This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1984, Volume 1, Number 1, pages 8-26. Please keep in mind that the pagination of this electronic reprint differs from that of the bound volume. This fact could affect how you enter bibliographic information in papers that you may write.
Women, Elderly, and Children In Religious Cults
Although most reports concerning cults suggest that the majority of converts are young adults, there is growing documentation attesting to the negative impact of cults on elderly and children. In addition, special abuses of women in cults have become a cause of concern. This paper discusses reports on the cult-related experiences of these three neglected groups and makes recommendations regarding appropriate remedial actions.
Two hundred seventy-six of the 913 who died at Jonestown, Guyana in November 1978 at the command of Reverend Jim Jones were young teenagers and small children (1). Another third were elderly, including several people in their nineties (2). The Jonestown settlement is gone, but the nightmare of cult life lingers on for many small children, young teens, and elderly caught up in other religious cults.
We tend to think of cultists as being single young adults between the ages of approximately eighteen to twenty-six. But this is no longer the whole story. Some groups have existed now for fifteen and twenty years. But, as time passes, cult life, like everything else, undergoes change. One of these major changes is that cults are becoming a family matter. Now, more and more cultists are married, if not before joining, then afterwards, often paired off by the leaders. They are having children. And families are joining groups such as The Way International, Church Universal and Triumphant, The Walk, and the proliferating Bible movements which appear on the surface to be family-oriented, conventional churches (3). The existence of family ties within the group complicates the scene and makes it more difficult to break away, for often the defecting cultist must leave behind a spouse, child, or even a parent, perhaps never to be seen again.
Before discussing in detail women, elderly, and children in cults, a word about methodology. I gather most of my information from former cult members and families and friends of former or present members, which is, as critics of the counter-cult movement assert, a bit like asking only divorced people their views on marriage. Well, I believe these sources to be the real “experts” on the cult scene. Perhaps there are happy women, elderly, and children in these groups. But we cannot ignore the by now thousands of first-hand accounts of abuses in cult life, especially the growing number of horrifying tales of child abuse.
Women in cults share more than equally in the general exploitation and abuse of adult cult members with which we are so familiar, perhaps because their extra burden of guilt and dependency conditions them more easily for total submission to God (4). As Una McManus says of her marriage in The Children of God, “I was being signed away, given into slavery. From now on I would belong to my husband. He controlled me, his leaders controlled him, and Moses (Berg) controlled all of us” (5).
Women suffer particularly from the lack of life choices in cults, especially regarding marriage, sex, and childbearing. They are often paired off to men in the group according to the man’s or the leader’s dictates, perhaps when as young as thirteen or fourteen (6). In July, 1982 over 2,000 couples matched by the Unification Church were married by Reverend Sun Myung Moon in a mass ceremony in Madison Square Garden. Many of the brides and grooms had never met before (7). The Unification Church also prevents couples from marrying: former members testify they had to wait as long as three years before getting engaged and another two years before marriage (8). Moon claims to follow “the divine revelation of God” in determining if and when his married followers can have sexual intercourse. Newlyweds in the Unification Church must wait at least forty days to consummate their marriage (9).
Cult heads often dictate when to – or not to – have a baby. A former disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh reports he has heard first-hand accounts of forced abortions and sterilizations of women in the Rajneesh group and that Rajneesh’s three-hundred top women disciples are sterilized (10). Pregnant women in cults may receive inadequate pre-natal care and diet and deliver under unsanitary conditions with poor, if any, medical attention. Some women in cults have died during childbirth (11). Some mothers are not allowed to raise their own children or to see them alone or often (12). Some mothers have had to leave their children behind when they break away from a cult (13).
Former members of Hare Krishna speak of poor treatment of women. Girls’ education is geared to preparation for homemaking in their early, often arranged marriages (14).
Ex-member, Susan Murphy claims she wasn’t allowed to attend public school because “Hare Krishna teaches that women are not intelligent enough for schooling” (15). Founder Prabhupada explains that women can never be equal to men because of their childbearing functions and their lower mentality (16). A leader of the Boston temple preaches that women’s brains weight only half of men’s (17). The men organize and direct the temple administration and supervise religious ritual because they “are better suited to spiritual development (than are women) because they are less tied to the material world” (18). Susan Murphy relates that in her Boston temple the women were fed “like dogs” with scraps from the table after the men had finished eating (19).
Women in some groups suffer considerable physical abuse (2) and are often subject to sexual abuse. Young girls in the Rajneesh Foundation and Children of God report rapes (21). Children of God leaders order and orchestrate sexual orgies for everyone in the group (22) and order, some observers say, carefully trained women disciples to use their sexuality to recruit new members and solicit property and large donations, a technique leader David (Moses) Berg calls “Happy Hooking” or “Flirty Fishing” (23). Jim Jones forced Jonestown women into public homosexual and heterosexual couplings, sometimes in front of their children (24). Often male leaders have sexual access to the women in the group, as Jones did. A former high official in Swami Muhktanada’s Siddha Yoga Dham of America asserts he left that organization because he heard “scores of stories” of “numerous” seductions of young women, some only teenagers, “in the name of Tantra initiation” (25). Other former members confirm the Guru had sexual relations with young women in his group (26).
