'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

October 25, 2010

Miss World 2009 contestant, Miss Indonesia, is a member of evangelical cult with history of child abuse

Chain The Dogma    November 20, 2009

by Perry Bulwer

On June 6, 2009 Kerenina Sunny Halim was crowned Miss Indonesia 2009 as part of the Miss World pagaent, which is scheduled to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa on December 12, 2009. That in itself is not remarkable news. What is remarkable, however, is the fact that Miss Halim is a current member of a religious cult that was prohibited from prosyletizing in Indonesia because of its extreme doctrines, many of which led to systemic physical, psychological and sexual child abuse. In a Jakarta Globe article dated June 14, 2009, Halim refers to her current membership in The Family International, a fact she has not disclosed in any other media report or on her online profiles.

The Family International was previously known as the Children of God but changed its name in an attempt to distance itself from its corporate history of child abuse. The group also operates under numerous front organizations around the world, which is a common cult tactic designed to deceive the general public into thinking they are unrelated groups, and to disguise practices such as unethical fund-raising or underground prosyletizing in countries where it is forbidden.

In the 1980s, Children of God communes in Indonesia were raided by government agents in response to public unrest over their activities. The group was subsequently prohibited by the Indonesian government from distributing its printed and audio/video materials in Indonesia. That effectively meant they were banned from operating there since it is through those materials that they recruit and indoctrinate new members, and solicit donations to further their mission to convert people to their extremist version of Christianity. Consequently, the group went underground to continue its evangelism using different tactics and names. As recently as January 28, 2009, Jasman Panjaitan, of the District Attorney's Legal Information Center in Jakarta, was cited on an Indonesian news website comparing the banning of the Children of God sex cult in the 1980s to a more recent Islamic sex cult operating in the country. However, the article does not mention that the Children of God still operates there under the name Family Care Indonesia, and there seems to be no awareness of this fact by government officials, the media or Indonesian's in general.

The main front organization for The Family International is Family Care Foundation (FCF), which was created in the late 1990s to give the group non-profit, tax-exempt status in the U.S. and elsewhere, and to hide their true identity from potential donors who often fail to discover, through due diligence, the connection between those two groups and the Children of God. You can read here a detailed exposé of the connections between the Children of God, The Family International, and Family Care Foundation.

Today in Indonesia, The Family International operates under the front Family Care Indonesia. Whether or not the Indonesian government is aware that those two groups are the same as the once banned Children of God is not clear. What is clear is that the group has really only changed in name only. While they claim to have abandoned some doctrines and practices such as religious prostitution, which they called Flirty Fishing, they have added other doctrines and occult beliefs that continue to endanger children. They also continue to secretly proselytize in countries like Indonesia, though they deny it when confronted.

For example, in an article in the Phnom Penh Post dated July 2, 2009, the spokesperson for Family Care Cambodia, Ann Soldner, declared that "there isn't a direct link, per se" between Family Care Cambodia and The Family International, and claimed “... that while other Family Care Foundation projects may emphasise Christianity, hers does not set out to convert.” This is typical of the way group members dissemble the facts and is no surprise to those familiar with their doctrine, Deceivers Yet True, which instructs them to lie and deceive outsiders as to their true nature and purpose. The fact is that evangelism always has been, and remains, the primary mission of The Family International, and evangelism by any definition sets out to convert people.

Evangelism is a specific requirement of membership in The Family International, listed in their Charter under Part 1. Responsibilities of Individual Members, section G: Engage in Evangelism, which they define as “zealous preaching and dissemination of the Gospel, such as through missionary work.” They believe that evangelism is a Biblical mandate that must be obeyed. This primary mission of evangelism was recently re-emphasized by the top leaders of the group, known as Maria and Peter to members, but who have used numerous aliases while in hiding.

