Lord Justice Ward

In April 1981 Berg began the "Fellowship Revolution",
reconstituting the homes under the name 'Family of Love'
since shortened to 'The Family'. There has been much
semantic posturing, much muddying the waters, and much waste
of time over the issue of whether or not the Children of God
still exist. These diversionary tactics were deployed to
obfuscate the real issue which is whether or not the current
leadership are responsible for what happened during the
period up to the RNR, during the interregnum until the
Fellowship Revolution in 1981 and for the organisation since
then. I am totally satisfied that there was a continuous
line of top leadership with David Berg and Maria at the helm
regulating the affairs of the group which despite changes of
name and shape, remained one and the same. The Mo letters
relevant in the early days of the Children of God remained
as relevant after the RNR and they continue to be relevant
today. The name may have changed; various echelons of the
leadership chain may have altered; but the command remained
with Berg, Maria, and his inner cabinet. I find that it was
a disingenuous attempt to distance them from their
responsibility both for what is and for what was. This
abject failure to acknowledge responsibility has diminished
the trust I feel able to place in the leaders of the

Until recently, the leadership structure had Berg at its
head. He died in November 1994, after the conclusion of the
evidence. Maria, who for some years has gradually been
assuming much greater prominence and who has been groomed as
his successor, probably is now in charge. Berg and Maria
were served by 'World Services' (WS), the administrative
branch of which has Peter Amsterdam and Gary as the senior
personnel. The American, Pacific and European Central
Reporting Organisations, the CROs, report to W.S. Josiah
(Paul P.) heads EUCRO (the European Organisation) in "team
work" with Dawn G., Philip and Galileo, and with Lisa having
succeeded Mary Mom as head of the "childcare team work."
They preside over "national shepherds", SPM, being the
national shepherd for the British Isles. There is an
established team work for childcare in the British Isles and
that has been assigned to Heidi, SPM's wife and to JL.
Beneath SPM are various district shepherds, local area
shepherds and home shepherds. They all work "in team work"
and the teams are elected by the members over 16 years old
voting by secret ballot. The purpose of 'team work' is to
spread the burden and responsibility of decision making and
to provide checks and balances against abuse.

Another branch of the main administrative organisation is
the "Creations Department", which disseminates the group's
publications. This department is headed by Apollos (Michael
G.) and Pathway who report directly to Maria. I know little
about the financial management and have some evidence that
the organisation has acquired considerable wealth through
Flirty Fishing, through its publications and recently
through its expanding video ministry. The ordinary homes are
kept in anything but the lap of luxury. Though it is not
material for me to make findings about The Family's wealth,
I am quite satisfied that within the homes in this country,
there is no surplus of money and the members, including
their shepherds, live communally to a physical standard of
comfort which might be perfectly satisfactory and meet the
welfare of the children within the group but it is by no
means lavish.

The present membership of The Family is approximately 12,000
in homes spread across the globe. Berg and Maria withdrew
from the world sometime in about 1970 and their whereabouts
and the whereabouts of World Services and Creations is a
closely guarded secret to which I have not been made privy.
SPM has, however, revealed to me the addresses of the
several homes in England and Wales which addresses shall not
be disclosed without my permission. There are 194 children
below 16 years of age and 101 members 16 years and older in
the British Isles. That SPM should vouchsafe this
information to me is to his credit and I take it into
account in his favour when assessing the degree to which he
can be trusted by the court.

There are various categories of membership. The full members
have access to all the literature much of which is marked DO
for "Disciples Only". The new disciples are the 'babes' who
for a number of months are denied the "strong meat" of the
Mo letters. Catacombers are on their way into the group and
have restricted access to the literature being allowed "the
milk" but not the 'strong meat' which has included some of
the more salacious sexual material. DFers do not wish to
become missionaries but desire some fellowship with the
family and receive a restricted category of literature and
known as the "Daily Food". Another publication, "Love is
News" is available for another category of supporter known
as the LINers. Kings, supporters and provisioning contacts
donate money and provisions. In 1089 The Family introduced
the Turf-Supporter Programme. The TSers are members who were
at one time full disciples but no longer live in a Family
home. They no longer receive the DO literature but receive
DFO material ("Disciples and Friends") as well as GP
("General Public") publications. Mr Barton submits, I find
persuasively, that the fact that The Family have encouraged
this "pressure valve" to allow those not able to make the
necessary commitment to remain in some fellowship with the
main body is compelling evidence that this is not a
pernicious cult.


