INDIGNEZ-VOUS! GET ANGRY! CRY OUT! It is only natural to question the reasons for the failure of our societies. When you live in a society that is malfunctional, the very first reaction is be outraged. - Stéphane Hessel 'All for ourselves and nothing for other people' seems in every age of the world to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. -Adam Smith "All the 'truth' in the world adds up to one big lie." Bob Dylan "Idealism precedes experience, cynicism follows it." Anon

November 2, 2011

Secret letter claims Family International leader caused deadliest air crash in history

Chain The Dogma     November 2, 2011


Secret letter claims Family International leader caused deadliest air crash in history

He praised God for the death of nearly 600 innocent people

by Perry Bulwer

In May 2011, a news report of a deranged person who committed a horrific murder caught my attention. I usually avoid such crime stories, put off by the sensationalism and gruesome details which often accompany those reports. This time, however, a provocative headline proved too much for me to resist. That headline was in the online edition of the British tabloid, The Daily Mail, and read: "Why was he on the streets? The 'prophet of God' who decapitated British woman in Tenerife was a violent character known for attacking passers-by"

It was not the gruesome decapitation that drew my attention, although I suspect the editors included that detail in the headline for exactly that reason. I scan newspaper headlines from around the world on a daily basis, so I frequently encounter similar articles, or hear about them on broadcast news, but rarely pay much attention to them. A common feature of many of these types of homicides or violent assaults committed by persons with severe mental disorders is the claim that they were acting on the directions of God.  That link between psychosis and religious faith  does interest me, however, so it was the juxtaposition of 'prophet of God' and 'Tenerife' in the headline that caught my curiosity as I recalled another psychotic foreigner living in Tenerife who claimed to be God's final prophet before Jesus' return in 1993.

Although that deluded cult leader, David Berg, did not actually kill anyone himself, death threats against his enemies are scattered throughout his writings, and he claimed in secret letters to his followers that his curses and prayers caused the deadliest aviation disaster in history.  He praised God for killing nearly 600 innocent people and considered the disaster proof of his exclusive, direct connection to God. He even published a comic based on those letters for the specific purpose of indoctrinating the group's children with 'proof' that he was God's prophet. But despite the group's efforts to cover-up  the ugly truths about Berg and his hateful extremism by attempting to destroy all copies of those letters, comics and many others just like them, I tracked down hard copies of some of those purged publications in order to further expose the morally degenerate mind of the man behind The Family International. (see the end of this article)

David Berg, who died in 1994, was the founder and self-proclaimed prophet of the Children of God, now known as The Family International. He fled the U.S., along with the group's current co-leader, Karen Zerby,  in 1974 just as the New York Attorney General was about to release a damning report on his cult's activities there. While hiding in England,  the corrupt couple experimented with new sexual doctrines, both as a means to justify their own licentiousness and to devise a new method of undercover or clandestine proselytizing, which would come in useful for the group in countries where evangelizing is forbidden or restricted. In this instance, 'under the covers' also has a literal meaning, because the new recruitment technique involved the sexual seduction of potential members and supporters. It became known as Flirty Fishing,  a reference to Jesus' call to his disciples to be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19). Berg introduced the new doctrine to regular members very cautiously at first, suggesting it was the ultimate altruistic act to save souls, next to martyrdom, but it didn't take long to degenerate into religious prostitution.

After fine tuning Flirty Fishing in England, the demented duo set off for Tenerife in the Canary Islands and immediately began their sexual seductions in hotels and nightclubs. Flirty Fishing quickly became so lucrative that they called for dozens of God's Whores  to join them. As a fugitive from justice, Berg had remained until this time a recluse even from most of his own followers, but in Tenerife he was emboldened by the success of Flirty Fishing. In England, Berg and Zerby had remained incognito while practising this perversion, but in Tenerife he behaved more like a flamboyant pimp, appearing in clubs every night surrounded by a harem of 'hookers for Jesus'. Berg mistakenly believed he was winning powerful friends who could support and protect them, but civic and church authorities soon became concerned with their flagrant behaviour. It didn't take long for journalists to discover the scandal. The German magazine Stern, Spain's Interviu, and Time  all published articles that included a photo of Berg surrounded by a dozen or so of his Heaven's Harlots.  It was the first time most of his followers had ever seen any photo of him, let alone a current one.



David Berg (Moses David) with a bevy of Flirty Fishers in Tenerife, 1977. This photo, possibly first published in the German magazine Stern, has also appeared in Time magazine, Rolling Stone, and Deborah Davis' book. Karen Zerby (Mama Maria), current leader of The Family, is holding Berg's left hand.


A 1978 Newsweek article  on the Children of God reported that

... on the island of Tenerife, COG women were accused of taking prospective recruits to bed. When local prostitutes complained of the competition, Berg reportedly put a curse on the island-and shortly after that, the worst accident in airline history took 583 lives on the runway at Tenerife.
While it is true that Berg did curse the island and several days later the air disaster occurred, complaints by local prostitutes were not the reason he cursed, then fled Tenerife. The Stern article, cited by Time, accurately reported the real reason Berg escaped the island: he was being investigated by judicial authorities. His own writings, which the group later attempted to completely destroy, prove that.

Berg did make an initial court appearance before he fled Tenerife, which was unusual since he preferred to hide from legal authorities and taught his followers to do the same. Here is an example of that in a letter he wrote to them in 1979 titled, Flee,  which was later censored by the group as indicated by [deleted] in the text.

3. WHEN THE SYSTEM IS OUT TO GET YOU, YOU CANNOT FIGHT THEM. IT'S RIDICULOUS! ALL YOU CAN DO IS FLEE! The Lord Himself said so. (Mt.10:23.) He didn't say hang in there & fight it out & defend yourself, did He?

