(Investigator 14, 1990 September)

From 1968 when they began until 1973 the Children of God were anti sex, anti masturbation, anti capitalism, and expected Jesus to return almost any moment.

In 1973 the Children of God claimed 3,000 members of whom most lived in 100 communes scattered throughout the United States. The leader, "Moses David", then predicted that the comet Kohoutec heralded doomsday on or about January 31 1974. Sect members, in response, scattered to countries around the world establishing communes wherever their tourist visas let them stay long enough.

Only 200 remained in the United States.

Moses David, real name David Brandt Berg, born February 18, 1919 in Oakland, California, proved elusive to reporters. Good reason for this lay in his failing prophecies and in investigations by the Charity Frauds Bureau of New York State.

David Berg kept in touch with his followers through letters called "Mo Letters" of which 500 were written by 1980. They began in 1973 when David Berg wanted to justify having a mistress. Many of them were pornographic. In one Mo Letter 300 lines of awful verse urged girls to bare their breasts:
"Can't we leave those summits bare
Without all that underwear?"

Moral standards were obviously declining.

In 1976 4,500 full-time members lived in 600 communes in 70 countries.

Mr Berg began requiring his female followers to be "hookers for Jesus". One Mo Letter ended: "May God help us to be flirty fishes for Jesus to save souls." By 1977 the "happy hookers for Jesus" were competing with prostitutes in the name of love. Below is reprinted part of a Mo Letter plainly stating: "if they need a little sex too we give that to them too."
The cult changed its name to Family Of Love in 1978. The sex they gave was allegedly free since they supposedly supported themselves from begging and by selling pamphlets and records.

By 1978 the cult had 8,000 members in 80 countries.

The Family Of Love is often accused of mind control and brain washing. The Charity Frauds Bureau, for example, reported:
"The Children of God engages in a particularly reprehensible course of conduct by tampering with the personalities of converts. Brain washing techniques are deliberately employed under the rationalization that it is in the service of a good cause."

An Australian exchange student who was briefly trapped in the cult in Japan claimed:
"They said you had to forsake everything and give up your family, your friends, your home, your job, your church and your possessions to serve the Lord." (New Idea 1988, April 23, page 12)

The Children of God were originally part of the Jesus Movement of the 1960s that touched 300,000 people — mainly youth. The Jesus Movement drew followers from all branches of Christianity as well as other religions. It resulted in scores, perhaps hundreds of new cults, sects and organizations some of which are still active.

The threads that most of them had in common were speaking in tongues, emotional religious services, anti intellectualism, belief in miraculous healings, evangelizing, belief in the Bible as inerrant, denouncing of secular society as evil, expectation of an early return of Jesus.

The Jesus of the Bible warned: "Take heed that no one leads you astray." (Matthew 24:4)

The Sun (Sydney) 1973 Dec. 26

Sects wait for Christ

NEW YORK, Tues. — American fundamentalist Christian sects believe the Kohoutek Christmas comet may be God's announcement of Christ's second coming.

As the comet rushes towards earth, worshippers have gathered at Christian communes across the country to pray for Jesus's return.

Many pentecostal sects have maintained for years this generation would see judgement day.

The comet is their sign.

A group from the radical Children of God sect has started a vigil outside the UN building in New York.

Their placards ask: "Will the Kohoulek comet make you think about God and his destiny for you and the world? You cannot escape it. Are you ready for it?

The comet, first seen near the orbit of Jupiter nearly 500 million miles from the sun, will become clearly visible early next month.

But it could be seen brightly through telescopes on Christmas Eve...

The Advertiser 1973 Dec. 24

Comet sign of the end for US

Australian Associated Press

NEW YORK, Sunday — In a drizzling rain a dozen young people clad in sackcloth stood in front of the United Nations proclaiming that the US has only 40 days before it will be destroyed for its evil ways.

The group, members of the zealously regimented Children of God, said the comet Kohoutek was the divine signal of the nation's pending doom.

"America has turned away from God, so God is going to have to destroy it," said Thomas Tripp, 23.

He said similar warning demonstrations were held in other major cities, including Chicago, Boston and Washington.

The group has advised members to leave the country unless they feel divinely prompted to stay to help care for survivors.

"Those of us who are staying will prepare for a time of confusion," said Pat Massey. "We're setting up farms as refuges to care for people who turn to the Lord."

The group said it had received instructions from its ruling leader, David Berg, called "Moses" and considered God's prophet, that the comet heralded the end of the US by January 31.

"Comets have always been warning signs of great changes and major disasters all through history," said Croil Hunter, 22.

As to just how the end will come, they said they weren't sure, but that it would be in the form of physical destruction, such as earthquakes, flood or war.

