Not Without My Sister

From XFamily - Children of God
Authors Kristina, Juliana and Celeste
Book cover

On 2 July 2007, HarperElement (a UK division of Harper Collins) published "Not Without My Sister" by sisters Juliana Buhring, Celeste Jones and Kristina Jones. The book detailed their experiences being raised in the Children of God/The Family cult and was the first such book to be published by former second generation members.

The first printing of 50,000 copies sold out within a couple months and the book became a bestseller in the United Kingdom and Australia. When the paperback edition of the book was released in the UK on 7 January 2008, it quickly reached the number 1 position in the Nielsen BookScan list of best-selling non-fiction paperbacks and stayed there for several weeks until the first week of March 2008 when it moved to the number 3 position.[1][2][3] According to London's Sunday Times, as of March 8, 2008, the UK paperback edition had sold approximately 89,000 copies.[4] The book has been translated to and published (or is scheduled to be published) in a number of languages including Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, and Swedish.

Press coverage

Television and radio interviews

The Family International's response to this book

In preparing this statement, we encounter the difficulty of having to publicly disagree with some former members of our Fellowship, which we have avoided doing, as we love them and respect their decision to depart from our fellowship. We have no wish to alienate them or add to their grievances, and we believe that these former members are entitled to their personal perspectives, outlooks and beliefs.

However, we believe that we also are entitled to a response, particularly where The Family International is unfairly maligned and slandered, or where stories are exaggerated to the point that it is difficult to separate truth from fiction. Although many people who have departed from our fellowship testify that their experiences as a member of The Family International were positive ones, there are some former members who have had some negative experiences, as in any organisation.

We are saddened that anyone may have had negative experiences while in The Family International. Beginning more than two decades ago policies were implemented to ensure that the rights of our members could not be infringed upon by others. We have taken great pains, both formally and informally, to apologise for any grievances they have. We believe that such efforts have been helpful for all parties involved. Far from being a true story as the reviewer states, it is a very subjective account viewed through the prism of reinterpretation. Thus, we will not attempt to address the personal experiences of former members presented in this book, but rather will address the main issues.

The Care and Protection of our Children

First a categorical restatement of our policies both public and private regarding our member's rights, both adult and children. Any form of abuse, whether sexual, physical or otherwise is absolutely forbidden in our fellowship. Any infraction of this rule will result in immediate expulsion from our fellowship. We do not condone or permit any inappropriate behaviour with our children, whom we consider a precious gift from God to be protected and nurtured.

The Family International recognises that during a short period of our history our policies in this regard were not clearly articulated, which resulted in isolated incidences of inappropriate behaviour towards minors. This was officially corrected in 1986, when it was made clear, and we accept that it should have been made clear earlier, that sexual contact between an adult and minor was totally unacceptable.

The Family International's success in protecting our children and ensuring their well being has been documented by court-appointed and independent investigations of almost 700 children living in Family communities. After extensive physical, psychological and educational testing, all of the children were found to be healthy with no sign of abuse in a single case. This total absence of abuse speaks for the efforts made to safeguard children in Family communities. We question whether the same statistics could be produced for children in society at large.

We believe that this book bears witness to the fact that people's experiences are often re-interpreted upon exiting a religious group, particularly a high commitment religious movement such as The Family International. We ask people to come and see our communities for themselves as well as read the numerous studies which have been conducted by authorities and health care professionals and the court cases which we have won around the world. Court cases which we may add only came about because of allegations like this which have stirred up hysteria against our religious group and have always ended with judges finding in our favour.

In Australia for example social services were forced to pay damages to the children for abuse they suffered at the hands of social services themselves. The facts speak for themselves and whilst we are sad if any former members have experienced conditions or treatment which is different from our positive experience of being in The Family International for 36 years, we feel we must speak up so that the general public does not misjudge our wonderful, well documented Christian work throughout Africa on the basis of this book and its allegations.

Gideon and Rachel Scott

Telephone **27 11 3154863 (Johannesburg)

Family Care Association is a branch of the Family International ( a fellowship of independent missionary communities dedicated to improving the health, education, and welfare of those in need, and spreading God's message of love. Changing lives, one heart at a time.

Contact us at: Postnet Suite # 548 Private Bag X18 Lynnwood Ridge,004, Pretoria, SA
Tel:073-985-3469 Fax:(021)-993-5231

External links


  1. "Saturday Review: Top 10 non-fiction paperbacks", The Guardian, 2008-02-09.
  2. "Saturday Review: Top 10 non-fiction paperbacks", The Guardian, 2008-02-23.
  3. "Saturday Review: Top 10 non-fiction paperbacks", The Guardian, 2008-03-08.
  4. "Books; Sunday Times bestsellers", Sunday Times, 2008-03-16.