In the small village of Shimitsukoya in northern Japan, five members of Little Pebble Dohsyuku-kai live huddled together inside a two-story house. As part of a tradition lifted from the Roman Catholic model, members of this devout commune, headed by Father Jean-Marie Thornbush Little John, gather in a cluttered space each morning and await secret messages from the Virgin Mary. Afterward, Jean-Marie lubes up a woman’s belly and pussy with yogurt and has sex with her at an altar as the other members look on patiently. One cold weekend recently they let us come watch.
Father Jean-Marie and Clara in their ceremonial robes.
Jean-Marie’s ideology originated in Australia with a man named William “The Little Pebble” Kamm, a cultish, quasi-Catholic huckster convicted of sexual assault on a teenage girl in 2005. Kamm had a few people convinced that he was to lead the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of the looming apocalypse, and as his parish grew, Jean-Marie went to study under him. Eventually Jean-Marie was booted from the group, Kamm was imprisoned, and Jean-Marie founded the Little Pebble Dohsyuku-kai (roughly, “commune”) here in Akita Prefecture. He has since morphed Catholicism into something all his own. During our visit, for example, Jean-Marie wed two gay men, Longin-Marie Katsuyoshi Baba and Francois-Marie Koichi Maruyama, in a Catholic ceremony that was a romantic fuck-you pointed at the Vatican.
The raunch began shortly afterward, in a ritual dubbed “correct sex,” with Jean-Marie and a girl named Clara-Josefa-Menendez Yumi Abe washing up in a bathtub and then praying at the altar, butt naked. When prayers were finished, the two plopped themselves down on a futon mattress in front of the altar and Jean-Marie began sucking on Clara’s tits for several minutes. Then they started 69-ing. When that was done, Jean-Marie pulled Clara between his legs, spooned some yogurt on her shaved pubis, and began massaging it in with his cock. He was teasing her—or us. Jean-Marie danced in a strange rhythm with his hips, and Clara—who Little Pebble members believe has been pregnant with twins for more than three years—had a blank look on her face. Devotees claim there’s no penetration involved, but what followed looked like penetration to us.
The ritual ended after 15 minutes with nary an orgasm. Father Jean-Marie quietly tidied himself, put on a white robe, and sat us down to explain what exactly is happening here.
FATHER JEAN-MARIE THORNBUSH LITTLE JOHN
Vice: Hello. Where did you study theology?
Father Jean-Marie Thornbush Little John, aka Hiroshi Sugiura: I entered the Society of the Atonement after graduating from high school. However, I was urged to leave after a year. After that, I became a seminary student at Nanzan University’s Department of Christian Studies in Nagoya City and entered the university-run missionary association, the Society of the Divine Word. Again I was asked to leave after a year. So I took a year off and reentered, but this time as a theologian of the Nagoya parish. Despite this, I was repeatedly thrown out of various societies.
Most of the time it was because I loved Mama Virgin Mary too much. They said that I was too biased.
You loved her too much?
Yes, like a newborn loves its mother. I was born with a soul that can only love like a baby, so it was natural for me to be completely infatuated with her. However, the church considered my way of loving crazy.
Is this why you established the Little Pebble Dohsyuku-kai?
When people initially gathered here seeking my sermons, not a single one of them was fundamentally good enough to take the monastic vows. I realized that rather than building a monastery, it would be better to create something much more basic for these people. It is upon this realization that I received inspiration from heaven, and the Dohsyuku-kai is what I eventually built.
When and why did you move all the way up here to Akita Prefecture to start this commune?
I moved here on September 29, 2005. I personally had no desire to build all of this, nor did I plan it. I was simply told by God to found the group according to the principles He bestowed on me.
What are these principles?
I preach the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, wholly embracing all of its beliefs and morals. Obviously this means that we are to reject all other religions except our own. One of our fundamental principles is to proudly wear this white Little Pebble dress to show the world that we are in full support of Mr. Little Pebble.
We’ll get to Mr. Little Pebble in a minute, if that’s OK. Can I first ask you how large your community is Japan?
