to Mo letter DFO 880, "IRFers beware"
Some firsthand Information from people who knew the murder victim:
[A.H.], the neighbor:
"My wife and I lived directly across the hall. We did not know them well. They were good neighbors and my wife had a shared interest with Mrs. [D.H.] as our older boy was born in 1979. Mrs. [D.H.]'s mother found her daughter and pounded on our door and was naturally very distraught. The police took over our apartment and brought the children into our home. The scene was very sad. The children had tried to wake their mother and then had touched the walls leaving little bloody hand prints. One of the children told the police "daddy hurt mommy" and Mr. [K.H] was suspected. He had been at work and unable to have committed the crime. ...I was 24 years old and this is how I remember it. Because of this incident, we moved away from the apartment complex and our lives were [undoubtedly] changed in ways we will never know or understand."
Extracted from exFamily.org's Generation eXers bulletin board: April 21, 2002 and May 20, 2002 respectively:
"[She] was a great encouragement to me. Of all my time in the family she stands out as one of the most selfless and giving people that I ever met... We were on the road together several times altogether almost a month). She was a great sample of dedication, love for the lost, and cheerfulness. She always reminded me of a sunflower. I am proud to have known her. And I am so angry for the way [Shulamite's] family was treated by the so called 'Family'..."
Extracted from 2 heart-wrenching posts on exFamily.org's Generation eXers bulletin board, dated May 21 and June 8, 2002:
"I was at work [when] the [police] came and called me [into] a room and threw me up against the wall and read me my rights. [At first] I thought, oh no I'm a draft dodger and now I'm going to go to jail and [lose] my family. [Then they] told me my wife had been killed. Stabbed 13 times. My house became a crime scene, and I went to Shula's parents who wanted to get the kids. They wanted me to put them in a foster home, and when I refused they said, Leave! And see how you make it [on your own].
"I moved [from the house where Shula was murdered] at night, as they would only watch my kids when they were sleeping. There was the blood and imprint on the floor from Shula and red handprints from [my son] Tim trying to wake her up. I was shocked because then I got [the] IRFER'S Beware [Mo letter]. The final blow.
"My life was broken in half when that happened. When [David Berg] wrote that letter I thought, I'm abandoned and have no one. No one understands.
"No one was there. I was on my own [...] in a very trying time. My own father newer called me back [...] he might have been worried I would want to ask for help with my three kids [...] I've [dealt] with this all of my life. My [in-laws attacked] me and gave me an [ultimatum] to leave. I think they held me partly responsible for the death of their daughter and wanted to try to get the kids. When I told them I wouldn't consider a foster home they [told me to] "get out." I left and moved out by myself. [...] It was hard moving from the murder scene but God gave me the grace. [...] In the evenings after my kids went to sleep [at about 9.30pm], as [no one would] help watch them [...] I could go start moving. [...] My own Dad [had] let me down, I had no relatives or mother [and] then I got [the] IRFER'S BEWARE [Mo letter]. I felt [completely] lost and forsaken by everything in my life."
The significance of this Mo Letter
Many consider this letter to clearly typify the intimidation and abuse Berg practiced, using his MO letters.
After the staged "disbanding"  of the Children of God during the RNR in 1978, for a brief period, members seemed free to choose their level of involvement with the group. Berg had advised members to return home and take up jobs. [2,3,4]
TRFers pledged 10% of their income, filled in a monthly TRF (Tithe Report Form), received all DO (Disciples Only--for secret internal use) publications, and were privy to all inner workings of the group. IRFers sent in a monthly donation of any amount, used the monthly IRF (Independent Report Form), and received complementary copies of GP (General Public) and DFO (Disciples and Friends Only) material, but were considered associate members and no longer privy to the inner movement or writings of the organization.
Many members, facing difficulties on being asked to return home and take up jobs, without employable skills and having been out of the job market for years, opted for being IRFers.
Apparently, Berg did not have much regard for IRFers.
When an IRF member was brutally murdered, and another IRF member wrote asking for help, Berg used the opportunity to convert all his followers to TRFers. After this point in 1980, members were either in or out, either "110%ers" or spiritually diseased and disobedient backsliders.
Can a "prophet" get it all wrong?
Berg acted like everything depended on his assessments, and the truth not only could, but had to be determined by him -- whatever he said about it would be a direct revelation from God about what really happened.
