There are a myriad of different cults threatening teenage livelihoods today. Below is a list of some of the most dangerous and well known cults, but this is by no means meant to be exhaustive, it is simply a sample of some popular groups to watch out for and educate teens about. Sue Scheff™ and other parent activists realize that providing a source of knowledge and information on teen and parent issues is the best way to help curb the dangers of teen cults.
The Twelve Tribes
The Twelve Tribes is group of religious organizations founded in the 1970s by Elbert Eugene Spriggs. While living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Spriggs created a teenage ministry called the Light Brigade, which operated a coffee shop. Spriggs transitioned the group and its teen members into a communal living situation and into its own religious splinter group after his Church postponed a sermon because of the Super Bowl.
Armed with his new community and belief system, Spriggs opened a chain of restaurants called Yellow Deli to raise money for his cult. The group continued to grow and spread around the country with their restaurants, while gathering significant criticism. The Twelve Tribes attempt to live in the primitive way of the early Church, following the path of Jesus, and believe they must get rid of all their possessions and individuality to call Jesus their true lord. Twelve Tribe members live communally and share all income and possessions.
Twelve Tribes was accused of child abuse and child labor violations in their various businesses. The group has also been accused of racist and anti-Semitic nature in their rhetoric and some of the loudest speakers against the group are former members, who warn of many dangers within the authoritarian organization.
Children of God/The Family International
The Children of God, now known as Family International, is a global cult masking as a religious movement. The organization started in 1968 in Huntington Beach, California, as a splinter of the Jesus movement of the 60s. The group’s influence spawned the first organized anti cult organization, known as [FREECOG (http://www.xfamily.org/index.php/FREECOG)%5D
The Family International uses its unassuming name and religious overtones to mask its bizarre cult nature. In its early stages, Family International used sex to win followers and show God’s love. This type of religious prostitution was called flirty fishing, and the cult used this perverted evangelism to win over many disillusioned converts.
The Family International is far from family oriented, in the common sense of the word family at least. The cult uses sexuality is its main theme and has distributed photographs, videos, and writing that promote and show adult and child sexual interaction within the group. Family International has since reconciled these problems, but for over 20 years, they clearly abused children in their ranks. Now, the Family International demotes individuals who report abuse to law enforcement agencies or pursue legal action against an abuser to a lower status in the group, and sometimes makes them leave the cult all together.
The group was founded by David Berg, who teaches a theology based on Christian fundamentalism. Berg is regarded in the group as a profit who passed on the direct words of God before his death. The group follows the Law of Love, which permits any actions that are motivated by sacrificial, unselfish love and are not intentionally hurtful. However, cult members believe homosexuality in males is a sin, but female bisexuality is perfectly fine. Adult members of The Family International are encouraged to have sex with other adult members, regardless of their marital status. Family International also encourages members to imagine they are having sex with Jesus during masturbation and intercourse, and male members are supposed to envision themselves as women, so as not have homosexual relationships with Jesus.
The Unification Church (Moonies)
The Unification Church was created by Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 1954, based on Moon’s belief that Jesus spoke to him in 1935, instructing Moon to establish God’s kingdom on earth and finish what Jesus was unable to complete. Moon was arrested for preaching his beliefs in Korea but was freed from prison in 1950 by American troops. Moon’s religious system grew in popularity after his release and he sent out numerous missionaries to Japan and America, eventually moving to the United Sates in 1971.
Moon asserts he is the messiah of the Second Coming and that his wife is the embodiment of the Holy Spirit. The couple labels themselves as the True Parents.
The Unification Church is dangerous because of its financial and political power. Over 300 financial institutions and businesses provide a front for the group, ranging from clothing stores, to publishers and jewelers. Moon has also been invited to the white house and has spoken in front of Congress.
Despite his claim to be the messiah, Moon has spent time in American prisons for tax evasion. Moon also presides over mass weddings, one of which married 30,000 couples in Korea.
Moon’s book, Divine Principles, is considered to be inspired the by the word of God and is considered to be scripture among members of the cult. Moon uses his extensive and legitimate business system, as well as various philanthropic endeavors to mask his cultist tendencies.