Sex cult said to be recuiting in Scotland
By Susan Dean
A shadowy religious cult at the centre of child sex abuse and brainwashing allegations is active in central Scotland, a cult investigator has claimed.
Matthew Bell from Reach Out, an interdenominational Christian movement which deals with cults and occult groups, said yesterday that a core group of 20-30 members of the Family of Love - formerly the Children of God - is recruiting in Scotland. It wants converts to the sect, which is the subject of international police attention over its alleged activities.
"I would like to see the Family out of Scotland altogether because they are so dangerous," Mr Bell said.
A report into the Family's alleged practices has been compiled by Scotland Yard for distribution to child welfare agencies.
Members of the group have consistently denied allegations of incest and child sex abuse.
The Scotland Yard move follows numerous complaints to police forces throughout the world about the Family, which, in spite of repeated investigations, has had no successful prosecutions for criminal offences brought against it. The cult is said to have about 70 communes in Britain.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard yesterday declined to release copies of the report but one newspaper report claimed that the 82-page document made allegations that sexual abuse had been systematically advocated and practised.
The Family has also been accused of keeping children from school, using sect teachers to teach them instead - thus keeping them dependent on the organisation.
There is an international warrant for the arrest of the Californian cult leader, David Berg, now in his 70s, whose whereabouts is unknown. Last September, 300 children, some of them British, were taken into care by the Argentinian authorities after child-abuse allegations.
Two years ago 132 children were taken into local authority care in France on similar grounds but had to be handed back because police were unable to find concrete evidence. A hundred and twenty children were taken into care in Australia in the same year, 1992.
Speaking from his home in Ayrshire, Mr Bell said that a core group of followers had been based in Hamilton recently. There were indications that it was now in Edinburgh and perhaps operating from both centres. Although the thrust of publicity had been about alleged child sex abuse and incest, he could not be sure if that was still the case.
However, he said, there was disturbing evidence of the practice of swapping sexual partners, with female members giving birth to children sired by various men. Women were not forced to have sex with different partners but to refuse would mean a black mark against them, he said. Contraception is frowned upon, according to Mr Bell.
"What is of concern is the effect on children living within the commune," said Mr Bell. "They grow up perhaps not knowing their father and they are growing up within an atmosphere based wholly on their own doctrine."
Members of the cult distribute Christian literature on the streets, which sometimes refers to the Family of Love or World Services. In Scotland they call themselves The Missionaries, said Mr Bell.
He is appealing for anyone who has been approached by the Family to contact him on 0294-312677.