Children of God find new home
The Advocate (Newark)/1977-07-22
By DENNIS REDMONT
Associated Press Writer
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) - The Children of God have found a new home away from home and a new prophet in his own country - Col. Moammar Khadafy, Libya's deeply religious Moslem president. Exiles from the cult phenomenon in the United States, some members of the group are receiving moral and material support from Libya in their supervised search for God and fight against drugs, alcohol and the "world's corruption."
Col. Khadafy, who has made the Koran the base of Libyan law, was interested enough in the movement to meet several times with its leaders, to house them for a period, and even to write a song which the "children" have performed throughout the country, and in their communes in other lands.
They now spell his name "Godhafi," to do him special honors and see him as a Christ-like or Mohammed-like figure. "Do as I do. I pray to God. I'm very happy because I found the road with Allah. Allah, Allah," says the first verse of Khadafy's song. It is addressed to the industrialized nations of the world, and goes on: "You hate Negros. You do not pray. You are not good. You have lost your way. Your life is falsehood. Without Allah, Allah, Allah." Although few of the Children of God speak Arabic, their well-kempt, clean-shaven habits have made them something of a hit in Libya with their guitar-strumming and flute playing band.
They performed recently at an international fair, and give shows at local restaurants, with opening pieces such as "Chukran Allan" (Thank you Allah) and the old U.S. hit. "Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie," which they regard as a theme song for their gradual exodus from the United States, which they have declared doomed.
The movement was started about 1969 by a Californian named David Berg, whom his followers regard as a prophet and call Moses. His "Mo" letters anticipate a violent end to developed nations. The group, which settled temporarily in Texas, gradually spread elsewhere. They change their names, adopting Scriptural identities, getting support from merchants, parents, street donations and sales of "Mo" letters. They've appeared at various public places, including the United Nations, dressed in sackcloth, their faces daubed with ashes, symbolizing the coming doom.
They have a French pop musical group, "Les Enfants de Dieu," which has produced several records, and they've recorded commercial cassettes in Brazil. They have discoteques in Rome and Athens and run an anti-drug center in Amsterdam. Berg claims the group has 250,000 converts worldwide, with 5,000 full-time workers in "colonies" proselytizing in 60 countries. But they've run into considerable opposition, including accusations of "brainwashing" in the United States and have been expelled from Lebanon and Madagascar. "We are the first children's crusade and probably the last one before God's destruction of this wickedly worldly system." says a recent Mo letter, called “The New Nation News."
In recent years, they've increasingly moved away from the industrialized nation's concentrating on Africa and Asia. One of the Libyan-based group, Stephen Bruce Ferguson from Iowa, says: "This is the land of the future. This is where it's all going to be. You know, the Koran is not much different from the Bible." Berg, a recluse who never allows himself to be photographed and who now reportedly lives in England, recently met with the Libya's President Khadafy for nine hours, and says they found much in common.
Both ban alcoholic beverages and drugs, claim the poor will inherit the earth and object to pro-Israel Zionists. Wrote Berg of Khadafy: "There has not been another such worldly political leader in modern times as this young prophet of the seemingly impossible. There has hardly been such a Godly world political leader since the days of his own prophet Mohammed, and the prophets of ancient times, including Jesus"