by Perry Bulwer
Jesus supposedly* warned his followers in Matthew 7:15 to beware of false prophets disguised as sheep, but who are really savage wolves. You know, kind of like the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale. But did you ever wonder what a modern day false prophet dressed in sheep's clothing to disguise the vicious wolf within looks like? Well, wonder no more.
The leaders of the Christian evangelical cult, The Family International, formerly the Children of God, have posted on their website a Christmas greeting video that made me want to puke when I watched it, kind of like the way Jesus supposedly* pukes out luke warm believers. But hey, I'm no Jesus. I'm much more moral. I don't condemn people to eternal, fiery torment for not believing in me, for example. So I wanted to puke after watching that video because 1) my dog likes vomit, just like foolish believers, and; 2) those criminal cult leaders think they can hide their vile beliefs and behaviour beneath cloaks of righteousness. Oh, I just remembered another reason - that sappy music playing in the background that sounds like a death dirge, which I hope is a sign of the cult's imminent demise.
Now, some may wonder what an atheist like me is doing citing Bible verses. Believers who stumble on this post may very well exclaim that I am satanic, since even Satan supposedly* quoted scripture too, but then proclaim, "nevertheless the gospel is preached". But there is no good news in this post, except the possibility of the cult's imminent demise. However, one such stumbling believer described this website as "dangerous", so I doubt many spend much time here. The real reason why I continue to quote the Bible though no longer a believer myself is because, as Isaac Asimov famously said: "Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived."
But back to those criminal cult leaders, Karen Zerby and Steve Kelly, known to cult members as Maria and Peter, but who have used numerous aliases over the years, including forged passports, to hide from legal authorities. A primary prerequisite of membership in their cult is not only to believe that David Berg was God’s final end-time prophet, but that Maria inherited his spiritual authority as God’s mouthpiece on Earth after Berg's death in 1994. God’s will is reputedly revealed, through either Jesus or Berg, to Maria and Peter, who then instruct cult members on the latest revelations from Heaven. Members are required to accept those revelations as God’s will for themselves, and they must not question, doubt, or criticize any aspect of the cult’s dogma.
David Berg may not have been as immortal as Jesus (did I just say immortal? I meant immoral), but he was pretty damn close. Here's what Maria's son, Ricky Rodriguez, had to say about Berg and his mom in a video he made shortly before killing one of Maria's long time assistants and then himself in January 2005. In the video he partly blames his secluded childhood, in which he was abused and saw other children routinely abused, for pushing him to take the extreme revenge that he did. At the end of the video he states, “...they sure fucked with our brains … used us as slaves … just there for those sick fucker’s pleasure. That’s the way it was at Grandfather’s [Berg] and Mamma’s house.”
In a 1995 British Family Court child custody trial involving members of the cult, the presiding judge Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Ward delved deeply into the writings of Berg and Maria. His extremely detailed decision, based on mountains of evidence, exposed systemic abuses and cover ups perpetrated by the top leaders. There are many disturbing stories revealed in Ward's decision, including the spiritual, psychological and physical torture of Berg's own grand-daughter, Merry Berg, referred to in Ward's decision as MB.
Merry’s abuse began when she was just 7 years old and forced to masturbate her stepfather; from that time on, she experienced frequent sexual activity with adults. She was brought to Berg’s home when she was 11 years old, and for the next three years, Berg, often in the presence of Maria or other female adults, routinely sexually abused her. In 1987, now 14 years old and still living with Berg, Merry began to openly criticize her grandfather for, among other things, his hypocritical standards, heavy drinking, and failed prophecies.
Years of abuse at the hands of the very people who should have nurtured and protected her caused Merry much confusion and psychological trauma, but she had no one to turn to other than her abusers. In that emotionally fragile state, she made the mistake not only of criticizing Berg and expressing doubts about him, but also of confessing to seeing images of demons. Berg seized on what he viewed as her rebelliousness as an opportunity to warn all Family members, especially the teens, of the dangers of doubting or rejecting Berg’s theology. Two of Berg’s letters, The Last State? The Dangers of Demonism, and It's Up to You—Mene's Farewell from the King's House!, detail the extreme physical and psychological punishments Berg and other Family leaders, including Maria and Peter, subjected her to, ostensibly to exorcise the demons out of her.
