Jesus Movement Spreading to England
CBS Evening News/1973-04-26 17:52:00 - 17:57:20
Walter Cronkite, CBS Evening News anchor: An outpouring of religious fervor, particularly among young people, has been going on in the United States for the past several years. But now the Jesus movement is spreading beyond America. Bob Simon reports on its arrival in England.
(group of Children of God members on a street dancing and singing "You Gotta Be A Baby," some of them playing guitars)
Bob Simon, CBS News Reporter: The Children of God have come to England. They've brought their bibles, their guitars, their enthusiasm and their message to an old manor in the village of Hollingbourne in the county of Kent. The Children of God, the most radical, the most controversial sect in the American-born Jesus movement say things were getting pretty tough in Texas and California. The English countryside is literally a breath of fresh air.
(group of Children of God members, including Jonathan Berg, on a street, dancing, clapping and singing "You Gotta Be A Baby")
(as the song ends, members raise their hands and began shouting "Hallelujah!" and "Thank you, Lord")
(scene shifts to an indoor meeting of about 24 members, Barbara Canevaro (Rachel) is sitting on a chair and reading to the audience)
Barbara Canevaro (Rachel): He left Judea and departed again unto Galilee...
Unidentified Members (in unison): And he left...
Bob Simon: The commune here isn't all that different from the American model. There's the same constant reading from scripture
Barbara Canevaro (Rachel): ...Samaria...
(group of Children of God members, including some children, seated, some on chairs and some on the floor, reading from books)
Bob Simon: The same rigid moral code: no worldly goods, no sex without marriage, no alcohol, no tobacco, no drugs.
(A Children of God member, seated in a chair, reading from a large illustrated book to a group of children)
Unidentified Woman: You know what Jesus was going to do?
Bob Simon: The children of the Children of God are taught from the age of 2 not just to preach the gospel but to practice it.
(scene shifts to an outdoor setting, a Children of God member is reading from a Bible to two people)
Unidentified Man: That all that believe are together and had all things common and sold their possessions and goods and parted them to all men as every man had need. They shared everything right there.
Bob Simon: The grown-up children don't work for a living. The movement is utterly dependent on donations from outsiders. Back in the States, many outsiders were hostile. But here in Hollingbourne, the villagers have come to look on these strange people with Biblical names as pretty good neighbors.
Unidentified Man 2: I've been living here, what, 6 years in Hollingbourne and I haven't anything against these fellows.
Unidentified Woman 2: I mean, everybody has their own way of living, everybody has their own religion, like me, I am a Catholic, I'm Irish. I could be chucked out tomorrow but it doesn't worry me.
(scene shifts to a large group Children of God members exiting a building by descending the steps leading to the sidewalk and the street, a couple are playing guitars and they are singing "David's Mighty Men")
Bob Simon: The Children of God now have 15 communes in England including one right in the heart of cockney [?] London and they're spreading quickly to Europe, Africa, Australia. But wherever they go, they have most success with people like themselves, young people from the cities, people searching for some inner peace which the Establishment doesn't offer, which drugs don't satisfy for long and most members, both the American founders and their English converts, are former drug users.
(large group of members singing, dancing and parading through the streets, many of the people they encounter smile and some start dancing themselves)
Bob Simon: The Children of God came under heavy fire in the United States. They were accused of teaching children to hate their parents, of holding them in a slave-like atmosphere. Here in England, most people greet them with a smile or a little dance. But there has been some opposition mobilized by Conservative member of Parliament John Hunt.
John Hunt, M.P. Conservative Party: There are signs that there is a movement afoot to subvert young people. In particular, to get at unbalanced and immature young people.
(footage showing Children of God members on a bus, singing, clapping, and playing guitars)'
John Hunt, M.P. Conservative Party: I think one can say there are signs of perhaps hypnosis and brainwashing techniques being used in order to bring them into the fold and to keep them there.
Bob Simon: Mr. Hunt's complaints led to a Scotland Yard investigation which cleared the movement of any illegal activities. The British government decided the Americans have every right to stay. So every Sunday, the children take a ride in their bus, called Prophet, and try to conquer Hyde Park for Jesus. Invariably, they attract a large crowd, including the police.
(Faith Berg talking to a British police officer)
Faith Berg: Okay. Thank you so much.
Bob Simon: But in England, compromise is usually possible, even with the law.
Police Officer: But you must stop...groups... If you want to do this, go along to the department and get their permission, then everybody's happy.
Faith Berg: Thank you. We're very appreciative.
Police Officer: But you can't continue...
Faith Berg: We love him, don't we?
Group of Unidentified Children of God Members: Yeah!
Bob Simon: The Children of God say they have very little time to get the message across. The end of the world they believe is coming in 20 years. But in the meantime, they can be thankful there's still a place like England where eccentrics are appreciated as long they smile and especially if they sing. Bob Simon, CBS News, London.
Walter Cronkite: And that's the way it is.