The offspring of 'Jesus Freaks'

Lulu Belle

Moonbat
http://www.mercurynews.com/books/ci_7276622

Shocking book delves into the inner machinations of the Children of God

By Rebecca Rosen Lum STAFF WRITER

Article Launched: 10/25/2007 03:04:40 AM PDT

David Berg was a small-time circuit preacher whose flocks ran thin until the late '60s, when the sexual revolution and the Jesus movement bloomed at once.

The sex-obsessed Berg wove the two into a double helix, drawing from the remnants of hippie life -- people with nothing to lose, nowhere to go, and no Christian background to serve as a compass while in the thrall of a man who purported to live by Scripture.

His Teens for Christ became the Children of God, with enclaves in California and Texas expanding into a evangelical empire across continents, yielding profit and power for the "end-time prophet" and his inner circle.

But writer Don Lattin is only so interested in what makes a self-anointed prophet run. Lattin, whose book "Jesus Freaks" hit bookstores this month, cares more about what happens to children born into authoritarian groups -- the offspring of those who voluntarily cast their lot with people like Berg.

Subtitled "A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge," the book follows the brief, tormented life of Ricky Rodriguez, Berg's designated prophet prince.

As the longtime religion writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, Lattin plumbed what happens to children in cults, including the Church of Scientology, the Moonies, the Hare Krishnas and the Children of God (which would later be renamed The Family, or Family International).

Rigorous indoctrination

In each, "The kids didn't have the chance to grow up and be themselves,"

Lattin said in an interview just before the book's release. "There were hours and hours a day of indoctrination. In that way, the Children of God was the worst."

The accumulated years of indoctrination exploded for Rodriguez in a murder-suicide in 2005 that shook Lattin and compelled him to write "Jesus Freaks."

"I was so taken aback by what drove Ricky, raised by The Family, to kill someone else and take his own life," Lattin said. "He was the ultimate example of what can happen to kids when they're raised in an atmosphere of severe indoctrination.

"It's a really dark story, a sensational story," Lattin said. "I tried to get in the mind-sets of these people."

The Children of God melded apocalyptic Christian evangelism with mind-boggling sexual mores. Lattin stunned readers when he first detailed the unorthodox practices of the Children of God in 2001.

Berg dispatched young, attractive female followers to lure male converts through sex in a practice he called "flirty fishing." He discouraged them from using birth control.

Rodriguez, the first child conceived through "flirty fishing," was the natural son of Berg's common-law wife, Karen Zerby, also called "Maria," and a waiter she picked up in the Canary Islands. Rodriguez was called "Davidito."

"Davidito and Maria are going to be the Endtime witnesses," Berg wrote in 1978. "They are going to have such power they can call down fire from Heaven and devour their enemies."

In fact, Rodriguez did devour his enemies: He left the cult, but tormented by a life of abuse, could not make a life for himself. Driven by rage, he vilified his mother in a videotaped rant, stabbed one of his former nannies to death and shot himself in 2005.

More than 13,000 children were born to followers between 1971 and 2001; "women with six, eight, 10, 13 kids were not uncommon," Lattin said.
Mothers and caretakers pulled children from their beds at night to engage in sex acts with Berg in a regular "sharing schedule" (some kids referred to it as the "scaring schedule"). A poor performance yielded brutal punishment.

"They were made to believe their eternal salvation depended on this," Lattin said.

Deep suspicion

The group once enjoyed plenty of good press.

In the waning days of the Summer of Love, parents would say, "at least they're Christians," Lattin said.

Berg died in 1994, and Zerby took control of the organization.

Grown survivors of the group have developed a deep suspicion of outsiders and adults, Lattin said. But gradually, they sensed their stories were safe with this blues guitar-playing writer, part-time professor and married stepfather of two girls, and they let it all out.

"I've never seen so many problems among kids," he mused, munching Thai food at a favorite Berkeley haunt.

"The Children of God was a machine to spread the ideas of David Berg," he said. "The children were born to do the same thing. That was the real evil. Then, when they rebelled, as teens do, they would send them off to these re-education camps."