In fact, they held numerous violent exorcisms wherein Merry was threatened, slapped, spanked with paddles on her bare buttocks, beaten with rods, and had her head banged against the wall. In Ricky’s suicide video referenced above, Ricky said the following about Merry’s beatings, many of which he witnessed: “Nobody, nobody deserved that. Especially not a kid that age. So I watched every day new bruises on her, big fuckin' fat fuckin' bruises on her.” In her court testimony, Merry described her physical abuse in detail, saying, “It all felt like torture and once I fainted, throwing up. They said I was throwing up demons. The exorcising terrified me.”
Justice Ward accepted as fact that Merry had been tortured, finding her testimony truthful and unembellished, much to the dismay of the cult leaders, whose own witnesses had repeatedly been less than honest with the court. Ward “…became more and more convinced by her evidence the longer she gave it. She did not seem to paint the picture blacker than it was.” In addition, later in the case, after reading the cult’s own account of events related to Merry, Ward found that she “…had been moderate in her complaint of the indignities heaped upon her.” Justice Ward found as matters of fact that Merry
…was physically ill-treated; and she was emotionally ill-treated; she was put in fear; she was humiliated; her self-esteem was denigrated. Maria and Peter stood by and watched it happen and approved of what was happening. They showed little more sensitivity and insight than their at times demented leader [David Berg].… In my judgment what MB went through was a form of torture.
So there you have it! False prophets, dressed in sheep's clothing to disguise their true wolfish natures. My what big teeth they have, the better to eat you with. They sit there in their suits of self-righteousness smugness, made from the finest fleece of their flock, without whom they would have absolutely no power, instead of absolute power they continue to hold over their dumb sheep. Beware.
(*There is no reliable, rational evidence he said these things or that he even existed, let alone that he was a god)
Update on Monday, December 21, 2009
Although the music video reported on below is directed at the clergy abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, the lyrics provided in this article aptly describe Karen Zerby and Steve Kelly, the leaders of The Family International cult. The lyrics capture the essence of what I am trying to say in my blog post above, and apply directly to how they treated Merry Berg and their other victims, blaming them for causing or contributing to their own abuse when they dared to speak out against those leaders. Zerby and Kelly have never admitted personal responsibility for any of the abuse they committed or enabled. They are evil, vile people living behind a façade. Wolves in sheep's clothing.
Scoop - New Zealand December 21, 2009
Catholic Church Reviled In Hard Core Music Video
Press Release: Legacy of Disorder
Hardcore Kiwi metal band, Legacy of Disorder’s hard hitting new music video ‘Façade’, aims to kick the Catholic Church repeatedly in the head over recent revelations of child abuse by priests in Ireland and the subsequent cover up.
The video features sinister priests, vulnerable children and religious symbols such as rosary beads, along with a driving Metal crunch and lyrics that send the shivers of anger rippling up and down your spine:
‘Clutching your bible with guilt and sin
Behind the mask, evil lives within
Using a façade to torment souls
Behind closed doors you lose control
In time a victim screamed your name
Then many more, they shared the pain
You knew the truth while hiding the shame
Without remorse you passed the blame
Outspoken lead guitarist and songwriter Rana Freilich says the song expresses Legacy of Disorder’s disgust, revulsion and heartfelt cry against this evil.
“There are a lot of people in positions of power over children out there who are simply evil. Nine times out of ten it’s not the guys who look like the baddies – the long-haired hippies, the skinheads or the guys with tattoos… its people like priests, cops or politicians – and all those who hide behind a façade of respectability,” he says.
The music video for Façade was filmed in the US, after the band’s New Zealand record company deemed the subject matter too controversial. However even in the US the band faced some challenges.
“Do you know how hard it was to find anyone in Oklahoma willing to play the part of the priests? It would have been easier to find people to star in a porn movie! It took two months to find people to do it!” Rana says.
Rana says the band is not anti-religion. They are certainly anti hypocrisy. And they are sickened by scandals such as the Catholic sex abuse cases that have rocked the church around the world.”
“It’s time the paedophiles and those that try and cover it up are brought down”. I’m revolted at them using their positions of authority to destroy young lives. It’s time for the Church to pull the splinter out of its own eye and repent,” he says.
Legacy of Disorder is no stranger to controversy. In 2008 they were banned at the last minute from playing at the Rugby World Sevens in New Zealand, with their music being deemed “too heavy” and “likely to start a riot”
Legacy of Disorder come, for the most part, from New Zealand, where lead guitarist Rana Freilich recruited bass man Jason Keill in 2001 and later vocalist James Robinson in 2005 to shape their own brand of Metal. Last year the band headed for Dallas, Texas, where, under the guidance of producer Sterling Winfield (Pantera; Damageplan; Hellyeah) they recorded their debut self titled album, with US based drummer Matt Thompson.
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