Statement From The Family International on Their Child Protection Policy

statement

In 2010, the Family International disassembled its previous organizational framework, which resulted in the closure of its cooperative centers and its transition to a small virtual network. At this point, the Family International exists only as a small online network of some 1,800 people spread out in 80 countries, and has virtually no formal structure other than its websites. There are no centers, offices, meetings, or forums.

The Family International is a Christian online network of individuals committed to sharing the message of God’s love with people around the globe. Members have engaged throughout its history in Christian outreach programs and humanitarian and charitable works, striving to bring aid to the disadvantaged, displaced, and those without hope. 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 Family International traces its origins to Huntington Beach, California, where its founder, David Berg (1919-1994), together with his wife and teenage children, began a ministry to the counterculture youth that congregated in that seaside town. Many of these experienced dramatic changes in their lives as they came to develop a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As a result, many decided to dedicate their lives to the service of God and fellow man. In late 1969, when the group had grown to about 100 members, it was dubbed the “Children of God” by the news media. By 1972 there were 130 communities of full-time members scattered throughout the world.

In early 1978, the Children of God was disassembled, and subsequently reorganized and became known as the Family, and later the Family International. The Family International underwent numerous changes in structure throughout its history, as it developed into an international organization. In 1995, a membership charter was adopted, which codified the beliefs, rights, and responsibilities of full-time Family members. Family members and communities operate according to their own decisions and initiative within the framework of the Family International’s Charter. (For more on the Family International and Children of God’s history, see https://www.thefamilyinternational.org/en/about/our-history/; https://www.childrenofgod.com/en/history/)

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 small online network of approximately 1,800 people in 80 countries.

The Family International Child Protection Policy

The Family International has had a zero-tolerance policy in place for over three decades for the protection of minors, dating to 1986, and permanently expels any member who violates this policy. (See The Family International’s Child Protection Policy.) Regrettably prior to the adoption of this policy, cases occurred where minors were exposed to sexually inappropriate behavior between 1978 and 1985. This was addressed in 1986 when any contact of a sexual nature between an adult and minor (any person under 18 years of age) was officially banned and, subsequently in 1989 declared an excommunicable offense. The Family International’s Charter (first published in 1995) reaffirmed this standard.

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). 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 or allegations of institutionalized abuse. 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 intrusive court-appointed physical, psychological, and educational testing. In every case, the courts 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 here).

We believe that every child has the right to be protected from abuse and neglect of any kind, whether physical, emotional, sexual, or educational. The Family International 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. The Family International 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.

For more information on the Family International, please see www.thefamilyinternational.org.