30 Members of Children
Of God Arrested
Thursday, September 2, 1993
The Washington Post; Page A05
NEW YORK, SEPT. 1
he Children of God, a religious cult accused of promoting
indiscriminate sex in the name of Jesus and which claims 12,000 members
in 70 countries, was in the spotlight today after scores of its
followers were arrested in Buenos Aires.
According to the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), which monitors such
groups, the Children of God cult initiates its children into sex at the
age of 12. CAN and former cultists say the group's adult members and its
children sleep with each other indiscriminately, believing that
salvation comes through sexuality.
The arrests in Argentina, where 300 children were taken into custody
and 30 of their parents arrested, follow similar police actions in
France, Spain and Australia.
A court official in Buenos Aires said the adults -- among them
Americans, Canadians, French, Spaniards, Uruguayans, Bolivians,
Paraguayans and Argentines -- face charges of racketeering, kidnapping
and violations of children's rights under international pacts.
The cult, which was founded in 1968 by Californian David Berg, was
banned in France in 1978 after stories began to circulate of
brainwashing and sexual abuse of children. On June 10, more than 50 sect
members were arrested and 140 children taken in for questioning after
raids took place across France.
At one house alone, near Aix en Provence in the south, police found
40 children 3 to 15 years old. Police said the children may have been
Authorities said the sect has continued to operate under various
pseudonyms, including Family Love, Intimate Missionary and Families
Last year, 120 children were taken into custody in Australia, and in
1990, 10 group members suspected of perverting children were arrested in
The group all but abandoned the United States in the mid-1970s and
has changed its name here, calling itself the Family, CAN said.
The Watchman Fellowship, a Christian counter-cult group that said it
provides information on such groups, said the Children of God continue
to promote free sex.
"They have promotional videotapes and it's very clear they're
promoting the 'law of love,' where promiscuity is emphasized within the
group," said Craig Branch, one official at the Fellowship.
"Even children should participate, and not be afraid of sex. They
should look on it as a loving experience," he said, explaining the
© Copyright 1993 The Washington Post Company
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