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Repost: Jered's Letter to Zerby & Kelly

Posted by reposter on September 12, 2003 at 08:34:20

My letter to Zerby & Kelly. Some may not consider it “scathing”, but I’m usually a tactful person, and I was actually trying to accomplish something by writing this. I have edited one part out because I don’t want to post my childhood memories on a public web site. I should also clarify that when I say “my beliefs are still similar”, I mean I’m still a Christian. At the end of my letter I’m including their answer.

To Maria and Peter from Jered, Perm, Russia

Dear Maria and Peter,

Before leaving the Family I lived in the NUT home, Peter might remember us, we met in Chelyabinsk. I’m not going to get into a long letter because I don’t have the time. If you are interested in what I say here you can drop me a note and I’ll be glad to expound. I did have some good times in the Family, and hopefully I did some good, and as the Family’s leadership you played a role in it, thank you for that.

My beliefs are still similar to what they were in the Family, but there are many issues I have with Family modus operandi and policies. I’ll only mention the ones that I feel are doing harm to Family members. I delayed writing you for ages because I don’t think you’ll really listen, but I feel I have to “deliver my soul”:

• Despite recent advances children in the Family are not getting a good education! Sure, they do well and may even be above their level until the age of 8 or 9, but after that there’s a serious slump. If parents are not able to educate their children as well as a public school would they MUST send them to school! Any other action is both legally and morally wrong!
• Teenagers and young adults in the Family should not be discouraged from receiving a college education. They are, of course, free to choose not to go to college, but they should be informed of the consequences, which include having a very rough time when they decide to leave the group. Note that I say when, since at least 90% of the kids who are born in the Family will leave unless TF changes drastically. An 18 year old is not really capable of realizing what committing himself to be a Family member for the rest of his / her life means, especially since TF constantly changes its policies.
• Teenagers growing up in TF should be made aware that the CVC course is not accredited and CVC diplomas are not equal to a diploma given by an accredited college. They should be aware of the difference between an accredited and non-accredited college. All material listed in the CVC courses should be checked for accuracy. This especially applies to writings by David Berg, who was not qualified to teach many of the subjects under which his writings are listed. Some of his writings listed in the CVC handbook contain incorrect information.
• Sex education in TF should include the knowledge that in most countries both parents are legally responsible to financially support a child until the child turns 18.
• Your “retirement plan” will not work for most members. It is not realistic. There are very few countries in the world where Family Members will be able to “build their own church”, and even in these countries it’s doubtful that their “church” will support them if they go senile, become an invalid, etc. The Bible says “now we see through a glass darkly”, you should not give what you hear in prophecy more weight than common sense.
• You have a moral responsibility to notify new members of TF’s past, so they know what they are getting into. Stop pretending that David Berg didn’t encourage adult / child sex and that child abuse was caused by a few errant individuals. It was a direct result of David Berg’s teachings, and you know it.
• Stop calling former Family members blood-sucking Vandari and listen to what they have to say. All of your efforts to win “lost souls” are no good if the majority of children who were born in the Family are lost, dejected and trying to piece their lives together again. Don’t kid yourselves; they are having difficulties not because they left TF but because they grew up in it. There is some truth in numbers, I suggest you take a poll: find out how many children were born in the Family between 1968 and 1990, how many of them are still in TF, and ask the ones who have left what their current opinions are about the group. You may hear a lot of exaggeration and maybe an occasional made-up story, but you will also hear a lot of truth. Seeing yourself through the eyes of another can be painful but it is definitely beneficial.
• Family members should be clearly told that it is wrong to pressure their children to help them make money. Responsible parents should support a child until he / she is 18, and if a child makes money before then he / she should be able to use it for his / her own personal needs.
• While I don’t recall Family leadership specifically condoning lying to make money, you must be aware that the majority of Family members do this on a regular basis. Do you turn a blind eye to this because you know it’s the only way they can support themselves? Most income is also earned illegally. I won’t come down hard on this because in many countries a large percentage of the work force receives money “under the table”, but I think Family members should be encouraged to find legal ways of making money. Just the fact that kids know their parents are making money illegally is demoralizing, and in many cases the kids are forced to do it as well which is worse.
• I know it will hard for you to accept this but almost EVERY SINGLE PERSON who grows up in TF is abused. (this section was edited out) You’re probably thinking, “judging by these standards, every child in the world is abused”. Yes, most children receive some abuse from their peers, and maybe even mild verbal abuse from their teachers or other adults, but I hope I don’t have to explain to you why peer abuse is much less damaging than adult abuse, and why mild verbal abuse is nothing compared to violating a child’s basic rights. (this section was edited out)
• For God’s sake stop screaming “religious persecution” every time someone brings these topics up! My religious beliefs are still similar to what they were when I was in the group, and none of these issues are religious!

I realize that at this point it may be very difficult for you to accept much of what I’m saying here, much less admit that it’s true. And you’ll probably label me “self-righteous”, but I’m not. I am aware that I have plenty of faults, but I can’t let that stop me from trying to do something about mistakes that I feel are harming thousands of people around the world. May God help us all.

Finally, allow me to include a note from another former member that I consider particularly poignant:

I was traveling through Texas a few years back, when a Family member came up to my car and showed me a picture of Rosita, Eden, Daniel and myself from back in Mexico. She then asked me to donate some money to "Help save the lost, misguided youth."

The sad thing is, all four of us had long since left the Cult, and had all had to struggle in various ways to try to get set up. For all that the Family likes to talk about "Saving the World", they have left a trail of lost and messed up lives across the globe. Not just FG's and SG's, but also their "system" relatives. And yet they still brag about all the strangers they've helped.

Like you said, they go on and on about "Loving Jesus", but then turn the cold shoulder to their very own. "For he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?"-1 John 2:22

To Jered from Ashley (for Mama and Peter)

Dear Jered,

Thank you for your letter. Mama and Peter appreciate that you took the time to share your frustrations, battles, and disappointments to them about the Family and the reasons you are no longer with us. They appreciate your honesty and openness and are happy you felt free to write them and let them know how you felt.
Mama and Peter are very sorry that you feel the way you do about the Family, and its leadership. They know that they and the Family have made mistakes and are by no means perfect, but they are doing their best to follow what the Lord has shown them to do.
We haven't addressed the issues you have raised, as from your letter it seems that your intent was not to dialogue about these issues bur rather to state your position on them. With this letter Mama and Peter wanted to tell you they love you and are very thankful for all that you contributed to the Family while you were with us. They pray you are happy in your new life you have chosen and that you will continue to be a blessing to others, reaching them with His love and Word. We love you!

Ashley (for Mama and Peter)