'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

November 29, 2011

Sexual harassment in the RCMP and the failure to catch a serial killer

Chain The Dogma    November 29, 2011

Sexual harassment in the RCMP and the failure to catch a serial killer 

Rogue Cops: A few bad apples or a rotten barrel? - Part 2

by Perry Bulwer

The previous post on this blog concerned corporal punishment of children as an abuse of authority. For four years, from June 2007 to June 2011, I archived news articles at Religion and Child Abuse News  related to another type of abuse of authority, namely religiously motivated child abuse, which sometimes includes corporal punishment. I archived well over 3000 news articles on the subject, which represents only a small fraction of such abuse that occurred around the world during that period. I am certain that if I had focused instead on another kind of abuse of authority that appears in news reports almost daily, a similar archive would contain at least as many articles. I am speaking of police misconduct, and I touched on the subject in a previous post, Rogue Cops: A few bad apples or a rotten barrel Part 1.

In that article I used a few examples, one from California and one from Ontario, to support my contention that police misconduct, whether it is outright criminal behaviour or unethical, unprofessional conduct, is often indicative of systemic problems. In other words, the problem is not confined to just a few rogue cops, or 'bad apples', as organizations often describe problem members rather than admit to systemic failures. The larger problem is that the barrel itself is rotten, which inevitably creates more rotten apples.

I realize now that the reference to a rotten barrel in the title of this article and its predecessor is somewhat ambiguous, since it could refer to either all of the apples in the barrel or the barrel itself. In the original article I did attempt to clarify what I meant by that reference, writing:

If he was a bad apple, so were his superiors, which suggests the entire barrel was rotten. There are just too many cases of police misconduct (I'm referring to the U.S. and Canada) for it to be a matter of a few corrupt cops. The problem is rooted in police culture and training.

To be more clear, what I mean is that it is the barrel itself, and the barrel makers that are rotten. Professor Zimbardo's classification of evil activity is instructive here: "... individual (a few bad apples), situational (a bad barrel of apples) or systemic (bad barrel makers)".

And if you think 'evil' is too strong a word to use in relation to police misconduct, consider Zimbardo's definition of evil in The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil:

Let's begin with a definition of evil. Mine is a simple, psychologically based one: Evil consists in intentionally behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy innocent others—or using one's authority and systemic power to encourage or permit others to do so on your behalf. In short, it is "knowing better but doing worse."

To abuse one's authority is to abuse the power, or perceived power, one holds over another, which is what misbehaving police do, and such abuse is evil. I think most people reading this blog will not need much convincing that police brutality is evil, but if you do need convincing just look at the photos in this article about a teen girl battered by a police officer in the back of a police car with two or three other police officers watching.

That the victim in that case is an Aboriginal woman in a town and province with a history of racist police misconduct ought not to surprise anyone. But police bigotry is not confined to race, as the current Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (the Inquiry)  is hearing from various witnesses. That Inquiry is examining the neglectful role of police forces, particularly the Vancouver Police and the RCMP, that enabled a serial killer  to continue disappearing and killing women, most of whom were street sex trade workers, for years after he was first identified as the prime suspect. I am very familiar with that case because I lived in the neighbourhood where many of the victims were working and disappearing from, and know all too well the disdain many police officers had for street prostitutes and their advocates. In fact, I told a parliamentary committee examining the issue of prostitution  how the police aided residents with the NIMBY attitude who organized to push prostitutes into a dark and dangerous industrial area, but that advocates such as the resident group I was working with were ridiculed and hampered in our efforts to protect women from the more dangerous aspects of street sex work.

While the police were still in denial that a serial killer was preying on vulnerable street workers, at least until he was finally arrested in 2002, those street workers and their advocates had every reason to believe the police were denying the obvious because of who the missing women were. The attitude of police, as well as many residents, towards street prostitutes and advocates trying to protect them from harm was the same attitude now being exposed by an RCMP whistleblower who has made damning allegations of sexual harassment within the RCMP  as well as claiming that police indifference towards the missing women  led to the bungling of the case and more murdered women. As I told that parliamentary committee, for example, at several meetings on this issue held in community policing offices in my neighbourhood I and other advocates were sometimes prevented from speaking and ridiculed by name calling such as "hooker huggers" (like environmentalists who are called "tree huggers"). I personally wore that as a badge of honour since I think trying to save a human is at least as noble as trying to save a tree, but the point is that name calling like that is intended to denigrate the other, to demean them, to dehumanize them, which is evil. And now the Inquiry has heard evidence from "... Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard, author of a 2010 report  critical of the Vancouver Police Department and RCMP, [who] admitted that former Vancouver deputy police chief John Unger referred to the dozens of missing women as “just hookers.""

That misogynistic, sexist attitude of the police regarding the dozens of missing women was not just confined to street sex trade workers. The RCMP whistleblower, Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who was the RCMP spokeswoman on the missing women investigations, has blown the door wide open on sexism and sexual harassment inside the RCMP. She has filed a formal complaint over 100 pages long with the RCMP, is planning to sue the RCMP, and will testify in 2012 before the Inquiry. Here is what Galliford has said about the sexual harassment she faced:

"Everything that came out of his [a supervisor's] mouth was sexual," Galliford said. "If I had a dime for every time one of my bosses asked me to sit on his knee, I'd be on a yacht in the Bahamas right now."

Galliford says she faced constant sexual advances from several senior officers from the moment she graduated from the RCMP Academy in 1991.

She outlines years of harassment in a 115-page internal complaint that the RCMP has yet to respond to, including allegations a supervisor on the Missing Women's Task Force lied to colleagues when he said they were intimate and that he even exposed himself to her.

"He said, 'I have something to show you' ... and pulled out an appendage. He wanted to show me his mole because he wanted to know if I thought it was cute," she said.

"I said, 'Let's go back to the office. We're late. Put it back in your pants.'"

According to Galliford, a supervisor on the Air India Task Force was even more direct.

"One of my bosses kept trying to be intimate with me throughout my time on Air India and kept on taking me on the road trying to have sex with me," she said.

"We don't have any new information to share with the Air India families right now, so why are we going on this trip? And no one said anything, but it was because he wanted to give the perception that we were a couple."

Galliford says the command and control structure at the RCMP means Mounties are instructed to do as they're told, or risk getting reprimanded.

"If they can't screw you, they are going to screw you over. And that's what it became like and so I started to normalize the harassment because I didn't know what else to do," she said.

"It just got to the point that after I had about 16 years of service, I broke. I completely broke."

In 2007, Galliford joined the ranks of 225 B.C. Mounties who are currently off duty on sick leave.

