Children of God
GMTV News Hour/1994-11-01
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GMTV Reporter 1: This morning still to come on GMTV, the religious cult the Children of God allegedly encourages members to sexually abuse young children. We’ll hear one woman’s story and we’ll hear from the former cult members who don’t believe her.
GMTV Reporter 2: And on a more serious note, the Mail continues its exclusive story on the Children of God sex cult now called the Family of Love. A judge is to make public his findings on the cult after listening to months of evidence in a ward of court case. Officials from Scotland Yard said, “The judge’s statement is awaited with great interest.”
[image on screen: Daily Mail newspaper headline - "Judge to go public on evil sex cult"]
Eamonn Holmes: Well, the Daily Mail's revelations yesterday focused on the story of 18 year old Kristina Jones.
[image on screen: Daily Mail newspaper headlines - "1,000 CHILDREN IN AN EVIL TRAP," "But this girl got away"]
Eamonn Holmes: Kristina was born into the Children of God and says she suffered 12 years of gross sexual abuse before escaping. Kristina is here with us in the studio this morning. [unintelligible] pointed out that Children of God now goes by the name of the Family of Love. The leaders of that group, Gideon and Rachel Scott are also with me this morning. Kristina first of all, if we could start with you, why do you want to speak out about your experiences?
Kristina Jones: I have an older sister still in the Children of God and other brothers and sisters that I haven’t seen.
Eamonn Holmes: You have been awarded £5000 for the abuse you suffered. Will that in any way go towards easing your pain?
Kristina Jones: I don’t think any amount of money will make up for the 12 years that I lost.
Eamonn Holmes: Just explain to people how you feel that you lost those years, how you lost your innocence. Tell us how prominently sex featured in this cult sector.
Kristina Jones: It was very prominent. It was shown mostly through Mo Letters written by David Berg.
Eamonn Holmes: David Berg was the leader of the Children of God.
Kristina Jones: Yes.
Eamonn Holmes: As a child, how many men were allowed to interfere with you?
Kristina Jones: I counted, and it’s about 25.
Eamonn Holmes: By what age?
Kristina Jones: Well, the age I remember was 3 until the age of 12.
Eamonn Holmes: And what sort of practices are we talking about here?
Kristina Jones: Just sexual indecencies. Touching, kissing, and petting, and something the whole thing.
Eamonn Holmes: Life surely just wasn’t all about sexual practices. Tell me about life within the cult.
Kristina Jones: We were very secluded from the outside world. As a child, I felt very lucky growing up in the Children of God. We were the elite group, very protected from the evil system. David Berg bad-mouthed the system constantly. He was very self-righteous in his preachings about his religion and his beliefs.
Eamonn Holmes: You’re out of the sect like 6 years or so now.
Kristina Jones: Yes.
Eamonn Holmes: How have you adapted to life outside, in the system as it were?
Kristina Jones: It’s been very hard, because I was always told the system was evil and it was the wrong way, and if I ever left the Children of God, I would be turning my back on the Lord, backsliding.
Eamonn Holmes: Well let’s talk to Gideon and Rachel Scott. Can you defend the Children of God, because you are members there, against the sort of accusations you’ve heard here from Kristina?
Gideon Scott: Well, of course, it’s difficult for us to comment upon Kristina’s particular allegations, because although she has been awarded this £5000, these allegations have never been tested in the court of law. But her experience…
Eamonn Holmes: Surely there must have been some validity to them for the judge to make the award.
Gideon Scott: I presume somebody believes her story, and I cannot comment on that story, because I don’t know the details. But I do know that I’ve been in our group for 23 years. I have never once seen any sexual abuse of any child. Now this is borne out by the evidence around the world of over 500 of our children who have been intimately and thoroughly examined by court appointed officials, and not one single case of child abuse has ever been found. In fact, the evidence is entirely to the contrary. Our children are happy, well-adjusted, well-brought up, well-educated children.
Eamonn Holmes: But Gideon, of course abuse takes many forms. We have some footage here, which has been shot in one of your communities here. This is a young child here, probably around the age of 12 years of age. What purpose does a young girl at that age dancing naked in a very sort of salacious way, what purpose does that serve?
