Q&A: Lies & Sexual Coercion

If you have any questions regarding COG cult life or about anything I have written, please let me know via comment on this blog or email.

Was deceit or telling lies (for the greater good) permitted?

Yes, lying to “unbelievers” to “protect God's work” was permitted, and even common practice. Berg even straight-out ordered members to lie to outsiders, to deny there was ever any sexual abuse of minors, to deny that they were connected to the COG, etc. Here is his counsel to certain members telling them that when asked,"'Are you folks connected with some kind of religious organization? Are you sure you’re not connected...with that certain group? Are you those people?' And thank God I had briefed them before about what to say. If it ever came up, if they ever approached any of them ... they were to deny it flatly, absolutely." ("The Maltese Doublecross" 1978)

Members were to lie to "protect security," which, in the paranoid mindset of the cult could mean in court cases, to the press, and to outsiders in general. "If you have to lie to save a life, I think it’s worth it! And I think the people who would strain at a gnat of a little lie at a time like that & swallow a camel of costing someone’s life are just hypocritically self-righteous!—And let somebody go to prison or torture or death just because they weren’t willing to tell one little falsehood to save them!" ("The Maltese Doublecross" 1978)  Torture or death?

Lying was so common in TFI that I think members were not aware that they were lying; they themselves believed the lies. This practice was drawn from the Bible verse, “Deceivers yet true" (2 Corinthians 6:8), and a couple examples of deceit found in the Old Testament and some even fabricated.

Let me give you a few examples:

Saying that distributing Mo Letters (Berg's writings on a variety of topics, from world politics to sex) was “passing out Gospel tracts” is very far from the truth, but yet that is what members have convinced themselves of.

Their fundraising tactics have, in all but very few cases, been based on lies, “Please give a donation to help with our [insert some very worthy-sounding cause],” yet those donations were/are what have provided support for Family Homes. The basic teaching being that those who “serve God in the Family” should be supported by those who “work for mammon (material gain).” (See Entitlement)

The location of Family Homes was often kept secret, so that the “enemies of God's work" wouldn't find them. Paranoia being another hallmark trait of the cult members having been promulgated in the publications. We all had "Bible names" and never knew our fellow-members' real names, and certainly not the true identities of any leaders. (See Anonymity)

As well, the idea that “Family members are the happiest people on earth” because they are God's chosen children is a lie that is commonly believed. (See Happiness)

Was sexual promiscuity (e.g. Flirty Fishing) actually encouraged? Could someone have opted not to participate?

Sexual promiscuity (cult euphemism: “sharing”) was the norm for lower-ranking cult members from about 1977; it was practiced by leadership much earlier, although that was kept secret from the rank-and-file members. It is still a basic tenet of the group. It would be very hard to avoid doing that and still remain in the group due to social norming and the oversight of leadership – not “sharing” was/is considered sinful “selfishness.” (Free Love)

Flirty Fishing was the preeminent form of “witnessing” (cult term for fund-raising while telling people about their beliefs) from 1977-1987. If one was a cult member, it was pretty much unavoidable. We had to be “obedient to the Lord's will” and “share” ourselves with “[sexually] needy” outsiders. “Laying down our lives” for needy souls. (Flirty Fishing Follows)

More even than social pressure and being told it was "God's will" to submit to any and all sexual advances, people (women in particular) were threatened with public shaming and being told they would become useless to God if they did not yield. Berg's rant in the Letter titled, "The Girl Who Wouldn't [have sex with a lesbian]" is just one such frightening result.

In brief, "The Girl Who Wouldn't" tells about a woman who was paired with a prominent female leader. When she refused a sexual advance, they both wrote to Berg about her lack of desire for lesbian sex. This resulted in a Letter of harsh criticism against the woman for her "selfishness" and lack of "yielding to God's will" in her life.

Thus, the designation "the girl who wouldn't" became a threat to anyone who might be "tempted" to follow in her footsteps and refuse sexual advances. Psychological coercion in the most personal area of one's life, tearing down personal boundaries.

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