Obviously, her lengthy complaint contains many more details, but that brief account is enough to reveal a disgusting environment of sexism and abuse of authority. It is that kind of environment I refer to when I write of rotten police culture. Cpl. Galliford has also revealed some details of her planned testimony  before the Inquiry, exposing the indifferent attitude of police officers investigating the missing women case:

Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who was the RCMP spokeswoman on the Air India and Pickton investigations, said Thursday that police could have obtained a search warrant for convicted serial killer Robert Pickton years before they arrested the B.C. pig farmer.

She said she's read a 1999 Coquitlam RCMP file that nobody seems to be able to locate now.

RCMP Sgt. Peter Thiessen responded in a written statement, noting it would be inappropriate to comment on anything related to the inquiry.

"You know what? I'm not an armchair quarterback, I'm not," said Galliford. "Never have and never will be. But the minute I read that file I could have put everything together for another search warrant and nothing was done. It was concluded.

"I have to be very careful about what I say right now," she added. "I'm sure that when I testify on behalf of the missing women inquiry, I'll be able to be more forthcoming."

Galliford said the file she read included information that would have allowed police to obtain a search warrant for Pickton's farm.

She said the file had been "purged" from a 1997 file, noting a purge takes place when a file is too big so the information inside is carried over to another year.

"You had a lot of other potential suspects, but in this certain file, we had enough for another search warrant. He wasn't a potential suspect. He was a suspect and there is a difference in the police world."

Police consider a person a suspect, said Galliford, when they have found evidence and can put the person at the scene of a crime.

"At that time in the investigation, Pickton was the only one," she said. "There were potential suspects, but Pickton was the only suspect."

Cpl. Galliford places the blame for that failure of police to connect the dots, stop the killer sooner and save lives squarely on police indifference, in other words on police culture:

 Galliford says she saw numerous problems inside the investigation, including investigators who were more interested in padding their paycheques and drinking alcohol than catching a serial killer.

"They would break between noon and 2 p.m. PT to just drink and party and go for lunch, but then they would go back to work on Friday and claim double-time," she said Wednesday.

"There was a police indifference and that, I believe, is why it went on for so long [to catch Pickton], and why so many women lost their lives."

The indifference of the police towards the missing women -- denying a serial killer was on the loose; denigrating the missing women as "just hookers"; neglecting to follow up solid leads and making connections that were obvious to citizens and their own spokesperson -- is directly related to the misogynist attitudes directed at and exposed by Cpl. Galliford. If you have any doubt about that, consider these cruel comments that she was subjected to by fellow officers:

At Pickton’s trial, eyewitness Lynn Ellingsen gave key testimony that she saw Pickton hang a woman from a meat hook in his barn and gut her.

Ellingsen and Pickton had picked up the woman, whom Ellingsen believes was Papin, earlier that night in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

RCMP Cpl. Catherine Galliford, who was the spokeswoman for the Missing Women Vancouver police and RCMP Task Force, revealed in an interview Tuesday with the Vancouver Province, and in a 115-page statement, that male officers told her they had a “fantasy.”

“They fantasized about Willie Pickton escaping from prison,” Galliford said in her statement to RCMP Insp. Paul Darbyshire and RCMP Supt. Dave DeBolt.

“He would escape from prison, track me down, strip me naked, hang me from a meat hook and gut me like a pig,” Galliford told the Vancouver Province.

Galliford, who emphasized she knows many police officers who cared deeply about the missing women, said only one other officer in the roomful of men seemed as shocked and horrified as she did.

At the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on Wednesday, Vancouver police Deputy Chief Doug LePard, author of a 2010 report critical of the Vancouver Police Department and RCMP, admitted that former Vancouver deputy police chief John Unger referred to the dozens of missing women as “just hookers.”

What Cpl. Galliford reveals about the sexist attitude within the RCMP as well as the misogynistic indifference of those investigating the missing women case is beyond rotten and disgusting, it is truly evil. RCMP culture is rotten to the core if a room full of male officers can dehumanize a female officer with images of the gruesome slaughter of a serial killer's victim while laughing about it. If that is the attitude RCMP officers and their superiors have towards their own female members, then it is no surprise at all that their indifference and neglect in the missing women case led to the murder of more women. There is a direct link between sexual harassment within the RCMP and their failure to catch a serial killer of women. It turns out that many female RCMP officers have something in common with their sisters working the street. Apparently, some male officers and bosses do not discriminate when it comes to sexual bigotry, degrading women regardless of whether they wear a uniform or work the street.

In Part One of this article I used examples from both Canada and the U.S. to illustrate my contention that the problem with all police forces in those countries is not that there a few bad apples, or even a barrel of bad apples, but that the barrels themselves are rotten. My opinion that police culture is corrupt is informed partly by personal experience, but mostly through media accounts, not through any comprehensive investigation of policing issues. However, I think it is a conclusion easily reached by any casual observer of such matters. Nevertheless, I will give the final word regarding corrupt police culture to an insider who knows a thing or two about policing. Norm Stamper is a former Seattle police chief and outspoken board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). He is also author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop’s Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing and he recently wrote an article for The Nation magazine titled "Paramilitary Policing from Seattle to Occupy Wall Street." He is an expert in these matters and he confirms my conclusions regarding rotten barrels. In a Democracy Now interview Stamper notes:

"There are many compassionate, decent, competent police officers who do a terrific job day in and day out. There are others who are, quote, 'bad apples.' What both of them have in common is that they 'occupy,' as it were, a system, a structure that itself is rotten. And I am talking about the paramilitary bureaucracy."

And in his article in The Nation he writes:

I’m convinced it is possible to create a smart organizational alternative to the paramilitary bureaucracy that is American policing. But that will not happen unless, even as we cull “bad apples” from our police forces, we recognize that the barrel itself is rotten.

UPDATE: December 10, 2011 

On December 8, 2011, Bob Paulson was officially sworn in as the RCMP's 23rd commissioner. He announced several 'get tough' measures to deal with sexual harassment allegations within the force. While they are positive steps which will help to prevent or properly punish future incidents, Paulson's quick dismissal of historic abuses and injustices calls into question just how serious he is at getting to the systemic roots of the problem.

He claims that discipline and accountability will be key under his watch, yet he appears to be avoiding any accountability for one particularly egregious case. It involves accusations of assault and sexual harassment by four female colleagues of Sgt. Robert Blundell in the late 1990s. Retired RCMP superintendent Ian Atkins conducted an internal review at the time, investigating how the case was handled. His conclusion then, and today, is that Blundell should have been fired. And a lawyer who was hired by the RCMP to prosecute Blundell in an internal hearing revealed recently that she was shocked when an RCMP superintendent flew in to negotiate a deal with Blundell. In the end, Blundell was only ordered to take counselling and fined one day's pay. He was later promoted.