In June, 2009, they came out of hiding and both spoke at a Center for the Study of New Religions conference in Utah as part of their public relations campaign to gain mainstream tolerance for their extremist brand of Christianity. It was Maria's first time to ever talk to an outside group in the 40 years or so she's been a leader of the cult, or new religious movement as conference attendees would call it, which says a lot about the secrecy of this destructive religious group. Despite continual claims over the years that they have changed their unethical and abusive methods and practices, they spoke at the conference of their desire to preserve their “unique and unconventional doctrines”. In effect, they want mainstream acceptance even while they denounce mainstream society in their literature, deny their children educational, religious and other rights, and hold on to doctrines, or create new ones such as Loving Jesus, that are responsible for widespread physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual abuse. Peter emphasized in his speech that one of the three main objectives the group is now focused on is “... maximizing [the] effectiveness and productivity in our mission of evangelization.” Any member of the group, regardless of which front organization they operate under, that claims they do not evangelize with the intention of converting people to their perverse version of Christianity is simply lying.

An excerpt from an internal newsletter provides a glimpse into The Family's clandestine evangelical methods. The document, dated June 2003, contains member's accounts of evangelizing around the world. Under the heading, One Heart at a Time – The Missionary Calling, a person named only Daniel writes about their tactic in Indonesia:

Over the past few months we have gone over the Family origins with four of our close friends, and it has been very exciting and quite a challenge. ... We felt it best to use the Statement "Our Origins" in Indonesian to make sure everything was clear, and give a good explanation of our history. We also filled them in on our past persecution in this country, as all of them had heard about us. We found that putting all our cards on the table about this made it much easier for them to understand why we don't tell this to everyone. Once we took this step, we were then able to get into a much deeper feeding and start introducing our more radical doctrines. ... The ones we targeted first with the meat were friends we had known for a while and who had become fairly close to us. This made it easier because they had seen the fruit in our lives, and we had a personal connection with them. This eliminated a lot of questions and defused any fear of the unknown. [emphasis added]

Notice how they contextualize past government raids and prohibitions as 'persecution'. This is an important step in their recruitment process. By characterizing any criticism, sanction or legal action as religious persecution, and coupling that with scriptures promising that the “godly will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12), so-called persecution becomes a badge of honor and 'proof' to the new recruit that the group must be 'godly'. Notice also how they groom new recruits slowly, targeting those they have befriended, and only after some assurance they can be trusted do they introduce their “more radical doctrines”, which they also refer to as “meat”. Given the group's recent re-emphasis on evangelizing, there is every reason to believe that this kind of secret conversion process continues in Indonesia, as well as in other countries, despite any claims to the contrary.

The language controversy surrounding Miss Indonesia 2009
Initial reports in the mainstream Indonesian media indicated there was some controversy surrounding Kerenina Sunny Halim's pageant win, but not because she is a member of an abusive, secretive cult. Two Jakarta Post articles, one dated June 9, 2009 and the other July 6, 2009 refer to the fact that Halim, who has spent nearly her whole life in Indonesia, could not speak Indonesian well enough to understand the judge's questions, and that she was unfamiliar with certain aspects of Indonesian culture. However, Jakarta Post reporters did not pursue this issue, and instead simply accepted Halim's rather lame explanations for this oddity, which did not include the fact of her cult membership. Even though online comments posted to that first of the Post articles revealed Halim's membership in the Children of God/The Family International, those comments did not prompt the Post to dig deeper into this controversy. An article on the Indonesian news website, Indonesia To Go, dated June 12, 2009 was more indignant over this language controversy, but it also made no mention of Halim's cult connections.

Those three articles refer to the fact that Halim cannot speak Indonesian, even though she has lived most of her life in Indonesia. The excuse she gave to the Post reporters is that she speaks English everyday, and the excuse given by her brother is that she was home-schooled and rarely goes out of the house. This is classic cult dissembling and presenting half-truths. The article also mentions that she has six diplomas, which immediately begs the question: how did she earn those diplomas without leaving the house and what institution issued them?

The real reason why Halim cannot speak Indonesian is because she was raised in the Children of God/The Family International. The group does not believe in formal or higher education for their children. Members are warned constantly in their literature about the dangers and evils of formal education systems and urged not to send their children to school. Instead, they give them an inferior education by home-schooling them with their own sub-standard materials by untrained 'teachers'. Most children in the group, regardless of the country they reside, learn English as their first language. It is very common in the group that children born to nationals are unable to speak their own national language because of the prominence of and priority given to English as the group's lingua franca.

