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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

X-rated Book Review of JESUS FREAKS

Jesus Freaks: A True Story of Murder and Madness on the Evangelical Edge, by Don Lattin, HarperOne, 2007 $24.95 236 pages

A woman was found stabbed to death on January 8, 2005 by a young man who had been destined to be a prophet of a bizarre messianic sect, The Family. Don Lattin gives us a story of messianic delusion, sexual perversity, cult followers ending in murder and suicide. Ricky Rodriquez was chosen by David Brandt Berg, founder of The Family, to be the new leader of the group after Berg’s death.

Growing up in the sect, Ricky said he was sexually abused by his mother, Karen; his Nanny, Susan Kauten; and many other men and women in his immediate family under the guise of a new sexually free way of teaching children about sex. Ricky left the cult in his late teens in a furious rage and vowed to kill his mother, co-leader of the sect. He tried to get information about his mother’s whereabouts from Kauten. He stabbed and slashed the throat of Kauten and then went out and committed suicide.

Lattin takes the reader on a breathtaking and thrilling ride through the sect, its history, ways and educational programs. The bizarre sexual practices are presented, and the sect’s attempts to cover up and then reform itself are told with a cool detachment.

One of the niftiest evangelical tools used was Flirty-Fishing. Women were trained to go up to men in bars and dance places and use their bodies to bring the men to Jesus. They would dance closely, kiss, rub body to body and tell them that God created bodies and uses them to bring people to him. Sometimes this would even mean going to bed with the men. Pastor Berg taught them to say to the men, “Listen, feel me, I am the love of God, I am God’s love for you. I am God’s love because he created me for you. He created me a woman with a woman’s breasts, and my pussy and everything for your pleasure. Doesn’t that prove God loves you?“ Read the book to find out more. Pp 68-69

Berg told his followers that God spoke to him directly and Jesus sent him regular messages. Thousands of people from hippies to professional people followed along the way. Many people love to hear a loud, clear, simple method of relating to God and Jesus and achieving salvation by obedience to a powerful authority. The Mormons, Southern Baptists and some mega-churches provide the same. Toss in sexual freedom and incest and you have a winner.

Lattin tells this sad and titillating story with the style of the professional journalist he is. He had the religion beat at the San Francisco Examiner and then Chronicle for many years.

The book is a splendid look at the inside of a sect; its organization, secrecy, recruitment, terror and even good works.

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