In a media scrum after his swearing in ceremony, as well as in his first formal TV interview, Paulson said, "I like to think the Blundell case has been resolved," and that he didn't want to debate the decision. But the thing is, the case is not resolved for Blundell's four female colleagues who never received justice for the personal and institutional abuse they suffered, nor is the case resolved for the public or the RCMP because an injustice like this, committed by the very people whose duty it is to uphold justice, brings disrepute to not just the RCMP but the entire legal system.

Further media updates to this story, including coverage of the missing women inquiry and RCMP harrassment cases, will be added to the comments section below.

Related articles on this blog:

Rogue Cops: a few bad apples or a rotten barrel? Part 1

Aboriginal Teen May Be Charged with Assaulting RCMP Officer With Her Face

Constitutional expert says beware of coming Canadian police state



November 16, 2011

Corporal Punishment, the Abuse of Authority and the Rights of Children

Chain The Dogma   November 16, 2011

Corporal Punishment, the Abuse of Authority and the Rights of Children

Protecting children's rights protects human rights for everyone

Perry Bulwer

Abuse of authority is a theme common to most of the posts on this blog. It applies whether I am writing about corrupt religious leaders, corrupt politicians, or corrupt police, three groups I frequently criticize here. But there is another group of people I have not yet specifically written about that regularly abuses their authority. Those people, as you probably guessed by the title of this article, are parents who believe that corporal punishment is a just and effective way to discipline children. My first draft used 'spanking' in the title, but corporal punishment often involves far more than hitting just one body part. Here is what I wrote in the main article on the home page of my archive, Religion and Child Abuse News:

 Of course, there is an awful lot of physical child abuse that is not related to religion. Children are easy targets. But it is more than just sad when religion is used to justify assaulting children, it is immoral and criminal. Corporal punishment takes many forms ranging from slaps to torture. In my opinion, even a slap is an affront to the dignity of a child, or any human for that matter. Spanking children is not necessary. There are better ways to train children than hitting them, so why do believers who claim to have superior morals to those of unbelievers think it is okay to assault vulnerable children? If a slap is ok, why not a punch, or a beating, or a whipping, or water torture, or other tortures? Some believers don't know where to draw the line and children suffer or die.

Furthermore, the term 'corporal punishment' also applies to situations where no physical assault occurs, but where necessities of life are purposely withheld, such as forced fasting, sleep deprivation  or deliberate and prolonged exposure to the elements causing hypothermia, or other similar evils.

The words 'discipline' and 'disciple' are obviously related, and it is no surprise that religious people who believe it is their duty to make disciples of their children  are the most ardent supporters of corporal punishment. For example, some of the scriptures most often cited by Christians to justify assaulting their children are Proverbs 13: 24; 19:18; 22:6,15; 23:13,14; and 29:15.  Those verses encourage beating children with an instrument as the proper way to discipline or train them. While Proverbs 22:6  does not specifically refer to beating children, it does indicate that such training, or 'training up a child', is intended to instruct children in the right way or path according to that dogma, so that when they become adults they will not depart from it. In other words, Biblical corporal punishment of children is specifically directed at so thoroughly indoctrinating them with dogma that it becomes extremely difficult to escape it, even when they become adults. There is no choice or freedom for children imprisoned by such dogma, they simply must obey authority without question: do it because mommy, daddy, or God says so. Those children certainly have no freedom of religion, for they are told exactly what to believe, and threatened with punishment if they do not.

By the way, To Train Up a Child,  is the title of a very popular book among Christian fundamentalists that teaches them how to properly beat children. It was found in the homes of at least three families where children died as a result of the methods taught by its author, pastor Michael Pearl, who insists that the Bible gives parents authority to assault their children and violate their inherent human rights. Michael Pearl is an evil man. At least two of those murdered children were adopted, and may have been victims of the evangelical movement's use of international adoptions for the religious conversion of children.   Undoubtedly, there are many more victims we may never hear about.

Authority is synonymous with power, so to abuse authority is to abuse the power one holds over another. Such abuse is evil. In The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil,  Philip Zimbardo wrote:

Let's begin with a definition of evil. Mine is a simple, psychologically based one: Evil consists in intentionally behaving in ways that harm, abuse, demean, dehumanize, or destroy innocent others—or using one's authority and systemic power to encourage or permit others to do so on your behalf. In short, it is "knowing better but doing worse."

Continuing with that theme, William Antonio Boyle, in a footnote to his essay on "Sibling Rivalry", wrote the following about abuse of authority (emphasis in the original):

Abuse of power or authority may be the prime source and true essence of moral EVIL - Evil is the ABUSE of power. Moral EVIL begins to exist when someone refuses to accept responsibility for the welfare of others, especially those naturally under his or her direct care. It can be said that someone has POWER, if that someone can decisively influence (the) reality (of others).

In this context, AUTHORITY is power that derives from a social accord or convention, such as the laws or customs of a social group such as a state or an organization. So then, what is "abuse of power"? ABUSE OF POWER is the illegitimate use of power.

ABUSE OF POWER is that situation that exists whenever someone who has POWER over others, (that is, the capacity to impose his or her will on those others) for example, by virtue of his or her superior mental dexterity, social position, physical strength, knowledge, technology, weapons, wealth, or the trust that others have in him or her, unjustifiably uses that power to EXPLOIT or HARM those others, or through lack of action, ALLOWS exploitation or harm to occur to them.

It follows that someone who does not have (a particular form of) power cannot abuse it. It also follows that the main (and perhaps the only) principle of human ethics and morality should be to avoid the abuse of power.

Obviously, parents have some natural authority and power over their children, but it is not absolute, at least not in a civilized society. Not only are there national laws forbidding parental neglect and mistreatment of their children, but the international community has recognized in various declarations, conventions and treaties that, unlike parents, the vulnerability of children requires they be given special rights and protections, as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the Convention),  which all nations have ratified except for the United States and Somalia.

Although the rights of parents and legal guardians must be taken into account when considering the rights of a child, that balancing act is always weighted toward the child since the primary consideration must be the best interests of the child (see Article 3). When articulating specific rights of children, the Convention also considers the developmental stage of the child. Those various considerations are also set out in Article 5:
Article 5

States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention.

