The Children of God
by Deborah (Linda Berg) Davis with Bill Davis, 1984
In April 1972, Mo left his hideout in Oklahoma for England, never to
set foot on American soil again. England would become his headquarters
for the next two years.
By the beginning of 1972, Moses David had successfully retarded the
spread of immoral behavior throughout the COG family. Those who had
been involved, were removed from their positions of leadership, and of
some Mo made a public spectacle. He was always—and still is—quite
fond of public verbal executions. He feels it puts the fear of God in
others and encourages obedience—discipline by terror, an effective
tactic used, for example, by the Ayatollah Khomeini in recent years.
Nevertheless, Dad was able to curb the premature outbreak of sexual
liberties, and even caused those who were guilty, but had not been
caught, to stop their licentious behavior.
Then, in the spring of '72, Dad began to wield some new "scare tactics"
designed to shift the direction and momentum of his Revolution for Jesus.
It was now time for the "Great Escape", a special warning revelation he
received from the spirit world. On April 24, 1972, he announced:
"The storm of God's judgments
upon the ease and luxury of these nations, particularly America, is
fast approaching, and the sea and waves of the uprisings of people are
about to rage!"
59 He warned his faithful followers that all escape routes out of America
would be closed as soon as "the Storm of God's judgments begins to
break upon the wickedness of the Lowlands of America!" In a
subsequent, emergency Mo Letter, entitled "Flee As A Bird To Your
Mountain," he warned his disciples to run for their lives while there
was still a chance.
Soon the COG began a mass exodus out of the States. Many fled to
South America; others escaped to England and the Continent.
Mo himself had already left for England. Faithy and Hosea had been
there for well over a year, and had established a work in the London
suburb of Bromley. No doubt my father saw the handwriting on the wall,
and realized that he would not be able to continue his immoral
practices in the United States and get away with it. He was scared of
FREE-COG and terrified of America's justice system. A guilty man has
reason to fear, and David Berg knew that in the near future, he would
become a lot more vulnerable in expanding a movement dedicated to
wholesale debauchery. Knowing full well the dangers that faced him, he
gathered his prophetic robes about him and left.*
|*David Berg's fear of legal authorities was well founded. Eventually
the attorney general of the State of New York issued a report substantiating many of the claims made against COG activities. But that
was in September of 1974, long after Mo had fled the country and his
disciples with him.
Shortly afterward, the NBC television network aired its second
documentary on the Children of God. The first program, "First
Tuesday", had presented a sympathetic picture in 1971; but "Chronolog"
painted quite a different scene in 1972.
Because reports of sexual promiscuity in the COG had begun to emerge
by the time of the showing on "First Tuesday", Bob Rogers, the
producer, looked the fool in the eyes of the public."First Tuesday"
led America to believe that we were ultra-puritanical in our moral
standards—which we were at the time of the filming, except for my
father. But things had changed in the movement, and Bob Rogers had a
score to settle.
Feigning friendship, Rogers flew to England to interview my brother
Hosea. Naturally Hosea received him with open arms. But in a carefully constructed interview, Rogers broached the subject
of immorality in the Family; he zeroed in on the person of David Berg,
his sexual exploits, and his totalitarian rule as "prophet" of the
COG. Mr. Rogers was intent upon showing the public what was truly
behind this highly organized, regimented Christian organization.
When asked if there was immorality going on within the COG, Hosea
flatly denied it. Roger's countered Hosea's statements with interviews
he had filmed in America of female ex-members who gave eyewitness
accounts. The stark contrast between Hosea's denial and the witnesses'
testimony was incredible. But why would Hosea lie? To him it was not
lying. All cult members are taught instinctively to lie; the COG is
not unlike other cults in that matter. One is taught that it is okay
to "cover" the truth of things because "other people wouldn't
understand our beliefs." Therefore, when Mr. Rogers asked Hosea about
immorality, Hosea flatly denied it. Hosea did not believe it was
"immorality." Hosea's thoughts: "To the public it may appear as
immorality, but to us it is the freedom of God's spirit, which they
know nothing of."
The final documentary for "Chronolog" showed Hosea to be an outright,
bold-faced liar. And he was.
FREE-COG, which had helped Bob Rogers compile much of the negative
evidence for the show, hoped that the "Chronolog" documentary would
force the COG out of the States. Basically it did just that, although
Mo himself had already left. Rogers had struck back with a powerful
blow that drove us underground. The documentary, combined with the
"Great Escape" Mo Letter, forced the disciples to leave the States and
marked the beginning of the end of active work by the COG in America.
