David Berg, AKA Moses David, started started hustling Teens for Christ out of his coffeeshop in 1968. By 1969, The Children of God coalesced with Southern California’s counterculture youth. Berg saw visions of an earthquake pushing California into the Pacific. He warned of the coming of the anti-christ and predicted Jesus would return to earth in 1993. He said his people were the martyrs in the fight against the antichrist, but his group promoted incest and sex with children. People Magazine Investigates: Cults season 2 will open with The Children of God story as they explore the “seductive” and “twisted World of Cults.” People Magazine Investigates: Cults season 2, which will include the Manson Family, will premiere Monday, June 3 at 9 on Investigation Discovery.
Anchored by PEOPLE’s true crime editorial team, each of the six episodes will follow one “infamous cult from its creation, as power-hungry cult leaders use manipulation, sex and fear mongering to control and dominate their followers into blind loyalty,” reads the official announcement. The series’ journalists exposing the “abusive rituals and brutal conditions that exist within these organizations.” The team speaks exclusively to survivors who narrowly escaped and are attempting to rebuild their lives outside the confines of these rigid and criminal organizations.
Berg began “preaching an all-embracing gospel in the late 1960s,” reads the official synopsis. “He quickly gains followers, including actor River Phoenix’s family, creating communes around the world forming the ‘Children of God. However, Father David’s free love message gradually becomes sinister, as devotees are taught to give their bodies to whomever desires them.”
People Magazine Investigates: Cults will delve into how destructive and dangerous cults can be to members and their families. “Adults must engage in religious prostitution, and children are required to have and observe sex starting at a very young age,” the synopsis continues. “Members of the cult are also subjected to violence in prison camps across the globe, where they are banned from having any communication with the outside world.
In 2005, Ricky Rodriguez, who had been raised as the Prince of the Children of God, killed his former nanny and sexual abuser, and himself, “in an attempt to finally bring down the cult for good.”
Christina Babin and Jemima Farris, survivors of “Children of God”, to hear their stories first-hand as they reveal their personal experiences of what happened under David Berg’s helm. “The stories told from those who have escaped from these cults are incredibly harrowing – truly, stranger than fiction,” Henry Schleiff, Group President of Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, American Heroes Channel and Destination America, said in a statement.
People Magazine Investigates: Cults season 2 premieres Monday, June 3 at 9 on Investigation Discovery.
Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFK. Read more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.