28. LET ME TELL YOU, I KNEW [DELETED] IN TENERIFE that they weren't going to quit, they weren't going to stop there, & I got out while the getting was good! [DELETED]

29. GOD HAD TO GIVE ME A DEFINITE WARNING TO MOVE & MOVE FAST! [DELETED] Now what do you want to do, just sit there & wait for them to come? Some of you are just sitting there waiting for trouble! That's how crazy people can get it they don't listen to the Lord! Once you reject the Truth of God's warnings & you don't repent, you don't confess your sin of disobedience & really repent & make things right by packing up & moving on like I've warned you, you're apt to go right off the deep end!

I think Berg only appeared in court because of his growing delusion that he was God's prophet and so would be protected. That court appearance quickly changed his mind, however, as the judge gave him a taste of his own medicine. A day later Berg, who was infamous for violent verbal, emotional and physical abuse of his followers and their children, complained: "I could hardly believe my ears when that Judge started spouting off and shouting at me. It shows it's all a religious controversy." (at par. 14) But earlier, right after that court appearance, his confidence in God's protection had already disappeared as he realized he might be in more trouble than he thought. "It might be better to get out before there is a court order making it impossible for me to leave." (par. 9) That is the real reason he fled Tenerife, not complaints from the local prostitutes.

Those quotations in the previous paragraph are from that secret letter I refer to in the title of this article. That letter was written for followers and associates and was intended, as I said, to demonstrate Berg's power as God's final endtime prophet. The letter's full title is The Wrath of God! On Tenerife and its System's Ugly Face of Tyranny! More Prayers Against Our Enemies and the Results! The picture on the pamphlet depicts God's hand smashing a sword against a passenger jet in a big explosion. The letter was eventually published in a volume of Berg's letters dealing specifically with Flirty Fishing. Neither that volume or the individual letter was meant for the general public. It was an internal letter, therefore secret, and made even more secret by the group's later attempts to purge all publications  that contained incriminating evidence of wrong doing or extremists doctrines such as anti-Semitism.

Although most of the group's publications are archived online on two websites   run by survivors, many dealing with Flirty Fishing are not, including The Wrath of God. However, I have posted the copy I obtained here at the end of this article. When you read the entire letter it becomes quite clear why the group would try to keep it secret. Here are some highlights from the letter, or I should say, lowlights.

The letter consists almost entirely of Berg praying against his enemies, with a bit of commentary thrown in here and there. It starts off with a transcript of the prayer Berg prayed just before going to court. He starts by cursing the judge, asking God to give him lots of sicknesses (in a later prayer he claims the judge is demon possessed; see par. 34). He then moves on to cursing entire cities, praying for their destruction and the destruction of all his enemies. He even asks God to let him watch the destruction of innocent people, citing Old Testament scriptures as authority for such hatred. But Berg was just getting warmed up with that prayer.

In that first prayer, Berg quotes II Chronicles 36:16, and then repeats that in a prayer the day after his court appearance, when he began making plans to flee. "For they have mocked the messengers of God and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people till there was no remedy." When I first read that in preparation for this article, I thought it was a reference to a different biblical event, the one where Elisha, the prophet of God, cursed 42 children for mocking him and a bear came out of the woods and killed them all, which is described in II Kings 2: 23,24. Cult leaders like Elisha and Berg are obviously psychopaths with narcissistic personality disorder. Berg is upset because the people of Tenerife are not taking him and his message seriously, so he curses them all to death. In Berg's second prayer he reiterates his requests for death and destruction of those who opposed his group and their message. This prayer also contains claims of previously answered prayers against Nixon, Reagan, New York City, and California for supposedly persecuting him and his group (see paragraphs 25 to 28). Berg directs those claims at his followers to help convince them of his prophetic powers and links to God, but those claims are ludicrous, not supported by fact, and merely reveal the bruised ego of a rejected narcissist.

Berg's prayers get more vile the deeper into the letter you read. At paragraphs 39 to 44 Berg gets specific, asking God to kill priests, a bishop, a judge and a maid. Paragraph 40 also includes a parenthetic note inserted after the air crash praising God for answering Berg's calls for vengence: "And He did!--The Crash, The Floods, etc. PTL!" There are similar notes scattered through the remaining letter. For example, just five days before the crash Berg prays the same prayers again. He asks God to destroy his enemies before his eyes not only so he could see the destruction, but so the world would know he was a prophet, and to do it soon. The parenthetic note in paragraph 55 reads: "The great air crash occurred only five days later!" Over and over again similar gleeful notes reinforce the notion that Berg's prayers and curses directly caused the worst air crash in history. "I want to see it. I want to hear about it," Berg prays at paragraph 57 in a chilling display of bloodlust.

As I mentioned earlier, this letter and the children's comic based on it were used by Berg and Zerby to reinforce the notion that Berg was God's final endtime prophet. In it Berg repeatedly prays for God to prove that to this followers by answering his prayers. The coincidence of the air crash occurring shortly after Berg's prayers was seen by Berg and Zerby as an opportunity to hammer home the point, so the letter repeats over and over again that the crash was God's answer to prayer. However, there is one element of Berg's prayers that God apparently over looked, though Berg and Zerby were not too concerned about that part. At paragraph 63, Berg prays: "Spare thy children, Lord, and spare the innocent, spare the guiltless." But God didn't spare the innocent, so if God answered Berg's prayers pleading for the destruction of his enemies, why didn't God also answer his prayer to spare innocent, guiltless people? That does not make any sense on any level, whether theological or rational, especially when that God is supposedly loving, compassionate and just. Why would a loving God who answers prayers not answer a prayer to save innocent lives? That kind of critical thinking is just too deep for fundamentalist believers like Berg, Zerby and their followers because it requires doubting and asking the right questions, which they never do. Here is the only comment Berg and Zerby had to say about the deaths of hundreds innocent people in that crash, in a note between paragraphs 76 and 77: "We are sorry for the victims and their families, but who can deny it was the will of God!"

