13 Nov 2010

On eve of Miss World pageant South African paper exposes Miss Indonesia's cult connections

NOTE FROM PERRY BULWER - December 11, 2009

I want to correct a few minor errors in the article from the Mail & Guardian below. The article refers to the cult's "purge notices" as occurring after Ricky Rodriguez's murder-suicide in 2005. In fact, publication purges occurred long before that and are documented at http://xfamily.org/index.php/Purge

The article also refers to Jeremy Spencer as a member in the past tense. He is, in fact, still very active in the cult, works in their propaganda department, and continues to perform public concerts. Spencer is one of those members who have had credible allegations of sexual abuse, including incest, made against him; see http://www.xfamily.org/index.php/Jeremy_Spencer

The leader of the cult in Indonesia makes the claim in the Mail & Guardian article that all allegations made against the cult have been unproven in court. This is just more dissembling of truth according to their doctrine Deceivers Yet True, which is similar to the Catholic doctrine of Mental Reservation. You can read the facts about criminal allegations and court findings against members of the cult at http://www.xfamily.org/index.php/Category:Legal_Action

And speaking of Catholic's, the Vatican complains that sexual abuse is not just a Catholic problem, and Catholic apologists such as Bill Donohue deny outright that the Catholic Church abuses anyone, so it is no surprise to read that the leader of The Family International cult in Indonesia, Thomas Bergstrom, uses the same tactic to deny abuses by pointing out that abuse occurs elsewhere in society. Notice also, that he first denies that the allegations have any basis in fact since they are "unproven in court", but then admits that some members "may" have done things they shouldn't have. That is the "a few bad apples" argument used frequently by the leaders of this cult, and is familiar to anyone following religion related abuse scandals, where the abusive institution denies that the abuse is systemic but merely the result of a few bad characters. Finally, Bergstrom suggests that Miss Indonesia, Kerenina Halim, should be judged “as any other individual who is associated with a church". I agree. Church members should not get a free ride merely for being religious. Any person associated with any religious group should be held to the same legal and ethical standards as anyone else in society. That simply is not the case with The Family International, whose members believe in the fundamentalist dogma that it is better to obey God than man, and so think nothing of breaking laws and ethical standards. In this case, Kerenina has not been fully transparent and honest with the people she pretends to represent on the world stage. As my own article on this story points out she has deceitfully avoided revealing the truth about her cult involvement, but instead uses cult's tactics such as front groups and nondescript terms like "NGO". Since Kerenina boasts of teaching and working with children, she should be held to a higher standard of ethical behaviour to ensure the protection of children. Although the organizers of the Miss World pageant seem unconcerned about these revelations of Kerenina Halim's cult involvement, Indonesian authorities may have a different response to her use of subterfuge to further her cult's goals of evangelism and conversion.  

Mail & Guardian - Durban, South Africa December 11, 2009

Miss Indonesia's links to religious cult

by NIREN TOLSI | Mail & Guardian

The grimace-smiles through which Miss World contestants usually force out their platitudes about helping the little children of the planet will have a more sinister resonance when the pageant gets under way at the Gallagher Convention Centre
on Saturday.

One of the contestants belongs to an organisation directly linked to an American religious cult with a litany of child and sexual abuse scandals clouding its past.

Following her national coronation, Miss Indonesia, 23-year-old Kerenina Sunny Halim, admitted to the Jakarta Globe that she is a member of The Family International, a “non-governmental-organisation” for which she did humanitarian work in Aceh after the Asian tsunami in 2004. Halim, whose American mother and Indonesian father were members, was born into the organisation.

The Family International is the modern day spawn of The Children of God -- and admits as much on its website. The name was changed in the 1980s after negative publicity forced it “underground”.

Founded in California in 1968 by David Brandt Berg, The Children of God was a counter-culture evangelical group with a foundation of biblical fundamentalism -- and bonking.

Berg, who was also addressed as “Moses”, “Chairman Mo” or “Dad”, preached free love to his followers, to the extent that females were encouraged to go into the world and engage in “flirty-fishing” of men: essentially to use sex to proselytise.

Perry Bulwer, a Canadian lawyer and blogger who “escaped” the cult in 1991, described the now deceased Berg to the Mail & Guardian as “a self-professed prophet who was an alcoholic, incestuous, paedophile”.

During the 1990s the group, which sets up large communes for families to live together, was investigated for prostitution, child abuse and kidnapping in countries such as Argentina, France and Spain, with some members jailed briefly.

Thomas Bergstrom of Family Care, the Indonesian arm of The Family International, said Berg’s sexual-
healing approach to lost souls was “ancient history” and that while “there have been allegations, these were all proven untrue in court”.

“Some members may have done things that maybe they shouldn’t have, but that is like any other family, or group or company,” said Bergstrom who pointed to the Catholic Church’s perennial child abuse scandals by way of example.

Bergstrom said Halim should be judged “as any other individual who is associated with a church ... I know her parents and they are wonderful people and I couldn’t find anything negative to say about them.”

But allegations of child abuse have dogged the cult.

Berg is alleged to have written religious tracts for followers promoting sexual contact between children and adults. In 1982 the cult released a how-to parenting guide, The Davidito Book. Written by one of the several topless nannies who tended to Ricky Rodriguez -- Berg’s stepson, son of his second wife (Karen Zerby, aka Queen or Mama Maria, who now leads the organisation) -- it has Ricky, then a toddler, as its main subject.