Although Berg tries to cover himself by saying he needs to know more details about the whole story in order to make a correct assessment, he ventures very far with his assumptions. He builds on these assumptions and adds the absolute certainty of his opinion and reminds his followers of his self-proclaimed divine authority of hearing directly from God. In the end, he has created a fully conclusive and damning scenario, complete with intimate knowledge and details of people he had never met nor previously heard about before. With no doubt in his mind that he is correct, Berg publishes his suppositions regardless of whether he confirms them to be true. In fact, he predicts that the truth of this letter will shock members and make them tithe.
Later eyewitness reports indicate that the family were nothing like what Berg made them out to be. (see Firsthand Reports above) The widowed husband and some IRF members left the group in sadness and disappointment over Berg's uninformed assessment and cruel treatment.
He did not show any sympathy for the victim, nor give any help financial or otherwise to her severely traumatized children and widowed husband. He displayed more interest in dealing with a dead woman's supposed sins, and in helping out the sexual needs of the murderer.
Strangely, Berg's blatant disregard for his own and his outright sympathy for the killer was overlooked by most of his followers. This letter is perhaps a clear manifestation of how well fear and intimidation can work on the weak-minded, on those who are programmed to suspend normal thought patterns and critical thinking capabilities.
It is interesting to note the woman behind the man, Maria (Karen Zerby, current leader of The Family), Berg's common law wife, was largely responsible for egging him on, urging him to believe the worst about the couple.
A paragraph-by-paragraph analysis
Berg has little sympathy for the bereaved father. He belittles his feelings and comments that "he should be able to get lots of other girls." The "love prophet" is aloof and displays a severe lack of sensitivity - for men, girls are easy to come by, no big loss.
Paragraphs 6 - 8:
Berg uses bible verses to get out of helping the couple in any way, and is not willing to help the children either. Why should the COG/Family help them? He explains how they are not truly "widows indeed," somehow using bible verses out of I Timothy 5 to make this claim:
"Honour widows that are widows indeed" and "If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed."
Berg exerts that the victim's family will take good care of the widowed husband and the children. However, in May and June 2002, Matt Keeper, the widowed husband, writes on exFamily.org's Generation eXers bulletin board that in fact both his and her (the murdered wife's) parents refused to help them in anyway, and he was abandoned and left to fend for himself after being arrested, after the traumatic experience:
Berg begins his tirade on this couple due to the fact that they opted to leave the "field" (any country outside of the U.S.), return to the States and, get a "system" job (work for their own living).
Berg uses the fact that they were not TRFers (sending 10% of their income to Berg/WS) to condemn and belittle the whole family: Since they were not tithing fully (10 %) or serving the Lord "full-time", since he had a "system" job (earning his own living), and since they weren't on the field (anywhere but the U.S.), then, according to Berg, they were not totally in the Will of God.
Members were stunned by this sudden and stark contrast to Bergs directives from a little over a year before, that his followers should go home, go underground, take up jobs. However, they had been conditioned to accept blame.
Berg accuses the family of being "only IRFers" and withholding income from a good job and not tithing.
Maria adds to the bashing with her statement, "You mean the Lord took a collection, huh?" Then Berg takes off and calls them "backsliders" and uses the verse Luke 9:62, to say that they left the field.
Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
In his classic manner, Berg slips in the idea that anything bad that happens is due to our own sins, that God lets things happen for a reason, as a punishment, or a lesson, or because of our disobedience. In this case, the disobedience was not tithing, not being on the field nor obeying the prophet's words.
Many ex-members are still unable to shake off this image of a harsh and punishing God. Such writings have induced debilitating fear and torment in many. Indeed, many testify how such letters made them afraid not to be following Berg's instructions to live as a full-time tithing member.
The crux of the matter - to Berg, her real sin besides not tithing, was that she did not have sex with the rapist. She was stabbed to death only because she resisted having sex, because she had a sin of pride, because she was not obeying the Letters which advocate giving sex freely.
The message is: if you are really a member of The Family, then you will read and obey Berg's letters; you will tithe and FF, and if you don't, there are serious consequences to be had.
Berg, who ordered his followers to go home and take up jobs (see footnotes) now says the couple was out of God's will for leaving the mission field. On top of that, they weren't tithing.
Paragraphs 19 - 21:
To cover his own contradictions, Berg denies responsibility for his actually having given advice to his members through the enactment of the RNR to go home and take up jobs. Now he says only the half-hearted followers would have taken that advice and gone home.