Regarding Halim's diplomas, they are not from an accredited institution, but are issued by the group itself using their own course materials based on the perverse teachings of their prophet, David Berg. If you look at the list of her diplomas in that first Jakarta Post article above and on her profile page on the Miss World website, and then compare them to the courses at this Family International website you will see that they are identical. Her diplomas are not from any credible institution, but are issued by the same cult she is part of. Despite this lack of creditation, Halim's Miss World profile page claims that she teaches elementary school, and her Facebook page claims that she is a high school teacher. If these schools Halim teaches at are credible schools, then perhaps the administrators of those schools have neglected to adequately vet her. Would they hire her if they knew she remained a member of an evangelical cult with a history of child abuse and whose founder, David Berg (referred to as the Lustful Prophet by one academic) promoted such things as incest, pedophilia and child brides? On the other hand, if those schools are really just the cult's own schools in which they indoctrinate and intellectually abuse their children, then certainly Halim is being duplicitous with the Miss World organizers and the Indonesian people she represents.

According to the Miss World website: “Charity work is integral to the Miss World ethos and part of the brief to contenders in each country is that they volunteer their time or fundraise for charity.” One would assume that organizers would vet each national contestant to ensure that the charities they are involved with are legitimate, transparent and accountable. That is simply not the case with The Family International and its various front groups. If it is a credible charity organization, as they claim, then why is Halim not being open and honest about her involvement with them?

While it is true that she revealed her membership in the group to the Jakarta Globe, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, sources in Indonesia inform me that that is the only media report in which she has done so. In all other media reports she neglects to mention that information, referring only to non-specific social work and charity work. This is likely a manipulative tactic on her part, as the Jakarta Globe, the newest English newspaper, has a very small circulation, considering the country's population, and is “... marketed primarily at cosmopolitan and well educated Indonesians and expatriates.” The largest English newspaper, the Jakarta Post, has a circulation of a mere 50,000, in a country of well over 200 million mostly non-English speaking people.

Since very few Indonesians read the Jakarta Globe, admitting her membership in The Family International in that article accomplishes two things for her: news of her cult membership can be contained within an extremely small demographic that is less likely to care about this issue, and if she is ever confronted on the issue of secrecy, she can point to that article to deny that she deliberately deceived reporters about her cult connections. It seems her policy is “if they don't ask, I won't tell”, and if reporters and pageant organizers do not ask her specific questions about her affiliations and so-called charity work she's not going to offer the information. Presenting half-truths and disingenuous answers is in keeping with the group's policy on lying and deception previously mentioned.

Clearly, Halim demonstrates a lack of transparency and honesty concerning her involvement with a dubious organization claiming to be a legitimate charity. Anyone involved with a legitimate charity organization would not find it necessary to refrain from naming the charity. In fact, the opposite is true as most charities invite publicity as a way to increase donations. Halim, however, has not revealed her membership in either The Family International (with that one small exception) or Family Care Indonesia. There are even photographs of Halim on the Family Care website, yet she has not publicized that fact in media reports or her online profiles. If they truly did such marvelous charity work in Indonesia as they claim, then why would Halim hide her involvement in that good work from both the pageant organizers and the Indonesian people?

The Indonesian media has so far failed to inform Indonesians that the woman chosen to represent them on the world stage is a member of a deceptive, evangelical sect who couldn't speak Indonesian. Certainly, many would be outraged if they knew the facts presented here. Indonesians deserve to know the truth about the woman who represents them as Miss Indonesia 2009, Kerenina Sunn Halim, and the subversive cult she belongs to.


Two weeks ago I contacted the Miss World organizers through their website for their response to this information concerning one of their contestants, but so far they have refused to comment.


On eve of Miss World pageant South African paper exposes Miss Indonesia's cult connections

Miss World organizers fail to legally gag Mail & Guardian over article exposing Miss Indonesia's cult connections

The Family International  http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.ca/p/family-international.html

That page contains links to news and blog articles concerning The Family International, formerly known as the Children of God.

For insider information on The Family International from former members visit these two websites:





Secret letter claims Family International leader caused deadliest air crash in history

Who is the Real Anti-Christian: the Atheist or the Fundamentalist Christian?