Not all who leave The Family show intense hostility to them.
Of course some are embittered by their experiences but
others feel nostalgia and affection for the good aspects of
life in the community. The expert evidence satisfies me that
the majority look back more in sorrow than in anger. On the
other hand, there is a vociferous minority who, no doubt
with good cause, are deeply antagonistic. Many are involved
in or used by the anti-cult organisations. I have become
acutely aware of the violent, almost paranoid, mutual
hostility and fear between some of these organisations and
The Family. Because of the passions aroused, I have been on
guard against attempts to deceive me by distortion and
exaggeration of the truth. I am alive to the possibility
that there has been a cross-fertilisation of the evidence so
that hearsay evidence has been falsely dressed up in the
guise of personal experience. It is plain that the Plaintiff
has had the support of the anti-cult movement in procuring a
considerable body of the documentary evidence which has been
placed before me. At the end of the day there is very little
live challenge to the authenticity of that evidence even if
the manner in which it was obtained is open to question. The
suggestion is made on behalf of The Family that the
Plaintiff is a mere tool and dupe of the anti-cult movement.
I reject that submission. She is a remarkably strong and
determined lady who, having embarked upon this campaign has
carried it through when many lesser individuals would have
folded under the strain. NT is no less obdurate and her
love/hate relationship with her mother is a demonstration of
the observation I make that whilst there is much about both
of these ladies which commands my admiration and my respect,
each of them in their way and particularly in their dealings
with each other, can be jolly difficult!


As I have already made clear there is not and there never
has been any attack at all upon NT's ability to provide
proper physical care and to give all proper love and
affection to her son. If the child is to be removed from her
care, it is only because of her adherence to The Family and
because the practices of The Family are harmful to this
child. The issues have changed form and substance since the
inception of the proceedings. The initial complaints were of
sexual improprieties and brain-washing. Happily I was able
to contain the latter issue and eventually remove it
altogether from the forensic arena, no doubt to the dismay
to the anti-cult movement and perhaps to the plethora of
experts who would have placed their great learning before me
but left me not much the wiser for it.

As more information came to light the scope of the enquiry
expanded into issues of education, medical neglect,
isolation both from the outside world and from members of
the natural family. Still later and indeed even as the
evidence was unfolding, the spotlight turned to the methods
of control, physical and emotional, deployed by The Family
on the errant members, adult and child.

I refused an application by several members of the home in
which NT lives to be joined as individual parties because
they considered my decision might impinge upon their
children. The Family as an entity of its own is not a party.
I feel in no way precluded from making findings of fact
about The Family, their creed and their practice for I am
quite satisfied that NT and they have had every opportunity
to lay before me whatever evidence they would have wished.
The reality is that to all intents and purposes they have
controlled the litigation. The recent literature is littered
with examples of the keen involvement of Berg, Maria and
World Services in all aspects of this litigation. SPM has
sworn 11 affidavits and answered interrogatories on oath. I
have over 250 pages of written testimony from him and the
material exhibited to his affidavits runs to some 500 pages.
His last affidavit placed before me a letter from Peter
Amsterdam with numerous annexures and Peter Amsterdam writes
that "Senior leadership, including Father David, have read,
made additions to and agreed with all of this material." I
made it abundantly plain that I would have derived great
help from hearing Peter Amsterdam whose unsworn testimony
does not carry great weight, being in the nature of hearsay
evidence untested by cross-examination. He was offered every
opportunity to come to give evidence and be cross-examined
and I assured him every protection should he have done so.
He declined. It was an unwise decision for he must have
known the importance of a senior member of The Family
attending to allay my fears and to set the record straight.
He surely appreciated that he laid himself open to
legitimate fair comment that he must have something to hide.
It is equally noteworthy that the leaders on the EUCRO
teamwork and childcare Heidi were conspicuous by their

I have taken a long time to prepare this judgment and I am
embarrassed and extremely sorry for the delay. I felt it
necessary to read and re-read the evidence with an open mind
uncontaminated by the lurid features of The Family's past.
There are more than 10,000 pages of often closely typed
written evidence, about 6000 pages of which were introduced
in random order during the course of the hearing. I have
looked back carefully over over 2000 pages of my own notes
of the oral evidence. The written arguments submitted by all
counsel were lengthy but invaluable. That all took time but
it was an essential task. I confess I have not found the
reading or the deciding easy. I knew the case would be
difficult from the moment it started. I only reached a clear
conclusion after completing this re-reading during the long
vacation. I am very grateful to the President of the Family
Division - and to the Clerk of the Rules - for giving me
some time off but it was not enough for me to complete the
task. Ordinary judicial duties in London, on circuit and in
the Court of Appeal eat into spare time. Since hardly a page
of this judgment is drawn from any one source, I have had to
have constant access to 15 notebooks and 25 various
ring-binders of evidence, submissions and notes. So it was
hardly possible to dash off a sentence here and there!

