Faith Jones, 44, is the granddaughter of David Berg, the infamous sex cult leader who founded Children of God and encouraged his followers to have sex with children. She details her tormented childhood in a new memoir titled, Sex Cult Nun
Faith Jones recalls how she received her first sexual lesson at age of four when her mother demonstrated erotic stimulation on her father. Her first coloring books at age seven depicted graphic illustrations of intercourse with a fully aroused man, complete with detailed diagrams of genitalia.
Now age 44 and working as a successful attorney, Faith Jones has chronicled her childhood living in the sinister sex cult known as Children of God in a haunting new memoir titled, Sex Cult Nun. The book details life inside the infamous sect and ultimately her escape at the age of 23, when she left behind everything to forge her own path in America.
Born into 'The Family' in 1977 in Hong Kong, Jones was considered cult royalty as the granddaughter of its psychosexual leader, David Berg.
She was raised on an isolated commune in Macao, an island off the coast of China by her father Jonathan, his first wife Esther and her mother, Ruthie.
They prayed for hours every day and read gospel written by her grandfather that preached the 'Law of Love,' which encouraged incestuous relationships with children, family members and fellow cult-members that believed in the impending apocalypse.
Jones' grandfather, David Berg founded the organization in 1968 out of Huntington Beach, California with a ragtag following of 'born again' hippies and young runaways. Eventually his church evolved into the Children of God, which counted 15,000 members worldwide; some of which would go on to become famous actors like River Phoenix and Rose McGowan.
The gospel Berg preached was focused on utter devotion to his teaching about the word of God. In his doctrine, sex was godly and should be encouraged between everyone, including children and adults. For women and girls to say no to a Family member meant being labeled 'unyielding' and going against God.
'Our sex is our service to God,' writes Jones. 'Refusing sex is being hard and selfish, unyielded to God’s will. And our absolute obedience is expected.'
Founded in 1968, the Children of God eventually grew to 15,000 members that lived in hundreds of communes worldwide. Members did not work - or educate their children. They believed and prepared for an apocalypse and partook in zealous proselytizing
Born into 'The Family' in 1977 in Hong Kong, Jones was considered cult royalty as the granddaughter of its psychosexual leader, David Berg. She was raised on an isolated commune in Macao, an island off the coast of China
Faith Jones was raised with siblings by her father Jonathan, his first wife Esther (right) and her mother, Ruthie (left)
Jones' grandfather, David Brandt Berg (also known as King David, Mo, Moses David, Father David, Dad, or Grandpa to followers) founded Children of God in 1968 out of Huntington Beach, California
Female disciples conducted 'Flirty Fishing,' a proselytizing technique used sex as bait to entice men (fish) to 'come to Jesus' and also provide donations to support the organization financially.
Faith Jones' absorbing memoir details her abusive childhood growing up in the Children of God sex cult where members were encouraged to have sexual relationships with children
Berg was an elusive leader, hiding his whereabouts and communicating his beliefs with followers mostly through illustrated newsletters - Jones never met her own grandfather.
She recounts how their religious literature was filled with cartoon images of naked women. 'The Holy Spirit of the Trinity,' she said was 'a buxom, hot, horny goddess wearing only a heart-shaped bikini held on with pearl strings.'
Members lived in hundreds of communes around the world 'where women can show as much skin as is allowed in the countries we live in, and they often wear nothing more than a sarong around the house.'
'We want our kids to have a healthy, natural attitude about sex and not think it is something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about,' said Berg. 'Sex is Godly and natural. If we introduce it to the kids at a young age, they won’t have hang-ups about it like we grew up with.'
Jones was a true believer, and tried to pray her way out of her revulsion at the sexual abuse she endured and the punishments she had to go through to be 'rehabilitated' for minor infractions like not smiling enough. She even reports on herself when she is racked with guilt for kissing a 'Systemite' - a non 'Family' member.
One of the pages in Jones' sex-education coloring books showed a baby growing inside a naked flower crown wearing hippie, another showed her giving birth.
'I snickered with pity when I heard that some Systemite kids thought babies were brought by storks or grew in cabbages. How could they be so stupid? Babies come from sex,' wrote Jones.
Faith Jones left the cult when she was 23-years-old and attended Georgetown University and Berkley Law School. Today, she is a successful attorney and business strategist who encourages women to find their voice and says the book has allowed her to 'write a new story'
The cult's dogma borrowed from various beliefs like communism, which meant that nobody was allowed any personal property of their own, 'not even their own bodies'
Faith Jones (far right) poses with her siblings. As a child, her family moved around to various countries like Japan, Kazakhstan, Thailand and the US
Jones recalls (bottom center) how she received her first sexual lesson at age of four when her mother demonstrated erotic stimulation on her father. Her first coloring books at age seven depicted graphic illustrations of intercourse with a fully aroused man, complete with detailed diagrams of genitalia
She discusses the slow indoctrination that took root in her mother. 'It wasn't a sex cult when she joined,' explained Jones to Salon. 'It was this biblical missionary group that was out to save the world. It demanded extreme sacrifice and loyalty from its followers.' The sex stuff came a few years later and was seeded slowly in the gospel.
