A Statement from The Family International: Dawn Watson

In response to the recent spate of articles with Dawn Watson, featuring a litany of bizarre and unfounded allegations, TFI’s Public Affairs desk wishes to state the following:

The Family International is a small online network of individuals committed to sharing the message of God’s love with people around the globe. Our sincere hope for those who were once part of the movement is that they can lead constructive, fulfilling lives and we wish them well in the path that each one has chosen of his or her own free will.

TFI has had a zero-tolerance policy in place for the protection of minors since 1986 (before Dawn Watson was born), and has permanently excommunicated any member who violated this policy since 1989. Regrettably prior to the adoption of this policy, cases occurred where minors were exposed to sexually inappropriate behavior between 1978 and 1986. This was addressed with the implementation of its child protection policy in 1986, and TFI’s Charter (first published in 1995), reaffirmed this standard. (Please see TFI’s child protection policy.)

Although TFI has apologized on a number of occasions to former members for any hurt, real or perceived, that they may have suffered during their time in its membership (see here for apologies), we do not give credence to the bizarre tales of institutionalized abuse as told by Dawn Watson, in a bid to further her own opportunistic ends. There is no basis in fact for such allegations, as evidenced by the findings of courts around the world in the early 1990s, which evaluated over 600 children living in TFI communities by means of extensive court-appointed physical, psychological, and educational testing. In every case, the courts concluded that the standard of life offered to the children was acceptable. (For third-party summaries of court rulings, click here)

Dawn Watson’s story has little relation to fact or the actual beliefs or practices of the Family International for the past 30 years or its evangelistic purpose. In 2010, the movement disassembled its prior communal household model and now only exists as a small online network with little formal structure beyond its websites.

Contact: TFI International Public Affairs Desk, publicaffairs@thefamily.org
Tel: (202) 298-0838