After this letter many members left the United States (or European home countries) and/or jobs and went back to "mission fields" (anywhere but N. American or European countries) in fear, thinking they had displeased God.
Berg says there was something wrong with them spiritually, for not tithing. Berg deduces that it was the woman's lack of willingness to FF (flirty-fish) that has caused her to be murdered. He states that the woman "drove" the man "to rape and murder" her by resisting sex.
He continues to reinforce his earlier points and to display more sympathy for the sexual predator than he does for the victim, the mother of three small children. He bemoans what lies ahead for the poor rapist/murderer.
Berg repeats: God let this happen for a reason -- how could they be back in the U.S. working a good job and not tithing?
Berg further deduces that the murdered woman, being a "backslider"* was probably a bad mother to her kids, which God judged her for. Not only that, but (paragraph 42) she was probably rebellious, stubborn, and had talked her husband into leaving the field.
He reasons that that is why she was killed and not her husband.
Berg now belittles her husband and calls him "a weak sister" who let his wife push him around. In the patriarchal syndrome which Berg was steeped, women were to be ruled by their husbands.
COMMENTS BY MATT, THE HUSBAND:
Matt expresses outrage at what Berg did on June 15, 2002. Extracted from exFamily.org's Generation eXers bulletin board:
Paragraph 26 - 27:
Although Berg is the one who urged his followers to pretend to disband, to go home and take up jobs (see footnotes), he now blames the victim squarely for living in the U.S. and not on the field (anywhere but the U.S.), And especially for not tithing. He suggests God had her removed so the husband could find someone new and better.
Berg states again: it must have been about tithing. There was something wrong with them, or they would not choose to only receive DFO mailings.
Berg states that the children could not be possibly be raised for the Lord with "all those American systemite relatives living around them..." Here is the reinforcement that COG/Family members need to be separate, segregated from relatives or anyone who is not following Berg's teachings.
Besides that, since are living with all those rich "American Systemite" relatives all around them, how could they not tithe?
Paragraphs 30 - 31:
The same points are reinforced over and over:
- God allowed all this to happen because of the woman's sins
- God would have prevented it had she been a good mother
- she was not a good FFer
- she was not loyal to her husband
- she was not tithing
- she was in bad shape spiritually
Reading into things, Berg insists the victim wasn't a good Christian. Again, this is completely contrary to descriptions of people who knew her.
Paragraph 33 - 34:
Berg slips in a disclaimer. To make sure his followers do not think of him as cruel and uncaring, he sends a token "send our sympathies" and "pray for [them]". He puts the responsibility on God. God wouldn't do this without a good reason he says, unless she deserved it or it was to glorify God. This point is repeated over and over again.
Paragraph 35 - 36:
Another classic demonstration of Berg and Maria's mind control: Maria (Karen Zerby, current leader of The Family) suggests that they should put out their conclusive damning version of events to members, who will then answer with feedback, the feedback they want to hearto confirm they were backsliders who left the "field", that they couldn't possibly be truly dedicated because they weren't tithing; and not tithing means they are backsliders.
Under these strict terms and narrow conditions for hearing only what they wanted to hear, it would have been unlikely any members would have dared to cross Berg and disagree with him.
Paragraph 37 - 38:
Berg says it is wrong to get his Mo letters without paying for them. Whatever they do, it is wrong for them not to at least give 10% of their income.
Berg asks again, how they could read the Mo letters and not tithe. Maria suggests the answer: the couple receives their token mailings only to be critical and to find fault with Berg and/or the Family (of Love).
Another clearly reinforced doctrine: no stepping down is allowed. Members may not change their minds and decide to limit their involvement with The Family (of Love). Moving away from being concerned with the inner workings and activities means there is something spiritually wrong with the members.
Using more mind control techniques, Maria seems to get into the future and speaks about the present (1980) in past tense, saying Mo letters such as these are what helped disciples to start tithing.
Here, in a classic "I've-done-your-thinking-for-you" pre-emptive conclusion for the readers, Berg and Zerby claim that Mo letters such as this one caused many disciples to return to the "field" and start tithing.
This is the pre-determined conclusion members are to reachthey are to derive from reading Berg and Zerby's hideously cruel assessments that this was yet another testimony of God using the Mo letters
Paragraph 41 - 43:
Berg suggests the victim was rebellious. One can certainly understand why God let it happenafter all, she resisted rape and made the rapist have to kill her; and worse, she probably forced her husband not to tithe.