That article indicates that the rights and obligations of parents must be directed towards ensuring that their child is able to eventually exercise all of their Convention rights, which would be in the best interests of the child, though not necessarily the parents. The phrase "evolving capacities of the child" also appears later in the Convention in relation to religion. It recognizes that as children mature they are increasingly able to form their own thoughts, opinions and beliefs, and that their exercise of particular rights is on a continuum according to their maturation level. While parents "... have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child [t]he best interests of the child will be their basic concern." (Article 18) In other words, the authority of a parent over their child is not absolute, for not only is it limited by national laws related to child welfare, it must also be directed to ensuring the best interests of their child in accordance with their inherent human rights as set out under international law in the Convention.

Before getting back to the issue of corporal punishment, which the Convention addresses in Article 19, other Articles addressing the issues of freedom of speech and freedom of thought, conscience and religion are also instructive for determining the proper balance between parental and children's rights. Article 12 states:
Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

That article addresses a child's right to freedom of expression, and so does Article 13. Article 12 speaks to the obligations of States Parties, in other words, those governments that have ratified the Convention. The age and maturity of the child is specifically considered in that Article because it concerns all matters and decisions that affect the child. The more a matter effects the child, such as in a custody dispute, and the more mature the child is, the more weight given to their views on the matter. Moreover, while sub-section 2 indicates that although a child's right of free expression on matters affecting them is particularly important in judicial or administrative proceedings, the right is not confined to that. Article 13 clarifies that point by speaking directly to a child's right to freedom of expression, without any regard to parental rights or the maturity and capacity of the child.
Article 13

1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.

2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:

(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or

(b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

Importantly, freedom of expression for children includes the right to "seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds". And just as important, there are no specific parental restrictions on this right. However, this right may be violated by authoritarian parents more often than most others, except for the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. After all, it is rather easy to control a child's access to information and ideas, even in this information age. Books can be banned or burned,  access to university  and the internet can be denied, thoughts, opinions and facts  can be censored. Many religious people home school their children and many religious groups set up their own private schools for precisely that reason, but in direct contradiction to the principle of the best interests of the child. It is not in any child's interest to be denied their right to freely seek and receive information of any kind in any form. And it is also not in any child's interest to be denied their right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as set out in Article 14:
Article 14

1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Article 14 is crucial for establishing the proper balance between parental and children's rights. Clearly, children have the right to freely form their own thoughts and conscience, and choose their own religious beliefs, or none. After all, freedom of religion for children, and for adults, would be no freedom at all if it did not include the right to be free from religion. Since parents also have the right to the same freedoms, it is inevitable that conflicts between those rights will arise. As it must and does throughout, the Convention sides with children. Sub-section 2 clearly states that the rights and duties of parents in this regard must not be directed towards protecting their own freedoms, but towards ensuring their children are able to exercise their personal religious rights in accordance with their evolving capacities. Anticipating objections from parents who only read the first few words in sub-section 2 and insist that their own religious freedom gives them a right to indoctrinate their children, sub-section 3 clarifies that the right to religious freedom is not absolute. A parent's right to religious freedom does not give them the right to deny that same freedom to their child, regardless of the child's age. Or, as the U.S. Supreme Court famously said:

Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, 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.

That quotation also touches on the principle of the "evolving capacities of the child" as well as the concept of a child's right to an open future. That is a right that is not specifically set out in the Convention, but is implied in this Article and elsewhere. After all, if a parent makes an irreversible religious decision on behalf of their child, such as to rely on faith alone and refuse necessary medical treatment  and the child dies, then that child has no future at all. Circumcision of both boys and girls  is another common example of a religious decision made by parents that causes irreversible harm to children. But even where death or injury does not occur, a child's right to an open future can still be easily denied them through indoctrination that cuts off their capacity for critical thinking  and ability to freely form their own thoughts, conscience and beliefs.

If a child is indoctrinated into a particular religious dogma by authoritarian parents from the earliest age, their right to freedom of expression and information denied through restrictive, narrow-minded 'education', and they are unaware of the full extent of their human rights, it becomes impossible for them to exercise those rights, either as a child or later as an adult. I have encountered countless believers who are so unaware of their own rights that they insist that religious freedom does not include the right to be free from religion. But if the right to freedom of religion has any meaning at all, it must mean that everyone, including children, is free to choose their own religious beliefs or none. When that freedom is denied to a child, it is also denied to the adult that child will become. Protecting a person's rights while they are a child is the only to way to protect that person's rights once they are an adult. That's what a child's right to an open future means, reaching adulthood with their capacity to exercise all their rights still intact. Protecting the full range of children's rights protects human rights for everyone.

Finally, we get to the heart of the issue of corporal punishment and children's rights in Article 19 of the Convention, which states:
Article 19

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

It could hardly be stated clearer than that. State Parties, that is every country in the world except the U.S. and Somalia, are required to take all measures necessary for protecting children from all forms of harm while in the care of their parents. In other words, children are vulnerable and therefore need protection from all forms of harm, even from their own parents or guardians. The question then becomes: does corporal punishment harm children? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not endorse corporal punishment  for any reason because it is ineffective for changing behaviour in the long term. But there is also evidence that, even if a milder form of corporal punishment such as spanking does not cause physical harm it still causes emotional  and intellectual harm.

According to Zimbardo's definition of evil, any action that among other things demeans or dehumanizes others is evil, in other words, harmful. Corporal punishment, even in its mildest forms, certainly demeans the dignity of children, but even worse, it dehumanizes them. Long before Michael Pearl's book became a best seller on how to beat children into submission, James Dobson, another evil evangelist and founder of Focus on the Family, wrote a book in 1977 called Dare to Discipline, in which he "glorified a sadomasochistic/spiritual ritual of discipline." And in his 1992 book, The Strong Willed Child, Dobson compares beating children to beating dogs. After describing his efforts to make his defiant dog obey him, he writes: "Just as surely as a dog will occasionally challenge the authority of his leaders, so will a little child, only more so."  Not to be out done, Pearl writes in his book that he uses "the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules".  To those evangelical child beaters and others like them, such as Bill Gothard,
children are mere chattel,  or personal property, akin to slaves or domesticated animals, without any personal rights. They are not just using dogs and mules as metaphors for how to train children, they are using exactly the same methods on children as they use on animals. If that is not dehumanizing, therefore evil, I don't know what is. And it is an evil they call good (Isaiah 5:20),  which makes it even more evil.