We do not know the exact numbers or percentages of elderly involved in cults, as statistics in this as in all other areas of cult life, are sparse. Older people are particularly embarrassed about and reluctant to admit cult membership, and may fear harassment if the “go public.”
Cultists who joined when young are now, like the rest of us, growing into middle or old-age. Moses Durst claims the average age of Unification Church members is now thirty-one years (27). A few parents of young people in cults have joined their children’s groups because they perceive that is the only way they can continue to have relationships with them (28). And some cults are actively seeking elderly members, particularly in California and Florida where there are many retirees (29).
In 1977 the California-based Church Universal and Triumphant sent out a letter urging senior citizens to join and “set the example for youth” (30). Former member Gregory Mull, sixty-one years old, estimates that about fifteen percent of CUT members are over fifty years of age (31). The Church views its recent purchase of a seven-million-dollar, 12,000 acre ranch in Montana as an opportunity “to get personally involved in the definite expansion of a golden-age community” (32). A few years ago a Unification church missionary in Florida publicly announced the Church’s desire to expand its membership to include the elderly. Now, UC members present program s for seniors in condominiums there and “witness” to them from door to door (33). Workers in a Unification Church sponsored organization called The Bay Ridge (New York City) Home Church Association slip material under doors of elderly offering help with “chores such as baby-sitting, house cleaning, garden work,” etc. (34). One of the Unification Church members in charge of this operation testified at the New Castle Zoning Board of Appeal hearings that such offers of service are only ways of getting into peoples’ homes to solicit for members and donations (35). Elderly in Birmingham, England have been approached through a free magazine entitled “Our Family” (36). A woman who works with senior citizens centers in Brooklyn recently told me that Unification Church members came to her centers and invited the elderly there to attend the mass wedding ceremony at Madison Square Garden last July (37).
Full-time elderly members of The Way International live in the group’s “Sumnset Corps” in Rome City, Indiana (38). In an October, 1981 communication to Way adherents leader Victor Paul Wierwille urges senior citizens to live together in “Way Homes” throughout America (39). Many elderly contribute money to the Divine Light Mission or follow leader Maharaj Ji all over the world (41). The group recruits heavily among elderly Jews in Miami Beach (42). Former Walk member David Clark estimates about twenty percent of Walk followers are over fifty (43).
How do elderly fare in these groups? The senior citizens in The People’s Temple (one third of the group) went hungry, lived in squalid, crowded conditions, and received no medical care (44). They roiled in the jungle settlement’s workshops and fields. Visiting U.S. officials, however, were told the elderly were only pursuing hobbies and not working (45). Thus, they could continue to receive their social security checks, which Jones took from them as his major source of income (46). Cult observers in southern Florida have heard many stories of groups in the area bilking seniors out of food stamps and social security payments (47). More affluent elderly all over the world are urged to turn over homes and property or to sell them and donate the profits to the group (48). David Clark asserts that The Walk forces elderly to donate money and sign deeds for the church’s “visionary projects” (49). Gregory Mull relates that older CUT members “work part-time for the organization and also hold outside jobs in order to pay room and board to the church and to donate additional money to it. They told me I would die if I didn’t give them money,” Mull says. “When you go on ‘permanent staff’ at Camelot (the church’s headquarters) you have to sign over your property. They control your money and don’t allow you to give any to your children (50). Mull relates at Camelot “some older people sleep in goat barns and boiler rooms, sometimes forty to fifty people in one room in triple-decker beds. It looks like a concentration camp. Yet older people live in constant fear of getting ill or becoming too old to work because if you can’t work, you’re out” (51).
There are now thousands of small children in religious cults. There are 5,000 small children in the European-based Children of God alone (52). They are born into cults or brought in when one or both parents join. Some counter-cult activists believe cults all over the country are seeking foster children to raise in their groups (53). (Jim Jones built up his multi-million dollar fortune largely from payments to the Peoples’ Temple from the state of California for the many foster children and wards of the state in his group (54).” The Tony and Susan Alamo Foundation is advertising all over the country asking expectant mothers to give the children to them to raise instead of seeking abortions (55).
