The Family International Responds: Rose McGowan

In response to the recent spate of articles about Rose McGowan which paint The Family International in a negative light, TFI’s Public Affairs desk issued the following statement:

The Family International is a Christian community currently present in over 90 countries, committed to sharing the message of God’s love with people around the globe. Our fundamental beliefs are generally in accordance with those held by Christians the world over; we also embrace some untraditional doctrines. (See the Family’s statement of faith) 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.

The usage of the label “cult” in reference to the Family International (TFI) by the media is pejorative and discriminatory. Such labeling is an age-old tactic—Jesus and his followers were also maligned as the “cult of the Nazarenes” in their day. Founded in the late 1960s, TFI has expanded into an international missionary fellowship that has led millions to faith in Christ, and has assisted the needy in a multitude of volunteer and humanitarian efforts.

Our sincere hope for those who were once part of TFI is that they can lead constructive, fulfilling lives and progress in the new goals they set for themselves. Our prayer is for reconciliation and mutual respect in the path that each one has chosen of his or her own free will. 

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 our membership, we do not give credence to tales of institutionalized abuse told by those who seek to cause harm to our church and children. There is no basis in fact for such allegations, as evidenced by the findings of courts around the world, 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 have been satisfied with the standard of life offered to the children. (For summaries of court rulings, click here)

Rose McGowan’s stories are suspect at best and at times absurd, seemingly based on wild speculations and imperfect childhood memories, crafted for the sake of sensational publicity. According to previous articles, she and her family left the organization when she was only five years old in 1978, not when she was nine, as she currently alleges. Ms. McGowan’s Wikipedia entry states, “Daniel McGowan (her father) ran an Italian chapter of the Children of God to which both he and his wife held membership until 1978. Through her father’s art contacts in Italy, McGowan became a child model appeared in Vogue Bambini and various other Italian magazines. Her parents returned to the United States when she was 10.” Apparently she and her family resided in Italy after leaving the movement and achieved some success, which is incongruous with her “escape” narrative. By her own admission, she was not mistreated in any way, but simply took exception to the alternative communal lifestyle embraced by the Children of God. Nor does her chosen lifestyle, whether among drag queens or rock stars, have any relation to the Christian values embraced by TFI and her peers who remain in TFI, who are devoted to humanitarian and charitable work in over 90 countries.

Perhaps Hollywood and its acolytes would do better to ask themselves why several of the 10,000 children born in the Children of God have become well-known actors, actresses, writers, beauty queens, musicians, and artists. It seems improbable that a random study of 10,000 of their contemporaries would produce such a high number of success stories.

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. TFI’s Charter (first published in 1995), reaffirms this standard. (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: TFI International Public Affairs Desk,
Tel: (202) 298-0838

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