Family International a.k.a. Children of God: Once dismissed as 'sex cult,' tiny church launches image makeover

Denied an education in The Family International abuse survivor explains how she wrote her first novel

Novelist describes how she survived childhood of abuse and neglect growing up in The Family International, aka, Children of God

Author's debut novel draws on personal experiences growing up in abusive Children of God cult, a.k.a. The Family International

UK survivor confirms mother's fears about abusive cult The Family International that tried to recruit her teen daughter

Folie a deux: the insane prophets of the Seventh-day Adventists and The Family International

Gaddafi, The Family International and the Antichrist

Fugitive leaders of The Family International found hiding in Mexico after former members sought psychological help

Judge who convicted man for child sex blames his childhood in The Family International for skewed view on sexuality

This Is What Wolves In Sheep's Clothing Look Like

The Catholic Church and The Family International: popes and prophets who protect pedophiles

What do Pat Robertson and The Family International cult have in common?

Kings and Queens of Cults

Child sacrifice: a review of the documentary All God's Children - the ultimate sacrifice

Miss World 2009 contestant, Miss Indonesia, is a member of evangelical cult with history of child abuse

On eve of Miss World pageant South African paper exposes Miss Indonesia's cult connections

Miss World organizers fail to legally gag Mail & Guardian over article exposing Miss Indonesia's cult connections

Enslaved by the cult of sex...for 25 years

Castleconnell area was base for child sex cult, claims victim

Violent sexual abuse, brainwashing and neglect: What it's like to grow up in a religious sect

The Making of a Twisted Sexual Theology: Q+A on "Jesus Freaks"

Underside of cult life emerges

The offspring of 'Jesus Freaks'

The Tragic Legacy of the Children of God

Not Without My Sister [book review]

Cult Activity in Uganda?

Cult Claims To Be "Living by the law of love"

Children of God: Haunted By a Dark Past

Child-Custody Deal Favors Escapee of Notorious Cult 'The Family' aka The Children of God

Cambodian NGO exposed as a charity front for The Family International cult

Member of San Francisco pop duo, Girls, is a survivor of notorious Children of God cult, a.k.a. The Family International

Survivor of abusive Children of God cult, Chris Owens of Girls is one cool musician

Teen died agonizing death from ruptured appendix while parents, relatives and church elders did nothing but pray for 3 days

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

Another self-proclaimed prophet who terrorized and sexually abused his cult followers

Child sexual abusers commonly turn to religion to rationalize their behavior

Tony Alamo controls followers from prison, but David Berg controls The Family cult members from the grave

Irish TV exposes cults in Ireland, interviews survivor of abuse in Children of God, now The Family International


  1. NOTE: I can confirm from personal experience, and with the benefit of fully informed, educated hindsight, that all of the worries and concerns regarding the rights and welfare of the children in Children of God communes in the time period discussed in this article was completely valid. The cult is now known as The Family International. You can read more about their history of systemic child abuse at the link provided above in the Related Articles section.


    Children snatched from their homes in dramatic raids on the Children of God sect in 1990s trials

    by Elissa Hunt, Herald Sun Australia March 04, 2013

    BEFORE dawn one May morning in 1992, children at properties run by controversial sect Children of God were taken from their parents in dramatic raids across two states.

    The operation involved the removal of 56 children in Victoria and 65 in New South Wales amid claims they were at risk of psychological abuse.

    The Victorian children spent six days in state care before the courts reunited them with their distraught parents, finding no evidence they were in danger.

    The Children of God sect, which became known as the Family of Love, had gained notoriety in the 1970s over claims of child sexual abuse and a practice known as “flirty fishing”, where female devotees were encouraged to lure new members with sex .

    Children of God was formed by US pastor David Berg, who called himself Moses David, in 1968.

    By the 1980s, the group’s leaders in the USA had renounced many of its former practices and declared there would be no more “flirty fishing”.

    But questions had remained over sect literature, with claims it promoted sexual activity involving children.

    Secrecy and negative publicity involving overseas branches of Children of God served to fuel the controversy surrounding the religious group in Australia.

    In Victoria and NSW, authorities claimed concerns had been raised about the welfare of children in the sect two weeks before the 1992 raids.

    They were initially looking for one child that they had a warrant for, but after entering the properties decided to remove all children over the age of 2.

    Child protection services sought court orders to keep the children, aged up to 15, from the group.

    The Victorian children had been taken from properties at Glenlyon, near Daylesford, and Panton Hill, near Eltham. The NSW children were taken from Glenhaven, Kellyville and Cherrybrook in Sydney’s north-west.

