Inside creepy 'Children of God' cult where victims are tortured and forced to memorise bible passages

The Children of God cult, founded in 1968, established communes all over the world and had 15,000 members at one point. But survivors say they were subjected to abuse

Daily Star, UK/June 5, 2021

By James Caven

Survivors of the notorious Children of God cult have lifted the lid over the years on the evil abuse they suffered at the hands of the group.

The infamous religious order was originally founded in 1968 by preacher David Brandt Berg, and initially consisted of hippies and young runaways.

They devoted themselves to the worship of Jesus Christ and promiscuous sex, with followers living hand-to-mouth due to the belief the apocalypse was coming.

It established communes all across the world, including the US, the UK and South America, and counted 15,000 members at one point.

Hollywood stars Rose McGowan and Joaquin Phoenix are among those who were born into the cult, although their families managed to get out.

But serious allegations of sexual and physical abuse have dogged the cult over the decades.

Survivors say they were tortured, beaten and forced to memorise bible passages.

The sect was reported to the FBI for allegations of rape, kidnapping and incest.

Victims who have escaped its clutches have bravely spoken out about what life was really like living in its communities.

They say members were isolated from the outside world and did not have jobs or send their kids to school.

Sharen Seitz, 33, from Boulder, Colorado in the US, said she was encouraged to view all group members as family.

But it meant she did not even know who her actual parents were for a long time.

She recalled spending hours locked in a closet forced to memorise Bible passages as a punishment for minor misbehaviour.

Children were taught that sex was a way of sharing God's love with people, she claimed.

She said: “There was a lot of physical abuse and a lot of emotional abuse.”

Another survivor, Flor Edwards, from LA, California, said the organisation lured in followers with its message of peace and love.

The cult was cut off from society for years - meaning even if people wanted to leave, they couldn’t afford to.

And it preached those who escaped were evil and would rot in hell, she said.

She added: “If you leave, you were basically doomed and you were probably going to die even earlier.”

Dawn Watson, who escaped from a community in Brazil aged 13, recalled being brainwashed and banned from the outside world.

Victims suffered abuse “in all its forms”, while kids had scotch tape put on their mouths to keep them silent, she said.

She said one day she was spanked so many times as punishment her “whole leg was bruised”.

Dawn added: “I remember going to my mom and saying: ‘Is this love?’"

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