David Brandt Berg, known by followers in the controversial Children of God (COG) as Father David or Moses David, died in November at age 75. He remained in hiding for years prior to his death. Berg wrote that his second wife, Maria, will receive his "mantle and anointing" and hear from him from heaven.
In 1969, Berg founded the cog, now called the Family, with followers among former West Coast hippies. The communal group drifted into deviant beliefs, teaching that God approved of unmarried adults having consensual sex. COG members also practiced "flirty fishing," allowing women members to "evangelize" by having sex with nonmembers. The Family says that practice ceased in 1987.
The Family recently returned to the United States (CT, Dec. 14, 1992, p. 42) and now claims 9,000 full-time members in more than 200 communities in 43 countries. The group has been hounded by legal battles in foreign countries over child sex abuse charges, although no convictions have resulted.
Deborah Davis, Berg's daughter, left the Family and wrote a book against it. "They are going to keep going strong with the people they've got in it," Davis predicts, although she believes the group might "lose some of its continuity," noting Maria is not as "radical" or charismatic as Berg.1
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