Such heartless arrogance, empty sympathy and bible-based immorality. According to leaders of The Family International, the death of hundreds of innocent people, including children, was God's will because somehow that all-powerful, prayer-answering God was unable to differentiate between the guilty and the innocent on those two airplanes. And what about the 61 people on board the Pan Am plane that survived the disaster? If God spared them, why not spare all the other innocents? I can think of a dozen other related questions, but Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals never ask questions like that, because in their world doubting and questioning God are sins. But believing in biblical literalism always leads to irrational conclusions such as the belief that mass killings and genocides are justified when God commands or causes them. And it also leads to irrational explanations such as the claim that even if innocent children are killed along with their guilty parents, God is actually doing those kids a favour by taking them straight to heaven, or some nonsense like that. Here are two Berg quotations that illustrate that point. The first refers to famines in Africa and the second refers to the genocide of Canaanites in the Old Testament, where Joshua's army slaughters everyone in Jericho, including children: Joshua 6:21

55. I FEEL SORRY FOR ALL THE WOMEN & CHILDREN OVER IN THOSE COUNTRIES THAT ARE STARVING TO DEATH, BUT WHOSE FAULT DO YOU SUPPOSE IT IS? It's probably their men's fault to begin with, & probably the women's fault as well, because they worship false gods & idols & images & the dead & the Devil & are into all kinds of evil practices & cruelty & horrors that the mothers are just as guilty of as the fathers! The only innocent ones in those crowds are their poor little children, & they're better off dead than to live in societies like that with mothers & fathers like that! Maybe that's why the Lord lets them starve to death & it seems to hit the children the hardest & they die the quickest. That's merciful! Thank God! I told you time & again, don't fear death! Don't fear starvation, it's the easiest way in the World to die! It only takes a little while, & you may wish you could die quick. http://www.exfamily.org/pubs/ml/b5/ml2138.shtml

10. AFTER THE WALLS HAD FALLEN DOWN, JOSHUA PUT THE ENTIRE POPULATION TO DEATH, as God's Word had commanded--because they were wicked, filthy, vile people! Some people say, "Oh, my! What a cruel God He must have been in those days!" Well, God knows the earth needed to be cleansed of the horror of those people! If you knew some of the sins that they had--sodomy & so on, which is one of the vilest sins known to mankind ... ,

YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHY GOD HAD TO COMPLETELY WIPE OUT THE POPULATION! Everybody except who? Rahab! Compared to these men of Jericho, even a harlot was a saint! http://www.exfamily.org/pubs/ml/b5/ml1153.shtml

David Berg was referred to by some as the Love Prophet.  He created the immoral doctrines called the Law of Love  and Loving Jesus.  He insisted, as the Bible does, that God is love, and he changed the name of his group to Family of Love at one point.  He claimed that his biblically-based moral system was superior to all others, and yet he has no qualms about celebrating the mass murder or mass starvation of children. And neither do other more mainstream evangelical leaders. For example, Pat Robertson takes great joy in claiming that natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake, that killed thousands of people including children, are God's punishments against evil doers. And here is how another Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, echoes Berg by justifying the slaughter of innocent Canaanite children in Jericho in a recent talk at Oxford that he hoped would be a debate with Richard Dawkins, who "... has consistently refused to debate Craig and branded him a 'deplorable apologist for Genocide' in his Guardian column...."  Here is what Craig wrote about biblical genocide prior to his Oxford talk, as cited by Dawkins:

"But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel's part. In commanding complete destruction of the Canaanites, the Lord says, 'You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods' (Deut 7.3-4). […] God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. […] Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God's grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven's incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives."
And here is what Craig said at that talk, as reported by the Oxford student newspaper:

“However, in a question and answer session near the end of the debate, Craig’s response to the accusation that he approves of Biblical genocide provoked murmurs of disapproval from parts of the audience, and a loud boo from the upper wings.

“There was no racial war here, no command to kill them all,” he initially said, referring to extermination of the Canaanites in the Old Testament, “the command was to drive them out.”

Then Craig said: “But, how could God command that the children be killed, as they are innocent?”

“I would say that God has the right to give and take life as he sees fit. Children die all the time! If you believe in the salvation, as I do, of children, who die, what that meant is that the death of these children meant their salvation. People look at this [genocide] and think life ends at the grave but in fact this was the salvation of these children, who were far better dead…than being raised in this Canaanite culture. “
That is exactly what David Berg taught and The Family International believes, that a just, loving, merciful God kills innocent children in order to save them. That kind of morality is truly immoral.

By the way, in case you are wondering about Flirty Fishing, and whether or not The Family International still practices that form of religious prostitution, it all depends on who you ask. If you ask group leaders and members, they will insist that they formally stopped that years ago. However, you cannot trust anything they say on the matter because they have a well-documented, deeply ingrained habit of lying to outsiders, including to government and legal authorities. (see this article  and the section Deceivers Yet True in this article)

When they claim to have abandoned a doctrine or practice, it usually means that they will take those underground and no longer publicize what they actually believe and do. For example, Berg's writings are extremely anti-Semitic, with bigoted references to Jews being anti-Christ scattered throughout. In all of the censored versions of Berg's letters, all occurrences of the word 'anti-Christ' that do not refer to that specific character described in Revelation are references to Jews and have been [deleted] from the text. However, the current leader of the Family International, Karen Zerby, wrote in 1992 at the height of negative publicity the group was receiving around the world that prompted them to censor their publications: “Of course we’re being a little quiet about the Jews now, but we’re going to come to the place where we’re going to come right out and tell the truth about them.”

I am certain that they have the same attitude towards Flirty Fishing (FFing). Although they claim to no longer practice religious prostitution, it is only because of the negative publicity they received, not because of the various excuses they give or because they no longer believe the practice is scriptural. Here is an official statement from the group's leaders:

In 1987 the Family discontinued FFing to emphasize other means of ministering the Word of God to others, as well as to take advantage of opportunities to reach more people than the very personalized ministry of FFing allowed. At that time as well, the plague of AIDS had begun its rampage through the world—another indication that it was time to reconsider Family policy of allowing sexual interaction outside our communities. Although we no longer practice FFing, we believe the scriptural principles behind the ministry remain sound.