Some cults are actively recruiting young teens and small children. The Way International’s rock bands perform at shopping malls and school assemblies often without telling school officials of their Way connection (56). Several public and parochial school teachers have invited young children to their homes for bible Study or “Christian Fellowship” meetings without telling parents they are affiliated with The Way (57). A Des Moines, Iowa woman reports that her twelve-year-old son is the third paperboy in the city to be approached by The Way recently. The boys have been picked up while delivering newspapers, taken to a “religious gathering,” and then returned to their paper routes. Her son has since disappeared, and she believes his disappearance is connected to The Way (58). In August, 1979, former Unification Church member Christopher Edwards and others told the New York State Assembly Public Hearings on Treatment of Children by Cults that the Moon organization has social, community, and patriotic activities and front groups such as the High School Association for the Research of Principles to interest younger teens, even though it claims it does not recruit anyone under the age of eighteen (59). Edwards also told the committee that several years ago when he was in the church he attempted to set up an “elementary school in San Francisco under a false name with false papers” (69). Neither parents of prospective students nor area principals he solicited for support knew of the school’s connection with the Unification Church or that its purpose would be “to convert their children and make extra income for the church” (61). Former Children of God member Una McManus relates how disciples witnessed to young children in front of schools in England, saturating them “from the youngest to the oldest, with Mo letters. Mo instructed us to aim specifically for the younger kids who were more impressionable and willing to believe than their elders” (63).
Many children in cults are subjects of bitter custody suits when one parent leaves the group and the child is left behind with the other, or when grandparents seek to remove grandchildren from a cult. Many parents and grandparents claim the groups do not let them see the children, do not honor their legal visitation rights, or do not turn the children over when they gain custody. Some assert cults hide children by transferring them to other headquarters throughout the world. (See documentation for specific cases (64).
How are children treated in these authoritarian groups that are often physically isolated from the outside world? There are mushrooming reports that children are separated from parents and siblings, receive inadequate medical care, sometimes even from the moment of birth, may not have their births recorded or receive inoculations, get inadequate or no schooling at all, live in crowded and unsanitary conditions, suffer from improper diets which can damage their physical and mental growth, and are subject to sexual abuse, and undergo harsh discipline and physical abuse so severe it has in many cases led to death (65).
Small children in the Unification Church are often separated from their parents (66). Offspring of marriages that took place before parents joined the church are considered to be “claim by Satan” (67). Observers believe Neil Salonen resigned as president of the American branch of the Unification church because he was unhappy about the poor quality of education in Unification church schools (68). Dr. Lowell Streiker reports former Unification church members and even present members express unhappiness to him over the poor treatment accorded pre-school children in the church communal nursery in upstate new York (69). “Mothers are sent off to ‘do their own thing’ for the church. Members who are between permanent assignments are given the job of caring for those children,” Streiker explains. “They are exhausted and this is considered to be a ‘bottom of the barrel’ assignment.” The children are often badly neglected and have a “high incidence of emotional disturbance” (70).
The many small children in the Hare Krishna communes and farms throughout the world sleep on floors in sleeping bags, eat a strict vegetarian diet excluding meat, eggs, and fish, and awaken at 3 a.m. for the daily 4 a.m. worship service (71). Babies and toddlers are cared for in a nursery. At age five – and some say even at two or three (72) children go away to a Krishna boarding school, where they study Sanskrit Hindu scriptures and chanting (73). The group separates girls from boys at about age ten (74), when the girls then study primarily cooking, sewing and household management in preparation for an early marriage, while boys go on to higher academic studies or train for skills such as farming or carpentry (75). Former high Krishna official Cheryl Wheeler asserts that her son was endangered physically because he wasn’t properly supervised, did not have adequate dental care or clothing, was possibly being used sexually (76), and underwent “educational indoctrination that will render him incapable of functioning in society,” that the group alienated him from her, and that it subjected him to “extreme and brutal disciplinary methods” (77). Susan Murphy, who joined Hare Krishna when she was only thirteen years old, claims she became a slave and was subjected to years of “ill health, bad diet, vermin-infested living conditions, brainwashing, and being forced to beg on the streets” (78).
A former member of CUT testified that while she was at Camelot her children didn’t live with her “due to lack of facilities” and she was allowed to see them only twice a month for three to four hours. “Guru Ma teaches that your real father is God and your real mother is the World Mother…your brothers and sisters are those in the teachings, not those born of the same parents.” She says children at the church-run Montessori schools must “decree repeatedly to the masters (79). Gregory Mull reports CUT has an official child spanker (80).
Critics accuse The Body of Christ of forcing families apart, severely disciplining and abusing children, and keeping them out of public schools (81). TV executive Skip Webster, whose three grandchildren were in the River of Life Ministry in California, claims his eight-month old grandson was “severely beaten with a belt by his mother” in order to “drive Satan from him,” that babies in the group were fed only water for up to three days, that a nine-year-old boy was left alone for several nights in the Arizona desert, and than none of the children was properly educated (82). Garbage Eaters subsist on garbage and are neglected and beaten to insure obedience (83). Oregon officials removed twelve children from the Christ Brotherhood commune there when they discovered the children were not attending school (84). Children in the Church of God and True Holiness in North Carolina performed hard labor at a poultry company, were beaten, nearly starved, and forced into arranged marriages (85) before leader Robert Carr was sent to prison for violating United States slavery laws (86).
