In Reply to: Re: The Tragic Legacy of the Children of God posted by On ABC News on November 13, 2007 at 13:45:43:
Statement from Claire Borowik for the Family, in response to the book "Jesus Freaks" by Don Lattin:
Lattin's effort to analyze the life and motives of Ricky Rodriguez and the murder/suicide he committed in 2005 was undoubtedly a challenging task, and it's clear that he invested a great deal of time attempting to research and gain an understanding of a specific era of history of the Family International. The Family has operated in over 100 nations and the experiences of members around the world are diverse, making this a challenging task, and Lattin endeavors to grasp the complexities this entails. Having said that, however, I find it lamentable that he would devote almost an entire book to justifying the violent actions of a clearly unstable young man, even ascending Ricky Rodriguez to the status of "martyr." This justification of Rodriguez' act of premeditated murder is disturbing.
As Christians, members of the Family International deplore and are diametrically opposed to acts of violence and the suffering these inflict on the innocent, and suicide and acts of violence are virtually unheard of in our communities. We believe that human life is sacred, and each person should be respected as an individual created in the image of God. As Christians, our lives are devoted to sharing the news of God's love and salvation for humanity and caring for the needy. (For more information on our charitable activities in over a hundred countries, please see )
Although Lattin's book does contain some sound research and factual information, it is laced with inaccuracies, misconceptions and erroneous conclusions lacking a factual base -- not to mention, sketchy research. Information provided by a handful of apostates with a clearly delineated agenda to demonize the Family is deemed credible, whereas information proceeding from current Family members is deemed questionable, at best.
When referring to the statements of second-generation Family members (please see ), Lattin states, "one can't be certain who actually authored those statements and under what circumstances they were written. Shepherds could be telling rank-and-file members what to write." Yet, he freely quotes Internet postings from former members and seems to have no question as to their credibility. In fact, he personally interviewed a number of the current second generation members who posted statements on myconclusion.com, and he is quite aware that they are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves. A number of these second generation adults were interviewed by this network in 2005.
Sociological research carried out on the Family is dismissed, scholars labeled as "sympathetic," while Lattin alleges that these received payment from the Family to conduct their research, which was not the case. Meanwhile, one of the handful of former members that Lattin acknowledges as key to the research for this book, Don Irwin, was prosecuted this year for hate crimes and has a history of mental illness.
Charitable organizations that service humanitarian aid projects, are relegated by Lattin to "front groups," as he seeks to vest their volunteer efforts with sinister motives. Empirical research would have required that he take a closer look at the humanitarian assistance carried out by Family members worldwide and the lives that are impacted by this assistance in the developing world, before attempting to demonize their efforts, based on nothing but assumptions on his part and malicious rumors of disaffected former members.
Statistics do not bear out Lattin's assumptions regarding Family-born second generation members. To date as of July 2007, 14,506 births have been recorded in the Family. Six-thousand one hundred and twenty-one of those born to the Family, in other words 42 percent, remain members of our fellowship. Additionally, of those who have exited the group, nearly 160 have rejoined over the past three years. Proper research would have confirmed that the retention rate of the Family is certainly not below average for a highly committed religious group. And yet, current second generation adults only merited a mention in the final chapter of the book, after the reader has been subjected to a distorted and biased account of the Family's history throughout the previous chapters.
The stereotyping that Lattin resorts to manifests bias and religious intolerance, and an attempt to cast the Family's deeply held Christian beliefs in a negative light. His writings echo the position of anti-religious proponents, who demonize the beliefs of others and set themselves as judges as to the legitimacy of a belief system and ultimately the right to one's religious faith. His writings throughout 2005 on the Rodriguez incident reflected a similar ideology, and the preponderance of his writings have focused on ex-member allegations, while giving very little space to current member responses.
The motivating force of our missionary movement, which is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every creature, is all but excluded from his book. This, of course is not surprising, as charitable works, humanitarian aid and lives devoted to God and bettering the quality of life of our fellow men are hardly the material likely to "sell" and clearly weren't the sort of material he sought for his book. It's lamentable that despite Lattin's efforts to articulate the Family's roots and history, his research was not broad enough to give an accurate and well-rounded depiction of the Family's history and current-day practices.