There are two branches: the Little Pebble Dohsyuku-kai Shimitsukoya Community here in Akita Prefecture, and the Our Lady of Akita and Amakusa and All Martyrs of Japan Community in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. There are seven followers here at the Shimitsukoya community, including the twins that Clara is carrying, as well as two in Nagoya City, and one in Yokohama. One of our members is a mother of three in Nagoya, who is carrying an ovum baby in her womb, just like Clara.
What do you mean by “ovum baby”?
It’s when a woman’s ovum fertilizes itself. I believe another term for it is “virgin birth,” or parthenogenesis. No biological father exists. It is a miracle that God has bestowed on us to prove the innocence of Mr. Little Pebble, who has been incarcerated in Sydney, Australia, for more than four years now.
By Mr. Little Pebble you mean William Kamm, the man imprisoned for sex-related crimes who is the movement’s founder and namesake. How much time did you spend with him?
Yes, I studied under him for three months.
You were eventually kicked out of his parish, yet you still associate yourself with him. Why?
I am simply adhering to God’s orders. The parish founded by Mr. Little Pebble ordered us to erase all information concerning him from our website. However, the Lord said, “That is not my wish. I command you to proudly proclaim Little Pebble’s name for your cause.” So I rejected their request.
God gave you orders so that Mr. Little Pebble could be saved from life in prison? What did he instruct you to do?
To have correct sex according to God’s method in front of the altar, in front of the Eucharist, and therefore in front of God.
What exactly is “correct sex,” and how does it relate to Mr. Little Pebble?
It refers to the sex act conducted in front of the Eucharist involving myself, as the role of Adam, and a female follower, who plays the role of Eve by her own free will. The Lord does not wish for anybody else to engage in this ritual. I was inspired to perform this ritual because I believed that there was no other way to prove Mr. Little Pebble’s innocence and the wrongful convictions of sexual assault made against him. Just a few days ago, God sent me a message saying that the woman who sued Mr. Little Pebble will confess that it was all a lie.
Besides the symbolism and the Eucharist, are there other ways correct sex differs from ordinary sex?
The main difference is that my penis is not to be inserted into her vagina. I stimulate my penis against her external genitalia. When I orgasm, the Lord tells me to ejaculate into a glass cup and to throw out the sperm.
What happens for you during correct sex?
My love toward the woman grows deeper and deeper, and pleasure wells up inside of me.
Are there any romantic feelings involved?
Sure. I feel responsible for making them eternally happy, not only in this life but also in guaranteeing them a place in heaven. I would do absolutely anything for them.
Why do you smear yogurt all over the woman’s genitalia during this ritual?
Clara-Josefa-Menendez has always been frigid and non-orgasmic, and because of this her vagina never gets wet. However, as I am a regular clergy who has taken a vow of celibacy and am therefore an unmarried virgin, I wasn’t aware that you could buy lubricants to use in such circumstances. That’s why I turned to yogurt. I later learned that the lactic acid contained in yogurt protects female genitalia from bad bacteria, and decided that using yogurt as a substitute isn’t such a bad idea after all. Other than that, there’s no real meaning behind it.
I’ve read that your followers refer to themselves as “dirty rotten scoundrels” and “the absolute worst souls.”
That is because they hate to lie. Everybody in this community tells me that they had been searching for the truth since they were children. I was christened into Roman Catholicism as a baby, but as for the other followers, God created them as wretched souls on purpose so that He could gather them here in this community once they became adults. When they call themselves dirty and rotten, they’re simply telling the truth.
And this brings them closer to God?
They no longer feel the need to shy away from their true selves as they did when they were young. They would be lying if they said that they even had an ounce of good in them. If Adam and Eve were at the top of the list of “good” people, our members would come right at the bottom. They are telling the truth, and there is no falsity in their words.
Is it OK for unmarried followers to have sex?
We abide by the Roman Catholic Church and believe that it is the holy duty of a married couple to engage in sexual activities. However, sex out of marriage is a mortal sin.
Does that mean Longin and Francois, who exchanged wedding vows today, have never had sex?