The sect, started in Huntington Beach, California, in 1966, is tightly controlled, with members put through intensive indoctrination including memorisation of much of the Bible.

They claim more than 3,000 members in the US and abroad.

Retyped from: Is Love Against The Law (1977) by David Moses, pp 4-5


23. IF YOU REALLY LOVE SOMEBODY YOU WANT THEM TO BE HAPPY. And if they're not completely happy with you, you'll want them to find somebody they can be happy with, right? So, praise God. That takes a lot of love, real love, genuine love, unselfish love, sacrificial love, that's what you want to be sure that you're giving.

24. THAT''S WHY WE HUSBANDS CAN EVEN BE WILLING TO SHARE OUR WIVES and our wives be willing to share their husbands because they do it unselfishly, sacrificially, in love, for someone else's sake who needs it. This is real love, this is the highest form of love.

25. THIS IS LOVE LIKE CHRIST'S LOVE, TOTALLY UNSELFISH, totally sacrificial, even giving till it hurts, as David said and as Jesus did. That is real love, that's God, that's a miracle! That is supernatural love given by God, God-given love, amen? That's the love of God.

26. THE ONLY RULE WE CAN GO BY IN EVERY CASE IS, "IS IT LOVE? Was it done in love, was It received in love? Was it received as love? Well, sometimes they might receive it and not even appreciate the love, but it was still love if the one who gave it gave it in love. So, that is God's only law--love.

27. JESUS SAID THE LAW OF LOVE IS ALL THE LAW, AS WELL AS ALL THE PROPHETS! (Mt.22:37-40.) That's pretty broad coverage! That takes in the entire Old Testament, the law and the prophets. David too was a prophet so that takes in Psalms, and so were Job and Solomon. That takes in all of their poetical books as well, and the rest are all the historical books of the law and the prophets. So Jesus said that's the whole works, the whole Bible, that's all the law--love.

28. GOD'S ONLY LAW IS LOVE! THERE IS NOW NO OTHER LAW, no Mosaic law, no church law, no law against adultery.--Those laws don't exist as far as we're concerned. They are only to regulate the ungodly, as he says in I Tim.l:9, and by which the unrighteous who are violating the laws of God will be judged.

29. YOU HAVE TO JUDGE EVERY SINGLE CASE ON ITS OWN MERITS and its own conditions as to whether whatever's being done is done in love. And as far as I know, most of what we do is certainly in love, if not all. We're trying to do it all in love, that's for sure. We're trying to do it because of love and because they need God's love.

30. THE MAIN THING WE'RE TRYING TO GIVE THEM IS GOD'S LOVE, NOT JUST SEX. Sometimes we use sex as a tool or as a proof that we love them, we use sex as a sample of love, but it's not the main kind of love we're trying to give them.

31. (MARIA: IT SEEMS LIKE THEY'RE STRAINING AT A GNAT WHEN THEY START TALKING ABOUT THIS SEX PART.) Yes, that's the one thing they magnify and make the most important. In the rare exception, not the rule, we are willing to go to bed with them to prove that we love them, but this is not the main part of our religion.

32. THE WORLD IS EXAGGERATING THIS AND PLAYING IT UP AS THE THING because it's such a rare and exceptional thing. It's so outlandish and so almost unknown that for the love of God people would go around giving out sex because people need it.--It's practically unheard of!

33. WE'RE VIRTUALLY A NEW RELIGION IN THAT RESPECT. We shouldn't be, and I'm sure it's happened before. There are historical cases of it many times before, but it's just new to people today, that's all, and they can't seem to understand it.

34. SEX IS THE LEAST OF OUR WORRIES. Sex is the least of our doctrines, sex is one of the least of our concerns, frankly. But the world exaggerates it because it's so interested in sex.

35. SEX IS PRIMARY TO THE WORLD. Sex is all-important, all-overwhelming, all-consuming, and therefore they're totally amazed and shocked that we're willing to give them this thing they desire the most in the world. It's not all that big a thing with us. They play it up and make it a big thing.

36. SEX IS A SMALL PART OF LIFE TO US. Sex is a small part of the body. Sex is one of the least important things in our religion.

37. LOVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.--The love of God, unselfish, pure, sacrificial love, no matter how it's manifested. Whether it's in sex or otherwise, and it's manifested otherwise much more than it is just in sex.

38. THERE ARE MANY MANY MORE WAYS YOU CAN SHOW LOVE BESIDES SEX. But we live in a very sexy generation where sex is exaggerated completely out of all proportion to what it should be. People today are terrifically desirous of sex and in need of sex, therefore if you don't satisfy their sexual appetite they have a hard time believing that you really love them.