If you have followed any of the links here to news articles detailing the horrifying results of corporal punishment you will understand that referring to it as evil is not hyperbole. Some will object that my examples are all extreme cases and that most corporal punishment takes the form of mild spanks or slaps that do not cause physical harm, and therefore it is unfair to call that evil. However, as I have pointed out, growing evidence suggests that even that type of corporal punishment can cause emotional and intellectual harm, in violation of Article 19. Furthermore, consider the issue from a child's point of view and imagine what it must be like to have a giant human who is several times larger and more powerful in every way hitting you for reasons that may not be entirely clear to you. But because most corporal punishment is hidden behind closed doors, it can be difficult to imagine what corporal punishment is like for children, even after reading horrific accounts. So, here is a video, courtesy of a Texas judge,  who adjudicated dozens of family law cases, beating his teenage daughter with a belt. Now, imagine again that same brutality or even worse being applied to even younger children, and tell me that is not evil. By the way, the judge would have been criminally charged, but the statute of limitation had run out. That video contradicts claims by many advocates of corporal punishment that it is only used against young children, as do the well documented abuses in the 'troubled teen' industry of boot camps or similar behaviour modification programs.

I have used the ordinary meaning of 'assault' in this article to refer to physical blows by one person against another, but in most common law jurisdictions (where I'm writing from) the legal meaning of 'assault' refers to threats of harm to another, while actual physical contact is called battery. The point is, the law in those jurisdictions protects adults not just from physical violence but also from threats of violence. Even the most benign threats can attract criminal charges. For example, a Canadian police officer had a young female protester arrested for assault for blowing soap bubbles in his direction. So, if adults are protected from even the mildest forms of assault, why are children who are far more vulnerable not similarly protected? Of all the countries using the common law,  only New Zealand,  Kenya and Tongo are among the 31 countries that have enacted laws prohibiting all corporal punishment  of children, as Article 19 of the convention requires all parties to do.  In all other countries, including here in Canada, it is illegal to threaten or hit adults, but it remains legal to threaten and beat children, in direct contravention of their inherent human rights recognized in the Convention. And that is a crying shame.


Respecting a Child's Point of View

Book by former Missionaries of Charity nun describes abuse in cult of Mother Teresa

Quakes, Quacks and Kidnappers: Baptists, Scientologists, DreamHealer and Bad Consequences of Good Intentions

Brother of home church pastor pleads guilty to physical and psychological child abuse for using corporal punishment

Christian evangelists in US plan to increase use of international adoptions to spread gospel and indoctrinate children

November 2, 2011

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

Chain The Dogma     November 2, 2011

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

He praised God for the death of nearly 600 innocent people

by Perry Bulwer

In May 2011, a news report of a deranged person who committed a horrific murder caught my attention. I usually avoid such crime stories, put off by the sensationalism and gruesome details which often accompany those reports. This time, however, a provocative headline proved too much for me to resist. That headline was in the online edition of the British tabloid, The Daily Mail, and read: "Why was he on the streets? The 'prophet of God' who decapitated British woman in Tenerife was a violent character known for attacking passers-by"

It was not the gruesome decapitation that drew my attention, although I suspect the editors included that detail in the headline for exactly that reason. I scan newspaper headlines from around the world on a daily basis, so I frequently encounter similar articles, or hear about them on broadcast news, but rarely pay much attention to them. A common feature of many of these types of homicides or violent assaults committed by persons with severe mental disorders is the claim that they were acting on the directions of God.  That link between psychosis and religious faith  does interest me, however, so it was the juxtaposition of 'prophet of God' and 'Tenerife' in the headline that caught my curiosity as I recalled another psychotic foreigner living in Tenerife who claimed to be God's final prophet before Jesus' return in 1993.

Although that deluded cult leader, David Berg, did not actually kill anyone himself, death threats against his enemies are scattered throughout his writings, and he claimed in secret letters to his followers that his curses and prayers caused the deadliest aviation disaster in history.  He praised God for killing nearly 600 innocent people and considered the disaster proof of his exclusive, direct connection to God. He even published a comic based on those letters for the specific purpose of indoctrinating the group's children with 'proof' that he was God's prophet. But despite the group's efforts to cover-up  the ugly truths about Berg and his hateful extremism by attempting to destroy all copies of those letters, comics and many others just like them, I tracked down hard copies of some of those purged publications in order to further expose the morally degenerate mind of the man behind The Family International. (see the end of this article)

David Berg, who died in 1994, was the founder and self-proclaimed prophet of the Children of God, now known as The Family International. He fled the U.S., along with the group's current co-leader, Karen Zerby,  in 1974 just as the New York Attorney General was about to release a damning report on his cult's activities there. While hiding in England,  the corrupt couple experimented with new sexual doctrines, both as a means to justify their own licentiousness and to devise a new method of undercover or clandestine proselytizing, which would come in useful for the group in countries where evangelizing is forbidden or restricted. In this instance, 'under the covers' also has a literal meaning, because the new recruitment technique involved the sexual seduction of potential members and supporters. It became known as Flirty Fishing,  a reference to Jesus' call to his disciples to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). Berg introduced the new doctrine to regular members very cautiously at first, suggesting it was the ultimate altruistic act to save souls, next to martyrdom, but it didn't take long to degenerate into religious prostitution.

After fine tuning Flirty Fishing in England, the demented duo set off for Tenerife in the Canary Islands and immediately began their sexual seductions in hotels and nightclubs. Flirty Fishing quickly became so lucrative that they called for dozens of God's Whores  to join them. As a fugitive from justice, Berg had remained until this time a recluse even from most of his own followers, but in Tenerife he was emboldened by the success of Flirty Fishing. In England, Berg and Zerby had remained incognito while practising this perversion, but in Tenerife he behaved more like a flamboyant pimp, appearing in clubs every night surrounded by a harem of 'hookers for Jesus'. Berg mistakenly believed he was winning powerful friends who could support and protect them, but civic and church authorities soon became concerned with their flagrant behaviour. It didn't take long for journalists to discover the scandal. The German magazine Stern, Spain's Interviu, and Time  all published articles that included a photo of Berg surrounded by a dozen or so of his Heaven's Harlots.  It was the first time most of his followers had ever seen any photo of him, let alone a current one.

David Berg (Moses David) with a bevy of Flirty Fishers in Tenerife, 1977. This photo, possibly first published in the German magazine Stern, has also appeared in Time magazine, Rolling Stone, and Deborah Davis' book. Karen Zerby (Mama Maria), current leader of The Family, is holding Berg's left hand.