Children in some groups are subject to sexual abuse. Young girls in the European-based Children of God report rapes (897) and engage in “Happy Hooking” (88). In August 1979, Children of God published a pornographically illustrated booklet entitles, “My Little Fish,” which encourages child sexuality and sexual use of children, even by parents (89). Recent reports indicate that sexual activities of children with other children and with adults in the group is now “commonplace and accepted” and that children as well as adults are suffering from the venereal disease now rampant in the group (90).
In 1982 in Oregon, the leader of the Christ Brotherhood was convicted of rape and sodomy of girls in his group as young as six or seven (91). Disillusioned followers of Swami Muktananda say the Guru had sexual relations with girls in their early teens (92). Children in the Vashon Island, Washington, Wesleyan Community church are subject to therapy sessions which include simulated breast-feeding of adults (93).
The children at Jonestown were also subject to severe sexual abuse. Jones forced girls as young as fifteen to sexually serve influential Californians whose favors he courted (94). Jones and other adult supervisors sexually assaulted some youngsters (95). If parents were caught talking privately, their daughters were, according to author Kenneth Wooden, “forced to masturbate in public or to have sex with someone they didn’t like before the entire Jonestown population, children as well as adults” (96).
Many children have died in destructive religious cults due to medical neglect. The Fort Wayne, Indiana News-Sentinel has documented sixty-one deaths to date from medical neglect (97), thirty-nine of them infants or children (98), in the Indiana-based Faith Assembly, whose members believe in faith healing and are forbidden to seek medical help. Other observers say there have been at least seventy-three deaths, most of them women or children, in The Faith Assembly in five Midwestern states alone (99). This figure most certainly does not reflect the total number of deaths in this group since it has branches in twenty states in the United States and in Switzerland and Australia (100).
According to statistics provided by the Children of God, between March 1978 and March 1982 alone fifty-seven people, thirty-five of them children, died in that group from lack of medical care (101). One former member who witnessed the deaths of five children asserts that they died from treatable diseases such as pneumonia or died because the mother did not receive adequate pre-natal care (102).
There have been at least three infant deaths in the Northeast Kingdom Community church in Island Pond, Vermont, whose 123 children do not receive medical care (103). Newborn babies have died in The Overcomers in Montana (104), church of the First Born, and The Glory Barn Faith Assembly.
Children in some groups are subject to harsh physical abuse. Children in The Northeast Kingdom Community Church (also known as The Yello Deli) are subject to frequent and lengthy bare-bottom beatings with wooden rods (106). In the Wesleyan Community church on Bashon Island, Washington, children are beaten with coat hangers and a long stick (107). Five members of the Church of Bible Understanding were charged with severely beating the twelve-year-old son of their leader, who ordered the beatings (108). The former wife of the leader of the Church of the Risen Christ in Ohio testified that even children less than a year old were severely beaten to make them obey God (109). Before they died at Jonestown, the children in the People’s Temple were, as punishment, forced to dig holes and then refill them, imprisoned in a small cellar, and kept in a small plywood box for weeks at a time (110). Security guards beat children and stripped and forced young girls into a cold shower or a swimming pool (111). The few youngsters who tried to escape from the jungle settlement had electrodes wired on their arms and were given electric shocks or had chains and balls welded to their ankles (112).
There have been some deaths as a result of extreme physical abuse. Twenty-three month old Joey Green was paddled to death in the Stonegate Commune in Charles Town, West Virginia, where children were routinely paddled to insure absolute obedience (113). Twelve-year-old John Yarbough was beaten to death in the House of Judah in Allegan, Michigan, in July, 1983 (114). The group’s leader, “Prophet” William Lewis, was acquitted but the boy’s mother, Ethyl, was recently convicted of manslaughter (115). In April 1981, four members of The River of Life Tabernacle in Montana, including the boy’s parents, were convicted of beating five-year-old James Gill to death with electrical cords and a fiberglass stick (116). A five-year-old in the Black Hebrews of the Children of Israel in Ohio died after he was beaten and forced to eat red peppers because he had violated the group’s food laws (117).
What can be done to improve the lives of women, elderly, and children in destructive religious cults?
By pointing out the exploitation and abuse of children, elderly and women in cults we can reach a wider range of interest groups. We should alert pediatricians, nutritionists, and other child advocates. We must inform PTA’s and legislative committees charged with the legal protection of minors, such as Assemblyman Hoard lasher’s Child Care Committee in New York, which sponsored hearings into child abuse in cults in New York in August of 1979. Gerontologists, special commissions and committees on the aging, and other professionals concerned with the physical and mental welfare of the elderly must be alerted. Surely women’s rights and feminist organizations, such as NOW, can be mobilized into action.
Such special-interest groups can assist general cult research and educational organizations, such as the Citizens Freedom Foundation and the American Family Foundation, in providing extensive preventive education programs aimed specifically at women, elderly, and young children.
