(a.k.a. The Family, Family of Love)
Founder: David Berg
The Family is a high-demand faith group that requires great personal sacrifice
on the part of its members. They emphasize Jesus' teachings against loyalties to
one's family-of-origin. They stress Jesus' preaching in favor of poverty and a
simple life. The group merges traditional Christian
beliefs and practices with the belief in universal salvation, contacts with
spirits, communal living, and free love among adults within the group.
The roots of The
Family can be traced back to the counter-culture movement of the late 1960's.
Many young adults, called flower children, or hippies, left the middle-class
life of their families of origin and sought a simpler lifestyle in the form of
communal life in southern California. Out of this hippie movement came a loosely
connected group of Evangelical Christian organizations collectively known as The
Jesus People, which were described as "a diverse collection of pastors,
street-preachers, oddballs and intellectuals all trying to communicate the
gospel to the counterculture." The Children of God were founded by one of
these individuals. David Berg began his professional life as an evangelist for
the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1964. He became the leader of a Teen
Challenge chapter in Huntington Beach, CA. in 1967. Teen Challenge was a youth
ministry of the Assemblies of God denomination. He separated the group from the
national Teen Challenge organization in 1968 and renamed it Light Club. Members
were called "Lightclubbers." Many flower children were encouraged by rock music
and free peanut butter sandwiches to spend some time in the coffee house. Some
evangelized other hippies; a few on a full time basis. Berg received a
"revelation" from God in 1969 that a disastrous earthquake was about to hit
California, and cause part of the state to slide into the ocean. He led the
group out of Huntington Beach to wander throughout the American southwest for 8
months. During that time, they changed their name to the Children of God. The
earthquake never materialized as Berg prophesied.
Also in 1969,
David Berg became a polygamist by marrying a second wife, Maria. He based this
decision on passages from the Old Testament which permitted multiple wives. He
received "revelations" from God identifying himself as the "End Time Prophet"
who would play a major role in the Second Coming, the long anticipated return to
earth of Jesus Christ.
New members were
encouraged to sever all contact with their families of origin, to donate almost
their entire possessions to the group, and become full time evangelists. Their
parents were justifiably concerned about the status, future and safety of their
David Berg, now
called Moses David, first attempted to disperse the membership among many
communes (called colonies) throughout the United States. He later prophesied
that a comet would hit the United States and destroy all life. This motivated
the group to organize the "Great Escape", an exodus whereby almost all of the
members left the U.S. and settled in various countries in Europe, South America,
India and Australia.
Berg made contact
with Abrahim, a spirit guide, which he had acquired in a Gypsy camp. Later he
revealed "other spiritual contacts with the dead."
In 1973, Berg
introduced "litnessing." This was a method of Christian witnessing through the
distribution of literature in exchange for donations. Berg wrote many "Mo
Letters" for this outreach. He eventually produced in excess of 2,500 letters.
In 1976, Berg
encouraged the women members of the group to engage in "flirty fishing". The
term was based on Jesus' injunction "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of
men" (Matthew 4:19). Women members
were urged to go into bars and befriend men. They were expected to seduce
potential male converts if necessary to in order to encourage them towards a
religious conversion and membership in the organization. The media had a feeding
frenzy with this innovative form of evangelism, portraying the COG women as
"Hookers for Jesus." In his 1979 annual report, Berg stated that his "FFers"
(Flirty Fishers) had "witnessed to over a quarter of a million souls, loved over
25,000 of them and won about 19,000 to the Lord."
The COG was
reorganized as the Family of Love in 1977 after some "abuses of authority" were
revealed among the leadership. The original autocratic organization of Dad
(David Berg), apostles, elders, and deacons was replaced by a democratic
structure. Each commune (called "home") became an autonomous unit. Their
organizational name was later shortened to The Family. At this time, Berg
introduced "sexual sharing", which is free consensual sexual activity among the
membership. "The free expression of sexuality, including fornication, adultery,
lesbianism (though not male homosexuality), and incest were not just permitted
that a person can be saved and spend eternity in heaven if they repent of
their sins and accept Christ as Lord and Savior. But they differ from
fundamental Christian beliefs in that they believe all people will eventually
be saved and attain heaven.
They reject the
doctrine of salvation as laid out in the
Bible. They do not believe that all unsaved humans will be tortured forever in
lake of fire after death.
represents, in their view, "a return to the roots of the true Christian
church." All other Christian faith groups are false.
"The System", which includes governments and the rest of society. The System
is regarded as evil; society generally is seen as near collapse.
They base their
religion on their interpretation of the Bible. A secondary source are the
writings of their founder. Two sources state that Berg's writings are
considered to override the Bible in cases of conflict; another says the
sexual enjoyment, from masturbation to intercourse is considered a gift of
God. It is an activity that is to be thoroughly enjoyed as a major focus of
one's life. Both male and female Family members are urged to masturbate while
fantasizing about engaging in sexual activity with Jesus. They embrace free,
consensual sexuality as a gift of God.
that Jesus had sexual relations with Martha and Mary.
the angel Gabriel engaged in sexual intercourse with Mary at the time of
the Holy Spirit as feminine in nature, and is referred to as a "Dream Queen"
or "Holy Queen of Love".
that people can sometimes be adversely affected by deceased people from the
spirit world. Exorcisms are occasionally performed to rid people of evil
They believe in
communication with the spirits of dead people.
Failed Prophesies of David "Moses" Berg
originally prophesied that the "End of the Time of the Gentiles" would occur
The War of
Armageddon would occur in the mid 1980's, when a coalition of Israel and the
United States would be defeated by the USSR.
socialist leader would arise from Egypt and become dictator of the world in
About 1989, the
leader would reveal himself as the Antichrist and require that everyone
would return in 1993. All of the saved will then take part in the rapture and
ascend to heaven. Satan would be overcome, and Christ will rule over the earth
for 1000 years, with the assistance of COG members.