In James Chancellor's, Life in the Family: an oral history of the Children of God, which I critique in this journal article,  Chancellor examines that practice in chapter four. Footnote 8 of that chapter refers to a series of Berg letters that initiated the whole Flirty Fishing (FFing) doctrine and quotes a group spokesperson:

8. These Letters are known as "The King Arthur Series." They are no longer avail­able and cannot be found in any Family home. Noah explained: "We don't do it any­more, so we pulled the King Arthur Letters out of the homes. To be honest, they make such a strong and compelling case for FFing, Father David was afraid if he left them in the homes, people would have a strong desire to continue or begin the FFing ministry again."
And here are some quotations from a Berg letter emphasizing the effectiveness of Flirty Fishing and describing it as likely the only ministry that will still be available to them during the dark days leading up to the return of Jesus, which he predicted would happen in 1993. Since that obviously never happened they have pushed the rapture up by 50 years, leaving plenty of time for Flirty Fishing to be resurrected.

87. JUST BECAUSE IT HASN'T BEEN THE HEADLINE NEWS IN THE FAMILY MAGAZINE & you haven't heard as much about it as you did during the incipient stages of '76--I always remember '76 because that's the year Family of Love got famous in Tenerife, ha! When we finally hit the jackpot & made the headlines FFing with the FOL, we had to leave Tenerife. That's how effective it was! We were winning too many converts--the police, the Guardia Civil, the mayor, the police chiefs, the top representatives of the Bishop, the young people, the college students, the Mafia!

88. WE WERE GETTING EVERYBODY!--AND THE BISHOP WAS GETTING SCARED STIFF! I doubt if he could get stiff at his age, but anyway, he was getting scared & he decided it was time to put a stop to it. It was being too effective, too fruitful & we were getting too many souls, winning too many hearts, winning too many friends as well! So that was when it got started back in those days.

89. YOU HEARD MORE ABOUT IT THEN, WE WROTE MORE LETTERS ABOUT IT, IT WAS MORE IN THE NEWS & maybe you thought since then maybe it's kind of cooled off, maybe so many girls aren't FFing. Maybe some of you girls thought, "Well, maybe I'm a rare exception now, there aren't so many FFing girls anymore & not many FF Homes, maybe FFing is sort of going down the drain & maybe we're not FFing so much anymore, maybe it's not as popular anymore, maybe we're not getting as much results that way, maybe it didn't work out after all!"--You're mistaken!
...
91. SO JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T HEARD AS MUCH ABOUT IT LATELY DOESN'T MEAN IT HASN'T BEEN GOING ON! In fact, it's been going on more than ever & getting more results than ever as the most effective, efficient & fruitful--there's the 3 FFs!--Effective, efficient & fruitful!--Of all the means of witnessing & winning souls that we are practicing! ...
...
100. SO I THINK I'D LIKE TO DECLARE 1982 OUR GREATEST FF YEAR! I believe we're going to have more FFing & greater FFing & more success at FFing now in the coming year & the coming years than ever before as the other doors are closed & you can no longer openly litness anymore, you can no longer openly busk & cafe & park & street sing, etc., anymore, you'll be run off the streets, & the only place you're going to be able to really effectively witness is undercover, under the covers! Amen?

101. I BELIEVE IT IS GOING TO BECOME--IT HAS BECOME ALREADY--OUR MOST EFFUCKTIVE, EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT & FRUITFUL FORM OF WITNESSING! But I believe it is going to become our greatest form of witnessing, probably almost the most numerous form of witnessing as all other doors are closed & you cannot hit the streets anymore, maybe you can't even dare go door-to-door anymore.--There's three doors closed of the 7 Supporters! Out of the 7 Supporters only five are ministries, right? What are they again?--Litnessing, busking--that's all forms of public witness--door-to-door--that's getting more private all the time--Mail Ministry & FFing. That's five witnessing & supporting ministries.
...
106. BUT THERE WILL STILL BE ONE OUTSTANDING POSSIBLE VERY EFFUCKTIVE, EFFECTIVE, EFFICIENT & FRUITFUL SUPPORTIVE MINISTRY LEFT, particularly for you girls! You may be the last witnesses! Revelation 11 didn't say what the sex of those last Two Witnesses was, did it? Maybe all our last witnesses will be women! It didn't say what the sex of all those people were who were caught up in the Rapture, did it? Maybe it will be mostly our girls! Maybe they'll have gotten rid of most of us boys by that time, who knows? Oh, there'll be a lot of powerful rich women who'll want boys too, so I think there'll be some of both sexes, boys--don't worry!

So, just because you have not heard about Flirty Fishing recently, and just because they say they don't do it anymore, does not mean they stopped it. I do not believe that Flirty Fishing was ever completely abandoned. It was simply too lucrative and useful in certain situations. Certainly, they stopped the most overt, flagrant practices, and probably only certain leaders and trusted members continued to practice it far more discreetly so that it could never be discovered by outsiders, but I think Flirty Fishing is like their hatred of Jews. They've learned to stay quiet about what they really believe and do. Furthermore, there are recent signs that Flirty Fishing has been renewed by at least some members. The conditions that Berg describes above that prevent overt public witnessing exist today in many countries. The group's leaders have always lived in luxury from the tithes of members, while many regular members struggle to survive financially. Recent organizational changes have made that scenario even worse, and I have no doubt that some will resurrect Flirty Fishing as a means of support. In fact, I think some have already done that if recent reports are accurate.

For related articles on The Family International on this blog see the left side-bar for a list of all titles. Also, on this page of the Religion and Child Abuse News archive I have links to dozens of newspaper articles on The Family International. see: http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.com/p/family-international.html

UPDATE: November 8, 2011

The text of "The Wrath of God" has now been placed in the archive on exfamily.org at http://www.exfamily.org/pubs/ml/b4/ml0577.shtml  The text is much easier to read there than here, but it does not include the cover illustration. I have removed the text pages here, but have kept the cover illustration. I have also kept the True Komix version here and added the cover page. That page clearly explains that these comics were specifically intended for indoctrinating children. You will notice that the message from Berg and Zerby, who is called Maria in the group, claims that love will solve all the world's problems, including yours. Apparently, they ignored that claim in "The Wrath of God", which teaches the opposite lesson, namely that when authorities try to hold you accountable to society for your actions the best recourse is not to love your enemies but to curse your enemies and God will destroy them.