"Victor camps" in Macao and other places provided a punishing diet of enforced silence, hard labor and sometimes, exorcisms.

Amazingly, the material for some of the most wrenching passages in the book were provided courtesy of Berg and his inner sanctum.

"The Story of Davidito" recounts Rodriguez' sexual education, which Zerby arranged with a series of "nannies" from the time of his infancy.

"David Berg was so prolific about publishing every thought that came into his mind," Lattin said. "Essentially, he hung himself."

A child custody trial in England brought by the grandparents of one of the children also provided voluminous documentation.

'Born and raised'

No current members would talk to Lattin. They have issued prepared statements defending the group's charitable activities and distancing it from its sexually hyperactive past.

As Lattin prepared for a round of booksignings and appearances, a familiar story played out in the news: the rape trial of Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who arranged a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin in 2001.

"Same kinds of things," Lattin said. "Kids were born and raised in it. They weren't raised to be themselves. They were raised to be part of a machine."

Those who have studied other cults are lavishing praise on the book and its author.

Los Angeles Times investigative reporter Tim Reiterman ("Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People," Dutton, 1982) praised Lattin's focus on Berg's lasting impact on the second generation.
"One of the insights it gives you quite well is a sense of how people can be drawn into a group, regular people who had needs that made them vulnerable to a charismatic leader," he said. "They were ready to accept things they wouldn't have been ready to accept the day they walked in."

So how do people who begin as idealists descend into unthinkable abuse? The same "way a frog will if you put it in cold water, then gradually heat the water to a boil," Lattin said.

"You try to understand the psychological dynamics of it," he said, shaking his head. "People were convinced to do some pretty reprehensible things. When you backtrack, you can see how it happened incrementally."
 

Zinjifar

Silver Meritorious Sponsor
fing1.jpg


Of course, the comix make telex's seem pretty tame :)

Zinj
 

Pooks

MERCHANT OF CHAOS
Another creepy cult.

One thing I'll say in favor of Scn is that they do not
have doctrine that calls for sexually abusing children.

If anything, Hubbard, has more "doctrine" that
tells you sex is aberrated and has lots of rules
about NOT having sex.

Thanks for posting the article.


Patty
 

Ralph Hilton

Patron Meritorious
One thing I'll say in favor of Scn is that they do not
have doctrine that calls for sexually abusing children.

If anything, Hubbard, has more "doctrine" that
tells you sex is aberrated and has lots of rules
about NOT having sex.

Patty

The current heavy sexual inhibition in Scientology started around 1978 with rules against premarital sex. It gradually got heavier. I don't really know how much of that was Hubbard's influence.
 

programmer_guy

True Ex-Scientologist
Hmmm. I wonder what posters here think about this:

1. what is aberrated sex,

2. what is unaberrated sex.

Yes, I know... this would be a hot topic... but interesting (to say the least).
 

Leon

Gold Meritorious Patron
It's just the way the Dynamics invert. When 7th goes kooky and unattainable then they flip into the second.

8th flips into 1st, 7th into 2nd, 6th into 3rd, 5th into 4th. And each one vice versa too.
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
Hmmm. I wonder what posters here think about this:

1. what is aberrated sex,

2. what is unaberrated sex.

Yes, I know... this would be a hot topic... but interesting (to say the least).

Good question. In 1978 I was dating a GO guy and we were told no sex without getting married. :no: He took off like road runner. Ahh.. what could have been....he was a really nice guy.
 

Tanstaafl

Crusader
It's just the way the Dynamics invert. When 7th goes kooky and unattainable then they flip into the second.

8th flips into 1st, 7th into 2nd, 6th into 3rd, 5th into 4th. And each one vice versa too.

Leon, can you give some examples of this in action?
I've heard LRH mention this but it never really indicated to me.

Cheers

tanstaafl
 

Tanstaafl

Crusader
Hmmm. I wonder what posters here think about this:

1. what is aberrated sex,

2. what is unaberrated sex.

