chiefs shall be servant of all."

In the earlier years the emphasis was on recruiting more members and establishing the communes, it was at this time, in the early 70’s that my mother became involved and brought in slowly to the doctrines and teachings of this newly founded cult.

Reader's comments on this article

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from Corpus Outreach
Sunday, November 04, 2007 - 13:10

Average visitor agreement is 1 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
I just read 'Jesus freaks' and will post a very brief summary on my blog in a few days. #584
(reply to this comment)
From Samuel
Sunday, November 04, 2007, 18:21


First off, the link does not work.

Secondly, please realise that this site was set up by victims of The Family, specifically for former members. Which means that are unless you are a former member of The Family, your comments are not wanted here. You can gather information if you want, but please respect that this is our space, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we do not want to be preached to. Personally, I like my pastor's sermons better. (reply to this comment

From madly
Sunday, November 04, 2007, 23:38

Oh, Samuel... what to do with you? I am going to change your name to "Parrot Boy". ;)(reply to this comment
From Samuel
Monday, November 05, 2007, 03:27


It's good to see you back too, Madly ;)(reply to this comment

From Fish
Sunday, November 04, 2007, 17:49

Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5Average visitor agreement is 3.5 out of 5(Agree/Disagree?)
Ban him.(reply to this comment
from more on the early years
Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 11:09

(reply to this comment)
from sarafina
Thursday, November 25, 2004 - 16:16

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

Wow, That was a great summery. I haven't finished reading the whole thing yet but what I've read so far was very well written and explains things very well. I think Jules should put this in a separate section on on the main bullitin board for first time visitors and newbies to the site.

That was alot of research and details you have combined. I'm going to print it out to give a few of my friends as you've explained it better then I could. Good Job. I know it must have taken a lot of time so thanks for sharing it.
(reply to this comment)

From moon beam
Friday, November 26, 2004, 07:08

Thanks Sarafina, I did spend many years after leaving reading, researching and putting down on paper my childhood memories and trying to get as much info about TF into the public arena. I later wrote more and embelished on all the different aspects, I was offered a few ghost writers, but after reading some, decided that it wouldn't have the same effect. So when I have the time to do it justice, you all will be the first to know.
I hope this explains just how controling and manipulative Berg bacame and how it directly infected our parents, us, and the direction of TF.

(reply to this comment
from Ralph Crayon
Friday, November 19, 2004 - 17:33

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 really good summary of early COG, how it started. Its amazing how one fucked up person like Berg can leave such a trail of destruction. Now Maria is fumbling on the same path though she will probably be swallowed up whole as the ground crumbles beneath her. Berg may have been saved from the truth by the angel of death I don't think Maria (and Peter) will be so lucky. Stay posted for heart stopping action coming soon! HA HA HA HA HA
(reply to this comment)

From moon beam
Tuesday, November 23, 2004, 11:17

Indeed!!(reply to this comment

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