As the article below demonstrates, cult leaders are able to control their followers even when they are not physically present among them. The FLDS polygamist leader, Warren Jeffs, has already demonstrated his ability to direct and control his followers from prison, as this ABC News report shows. Tony Alamo has also demonstrated this ability when he was last in prison for tax fraud, and considering his defiant attitude in the face of his latest criminal conviction and sentence of 175 years, no doubt he will continue his messianic control over his followers.
But The Family International cult, formerly known as the Children of God, have gone one step further. They claim that David Berg, their now dead founder who was a fugitive from U.S. justice for over 20 years and who also promoted pedophilia like Tony Alamo, continues to speak to and direct them from the grave. In a Cultic Studies Review article I wrote, which you can read here, I stated:
"... the Family continue to honour Berg as their revered leader, consider his writings divinely inspired, and believe that he continues to speak to them from Heaven."
In footnote 42 that accompanies that statement I expounded on that, writing:
 Since the death of David Berg in 1994, The Family’s publications are rife with references to him speaking to Maria and others from beyond the grave. The following excerpt illustrates how Maria continues to seek guidance from Berg, and how specific his apparent instructions are:
This is not the first time I’ve [Maria] heard of this lack of respect from you younger ones for your parents and the other adults . This seems to be a fairly widespread problem, so I asked someone in my Home to pray about this, and the Lord had Dad speak. He has something important to say to both you kids and you adults!
(Dad speaking:) What in the world is going on?! How can people get so far off the track? It's really sad! It's pitiful to see young kids treating their parents with such disrespect. I never would have put up with it! Children are expected to obey their parents, to respect and love them, to listen to them and take heed to their counsel. JETTs and teens in the Family are still minors, and they're still expected to obey their parents whether they like it or not! Whether they agree with their parents' counsel or not, they are still under their shepherding, and they are expected to humble themselves and accept their parents' instruction and obey them.
Karen Zerby (Maria), "Help From Heaven! Answers to Your Questions,” ML #3056 (1996), pars. 14–16; accessed 30 Oct. 2006 at <http://www.exfamily.org/pubs/ml/b2/3056.shtml>
Compare the threats Alamo made to a young follower from prison to those threats allegedly from Berg. It is no coincidence the threats are directed at children and teens. The current leaders of that destructive cult, Maria and Peter, still use Berg's name to perpetuate their fraud on their followers. Even though Berg has been exposed as an incestuous pedophile and false prophet, leaders of his cult continue to use supposed communications from him to retain the loyalty of their deaf, dumb and blind sheep.
Google News - Associated Press November 12, 2009
Will followers still obey evangelist from prison?
By JON GAMBRELL (AP)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Evangelist Tony Alamo controlled his followers from behind bars for years when he was in prison for tax evasion. Even as he awaited trial on child-sex charges over the past year, he had sufficient power to warn a young follower who questioned an order not to cross him.
"Just because I'm in jail, you'll find out that I'm still in charge. OK, kid? You understand?" Alamo chillingly told the girl, whose scared voice crackled across the recording played at his trial.
Now, with Alamo set to spend the rest of his life in prison, the question becomes whether his 200-odd followers will again obey his demands after the charismatic, apocalyptic preacher is led out of court in handcuffs.
The aging preacher, 75, faces up to a 175-year sentence from U.S. District Judge Harry F. Barnes when he returns to a Texarkana, Ark., federal courtroom on Friday. [he received 175 years; see previous article on this archive] A jury convicted him in July of 10 counts of taking underage girls as young as 8 across state lines for sex. Each count also carries possible fines of $250,000.
At his trial, the women testified that their parents had been taught that Alamo was infallible, and most did not question him when he said God had commanded him to "marry" the girls. The parents said they didn't want to refuse Alamo's commands because they feared the wrath of an angry God and the chance they'd be cut off from a church they gave up everything for.
That's a common fear among those involved with charismatic, but abusive religious leaders, said Rick A. Ross, a court-recognized cult expert based in Trenton, N.J.
"The alternative is to recognize (Alamo) is a fraud, that he is a criminal and that all of your sacrifices have been done for nothing," Ross said. "What you have in the case of the Alamo group is a group of people who largely live who live in a kind of compound life. ... This environment reinforces Alamo's control."
While some members did flee Alamo's group after he went to prison on tax evasion charges in 1994, many others remained behind.
That included his multiple wives, who obeyed commands he issued via telephone. They even moved to Colorado to be near his prison and managed the church's finances — estimated to be in the millions, coming from a series of questionable business and trucking ventures run by trusted Alamo associates.
One woman even testified that she was "married" to Alamo at age 14 during a visit to him in prison, with a group of other "wives" blocking guards' view as he groped her.
Now, court actions may help peel some followers away from Alamo. Arkansas child-welfare officials have seized about three dozen children from followers. To regain their children, local judges have ordered parents to cut their ties to the church and work to support themselves.
But Alamo's control appears to remain strong over a significant portion of his followers.
A signed letter attributed the father of one underage "bride" claims his daughter is "frail and weak-minded and (FBI agents) are playing on that." A letter posted to the Web site of Alamo's ministry claims Barnes already received at a least one plea for leniency from one of the evangelist's children, saying he "preaches the Bible because he wants people to go to heaven."
Meanwhile, acolytes keep the elaborate gardens in front of Alamo's Fouke, Ark., church blooming and the grass perfectly trimmed.
Alamo's preaching, based on an apocalyptic reading of the Bible focusing on a Satanic one-world government, also plays a part in controlling his followers, Ross said.
"When you feel that kind of fear, you feel the leader gives you this kind of umbrella of protection from all the evils in the world that are outside of the community," Ross said. "That's the kind of we-them mentality that people like Tony Alamo promote."
Alamo will be under close watch in prison. Federal prison spokeswoman Traci Billingsley promised he would be monitored by staff if he is allowed visits with his followers, especially if they can touch each other.
But Alamo likely will remain able to contact — and direct — his followers by telephone from prison. Inmates typically can make 300 minutes of calls a month to people who have been approved in advance by officials, Billingsley said.
And history shows those calls may be enough to keep Alamo's followers firmly under his control.
"They will stay loyal to him through that communication," Ross said.
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