J. Fred Jordan (1909-1988) was the founder of Fred Jordan Missions, the American Soul Clinic and one of the first television evangelists. In the late 1950s, he divorced his first wife and married his secretary, Willie. He died in 1988 after having a heart attack.
David Berg first met Jordan in 1952 when he enrolled in a 3-month course at the American Soul Clinic in Florida after quitting his job as a teacher and school bus driver. Berg was subsequently employed by Jordan in various positions, including promoting Jordan's TV Program, "Church in the Home", until April 1967 when he was fired. Deborah Davis and her husband also worked for Jordan from 1964 until 1967.
David Berg referred to Fred Jordan as "King Saul" throughout his "Mo Letters".
In a 1984 book, Berg's daughter, Deborah Davis, wrote that "Fred Jordan was second only to my grandmother as the major influence on my dad's life and character". In several Mo Letters, Berg also acknowledged the influence Jordan had on him:
23. IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THIS NEW MINISTRY--my personal ministry nearly 20 years ago, when my Mother was still fighting the change and resisting my leaving the System, she used to ridicule my tactics, and accuse me of just being a carbon copy of Fred Jordan!--And why not? He was my teacher, and the man who helped to open my eyes to the truths of God's Word, and the Revolutionary Plan and Methods of God for His Children, as taught by Jesus, and shown by His Disciples!
111. THAT'S HOW I GOT STARTED ON THE RIGHT TRACK, FOLKS, GIVE FRED CREDIT FOR THAT! King Saul got David started & what he preached was the Truth--he preached missionary work & witnessing & litnessing & with very little education, that anybody can get out & win souls if you just try, anybody can witness if you just get out & try, & anybody can go to the mission field by faith! If you'll just obey the Lord & go, God'll take care of you! I'm doing all the things Fred Jordan taught in those days & a whole lot more. I've just carried it on like King David did from Saul to even greater lengths.
35. Fred was just a step in my life. My time working for him was just a stage in my training to get me ready to go all the way. He was a starter, just like Saul had his time in David's life.
In the late 1960s, members of Teens for Christ and the Children of God began appearing on Jordan's TV programs. Jordan later allowed the group to use a 400-acre ranch in Texas called the Texas Soul Clinic, another property in Coachella, California, and a large building at 5th and Towne in Los Angeles.
However, as the Children of God began attracting controversy and negative publicity, Jordan found himself under increasing pressure to stop supporting them and in October 1971 evicted the group from his properties in Texas and California. In her book, Children of God: The Inside Story, Davis noted that:
We were taught in the Family to "use whatever or whomever you can to gain your purpose. Use it! That's the goal!" After years of service to his mother and to Fred Jordan, Dad seemed to have an incurable case of that disease of using a righteous end to excuse an unrighteous means. Eventually, through hundreds of Mo Letters, the disciples became indelibly stained with this same moral defect. The final product of this philosophy can be seen in what the Children of God are today.
But the rewards Fred Jordan had gained through the COG were disappearing. There is little doubt that he had stumbled upon a goose that was laying golden eggs, but FREE-COG was "fixin' to cook that goose." Fred had no desire to be cooked as well. FREE-COG told him that he had two choices: Expel the COG from all his properties, or they would investigate and sue him for illicit practices. It was blackmail.
While the witnessing teams from the L.A. colony were out on the streets, Jordan sent security guards to lock the front doors at their home. When the youth returned, they found themselves suddenly homeless. We camped out in MacArthur Park for a week while Fred slowly released our personal belongings to us from his building with the help of pressure from local authorities. He then delivered an ultimatum to the groups in Coachella and at TSC in Texas: COG members had to either renounce Dad and serve Fred, or move off the property immediately. They marched right off the Coachella ranch, bag and baggage to the last man. However, we in the family were a bit reluctant to give up on TSC, our main base, and prepared to fight eviction through legal means. But Dad got one of his revelations, and orders came from the top to "move out now! This is only God's way of moving us on to higher ground!"
In the Mo Letter, Survival, which was distributed to the general public, Berg described the eviction in a section entitled "Leaving California and Fred Jordan":
138. SEEING THE DANGER OF BEING POSSIBLY ACCUSED OF THE MISAPPROPRIATION OF FUNDS and not using the properties for the purposes for which he was granted tax exemption, our dear old friend Fred, immediately and wisely incorporated himself and his family and some of his employees in the name of the Children of God; Incorporated, with a grand total of only five trustees and not one of them actual members of the original Children of God who were doing the work!
139. HE THEREUPON ORDERED THE LEADERS OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD OFF OF HIS PROPERTIES, EVIDENTLY HOPING TO KEEP SOME OF THEIR FOLLOWERS, but they all followed their true leaders, to a man, and not one Child of God was left on one single Jordan property to tell the tale! He even had the sheriff escort some of them off the properties he had supposedly bought for them, and which their donors also thought they had bought for the Children of God! And I doubt if he has heard the last of this yet from some of his disillusioned and disappointed viewers, who thought they were investing their funds for the benefit of God's true Children!
140. TO MOVE ABOUT 500 DISCIPLES OFF OF THREE PROPERTIES ON VERY SHORT NOTICE WAS QUITE A HARDSHIP, but the Lord providentially opened for us the use of other properties at this time in the Northwest to which we transported most of these evictees at considerable expense and difficulty. Here, we found some of the leaders of the Jesus People who had invited us very receptive and hospitable, but some of their followers were not quite as enthusiastic, which soon erupted into some difficulties and false charges which received some rather unfavorable publicity which was later lived down.
In the book "The Jesus People: old-time religion in the age of Aquarius" (1972) authors Ronald M. Enroth, Edward E. Ericson, and C. Breckinridge Peters had this to say about the relationship between Fred Jordan and David Berg:
Jordan describes himself as a representative of the establishment who felt a need to reach radical youth. Since he could not do this himself, he associated with the Children of God. On his television show, Jordan often spoke as if the Children of God were his ministry, but this was not at all the case. He was the benefactor, not the administrator. His program distorted the Children of God by making them look more ordinary and unexceptional than they really are. He camouflaged those eccentric doctrines with which he did not agree. His appeal to businessmen for funds to support the Children of God was, "You'd better help us reach these tough kids, or they'll destroy your businesses. We're the only ones who can reach them." Jordan plays on the desire of right-wingers to keep America Christian and orderly, followed by an appeal for funds.
Jordan later encountered some problems when the Children of God, Inc. he had incorporated in California was sued along with the Children of God, Inc. registered in Texas.