Networks must be set up so that lawyers involved in the rapidly growing numbers of child-in-cult custody cases (as well as with general cult-related issues) can exchange information and assist each other in this new and hitherto untested legal area.
All present legislation should be enforced and new laws passed where necessary to ensure that religious cults do not break civil and criminal laws with regard to women, elderly, and children, as well as all other cult members. There are many areas where the legal system can be used to ensure that cult members lead better lives.
State education officials can make sure the children go outside to a public school if the group’s educational facilities fail to meet state standards. Inspectors can check for violations of sanitary and health codes, can make sure that births are recorded, and can check to see that infants and children receive immunizations and medical care. Officials can ascertain if minors are being transported across state lines and should apply kidnapping or abduction laws if they suspect children are being hidden from relatives. Authorities should monitor violations of child labor laws, minimum wage laws, and interstate commerce code violations. Authorities should watch for violations of Thirteenth Amendment federal anti-slavery statutes which outlaw involuntary servitude (being compelled to keep a job one doesn’t want) and peonage (being prevented from leaving a job because a debt – imaginary or real – has not been paid (118).
Child abuse laws should be enforced so that children who are physically or sexually abused are permanently removed from the group. Laws concerning physical and sexual abuse of children should be placed under felony codes in states where they are presently under juvenile codes, in order that perpetrators may receive harsher sentencing. For example, the judge presiding in the Joey Green fatal beating case could give the boy’s parents a maximum sentence of one year in prison and fines of $1000 each, because at that time child abuse was not under the felony code in West Virginia. (It has since been transferred to the felony code because of public outrage over the Joey Green case (119).
Those who neglect children’s health should be held legally accountable. It is now very difficult to prosecute parents for deaths from medical neglect if they have acted out of religious conviction, because when Congress passed the Child Abuse prevention and Treatment Act in 1974, it allowed states to obtain federal money for child protection services only if they exempted from child neglect laws religious groups practicing faith healing (120). In other words, those who let a child die out of religious conviction cannot be prosecuted. While this rule has been revoked on a federal level, it is still operative in forty states. These state laws should be changed, something that will have to be done on an individual state-by-state basis (121).
Involved in this discussion are complex issues of parents’ rights to raise a child according to their chosen religious faith vs. the government’s right and duty to protect the welfare of the child. However, in a 1944 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Prince vs. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Justice Rudledge declared “Parents may be free to become (religious) martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion, when they can make that choice for themselves” (122).
God knows the cults do not have a monopoly on child abuse, exploitation of elderly, and unequal treatment of women. And, of course, we should act to correct these abuses wherever they are found. But some religious groups are perpetrating such acts in the name of religion and are hiding from criticism and prosecution behind First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion.
One must distinguish between freedom of religious belief and freedom of action as a result of these beliefs. We do have freedom of religious belief in the United States, but in a civilized society one cannot have complete freedom to act out one’s beliefs. The First Amendment does not provide immunity when religious groups violate civil or criminal laws.
Wooden, Kenneth, The Children of Jonestown, (1981), The McGraw-Hill Book Co, New York, New York, p.1.
Ibid, pp. 65-66.
Telephone conversation between the writer and David Clark, November, 1980. the Unification church has formed a new organization called the International Family Association to accommodate the entire families it claims have joined the group. (“Moon Family Group: ‘God-Centered Unity’”, The Advisor, August/September, 1982, p.3.
Telephone conversation between the writer & Dr. Lowell Streiker, September 29, 1982.
McManus, Una and Cooper, John Charles, Not for a Million Dollars, (1980),Impact Books, the Benson Co., Nashville, TN, P. 74.
Conversation between writer and former member of the Children of God who prefers to remain anonymous, January 30, 1984.
Van Horne, Harriet, “Obscenity Draped in White,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 7, 1982.
Smilon, Marvin and Johnson, Richard, “Moon Tells Disciples When to Have Sex,”, New York Post, May 27, 1982, p. 13.
Telephone conversation between the writer and Eckhart Floater, January 22, 1983.
Thomas, Jo and Sheppard, Nathaniel, Jr., “Growing Concern Surrounds Cults After Jonestown,” The New York Times, January 21, 1979.
In Jonestown (Wooden, OP.CIT., pp.41-44); The church of Armageddon (Stoner, Carol and Parke, Jo Anne, All Gods Children: The Cult Experience-Salvation or Slavery?. Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1979, p.79); Volume I, p.11); Hare Krishna (Johnson, Hillary, “Children of a Harsh Bliss,” Life, April, 1980, p. 44); Church Universal and Triumphant (Letter from Kathleen E. Mueller to Mrs. Jean Gordon, Child Custody Investigator, Santa Monica, California, January 5, 1982.