RELATED ARTICLES ON THIS BLOG:


Folie a deux: the insane prophets of the Seventh-day Adventists and The Family International

From Sex Fiends to Family Values: the LDS and The Family International

The Catholic Church and The Family International: popes and prophets who protect pedophiles

Gaddafi, The Family International and the Antichrist

Kings and Queens of Cults

What do Pat Robertson and The Family International cult have in common?

This Is What Wolves In Sheep's Clothing Look Like


For more links to news and blog articles concerning The Family International, formerly known as the Children of God, see my archive blog at:

13 comments:

  1. Fascinating stuff. I've read "Jesus Freaks" and most of the xFamily website's contents...the COG/Family International story is almost too weird to believe. It shows what happens without reality checks...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Much of conservative religion is like an induced Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    Driven by the pincers of the mytheological heaven and hell . And their personalization in eg the devil satan etc.

    Tbe basis of all OCDs is fear and anxiety, strong enough that it spills over into other areas and creates all kinds of irrational problems.

    For people who have been brought up eg in a household full of fear of diseaases, you end up with children who eg will wash their hands 20 x per day, yet not take a bath once a year.

    the psychiatric and Psychological groups should add conservative religions to the DSM -the recognized list of mental disorders

    And prayer - everyone over and over saying the same thing under the pressure of the group - thats simply hypnotization

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Jerusalem Syndrome: Why Some Religious Tourists Believe They Are the Messiah

    By Chris Nashawaty, Wired February 17, 2012

    Shortly after his 40th birthday, the life of a man we’ll call Ronald Hodge took a strange turn. He still looked pretty good for his age. He had a well-paying job and a devoted wife. Or so he thought. Then, one morning, Hodge’s wife told him she no longer loved him. She moved out the next day. A few weeks later, he was informed that his company was downsizing and that he would be let go. Not knowing where to turn, Hodge started going to church again.

    Even though he’d been raised in an evangelical household, it had been years since Hodge had thought much about God. But now that everything seemed to be falling apart around him, he began attending services every week. Then every day. One night, while lying in bed, he opened the Bible and began reading. He’d been doing this every night since his wife left. And every time he did, he would see the same word staring back at him—the same four syllables that seemed to jump off the page as if they were printed in buzzing neon: Jerusalem. Hodge wasn’t a superstitious man, he didn’t believe in signs, but the frequency of it certainly felt like … something. A week later, he was 30,000 feet over the Atlantic on an El Al jet to Israel.

    When Hodge arrived in Jerusalem, he told the taxi driver to drop him off at the entrance to the Old City. He walked through the ancient, labyrinthine streets until he found a cheap hostel near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He had a feeling that this was important. Supposedly built on top of the spot where Jesus Christ was crucified and three days later rose from the dead, the domed cathedral is the holiest site in Christendom. And Hodge knew that whatever called him to the Holy Land was emanating from there.

    During his first few days in Jerusalem, Hodge rose early and headed straight to the church to pray. He got so lost in meditation that morning would slip into afternoon, afternoon into evening, until one of the bearded priests tapped him on the shoulder and told him it was time to go home. When he returned to his hostel, he would lie in bed unable to sleep. Thoughts raced through his head. Holy thoughts. That’s when Hodge first heard the Voice.

    Actually, heard is the wrong word. He felt it, resonating in his chest. It was like his body had become a giant tuning fork or a dowsing rod. Taking a cue from the sign of the cross that Catholics make when they pray, Hodge decided that if the vibrations came from the right side of his chest, it was the Holy Ghost communicating with him. If he felt them farther down, near the base of his sternum, it was the voice of Jesus. And if he felt the voice humming inside his head, it was the Holy Father, God himself, calling.

    Soon, the vibrations turned into words, commanding him to fast for 40 days and 40 nights. None of this scared him. If anything, he felt a warm, soothing peace wash over him because he was finally being guided.

    Not eating or drinking came easily at first. But after a week or so, the other backpackers at his hostel began to grow concerned. With good reason: Hodge’s clothes were dirty and falling off of him. He had begun to emit a pungent, off-putting funk. He was acting erratically, hallucinating and singing the word Jesus over and over in a high-pitched chirp.

    “Jesus … Jesus … Jesus …”

    Hodge camped out in the hostel’s lobby and began introducing himself to one and all as the Messiah. Eventually, the manager of the hostel couldn’t take it anymore. He didn’t think the American calling himself Jesus was dangerous, but the guy was scaring away customers. Plus, he’d seen this kind of thing before. And he knew there was a man who could help.

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    Herzog Hospital sits on a steep, sun-baked hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Its sprawling grounds are dotted with tall cedars and aromatic olive trees. Five floors below the main level is the office of Pesach Lichtenberg, head of the men’s division of psychiatry at Herzog.

    Lichtenberg is 52 years old and thin, with glasses and a neatly trimmed beard. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, he moved to Israel in 1986 after graduating from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and has worked at Herzog more or less ever since. It’s here that he has become one of the world’s leading experts on the peculiar form of madness that struck Ronald Hodge—a psychiatric phenomenon known as Jerusalem syndrome.

    On a bright, late summer morning, Lichtenberg greets me in the chaotic lobby of the hospital, smiling and extending his hand. “You missed it!” he says. “We had a new Chosen One brought into the ward this morning.” We go down to Lichtenberg’s office; on top of a bookcase is a giant shofar, a curved ram’s horn that religious Jews sound on the high holidays. A middle-aged British man under the doctor’s care had used it to trumpet the Messiah’s—that is to say, his own—coming. Lichtenberg explains that allowing me to meet his latest patient would violate hospital policy, and he can’t discuss ongoing cases. He’ll talk about past patients as long as I agree to de-identify them, as I did with Hodge. “But,” he adds, “that doesn’t mean we can’t try to find a messiah of our own. In a few days, we’ll take a walk around the Old City and maybe we’ll find one for you there.”

