Children of a Flirty God
February 10, 2006 8:38 AM   Subscribe

xFamily Values. A collaborative work by former members documenting The Family/Children of God religion/cult. Uniquely reflecting the sexual revolution, they encouraged prostitution as a means of gaining converts and offerings (Flirty Fishing). Plus they had comic books for the kids. But in concordance with other cults, abuse, incest, mind-control, secrecy, charismatic leaders and leaderettes, insanity, and irreparable harm were in full swing. (No more inside. There may be PDFs involved. Please note that much of this material is not safe for work, or anywhere else.)
posted by cytherea (34 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Very interesting -- these people used to hang outside my school (Westmount High school, Montreal, in the last 70s) and hand out unintentionally hilarious pamphlets ("We're all little toilets for God" and that sort of thing).

Now, if they'd offered me sex, I'd have been there in a shot...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:50 AM on February 10, 2006

Interesting stuff, but I count only two links outside of and one of those is to Wikipedia (which I presume has had heavy hand taken to it by the xfamily folks). The Sociology paper is pretty interesting though.

I'd like to see other perspectives on the matter, including rebuttals by the Children of God.

Thanks for bringing this up though.
posted by afflatus at 9:02 AM on February 10, 2006

I remembered seeing a TV program on this many years ago - like 20 - which told the story of a divorced woman whose husband had absconded with their three children. When she got them back several years later, they had been indoctrinated in the ways of this cult. The interviewer asked the girl, who was about ten, if she would get involved in flirty fishing when she was older, and she said, "Of course!"
posted by orange swan at 9:04 AM on February 10, 2006

Is this that 'sex by eight or it's too late' group?
posted by HTuttle at 9:11 AM on February 10, 2006

Holy shit. HOLY SHIT. Check out those comics.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:14 AM on February 10, 2006

Those comic books - oh my god. And I can't help but think of the Phoenix family whenever I read something new about this group.
posted by pinky at 9:24 AM on February 10, 2006

argh. Link doesn't work.
posted by pinky at 9:24 AM on February 10, 2006

"Uniquely reflecting the sexual revolution"? That's a little like saying the Hitler Youth uniquely reflected the virtues of physical fitness in the great outdoors.
posted by digaman at 9:29 AM on February 10, 2006

A lot of those links will have to wait until I'm not in an office to explore further. Way too questionable.
posted by HTuttle at 9:30 AM on February 10, 2006

Jesus lays.
posted by bardic at 9:31 AM on February 10, 2006

There's some gold in the mp3 section.
posted by the cuban at 9:36 AM on February 10, 2006

"Be a Happy Hooker for Jesus!"
posted by five fresh fish at 9:37 AM on February 10, 2006

Those comics are long-time favorites of mine. As good and crazy as Chick, but in a different way.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:37 AM on February 10, 2006

This stuff only get creepier given the fact that, lin light of the music and the comics, these people had some basic talent in recording and graphic design. I'm not saying they were Prince- or R. Crumb-talented, but they had brains that functioned pretty well when it came to organization and life skills. It's just their sense of self-worth and identity that was completely fucked over by a charlatan.

Chalk another one up for religion.
posted by bardic at 9:40 AM on February 10, 2006

Interesting post! I love how modern day "cults" illustrate so much of the infrastructure and social mechanics that's always present in religion. Arguably more extreme and explicit, maybe even crazier, but fundamentally, these dynamics are age-old.
posted by freebird at 9:56 AM on February 10, 2006

That's a good point freebird. Great post cytherea.

There used to be some court records transcription online that had lots of details of Berg and the CoG, but I can't find it anymore. I've read this book on the group, and though it is strictly a personal account, it's still interesting reading.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:47 AM on February 10, 2006

Ugh. Ew. UGH. In high school, I had a friend whose family was involved in this. The mother had had six kids. Wife-swapping was a popular pastime, but of course nobody thought of using contraception. They'd dropped out, or left, or whatever, when the mother's husband was involved in a messy car crash.

They were like a hateful, dysfunctional, mismatched Brady Bunch... if a few of the Bradys also dressed up as clowns for kids' birthday parties.

My friend spiralled quickly from naivete and confusion to outrage, then anger and anonymous sex and very hard drugs. (That last is why we lost touch.) Wonder how he's doing now.
posted by cmyk at 10:55 AM on February 10, 2006

Words are failing me right now. Fascinating. Disturbing.
posted by raedyn at 11:29 AM on February 10, 2006

The Aristocrats!
posted by Smedleyman at 12:05 PM on February 10, 2006

River Phoenix's family were Children of God.
In an interview with Details Magazine in November 1991, Phoenix claimed he lost his virginity at age four while in the Children of God. "But I've blocked it out", he continued, "I was completely celibate from 10 to 14".

"I'm glad I did it when I was young," River once said, perhaps trying to justify the incident. "But I didn't want those and different body parts that were in my face to make me perverse when I was older."

Phoenix frequently spoke positively of his childhood and non-traditional upbringing. He rarely talked about the cult, however, once saying angrily, "They're disgusting, they're ruining people's lives".
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:26 PM on February 10, 2006

Smedleyman, that was just classic. Best laugh I've had in a while.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:33 PM on February 10, 2006

I discovered this site very recently, and I was really surprised by how smart and well balanced the majority of these kids were -- despite having been raised in the cult.