But, in typical fashion, Moses David simply used the "Chronolog" film
to renew the dedication of his followers to the cause and strengthen
his position as Prophet and leader. The film was "an attack of the
Devil" and representative of "righteous persecution." The Bible
clearly states, Mo noted, that "all who will live godly in Christ
Jesus shall suffer persecution." Thus "Chronolog" was one more proof that we were living the true gospel, and that Mo
was truly the Prophet. Mo proclaimed that the incident was God's way
of purging the ranks and preparing the way for the COG to go into all
the world and preach the gospel. We had conquered the United States;
now it was time to conquer Europe and the rest of the World!
Bromley, England, served as a landing place for all the "refugees "
fleeing America before its "imminent destruction." It was in this
setting that Mo developed the concept of the Royal Family and crowned
From Bromley the disciples were sent into different parts of England
and eventually to the Continent. Pioneering teams began to establish
colonies in France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. Our
message and radical approach appealed to the European youth, and our
American drive and industriousness were also admired as the Revolution
for Jesus surged forward.
We were making great advances in Latin America as well. Puerto Rico,
Mexico, and Brazil received the songs and smiles of the Children with
great enthusiasm. We spread to Hawaii (which was a little safer than
the contiguous states), Australia, and New Zealand. Late in 1972 our
first pioneering team arrived in India; today India is a major focal
point of Children of God activity.
By September 1973 we had approximately two hundred colonies scattered
through about fifty countries.
In February 1973 the COG experienced a turning point in its public
witness. It occurred on February 18—my father's birthday. On that day
he received a special revelation that he should begin the mass
publication of the Mo Letters for the entire world. Until this time,
the Letters had been strictly for consumption by the faithful
followers and, on occasion, friends of the Family. But in a prophecy
entitled "The Birthday Warning," Moses David was rebuked for
restricting the use of the Letters—because the Mo Letters
were now as important as the Bible. Therefore it was time to begin
publishing these Letters for everyone. We were on the threshold of the
Furthermore, the COG's growth rate had seriously declined, and Mo
offered this explanation:
. . . We've reached a certain limitation in our ability to grow any
further because we have reached the limitations of our leadership that
we had originally trained. Most of our leaders throughout the world
are still those approximately 150 who were originally trained in
California and Texas... who were either trained by us or our family
personally. . . ."
What to do about the shortage of leadership? Publishing literature was
the answer! "God said we now lack leaders because we lack literature,
and the literature they need most are the Letters of the Leader!"
Mo explained that publishing the Mo Letters would give him and our
movement world fame and notoriety. He wrote,
Nobody ever heard of Mao until his words really worked—then the whole
world heard about him! Why?—Because they put it in print, and his
little red "Thoughts From Chairman Mao" have circled the globe. . . .
Nobody ever heard of little old Mo, either, until his words began to
work. . . . We must put them in print on paper so they can circulate
around the globe available to all! Millions for the billions!63
It was now time to publish millions of copies of Mo Letters.
"Every disciple, every leader, every Colony, every . . . whatever your job
may be, must now know that your main job is to help in some way to get
the words that work to the world!"
Overnight, print shops sprang up all over the world producing Mo
Letters. Then Moses David wrote a Letter called "Shiners?—Or Shamers?"
that outlined the principles and directives of "litnessing"; distributing
Mo Letters on the street as a new method of witnessing.
65 No longer were we to go out and win people to Christ through
conversation: our No. 1 job was to distribute literature and collect
donations. Quotas were established; those who
distributed the most were rewarded, and those who failed to meet their
quotas were chastised.
During 1972 we had published 3 million pieces of literature; but in
1973, the figure soared to 19 million. The numbers grew: 55 million in
1974; 58 million in 1975; and 68 million in 1976. Literature
distribution has continued to rise every year.
In the early days of the Literature Revolution, disciples were
frequently forbidden to return to their colony until they had dis-
tributed their quotas. It was not uncommon to see disciples searching
the streets at three o'clock in the morning looking for someone to buy
a piece of literature. Before long, the financial status of the Family
began to change.
Dad had written a Letter entitled "Rags to Riches" in which he
exhorted the leadership to think big, to think success, and not to be
content with remaining at the poverty level.
"Shiners?—Or Shamers?" seemed to offer an effective strategy for
improving our financial condition.
