Children of God
NBC Evening News/1972-03-05 17:52:20-17:56:10
Garrick Utley, NBC News: ...religious group has its serious problem these days and that is also true of the Children of God, the informal and loosely knit movement of young people who have turned on to God. Here's a report.
(Music, people singing and clapping, man playing guitar)
Don Oliver, NBC News Reporter: These are the Children of God, young people, many of them former drug users, now living together, trying they say to live the life of Jesus. Trying to convert the world to his teachings.
(group of Children of God members praying with their eyes closed and holding hands, saying "Hallelujah!", "Thank you, Lord," and "Thank you, Jesus")
(sign: "Family Visitors Welcome - 10AM - 7PM - Inquire At Big House")
Don Oliver: About 60 of them live here in a run-down former church camp near Burlington in western Washington. They claim a worldwide membership of about 2000. They exist on donations of food and clothing and on the possessions of members. They say they teach converts useful skills, how to live in harmony. They say extramarital sex is forbidden as is the use of drugs. Many are married. They say their children are raised communally in an atmosphere of love. Lately, however, this colony has come under attack by some relatives of members who say that that hate is preached here. That members are kept against their will, hypnotized, drugged. That parents are not allowed to visit their children.
Unidentified woman, Children of God member (reading into a microphone): ...hopeth all things, endureth all things.
Don Oliver: The Children of God say these are lies.
"Caleb" West, elder: We want to stop the lies that are hurting God's work and God's children and that's all they are is lies. Some of those statements they have made are criminal acts: drugging people and kidnapping. These are offenses that can be...you can go to prison for and so if these things are so how come they haven't been proven yet.
Dolores Snell: They're continually lying and there isn't one thing I would believe that they say.
Don Oliver: These people oppose the Children of God. Some are relatives who say their children are being held against their will. In meetings they talk openly about using force to get their children back.
Doris Peck: And our ultimate goal is to free the children that have been taken in. The group is, we believe it is a subversive organization. They are told what to do and what to think. They have no will power.
"Caleb" West: We are trying to just win these kids to Christ and spreading forth the Gospel. Now, some people don't like religion, they don't like Jesus Christ and they don't like living from 100% full-time or being a missionary so I mean, some people have their opinion, they can hold to it.
Doris Peck: Why they afraid to show me my daughter and my grandson? I don't know. And what do they have to fear? There is a lot of them. There is only one of me. Of course, I will admit I might get pretty violent if I ever get to see them, I mean, naturally.
"Caleb" West: We allow them to come in and see their kids unless... there's some parents, you gotta understand, not the majority but there are some that don't understand and are totally against the religious aspect or Jesus Christ and some of them are... even violent some of them are.
Don Oliver: Amid the confusion of claims and counterclaims, nothing is really certain in all of this but there are a couple of things that seem safe to say. Authorities have found no evidence that anyone is being held here against their will, no evidence that any drugs are being used here at this colony of the Children of God and since the people here are all 18 or over, they have the choice of remaining here whether their relatives think it is bizarre or not. Don Oliver at the Children of God colony, Burlington, Washington.