A 1978 Newsweek article  on the Children of God reported that

... on the island of Tenerife, COG women were accused of taking prospective recruits to bed. When local prostitutes complained of the competition, Berg reportedly put a curse on the island-and shortly after that, the worst accident in airline history took 583 lives on the runway at Tenerife.
While it is true that Berg did curse the island and several days later the air disaster occurred, complaints by local prostitutes were not the reason he cursed, then fled Tenerife. The Stern article, cited by Time, accurately reported the real reason Berg escaped the island: he was being investigated by judicial authorities. His own writings, which the group later attempted to completely destroy, prove that.

Berg did make an initial court appearance before he fled Tenerife, which was unusual since he preferred to hide from legal authorities and taught his followers to do the same. Here is an example of that in a letter he wrote to them in 1979 titled, Flee,  which was later censored by the group as indicated by [deleted] in the text.

3. WHEN THE SYSTEM IS OUT TO GET YOU, YOU CANNOT FIGHT THEM. IT'S RIDICULOUS! ALL YOU CAN DO IS FLEE! The Lord Himself said so. (Mt.10:23.) He didn't say hang in there & fight it out & defend yourself, did He?

28. LET ME TELL YOU, I KNEW [DELETED] IN TENERIFE that they weren't going to quit, they weren't going to stop there, & I got out while the getting was good! [DELETED]

29. GOD HAD TO GIVE ME A DEFINITE WARNING TO MOVE & MOVE FAST! [DELETED] Now what do you want to do, just sit there & wait for them to come? Some of you are just sitting there waiting for trouble! That's how crazy people can get it they don't listen to the Lord! Once you reject the Truth of God's warnings & you don't repent, you don't confess your sin of disobedience & really repent & make things right by packing up & moving on like I've warned you, you're apt to go right off the deep end!

I think Berg only appeared in court because of his growing delusion that he was God's prophet and so would be protected. That court appearance quickly changed his mind, however, as the judge gave him a taste of his own medicine. A day later Berg, who was infamous for violent verbal, emotional and physical abuse of his followers and their children, complained: "I could hardly believe my ears when that Judge started spouting off and shouting at me. It shows it's all a religious controversy." (at par. 14) But earlier, right after that court appearance, his confidence in God's protection had already disappeared as he realized he might be in more trouble than he thought. "It might be better to get out before there is a court order making it impossible for me to leave." (par. 9) That is the real reason he fled Tenerife, not complaints from the local prostitutes.

Those quotations in the previous paragraph are from that secret letter I refer to in the title of this article. That letter was written for followers and associates and was intended, as I said, to demonstrate Berg's power as God's final endtime prophet. The letter's full title is The Wrath of God! On Tenerife and its System's Ugly Face of Tyranny! More Prayers Against Our Enemies and the Results! The picture on the pamphlet depicts God's hand smashing a sword against a passenger jet in a big explosion. The letter was eventually published in a volume of Berg's letters dealing specifically with Flirty Fishing. Neither that volume or the individual letter was meant for the general public. It was an internal letter, therefore secret, and made even more secret by the group's later attempts to purge all publications  that contained incriminating evidence of wrong doing or extremists doctrines such as anti-Semitism.

Although most of the group's publications are archived online on two websites   run by survivors, many dealing with Flirty Fishing are not, including The Wrath of God. However, I have posted the copy I obtained here at the end of this article. When you read the entire letter it becomes quite clear why the group would try to keep it secret. Here are some highlights from the letter, or I should say, lowlights.

The letter consists almost entirely of Berg praying against his enemies, with a bit of commentary thrown in here and there. It starts off with a transcript of the prayer Berg prayed just before going to court. He starts by cursing the judge, asking God to give him lots of sicknesses (in a later prayer he claims the judge is demon possessed; see par. 34). He then moves on to cursing entire cities, praying for their destruction and the destruction of all his enemies. He even asks God to let him watch the destruction of innocent people, citing Old Testament scriptures as authority for such hatred. But Berg was just getting warmed up with that prayer.

In that first prayer, Berg quotes II Chronicles 36:16, and then repeats that in a prayer the day after his court appearance, when he began making plans to flee. "For they have mocked the messengers of God and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people till there was no remedy." When I first read that in preparation for this article, I thought it was a reference to a different biblical event, the one where Elisha, the prophet of God, cursed 42 children for mocking him and a bear came out of the woods and killed them all, which is described in II Kings 2: 23,24. Cult leaders like Elisha and Berg are obviously psychopaths with narcissistic personality disorder. Berg is upset because the people of Tenerife are not taking him and his message seriously, so he curses them all to death. In Berg's second prayer he reiterates his requests for death and destruction of those who opposed his group and their message. This prayer also contains claims of previously answered prayers against Nixon, Reagan, New York City, and California for supposedly persecuting him and his group (see paragraphs 25 to 28). Berg directs those claims at his followers to help convince them of his prophetic powers and links to God, but those claims are ludicrous, not supported by fact, and merely reveal the bruised ego of a rejected narcissist.

Berg's prayers get more vile the deeper into the letter you read. At paragraphs 39 to 44 Berg gets specific, asking God to kill priests, a bishop, a judge and a maid. Paragraph 40 also includes a parenthetic note inserted after the air crash praising God for answering Berg's calls for vengence: "And He did!--The Crash, The Floods, etc. PTL!" There are similar notes scattered through the remaining letter. For example, just five days before the crash Berg prays the same prayers again. He asks God to destroy his enemies before his eyes not only so he could see the destruction, but so the world would know he was a prophet, and to do it soon. The parenthetic note in paragraph 55 reads: "The great air crash occurred only five days later!" Over and over again similar gleeful notes reinforce the notion that Berg's prayers and curses directly caused the worst air crash in history. "I want to see it. I want to hear about it," Berg prays at paragraph 57 in a chilling display of bloodlust.

As I mentioned earlier, this letter and the children's comic based on it were used by Berg and Zerby to reinforce the notion that Berg was God's final endtime prophet. In it Berg repeatedly prays for God to prove that to this followers by answering his prayers. The coincidence of the air crash occurring shortly after Berg's prayers was seen by Berg and Zerby as an opportunity to hammer home the point, so the letter repeats over and over again that the crash was God's answer to prayer. However, there is one element of Berg's prayers that God apparently over looked, though Berg and Zerby were not too concerned about that part. At paragraph 63, Berg prays: "Spare thy children, Lord, and spare the innocent, spare the guiltless." But God didn't spare the innocent, so if God answered Berg's prayers pleading for the destruction of his enemies, why didn't God also answer his prayer to spare innocent, guiltless people? That does not make any sense on any level, whether theological or rational, especially when that God is supposedly loving, compassionate and just. Why would a loving God who answers prayers not answer a prayer to save innocent lives? That kind of critical thinking is just too deep for fundamentalist believers like Berg, Zerby and their followers because it requires doubting and asking the right questions, which they never do. Here is the only comment Berg and Zerby had to say about the deaths of hundreds innocent people in that crash, in a note between paragraphs 76 and 77: "We are sorry for the victims and their families, but who can deny it was the will of God!"