39. SO SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO SATISFY THAT APPETITE TO PROVE TO THEM THAT WE REALLY CARE and we're concerned and we love them. And there's no law of God against it, for the plain and simple reason that if we do it in love and to show God's love to them, then it's according to God's law of love.--We're loving our neighbour as ourselves.

40. "THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR AS THYSELF." (Mt. 22:39.) How do you love yourself, huh? Do you want yourself to be happy? Yes. Do you want yourself to be satisfied? Yes.

41. WE WANT THEM TO BE HAPPY AND WE WANT THEM TO BE SATISFIED, SO WE GIVE THEM LOVE, primarily God's love, but if they need a little sex too we give that to them too, if they have to have it to make them happy and satisfied and contented, and it gives us a chance to show them God's love. It has nothing to do with adultery. Adultery is something gone out of style, you might say, with the Mosaic Law.

42. WE, WHO ARE CHRISTIANS, WHO HAVE GOD, WHO HAVE HIS LOVE, ARE NO LONGER UNDER THE LAW. But the sinner who is unsaved, who has rejected Jesus Christ, who does not have God and hasn't got God's love in his heart, he is still under that law. That's the difference!


(Investigator 14, 1990 September)

The FAMILY OF LOVE calls itself a Christian Missionary Fellowship. It grew out of the Jesus Movement around 1970. Members practice communal living, preach on streets and outside shopping centres, sell colorful posters, and claim to "put the Bible into action."

Chris Gagnon, whom we [Investigator editors] interviewed inside a two-story house in Osborne, came to Australia in 1973 for "personal evangelism". Formerly a nominal Catholic in Canada, Mr Gagnon, unable to cope with studies, drugs and other problems, dropped out of a Technological Institute to join the Family of Love.

Explained Chris: "We're not an officially recognized church. In most countries we don't have a registered name. The main responsibility for writing our pamphlets rests with Father David. He also writes letters to the church. He's a prophet."

I examined a small (15cm by 10cm) booklet, Miracles Of Love!, that Chris handed to us. It had some impressive claims:

"Our fruits include over 10 million individuals ••• who have received the Lord and his love and happiness."

"...thousands of our faithful workers are sharing God's Message of Love and Hope ••• in nearly 100 countries."

"Our comparatively tiny group has published over 3.2 billion pages of Gospel literature to date in 56 languages."
Chris continued with details:

"In basic beliefs we're similar to Pentecostals. We have gifts of the Spirit, healing and speaking in tongues. My wife once had a tooth filling replaced by God, but miracles are not our main emphasis. We differ from Pentecostals by our communal living and because we follow the writings of Father David. David receives inspired guidance for us and for the world especially about end time events. Our communes have up to 100 people — especially in Japan. We live by faith and off the proceeds of evangelism."

Investigator editors had encountered the sect outside K-Mart in Port Adelaide when a 12-year old boy offered colorful posters for $1.

Chris has 7 children. The eldest, a 16-year old girl was "in Melbourne doing evangelism." The others help collect money by accompanying Chris' guitar playing in the Rundle Mall with dancing, singing and begging.

Chris handed us some posters. One described the last 7 years of this world — 1986 to 1992/93. "There's a question mark after 1993 because these dates aren't definite," said Chris

The reverse side of the poster, however, explained: "EVENTS TO BEGIN ABOUT 1986 OR BEFORE".
(Reproduction of poster is here omitted)

Chris continued while his 6-year old sat on his lap:

"Father David's grandfather started the Christian Missionary Alliance. Evangelism therefore runs in the family.

"His mother was an evangelist in the 1920s. She had broken her back and was sick for 5 years. Through her husband she regained her faith, was healed by a miracle, and became a preacher. She was famous in Florida in the 1930s where she had a radio minist¬ry. Father David helped her. He married and brought his chil¬dren up in the Lord.

"In the late '60s Father David and his children were part of the Jesus Movement which then mushroomed. Converted hippies travelled and started houses with communal style living based on Father David's example.

"We don't stress a particular date for the return of Jesus any more. We did at one time but events didn't happen as quickly as we liked. We now believe Christ will return before 2000.

"All the world will soon worship the Dragon. Christians will be raptured before the Great Tribulation."

According to the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements the Christian Missionary Alliance was founded in 1897 when two previous organizations amalgamated and was led by Canadian born Albert Benjamin Simpson. It became a springboard for the Pentecostal movement that began in 1906.

We met Chris' wife after the interview. She seemed too young to have a 16-year old daughter plus six other children.

The 2-story house had become expensive to rent when other commune members moved on. Chris and family therefore planned to find something cheaper.

The end of the interview was not the end of our research. The name "Father David" identified the "Family of Love" as being the same as the Children of God cult.