Survivor Reveals Disturbing Secrets Of Infamous Children Of God Cult
A Children of God cult survivor has shared disturbing stories of some of the shocking sexual practices and abuse that members of the organisation reportedly faced.
In the late 1970s, Hope Bastine’s parents joined the Children of God cult, and she grew up in a commune in Scotland.
The Children of God cult initially started in the US in the 1960s, however it soon spread, carrying with it practices which it’s leader, David Brandt Berg, called ideas of ‘free love’.
By the term ‘free love’, Berg encouraged the cult’s members to experiment with sexual promiscuity. In an interview with LADbible TV, Bastine opened up about her experiences growing up inside the cult and how free love meant ‘God is love, love is sex’.
She recounted how Berg would pressure members into doing what she viewed as strange sexual activities. ‘Whilst everybody was having their orgies, free love sex, they would no longer be permitted to enjoy sex for each other, they had to fantasise that they were actually having sex with Jesus, men included,’ she said.
Bastine went on to say the cult started ‘like most start’, in the same era as ‘lots of other cults’. She called it ‘the movement of the 60s’, saying Berg and his family had seen an ‘opportunity for the lost youths’.
Bastine said the cult ‘exploded’ and that Berg would ‘replicate army-style training into doctrines that he would still develop within the cult’.
‘The concept was one big family, creating a sense of unity and belonging,’ she said.
It was ‘an apocalyptic cult’, Bastine said, so the ‘messaging was about that we are in the last days of the world and the mission statement is to prepare or to warn people about the antichrist’, and ‘to prepare their souls for the great jubilation which was to come’.
Bastine’s father had left the French navy and her mother had left home in London to go to Paris aged 19 to become an au pair, before they both ended up joining the Children of God.
‘They had a sense of meaning and purpose, and that is sort of the cannon fodder of cult leaders, they prey on vulnerable people,’ she said.
The cult had been going on for 10 years prior to Bastine’s birth. She lived in communes in Scotland, ‘the locations of which were kept secret’. The society was ‘highly patriarchal’ and the community ‘believed the bible as literal and believed Berg to be the last prophet’. They called his interpretations the ‘new wine’, or the ‘new new testament’, according to Bastine.
She recalled that, every year on Berg’s birthday there was a celebration, ‘fasting’ and some ‘new doctorate’, which she viewed as ‘absolutely outrageous’. Such as members not being able to enjoy the sex which they were having in orgies for themselves or each other, but instead that they had to ‘fantasise that they were having sex with Jesus’. Berg said that he was ‘prophesizing’ and ‘connecting with God’, but he was actually just ‘a drunk’, Bastine said.
Bastine claims Berg would talk about children having sex and how it was ‘suddenly something we were being taught to do’. ‘A cult that practices and teaches free love regardless of age will certainly attract people who have a proclivity to underage sex,’ she said.
Bastine said she was just eight years old when she was ‘taught to do an erotic dance, which was filmed with two other girls’. The ages of the other children were five and three. It was apparently filmed and sent to Berg, but also performed for the whole commune, Bastine said.
‘I was actually taught how to have sex, I was setup for date nights at a very young age, notwithstanding I’d suffered quite a lot of sexual abuse from adult men,’ she said. One night, Bastine said she realised her abuser had been ‘molesting’ her sister too and so she ‘distracted him so that he would stop molesting her’ and molest Bastine instead.
You need to think of it like a domestically violent relationship, that toxic bond restriction of the leaders would keep your passport for example, you had to relinquish all your personal goods for the greater good of the commune. It’s quite severe entrapment.
Aged 12, Bastine decided to leave the cult after singing a song and realising she didn’t believe the words. However, she was unable to finally break free until she was 18 years old, as she had to wait to be ‘of age’. She had to leave her family behind, having grown apart from her mother ‘the more children she had’ and despite a ‘very special’ relationship with her siblings, who she said viewed her as a parental figure.
Bastine was taken in by her grandmother, having saved up money for a bus to London. She said she tried to see her siblings but that her mother took them to India. ‘I was in my own survival fog, trying to make my way in this world, I think I came to terms with the fact if I worked hard to set up my life outside the cult then at least I could be there for them when they decided to leave,’ she said.
Her siblings eventually did come to leave the cult, however one of her brothers, who lived with her afterwards, sadly ‘died by suicide as an aftermath of all the abuse he suffered’.
Bastine said her mother had a ‘different tier of membership’ in the cult, explaining that there is love ‘but it is very complex’, and that Bastine and her siblings are trying to explain how she has ‘impacted their lives’.
While she had been raised to not trust authorities, Bastine ended up informing the police of what had occurred in the cult after Berg died in October 1994, aged 75.
In 2020, her abuser, named as Derek Lincoln, was sentenced to prison for 11-and-a-half years. He pled guilty to rape and sexual assault.
Bastine is now a sleep and trauma Psychologist and is writing a PHD on personality development of Second Generation Affiliates of cults/sects/religion.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child, contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, 8am–10pm Monday to Friday, 9am–6pm weekends. If you are a child seeking advice and support, call Childline for free on 0800 1111
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact the Rape Crisis England and Wales helpline on 0808 802 9999 between 12pm–2.30pm and 7pm– 9.30pm every day. Alternatively, you can contact Victim Support free on 08 08 16 89 111 available 24/7, every day of the year, including Christmas
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