Such heartless arrogance, empty sympathy and bible-based immorality. According to leaders of The Family International, the death of hundreds of innocent people, including children, was God's will because somehow that all-powerful, prayer-answering God was unable to differentiate between the guilty and the innocent on those two airplanes. And what about the 61 people on board the Pan Am plane that survived the disaster? If God spared them, why not spare all the other innocents? I can think of a dozen other related questions, but Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals never ask questions like that, because in their world doubting and questioning God are sins. But believing in biblical literalism always leads to irrational conclusions such as the belief that mass killings and genocides are justified when God commands or causes them. And it also leads to irrational explanations such as the claim that even if innocent children are killed along with their guilty parents, God is actually doing those kids a favour by taking them straight to heaven, or some nonsense like that. Here are two Berg quotations that illustrate that point. The first refers to famines in Africa and the second refers to the genocide of Canaanites in the Old Testament, where Joshua's army slaughters everyone in Jericho, including children: Joshua 6:21

55. I FEEL SORRY FOR ALL THE WOMEN & CHILDREN OVER IN THOSE COUNTRIES THAT ARE STARVING TO DEATH, BUT WHOSE FAULT DO YOU SUPPOSE IT IS? It's probably their men's fault to begin with, & probably the women's fault as well, because they worship false gods & idols & images & the dead & the Devil & are into all kinds of evil practices & cruelty & horrors that the mothers are just as guilty of as the fathers! The only innocent ones in those crowds are their poor little children, & they're better off dead than to live in societies like that with mothers & fathers like that! Maybe that's why the Lord lets them starve to death & it seems to hit the children the hardest & they die the quickest. That's merciful! Thank God! I told you time & again, don't fear death! Don't fear starvation, it's the easiest way in the World to die! It only takes a little while, & you may wish you could die quick. http://www.exfamily.org/pubs/ml/b5/ml2138.shtml

10. AFTER THE WALLS HAD FALLEN DOWN, JOSHUA PUT THE ENTIRE POPULATION TO DEATH, as God's Word had commanded--because they were wicked, filthy, vile people! Some people say, "Oh, my! What a cruel God He must have been in those days!" Well, God knows the earth needed to be cleansed of the horror of those people! If you knew some of the sins that they had--sodomy & so on, which is one of the vilest sins known to mankind ... ,

YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHY GOD HAD TO COMPLETELY WIPE OUT THE POPULATION! Everybody except who? Rahab! Compared to these men of Jericho, even a harlot was a saint! http://www.exfamily.org/pubs/ml/b5/ml1153.shtml

David Berg was referred to by some as the Love Prophet.  He created the immoral doctrines called the Law of Love  and Loving Jesus.  He insisted, as the Bible does, that God is love, and he changed the name of his group to Family of Love at one point.  He claimed that his biblically-based moral system was superior to all others, and yet he has no qualms about celebrating the mass murder or mass starvation of children. And neither do other more mainstream evangelical leaders. For example, Pat Robertson takes great joy in claiming that natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake, that killed thousands of people including children, are God's punishments against evil doers. And here is how another Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, echoes Berg by justifying the slaughter of innocent Canaanite children in Jericho in a recent talk at Oxford that he hoped would be a debate with Richard Dawkins, who "... has consistently refused to debate Craig and branded him a 'deplorable apologist for Genocide' in his Guardian column...."  Here is what Craig wrote about biblical genocide prior to his Oxford talk, as cited by Dawkins:

"But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel's part. In commanding complete destruction of the Canaanites, the Lord says, 'You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods' (Deut 7.3-4). […] God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. […] Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God's grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven's incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives."
And here is what Craig said at that talk, as reported by the Oxford student newspaper:

“However, in a question and answer session near the end of the debate, Craig’s response to the accusation that he approves of Biblical genocide provoked murmurs of disapproval from parts of the audience, and a loud boo from the upper wings.

“There was no racial war here, no command to kill them all,” he initially said, referring to extermination of the Canaanites in the Old Testament, “the command was to drive them out.”

Then Craig said: “But, how could God command that the children be killed, as they are innocent?”

“I would say that God has the right to give and take life as he sees fit. Children die all the time! If you believe in the salvation, as I do, of children, who die, what that meant is that the death of these children meant their salvation. People look at this [genocide] and think life ends at the grave but in fact this was the salvation of these children, who were far better dead…than being raised in this Canaanite culture. “
That is exactly what David Berg taught and The Family International believes, that a just, loving, merciful God kills innocent children in order to save them. That kind of morality is truly immoral.

By the way, in case you are wondering about Flirty Fishing, and whether or not The Family International still practices that form of religious prostitution, it all depends on who you ask. If you ask group leaders and members, they will insist that they formally stopped that years ago. However, you cannot trust anything they say on the matter because they have a well-documented, deeply ingrained habit of lying to outsiders, including to government and legal authorities. (see this article  and the section Deceivers Yet True in this article)

When they claim to have abandoned a doctrine or practice, it usually means that they will take those underground and no longer publicize what they actually believe and do. For example, Berg's writings are extremely anti-Semitic, with bigoted references to Jews being anti-Christ scattered throughout. In all of the censored versions of Berg's letters, all occurrences of the word 'anti-Christ' that do not refer to that specific character described in Revelation are references to Jews and have been [deleted] from the text. However, the current leader of the Family International, Karen Zerby, wrote in 1992 at the height of negative publicity the group was receiving around the world that prompted them to censor their publications: “Of course we’re being a little quiet about the Jews now, but we’re going to come to the place where we’re going to come right out and tell the truth about them.”

I am certain that they have the same attitude towards Flirty Fishing (FFing). Although they claim to no longer practice religious prostitution, it is only because of the negative publicity they received, not because of the various excuses they give or because they no longer believe the practice is scriptural. Here is an official statement from the group's leaders:

In 1987 the Family discontinued FFing to emphasize other means of ministering the Word of God to others, as well as to take advantage of opportunities to reach more people than the very personalized ministry of FFing allowed. At that time as well, the plague of AIDS had begun its rampage through the world—another indication that it was time to reconsider Family policy of allowing sexual interaction outside our communities. Although we no longer practice FFing, we believe the scriptural principles behind the ministry remain sound.

