Sixties cult exerted a powerful influence
Press » Nottingham Evening Post » 2007-08-16
The Children Of God was founded in the late 1960s by David Berg in Huntington Beach, California.
The son of a Christian evangelist, he believed he was the successor of the biblical King David and the prophet Moses.
He crowned himself and his wife King and Queen and exerted a powerful influence over his followers.
Living in hiding around the world and constantly on the run from unwanted attention from the authorities and the media, he communicated with his disciples by letter.
He introduced a Law Of Love, which gave adults licence to practise adultery, incest and paedophilia, provided it was done in the name of God's love.
The outside world was referred to as the System and was said to be controlled by Satan.
Berg told followers the world would end in 1993 when Jesus would return to Earth to save their souls.
But Berg died from natural causes in 1994, calling the world's failure to end a 'blip' in his prophecies.
The cult, now called the Family International, still exists and is run by Berg's second wife, Karen Zerby.
It denies that its members engage in adult-child sex or abuse of any kind but it remains secretive and isolated.
At the height of its popularity in the 1980s, the cult had more than 10,000 members. Now it is thought to have just a few thousand.
Several judicial investigations in the 1990s found the Family International is now a safe environment for children but highlighted concerns about past abuse.