    One of the children, aged 15 at the time, would later tell a court, “I could not understand why any of these people were there, or what conceivable reason they could have had for thinking they should take me or any other children away.

    "I have never been abused, either physically, emotionally or spiritually. In particular I was not isolated as a child and I was not brainwashed."

    Yet the landmark legal tug-of-war that followed the raids would last more than seven years, and cost millions.

    continued in next comment...

  2. In Victoria, the first court ruling was by a children’s’ court magistrate who temporarily placed the children in the care of Community Services Victoria.

    "We commenced this initially because we had strong concerns about the welfare of these children whilst living in the Children of God cult communes," CSV director-general John Paterson told the Herald Sun after the raids.

    The families, who home-schooled their children, insisted they were simply a fundamentalist Christian community spreading the word across the globe.

    In the initial proceeding, the children’s court magistrate was told there were up to 40 children in one house with only one toilet, and children sharing rooms with adults.

    Lawyers for CSV told the court secrecy was paramount for the sect, and they feared the children could be punished for revealing information to authorities if returned to their parents.

    A child welfare worker claimed some of the children told them they were required to always smile, and crying was punished with a beating using a wooden paddle or stick.

    They alleged that the children were made to do the community’s housework and look after younger children, and that older children were “indoctrinated” at special camps.

    CSV said that on five occasions when social workers had arranged to speak to group members about complaints, they arrived to find that they had disappeared.

    It was argued authorities feared the children could “disappear” within hours of being sent home.

    They claimed members of the religion had been known to vacate houses at a day’s notice.

    Some of the children had already lived in sect homes in four other countries as well as up to nine different homes in Australia.

    The magistrate’s decision to keep the children in state care was quickly appealed by their devastated parents.

    The appeal was heard several days later by the Supreme Court.

    Appearing for CSV, Ian Freckleton argued that the magistrate had acted to protect the children.

    Dr Freckleton told the Supreme Court the state’s case would include evidence from a child psychiatrist, an overseas expert on the sect, police officers who had investigated the group, and former members.

    “Those persons will say that they harbour the most serious of concerns if those children are returned even for an extremely short period to this community,” he told the court.

    “They’ll say that there is a possibility of significant emotional and physical misfortune befalling these children immediately.”

    continued in next comment...

  3. But in a landmark ruling, the court ordered that the children be reunited with their families until a future court hearing.

    The judge said each case had not been considered on its merits and the children should not be deprived of their liberty until the Children’s Court had properly assessed the alleged risks.

    It was ordered that each parent give an undertaking to the court, with special conditions including giving up their passports and allowing case workers access to the children, until the Children’s Court was in a position to properly examine the alleged risks.

    A Sydney children’s court made a similar decision.

    Acting for the children in the initial court proceedings, Robert Richter QC argued many of the allegations against the group were “guesswork” and that they had been persecuted.

    A forensic psychologist interviewed some of the children, and found they had been traumatised by the raids. They were terrified they would be taken away again.

    But he found they were otherwise happy and well-adjusted children, not isolated or abused.

    The bitter dispute continued through the courts for many months, with CSV maintaining that the children were in danger.

    The families struggled to obtain the representation needed to fight the claims, and a magistrate determined this was unfair. The case was indefinitely adjourned in December of 1992 until funding could be found for the family members’ lawyers.

    Despite hopes the case could be resolved out of court, state authorities refused to back down, and it was not until 1994 that a proper hearing began to decide whether the children should remain with the sect.

    It ended in a government backflip that involved both sides agreeing to a 15-month supervision order that allowed independent social workers to monitor the children.

    In NSW, the protection case had settled reasonably quickly, with agreement between authorities and the families in November 1992.

    But the families involved sued for damages, saying the raids had left the children with ongoing psychological trauma.

    The civil case took years, with a NSW Supreme Court judge finally ruling in 1999 that the raids had been illegal because the officer named on the warrants was not present when they took place.

    The claim for damages was confidentially settled a month later.


  4. NGO arises from a dark past

    By Kyle Sherer Phnom Penh Post July 2, 2009

    A SCHOOL that was highly rated this year by the provincial education department as among the best in Siem Reap is sponsored by an NGO that spun off the infamous Children of God cult.

