Ex-COG members dispute the group’s new image.

Two former high-ranking leaders with the Children of God movement claim their recent infiltration of the organization’s Philippine operations have confirmed their suspicions that the organization is polishing its public image without cleaning up its act.

The Children of God (COG) movement, also known as The Family and widely recognized as an aberrant sect, persists in a widespread deception of its followers and the public, according to allegations made by Ed Priebe and Daniel Welch, former COG leaders, during an interview with CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

Before they bailed out of COG, Priebe and Welch served for years in the COG movement, a radical religious group born during the 1960s, which called on members to forsake their material possessions and live communally. COG members fell into disfavor once official teachings condoning sexual promiscuity became public.

Yet Priebe and Welch, who have now moved into the evangelical mainstream, report they recently pulled off a covert operation in order to gather new information about COG’s future plans.

They say the information they gathered demonstrates that COG:

• Remains an international force;

• Has thrived by selling itself as a mainstream religious group to the spiritually naïve;

• Uses mind control and brainwashing tactics contrary to its newly fashioned public image.

Going Underground

“They have gone so far undergound,” Welch told CT, “and are so secretive and are using so many aliases, that they are still there and still very active.”

Indeed, Steve (all COG members go by a biblical first name only), a Tokyo-based-COG spokesman, gave CT information indicating that the group is active in missionary outreach in 100 countries. While outside observers ...

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