No, they’ve been having sex for a long time.
They are mortal sinners.
Yes, the deed itself is a mortal sin. They’re fully aware that they are mortal sinners. However, God forgives all those who ask for forgiveness, whoever they may be. That is the glory of the Lord. They will continue to have gay sex for the rest of their lives while they perpetually ask for forgiveness. The Lord will give both of them his blessing, share his bounty, and keep forgiving their sins until they die. Even after death God will forgive them and they will be saved.
How have people outside of your community reacted toward your sex practices and the fact that you perform gay weddings?
Fellow Christians are hostile and disdainful toward us. Some even want to kill us, but if they are true Christians, they should abide by God’s lesson to “love your enemies.” They should also know the line “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Others, homosexuals for example, cheer us on.
Are you afraid for your safety and that of your parish?
Not at all. The Lord will turn those criticisms around.
What do you mean?
I mean that by being criticized, we will understand our faults even more and give thanks to those who criticized us. We will learn to love and to live humbly. We will pray for those who criticized us and ask God to guide them toward the right path.
CLARA-JOSEFA-MENENDEZ YUMI ABE
Vice: What made you decide to enter the Little Pebble faith?
Clara-Josefa-Menendez Yumi Abe: I found out about Little Pebble Dohsyuku-kai through my mother’s younger sister. Back then I had just gotten out of my first marriage, which had ended badly, and was staying at my parents’ house in Tokyo. One day, my aunt took me to a gathering that was being held by Father Jean-Marie. That’s where I met him for the first time, and it was also where I met my second husband.
What did you learn initially?
Back then I was clueless about God, Christianity, Mama Maria, and all that. But I wanted to share my husband’s faith very badly. As an extension of that I began to see Jean-Marie more often and I became attracted to him as a person. Seeing Jean-Marie battle evil men who try to influence people by calling themselves the Messiah and feeding on their desires brought me to the realization that he is indeed telling the whole truth. The moment I realized this I decided to follow Jean-Marie. However, my husband lost his faith, and eventually we divorced.
So you moved here.
At first I didn’t intend to live here at all, but when I visited the commune for a few days on a short trip, Jean-Marie told me to stay. He said, “If you go back to Tokyo, you will be ruined. You should stay here under my wing.” I said yes.
When was that?
About three years ago.
Your family must have been surprised.
Well, yes. I still haven’t come back from what was meant to be a four-day trip, so they must have been extremely surprised! I think my family wants me to come home, but I’m adamantly refusing. I have no intention of going back for now.
I hear that you have correct sex every day. Do you get any pleasure out of it?
Not at all. [laughs] After moving here I learned that I was scarred emotionally as a child and that I have a problem with men in general. When I was young I witnessed how my father fooled around with numerous women, while at the same time my mother ingrained in us children her motto of “correctitude, honesty, righteousness, and beauty.” I guess that screwed me up. I’ve had sex with men in the past, I’ve cheated, I’ve been married twice, and had lots of premarital sex. I had one-night stands without thinking anything of it. But really, I was only doing it for the sake of it, and I never gained any pleasure out of sex.
How is correct sex different for you?
I do it for God. I pray to Him that I’m offering myself to Mr. Little Pebble. If this is the Lord’s wish, then I want to go through with it no matter what.
Does it differ in anyway from normal sex?
It’s completely different. I’ve never had sex out of love. In fact, I’m fundamentally incapable of loving, but I know that Jean-Marie has correct sex because he wants to give love. I never experience sexual pleasure from having correct sex with Jean-Marie, and at times I even feel the same hatred toward him that I feel toward my father. Yet Jean-Marie understands all of this and still tries to love me and does whatever he can, because he believes that I must take this path in order to attain eternal happiness. Jean-Marie has correct sex with me for my happiness, for Mr. Little Pebble, and for God. He doesn’t do it for pleasure, either, so I want to give back some of his love by helping him out on his mission. I haven’t been able to give much love back yet, but we’ll both keep trying until the very end. For God, and for Mr. Little Pebble.