    There’s a joke in psychiatry: If you talk to God, it’s called praying; if God talks to you, you’re nuts. In Jerusalem, God seems to be particularly chatty around Easter, Passover, and Christmas—the peak seasons for the syndrome. It affects an estimated 50 to 100 tourists each year, the overwhelming majority of whom are evangelical Christians. Some of these cases simply involve tourists becoming momentarily overwhelmed by the religious history of the Holy City, finding themselves discombobulated after an afternoon at the Wailing Wall or experiencing a tsunami of obsessive thoughts after walking the Stations of the Cross. But more severe cases can lead otherwise normal housewives from Dallas or healthy tool-and-die manufacturers from Toledo to hear the voices of angels or fashion the bedsheets of their hotel rooms into makeshift togas and disappear into the Old City babbling prophecy.

    Lichtenberg estimates that, in two decades at Herzog, the number of false prophets and self-appointed redeemers he has treated is in the low three figures. In other words, if and when the true Messiah does return (or show up for the first time, depending on what you believe), Lichtenberg is in an ideal spot to be the guy who greets Him.

    http://www.wired.com/magazine/tag/god-complex/

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  5. Christian fundamentalist Good News Club promotes genocide of nonbelievers in public schools

    by Mike Daniels, Secular News Daily May 31, 2012

    As if fighting tooth and nail for the right to teach creation myths as scientific fact weren’t bad enough, evangelical Christians are now promoting the genocide of nonbelievers as their god’s will. And teaching it to elementary school kids. Christian jihad, anyone?

    The so-called “Good News Club” is a ministry of Child Evangelism Fellowship. They aren’t shy about their position of promoting evangelical Christianity. From CEF’s own website:

    Each week the teacher presents an exciting Bible lesson using colorful materials from CEF Press®. This action-packed time also includes songs, Scripture memory, a missions story and review games or other activities focused on the lesson’s theme. As with all CEF ministries, the purpose of Good News Club is to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and establish (disciple) them in the Word of God and in a local church for Christian living.

    These “clubs” meet in public schools all over the country–possibly even yours. In Salem, Oregon, the state capital, they meet in public schools in the Salem-Keizer school district. This particular district also graciously hosts the New Life Community Church, an aggressively evangelical organization, at its Bush Elementary School. What does the Good News Club teach? One of the stories is that of Saul and the Amalekites, and it comes early–the second week of the curriculum.

    It’s not a pretty story, and it is often used by people who don’t intend to do pretty things. In the book of 1 Samuel (15:3), God said to Saul: "Now go, attack the Amalekites, and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys." Saul dutifully exterminated the women, the children, the babies and all of the men – but then he spared the king. He also saved some of the tastier looking calves and lambs. God was furious with him for his failure to finish the job. The story of the Amalekites has been used to justify genocide throughout the ages. According to Pennsylvania State University Professor Philip Jenkins, a contributing editor for the American Conservative, the Puritans used this passage when they wanted to get rid of the Native American tribes. Catholics used it against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics. "In Rwanda in 1994, Hutu preachers invoked King Saul’s memory to justify the total slaughter of their Tutsi neighbors," writes Jenkins in his 2011 book, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses. This fall, more than 100,000 American public school children, ranging in age from four to 12, are scheduled to receive instruction in the lessons of Saul and the Amalekites in the comfort of their own public school classrooms. The instruction, which features in the second week of a weekly "Bible study" course, will come from the Good News Club, an after-school program sponsored by a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The aim of the CEF is to convert young children to a fundamentalist form of the Christian faith and recruit their peers to the club.

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    ‘Come now,’ you say, ‘They’re just teaching a Bible story. Nothing wrong with that. It’s not like they’re teaching Numbers 31, the slaughter of the Midianites for the same reason, where God told Moses to let the men “keep as wives” (that is, rape) all the virgin girls. This is a horrible story, sure, but they’re not teaching children that God wants all nonbelievers slaughtered!’ Sure about that, are you?

    In the most recent version of the curriculum, however, the group is quite eager to drive the message home to its elementary school students. The first thing the curriculum makes clear is that if God gives instructions to kill a group of people, you must kill every last one: "You are to go and completely destroy the Amalekites (AM-uh-leck-ites) – people, animals, every living thing. Nothing shall be left." “That was pretty clear, wasn’t it?” the manual tells the teachers to say to the kids. Even more important, the Good News Club wants the children to know, the Amalakites were targeted for destruction on account of their religion, or lack of it. The instruction manual reads: "The Amalekites had heard about Israel’s true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in him. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God had promised punishment.

    What lesson is this teaching children? Two things, actually. First, complete and unquestioning obedience to authority is a virtue. Specifically, obedience to their god who, of course, can only be “heard” through religious leaders who, naturally, would only say things their god told them . . . so they must be obeyed. Second, that anyone who doesn’t believe in their god is worthy of death, and that’s what their god wants. Lots of killing. I seem to recall all manner of outcry from folks about a religion that says exactly this. Which one was it? I can’t quite put my finger on it . . .

    Muhammad said, “If anyone changes his religion, kill him,” and the death penalty for apostasy is still part of Islamic law. Those who choose to leave Islam have to live with a death sentence over the heads for the rest of their lives — even if they live in the U.S. But Muslim “civil rights” organizations whine about “Islamophobia” and never say a word about the human rights of apostates from Islam. -Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch.org

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    If I may paraphrase Robert Spencer, plenty of folks are calling out the atrocities of Islam; why aren’t those same people shrieking about Christianity’s pro-genocide bent? And slaughter of those they don’t like is becoming increasingly popular a message among the Christian right. A couple of weeks ago, North Carolina Baptist pastor Charles Worley told his congregation that all gays and lesbians should be rounded up and kept behind an electrified fence until they die out . . . yes, he advocated for concentration camps. His congregation was not horrified. In fact, they were supportive. Just days later, another Baptist pastor shared his thoughts on the idea. Curtis Knapp of New Hope Baptist in Seneca, Kansas, instead promoted government execution of all homosexuals:

    They should be put to death … Oh, so you’re saying we should go out and start killing them, no?’ — I’m saying the government should. They won’t, but they should. You say, ‘Oh, I can’t believe you, you’re horrible. You’re a backwards neanderthal of a person’. Is that what you’re calling scripture? Is God a neanderthal, backwards in his morality? Is it His word or not? If it’s His word, he commanded it. It’s His idea, not mine. And I’m not ashamed of it. He continued: He said put them to death. Shall the church drag them in? No, I’m not say that. The church has not been given the power of the sort; the government has. But the government ought to [kill them]. You got a better idea? A better idea than God?