    Ann and Alex Soldner are the project managers of Family Care Cambodia, which has helped the Phum Thnarl Primary School over the past six years by providing three new classrooms and 30 computers, funding six staff members, and supplying students with uniforms, bags and books. Em Bunthoen, the Siem Reap representative of Family Care Cambodia, told the Post that in a routine inspection in January, representatives of the provincial department of education said that the school is leading other primary schools in the fields of environment, hygiene and discipline.

    Ung Sireidy, the director of the provincial department of education, told the Post that the school "is not the best, but is better than a lot of schools".

    Family Care Cambodia is an arm of the Family Care Foundation, which is coupled with The Family International - formerly known as Children of God - an organisation founded in 1968 in California and made famous for a slew of child sexual abuse scandals and a recruitment method dubbed "flirty fishing", where some women members were prostituted out to raise funds and gather converts.

    Ann Soldner was a high-ranking "first-generation member", with the Children of God through the controversy, but said the troubled history of the organisation is irrelevant. "I don't see why that's so important," she told the Post.

    "Those problems have nothing to do with Family Care Cambodia."

    Family Care Cambodia is listed by the exfamily.org Web site as a pseudonym of The Family International. The Web site is compiled by former members of Children of God.

    The Family International was formerly known as The Family, and before that the Family of Love, and before that the Children of God.

    The Soldners founded Family Care Cambodia in 2002 and began working with the Phum Thnarl school in 2003. In addition to the Phum Thnarl school, the organisation works with a protection shelter in Phnom Penh for children recovering from sexual abuse.

    On its Web site, the Family Care Foundation, the parent organisation of Family Care Cambodia, claims to have distributed more than 2 million Bibles and pieces of "gospel literature" around the world. Ann Soldner said that while other Family Care Foundation projects may emphasise Christianity, hers does not set out to convert. "We're not about Bible distributing, we're not about Children of God. We're about us. Many of our volunteers are Christians, but that's just their personal beliefs. I do this to serve our fellow man and, yes, that comes from a belief in God."

    Soldner said that "there isn't a direct link, per se" between Family Care Cambodia and The Family International, which is led by Karen Zerby, the former wife of the Children of God founder. Zerby is most well known as the mother of the boy featured in The Story of Davidito, a 762-page book printed in 1982, which contained pictures and descriptions of her infant son engaging in sexual activities with adults.

    The mission statement on the Family International Web site states four aims. One is to provide humanitarian aid to "those in need" and three are concerned with spreading religion and the message that the "Great Tribulation" and "Second Coming of Jesus Christ" are "soon to come".

    In a document titled "Introducing FCC" authored by Ann and Alex Soldner, Family Care Cambodia is described as "a pioneer project of The Family International" and one of its stated projects is to "Offer Character Development, Community Services and Christian Study courses".


  5. NOTE: The name of the Christian group in this article, Love In Action, is also the name that some members of the notorious cult, Children of God, now The Family International, use as a front to disguise who they really are. Look at this list of dozens of pseudonyms used by them:


    I cannot say for certain that this Love In Action group based in Queensland, Australia is connected to The Family International. However, their tactics are very similar, for example, in targeting children for indoctrination and in not registering their activities with authorities. And their founder has spent 30 years in 3rd world countries, which is another indication that this is a group affiliated with TFI because they are better able to operate with impunity in less developed countries. Also, the removal of children because of allegations of child physical and sexual abuse, and child trafficking is nothing new for The Family International. It has happened to them all over the world. In recent years, they have attempted to go more mainstream by setting up facilities like orphanages and schools. However, they are frauds through and through, and have a doctrine that allows them to lie to outsiders called Deceivers Yet True, so they have no true transparency or accountability to anyone.


    Raid shuts down Sunshine Coast backed orphanage

    by Megan Mackander, Sunshine Coast Daily Australia March 25, 2013

    A CAMBODIAN orphanage run by a Sunshine Coast mother and daughter has been closed down amid shock allegations of child abuse and human trafficking.

    Supporters of Ruth and Tracey Golder, founders of Love in Action orphanage, say they are devastated by the claims against the pair.

    The women's orphanage in Phnom Penh was raided by 17 Cambodian government officials, accompanied by police, on Friday morning.