Until we began selling Mo Letters on the street, we had been a very
poor organization. We lived merely on the money received from new
disciples "forsaking all", and donations of material goods solicited
from local businesses. I recall one man who joined with his family and
forsook his house—which we sold for $75,000. This, of course, was the
rare exception. Most of the people joining were lost youth who owned
nothing but the clothes on their backs. All the finances were pooled,
and we struggled along. Nearly all our food came through our
"provisioning teams"—specially designated disciples who phoned and
visited businesses requesting support for our work in "helping youth
Litnessing gave each colony a specific means of financial support. Yet
our financial success never reached the proportions of cults like the
Unification Church—the "Moonies"—who enjoy the benefits of
affluence; we always seemed to have just enough to keep things
running, even after intense litnessing. Finances were a perpetual
With the advent of relative wealth, however, the complexion of the
Family began to change rapidly. As our economic conditions improved in
late 1973, Mo began to publish more and more messages on sex. Among
them were "Revolutionary Sex," "Revolutionary Women," "Revolutionary Marriage," "One Wife," and
"Mountain Maid", along with his Letters on the "Goddesses" with whom
he was having sexual experiences."
In a calculated barrage of sexually
provocative literature, he began to inflame the imaginations of his
followers with sexual desires, but all in the name of Jesus—in the
name of what is "natural, God-given, God-created, and perfectly
normal." In a Letter entitled "Come On Ma! Burn Your Bra!", he
condemned those within our ranks who continued to hang onto their
"misconceived Christian morality". As in days past—when I was classed
with the "unspirituals"—the disciples who were dragging their
conservative heels were in peril of receiving the same condemnation
A Revolution is a total break with the traditions of man and his
churches and his preconceived ideas about God and misconceptions Of
morality. We have turned completely around and are going a different
direction, no longer man's way but God's way, and we are free to enjoy
to the full the beauties and wonders of His Creation with all of its
pleasures which He Himself created for our enjoyment."
Mo warned his followers that those who could not handle the Mo Letters
already written on sexual freedom "in the Lord" would certainly not be
able to handle the "heavier forthcoming Letters." He wrote,
So if you think that sex and the human body are something evil and to
be hidden, instead of the beautiful wonderful creations of God to be
revealed and enjoyed to the full, then you are indeed an old bottle,
and I doubt very much if you will be able to stand the even heavier
Letters which are already on the way!"
My dad was writing this Letter as preparation for a new wave of
perverted doctrine he was about to unleash on the disciples. Breaking
down the traditional Christian morality of his followers was a
delicate process and needed to be handled in stages. He used effective
psychology to keep the disciples eager for the next Letter. Most of
the followers were very insecure and didn't want to be "left behind."
Playing on their insecurity, feelings of inferiority, and spiritual
pride, Mo goaded his followers on, gently
pitting one against the other to see who was "more revolutionary." He
chided the reluctant:
"If you can't receive it, then you're an old bottle. Only the true
revolutionaries, the truly liberated, and the truly spiritual can receive
God's new wine—God's specially revealed truths for today."
The reward was the carrot of sensual pleasure.
If you can't take these and understand what is happening, you'll
certainly never be able to take what is coming, and we're very sorry
for you.—Because if you quit now, you'll really miss the main events!
We're not out to change the world—we're creating a totally new one!
And if you don't fit it, I'm afraid we'll have to leave you behind.70
With exhortations like this, Mo fully primed the pump, preparing the
disciples for the "main events," which he was already practicing. By
the time "Come On Ma" was published on December 22, 1973, he and
Maria were taking the first steps toward instituting what Dad called "the
exciting but dangerous new ministry of Flirty Fishing." The movement
had reached another turning point.
It began in London. Mo and Maria enrolled in an evening dance school.
Dad's ploy was to send Maria out on the dance floor as "bait" to lure
unsuspecting men into their lair. The very first person caught through
Flirty Fishing was an Englishman named Arthur. After numerous evenings
on the dance floor, Arthur and Maria began a sexual relationship.
After Arthur was thoroughly caught in Moses David's net of immorality,
he was passed on to one of Mo's other wives; Maria was commissioned to
catch another "fish." If my father's cup of iniquity was not presently
full, it would soon be overflowing beyond all imagination.