Cheryl Wheeler claims she was forced to leave her son, Devin, behind with her husband when she left a Hare Krishna commune (“Hare Krishna Group Sued in Child Custody Fight,” Religious News Service release of April 11, 1979, p. 22); Candy Pickens, Children of God (Charity Frauds Bureau, Final Report on the Activities of the Children of God to Honorable Louis J. Lefkowitz Attorney General of the State of New York, September 30, 1974, p. 53.
Forkash, Rose, Newsletter of Friends of Krishna, September-October, 1979, pp. 4-6.
“Ktishnas Called Antihuman,” Denver Post, April 7, 1977.
“Srila Prabhupada Speaks Out – Women’s Liberation,” Back to Godhead, Volume 14, no. 2/3, 1979, p. 14.
“Krishnas Called Antihuman,” Op.Cit.
Flynn, Kevin, F., “The Subordinate Role of Krishna Women,” Rocky Mountain News, April 10, 1979, p.42.
“Krishnas Called,”, Op. Cit.
Church of Armageddon (Enroth, Ronald, Youth, Brainwashing and the Extremist Cults, The Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1977, p.89); Body of Christ (Harris, Beverly and Moore, Louise, “Girl’s Mom Saw Big Changes After Deprogramming Days,” Houston Chronicle, March 21, 1977, p. 4; and Thomas and Sheppard, “Growing Concern Surrounds Cults After Jonestown,” The New York Times, January 21, 1979. Jonestown (Wooden, Op.Cit., p. 12); The Garbage Eaters (“For Brother Evangelist’, Child Abuse is God’s Way of Ensuring Obedience,” Chicago Tribune, p. 18); The Children of God (Charity Frauds Bureau, Op. Cit., pp. 48 & 53).
Children of God (Charity Frauds Bureau, Op. Cit., pp. 48, 52.); Rajneesh Foundation (Phone conversation between the writer and Ekhard Floater, Op. Cit.; Ross, Joan C. “Panel Investigates Raj Neesh,” The Advisor, October/November 1982, p. 11).
Hopkins, Joseph M., “The Children of God: Disciples of Deception,” Christianity Today, February 13, 1977, p. 20 and “Children of God – Family of Love: Update,” The Advisor, August/September, 1981, p. 5.
Wallis, Roy, “Recruiting Christian Manpower,” Society, May/June 1978, p. 72; “The Children of God,” Anti-Defamation League Research Report, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith, March, 1979, p. 4; Sheppard, Nathaniel, Jr., and Thomas, Jo, “Many Find Coercion in Cults’’ Holds on members,” The New York Times, January 23, 1979; and Conversation between the writer and former Children of God member who prefers to remain anonymous, January 30, 1984.
Wooden, Op. Cit., pp. 44-45
“An Open letter of Resignation” by Stan Trout, aka Swami Abhayananda.
Rodamor, William, “The Secret Life of Swami Muktananda,” The Coevolutionary Quarterly, Winter, 1983, p. 105.
“Unification Church. ‘Maturing’ – Durst” The Advisor, June/July, 1981, p. 6.
Askins, John, “Moonies: Their Four Children Joined the Unification Church. The Morrisons don’t want to lose them,” The Detroit Free Press, June 10, 1979, p. 31.
See Rudin, Marcia R., “New Target of the Cults: You,” Fifty Plus, October, 1981, p. 21.
Letter from Church Universal and Triumphant addressed to “Beloved Esther,” March 22, 1977.
Telephone conversation between the writer and Gregory Mull of November, 1980.
“Cult Purchases Montana Ranch,” Billings Montana Sunday Gazette, September 20, 1981, p. 10-A.
Ward, Phillip, “Moonies Open Mission in Plantation with High Hopes for Older Converts, The Miami Herald, pp. 1BR and 4BR.
Handout entitled “Public Service,” from Bay Ridge Home Church Association,” May, 1981.
Letter to Robert Abrahams, Charitable Frauds Division of new York State, Rabbi A. James Rudin, Rev. James J. LeBar, and Malcolm Hoenlein from Herbert L. Rosedale, July 14, 1981.
“F.A.I.R. Report on Cult Activities,” The Advisor, April/May, 1981, p.13.
Conversation of September 19, 1982.
Telephone conversation between the writer and Wendy Ford of March 8, 1981.
“By The Way,” Victor Paul Wierwille, October 8, 1981.
Telephone conversation between writer and Rabbi Dov Tidnick, November, 1980.
Telephone conversation between writer and person who prefers to remain anonymous, November, 1980.
Telephone conversation between writer and Bidnick, Op. Cit.
Telephone conversation between writer and Clark, Op. Cit.
Wooden, Op. Cit., pp. 19 and 177.
ibid, p. 89.
Ibid, p. 81.
Telephone conversation between writer and person who prefers to remain anonymous, November, 1980.
