A Statement from the Family International: Christina Babin

In response to the recent spate of articles featuring Christina Babin which reference The Family International, The Family International wishes to state the following:

Founded in the late 1960s as a countercultural new religious movement, the Family International operated as an international missionary fellowship for over 40 years that led millions to faith in Christ, many of whom joined conventional churches, and assisted the needy in a multitude of volunteer and humanitarian efforts in over 100 countries. In 2010, the Family International disassembled its previous organizational framework, and currently exists only as an online network of 1,900 members, with no formal structure beyond its websites.

Our sincere hope for those who were once part of the Family International is that they can lead fulfilling lives and we wish them well in every way. The Family International has expressed its apologies on a number of occasions to any members who feel that they were hurt in any way during their membership, which are also a matter of public record (http://www.myconclusion.com/category/letters-of-apology). While we are unfamiliar with the personal lives and experiences of those who were once members, in this case Christina Babin, and therefore not in a position to speak to the details of their personal narratives, we extend our sincere apologies to anyone who experienced anything negative or hurtful during their childhood or time as members of the Family International.

Although the Family International has apologized for any hurt, real or perceived, that any member or former member may have experienced, we do not give credence to tales of institutionalized abuse, often told by those who seek to promote their personal agendas or causes, or for financial gain. Much of the published media surrounding Christina Babin’s account is highly implausible and reads like sensationalized fiction with little to no relation to the community or evangelistic purpose of the Family International. The fact that Christina Babin’s narrative has surfaced in the media some 22 years after she left the movement, and serves as a platform for soliciting funding raises serious ethical issues (see https://ca.gofundme.com/cult-outsider).

The Family International has had a zero-tolerance policy in place for three decades for the protection of minors (since Ms. Babin was 10 years old). (See The Family International’s Child Protection Policy: https://portal.tfionline.com/en/pages/charter-children/.) Courts around the world that conducted exhaustive investigations in the early 1990s, with intrusive physical, psychological and educational examinations of over 600 children concluded that the children were not victims of any kind of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect, and were satisfied with the quality of their upbringing and education. (For third party summaries of these court rulings, see http://www.cesnur.org/testi/TheFamily/se_thefamily.htm). According to the World Health Organization, similar random testing of 600 children in mainstream society would not likely yield such results.

TFI Child Protection Policy

We believe that every child has the right to be protected from abuse and neglect of any kind, whether physical, emotional, sexual, or educational. TFI has a zero-tolerance policy regarding the abusive treatment of children, and permanently expels and excommunicates any member who violates this policy. Members are advised to conduct themselves in conformance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which they live in all matters. TFI is committed to the well-being of children and considers it the moral responsibility of any adult caring for minors to protect them from harm.

TFI’s policy for the protection of minors was adopted in 1986. 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 in 1986 when any sexual contact between an adult and minor (any person under 18 years of age) was officially banned and, subsequently in 1989 declared an excommunicable offense.

We believe that every child is entitled to the best care possible, in an enabling environment where their needs—physical, educational, intellectual, moral, and emotional—are amply met. Children should receive a competent education that empowers them to become self-sufficient and prepares them for adulthood.

A Statement from the Family International: Rose McGowan

In response to the recent spate of articles about Rose McGowan which reference The Family International, he following statement was issued:

The Family International is a Christian online network of 1,900 members in 80 countries, committed to sharing the message of God’s love with people around the globe. We seek to bring hope and spiritual renewal through the unconditional love of Jesus Christ that knows no borders or boundaries of race, creed, or social status.

Founded in the late 1960s as a countercultural new religious movement, the Family International operated as an international missionary fellowship for over 40 years that led millions to faith in Christ, many of whom joined conventional churches, and assisted the needy in a multitude of volunteer and humanitarian efforts in over 100 countries. In 2010, the Family International disassembled its previous organizational framework, and currently exists only as a virtual network with no formal structure beyond its websites.

Our sincere hope for those who were once part of the Family International is that they can lead fulfilling lives and we wish them well in every way. The Family International has expressed its apologies on a number of occasions to any members who feel that they were hurt in any way during their membership, which are also a matter of public record (http://www.myconclusion.com/category/letters-of-apology). While we are unfamiliar with the personal lives and experiences of those who were once members and therefore not in a position to speak to their personal narratives, we wish to express our sincere apologies to anyone who experienced anything negative or hurtful during their childhood or time as members of the Family International.

Although the Family International has apologized on a number of occasions to former members for any hurt, real or perceived, that they may have experienced during their membership, we do not give credence to tales of institutionalized abuse told by those who seek to promote their personal agendas or causes, or for financial gain. There is no basis in fact for such allegations, as evidenced by the findings of courts around the world, which evaluated over 600 children in the early 1990s living in communities of the Family International by means of extensive court-appointed physical, psychological, and educational testing. In every case, the courts were satisfied with the standard of life offered to the children. (For third party summaries of these court rulings, see here)

Media accounts of Rose McGowan’s early childhood years in the Children of God are contradictory and seemingly exaggerated for the sake of sensational publicity. According to earlier articles, she and her family left the organization when she was only five years old in 1978, not at 9 as is currently reported. By her own admission, she was not mistreated in any way, though she took objection to the restrictions inherent in the communalist religious lifestyle of the movement at the time.

TFI Child Protection Policy

We believe that every child has the right to be protected from abuse and neglect of any kind, whether physical, emotional, sexual, or educational. TFI has a zero-tolerance policy regarding the abusive treatment of children, and permanently expels and excommunicates any member who violates this policy. Members are advised to conduct themselves in conformance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which they live in all matters. TFI is committed to the well-being of children and considers it the moral responsibility of any adult caring for minors to protect them from harm.

TFI’s policy for the protection of minors was adopted in 1986. 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 in 1986 when any sexual contact between an adult and minor (any person under 18 years of age) was officially banned and, subsequently in 1989 declared an excommunicable offense. (Please see TFI’s child protection policy)

We believe that every child is entitled to the best care possible, in an enabling environment where their needs—physical, educational, intellectual, moral, and emotional—are amply met. Children should receive a competent education that empowers them to become self-sufficient and prepares them for adulthood.

Contact: Public Affairs Desk for the Family International, publicaffairs@thefamily.org

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

The Family International’s rebuttal to La Jornada newspaper article

A major Mexican newspaper called La Jornada recently published a very libelous article about the Family International. Since members of the Family International were not given a chance to tell their side of the story, I’m including the official rebuttal to that article below (written in Spanish).

Read the full rebuttal

Suicide and the Sanctity of Life

Does Belief in the Biblical Apocalypse Justify Violence or Suicide?

Several sociologists and historians of religion predicted that with the advent of the year 2000, manifestations of millennialism would increase. In the words of religious historian Catherine Wessinger, Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Loyola University, in her paper presented to the October 1996 conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion in Nashville, “This was not a difficult prediction to make. The approach of the new millennium was bound to excite people’s imaginations and hopes, that the limitations of the human condition would be transcended finally.”

Events involving violence in the past decade of groups with a predisposition for suicide have served to draw the attention of the media, sociologists, and law enforcement officials to minority religions with apocalyptic beliefs. The underlying question has been whether such beliefs necessarily lead to or precipitate suicide or acts of violence by their members. Continue reading