    Meanwhile, in a more typical stance of the Christian Right, Truth in Action Ministries is blaming all of America’s ills on the IRS and homosexuality, and demanding that homosexuality be made illegal. Faux historian David Barton, who shaped Texan’s social studies textbooks with his warped “christian nation” nonsense, is in agreement. This is what the Christian Right wants: The removal of anyone who doesn’t obey their leaders. And they’re after your children. Are they in your child’s school?

    Katherine Stewart has written a book about the Good News Club, The Good News Club: The Christian Right’s Stealth Assault on America’s Children. She also has a website which features stories about the Religious Right in America.

    To see the links embedded in this article go to:

    http://www.secularnewsdaily.com/2012/05/christian-fundamentalist-good-news-club-promotes-genocide-of-nonbelievers-in-public-schools/

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  8. Did the Moonies really brainwash millions? Time to dispel a myth

    Eileen Barker, The Guardian UK September 4, 2012

    The death of Sun Myung Moon has brought back to mind the panic that swept through the west in the 1970s and 80s. Moon was just about the last surviving charismatic leader of the "cults" that, it was widely declared, threatened to undermine our civilisation by brainwashing our youth and turning them into zombies prepared to do anything – including mass suicide and murder.

    Apart from Moon and his Unification Church, there was David Berg and his Children of God, who became renowned for their practice of "flirty fishing"; Prabhupada and his International Society for Krishna Consciousness devotees, who could be seen dancing and chanting on the streets; Bhagwan Rajneesh, later called Osho, and his sannyasins; and L Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology – and literally hundreds of other men and women selling their spiritual wares in San Francisco, New York, Montreal, Paris, Tokyo and London.

    Exactly what it was that was on offer varied enormously. But the general public was largely unaware of the differences, informed as it was by sensationalist media themselves fanned by a burgeoning number of so-called "anti-cult groups", which had started as gatherings of concerned relatives but developed into powerful lobbying groups that accumulated all the worrying stories about any one movement (and there were undoubtedly several to gather), and then generalised these into a conventional wisdom about "what all cults do" – forgetting that all these activities could just as easily be found in the traditional religions. Not, of course, that this would make deceptive practices, sexual exploitation or child abuse any less culpable.

    But why were intelligent, well-educated young people joining the movements in droves? One answer was heard more than any other. Our youth had not chosen to convert to a new religion; they had been brainwashed into leaving their universities, abandoning promising careers, and severing ties with their families in order to live in secluded communities, working long hours for their "puppet masters" and, in the case of those who came to be called "Moonies", getting married by a Korean messiah in a mass wedding along with thousands of other couples to someone they had never met before and might not even speak English. Clearly, it was claimed, these were the victims of well nigh irresistible and irreversible mind-control techniques.

    With hindsight, some of our views of these cults need correcting. Although the colourful devotees and sannyasins and the persistent Unificationists were highly visible in public places, people were not joining in anything like the numbers that were being alleged. While estimates of the number of Unificationists in Britain topped a million, there were in fact fewer than 150 in 1976.

    It is true that thousands attended one or other of the residential weekends where the "brainwashing" was said to occur, but 90% did not join as a result. Of those who did, the majority left within a couple of years. Much as the movements tried to persuade people to join their ranks, and much as they would have like to have had greater persuasive powers, they demonstrably did not have access to the irresistible or irreversible techniques they were reputedly wielding.

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    But things have changed. It is not that there are not still thousands of new religious movements to be found around the world – there are. Inform, the government-funded organisation that provides information on minority religions, has on its files over a thousand new religions that are currently active in the UK. But most people would be hard pushed to name more than a handful of these. Why?

    First, since 9/11, the public is now more concerned about Islamic terrorism than about cults. Second, although young (and older) people are still wanting answers to all sorts of questions about God, spirituality, the state of the world and their relations with others, they are less likely to turn to a new religion for their answers.

    Next, the movements themselves have changed quite radically. Those that caught the public's attention during the latter half of the past century (and are now well into a second- or even third-generation membership that is no longer so concerned with recruitment but, more frequently, with getting on in the outside world).

    Then the new ones that have since emerged tend to be more spiritual and far less institutionalised than the earlier movements. The Children of God no longer "flirty fish" [but see my comments at the end of the blog article above]; the vast majority of Krishna devotees are people of Asian origin who have found a place to carry out their traditional worship.

    Most Unificationists now live with their families and work independently of the movement. Those second-generation members that have stayed in the movement (although the majority have left) are likely to be married to someone their parents suggested, often with quite a bit of input from their children.

    Scientology is, perhaps, one of the few "bogey cults" that remains in the public eye, due partly to the number of high-level members who have recently left, and, no doubt, to the high-profile antics of Tom Cruise. Perhaps The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson's acclaimed new film on the origins of Scientology, will provide us with some further understanding of "the cult experience".

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/04/moonies-brainwash-dispel-myth

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  10. Charlie Fuqua, Arkansas Legislative Candidate, Endorses Death Penalty For Rebellious Children In Book

    By John Celock, The Huffington Post October 8, 2012

    Charlie Fuqua, the Republican candidate for the Arkansas House of Representatives who called for expelling Muslims from the United States in his book, also wrote in support for instituting the death penalty for "rebellious children."