The order in which I have approached my task is to remind
myself of the basic theme of the law, to identify the issues
in dispute, make findings of fact of matters past and
present, assess future risks ,and, having directed myself
more fully as to the law, to reach a conclusion.


My duty is clear. Section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989

"When a Court determines any question with respect to the
upbringing of a child ... the child's welfare shall be the
Court's paramount consideration."

Among the circumstances to which I am required to have
regard by virtue of Section 1(3) of the Act are whether the
child is at risk of suffering any harm and how capable not
only his parents, but any other person in relation to whom
the Court considers the question to be relevant is of
meeting the child's physical, emotional and educational

The mother wishes to continue to live within the group with
the result that the child will come into contact with and
will from time to time be in the care of other members of
the group who will come and go. In order to assess the risk
of harm to this boy I have to assess the risk of harm to a
child being brought up within the Family. To assess the risk
of future harm, I must first make findings of fact as to any
harm which has in the past befallen children living in the
Family. The law is clear that all matters of fact must be
established on a balance of probabilities but the more
serious the allegation the more convincing is the evidence
needed to tip the balance in respect of it: See Re M (1994)
1FLR 67, Re W (1994) 1 FLR, and most recently Re H & R,
Court of Appeal 14th December 1994. When assessing the risk
of future harm I need to be satisfied that there is a real
and substantial risk of harm, not a fanciful speculative
risk. See H v H (Minor) (Child Abuse:) (1990) Fam 86.

The Disputed Issues

I categorise them under these headings:-

(1) An assessment of the Family

(2) Sexually inappropriate conduct

(3) Medical neglect

(4) Impairment of educational development

(5) Impairment of emotional, social or behavioural

(6) Physical ill-treatment.

(7) Changes made and likely to be made.


I have had perforce to look back over 25 years of The
Family's history. I have already given an outline of its
development and its structure. It is necessary to look a
little more closely at some of those matters for I must not
fall into the trap of attributing collective responsibility
to The Family as a group when the faults and failings are
those of an individual or individuals or even a commune or
more than one commune. I have not been given information as
to the number of people who have been members of The Family
during these past 25 years but since there are about 12,000
current disciples, many, many thousands of many different
nationalities must have belonged to the movement over the
years. They have lived in communities large and small and in
countries near and far. It is, therefore, necessary for me
to concentrate on:-

(a) how control was exercised by the leadership;

(b) how loyal and obedient the flock were;

(c) what their view of the outside world was and to what
extent they sensed persecution;

(d) Whether they were prepared to deceive.


As I have already indicated, by 1975 the main world
headquarters were in London with missionary colonies
established throughout the world. Each area was represented
in London by an "Ambassador" who received reports from the
home areas on their missionary activities. They were,
however, isolated from that home base and the organisation
was top heavy. The "New Revolution" created smaller colonies
and a more closely involved role for leaders working in a
"chain of co-operation". It had broken down by 1978 when
Berg declared the RNR and sacked the leaders. He, with his
inner cabinet, was in sole control. "Visiting servants"
visited the homes to advise and encourage but they had
little or no authority. Following the mass suicide at
Jonestown, huge media interest inevitably turned against any
cult and the already infamous Children of God dropped their
name as they entered another revolution, this time the
Nationalised Reorganised Security-wise Revolution which had
the practical effect of dispersing many of the members back
to their home country. The Family of Love was born out of
this. The Fellowship Revolution followed in April 1981
creating the present day structure, with a pyramid of
leadership this time elected by the members rather than
imposed from above. They kept in touch by home meeting home
with local area fellowship meetings and national area
fellowship meetings. That, more or less, remains the
position today. There is, therefore, some force in the point
that for a period between February 1978 and April 1981 the
leadership's control was lax, and in places may have been
non existent and members were therefore much more at liberty
to follow their own devices - and desires!