Not sure if any of the links point to the biggest story, which is the account of how the son of Moses David went and killed his nanny, alleging that she'd sexually abused him.

Now I can understand that you might be a bit disgruntled if someone tied on a strap-on and bent you over your cot, but I have some difficulty fathoming how a prepubescent boy can feel so bad about receiving blow jobs from a hot teenage nanny. If it doesn't feel good, surely your dick won't get hard. If it *does* feel good, what's the problem?

I can remember them touting their crappy comics at British festivals during the early seventies, when I was a teenager. Had any flirty fishing been on offer in those days, I'd have been all over them like a nasty rash.

As it was though, they just struck me as being another bunch of altar rail biting God botherers struggling desperately to conceal their utter sadness beneath a pile of 'hip' clothes. How anyone could bear to listen to them for longer than a minute was always a complete mystery to me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:47 PM on February 10, 2006

If it doesn't feel good, surely your dick won't get hard. If it *does* feel good, what's the problem?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:47 PM PST on February 10

Um, no. It is certainly possible for a penis to become erect from unwanted sexual contact, just as women can become "wet" during rape.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:08 PM on February 10, 2006

There can be pleasant sexual sensations without any attendant emotional component. Most people find this upsetting.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:13 PM on February 10, 2006

When it came to the prostitution end of things... did the men prostitute, or only the women? (I know, RTFMs, but they ick me out.)
posted by five fresh fish at 2:19 PM on February 10, 2006

The whole Love Words to Jesus thing (that link would be ridiculously NSFW) creeps me out more than anything else I've recently heard of or encountered. Damn.
posted by the_bone at 2:31 PM on February 10, 2006

fff: did the men prostitute, or only the women?

I looked at the links earlier today, but I think some of the text suggested at least some men did, too. I don't think there were any pictures of guys doing the seducing -- I'm pretty sure I would've remembered those.

I went back and checked, but the only direct reference I can find now is in this (pdf): "...I just don't yet exactly know how to run a string of boys! I've got to let you girls get broken in first, and once you're broken in, then I don't have to worry so much about it. Then maybe I can start on the boys FFing the girls and find out how that works! Ha!"

And that was written in '76, which seems to be relatively early. My guess is that if it ever did happen, it wasn't nearly as common.

It does seem to be implied in the second half of a document that endorses girl-girl FFing (pdf). At least I think that's what this means -- this stuff is hard to read. And this (pdf) says it generally won't work, because (to paraphrase) men and women are different; women want your cash, not your sex.

Okay, I think I have to go take a long boiling shower now. Ecch.
posted by booksandlibretti at 3:59 PM on February 10, 2006

"Berg's advice to women about rape invariably advocated acceptance of the rape. When sending his female followers off for Flirty Fishing he anticipated situations where rape would occur and told the women to "yeild". He also published fantasies of gang rape (See Heaven's Girl) and depicted scenarios where women being raped would use rape as an opportunity to witness to their rapist and told women to pre-empt rape by "giving it freely". Berg discouraged legal redress and advocated that women satisfy the sexual "needs" of men who would rape them. "

Oh good lord. Why on earth aren't these nutballs imprisoned?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:33 PM on February 10, 2006

A similar site to XFamily is MovingOn (not to be confused with the PAC), which seems more specifically directed at those who were raised within the cult.

Ricky Rodriguez aka Davidito/David Moses was a member before he killed himself. The issue of anger at the nanny doesn't seem very simple -- he wasn't just secretly abused by her, he was abused, photographed [! N. S. F. W. !] and used as an example for other parents in the Family. The nanny seems to have been just the most convenient target, his father being dead and his stepmother (current leader of the CoG) inaccessible. He seems to have bonded with the nanny as a surrogate mother, and thus the betrayal probably seemed as horrible as the violation felt by any adult-child incest victim. (Such men often feel oddly emasculated, the opposite of what you might expect.)

The CoG were a frequent topic on the tabloid TV magazines of the 1980s such as 20/20 and Dateline. They would move from country to country (everywhere from Greece to Argentina) to avoid prosecution on child-abuse (and all sorts of other) charges. Even so, they remained poorly understood and often managed to evade punishment by fleeing or accepting deportation.

One of the weirder sidelights is that they developed a singing group known as the "Family Singers" -- that secured a White House Christmas invitation and performed most years from 1992 (Bush 41) until near the end of Clinton's term.

Note that claims the Family has "reformed" have circulated since the 1970s. The XFamily and MovingOn sites strongly indicate that such claims are specious -- church "policy" statements are shams and activities continue underground. Naturally the attitude of the group in the early years attracted certain types, and old habits die hard.
posted by dhartung at 9:18 PM on February 10, 2006

The video Ricky Rodriguez made before his murder-suicide is very compelling, if insanely uncomfortable, to watch. He seems like a very intelligent, well-spoken person in some ways.
posted by whir at 9:31 PM on February 10, 2006

That's just so wrong.
posted by paladin at 10:07 PM on February 10, 2006

A wiki seems like the absolute worst way to go about this project.
posted by delmoi at 10:26 PM on February 10, 2006

Look ma, I learned a new term.
posted by delmoi at 10:28 PM on February 10, 2006

This song is so twisted, and so Bon Jovi like, it might be the most amazing I've ever heard.
posted by billysumday at 11:54 PM on February 10, 2006

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