Maria kept up her new tactic of seducing men into the "kingdom." Each
night Dad and his team would get a detailed report, record it, and
transcribe and edit it for eventual publication. My father boasted
that he had found a new method of ministry, but in reality, he had
only resurrected the pagan practice of religious
prostitution. It was nothing more or less than the kind of worship
with which the prophets of Baal led the Israelites astray thousands of
Along with this, however, I believe the demonic influence in my
father's life reached new depths. Sexual perversion is a stock feature
of occultic practices. Mo credited his revelations on sex, like his
other prophecies, to Abrahim, his spirit guide, of whom he wrote,
"People do come back [from the dead] and are helpful to someone, like
Abrahim is to me. He is with me all the time, virtually incarnated in
me! I never go any place without him. He travels with me. In a sense,
I'm his vehicle now, just like his body was before.71
As the "Flirty Fishing" continued, Dad grew fearful that it could spell
trouble for him in sophisticated England. He didn't feel he could
promote it on a large scale among the followers there. So in March
1974, he and Maria and a small group of disciples moved to Tenerife in
the Canary Islands, near Spain. There, in the freer atmosphere of the
tourist resorts, the technique of "FFing", as Mo calls it, was
developed and refined practically into an artform.
In Tenerife, Mo virtually abandoned the name "Children of God" for his
movement. Henceforth he would call it the "Family of Love". He adopted
for himself the title "Father David". This reflected the strong impact
that certain aspects of the island's Catholic culture made on Moses
David. He used the title while he lived there, but abandoned it when
Other changes came in the movement with the advent of Flirty Fishing.
Not all the "fish" became "Forsake All" disciples. Tenerife was a
tourist resort, and many of the "fish" were interested only in the
prostitution. Others were established citizens such as businessmen or
civil service workers; they were not interested in giving up homes,
families, jobs, or lifestyles to join the movement. Rather, Moses
David accommodated them by conducting "Love Church" meetings. These meetings were more or less
informal church services conducted by disciples and attended by
various "fish" or interested tourists.
This marked a significant change in the movement. No longer was every
proselyte to the movement expected to become a "Forsake All" follower.
There were now "closet" followers who indulged in the Children of God
as their religion, but kept their established way of life. This
pattern has been maintained in the movement ever since Moses David
initiated it on Tenerife. For every disciple living full-time in a COG
colony somewhere in the world today, there are countless others who
align themselves to the movement clandestinely—including government
officials, wealthy buisnessmen, and the man on the street.
In the spring of 1975, Moses David interrupted his activities on the
island of Tenerife to visit Moammar Gadahfi, the head of state of
Libya. Dad had been courting a relationship with the dictatorial
colonel from long distance after he began to receive special
revelations about Gadahfi from Abrahim in 1971. In June 1973, Mo wrote
a special Letter, "Gadahfi—and The Children Of God", in which he
explained why Gadahfi was someone special.
He may either be the Antichrist himself, or he is preparing the way
for the Antichrist. But it is God-ordained, and it's obvious God has
predicted it: He has prophesied it, He has revealed it through the
Bible, Grandmother, Jean Dixon and us!
We're to be absolutely friendly toward him. . . . We are to help him, we
are to cooperate with him, be friendly toward him, and agree with his
Third Alternative. . . ."
According to Mo, Gadahfi would have an intimate relationship with the
future Antichrist, and he left open the possibility that Gadahfi was
the Antichrist himself. It was our duty to help the Libyan ruler in
any way possible. While visiting Gadahfi in May 1975, Dad commented
privately to the disciples with him:
". . . according to . . . Bible prophecy and some of the prophecies that
God has given us, we're actually going to help the Antichrist to power."
The disciples also were distributing, by the thousands, a particular
Mo Letter that was favorable to Gadahfi. Entitled "Gadahfi's Third
World", it praised the colonel and his "Third International Theory"—a
plea for worldwide "godly socialism." Mo said that the Libyan was "the
only world leader I've heard of who is raising his voice against both
Capitalism and Communism and offering us the only alternative of a
Godly Socialism. . . ."
Impressed by this enthusiasm, and the unexpected and unsolicited
promotion of his cause, Gadahfi was prompted to invite COG
representatives to visit him. After a visit from my brother Hosea and
my sister, Gadahfi arranged for Mo to fly to Tripoli, the Libyan
Dad spent about a month in Libya, but things weren't going the way
he thought they would. He had taken with him a troupe of girls and
started an FF ministry among some military leaders and Gadahfi's
personal staff. But Gadahfi was not interested in prostitution—the
Koran forbids it—even though his officers were. Rather, the Libyan
wanted only to make use of the ten thousand COG disciples who were
distributing literature around the world. Certainly we represented an
efficient means of promoting Gadahfi's "Third International Theory".