Henry Masters gave his farms and 600 acres of land in Wiltshire, England to the Unification Church when he and his family joined. (“Highlights of Moon Libel Trial vs. Daily Mail,” The Advisor, February/March, 1981, p. 13); Older people in Birmingham, England were persuaded to house Unification Church members and claim they “sold their houses below market value to the church.” (“Fair Report,” Op. Cit.); The Church of Armageddon has received gifts of several large homes in Seattle, Washington (Telephone conversation between the writer and persons who wish to remain anonymous, October, 1979); The Children of God has received large estates in Europe (“Tracking the Children of God,” Time, August 22, 1977, p. 48).
Telephone conversation between the writer and Clark, Op. Cit.
Telephone conversation between the writer and Mull, Op. Cit.
Conversation between the writer and former COG member, Op. Cit.
Telephone conversation between the writer and Rabbi Rubin Dobin, March 20, 1981.
Wooden, Op. Cit.
Flipps, Chet, “Siege of The Alamos,” People, June 13, 1983, p. 30; poster distributed by Alamo Foundation.
newsletter of Positive Action Center, Portland, Oregon and Steer, Brian, “Rock Group Suspected of Being Cult Front,” The Times Herald, Norristown, PA., October 28, 1980, p. 1.
Letter of October 18, 1977 from Glenn Webser to parents as included in “Word in Education Newsletter,” The Way International, January, 1978; Luptak, Gene, “Perils in the Way,” The Arizona Republic, February 28, 1981; Petrie, Laurie, “Private School vs. Private Religious Beliefs,” Cincinnati Post, February 10, 1981; “Math Teacher Fired for Cultish Activities,” The Advisor, April/May, 1981, p. 11.
Telephone conversation between the writer and Herbert L. Rosedale, October 6, 1982.
Testimony of Christopher Edwards at The Assembly of the State of New York, Op. Cit., Vol. I, pp. 20, 22 and Testimony of Bernard Livingston, The Assembly of the State of New York, Op. Cit., Vol. II, p. 73.
Testimony of Christopher Edwards, The Assembly, Op. Cit., Vol. I, p. 13.
Ibid, p. 14.
“Recruiters at Jr. High,” The Advisor, June/July, 1982, p. 11, reprinted from San Francisco Chronicle of May 7, 1982.
McManus and Cooper, Op. Cit., p. 65.
Jim Jones illegally spirited many children out of California to Guyana without their or their families’ knowledge or consent. (Wooden, Op. Cit., pp. 20-22). Morris Yanoff has grippingly documented his desperate search for his grandson in Hare Krishna (Yanoff, Morris, Where is Joey? Lost Among the Hare Krishnas, Ohio University Press, 1981). Una McManus’ husband abducted her children back into the children of God after pretending he had come out of the group (McManus and Cooper, Op. Cit., pp. 153-155). Cheryl Wheeler charged the Hare Krishnas hid her son from her after she was awarded custody and that her estranged husband threatened to take him to another country if she tried to get him. (Tarowsky, Judi, “Devin Krishna hearing called ‘Farce’” The Intelligencer, (Wheeling, West Va.), May 15, 1979, p.1). Candy Pickens is searching for her husband and two small children in the Children of God, (Memminger, Charles, “Mother Accuses, Op. Cit.). Juan Mattatall has finally been reunited with his five children after the Northeast kingdom Community Church hid them when he was granted temporary custody, and Deborah Heflin found her daughter after a three-year search living in Spain with members of the Northeast Kingdom Community church (“Church Defectors Seek children Abroad,” The Advisor, June/July, 1983, p. 5). These are only a few of the many cases.
Scales, Harold, Dr. “Malnutrition in Cults- II,” The Advisor, April/May, 1981, p. 4.
Testimony of Christopher Edwards, The Assembly, Op. Cit., Vol. I, p. 11; Conversation of writer with Lowell Streiker, Op. Cit.; and “Cults Abuse Children, VP I Survey Shoes,” The Fairfax (Virginia) Journal, June 13, 1983, p. A9.
Testimony of Edwards, The Assembly, Op. Cit., vol. I, p. 10: “Cults Abuse Children,” Op. Cit.
Schecter, R.E., “Durst Replaces Salonen as Moon’s American Leader,” The Advisor, June/July, 1980, p. 2 and telephone conversation of writer with Streiker, Op. Cit.
Telephone conversation of writer with Streiker, Op. Cit.
Loc. Cit., and “Cult Counselor Interviews Ex-Moonies – Cites New Wrinkles,” The Advisor, October/November, 1981, p. 5.
Johnson, Hillary, Op. Cit., p. 44.
Conversation between writer and Lorna Goldberg on April 5, 1981.
Johnson, Hillary, Op. Cit., p. 48.
Forkash, Rose, Op. Cit., p. 5.
Ibid, pp. 4-6.
Tarowsky, Judi, Op. Cit.
Hodiak, Bohdan, “Hare Krishnas Ask Dismissal of Suit on Missing Boy, 8,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 6, 1979, p. 3.