Berg finally admits he feels sorry for the murderer whose life is now ruined, because the victim rejected him sexually. Berg is clear on this she was murdered because it was her fault.
Paragraph 45 - 46:
Berg is basically saying that God will protect Family members for following Berg - nothing like that will happen to true disciple. He is also saying that outside of this, members are not in God's will, and God will allow very bad things to happen to them. He states that God takes a collection if you're not willing to give your life, your time, your money, your children, your body for the Lord - God will take everything.
Paragraph 48 - 50
Berg warns again, not tithing means you aren't whole-hearted, and God will punish.
Berg asks again, how anyone could receive the token IRF mailings, and not want to give 10% of their income.
He states that God will take the maximum (your life) if you don't give the minimum required 10% of your income.
Paragraph 51 - 53:
The message in a gist: God let it happen because there was something wrong with the couple. She's the one who was most of the problem. He should move on and get another wife who will encourage him to tithe.
Berg concludes again: this was a good thing for the husband
Now Berg literally deduces from the weather and time of year, that the husband worked at a good job for a big corporation. So why wasn't he tithing?
Berg sets the criteria for determining the circumstances around her death. If there is no witness involved in her death, then she must have gotten what she deserved because she withheld. He says he is absolutely certain of this fact.
Berg calls the victim, a woman he didn't personally know, a disobedient backslidden halfhearted mother. Worse, they weren't even 10% hearted, because they didn't tithe 10% of their income. The emphasis is clearly about money -- they didn't give enough of their money to Berg. Maria eggs him on.
Paragraph 58 - 59:
In a brief backing down Berg says, "to be fair" he would have to hear from people who knew the family. But that was only a brief moment. Berg resumes his attack.
It seems Berg expects that what he has said cannot possibly be far from the truth at all, and he expects it will all be confirmed as the feedback rolls in.
Berg is not sympathetic. The widowed husband and the children, he insists, will get help from their relatives -- he has heard it from God -- they will not suffer; they are after all, not truly "widows indeed".
Completely contrary to the summation of the "prophet", the testimony of several ex-members (including the widowed husband), is that the widowed husband's relatives and his in-laws all turned their backs on the him and the children, first believing that it was his fault. The husband in fact, did not seem to have any support from relatives at all, and was extremely hurt when even Berg turned The Family (of Love) against him. (See Firsthand Reports above)
Berg uses bible verses to implore his followers to sell what they have and "give to the poor", to wait for their treasure (rewards) in heaven.
Tragically, this is not about the widowed husband and children - they are not the "poor" - Berg has determined that by now.
These verses are all about living as a TRFer and tithing your income to Berg.
the stated and obvious motivation
The title of this Mo letter reads "IRFers Beware - If you fail to tithe God will take a collection".
A brutal murder had happened. In desperation, help is requested. It is denied. Why should Berg or The Family (of Love) be responsible to help or be sympathetic? According to Berg: the victims are to blame; the victim wasn't a good FFer; the husband was weak; and most of all, they weren't tithing. The emphasis was on tithing -- "If you fail to tithe God will take a collection." The message is clear -- Don't tithe, and God will kill you.
In 1978, Berg had instructed his followers to stage a disbanding , to go home en masse  to their families for Christmas , to go underground, and to take up jobs . Berg had begun to feel the full effects of COG members' obedience to his orders to stop street-litnessing (selling literature) and go underground. In May 1979, he was already looking for someone to blame:
"Our World income is off over 25% this year! Who is to blame?--Are you?--It cannot be altogether the reorganisation, the Homegoing & the persecution." ("Eleven Years of Family History!", ML 791, May, 1979)
Read between the lines and you will notice several classic Berg teachings:
To this day, The Family has not acknowledged its mistakes nor accounted for publishing such literature of a libelous and tortuous nature, nor admitted to Berg's true motives for producing such a harsh analysis of the situation, nor apologized to Matt Keeper for defamation of his character, nor recanted its harsh words against him and his murdered wife, nor taken into account the pain it inflicted on the immediate relatives of the murdered woman. In addition to these injurious writings circulated by The Family, Matt Keeper has been deeply wounded by the treatment of its members who, under the influence and directives of its leaders--the founder David Berg and Maria (Karen Zerby, the current leader) believed Berg's assessments to be completely true and supressed any factual information to the contrary. No reparation or settlement has been claimed nor offered.
Sara S, Matt Keeper's step daughter writes of him:
Material on this page is © 2002-2009, exFamily.org where applicable