But Moses David was not interested—he was in over his head, and he
knew it. He realized that Gadahfi could crush him like a bug if he
In the beginning, Dad was flattered to receive a personal invitation
from a world leader, and he nurtured hopes of somehow using Gadahfi.
But Dad soon saw that Gadahfi was out to use "this old man who was
running around the world trying to act like a prophet and king". After
spending his second month in Libya in a house guarded by armed
soldiers, Dad realized that he was virtually a prisoner. He decided it
would be better to keep his relationship with Gadahfi at a distance;
so he quickly left Libya while he still had the chance.
From Libya, Dad flew directly to Italy, where he lived in my home for
about five months. I was writing childcare and educational material
for the Family in that country at the time. Upon
leaving Italy, Dad returned to Tenerife and devoted his attention to
promoting the still fledgling "Flirty Fishing" ministry.
Moses David launched a full-scale assault on the bars, discos, and
night clubs of the small island. He brought in disciples from many
other colonies. In the first of a series of Letters on "Flirty Fishing",
published in April 1976, Mo announced,
These letters together form a very important series of lessons on how
to Flirty Fish when literally using sex as your bait. . . .
We have already written a whole series on our FF experiences during
the past three years, but which for security reasons we have not felt
wise to release until now. We also felt it better to more thoroughly
explore this new area of our ministry and pioneer it before revealing
it to you. . . ."
In a three-month period, Moses David published twenty-three Mo Letters
on FFing in a series he called "King Arthur's Knights". One Letter
after another bombarded the disciples; and by the end of 1976, the COG
became a world-wide prostitution network. (The total number of Mo
Letters pertaining to "Flirty Fishing" has probably reached nearly five
hundred to date.) Disciples litnessed during the day and FFed at
But success didn't come without a struggle."Flirty Fishing" brought Dad
unwanted publicity and attention from the law. It eventually spelled
the end for his sojourn and prostitution network on Tenerife. It
happened this way:
A man I can only describe as "a very good friend" of my father had
been with him on Tenerife for some time—whether more or less than a
year, I do not recall. He obviously had become a good friend, because
Dad allowed the man to photograph him—something Dad had scrupulously
forbidden for years in order to maintain his prophetic mystique.
Whether the man was "planted" by journalists, or was simply a tourist
who at some point decided to exploit a ripe situation, I do not know.
What is known is that the man left Tenerife in 1977 and published in
Stern, a prominent West German magazine, a sensational article and the
photograph—a picture of Moses David with a bevy of Flirty Fishers,
The publicity went worldwide. Time magazine published the photograph
along with a full-page article entitled "Tracking the Children of God"
in its issue of August 22, 1977.* The results were predictable. Moses
David described the situation in a subsequent Mo Letter:
We came out in the open with a whole army of 70 disciples and made a
frontal attack! Then finally, after a year's all-out battle, we got
all that publicity and boom! The island exploded! . . . with Europe-wide
coverage! Maybe even the rest of the world . . ."
|*The Time report was prompted in part by a tape recording sent to
Time-Life offices the week before by Queen Rachel, who claimed that
the voice on the recording was Moses David's. The tape denied the
authenticity of a purported "Mo Letter" making the rounds which was
entitled "God Bless You And: Good-Bye!" The apparently fraudulent
Letter included a "confession" by Moses David that he was a false
prophet and said he was abandoning his movement.
A flock of FFers was arrested and charged with prostitution by Canary
Islands authorities. As the leader of the group, Dad was indicted and
summoned to court. He appeared for questioning on two occasions, but
at the first opportunity, he fled from the island and the authorities.
He left the women there to stand trial.
Yet "Flirty Fishing" prospered elsewhere. Moses David's annual
statistical newsletter for 1979 reported the growth of his new
Our dear FF'ers are still going strong, God bless'm, having now
witnessed to over a quarter-of-a-million souls, loved over 25,000 of
them and won nearly 19,000 to the Lord, along with about 35, 000
The organization of David Berg had run an amazing gauntlet since the
days of Huntington Beach—from witnessing to litnessing to "Flirty
Fishing". The evil that was imbedded in my father's heart in 1968 and
earlier, was now being planted in the hearts of hundreds of thousands
of people throughout the world. His personal sin had now become the
sin of thousands—and who could stop him? In a message to his army of
FFers on the island of Tenerife in 1977, he said,
They will never stop us, because we're going to scatter into so many
countries in so many ways that only the world government of the
Antichrist could possible really organize a worldwide concerted attack
against us. . . ."
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Dec 3, 2004
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