For the first time, Faith Jones, the granddaughter of David Berg, the man who founded the infamous cult known as the Children of God, shares untold and highly detailed stories of her upbringing. Growing up on a remote farm in Macau, Faith prayed for hours every day and read letters of prophecy written by her grandfather. Over the decades, the Children of God has grown into an international organization that has become notorious for its alarming sexual practices and allegations of abuse and exploitation. With indomitable courage, Faith survived and, at 23, broke with the cult, leaving behind everything she knew to forge her own path in America. In the excerpts below from Faith’s upcoming memoirs Sex Cult Nun: breaking with the children of God, a wild, radical and religious cult, you will learn troubling details about her childhood and how difficult it was for her to have a “normal” relationship after leaving the cult.
Content Disclaimer: This story contains details about sexual abuse and toxic worship practices.
Unlike most Christian denominations, sex permeates our lives. It is glorified, Divine. Cartoon images of naked women fill our religious literature. The Holy Spirit of the Trinity is a busty, hot and horny goddess wearing only a heart-shaped bikini held together by strings of pearls. Photos of topless women adorn our monthly newsletters. Instead of covering up, women can show off as much skin as the countries we live in allow, and they often wear nothing more than a sarong around the house. Our sex is our service to God. To refuse sex is to be hard and selfish, inflexible to the will of God. And our absolute obedience is expected.
The letters Mo [newsletters from Moses David, also known as David Berg] adults read at Devotions often have cartoons of nearly naked people, with titles like Child Brides, The devil hates sex, Bitches of god, and Witches of God! ”“ Watch out! “We want our kids to have a healthy, natural attitude towards sex and not think it’s something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about,” says Grandpa. “Sex is divine and natural. If we present it to children at a young age, they will not have reservations about it as we grew up with.
Macao, China, 1983: 6 years
One of my first coloring books was about sex. There were realistic drawings of a naked and fully aroused man having sex with a woman with a flower crown on her long hair. It featured a frontal diagram of an open vagina with arrows pointing to the clitoris and urethra, and an equally detailed diagram of a penis and scrotum. “You have to know where babies come from,” my mother said, placing it in my little three-year-old hands.
One of the coloring pages showed a baby growing in the womb of a naked hippie woman, and another showed her giving birth. I chuckled in pity when I heard that Systemite kids [the term used to describe those who lived outside the cult in mainstream society] thought babies were brought by storks or grew in cabbages. How could they be so stupid? Babies come from sex.
In his Mo Letters, Grandpa attacks unhealthy and restrictive American attitudes towards sex. He fondly describes his own first sexual encounters with his nanny as an example of good parenting, recounting how, when he was only a few years old, his South American nanny posed him for his nap while sucking him off. penny. He proclaimed how much he loved her, but one day his mother grabbed the nanny and sent her away. His mother took a bowl and a knife and warned him that if she caught him playing with his penis, she would cut it. His threats freaked him out, but that didn’t stop him from having sex once he figured out how to do it with his cousin at the age of seven.
Grandpa teaches that sex is pure and divine and that it has been corrupted as something dirty and shameful by the devil, who is deceiving the people of God. He says if sex is pure and divine, then why shouldn’t children engage in sexual games with each other or with adults? “After all, everything is perfectly innocent if it’s done with love,” he says. While touching is okay, adult men should wait until they have had full sex until a girl has entered puberty, at least twelve years old, as an adult penis could physically damage a young girl’s body. it’s too small. This is not liking to act in a way that can cause lasting or severe physical damage. But a boy can have sex earlier if he wants to.
Washington, DC, 2003: 25 years
My only real distraction is Rob, a military man who attends law school while working for the Department of Justice. I meet him one evening on my way to a formal dinner for the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy. Although our initial conversation was brief, he was so impressed that I could speak to him in Mandarin and Russian that he found my email address on the campus system. After several attempts, I finally agreed to meet at Sequoia, a chic restaurant on the Potomac River. During the meal, I learn that he is a bit of a prodigy, with an impressive track record of achievement at a young age. He’s cute, not exactly my type physically, but intellectually I’ve found my match.
After a month and a half of devoted pursuit on his part, and a decent escape from mine, we start to sleep together, but every time we have sex I feel intense pain. When I jump, Rob doesn’t push, as I usually do; he stops and asks what’s wrong. I tell him it’s okay, that it still hurts during sex, but Rob refuses to accept this rationalization. This is not good, he told me. It’s not normal.
With his patience and care, I begin to understand my body. Slowly, I feel myself reacting in new ways. He shows me the wonderful world of cunnilingus, which Grandpa had decried as dirty. I’m learning that my body needs this to lubricate well, so I don’t feel pain. Finally, the sex becomes really pleasurable. Rob becomes my mate, friend and lover, but I still hold back. About six months into our relationship, he starts asking more pointed and persistent questions about my background. I am closer to him than anyone I have met since leaving the family. Maybe I can tell him the truth and reveal the secret that I have kept for the past three years.
After I finally tell him, Rob searches for the Children of God and finds a thick government file, complete with various conspiracy theories that I’ve never even heard of. As an employee of the Department of Justice, he is panicked. He’s got a temper, and he gets angry yelling at me, accusing me of compromising his security clearance. He wonders if he needs to contact the government to report him and me. I cry, I try to calm him down, but he keeps screaming. I assure him that I am no longer in the family. I left three years ago. I have no intention of infiltrating the government for the Family, or any other conspiracy theory. The more he screams, the more I close. The end of the relationship seems imminent, and I collapse on my bed, scared and angry.
Next time we speak, I’m ready for Rob to say goodbye to me, but he does something totally unexpected: he brings me closer to him. Part bully, part confidant, he pushes and pulls, pulling things out of me like the army-trained interrogator he is. I had been taught to keep everything concerning the nonconformist beliefs and sexual practices of the Family a secret on pain of death. I was taught that if I spoke, the Antichrist forces would kill me or the government would put me in jail. Even though I now know that’s not true, talking still feels like betrayal. My ingrained childhood training and fear are hard to overcome. But Rob pulls the stories out of me, slowly, one at a time.
Rob is furious for me. Seeing how much my stories upset him helps me understand how serious it was. I knew things had happened to me that made me feel terrible in my guts, but I thought the problem was with me, that I wasn’t submissive enough to God or sacrificial enough. He tells me it wasn’t my fault, that I don’t need to bear this shame.
As our relationship evolves and Rob and I grow closer, I slowly realize that I made the classic move of dating someone like my father: a teacher, a preacher, a young prodigy, a worker. hardworking, dynamic, good with people, who grew up with horses, confident and controlling with an outgoing temperament. Even the pain is familiar and comfortable. As I gain confidence, Rob can’t seem to give up the role of teacher. The very security and intellectual authority that drew me to him are starting to look like rough ropes on raw skin. Neither fear nor love is enough motivation to stay bonded. Finally, I end our romantic relationship, choosing to remain friends.
From the book Sex Cult Nun: Breaking With Children Of God, A Wild And Radical Religious Cult, by Faith Jones. Copyright © 2021 by Faith Jones. To be released November 30, 2021 by William Morrow, a brand of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted with permission.
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