    They removed 21 children, some as young as three months.

    The raid also included members of SISHA - an Australian organisation which works to protect the rights of human trafficking victims.

    In a statement yesterday, a SISHA spokesman said the raid was an emergency response to complaints from groups of children who fled the orphanage in recent weeks to report beatings, neglect, human trafficking, poor food and overcrowding.

    There are also allegations the orphanage is unregistered.

    Ruth Golder has worked in Third World countries for more than 30 years, establishing Love in Action in 2004.

    The 71-year-old is reportedly laying low since the raid but friends say she is determined to be reunited with the children.

    Tracey Golder's whereabouts was not known yesterday.

    Her brother, Rod Golder, said his mother and sister were devastated by the loss of the children.

    "Mum has been doing this all her life and there is no way in the world she would do any of this," he said.

    "She adores the kids and just loves it over there; she has always worked hard with good intentions."

    The orphanage is supported by the Christian Outreach Centre and receives most of its funding from Australian donors.

    Love in Action volunteer and family friend Robert McVey said he had visited the orphanage, sat with the children and eaten the same food.

    He said the allegations were false and simply a ploy to close the orphanage.

    "I don't understand what has happened, but obviously someone thinks they can have some benefit from shutting us down," he said.

    "All I know is Ruth has a heart of gold. She loved those kids, she was mum to everyone. Even I call her mum and I'm 64-years-old.

    "She always made sure the kids saw a doctor if they needed to and always threw them birthday parties and Christmas parties."

    A SISHA spokeswoman said interviews with the children had revealed many instances of physical abuse from the Love in Action staff.


  6. Indonesian clerics call for ban of Miss World pageant

    Event organizers previously agreed to cut the bikini competition

    The Associated Press August 26, 2013

    One of Indonesia's most influential Islamic groups is urging the government to cancel the Miss World pageant scheduled for next month, saying the exposure of skin by women in a competition violates Muslim teachings, an official said Monday.

    A top-level meeting of clerics was held earlier this month by the Indonesian Ulema Council to respond to protests from some groups over Indonesia's hosting of the event, even after organizers agreed to cut the bikini competition and instead outfit contestants in more conservative sarongs, council chairman Amidan Shaberah said.

    "Our position is clear, we reject Indonesia being the host of Miss World," Shaberah said. "Because exposing their bodies in a contest is against Islamic teachings."

    The council is an influential Islamic body that often issues fatwas, or edicts, including controversial rulings against smoking and yoga. Though not legally binding, many devoted Muslims follow such decrees because ignoring them is considered a sin.

    Shaberah said the council will not officially demand that the government cancel the event, but will instead recommend that it be stopped. The pageant is scheduled to be held partly on the resort island of Bali, with the final round on Sept. 28 near the capital, Jakarta.

    "We are not Sharia police, we are not law enforcers," Shaberah said, referring to authorities who enforce Islamic law. "But we suggest the government cancel it."

    Adjie S. Soeratmadjie of RCTI, the official broadcaster and local organizer of the event, said the concerns were being heard and that some adjustments were being made to make the pageant more appropriate for Indonesian culture and more like other beauty contests held in the country.

    "We understand the position" of the council, Soeratmadjie said. "But the show must go on ... we call on the protesters to avoid anarchy and we are sure authorities can maintain security."

    He added that Miss Israel had dropped out of the competition, but declined to give the reason. Indonesia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations.

    Last week, the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front pledged to stage protests across the country to prevent Indonesia from hosting the competition.

    "The Miss World pageant is only an excuse to exhibit women's body parts," said its leader Riziek Shihab. "We are obliged to disband it if the government allows it to be held in any region of Indonesia."

    The front has a long record of vandalizing nightspots, hurling stones at Western embassies and attacking rival religious groups. Lady Gaga was forced to cancel her sold-out Indonesia show last year after threats from the group, which branded her a "devil worshipper."

    The chairwoman of the Miss World Organization, Julia Morley, earlier confirmed that none of the contestants would wear a bikini.

    The pageant began in the 1950s, and the first winner was crowned in a two-piece bathing suit.

    Most Muslims in Indonesia, a secular country of 240 million people and the world's most populous Islamic country, are moderate, but a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.