“Krishnas Called,” Op. Cit.
Letter from Kathleen E. Mueller, Op. Cit.
Letter to the writer from Gregory Mull of March 14, 1981.
“’The Body’ Loses Its Earthly head,” Christianity Today, June 29, 1979, p. 43.
Hoover, Ken, “Cult Accused of Child Abuse,” Las Virgenes/Conjo Daily News, March 5, 1981, p. 1.
“For ‘Brother Evangelist,’ Child Abuse is God’s Way of Ensuring obedience,” Chicago Tribune, p. 17.
“Twelve Children Taken From ‘Christ Brotherhood,’” The Advisor, December, 1981/January, 1982, p. 12.
Douglas, David, “New Jonestown Horror in U.S.,” National Enquirer, April 1, 1980, p. 28.
“Slave Labor,” The New York Times, “Follow Up on the News” section, September 14, 1980.
Charity Frauds Bureau, Op. Cit., pp. 48, 52.
Wallis, Roy, Op. Cit, p. 72; “The Children of God,” ADL Research Report, Op. Cit., p. 3.
“My Little Fish,” Adult DO S56, August, 1979, World Services, PF 241, 8021 Zurich, Switzerland.
“Children of God Update,” Op. Cit.
Reporter’s Transcript on Appeal, proceedings on Sentencing, Circuit Court of the State of Oregon, State of Oregon vs. Thomas patterson Brown, no. 10-81-09853, Hon. Edwin E. Allen Presiding, p. 17.
Rodarmor, William, Op. Cit.
Ostrom, Carol M., “Families Destroyed, say Critics,” Seattle Times, May 20, 1983, p. 1.
Wooden, Op. Cit., p. 15.
Ibid, p. 16.
Quinn, Jim, “Authorities Probed Death of Sect Baby,” Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, February 18, 1984, p. 5A.
Quinn, Jim, “Member of Faith Assembly succumbs to Untreated Cancer,” Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, November 16, 1983, p. 14A.
Telephone conversation between the writer and Priscilla Coates, January, 1984.
Telephone conversation between the writer and former Children of God member, Op. Cit.
Starr, mark and Zabarsky, Marsha, “The Kingdom at Island Pond,” Newsweek, November 29, 1982, p. 53.
Pechter, Kerry, “Five Criminally Negligent in Baby’s Death,” Billings Gazette, February 23, 1979, p. 1.
Thomas, Jo and Sheppard, Nathaniel, Op. Cit.
Starr, Mark and Zabarsky, Marsha, Op. Cit.
Hessburg, John, “Vashon Group’s Children Risk Abuse, Guardian Says,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, May 30, 1983.
“Cultists Accused of Child-Beating,” Philadelphia Daily News, February 9, 1982, p. 3.
“Cult Cruelty Probed – Ex-Wife of Leader Bares Tortures,” The News Herald, (Ashtabula, Ohio), October 1, 1978.
Wooden, Op. Cit., p. 8.
Ibid, p. 11.
Testimony of Dr. Hardat Sukhdeo at The Assembly of the State of New York, Op. Cit, Vol. III, pp. 10-11.
Zito, Tom, “Stonegate: Discipline and a Boy’s Death,” The Washington Post, November 26, 1982, p. D1.
Crawley, Janet, “He was a Bad Boy…,” Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1983, p. 1.
“Judge Calls Evidence Weak in Acquitting Sect Leader of Child Cruelty,” Religious News Service, January 17, 1984, p. 5.
“Smiling Girl tells of Sect Beatings,” the Billings Montana Gazette, June 10, 1981, pp. 1A & 8A.
“Pair Charged in Child’s Death Waive Right to Jury Trial,” Cincinnati Enquirer, November 16, 1978.
See Delgado, Richard, “Religious Totalism as Slavery,” Colloquium, Alternative Religions: Government Control and the First Amendment, New York University Review of Law and Social Change, Vol. IV, No. 1, 1979-1980, pp. 56-57.
Conversation between the writer and Priscilla Coates, Op. Cit.
Green, Charles, “Sects’ Immunity to Child-Abuse Laws Eroding,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 10, 1983, p. 1A; Swan, Rita, “Faith Healing, Christian Science and the Medical Care of Children,” The New England Journal of Medicine, December 19, 1983, reprint.
Pearson, Linley, “Parental neglect Can’t be Excused,” USA Today, August 17, 1983, Opinion Section.
Marcia Rudin, co-author of Prison or Paradise? The New Religious Cults, writes and lectures frequently about cults. She formerly taught philosophy and religion at William Paterson College. She serves on the Advisory Board of the American Family Foundation, the Steering Committee of the Interfaith Coalition of Concern about Cults, the Board of Directors of the Citizens Freedom Foundation/New York-New Jersey, and is an Honorary Member of the Board of Directors of Children’s Healthcare is a Legal Duty, Inc