For anyone who has not read the first five parts of this series you might be interested in going back to see how I came to be traveling on the road with a group of wonderful people being lead by a man who was convinced that he had a “mission from God”. He was also a man who could be very charming and to say that he was a master at manipulation does not give him his due. The first part, “Seven Years From Her Virginity” was in April and, since I’m not experienced at embedding and the like, I’ll just let you go find it if you don’t mind. It’ll kind of be like having to go to the back of the grocery store to get to the milk. Maybe you’ll see something else along the way that grabs your interest. OK, so you don't want to walk all the way back there. Thanks to JK Brady I've added these to my links if you'll look to your left.
In Part 5 of this story, “Sackcloth and Ashes and Going to Jail”,
I explained that I was in the last group leaving Canada at first snowfall.
I don’t remember where we met up with the main part of the group, maybe Illinois, but we were a sight to behold traveling down the road. There were buses, campers, vans and cars all filled to capacity with young people singing songs and reciting Bible verses.
We would only travel about 50-75 miles a day because every time a vehicle would have problems all of us had to stop and get off the road and with the condition of the cars and buses that was often. The girls were all in a bus together and while we were traveling we’d make up sandwiches for lunch. During one of the many stops we would jump out and distribute the food to each vehicle.
At night we would stop in a park and sleep in the vehicle in which we had traveled. Most of the girls were in a bus and the boys in another with the married couples in small trailers. In the buses we would sleep in the floor and on the seats with boards across the tops of the seats to accommodate another row of bodies. You made sure you went to the bathroom before all of the puzzle pieces fell into place or there were some cross, sleepy people when you stepped on them trying to make your way in the dark to the head. David Berg, however, traveled in a large motor home with his wife, a secretary and a housekeeper/cook.
It was getting cold so we were heading south and eventually wound up in Texas after a not so pleasant stay in a Louisiana State Park where we were awakened in the night and asked to leave. In fact the police stayed around to be sure we left.
We would stay in a state park for the maximum time allowed and then move on to another one. It was while staying at one of these parks that a reported dubbed us The Children of God. Until that time we had considered ourselves The Revolution for Jesus. Our salute and battle cry was shouted with a fisted hand thrust into the air, “Revolution!” to be answered by the right hand with three finger extended shooting up to the cry of, “For Jesus”.
We were divided into “tribes” according to our work responsibilities. For instance, Benjamin tribe cared for the children, Manasses tribe did the laundry, and Levi was David Berg, his family and the teachers.
I was asked by one of the leaders if I would like to be the cook for the team. I wasn’t sure if I could cook for all of those people but I very much wanted to be needed and to do my part. I accepted and started to oversee the meals. I was part of the Simeon tribe that was responsible for the cooking. I was in charge when it involved the physical preparation of the meals and a former Southern Baptist minister who was the tribe leader was responsible for the spiritual well being of the tribe. This meant that I worked my ass off and he sat around most of the time reading the Bible and acting superior.
One day while traveling I went to the Ark, David Berg’s motor home, to make up a big batch of pimento cheese for sandwiches. His wife, Jane, was teaching me how to make it and I was told that David wanted to see me. I was guided to the bedroom where I found him still in bed. He wanted to tell me that I was doing a good job and to give me a kiss. I shyly leaned over his bed to accept the kiss and had no idea what was really going on in this man’s mind.
Josh, the husband of David Berg’s daughter Faith, approached me one day and asked if I would be interested in being married to the SB minister. I was terrified. He was a widower with two little boys and I was in no way at all attracted to him. I was afraid at first to say no because I had learned that the leaders were closer to God than I and they were watching out for my soul. I’m not sure what happened, I guess Josh realized how much I really didn’t want to do it so they found another girl who was a bit older than I and willing to take on the task. I think I breathed one of the biggest sighs of relief of my life when I found out that someone else had been chosen over me.
This is another time when my memory fails me and I’m not sure how long we lived this nomad life, maybe a couple of months. We were staying in an old church for a few days when Deborah, David’s older daughter, pulled me aside and told me about the ranch. It was an old Bible School camp once run by a televangelist in LA. He and David had been friends for years and he was going to let us use the now deserted facility. She was so excited telling me about the big stoves where I could cook instead of the old army camp stoves that we had used on the road. We would have cabins with beds to sleep in. Hallelujah!
The ranch was located in Thurber, Texas and not the sort of place that takes too kindly to a bunch of hippies. We were located quite a ways down a dirt road and a guard car was placed up by the road to stop any cowboys out to run them off some hippies on a drunken Saturday night. Two people were always posted in the car armed with a shotgun.
Life at the ranch was a complete indoctrination. We had classes in the morning, afternoon and evenings. I attended a series of classes held by David Berg designed just for leaders. It was very hot and the girls wore as little clothing as possible while still covering our bodies. We’d make dresses with no straps but just basically a cylinder of cloth with elastic at the top to hold everything up. At one of these leadership meetings the dress that I wore kept slipping down and I’d give it a tug back up telling myself how I needed to adjust the elastic tomorrow. Suddenly, David stopped talking about his subject and told me to stop tugging at my top. He went into a long diatribe about the beauty of the human body and how there was nothing to be ashamed of. I sat there blushing at being the subject of the night and wondering if he actually wanted me to just let my top fall down with my breasts exposed. Looking back I realize that, yes, that was exactly what he would have liked.
I’m giving you these glimpses into my first experiences with the sexuality of David Berg to set the stage for what followed in coming years. This was the very tip of the iceberg.
It was while at the ranch that Part 1 of this series took place, my marriage to a man for whom I had no love and even a feeling of disgust. When I went to the one person who I thought could help me, Jane, David’s wife, she said that maybe God was trying to teach me humility. That was a big excuse in the cult for anything bad that happened to you. God is just trying to teach you humility or patience or to trust him or, fuckin’ not to stand up when some jerk comes up behind you and grabs your arm and tells you to. Some other leaders were not so kind and asked me if I thought I was too good for him and how could I love God if I couldn’t love this “brother”.
The day I married him something in me changed. I was being disciplined by God for a sin which I didn’t recognize and, try as I might over the next seven years, I couldn’t humble myself enough or beg for mercy enough to make it end.
Several people have asked how I left the cult and I’ve decided that there will just be two more parts to this story. I have to tell you about LA when Jeremy Spencer, original slide guitarist for Fleetwood Mac, joined the group then I’ll cover the leaving and why. So, we’re almost there and thank you to all who have followed my story.