Difference between revisions of "Washington Post: New York Would Place Children of God Under State Scrutiny"

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==New York Would Place Children of God Under State Scrutiny==
==New York Would Place Children of God Under State Scrutiny==
The Washington Post/[[1974]]-02-15
[[:Category:Press:Washington Post|The Washington Post]]/[[1974]]-02-15
Religious News Service
Religious News Service
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[[Category:Press:Washington Post]]

Latest revision as of 10:02, 25 July 2005

New York Would Place Children of God Under State Scrutiny

The Washington Post/1974-02-15

Religious News Service

ALBANY, N. Y. —An interim report on the contro­versial Children of God sect from New York State Attor­ney General Louis Lefkowitz asserts that the group "should come under the um­brella of state regulation and scrutiny."

The 23-page document presents the preliminary findings of an investigation that was launched in Febru­ary, 1973, at the direction of former Gov. Nelson Rocke­feller. The investigation was designed to determine how the Children of God's activi­ties "affect the public peace and safety. " In the course of the probe, 50 persons were questioned —28 parents. 11 former members, six members, and five persons "who had special knowledge pertaining to the activities of the group."

After subpoenas were is­sued several members of the new defunct Staten Island commune gave testi­mony and financial records of the commune were ob­tained. The report notes that "all such testimony was in almost direct contradic­tion to that of former mem­bers of Children of God, parents and other wit­nesses."

Furthermore, it says, "the financial reports were not useful since they only re­ported the income and ex­penses for daily living and housekeeping of the particu­lar commune."

The report concludes from testimony and other evidence that there are about 2,500 members of the Children of God, mostly in Texas and the western United States. It says that the sect is incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation in the State of Texas but it was denied tax exemption, although Children of God literature states that "all contributions are tax de­ductible."

According to the report, there are five categories of "Moses letters" that are written by David (Moses) Berg, the founder of the group. They are (1) those to members of the Berg family only, (2) those for top lead­ership only, (3) those for leadership training. (4) those to be distributed and read to the 'babes' or new members, and (5) those for public con­sumption.

Testimony and exhibits received indicate that some "Moses letters" that were originally written for lead­ers "have since been altered for public consumption, " the report says. It adds their purpose is "to alienate a new disciple from family, school, church and society. "

Parents and former mem­bers of the Children of God have testified that it is diffi­cult for former members to readjust after leaving com­munes because of the psy­chological indoctrination to which members are subjected.

The report cites the case of one former member who took several months to realize that he was no longer af­filiated with the Children of God, and a female ex-mem­ber who testified that for several months she had dreams that Jesus was chas­ing her with an ax.

"It is apparent," the re­port says, "that all of the in­tensive brainwashing of Children of God has left its mark upon the psyches and personalities of those who have come in contact with the group."

Some areas of possible illegal activities of the Chil­dren of God that are men­tioned in the report include the refusal to permit court officers and police officials to gain access to records, possible violation of the do­mestic relations law through the use of "common law" marriages, and the false claim of tax-exempt status.

There also have been charges of involuntary im­prisonment and uncorroborated testimony that a teen-aged girl was assaulted by elders of the now-defunct Ellenvillle, N. Y., commune.

After presenting its interim findings, the report declares: "The actions of the Children of God, as pointed out above, should not be permitted to be hidden be­hind the facade of religion, even assuming, arguendo, that it is a bona fide religious group. Since it appears that many; of its ac­tions, under the nomencla­ture of religious belief, con­flict with laws expressing the secular interests of the rest of the community, they should come under the um­brella of state regulation and scrutiny."

The investigation is being continued with considera­tion to the possibility of tak­ing civil proceedings against the group.