Tell me about your daily routine.
I don’t have a set schedule or anything. It’s like I’m in emotional rehab, just doing whatever I feel like at my own pace. Nothing is forced on you. I get up, eat breakfast, cook, take a walk, go shopping, that sort of thing.
Do you talk to the neighbors at all?
Sure, everybody’s really nice and friendly. They invited us to a party the other day, and they tell us that they don’t want any conflict. They’re very compassionate. I love chatting with the lady next door, it’s so much fun. [laughs]
How are you paying your living expenses right now?
I’m living off of my savings. The Lord will take care of everything, so even if I have to live from hand to mouth, I’m sure it will all work out. I might have to get a job, or I might gain some money elsewhere, but again, it’s all in the hands of God.
Nearly three years ago you announced that you were pregnant with twins. Why haven’t you given birth to them yet?
I don’t know why. This is God’s miracle. He controls everything—from the pregnancy and the twins to the date and method of birth. The Lord is choosing the best possible way for my babies to be born, both for myself and for everybody else. I’m positive that I’ll give birth when the time comes. I don’t even think about the possibility of it never happening because God never lies. I can’t wait until God finally says, “OK, Clara, it’s time. You’re about to give birth.”
What do people outside of the Little Pebble community say about your situation?
I don’t really have acquaintances anymore because I’ve shut them all out. But an old friend of mine did ask me why I was doing this. I don’t know what to say, though, because I don’t believe I’m doing anything wrong.
Are you worried that people can check out footage of you engaging in correct sex on the Little Pebble Dohsyuku-kai website?
At first I was a little nervous and excited, but I wasn’t embarrassed by it or anything. It just made me all the more determined to go through with the mission.
Aren’t you concerned with criticism?
We’re not doing anything wrong.
LONGIN-MARIE KATSUYOSHI BABA AND FRANCOIS-MARIE KOICHI MARUYAMA AFTER THEIR WEDDING CEREMONY
Vice: How did you two meet?
Longin-Marie Katsuyoshi Baba: I put up an ad on the personals page of a gay magazine, calling for a potential boyfriend. Francois sent me a letter with a photo of himself, and it started from there.
Do you one day hope to build a family?
Francois-Marie Koichi Maruyama: We’ve been together for 25 years, so I hope we can just continue the way we’ve always been.
What brought you to enter the Little Pebble Dohsyuku-kai?
Longin: I read a book by Isoichi Onizuka that talked about Mr. Little Pebble receiving a message from the Virgin Mary to the Japanese people. Just as I was wondering whether there was a group affiliated to Mr. Little Pebble in Japan, I found Father Jean-Marie’s contact details on the inside cover. I rang them up, and that’s how I became involved.
Francois, I understand you learned about the Little Pebble Dohsyuku-kai from Longin. Did you believe their teachings right from the beginning?
Francois: Yes, absolutely.
What attracted you to the group?
Francois: I was drawn to their message that even sinners like me could go to heaven and contribute to the world.
You claim to be the first-ever Catholic gay couple to have married.
Longin: I have personally never heard of a wedding ceremony especially created for gay couples, so in that sense it is definitely a first. Sure, some countries allow same-sex marriages, but I think it’s the first time in the history of mankind that God created an alternative form of holy matrimony for a gay couple. I still can’t quite get my head around how sensational that is. Homosexuals in Japan are often ostracized and despised, but the Lord tells us not to worry, because he loves us as much as anybody else, if not more. We wanted to spread this message to all the other gay people in the world by taking a bold step forward and exchanging wedding vows.
I saw a few tears during the ceremony, Francois.
Francois: I was overcome with joy. My heart went out to all the gay people in the world, and I prayed that we could save as many of them as possible by doing this.
What do you think the response might be?
Longin: I’ve received hurtful comments on my blog in the past, so I’m not particularly afraid of that now. I’m not alone in this, and Francois-Marie is by my side. More importantly, God is in front of us taking the lead, so there’s nothing to worry about. The Lord provided this opportunity to exchange vows, and this gift is keeping us strong.