Ex-member of Children of God Details Childhood Abuse
A 23-year-old woman who was born into the Children of God cult and left at the age of twelve, tells her story today in The Mirror.
Kristina Jones was raped for years by cult members including her stepfather beginning when she was nine, at cult communes in England and India. She was sexually abused in other ways beginning when she was two, and possibly even younger.
Children of God believes that sexual "sharing" among members is God's will, and that refusing sex is refusing the will of God. David Berg, a Children of God leader, details in letters to members how he enjoyed being sexually abused by a babysitter when he was young, and how he wishes he'd had an opportunity to sleep with his mother. He also produced a pamphlet for cult children with pictures and instructions on how to give oral sex.
"...When your earliest memory of your mother is seeing her walk into your bedroom, witness you being given oral sex by one of her friends, even though you were only two years old, and yet turn on her heel and walk away, it's hard to bury your own feelings just to make her feel better about it.
"When she joined the group in 1973, she thought they were just another religious organisation. But, by the time she had met and married my father, Simon Peter, who was also a member, moved into a commune in Kent with about 20 other members, and my elder sister Celeste had arrived in 1975, they must have realised that the group believed free love, incest, and intercourse with their children were considered to be the will of God.
"I don't think either of them questioned Berg's words. After all, he was God's right-hand man. If they felt uncomfortable with this aspect of his teachings, they didn't dare show it. Probably it was easy to kid themselves that, disgusting as some of it sounded, it had to be all right. I can understand that, but now that I'm a mother myself I can't even begin to understand how they could have exposed their children to it...
"Little children were taught that nudity was good and that sex was the best way of showing someone that you loved them. Refusing to sleep with someone who wanted you was the biggest sin you could commit, and you were punished for it...
"Adults would come in to read us bedtime stories and have sex with us. In a way, you welcomed it. Discipline was very strict, and when you were constantly being criticised, beaten and punished you were grateful for any kind of attention."
When Kristina's mother finally left the group, she still was - and is - in bad shape, and not of much help to her daughter. Kristina began using drugs and attempted suicide three times. She had a son at sixteen, who she parents with love and protectiveness. She was awarded pounds 5,000 from the cult in court.
Kristina is now studying for a law degree and rebuilding her life.