Family of Love (Children of God)

From: http://neirr.org/profile_familylove.htm

Founded

Late 1960s, by former Christian and Missionary Alliance Pastor, David Berg (1919-1994). (Referred to by those in his group as David "Moses", or just "Mo").

Current Organization

The "Family" has as many as 6,000 full-time adult workers who labor at spreading their message in 100 countries. Since the passing of "Mo" in 1994, "Maria" (Karen Zerby, one of Berg's multiple wives) has been leading the group.

Description

The Family of God aka Children of God are perhaps the quintessential sect representing the high and low points of the Jesus movement. During the 1960's, Berg had developed a strong antiestablishment, counter-cultural facet to his Gospel presentation, one that appealed to the young seekers in Huntington Beach California. His early followers deemed themselves as "revolutionaries for Jesus" and were quick to forsake all in their devotion to God and to their cause.

As early as 1969, however, Berg began his slide into controversial sexual escapades, first with the announcement through a prophetic word that he was to take additional wives besides his first wife of twenty-five years, Jane. Before long much of the Children of God leadership was involved in "wife-sharing" or "free sex" although this was hidden from the rank and file members. Much of his theology seems to have followed his new revelations in sexuality. Berg taught that Mary was actually impregnated by Gabriel the angel, and that Jesus had sexual relations with the sisters Martha and Mary. Perhaps the most infamous teaching of Berg in this area is perhaps the practice that was known as "Flirty-Fishing" or "FFing" for short. In a "Mo" letter published in 1976, Berg outlined how it was the spiritual duty of the female members of the group to use their sexuality to entice prominent people to their cause, and when possible, get financial compensation for their "services". In short, there were to become prostitutes for "The Family". This order wasn't rescinded until the late 1980's when AIDS began to take it's toll on members of the group.

Berg also had a number of other theological idiosyncrasies, including a belief in spirit guides, astrology, reincarnation, and some other New Age practices. Although the Family publicly espouse mostly orthodox Christian beliefs today, they still acknowledge that they believe that communication with departed individuals in possible. Despite the current move by the leadership of the family to be more palatable to mainstream society, they are still dogged by issues of child sexual abuse and incest.