In James Chancellor's, Life in the Family: an oral history of the Children of God, which I critique in this journal article,  Chancellor examines that practice in chapter four. Footnote 8 of that chapter refers to a series of Berg letters that initiated the whole Flirty Fishing (FFing) doctrine and quotes a group spokesperson:

8. These Letters are known as "The King Arthur Series." They are no longer avail­able and cannot be found in any Family home. Noah explained: "We don't do it any­more, so we pulled the King Arthur Letters out of the homes. To be honest, they make such a strong and compelling case for FFing, Father David was afraid if he left them in the homes, people would have a strong desire to continue or begin the FFing ministry again."
And here are some quotations from a Berg letter emphasizing the effectiveness of Flirty Fishing and describing it as likely the only ministry that will still be available to them during the dark days leading up to the return of Jesus, which he predicted would happen in 1993. Since that obviously never happened they have pushed the rapture up by 50 years, leaving plenty of time for Flirty Fishing to be resurrected.

87. JUST BECAUSE IT HASN'T BEEN THE HEADLINE NEWS IN THE FAMILY MAGAZINE & you haven't heard as much about it as you did during the incipient stages of '76--I always remember '76 because that's the year Family of Love got famous in Tenerife, ha! When we finally hit the jackpot & made the headlines FFing with the FOL, we had to leave Tenerife. That's how effective it was! We were winning too many converts--the police, the Guardia Civil, the mayor, the police chiefs, the top representatives of the Bishop, the young people, the college students, the Mafia!

88. WE WERE GETTING EVERYBODY!--AND THE BISHOP WAS GETTING SCARED STIFF! I doubt if he could get stiff at his age, but anyway, he was getting scared & he decided it was time to put a stop to it. It was being too effective, too fruitful & we were getting too many souls, winning too many hearts, winning too many friends as well! So that was when it got started back in those days.

89. YOU HEARD MORE ABOUT IT THEN, WE WROTE MORE LETTERS ABOUT IT, IT WAS MORE IN THE NEWS & maybe you thought since then maybe it's kind of cooled off, maybe so many girls aren't FFing. Maybe some of you girls thought, "Well, maybe I'm a rare exception now, there aren't so many FFing girls anymore & not many FF Homes, maybe FFing is sort of going down the drain & maybe we're not FFing so much anymore, maybe it's not as popular anymore, maybe we're not getting as much results that way, maybe it didn't work out after all!"--You're mistaken!
91. SO JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T HEARD AS MUCH ABOUT IT LATELY DOESN'T MEAN IT HASN'T BEEN GOING ON! In fact, it's been going on more than ever & getting more results than ever as the most effective, efficient & fruitful--there's the 3 FFs!--Effective, efficient & fruitful!--Of all the means of witnessing & winning souls that we are practicing! ...
100. SO I THINK I'D LIKE TO DECLARE 1982 OUR GREATEST FF YEAR! I believe we're going to have more FFing & greater FFing & more success at FFing now in the coming year & the coming years than ever before as the other doors are closed & you can no longer openly litness anymore, you can no longer openly busk & cafe & park & street sing, etc., anymore, you'll be run off the streets, & the only place you're going to be able to really effectively witness is undercover, under the covers! Amen?

101. I BELIEVE IT IS GOING TO BECOME--IT HAS BECOME ALREADY--OUR MOST EFFUCKTIVE, EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT & FRUITFUL FORM OF WITNESSING! But I believe it is going to become our greatest form of witnessing, probably almost the most numerous form of witnessing as all other doors are closed & you cannot hit the streets anymore, maybe you can't even dare go door-to-door anymore.--There's three doors closed of the 7 Supporters! Out of the 7 Supporters only five are ministries, right? What are they again?--Litnessing, busking--that's all forms of public witness--door-to-door--that's getting more private all the time--Mail Ministry & FFing. That's five witnessing & supporting ministries.
106. BUT THERE WILL STILL BE ONE OUTSTANDING POSSIBLE VERY EFFUCKTIVE, EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT & FRUITFUL SUPPORTIVE MINISTRY LEFT, particularly for you girls! You may be the last witnesses! Revelation 11 didn't say what the sex of those last Two Witnesses was, did it? Maybe all our last witnesses will be women! It didn't say what the sex of all those people were who were caught up in the Rapture, did it? Maybe it will be mostly our girls! Maybe they'll have gotten rid of most of us boys by that time, who knows? Oh, there'll be a lot of powerful rich women who'll want boys too, so I think there'll be some of both sexes, boys--don't worry!

So, just because you have not heard about Flirty Fishing recently, and just because they say they don't do it anymore, does not mean they stopped it. I do not believe that Flirty Fishing was ever completely abandoned. It was simply too lucrative and useful in certain situations. Certainly, they stopped the most overt, flagrant practices, and probably only certain leaders and trusted members continued to practice it far more discreetly so that it could never be discovered by outsiders, but I think Flirty Fishing is like their hatred of Jews. They've learned to stay quiet about what they really believe and do. Furthermore, there are recent signs that Flirty Fishing has been renewed by at least some members. The conditions that Berg describes above that prevent overt public witnessing exist today in many countries. The group's leaders have always lived in luxury from the tithes of members, while many regular members struggle to survive financially. Recent organizational changes have made that scenario even worse, and I have no doubt that some will resurrect Flirty Fishing as a means of support. In fact, I think some have already done that if recent reports are accurate.

For related articles on The Family International on this blog see the left side-bar for a list of all titles. Also, on this page of the Religion and Child Abuse News archive I have links to dozens of newspaper articles on The Family International. see: http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.com/p/family-international.html

UPDATE: November 8, 2011

The text of "The Wrath of God" has now been placed in the archive on exfamily.org at http://www.exfamily.org/pubs/ml/b4/ml0577.shtml  The text is much easier to read there than here, but it does not include the cover illustration. I have removed the text pages here, but have kept the cover illustration. I have also kept the True Komix version here and added the cover page. That page clearly explains that these comics were specifically intended for indoctrinating children. You will notice that the message from Berg and Zerby, who is called Maria in the group, claims that love will solve all the world's problems, including yours. Apparently, they ignored that claim in "The Wrath of God", which teaches the opposite lesson, namely that when authorities try to hold you accountable to society for your actions the best recourse is not to love your enemies but to curse your enemies and God will destroy them.


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

From Sex Fiends to Family Values: the LDS and The Family International

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

Gaddafi, The Family International and the Antichrist

Kings and Queens of Cults

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

This Is What Wolves In Sheep's Clothing Look Like

For more links to news and blog articles concerning The Family International, formerly known as the Children of God, see my archive blog at: