We had put aside some money for a laptop, then later forsook it to help a needy widow. There have been multiple allegations of child sexual abuse made by past members. The three-year-old daughter of Phil and Sandy had accidentally cut her lip, so Sandy had taken her out for medical attention, and others were on various errands. While David Berg, usually without any attribution, clearly drew from the teachings of many external secular and religious sources, he also frequently claimed to channel people from the afterlife. Typical posters are twelve inches by sixteen and have action-filled, cartoonlike color pictures on one side and a story on the other. Desperately, they prayed, Claire remembers. And you don't hardly even say these words in private!
Handbook of the Theosophical Current. Editors: Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein. Few religious currents have been as influential as the Theosophical. Yet few currents have been so under-researched, and the Brill Handbook of the Theosophical Current thus represents pioneering research. A first section surveys the main people and events involved in the Theosophical Society from its inception to today, and outlines the Theosophical worldview. Finally, the interaction of the Theosophical current with contemporary culture - including gender relations, art, popular fiction, historiography, and science - are discussed at length.
Handbook of Spiritualism and Channeling. Editor: Cathy Guttierez. Bringing together scholars from different disciplines and geographies, the Brill Handbook of Spiritualism and Channeling presents modern spirit possession in a variety of contexts. Channelling, an heir to Spiritualism begun in the s and still flourishing today, is brought into direct conversation with its predecessors with a view to showing both continuity and disjuncture as the products of new cultural and religious needs.
The Brill Handbook marks the first extensive collection on these two interrelated movements and examines themes such as gender, race, performance, and technology in each instance. In , Berg encouraged the women members of the group to engage in "flirty fishing". The term was based on Jesus' injunction "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" Matthew Women members were urged to go into bars and befriend men. They were expected to seduce potential male converts if necessary to in order to encourage them towards a religious conversion and membership in the organization.
The media had a feeding frenzy with this innovative form of evangelism, portraying the COG women as "Hookers for Jesus. The COG was reorganized as the Family of Love in after some "abuses of authority" were revealed among the leadership.
The original autocratic organization of Dad David Berg , apostles, elders, and deacons was replaced by a democratic structure. Each commune called "home" became an autonomous unit. Their organizational name was later shortened to The Family. At this time, Berg introduced "sexual sharing", which is free consensual sexual activity among the membership.
They believe that a person can be saved and spend eternity in heaven if they repent of their sins and accept Christ as Lord and Savior. But they differ from fundamental Christian beliefs in that they believe all people will eventually be saved and attain heaven. They reject the doctrine of salvation as laid out in the Bible.
They do not believe that all unsaved humans will be tortured forever in lake of fire after death. The Family represents, in their view, "a return to the roots of the true Christian church.
They condemn "The System", which includes governments and the rest of society. The System is regarded as evil; society generally is seen as near collapse. They base their religion on their interpretation of the Bible. A secondary source are the writings of their founder.
Two sources state that Berg's writings are considered to override the Bible in cases of conflict; another says the opposite. They believe sexual enjoyment, from masturbation to intercourse is considered a gift of God.
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It is an activity that is to be thoroughly enjoyed as a major focus of one's life. He published nearly 3, letters over the space of 24 years, referred to as the "Mo Letters". Berg's letters also contained public acknowledgement of his own failings and weaknesses. By , COG had communities around the world.
Street distribution of Berg's Letters called "litnessing" became the COG's predominant method of both outreach and monetary support for the next five years. The Children of God was abolished in February Berg reorganized the movement amid reports of serious misconduct, financial mismanagement, The Chain's abuse of authority, and disagreements within The Chain about the continued use of flirty fishing. Berg dismissed more than members of The Chain , and declared the general dissolution of the COG structure.
One-eighth of the total membership left the movement in total. Those who remained became part of an reorganized movement called the Family of Love , and later, The Family. The majority of the group's beliefs remained the same. The Family of Love era was characterized by international expansion. Regular methods of proselytizing included door-to-door distribution of religious tracts and other literature, and organized classes on various aspects of Christian life, with heavy use of group-created music. In , before the dissolution of The Children of God,  David Berg had introduced a new proselytizing method called Flirty Fishing or FFing , which encouraged female members to "show God's love" through sexual relationships with potential converts.