    In "God's Law," Fuqua's 2012 book, the candidate wrote that while parents love their children, a process could be set up to allow for the institution of the death penalty for "rebellious children," according to the Arkansas Times. Fuqua, who is anti-abortion, points out that the course of action involved in sentencing a child to death is described in the Bible and would involve judicial approval. While it is unlikely that many parents would seek to have their children killed by the government, Fuqua wrote, such power would serve as a way to stop rebellious children.

    According to the Arkansas Times, Fuqua wrote:

    The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellious children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21:

    This passage does not give parents blanket authority to kill their children. They must follow the proper procedure in order to have the death penalty executed against their children. I cannot think of one instance in the Scripture where parents had their child put to death. Why is this so? Other than the love Christ has for us, there is no greater love then [sic] that of a parent for their child. The last people who would want to see a child put to death would be the parents of the child. Even so, the Scrpture [sic] provides a safe guard to protect children from parents who would wrongly exercise the death penalty against them. Parents are required to bring their children to the gate of the city. The gate of the city was the place where the elders of the city met and made judicial pronouncements. In other words, the parents were required to take their children to a court of law and lay out their case before the proper judicial authority, and let the judicial authority determine if the child should be put to death. I know of many cases of rebellious children, however, I cannot think of one case where I believe that a parent had given up on their child to the point that they would have taken their child to a court of law and asked the court to rule that the child be put to death. Even though this procedure would rarely be used, if it were the law of land, it would give parents authority. Children would know that their parents had authority and it would be a tremendous incentive for children to give proper respect to their parents.

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    In the same book, Fuqua advocated for expelling Muslims from the U.S., saying it would solve what he described as the "Muslim problem." Fuqua, who has been backed by the state GOP and is seeking a comeback, has found himself under attack by Republicans since his comments surfaced at the same time it was reported that state Rep. Jon Hubbard (R-Jonesboro) endorsed slavery in his book. Fuqua told the Associated Press that he was surprised by the reaction to his writings on Muslims.

    "I think my views are fairly well-accepted by most people," Fuqua said to AP.

    Fuqua declined to answer questions from The Huffington Post.

    "I'm not going to talk to you," he said before hanging up.

    On his campaign blog, Fuqua highlights his service on the Children and Families Committee while a member of the Arkansas Legislature in 1997. He also describes liberals and Muslims as the "anti-Christ" and says he believes they are conspiring to create a "bloody revolution."

    "There is a strange alliance between the liberal left and the Muslim religion. It may be that since both are the enemies of Christianity, that they both believe that, my enemy's enemy is my friend," Fuqua writes. "However there are several similarities between the two. Both are antichrist in that they both deny that Jesus is God in the flesh of man, and the savior of mankind. They both also hold that their cause should take over the entire world through violent, bloody, revolution."

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/charlie-fuqua-arkansas-candidate-death-penalty-rebellious-children_n_1948490.html

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  12. Cowabunga! Religion and Comics Connect at Comic-Con

    UC Riverside graduate students to examine religious presence in comics and webcomics at renowned international conference

    By Bettye Miller, University of California Riverside Today JULY 15, 2013

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — American popular culture is filled with religious references, and comics are no exception, three graduate students from the University of California, Riverside will demonstrate at Comic-Con International: San Diego.

    Toby Johnson, Sean Sagan and Cori Knight — all Ph.D. students in the Department of Religious Studies — will present a panel discussion, “What Are We Seeing Here? Negotiating Religious Presence and Purpose in Comics, Comix, and Webcomics,” on Sunday, July 21. The panel is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. and is part of the Comic Arts Conference, which brings the academic study of comics into conversation with comic creators, publishers, and fans. Comic-Con is a four-day conference that celebrates the contributions of comics to American art and culture.

    The trio will present papers exploring: a storyline in which the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles rescue a sacred object of Islam; the role of sexualized comic books in proselytizing efforts of the Children of God/Family International church; and creation stories in the steampunk-themed webcomic “Girl Genius.”

    “Religion pervades American popular culture,” says Knight, who will discuss the way stories about the Heterodyne-created Jägermonsters are written and rewritten in the webcomic ”Girl Genius.” Jägermonsters are a group of characters created by the webcomic’s Heterodyne family and considered to be unthinking, brutal agents of destruction, generations before the time in which the comic is set.

    “Elements of religion are present in television, music, film, and literature,” Knight adds. “Why? And what does the way it is presented tell us about the back and forth between religion and pop culture? … I think it tells us what conversation is taking place.”

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  13. Comic books are another media form that can be used to present, discuss or critique religious ideas, says Toby Johnson.

    “I think it’s especially interesting to see how their presentations are directed to young audiences and serve as introductions to new ideas through these stories,” he explains. “In some cases, comics may even act as instructional texts for young readers, presenting religious material in a form more easily understood.”

    Johnson’s paper, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in Mecca?!? Superheroes in a Religious World: Reflection on a Controversy that Never Was,” explores issues arising from the use of Islam as a backdrop for the Turtles’ adventures, the theological implications of their intrusion into the Islamic worldview, and the use of religion as more than a plot device. The story he analyzes involves the theft of one of Islam’s most holy relics, and contains a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.

    Sagan’s presentation, “And I will Make you Fishers of Men: How the Children of God/Family International church fused Gospel imperatives with sex and comic books,” focuses on the history, beliefs and theologies of the controversial Children of God — now the Family International church — during its peak in the 1970s and its use of comic tracts in both evangelism and intra-group teaching.

    The movement published comic tracts under the label True Komix. Many of those tracts, Sagan explains, featured “highly sexualized language and gendered art which was meant to detail the group’s liberated self-view of sexuality, and justify it through a scriptural interpretation of Matthew 4:19 — ‘And he said unto them, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.’”

    Comics appeal to some religious groups as an exceptionally effective way of imparting information to various audiences, Sagan adds.

    “The balance of text and art captivates the reader and grounds the emotionally evocative elements of the image with the meaning of the written text. Because of their engaging nature, some religious groups and traditions find the comic medium aids them significantly in purposes of outreach, education and the maintenance of religious identity.”

    http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/16322

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