David Berg

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David Berg


David Berg

David Brandt Berg (18 February 1919 – October 1994) was the founder and leader of the Children of God, now called The Family International. The group believes he continues to lead them today from beyond the grave (see: Prophecy). Pseudonyms Berg is commonly known by (in or outside the group) include Moses David, Mo, King David, Father David, Dad, and Grandpa.


Early years (1919 – 1968)

David Berg was born in Oakland, California, USA to Hjalmer Emmanuel Berg and Rev. Virginia Lee Brandt, a Christian evangelist. David was the youngest of three children, with a brother, Hjalmer, born in 1911, and a sister, Virginia, born in September, 1915. Virginia Brandt was the daughter of Dr. Rev. John Lincoln Brandt (1860 - 1946), preacher, author, and lecturer of Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Berg graduated from Monterey High School in California in 1935 and later attended Elliott School of Business Administration.

Between 1948 and 1954, Berg, like his father, became a minister in the Christian and Missionary Alliance and was placed at Valley Farms, Arizona. Berg was eventually expelled from the organization for differences in teachings and alleged sexual misconduct with a church employee.

Later, Fred Jordan, Berg's friend and boss, allowed Berg and his personal family to open a branch of his Soul Clinic in Miami, Florida as a missionary training school. After running into trouble with local authorities for his aggresive methods of proselytizing, Berg moved his family to Fred Jordan's Texas Soul Clinic.

The Children of God/The Family (1968 – 1994)

David Berg founded the new religious movement/cult/missionary organization known as the Children of God in 1968. The group was later known as The Family of Love, The Family, and currently The Family International. This group is the primary focus of this website. As founder and prophetic leader, Berg communicated with his followers via Mo Letters—letters of instruction and counsel on a myriad of subjects.

Typical illustration of David Berg. From Love is News-1
Berg with lion drawing over his face

Berg with "Lily Filipina" in the Philippines, mid-1980s

Berg lived in total seclusion and secrecy from his followers and, along with Karen Zerby (whom he took as a soi-disant second wife in August 1969), is thought to have used a fake Australian passport when traveling. In Family publications, printed photographs of World Services members were typically censored by means of a rudimentary drawing pasted over the persons face, and in Berg's case it was not uncommon for his head to be replaced with that of a lion.

Countries where Berg and his entourage have lived over the years include the following:

From Until Location Events
1919 1970 USA Berg is born; "The Light Club", Tucson, Laurentide, "TSC"
1970 - September 1971 - June Europe Visiting Europe, Israel, and Cyprus
1971 - June 1972 - April USA Return to the USA; Dallas and Texoma Lake Park
1972 - April 1974 - May London, United Kingdom
1974 - May 1977 - March Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain FFing, Davidito born, KQC Meetings, Church of Love
1977 - March 1978 - April Madeira, Portugal, and Madrid The RNR
1978 - April 1978 - December Switzerland With Timothy Concerned
1978 - December 1981 - July Southern France Techi is born
1981 - July 1981 - December South Africa
1981 - December 1982 - May unknown
1982 - May 1987 - November Antipolo (North of Manila), the Philippines
1987 - November 1988 - February unknown
1988 - February 1988 - October Tateyama, Japan
late 1988 mid 1993 Canada (near Vancouver, B.C.)
1994 death Costa de Caparica, Portugal

Berg died of undisclosed causes in 1994 and was buried in Costa de Caparica, Portugal (his remains have since been cremated). His organization is currently led by his widow Karen Zerby (known in the group as Mama Maria or Queen Maria) and Steven Douglas Kelly (an American commonly known as Peter Amsterdam or King Peter).

Alleged sexual abuse

At least six women, including both his daughters, his daughter-in-law and two of his granddaughters, have publicly alleged that Berg sexually abused them when they were children. In 1974, Berg's daugter-in-law, Sarah Berg (who married Berg's son Paul when she was 15), alleged, in testimony to the New York Attorney General's Charity Frauds Bureau, statements on national television and in a deposition taken by New York attorney Aaron F. Klein, that Berg made sexual advances towards her, exposed himself to her and attempted to have intercourse with her "three or four years before my teens." Berg's eldest daughter Deborah Davis has written a book in which she accuses her father of sexually molesting both her and her sister when they were children, and attempting to have sex with her as an adult. Her sister Faith Berg corroborated these claims, but described them in a positive way. Sarah Berg also partially corroborated these claims, noting that: "David, at times, would try to get away with things with his own daughters and he tried it with me when I was a little girl, but I was too young to really know what was going on." In a child-custody case in the United Kingdom, Berg's grandaughter Merry Berg testified that Berg sexually molested her when she was a young teenager. Another of Berg's granddaughters, Joyanne Treadwell Berg, spoke on American television about being sexually abused by her grandfather. Berg's informally adopted son Ricky Rodriguez wrote an article on the website MovingOn.org in which he describes Berg's deviant sexual activity involving a number of women and children. Davida Kelley, the daughter of Rodriguez's nanny Sara Kelley, accused Berg of molesting her in a June 2005 Rolling Stone article. In the same article, a woman identified as Armendria alleged that Berg sexually abused her when she was 13 years old.

Personal family

The Berg Family (1961)

David Berg married his first wife, Jane Miller (known as "Mother Eve" in the Children of God), on 22 July 1944 in Glendale, California. They had four children together:

  • Linda (b. 10 September 1945, known as "Deborah" in the Children of God);
    • m#1. John/Jethro
      • Joyanne Treadwell (b. ~1964)
    • m#2. Bill Davis (known as "Isaiah" in the Children of God)
      • Alexander David (b. August 1975)
  • Paul Brandt (b. 21 June 1947, known as "Aaron" in the Children of God and very likely committed suicide in April 1973 near Geneva, Switzerland);
  • Jonathan Emanuel (b. January 1949, known as "Hosea" in the Children of God); and
    • m. Lurana Nolind (known as "Esther David" in the Children of God)
  • Faithy (b. February 1951)
    • m#1. Arnold Dietrich (also known as "Archbishop Joshua" in the Children of God)
    • m#2. Mike Fischer


Family publications for children

See also

External links

Personal tools