7 Nov 2010

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

NOTE BY PERRY BULWER - September 2, 2009

The following blog comment by religion writer, Don Lattin, was probably written in haste as it does not clarify that David Berg is dead, but his cult the Children of God is still alive and following his perverted, extremist teachings under the name The Family International. As this article on this blog points out, The Family International is attempting an image make-over. They now want mainstream acceptance from the same society they villify and demonize in their literature. Their literature is filled with hate speech and dangerous doctrines responsible for widespread abuses. They want respect without giving it.


RedRoom.com September 1, 2009

Phillip Garrido, David Berg and Joseph Smith
by Don Lattin

Visions of David Berg, the founder of the Children of God religious sect, flash in my mind every time I read another story about Phillip Garrido, the self-proclaimed prophet and founder of a group called “God’s Desire.” Garrido is the Northern California wacko who (police say) kidnapped Jaycee Lee Dugard eighteen years ago and fathered her two children, now aged 15 and 11. He only got caught when he became so convinced that he was God’s prophet that he actually walked into the UC Berkeley police office with those two starry-eyed girls one day last week and announced that he wanted to hold a religious event on campus.

David Berg was so brazen about his blend of divine prophesy and child abuse that he published a pastoral letter in 1973 proclaiming that “there’s nothing in the world at all wrong with sex as long as it’s practiced in love, whatever it is or whoever it’s with, no matter who or what age.” I spent two years interviewing the child abuse victims of Berg for my book, “Jesus Freaks – A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge,” and there are eerie similarities. One big difference: unlike Berg, who attracted thousands of followers in the late 1960s and 1970s, Garrido had a hard time getting anyone to join his cult – voluntarily, that is.

His Antioch neighbors called him “Creepy Phil,” partly because he went around telling them that he was able to speak to God through a magic box. When I heard that piece of this story, I immediately thought of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He claimed that he translated the Book of Mormon with the help of a pair of magic spectacles. Smith also had a weakness for marrying teenage girls, a tradition his fundamentalist followers still practice in Mormon splinter groups across the western United States, Canada and Mexico.

UC Berkeley police got suspicious of Garrido because the two girls he had with him seemed hopelessly brainwashed. One officer said the way they were dressed and acted made the girls seem like they were robots dressed up for an episode of “Little House on the Prairie.” That line brought to mind my attempts to interview teenage girls in Colorado City, Arizona, a town run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest of the polygamous Mormon splinter groups.

This article was found at:



Google News - Associated Press September 1, 2009

Customers say kidnap suspect raised no red flags


SAN FRANCISCO — To those who did business with him, Phillip Garrido was a quirky printing company owner who produced business cards, brochures and flyers for people in his town. His main source of help was a young soft-spoken woman he introduced as his daughter.

Former clients of Garrido are now horrified that the woman was actually Jaycee Lee Dugard, allegedly held captive in a ramshackle backyard compound for years by Garrido. They are also stunned to think that they had allowed a convicted sex offender into their businesses and, in at least one case, their home.

"I can think of numerous occasions he had been in the house with my kids while he delivered cards," said Ben Daughdrill of Oakley, who ran a hauling business and was Garrido's customer for six years. "Looking back now, it just disgusts me."

His business was called Printing for Less, and he built his clientele by word of mouth, mostly thanks to his low rates. His labor costs may have been minimal, since his main worker appears to have been Dugard.

Customers who worked with Dugard said she was professional and competent. Her demeanor gave no one reason to believe she was being abused or in any kind of danger. They say she did not venture much conversation, let alone reach out for help.

The family appeared to dress in second-hand clothes, sometimes ill-fitting, which gave the impression they were poor, Daughdrill said. Garrido often talked of money problems, he said, and once drove to Daughdrill's house in a "ratty car" that he said matched the description of the car used in Dugard's 1991 kidnapping.

In recent years, customers said Garrido had become more vocal about his religious beliefs, which centered on his claim that God was speaking to him directly.

"I heard him talking about God, but he wasn't talking about the God I knew," said Andy Dryer, who owns A&S Transmission in Antioch.

Dryer worked on Garrido's car a handful of times over last four years and bought business cards from him for about two years. From Dryer's shop, about two blocks from Garrido's house, he can see the trees that shrouded the backyard compound where authorities say Garrido kept Dugard captive.

Dryer said Garrido asked him and his wife to attend a church service at his house, but they did not go.

"It was like he was doing his own cult or something," Dryer said.

Customers across the suburbs and small towns of eastern Contra Costa County were jolted when Garrido and his wife Nancy were arrested last Thursday and charged with snatching Dugard, now 29, from a South Lake Tahoe bus stop 18 years ago. The couple pleaded not guilty Friday.

Before he was arrested, Garrido was hard at work to make his beliefs more widely known. His visit to the University of California, Berkeley's campus last week to hand out religious leaflets drew the attention of campus police, which ultimately led to the meeting with a parole officer where Dugard's identity was revealed.

On a blog Garrido apparently maintained for the past two years, he details his purported ability to channel divine messages to others using only his mind.

"The Creator has given me the ability to speak in the tongue of angels in order to provide a wake-up call that will in time include the salvation of the entire world," Garrido wrote in a post dated Aug. 14.

The blog includes blurry scans of documents he claims were signed by customers who saw him demonstrate his mental abilities and who would vouch for his sanity. He includes scans of the business cards belonging to the individuals who supposedly heard him "speak."

Tim Allen, one of Garrido's customers whose card was on the blog, said his signature was forged. Allen, president of East County Glass and Window Inc. in Pittsburg, said Garrido came into his showroom once with a box through which he claimed God spoke to him. Allen said Garrido opened the box and asked, "Can you hear it?" The only voice speaking was Garrido's, he said.

"I felt sorry for the guy. He was just kind of a weird dude, and I just kind of felt bad for him," Allen said.

Customers said Garrido's behavior struck them as strange but not threatening. They continued to use his services because his prices were low, and because they found they could deal easily with "Allissa," who seemed normal.

When Garrido delivered printed materials or picked up checks, he would often arrive with two younger girls, who he would introduce as his daughters. They would stay close to their father and said little, customers say.

Daughdrill said there was nothing in Garrido's behavior that made him suspect he was a convicted sex offender who had kidnapped and raped a Reno casino worker in the 1970s — let alone someone who allegedly would keep an 11-year-old kidnapping victim imprisoned for years.

"Nothing raised a red flag for me," Daughdrill said.

Associated Press writer Lisa Leff in Berkeley and AP Radio reporter Craig Smith contributed to this report.

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