Flirty Fishing was practiced by members of Berg's inner circle starting in , and was introduced to the general membership in and became common practice within the group. In some areas Flirty Fishers used escort agencies to meet potential converts. According to TFI "over , received God's gift of salvation through Jesus, and some chose to live the life of a disciple and missionary " as a result of Flirty Fishing. According to statistics published by TFI, evangelistic efforts were resulting in an average of , conversions to Christ and distribution of nearly 30 million pages of literature per month.
In March TF issued a statement that, in "early ", an urgent memorandum had been sent to all members "reminding them that any such activities [adult-child sexual contact] are strictly forbidden within our group" and such activities were grounds for immediate excommunication from the group. In January , Claire Borowik, a spokesperson for TFI, stated that "[d]ue to the fact that our current zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual interaction between adults and underage minors was not in our literature published before , we came to the realization that during a transitional stage of our movement, from until , there were cases when some minors were subject to sexually inappropriate advances This was corrected officially in , when any contact between an adult and minor any person under 21 years of age was declared an excommunicable offense".
During the s, allegations of child sexual abuse were brought against TF from members all around the world. In the early s, TF members took advantage of the newly opened Eastern Europe following the fall of Communism and expanded their evangelism campaigns eastward, alongside many other religious groups. The production and dissemination of millions of pieces of literature earned them the colloquial name "the poster people". He legally changed his name to Christopher Smith.
He became her traveling representative due to Zerby's reclusive separation from most of her followers. In February , the group introduced the Love Charter ,  which defined the rights and responsibilities of Charter Members and Homes. The Charter also included the " Fundamental Family Rules ", a summary of rules and guidelines from past TF publications which were still in effect. The Charter specified greater freedoms for members to choose and follow independent pursuits.
The rights defined in the Charter were what a member could expect to receive from the group, as well as how members were to be treated by leaders and fellow group members. The Charter has been amended over the years in accordance with changes within the group's belief structure.
In the —95 British court case, the Rt. Lord Justice Alan Ward ruled that the group, including some of its top leaders, had in the past engaged in abusive sexual practices involving minors and had also used severe corporal punishment and sequestration of minors. Nevertheless, he did require that the group cease all corporal punishment of children in the United Kingdom and denounce any of Berg's writings that were "responsible for children in TF having been subjected to sexually inappropriate behaviour". In , the movement's name was changed to The Family International.
However, TFI members were told that they could retain their former names so long as they do not conceal their affiliation with TFI. In , there were also major changes in the group. Internal publications spoke of arresting a general trend towards a less dedicated lifestyle, and the need for re-commitment to the group's mission of fervent evangelism. In the second half of , a six-month period was held to help members refocus their priorities known as The Renewal.
FD Homes were reviewed every six months against a published set of criteria. Statistics on AM and GM categories were unavailable. TFI, like other "Christian cults",  attempts to identify itself with fundamentalist Christianity, but their beliefs and practices are regarded as heretical by virtually all Christians. Berg proclaimed himself to be the last and most anointed prophet of the end times ,  predicted in the Old and New Testaments, specifically in the reference to "a prophet like Moses" although most Christians believe that Simon Peter was referring to Christ in this passage, as was Moses in Deuteronomy.
Members claim that Berg's writings never contradict or are irreconcilable with Scripture, and that they only accentuate what is already in the Bible. However, if members think that his teachings contradict the Bible, they are urged to let The Bible take precedence over them. The group believes Berg's spiritual "mantle" passed to his wife, Karen Zerby , at his death. The couple's officially published writings are regarded as part of the "Word of God," nearly equal in weight and importance to the Bible as divine revelations.
These beliefs have been re-addressed in recent publications  issued in , which say they are no longer requirements of membership.
However neither Berg's nor Zerby's prophetic status has been retracted. TFI members believe that the Great Commission to evangelize the world is every Christian's duty, and that their lives should be dedicated to serving God and others. Among their several levels of membership, the most committed — "Family Disciples" FD — live communally.