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Family Religiosity

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Originally named Teens for Christ , it has gone under a number of different names. It was later renamed and reorganized as The Family of Love — , which was eventually shortened to The Family. As of it goes by The Family International. Former members have accused the group of child sexual abuse, physical abuse, exploitation, [3] the targeting of vulnerable people, [4] and creating lasting trauma among children raised in the group, [5].

According to the Canadian Broadcast "at its height", the Family movement had "tens of thousands of members, including such famous names as River and Joaquin Phoenix , Rose McGowan and Jeremy Spencer ". Like some other fundamentalist groups, it "foretold the coming of a dictator called the anti-Christ, the rise of a brutal One World Government and its eventual overthrow by Jesus Christ, in the Second Coming". In , [7] it began a method of evangelism called Flirty Fishing that used sex to "show God's love and mercy" and win converts, resulting in controversy. Berg communicated with his followers via "Mo Letters"—letters of instruction and counsel on myriad spiritual and practical subjects—until his death in late Zerby married Steve Kelly also known as Peter Amsterdam , an assistant of Berg's whom Berg had handpicked as her "consort".

There have been multiple allegations of child sexual abuse made by past members. Berg preached a combination of traditional Christian evangelism, with elements popular with the Counterculture of the s. There was much "end-of-the-world imagery" found in the Book of Revelation of the New Testament , preaching of impending doom for America and the ineffectiveness of established churches. Berg "urged a return to the early Christian community described in the Bible's Book of Acts, in which believers lived together and shared all", [6] resembling communal living of late s hippies.

In , after having a revelation "that California would be hit by a major earthquake", he left Huntington Beach and "took his followers on the road". They would proselytize in the streets and distribute pamphlets. Members of The Children of God COG founded communes , first called colonies now referred to as homes , in various cities. Berg communicated with his followers by writing letters. He published nearly 3, letters over a period of 24 years, referred to as the Mo Letters.

Berg's letters also contained public acknowledgement of his own failings and weaknesses, [14] [ verification needed ] for example, he issued a Mo Letter entitled "My confession -- I was an alcoholic! By , COG stated it had communities around the world, [16] and by the mids, it had "colonies" in an estimated 70 countries. In , [7] 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 The group was also accused of sexually abusing and raping minors within the organization, with considerable evidence to support this claim.

One eighth of the total membership left the movement. Those who remained became part of a reorganized movement called the Family of Love, and later, The Family. The majority of the group's beliefs remained the same. After Flirty Fishing "increased drastically" [15] and became common practice within the group. 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 the Family's official history, the group had "far fewer common standards of conduct" during The Family of Love stage than it had previously.

In the late s the group "tightened its standards" "to ensure that all member communities provide a very wholesome environment for all, particularly the children", and changed its name to "The Family". Due 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.

In the early s, the group broke "years of virtual silence", and began "inviting reporters and religious scholars" to visit its commune in La Habra Heights California , where at least a Washington Post journalist Gustav Niebuhr found its members to be "a clean-cut bunch, friendly and courteous". At that time The Family claimed to have "about 9, members worldwide, with about scattered across the United States". Billy Graham. In February , the group introduced the Love Charter , [23] 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.

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". The Love Charter is The Family's set governing document that entails each member's rights, responsibilities and requirements, while the Missionary Member Statutes and Fellow Member Statutes were written for the governance of TFI's Missionary member and Fellow Member circles, respectively.

FD Homes were reviewed every six months against a published set of criteria. The Love Charter increased the number of single family homes as well as homes that relied on jobs such as self-employment. TFI's recent teachings are based on beliefs which they term the "new [spiritual] weapons". TFI members believe that they are soldiers in the spiritual war of good versus evil for the souls and hearts of men. TFI believes that the Biblical passage "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven", Matthew refers to an increasing amount of spiritual authority that was given to Peter and the early disciples. According to TFI beliefs, this passage refers to keys that were hidden and unused in the centuries that followed, but were again revealed through Karen Zerby as more power to pray and obtain miracles.

TFI members call on the various Keys of the Kingdom for extra effect during prayer. The Keys, like most TFI beliefs, were published in magazines that looked like comic-books in order to make them teachable to children. TFI describes its "Loving Jesus" teaching as a radical form of bridal theology. Male members are cautioned to visualize themselves as women, in order to avoid a homosexual relationship with Jesus. Many TFI publications, and spirit messages claimed to be from Jesus himself, elaborate this intimate, sexual relation they believe Jesus desires and needs. TFI imagines itself as his special "bride" in graphic poetry, guided visualizations, artwork, [31] and songs. TFI members are expected to respect legal and civil authorities where they live.

Members have typically cooperated with appointed authorities, even during the police and social-service raids of their communities in the early s. The Family has been criticized by the press and the anti-cult movement. Ex members have accused the Family's leadership of following "a policy of lying to outsiders," being "steeped in a history of sexual deviance" and even meddling "in Third World politics". The Family replies that it is a victim of "persecution.

Academics categorize TFI as a "new religious movement" and a cult. At least one individual growing up in the family Verity Carter during the Children of God era, described being sexually abused "from the age of four by members of the She blames the philosophy of David Berg, who told members that "God was love and love was sex", so that sex should not be limited by age or relationship. Cater also complains of being "repeatedly beaten and whipped for the smallest of transgressions", being denied "music or television or culture," or other "contact with the outside world," so that she had "no idea how the world worked," other than how to manipulate the "systemites" outsiders , like social workers.

In a review of his book, Paul Burgarino, describes Berg as "drawing from the remnants of hippie life — people with nothing to lose, nowhere to go, and no Christian background" to alert them to deviations in Berg's preaching. We called them sheep", Golland told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Pressure to raise money could also be intense. One ex-member, Golland says members who were good at raising money and distributing the pamphlets were called "Shiners". Those with poor sales were called "Shamers". If you missed your quota you could not come home for dinner, he said.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Redirected from Family International. Christian movement founded in For Ohioan parachurch organization , see Teens for Christ. Retrieved December 23, Cult Education Institute. BBC Scotland News. Retrieved September 25, CBC News. Retrieved September 30, East Bay Times. Washington Post. Retrieved October 1, Archived from the original on August 9, Retrieved March 2, The Washington Post. Retrieved April 27, Sure, Alexander concedes, plenty of people object that The Family's 'Law of Love' permits sex outside marriage and that the group once used and still espouses the concept and beliefs about a practice known as 'flirty fishing' — the use of free sex to win converts.

The xFamily. February 20, Retrieved July 24, December 5, Retrieved December 2, Retrieved August 13, Syracuse University Press. Retrieved October 2, The Family International. Archived from the original on April 29, The Sociology of Religious Movements. ISBN January 24, Britney, 39, called the conservatorship abusive, and finally managed to get her father booted from it last week after a fraught legal battle. Taylor and her firm, Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group, also now no longer have anything to do with the star.

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