Thursday, July 24, 2014

Born into The Children of God by Natacha Tormey

Born into The Children of God: My life in a religious sex cult and my struggle for survival on the outside, Natacha Tormey. London: HarperElement/ HarperCollins Publishers, 2014. e-book, 233 pps.

     Several kids in my high school joined up with The Children of God-- as the sex cult was known in its early days. One of them took me to the commune in New York City once. Even back then, the commune residents were dependent upon the charity of others/ donations/ garbage-raiding for food. The commune itself was a converted warehouse, rather grungy-looking. It was a place I knew I didn't want to wind up living in.

     The girl who took me to the commune got kicked out of our high school. She was intellectually brilliant but had decided to rely on "the Lord" to give her the answers to tests. Homework remained undone in favor of memorization of Bible verses, reading Moe Letters, and preaching to whatever bugs were flying around her head at any given time. I figured that this stuff wasn't really working for her all that well so I continued to do my homework [most of it anyways-- I refused to do proofs in geometry because I figured that if I could just look at the drawings and deduce the answer, doing other stuff was redundant and didn't make sense] and to study for tests.

     The girl told me about Flirty Fishing and Moe David's [David Berg's] excuses for having the C.O.G. women offering sex to businessmen while trying to convert them. It made sense to her. Made no sense to me. Another distinct turn-off.

     A few years ago, people who had escaped from the sex cult that the Children of God had devolved into began to tell their stories on the Internet via forums for ex-members and in published books. And the stuff that was coming out was horrid, sick, depraved. Adults having sex with other adults and children. Beatings of kids. Living in poverty. Begging on the streets or 'selling' COG lit in order to eat. Communes getting kicked out of various countries.

     I picked up Born into The Children of God thinking that I was prepared for whatever Natacha Tormey had written about. Perhaps not so prepared. Her book is a personal memoir of what it was like being born into a sex cult and how difficult life is outside of that cult when that was all she ever knew. Kids were abused in there [and I deeply suspect probably still are under the auspices of The Family International or whatever what is left of COG is calling itself these days]. Natacha Tormey was fortunate. Two of her brothers weren't. 

sapphoq reviews says: Natacha Tormey has written about her experiences in a clear and direct voice. For adults who are interested in coercive religions and cultic studies, personal memoirs and child abuse: highly recommended.

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