[while Mr. Holmes was speaking, very brief edited clips of Family-produced child pornography videos, including "Glorify God in the Dance" were shown on the screen]
Gideon Scott: For one thing, I wouldn’t agree with you that it’s salacious. We have a very…
Eamonn Holmes: Just explain to me. Forgive me if I am somewhat naive. Why would a young girl dance like that naked and be filmed for the purposes of other members to view?
Gideon Scott: Because we try to take a very natural and open view of nudity, that nudity is the natural way that God intended. Therefore, there should be no guilt attached to that. Now, it is a policy we have changed, simply because we realize that it is not necessarily appropriate. These films were made quite a long time ago, when I think society at large had a much more liberal view about sex, about nudity. I think we’ve moved right-wing over the years.
Kristina Jones: You’re doing it for the public benefit. You haven’t changed in your hearts.
Gideon Scott: I still believe that nudity is Godly and good. I don’t necessarily agree that it’s something we should film.
Eamonn Holmes: OK, let me ask you, Rachel, you and Gideon are married. Is that marriage in the conventional sense that the rest of us…
Rachel Scott: Yes, it certainly is. It certainly is.
Eamonn Holmes: Can you tell me what your community’s views on fidelity, monogamy, and marriage are.
Rachel Scott: Well, let me give you an example of our marriage. We’ve been married for 23 years, which I think is a long time compared to a lot of people in general society. We have a very good relationship. I’m still very much in love with my husband.
Eamonn Holmes: Do you have other partners though?
Rachel Scott: No, I don’t have other partners.
Eamonn Holmes: Does your husband have other partners?
Rachel Scott: Well what we believe is that within our communities, if people over the age of 18 should choose to have a date with somebody else who’s in the age of majority…
Eamonn Holmes: So that’s a yes. That’s a yes. How young would those partners be, Gideon?
Gideon Scott: In our communities, we do not allow any interaction, sexual interaction, between anybody over the age of majority and anybody under the age of majority. Now, we do realize that in the past, people have taken our liberal views on sex and taken advantage of them. And we have had ex-members who have been expelled from our communities because of this, and we have had a very strict code of conduct.
Kristina Jones: Why didn’t you expel David Berg?
Gideon Scott: We have a very strict code of conduct.
Kristina Jones: He’s the one that wrote it down in black and white in his Mo Letters.
Eamonn Holmes: What’s your view on David Berg? I mean, this man seems to have gone to ground.
Gideon Scott: David Berg decided to withdraw from our communities in 1970.
Eamonn Holmes: Do you not associate yourselves with the teachings of David Berg?
Gideon Scott: No, we don’t. We still believe that he is our founder. He is somebody who has given us a great deal of spiritual leadership.
Eamonn Holmes: But there are those who would say that he is nothing but a dirty old man.
Gideon Scott: There are a great many people who say a great many things about others. It is our religious conviction that David Berg had a gift of prophecy, in the same way as perhaps a Muslim believes that Muhammad was a prophet. Now everybody may not agree with that, but it is our religious conviction.
Eamonn Holmes: What if people don’t agree with the workings of your community? Are they free to leave?
Rachel Scott: Yes, of course they are. They are free at any time to leave. And I do really want to stress about this story that came out in the Daily Mail as well. We contacted the Daily Mail 5 or 6 times asking them to come around and see us for themselves. Because Dr. Eileen Barker, a sociologist, told us they were doing a story on us. They didn’t want to come. Everybody knows where we live, and yet they say we’re secretive.
Eamonn Holmes: You’ve had a chance to speak live on national television this morning, Kristina. Rachel has just said that people are free to leave these communities, this Family of Love, if they so wish. Does that comfort you in any way?
Kristina Jones: No it doesn’t at all. They’re not free to leave when all of their life, David Berg has put into them fear of the system, fear of leaving, fear of what’s going to happen to you if you’re outside of this elite group.
Eamonn Holmes: And you will continue your campaign.
Kristina Jones: Yes.
Eamonn Holmes: OK. Kristina Jones, Gideon and Rachel Scott, thank you very much indeed.
GMTV Reporter 2: The time is 20 minutes past 7:00. You’re watching GMTV.