In the late 1960s, David Berg created a little-known movement called Teens for Christ.
Who is the cult of the Children of God and where are they located?
Initially, they called themselves Teens for Christ, but soon became the Children of God movement.
Mainly made up of runaways and “born again hippies”, it originated in Huntington Beach, California.
Concluding that the area would inevitably suffer a major earthquake, David Berg took his movement and followers on the road.
At its peak, the Children of God are believed to have had about 15,000 members.
Promoting the “group life” lifestyle, the movement soon had hundreds of communes.
The communities were very isolated, and no one in them wanted to work or leave the commune.
He combined the worship of Jesus Christ with the “free love” era of the 1960s while prophesying that apocalypse it was very fast.
As a result, he encouraged members to live hand-to-mouth without encouraging anyone to make long-term plans.
At its peak, the movement was said to have reached more than 50 countries.
What happened to cult leader David Berg and how did he die?
David Berg was in hiding in 1971.
He communicated with his followers through a series of letters that he called the “Letters of Mo”, which derives from the name he gave himself, Moses David.
His wife informed the press secretary of the movement about his death in November 1994.
Although no one even in the group knew where he and his wife were when he died, it is now believed that he was in the Portugal at that time.
Maria Berg (also known as Karen Zerby), the wife of the leader of the movement, headed “The Family”, as it was now called after his death.
What are the charges against the group?
The group was known for its “flirty fishing” technique, where female members were ordered to have sex with men as a means of recruiting them into the cult.
Former members of the “Children of God” movement stated that they were abused as children when they lived in communes.
Former members told how the group extended its sexual politics to children, allegedly allowing and even encouraging child sexual abuse.
Sadly, many members of the movement have committed suicide over the years, haunted by memories of their time at Children of God.
During these years there were terrible reports from people who were previously involved in sexual assault, incest and brainwashing.
Why is the cult of the Children of God so notorious?
Joaquin Phoenix’s late older brother, River, told Details magazine in 1991 that he was four years old when he first had group sex.
While former members have come out and talked about the mental and physical torture they endured, they still suffer from these memories later in life.
In January 2005, the movement made headlines when the former leader’s son, Ricky Rodriguez, killed a former member of the group.
The person in question was Rodriguez’s former nanny who had lived in the commune for several years.
After beating her to death, Rodriguez killed himself. He left the group as an adult, and previously told The New York Times that he wanted his mother “held accountable for child abuse.”