That, however, is not the whole truth. All disciples kept in
touch with Berg through his Mo letters. The RNR declared:-

"22. We think the colonies can do better on their own under
our direct personal supervision straight from the top! I
think the letters are going to be the leaders and will be
obeyed better if they don't have any upper officers

34. Then we can directly supervise your local homes straight
from the top, primarily directly through the letters with
exactly what to do and what not to do".


The unknown author of a document "Understanding and
Interpreting Father David's Letters" tells me that:

"Father David's more radical articles could be likened unto
cayenne pepper. Used properly, they add a distinctive
flavour, but they are not intended as a main course."

I am not consoled. Having been looking at Mo letters over
the past 21Ú2 years and in particularly in the past months
of preparation of this Judgment, I fear my digestive system
will never recover. Mo likes to use them to:

"shock people, challenge them, stir them up, arouse them,
awaken them out of their lethargy, even" - he must have me
in mind - "cause them to explode over something I have said,
at least get them to do something to spur them into action
one way or another."

Some of his letters are indeed truly shocking. Some are
blasphemous and obscene. By way of tiny example:-

"A Penis? or a Sword!" July 1976 (now thankfully withdrawn
from circulation)

"God enjoys fucking you with his word, just like I am
enjoying it right now! I am fucking you (Maria) with the
word of God, and I enjoy it because you are receiving it."

"My childhood sex" (June `77 and August `78) - an
authoritative letter according to The Family's expert
witness -

"I can remember at the age of 4 I was very very interested
in little girls and what they looked like down there. I
wanted to examine them, and most of them seemed to like
having me examine them, if you could get away with it when
no adults were around, and play doctor and nurse. (SARA:
That proves how sexy the holy spirit really is! Because you
were filled with the Holy Spirit from your mother's womb,
yet as far back as you can remember you were always
interested in girls and sex ....) Fascinated! and why not?
Sex is a creation of God, created for us all to enjoy, even

I must deal with the sexual aspect in more detail later and
for the moment concentrate on the reference to the sexy Holy
Spirit This takes on a different significance as soon as one
looks at "The Goddess of Love" letter. It has a drawing of
the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is drawn as a voluptuous
lady naked save for the string of beads and two hearts
covering her nipples and a string of beads around her waist
with a heart covering her genital area. She is lying on her
heavenly bed her arms outstretched to receive her man, her
legs drawn up and wide open ready for sexual intercourse and
the commentary explains

"So why not picture God's love, His Spirit as a real person?
which She is!." The words attributed to her are "Come! I am
out of this world! Receive me !I am God's love! His Queen of
love! You need me! Take me! I'm yours! Take me! I am your
love gift from God! I am all yours for the asking!"

It is the most revolting drawing.

I need not dwell long upon such passages as appear in
"Afflictions", November 1976, since withdrawn, where
reference is made to Christ suffering venereal disease from
his sexual contact with Mary Magdalene and other known

Many would find these writings blasphemous, which is
strictly not a matter for me to decide. It is, however,
appropriate for me to make the finding that some of the
material is highly offensive to right thinking members of

It is essential but difficult in a case like this to retain
a proper sense of proportion. I am told, and I am prepared
to accept that letters on sex, nudity and FFing comprise
only 15% of his literary outpouring, that far the greater
proportion of his letters deals with inspirational themes
and bible studies, the End Time, heaven and eschatology. He
wrote on current events, politics and economics, on the
administration of the organisation, on outreach and
witnessing, on childcare and Family life. That material
ranges from the profound to the banal. Of course, therefore,
the letters vary in impact, importance and application. What
has to be determined in this Court is how the disciples
understood and applied the letters on sex, discipline,
education etc.


MO - the End Time Prophet.

Father David had two roles in The Family, one as its
administrative head and the other as its spiritual leader.
Age and failing health, and possibly other factors,
gradually reduced his administrative duties. He changed from
friendly Uncle Dave to stern but loving Father David and
then Grandpa. That notwithstanding, as Peter Amsterdam wrote
to me in May 1994, his "role as spiritual leader has
remained constant". He said:

"The Family holds Father David to be a prophet of God. It is
part of our religious belief that Father David often "speaks
by divine inspiration". He is a "person gifted with profound
moral insight and exceptional powers of expression," and is
a "predictor". He is also "the chief spokesperson of a
movement or cause." We also believe that he is inspired in
his "forth telling". By both our sincerely held religious
beliefs and a definition of the word we rightly consider
Father David a prophet".

