By MAE ANDERSON Associated Press
NEW YORK – Faith Jones’ Living Memories “Sex Cult Nun” chronicles her 23 years in the infamous Children of God cult and her slow journey to departure. Born into the cult in 1977 in Hong Kong, Jones was a cult royalty, the granddaughter of leader David Berg.
One of the first religious sects to be labeled a “sex sect,” The Children of God has gained media attention over the years, including a documentary “Children of God” (1994) and the Discovery + series ” Children of the Cult â(2021). Actors River Phoenix and Rose McGowan were famous members. And writer Lauren Hough discusses her experience in her essay book “Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing”.
But Jones’ tenure in the cult and her position as Berg’s granddaughter give her a unique perspective on why her nefarious teachings have forced tens of thousands to join over her decades of existence. . She remembers happy times, like playing with friends and animals on the Macau farm where she lived as a child, and triumphing over tough chores and punishments, though she says she was abused and manipulated in the name. from the time of “the family” and again.
Berg was an elusive leader, hiding his whereabouts and communicating his beliefs to his followers primarily through pictorial newsletters – Jones never met his own grandfather. The gospel he preached centered on total devotion to his teaching on the word of God. But Berg’s addition was the “law of love.” In his doctrine, sex was godly and should be encouraged among everyone, including children and adults. For women and girls, saying no to a family member meant being labeled “inflexible” and going against God.
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Jones was a true believer and tried to pray to come out of her revulsion at the sexual abuse she suffered and the punishments she had to endure to be “rehabilitated” for minor offenses like not smiling enough. She even realizes for herself when she is consumed with guilt for having kissed a “Systemite” – a non-“member of the family”.
But slowly she began to see a world outside of the cult, through underground novels like “The Secret Garden” and a glimpse into American education when her parents visited the United States. She begins to wonder why being in the family makes her so miserable even though she is so devout.
There is no dramatic exit for Jones. At 23, she decides to go to college and informs the family that she is leaving. Although she has little formal education, her experience growing up in six countries and learning three languages ââimpresses her entry interviewer in Georgetown, where she obtains a scholarship. She continued her studies at UC Berkeley Law School.
But as she achieves academic success, it takes more time for her to fully understand how indoctrinated she was by the Children of God. When she does, she wonders how her parents could have subjected her to such abuse. They experienced life outside the sect, she was born there. Ultimately, she realizes that they were as brainwashed as she was.
âLies aren’t always intentionalâ¦ you don’t have to be aware that you are doing something wrong to be wrong. Abusers may believe they are acting out of ‘love’, âshe writes. âThe appearance of love, freedom and nature is a beautiful smokescreen that often obscures violations and manipulation. “