The religious cult Children of God traces back to the late ’60s in California, and now ex-member Christina Babin is revealing details about how children were sex-trafficked under the guise that it was a Christian ministry.
“Daily life was very strict, very structured,” Babin revealed in an interview Tuesday morning on “Megyn Kelly Today,” recollecting her years in the cult. “You woke up, you prayed, you did indoctrination and then you went out on the street and begged for money and food.”
The group practiced Christianity on the surface but what they were really doing was sex trafficking the children as well as practicing incest, Babin said. In a 1973 message by the founder of Children of God, David Berg told members: “We have a sexy God and a sexy religion with a very sexy leader with an extremely sexy young following! If you don’t like sex, you better get out while you can.”
“We were trafficked across the world, from country to country, from commune to commune,” Babin said, describing the minors in the cult. “We were moved constantly. They held our passports and I never knew where my parents were. Most of the time they didn’t know where I was.”
Babin told Kelly that adults were told to teach the children how to have sex.
“The thing that is very interesting is that at 11, I had already been taught that women were sexual objects, that we were supposed to be ‘God’s whores,'” she explained. “So it was not that shocking to me that they took me aside and said, ‘Here, we are going to teach you how to have sex because this is part of your training.’ What surprised me was that I didn’t like it and I thought there was something wrong with me, that something was wrong with my heart, my soul, because I didn’t enjoy the thing that David Berg said that I should.”
The former member of the cult-like group maintained that her mother was unaware that she had endured sexual abuse. She also admitted being thankful that she was never forced to do anything sexually with her mom, as many of the parents in the group were.
“Most of these people were brainwashed, they were controlled,” she said. “If they rebelled, they could possibly lose their children and never see them again.”
“You control somebody’s sexuality, you control the most intimate part of their soul and then after that you can ask them to do all kinds of stuff.”
Babin decided to leave Children of God at 21 when she met her husband. She now says she’s “fantastic” and is a mother of four and a full-time artist who has gone through “a lot” of therapy.
According to PEOPLE, Children of God, now called The Family International, is “only an online network of 1,900 members, with no formal structure beyond its websites” as of 2010.
The group said it “has apologized for any hurt, real or perceived, that any member or former member may have experienced” and admitted that “minors were exposed to sexually inappropriate behavior between 1978 and 1986.”
It has since implemented a “zero-tolerance policy regarding the abusive treatment of children.” The founder, Berg, died in 1994.
The group denied allegations of “institutionalized abuse told by those who seek to promote their personal agendas or causes, or for financial gain.”
Despite the apology, the group slammed “much of the published media surrounding Christina Babin’s account” as ” highly implausible and … like sensationalized fiction.”
When asked to respond on “Megyn Kelly Today,” Babin said, “They say exactly what I thought they would [say]. There’s enough proof out there that I’m not going to waste my time. Go online and look it up.”
There are accounts of child sex abuse dating back decades against the group.
Hollywood actress Rose McGowan, like Babin, publicly told PEOPLE in 2011 that she was a member of the group as a child, before fleeing at age 9 because her “dad was strong enough to realize that this hippie love had gone south.”
“There’s a trail of some very damaged children that were in this group,” McGowan said then. “As strong as I like to think I’ve always been, I’m sure I could have been broken. I know I got out by the skin of my teeth.”
Despite the many accusations against them, TFI said “courts around the world” had found no wrongdoing in the early ’90s when investigated. Babin went on to share that the criminal investigations had been ineffective because the group frequently operated “overseas.”