Rodriguez committed suicide in 2005 after stabbing Angela Smith, another former nanny, to death. According to the New York Times, which was sent “several pages” of The Davidito Book after the murder-suicide, there were pictures and pages where “the toddler Ricky is described or else pictured as watching intercourse and orgies, fondling his nannies’ breasts and having his genitals fondled. All that is recounted in a tone of amusement and delight.”

Ex-members have, on various internet forums, blamed the cult’s unconventional lifestyle for the high incidence of suicide among children who grew up then left the cult.

The Children of God changed these child-rearing guidelines in 1986 with the threat of excommunication for anyone found having sexual contact with minors. Following Rodriguez’s suicide, The Family sent out “purge notices” to members detailing which cult literature and pages of The
Davidito Book to excise or destroy.

At Berg’s behest, cult members spread around the world in the early 1970s after the organisation was accused by the New York State attorney general of tax evasion, rape, polygamy, draft dodging, incest and kidnapping. The Family now operates in countries around the world and as Family Africa in South Africa.

The Miss World press office refused to allow the M&G access to Miss Indonesia or to forward to her questions relating to this story.

A spokesperson, who refused to be named, said: “Miss World neither inquires, nor comments, on the
religious or political affiliations of its contestants.”

When pressed on whether this procedure would be followed if a contestant was, hypothetically, involved in genocide or war crimes, the spokesperson said again that “Miss World neither inquires, nor comments, on the religious or political affiliations of its contestants”.

Just goes to show, anyone can grow up to be Miss World.

Famous followers

Actress Rose McGowan (the TV series, Charmed, Black Dahlia), grew up in a Children of God commune in Italy before “legally emancipating” herself from her parents at the age of 15.

The parents of the late actor River Phoenix belonged to the Children of God.

Fleetwood Mac guitarist Jeremy Spencer was another high-profile member.

Christopher Owens, frontman for the pop-rock band Girls, described his experiences of growing up in the cult with his mother practising “flirty-fishing” as “pretty hellish”.

This article was found at:



Miss World 2009 contestant, Miss Indonesia, is a member of evangelical cult with history of child abuse

Miss World organizers fail to legally gag Mail & Guardian over article exposing Miss Indonesia's cult connections

The Family International http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.ca/p/family-international.html

That page contains links to news and blog articles concerning The Family International, formerly known as the Children of God.

For insider information on The Family International from former members visit these two websites:





Secret letter claims Family International leader caused deadliest air crash in history

Who is the Real Anti-Christian: the Atheist or the Fundamentalist Christian?

Family International a.k.a. Children of God: Once dismissed as 'sex cult,' tiny church launches image makeover

Denied an education in The Family International abuse survivor explains how she wrote her first novel

Novelist describes how she survived childhood of abuse and neglect growing up in The Family International, aka, Children of God

Author's debut novel draws on personal experiences growing up in abusive Children of God cult, a.k.a. The Family International

UK survivor confirms mother's fears about abusive cult The Family International that tried to recruit her teen daughter

Folie a deux: the insane prophets of the Seventh-day Adventists and The Family International

Gaddafi, The Family International and the Antichrist

Fugitive leaders of The Family International found hiding in Mexico after former members sought psychological help

Judge who convicted man for child sex blames his childhood in The Family International for skewed view on sexuality

This Is What Wolves In Sheep's Clothing Look Like

The Catholic Church and The Family International: popes and prophets who protect pedophiles

What do Pat Robertson and The Family International cult have in common?

Kings and Queens of Cults

Child sacrifice: a review of the documentary All God's Children - the ultimate sacrifice

Miss World 2009 contestant, Miss Indonesia, is a member of evangelical cult with history of child abuse

On eve of Miss World pageant South African paper exposes Miss Indonesia's cult connections

Miss World organizers fail to legally gag Mail & Guardian over article exposing Miss Indonesia's cult connections

Enslaved by the cult of sex...for 25 years

Castleconnell area was base for child sex cult, claims victim

Violent sexual abuse, brainwashing and neglect: What it's like to grow up in a religious sect

The Making of a Twisted Sexual Theology: Q+A on "Jesus Freaks"

Underside of cult life emerges

The offspring of 'Jesus Freaks'

The Tragic Legacy of the Children of God

Not Without My Sister [book review]

Cult Activity in Uganda?

Cult Claims To Be "Living by the law of love"

Children of God: Haunted By a Dark Past

Child-Custody Deal Favors Escapee of Notorious Cult 'The Family' aka The Children of God

Cambodian NGO exposed as a charity front for The Family International cult

Member of San Francisco pop duo, Girls, is a survivor of notorious Children of God cult, a.k.a. The Family International

Survivor of abusive Children of God cult, Chris Owens of Girls is one cool musician

Teen died agonizing death from ruptured appendix while parents, relatives and church elders did nothing but pray for 3 days

Self-proclaimed prophets: Phillip Garrido, David Berg and Joseph Smith

Another self-proclaimed prophet who terrorized and sexually abused his cult followers

Child sexual abusers commonly turn to religion to rationalize their behavior

Tony Alamo controls followers from prison, but David Berg controls The Family cult members from the grave

Irish TV exposes cults in Ireland, interviews survivor of abuse in Children of God, now The Family International

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