One of Berg's newsletters fondly described his own early sexual encounters with his au pair 'as an example of good parenting.' When he was just a few years old, said Jones, 'his South American nanny used to put him down for his nap by sucking on his penie.'
Oftentimes he would explicitly describe his sexual preferences and recalled that one thing he regretted was that he never slept with his mother.
Jones, like her parents and everyone else in their peripatetic community, was expected to be obedient and to distrust outsiders. They would move several times throughout her childhood – including Thailand, the US, Japan and Kazakhstan, at times with her family but often without.
Overtime Jones began to see a world outside of the cult, through clandestine novels like 'The Secret Garden.' After briefly attending school in America she takes her own self-education seriously.
'Sex and sexuality were our gifts, not our shame, and sharing them was not optional,' wrote Jones. 'No one discussed power imbalances, exploitation, or rape.' Above, she is pictured as a little girl holding religious literature that was made to teach children about sex
Faith Jones explained how photos of bare-breasted women adorned her grandfather's monthly newsletters that were read like gospel. 'Instead of covering up, women can show as much skin as is allowed in the countries we live in, and they often wear nothing more than a sarong around the house,' she recalled. 'Our sex is our service to God. Refusing sex is being hard and selfish, unyielded to God’s will. And our absolute obedience is expected'
Overtime Jones began to see a world outside of the cult, through clandestine novels like 'The Secret Garden.' After briefly attending school in America she takes her own self-education seriously
'Even after recognizing what had happened to me, I did not think of myself as a victim. That wasn't the role I wanted,' Jones told Salon. 'That wasn't the part I wanted to play. I could say, "This bad thing happened to me, but here I am taking control of my life''
At 23, she decided to go to college, and inform The Family that she is leaving. Even though she has little formal education, her experience growing up in six countries and learning three languages gets her a scholarship for Georgetown University and later, Berkeley Law School
There was no dramatic exit for Jones. At 23, she decided to go to college, and inform The Family that she is leaving. Even though she has little formal education, her experience growing up in six countries and learning three languages gets her a scholarship for Georgetown University and later, Berkeley Law School.
It took a long time for her to fully grasp how indoctrinated she was by the Children of God. When she does, she questions how her parents could have put her through such abuse. They experienced life outside the cult, she was born into it. Ultimately, she realized they were victims too.
'Lies aren´t always intentional... you don´t have to be conscious that you´re doing something wrong to be wrong. Abusers can believe they are acting out of `love,' she writes.
'The guise of love and freedom and nature is a beautiful smoke screen that often masks violations and manipulation.'
Several celebrities are known to be former members including Rose McGowan, who was born into the cult's commune in Florence, Italy, before her family fled when she was nine. Joaquin and River Phoenix likewise were part of the Children of God's branch in Venezuela before the family escaped, aboard a cargo ship to Miami
Who are the Children of God?
The Children of God sect was founded in 1968 by minister David Brandt Berg.
Berg spent much of the 1960s traveling to different churches near his home in with his own kids, singing hymns and 'spreading the word of God', before the family to Huntington, California, in 1967 where he set up a coffee shop, and began preaching to customers.
Originally known as Teens of Christ, Berg soon changed the name to Children of God in the hopes of appealing to a wider crowd that included vulnerable youths looking for a support and comfort.
By targeting these groups, Berg was able to quickly expand his 'religion' and by 1969, he had more than 50 members in his 'family'.
Soon after, the Children of God left Huntington and began traveling once again, expanding their ranks to include more than 200 people over the following eight months.
Communes were soon set up around the world, with members moving in together to form their own 'families' of Children of God converts - and by 1972, there were 130 'communities' of full-time members around the globe.
The Children of God were asked to give up their jobs and devote themselves full time to preaching Berg's teachings and proselytizing for additional members - while Berg himself lived in seclusion, sharing his prophecies through written letters known as 'MO's Letters'.
But while on the outside, the group claimed to be spreading the world of God - and of Berg - internally, members were encouraged to partake in incestuous sexual relationships with minors.
In 1976, female members began being urged to take part in a practice known as 'flirty fishing', which saw them forced to 'show God's love' by having sexual relations with potential members in order to lure them into the group as full-time converts.
Following Berg's death in October 1994, the group - which had, by then, rebranded itself as The Family of Love, then The Family - was taken over by long-time member Karen Zerby.
In 2004, the group's name was changed to The Family International.
Hollywood actors Rose McGowan and Joaquin Phoenix have both shared details of their own early childhood experiences in the sect.