Flirty Fishing (FFing) was a form of religious prostitution practiced by the cult, the Children of God/The Family, from 1978 until 1987 (abandoned because of the AIDS scare). It involved the use of sexual attraction and even sex itself to win converts. Female members were told to be "whores for Jesus" in order to win converts and favors. Soon after its launch as a method of witnessing, sex was given to complete strangers in combination with a request for a "donation", or for a required fee in line with ESing or freelance ESing. FFing and prostitution was widely used as a way to raise money for the cult and resulted in many of the second generation births.
The Family describes the practice of Flirty Fishing as follows: "In the latter part of the '70s and early '80s, [David Berg], responding in part to the sexual liberality of that time period, presented the possibility of trying out a more personal and intimate form of witnessing which became known as 'Flirty Fishing' or 'FFing'. In his Letters at that time, he offered the challenging proposal that since 'God is Love' (1 John 4:8), and [what some believe to be] His Son, Jesus, is the physical manifestation and embodiment of God's Love for humanity, then we as Christian recipients of that Love are in turn responsible to be living samples to others of God's great all-encompassing Love. Taking the Apostle Paul's writings literally, that saved Christians are 'dead to the Law [of Moses]' (Romans 7:4), through faith in Jesus, [Berg] arrived at the rather shocking conclusion that Christians were therefore free through God's grace to go to great lengths to show the Love of God to others, even as far as meeting their sexual needs."
In his judgment of a child custody court case in England in 1994, after extensive research of Family publications and the testimony of many witnesses, The Lord Justice Ward said this about FFing:
"I am quite satisfied that most of the women who engaged in this activity and the subsequent refinement of ESing, (which was finding men through escort agencies), did so in the belief that they were spreading God's word. But I am also totally satisfied that that was not Berg's only purpose. He and his organization had another and more sordid reason. They were procuring women to become common prostitutes. They were knowingly living in part on the earnings of prostitution. That was criminal activity. Their attempts to deny this must be dismissed as cant and hypocrisy. To deny that the girls were acting as prostitutes because "we are not charging but we expect people to show their thanks and their appreciation and they ought to give more for love than if we charged them" is an unacceptable form of special pleading. The "FFers handbook" told the girls that fishing could be fun but fun did not pay the bills. "You've got to catch a few to make the fun pay for itself. So don't do it for nothing."
- Lattin, Don (February 14, 2001). "Escaping a Free Love Legacy: Children of God sect hopes it can overcome sexy image" San Francisco Chronicle.