The Children of God were essentially a communist cult with an "old world" idea of Christianity that recruited new members by fucking them. They still exist today under the moniker Family International.
David Brandt Berg. Images via Xfamily.org
The Children of God movement was founded in 1968 in Huntington Beach, California, by former pastor David Brandt Berg, known to his followers as Moses David, Mo, King David, Dad, and Grandpa. Essentially a communist cult founded around banding together to proselytize the word of Jesus in the streets, the group maintained an "old world" idea of Christianity, which, at least in Berg's view, centered largely around sex. By the time the organization changed its name to the Family of Love in 1978, Berg had introduced a process called "flirty fishing," which involved the women of the group recruiting new members by fucking them.
The use of sex within the Family did not end at the recruiting stage. When the group changed its name again, for a second time, in 1987, to simply "the Family," numerous allegations of abduction, pedophilia, and various forms of sexual abuse were leveled at the group, which by this time had locations in countries all over the world. In 1993, more than 70 percent of the group's 10,000 members were under the age of 18, operating under a strict and insane set of guidelines laid out by Berg and his wife, Karen Zerby, the latter of whom still heads the organization to this day, under their current moniker, the Family International.
I have paraphrased 20 of the Family's foundational ideas below.
1. God loves sex, because sex is love.
2. Satan hates sex, because sex is beautiful.
3. Incest is OK, because there's no better place for a young man to learn about doing it than from his own mother.
4. Eleven-year-olds are capable of becoming pregnant, so why shouldn't they be having sex?
5. Fucking your grandpa is awesome.
6. Everybody is married to everybody else.
7. Children should have at least an eighth-grade education, provided by their parents, and if the children want more education, it is "up to the parents to see if the Home can comply."
8. Pictures of naked congregation members, referred to as "nudie-cuties," make good bookmarks for the Bible.
9. It is OK to lie to nonbelievers in order to protect God's work.
10. Men should not be gay, but it is hot when women are gay.
11. Masturbation is having sex with Jesus. When a man is having sex with Jesus, he is no longer a man, but Jesus's wife, so it's not actually male-on-male anymore, and therefore OK because not gay.
12. When you are having sex with Jesus, he likes you to talk dirty. Pamphlets were created containing suggested "Love Words" to whisper to get Jesus hot, including (but not limited to):
-Hold me, I love You. Come fill me.
-I want You inside of me! Give me Your seeds.
-You excite me, Jesus, and I want to feel Your love. I want to excite You, too!
-Jesus, You're the Lover of all lovers.
-I want to enjoy You, Jesus, to look at You, to taste You, to feel You, to fuck You!
-I've got to have You in my arms. I've got to feel Your naked body pressed to mine.
-I want to suck Your penis. I want to suck Your seeds!
-I'm wild about You! I'm crazy about Your penis!
-My pussy is excited for You, Jesus!
-I'm juicy for You.
13. It's not very Christian-like to say words like "dong" or "cunt," but if you do, it's cool, because through the instruction of the Lord they are clean. Just, like, don't go around saying it all the time or anything.
14. The prophecies of Jesus are called "golden seeds," and one good way to receive them is to suck on Jesus's "golden rod" (or another man's rod if you are a chick and can't find Jesus's).
15. Jesus was supposed to return in 1993. When he did not return in 1993, it was because he wanted to give the Family more time to grow.
16. Rape provides a female the opportunity to witness to their rapist, and anyway she should have offered it freely, because providing free sex is a good way to convert people to the Family.
17. "Keys of the Kingdom" are powerful words you can use for extra effect while praying. These keys also power UFOs and can turn into swords to fight demons.
18. God allowed 9/11 to happen to "America the Whore" because the towers represent the ignorance of the fat, lazy, and rich.
19. Hitler was on the right track, but didn't actually do enough, because Jews are subhuman demons. Also, the Holocaust didn't actually happen.
20. Heaven is actually a "space city" that exists within a pyramid measuring 1,500 miles long, wide, and tall, and this pyramid either is traveling through space to reach Earth or is hidden inside the moon.
So how does one build and disseminate such a wide load of crazy, beyond just forcing one's followers and their children to give away their bodies? David Berg's primary method of communication within the commune was through the many pamphlets he wrote. He published more than 3,000 of them, some classified for Disciples Only (DO), some Disciples and Friends Only (DFO), and others for General Public (GP). Certain texts must be kept from the hands of the world at large, Berg claimed, to protect the family from the wrath of the non-believers who might not understand his inner teachings:
AS FAR AS GOD'S CONCERNED THERE ARE NO MORE SEXUAL PROHIBITIONS HARDLY OF ANY KIND, EXCEPT HE SURE SEEMED TO HATE SODOMY & I don't see where He withdrew that.-But whatever it is, there might be exceptions as long as it's in love. God's only law is Love!-And I'll tell you, it's dangerous because the System sure hates it, & the System's laws & everything are geared against sexual activities of all kinds & types, particularly having anything to do with children!
Alongside these tracts, the group produced illustrations to promote their beliefs, appearing often in the form of posters that perhaps manifest the tone of their philosophy more clearly than any prophecy or ranting ever could. The graphics ranged from political and religious propaganda aimed at the "ignorant masses" to prophecy of what the future must hold, and, more terrifyingly, comic-book-like visualizations of how a true believer must conduct himself, like so:
This cover headlines a tract describing the experience of a girl who, disgusted upon seeing King David coming out of an orgy wearing "nothing but a little loose linen loin cloth," condemns David for indecent exposure. David gets very angry and insists he did it in glory of the Lord, who made him king of all, and says from there forward he will be even more vile. And then God smites the girl and makes her infertile, and she dies childless, serving as an example for Berg as to why you should never hesitate to fuck men of the Lord.
Here's grandpa chilling out post-coitus with two of his daughters. Of course Grandpa is tan and has a Jesus beard and nice abs, because the Lord has taken care of him in return for spreading His love in the world.
This one is a little more light-hearted. This city actually looks kind of sweet, though I'm not sure what any of the buildings are supposed to be. I do like the guy wearing the girdle in the upper left corner pointing to remind you that the diamond-shaped rollercoaster structure is part of God's mansion on Earth, where apparently humans are now able to fly. Of course, the world outside the wall of the fun park is barren and ripped to shit, which is perhaps the only realistic part of this vision of the future.
"This is how God sees America!" according to this thing. "Get out of her, before she gets you!" I actually kind of like the idea of our country being one large human body, but it's pretty weird to imagine God looking down and seeing this lady all spread-eagle, wearing, um, a turban made of dead snakes? Cars driving into America's vagina is cool, though.
I guess this is meant to be like, "When there was only one set of footprints, it was then that I was in bed fantasizing about masturbating with you"? Either way, I'm not sure raising your arms up over your head like Jesus is how you properly use a dildo, but I guess it's whatever works.
As funny as some of these images and ideas are, others reveal that beneath the thinly veiled tirade lurks something sinister and controlling in a way that is difficult for someone not already in a cult to wrap his head around. In this way one is reminded how language and image are each a weapon, one perhaps more often for evil than we remember day to day. Because the Family International still exists. They have a website, one that appears to represent a group whose mission concerns love and faith. Regardless of its current status, its foundation is a bizarre and dark one.
Follow Blake on Twitter.