Kent village was once home to child sex cult: How the Children of God set up at Hollingbourne Manor

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Little one intercourse cult the Kids of God was on the peak of its affect within the early Seventies –  with actors Rose McGowan and River Phoenix each born into the group – and for a quick 18 months, followers have been capable of preach their message from a manor home within the British countryside. 

With a inhabitants of lower than 1,000 individuals, Hollingbourne, just some miles from Maidstone, boasts greater than 70 listed buildings, and might hint its roots again so far as the Domesday Ebook.

Among the many historic websites is Grade 1 listed Hollingbourne Manor, a sixteenth century mansion boasting six bedrooms, three bogs and three reception rooms on the nook of a rustic lane.

The Elizabethan manor’s personal historical past has seen it owned by notable native households together with the Culpeppers and later the Fairfaxes, who additionally owned close by Leeds Fortress. 

However in 1972, The Kids of God moved in, spreading the phrase of their founder David Berg, who is alleged to have proven a ‘sturdy advocacy for child-adult intercourse,’ from the center of the Backyard of England. 

Native church treasurer Philip Smith, who purchased the manor for £1.2million in 2010, stated: ‘One can find a few of the older individuals bear in mind the Kids of God. They have been simply considered as somewhat odd individuals.

‘I do not suppose they have been right here for very lengthy, about 18 months to a few years. However a few of the individuals within the village have been right here since right here because the warfare, so they’ll bear in mind them.’  

Actor and #MeToo activist Rose McGowan’s mother and father have been among the many founding members of the Hollingbourne commune.

The location was offered on to builders in 1973 and the commune disbanded – however not earlier than a CBS information crew arrived to interview members. 

Grade I listed Hollingbourne Manor has stood in a quiet Kent village since the 16th century, but for nearly two years, it was home to Children of God, a religious cult heavily linked to child sex abuse

Grade I listed Hollingbourne Manor has stood in a quiet Kent village because the sixteenth century, however for almost two years, it was dwelling to Kids of God, a spiritual cult closely linked to little one intercourse abuse

Survivors from different communes say it was ‘hell on earth,’ however footage from the printed exhibits solely the general public face of the cult, as males, ladies and kids sing, dance and browse bible verses on the manor.

One villager informed the US broadcaster on the time: ‘I have been residing right here six years in Hollingbourne and I have never something in opposition to these fellows.’ 

However as Rose McGowan, who was raised in one other commune in Italy, informed journalist and documentary maker Louis Theroux earlier this yr, there was a darker facet to the cult.

By the early Seventies, the Kids of God had round 130 communities around the globe, together with in South America, the place actors River and Joaquin Phoenix have been briefly raised within the cult.

Berg would talk with them by letter, typically referring to himself as ‘Moses’ or ‘The Final Endtime Prophet’, spreading a message that ‘God is love and love is intercourse’.

Survivors say Berg was a ‘extremely disturbed alcoholic paedophile’. 

High walls and bushes cover one side of the manor's perimeter. It was purchased for £1.2million in 2010, nearly 40 years after the cult arrived. Women who grew up in the cult, including actor and #MeToo activist Rose McGowan, have spoken of the 'strong advocacy for child-adult' sex

Excessive partitions and bushes cowl one facet of the manor’s perimeter. It was bought for £1.2million in 2010, almost 40 years after the cult arrived. Ladies who grew up within the cult, together with actor and #MeToo activist Rose McGowan, have spoken of the ‘sturdy advocacy for child-adult’ intercourse

Hollingbourne Manor boasts six bedrooms, three bathrooms and three reception rooms

Hollingbourne Manor boasts six bedrooms, three bogs and three reception rooms

Locals knew little about the cult, who but the manor's current owner says they were viewed as 'rather odd people'

Locals knew little in regards to the cult, who however the manor’s present proprietor says they have been considered as ‘somewhat odd individuals’ 

The group was identified for one thing known as ‘flirty fishing,’ which might see younger ladies and men exit into the road and attempt to recruit new members by singing and dancing on the street.

McGowan referred to the observe as ‘hookers for Jesus,’ and stated she even took half earlier than leaving the cult on the age of 10.

She informed Louis Theroux her father ‘drew the road,’ after discovering kids have been being abused within the cult.

She stated: ‘Clearly flirty fishing wasn’t the road for him, it was okay to ship ladies out to do that, however I simply by no means understood the ability dynamics between the boys and the ladies and the ladies subjugating themselves a lot.’

McGowan and her mother and father left the Italian commune whereas she was nonetheless a baby and returned to a standard life within the US. 

Rose McGowan's parents helped set up the commune at Hollingbourne Manor, which stands in the heart of the Kent countryside. The actor was raised in the cult after her parents moved to Italy. She said: 'I remember the children dancing and I remember girls not wearing much'

Rose McGowan’s mother and father helped arrange the commune at Hollingbourne Manor, which stands within the coronary heart of the Kent countryside. The actor was raised within the cult after her mother and father moved to Italy. She stated: ‘I bear in mind the kids dancing and I bear in mind women not sporting a lot’

A CBS report from 1972 showed members of the Children of God dancing outside Hollingbourne Manor, in Kent, where the religious cult set up for around 18 months

A CBS report from 1972 confirmed members of the Kids of God dancing exterior Hollingbourne Manor, in Kent, the place the non secular cult arrange for round 18 months 

CELEBRITIES RAISED IN THE CHILDREN OF GOD CULT  

By the Seventies, the Kids of God had cults everywhere in the world – and a few of its youngest members would develop as much as grow to be well-known.

Rose McGowan was born into the cult, rising up in Italian communes earlier than ultimately fleeing together with her mother and father when she was 10.