"We revere and love him because of the profound effect he
has had upon our lives, and we credit him with having
created an organisation that allows us to live our religious
faith and to accomplish what we feel is a great deal for the

Those sentiments have been echoed time after time in the
evidence to which I have listened. His disciples did revere
and love him. He is, said the expert Doctor Susan Palmer, an
icon. To the faithful members he is a godly person. Some of
the Plaintiff's witnesses who have now left the movement,
though they are still supportive of their friends who are in
it, were less flattering and I recall SD, whose evidence was
refreshingly candid, telling me, with all the innocence of
youth, that:

"He's a nice guy who has dedicated his life to help others
to reach a goal in life but he is a few straws short of a

What is significant for the purpose of this Judgment is my
clear finding that this mother loves him and venerates him
and so do the national shepherds and the home shepherds and
such is that unquestioning devotion that they cannot bring
themselves to contemplate any ill of him. Their loyalty is

Amsterdam explained it:

"To understand Family members' reluctance to speak
disparagingly of Father David, one must bear in mind that
Family members love him and are deeply appreciative of the
extremely salutary effect he and his ministry have had on
their lives....Although most people respect and love their
fathers, in most cases they will admit their fathers are
flawed individuals and not above criticism. Some may even
openly voice that criticism amongst members of their own
family. Nevertheless, most family members would naturally
come to their father's defence and close ranks with other
family members should that same criticism or worse originate
from an outsider. I believe this is the position adopted by
those Family members who have testified in these


The members of The Family live communally. Communal life
breaks down unless its members accept a large measure of
discipline and refrain from carping criticism because it is
destructive. I understand that. Every institution needs its
rules and regulations and depends upon the members'
compliance be it at school, in the army or in a learned
profession. So it is with The Family. The army metaphor is
not uncommon in their writings, e.g. in July 1989 Berg was

"We are a very select army, we are God's crack troops. We
are the tough uncompromising insistent members of
Christianity who refuse to compromise! We are strictly loyal
to our leader Jesus Christ and our officers! We are willing
to obey tough rules and undertake tough assignments."

When facing the need to tighten up The Family in July 1989
and listing the various offences and sins for which the
guilty parties might even be excommunicated he included:-

2. "Unbelief in the letters. People who are ashamed of what
we believe and ashamed of what I write ought not to be in
this army, they ought not to be with us! If you want to be
part of this man's army, you had better believe what I have
to say and what I have said and what God has given me and
shown me; or for God's sake, get out."

3. Critical of Dad, Family or the letters. We don't believe
in supporting people who don't support us and our works and
our ways.

4. Murmurers, troublemakers and bad apples. Excommunicate

5. Weak sisters and brothers .... who poisoned the minds and
hearts and spirits of others ... get rid of them.

6. Failure to obey Family rules: people who don't obey,
people who ignore the Letters, who ignore all my extensive
counsel and advice on security, they don't even belong in
The Family! Give me obedience and absolute adherence to the
rules of The Family or get them out!

7. Failure to obey leadership: insubordination and rebellion
against leadership cannot be countenanced in any man's army.
... If people don't obey and don't do what they are told to
do and don't follow the Letters and disregard leadership and
disrespect all the laws and rules, they are not one of us!
We can't have disobedient rebellious wilful stubborn
soldiers who can't take orders and even follow suggestions,
not in this man's army."

This reference to a suggestion confirms evidence I received
that "a suggestion is an order in love." In order fully to
understand the significance of this document I must point
out now that offence 14 is "sex with minors" and offence 17
is "excessive reading of worldly books,
magazines....spiritual junk food."

In October 1991 (GN 482) Dad blasted a young man Tony or
Zack Attack. The letter is called "Grumblers Get Out" and
that is the strong message of the communication. A month
later in GN 485 excommunicable offences were divided into
those which were "spiritually polluting problems", namely a
chronic murmuring and voicing doubts; those which were
"physically polluting problems" which are (a) sodomy and (b)
sex with outsiders and thirdly "security risks" which were
(a) taking illegal drugs (b) having sex with minors (c)
repeatedly yelling and going into angry rages and (d) giving
DO literature to outsiders.

[ CLICK ME! ] Go To Part 1 . . .

[ CLICK ME! ] Go To Part 3 . . .