Children: Soft On Parents
A $1.1 million libel suit against parents of some members of the controversial Children of God group was dropped in Dallas by the COG with the explanation that it was taking too much time away from evangelism. The suit, filed last January, alleged that during a demonstration outside the Dallas Federal Building in October, 1971, the parents slandered the COG by claiming it is a subversive group, kidnaps young persons, drugs and hypnotizes them, and is part of a racket to extort money from converts.
The suit named the parents “individually and in their capacity as members of the Parents Committee to Free Our Sons and Daughters from the Children of God Organization” (FREECOG). COG spokesmen said the parents’ efforts to discredit the COG were futile, “evidenced by the fact that the Children of God continue to grow and prosper in their work.”
But, says FREECOG spokesman Ted Patrick, COG gave up only after FREECOG issued subpoenas requiring both the appearance of COG founder David “Moses” Berg (who has been in hiding overseas for several years) and the handing over of COG records.
Theology In Court
A Houston jury gave custody of two young brothers to their father after he testified that his ex-wife’s religious beliefs have harmed the boys’ health. Bizarre dietary practices and medical restrictions were cited. The mother is said to be a member of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God. The father, divorced in 1969, has broken with the group. The original settlement gave the mother custody and the father visiting privileges.
Five expense-paid rocky Mountain retreats for 900 POW-MIA families, sponsored by astronaut-evangelist James Irwin, have revealed deep-set adjustment problems beneath the hearty, happy exteriors shown by the POWs on their return.
The retreats, paid for by Irwin’s evangelistic association, High Flight, reportedly cost $250,000. (Irwin took out a $25,000 mortgage on his house and got donations from friends but apparently still has nearly $200,000 in unpaid bills.) The week-long sessions took place at a 3,000-acre ranch near Granby, Colorado, and provided entertainment (singer Norma Zimmer), recreation (fishing, hiking, horseback riding), and well-attended consultations with preachers, family counselors, psychiatrists, and attorneys.
Said Irwin’s associate evangelist, William Rittenhouse, of many of the POWs: “[They] had been wined and dined and given everything materially, but [until now] they had received nothing spiritually.”
The nearly 1,100 attending the biennial convention of the 22,000-member Missionary Church, headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana, heard good news. Per capita giving was $350 in 1971 and $386 last year, and attendance was up. The denomination boasts one active missionary overseas for every 143 members at home.
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