Calgary Herald: Woman wants to save her sister from cult

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Woman wants to save her sister from cult

Calagary Herald/1980-03-18

By Crosbie Cotton
Herald staff writer

After watching one sister die, Laureen wants to save the other — her twin — from the Children of God.

But she doesn't know where to start.

Her elder sister Shelley, a 28-year-old mother of three infants, died Sunday at Holy Cross Hospital after refusing treatment for a cancer doctors say could probably have been cured.

Shelley, who was converted to the religious cult nearly a decade ago while travelling in Italy, decided to wait for God's miracle instead of allowing doctors to treat her.


"1 would really like to get my other sister deprogrammed" said Laureen, whose twin sister was encouraged to join the Children of God when Shelley returned home to visit her Calgary family about three years ago.

"But I don't know how to do it because my parents are in shock. They don't know how to deal with it."

In an interview Monday. Laureen, 27, spoke about her two sisters. But fearing reprisals and additional trauma for her parents, she insisted that neither her family name, nor her twin's first name, be used.

Laureen was encouraged to join the Children oi God but decided not to after several meetings with cult members in Calgary.

"I know she is brainwashed but I can't do anything about it. She will go underground and I'll never hear from her again."

Her twin sister, who first joined the cult after a visit to their commune type house in Calgary, has been working lor the sect in Mexico She returned homo last week to be with Shelley and was in the hospital room praying when her sister died.

She is expected to return to Mexico, where she teaches English to Mexican businessmen, at the end of the week.

The Children of God. headed by David Berg, also known as David Moses, at one tune had more than 120 communes around the world

The cult gained international prominence for its use of sexual promiscuity, including prostitution, to raise funds and attract new members.

Shelley's husband Mario said Monday that all bad publicity about the Children of God is "lies."

He said the Children of God am now better known us the Family ot Love.

'Greater family'

"We are members of a greater family than most North Americans will ever understand." said Mario, who maintained his wife will still rise from the dead.

Laureen described Shelley as an extremely intelligent woman who always had time lor the Bible and other people when she grew up, attending both Henry Wise Wood Senior High School in southwest Calgary and Srathcona Tweedsmutt School, a private school In Okotoks.

"She always had time for other people." she said. "She was sensitive to other people's feeilings."