Children Of God: Lost & Found (part 1/7) - 2009-07-10
After a highly unconventional childhood in Children of God, a cult that mixed religion with sex, filmmaker Noah Thomson escaped to begin a normal life. But after experiencing years of sexual abuse and neglect, Thomson and other former members of the organization may never know what "normal" is. The documentary follows Thomson as he searches for others who have tried to start a new life outside the cult - and searches for answers about his own lost childhood.
Children of God (now known as The Family) started in 1968 in California. It was part of the Jesus movement of the late 1960s, and many early converts were hippies. In 1974, The Family began a method of evangelism called "flirty fishing" - using sex to show God's love and win converts. Flirty fishing has been compared by some to religious prostitution, and was discontinued in 1987. David Berg, the founder and prophetic leader of the cult, communicated with his followers via "Mo Letters" - letters of instruction and counsel on a myriad of spiritual and practical subjects. Following Berg's death in late 1994, his wife, Karen Zerby, became leader of The Family.
In CHILDREN OF GOD: LOST AND FOUND, Noah Thomson sets out to interview other ex-Children of God, discovering that these young, second-generation members have often failed to thrive in the outside world, turning to drugs, crime and suicide, unable to adjust to a society indifferent to their abuse as children. Surprisingly, a few still find value in the Children of God, bowing to the organization's request that they not give interviews, or telling Thomson they see nothing wrong with their upbringing. Thomson also reaches out to his mother several times in the film, asking her to be interviewed and defend the family she has chosen in place of her actual family.