Yes, I know... this would be a hot topic... but interesting (to say the least).

Could it be as simple as where the participants are at on the tone scale during the "process"?

I hope PMD isn't reading this, 'cos in SoS it states that anyone at 4.0 or above sublimates sex to creative thought. :D
 

Dulloldfart

Squirrel Extraordinaire
I hope PMD isn't reading this, 'cos in SoS it states that anyone at 4.0 or above sublimates sex to creative thought. :D

See Chapter 11 of Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich entitled "The Mystery of Sex Transmutation". He explains it in great detail, something Hubbard never did.

Maybe Hubbard just ripped it off and put it in the Science of Survival chart without understanding it. He seems to have ripped off without credit a lot of what Hill wrote in that 1937 book.

Paul
 

Tanstaafl

Crusader
See Chapter 11 of Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich entitled "The Mystery of Sex Transmutation". He explains it in great detail, something Hubbard never did.

Maybe Hubbard just ripped it off and put it in the Science of Survival chart without understanding it. He seems to have ripped off without credit a lot of what Hill wrote in that 1937 book.

Paul


Thanks Paul, I got a copy this week but haven't got round to starting it yet.
I'll jump straight to the sexy part then. :)
 

Bea Kiddo

Crusader
One thing I'll say in favor of Scn is that they do not
have doctrine that calls for sexually abusing children.

If anything, Hubbard, has more "doctrine" that
tells you sex is aberrated and has lots of rules
about NOT having sex.

Thanks for posting the article.


Patty

And that has resulted in a lot of sexual abuse of children of SO members. There are stories posted of it all over the place.

Funny how it hasnt hit the media like it does with the Catholics.
 

Pooks

MERCHANT OF CHAOS
And that has resulted in a lot of sexual abuse of children of SO members. There are stories posted of it all over the place.

Funny how it hasnt hit the media like it does with the Catholics.


Yes, but as I said, there is NO doctrine in the C of S to abuse children, while
The Family apparently has it as part of their belief system.



Patty
 

Zinjifar

Silver Meritorious Sponsor
Yes, but as I said, there is NO doctrine in the C of S to abuse children, while
The Family apparently has it as part of their belief system.



Patty

There is no specific policy to sexually abuse children, as in CoG, but, there are dogmatic elements (little thetans; general disregard for HE&R and meat bodies) and administrative practices (Cadet Org; Sea Org; removal from parents) that are inherently abusive to children and adults alike and facilitate abuse of all kinds. Throw in the 'blame the victim' nature of 'Scientology Ethics' and you have a recipe that, while not mandating child abuse, practically ensures it and does little to nothing to prevent it.

Zinj
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
There is no specific policy to sexually abuse children, as in CoG, but, there are dogmatic elements (little thetans; general disregard for HE&R and meat bodies) and administrative practices (Cadet Org; Sea Org; removal from parents) that are inherently abusive to children and adults alike and facilitate abuse of all kinds. Throw in the 'blame the victim' nature of 'Scientology Ethics' and you have a recipe that, while not mandating child abuse, practically ensures it and does little to nothing to prevent it.

Zinj


:iagree: :clap: :clap: :clap: :goodposting:
 

Mick Wenlock

Admin Emeritus (retired)
There is no specific policy to sexually abuse children, as in CoG, but, there are dogmatic elements (little thetans; general disregard for HE&R and meat bodies) and administrative practices (Cadet Org; Sea Org; removal from parents) that are inherently abusive to children and adults alike and facilitate abuse of all kinds. Throw in the 'blame the victim' nature of 'Scientology Ethics' and you have a recipe that, while not mandating child abuse, practically ensures it and does little to nothing to prevent it.

Zinj

You are right.

The treatment of children in the Sea Org was a recipe for disaster. Not only was there neglect but the opportunity for adult abuse of the children and, not really talked about, the abuse of younger children by older ones.

We who were parents in the Sea Org have, unfortunately, a lousy legacy in this regard.
 
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