Oscar-winner Joaquin Phoenix and his late brother River have been additionally raised within the cult, however in communes in South America. 

In a 2014 interview, the Joker and Gladiator actor stated: ‘I feel my mother and father thought they’d discovered a neighborhood that shared their beliefs. Cults hardly ever promote themselves as such. It is normally somebody saying, “We’re like-minded individuals. It is a neighborhood,” however I feel the second my mother and father realized there was one thing extra to it, they received out.’

Musicians Christopher Owens and Susan Justice, authors Lauren Hough and Flor Edwards, in addition to Julian Buhring, the primary lady to bicycle around the globe, have been all raised within the cult, however left in later life.

Fleetwood Mac founding member Jeremy Spencer stop the band in 1971 to grow to be a member of the cult. 

Talking about her experiences within the cult earlier this yr, she stated there was a ‘sturdy advocacy for child-adult intercourse,’ including they got ‘creepy, ridiculous cartoon books of boys in mattress with grownup ladies and little women in mattress with three grownup males.’

The actor stated: ‘I bear in mind the kids dancing and I bear in mind women not sporting a lot dancing for the adults.

‘People who find themselves perverted like David Berg, they must up the ante for themselves to get kicks.’

Lately increasingly members have come out in opposition to The Kids of God, now generally known as The Household Worldwide. 

In 2017, one lady described it as ‘hell on earth’.

Verity Carter informed the BBC she was abused by 4 males, together with her personal father, whereas rising up within the cult.

She stated: ‘We had no contact with the surface world.

‘We didn’t have music or tv or tradition. We had no thought how the world labored.

‘There have been heavy penalties if you happen to didn’t maintain that smile and say the belongings you have been meant to say.’

In August Derek Lincoln, a former ‘home shepherd,’ on the cult’s commune in Scotland, was jailed for 11 years for raping two women, aged between 9 and 11, between 1989 and 1991.

His place within the cult meant he had direct entry to any of the kids who have been a part of commune.   

Det Sgt Neil Wilson stated Lincoln, now 74, ‘used his place,’ within the cult ‘to perpetrate violent sexual abuse in opposition to two younger kids’. 

Considered one of his victims, Sharon Hendry, informed The Times how the cult unfold the message: ‘God is love and love is intercourse’. 

Sharon Hendry, who lived at one of the other cult's other British communes, said: 'The doctrines of free love were also appealing and might have seemed harmless to outsiders ¿ but those of us on the inside were living a darker reality

Sharon Hendry, who lived at one of many different cult’s different British communes, stated: ‘The doctrines of free love have been additionally interesting and may need appeared innocent to outsiders — however these of us on the within have been residing a darker actuality

David Berg died in Portugal in 1994, survivors of the Children of God, now known as The Family International, say he was a 'highly disturbed alcoholic paedophile'

David Berg died in Portugal in 1994, survivors of the Kids of God, now generally known as The Household Worldwide, say he was a ‘extremely disturbed alcoholic paedophile’

She stated: ‘Berg was a extremely disturbed alcoholic paedophile churning out infinite psychotic ramblings, however I used to be too younger to know that on the time. 

‘The doctrines of free love have been additionally interesting and may need appeared innocent to outsiders — however these of us on the within have been residing a darker actuality.

‘We have been rising up in a extremely sexualised setting the place adults overtly had intercourse in entrance of us and sexual play was inspired amongst prepubescent children and practised between adults and kids.’  

The organisation says it made ‘any contact between an grownup and minor,’ an ‘ex communicable offence,’ in 1986. 

David Berg died in Portugal in 1994. 

The Household Worldwide is now run by his widow, Karen Zerby. 

Who’re the Kids of God?

The Kids of God sect was based in 1968 by minister David Brandt Berg. 

Berg spent a lot of the Nineteen Sixties touring to completely different church buildings close to his dwelling in along with his personal youngsters, singing hymns and ‘spreading the phrase of God’, earlier than the household to Huntington, California, in 1967 the place he arrange a espresso store, and started preaching to prospects. 

Initially generally known as Teenagers of Christ, Berg quickly modified the identify to Kids of God within the hopes of interesting to a wider crowd that included weak youths on the lookout for a help and luxury. 

By focusing on these teams, Berg was capable of rapidly broaden his ‘faith’ and by 1969, he had greater than 50 members in his ‘household’. 

Quickly after, the Kids of God left Huntington and started touring as soon as once more, increasing their ranks to incorporate greater than 200 individuals over the next eight months.

Communes have been quickly arrange around the globe, with members transferring in collectively to type their very own ‘households’ of Kids of God converts – and by 1972, there have been 130 ‘communities’ of full-time members across the globe.  

The Kids of God have been requested to surrender their jobs and commit themselves full time to preaching Berg’s teachings and proselytizing for extra members – whereas Berg himself lived in seclusion, sharing his prophecies by way of written letters generally known as ‘MO’s Letters’. 

However whereas on the surface, the group claimed to be spreading the world of God – and of Berg – internally, members have been inspired to partake in incestuous sexual relationships with minors.  

In 1976, feminine members started being urged to participate in a observe generally known as ‘flirty fishing’, which noticed them pressured to ‘present God’s love’ by having sexual relations with potential members with a view to lure them into the group as full-time converts. 

Following Berg’s demise in October 1994, the group – which had, by then, rebranded itself as The Household of Love, then The Household – was taken over by long-time member Karen Zerby. 

In 2004, the group’s identify was modified to The Household Worldwide.

Hollywood actors Rose McGowan and Joaquin Phoenix have each shared particulars of their very own early childhood experiences within the sect.

Supply: Timeline 



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