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Charismatic Leaders Gave Birth to New Faiths But Can They Survive?

A Four-Part Series on Alternate Religions
by Don Lattin, Chronicle Religion Writer

small photo of Moon PART I - THE MOONIES - Sunday 2/11/01
Rev. Moon convinced thousands of baby boomers that he was the new "messiah." Now those aging converts are trying to keep their own kids in the fold.

button THE PATH: Coming of new age for alternative religions
   Their parents came of age in that burst of idealism and naivet&#eacute; known as the '60s, joining utopian movements and religious sects that promised to save the world through communal living, Krishna consciousness and the messianic visions of L. Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon.

button THE MOONIES: Looking to its youth for survival
   Mose Durst sat in the living room of a spectacular church-owned home in one of Berkeley's swankiest neighborhoods, just below the Claremont Hotel. It has an Asian flair, panoramic views of San Francisco Bay and the Rev. Sun Myung Moon looking down from a picture above the hearth.

button Life as a Moonchild far from blessed
   Phoenix -- Many mothers and fathers have high expectations for their children, but few as lofty as Donna Collins' parents.

small photo of Hubbard PART II - SCIENTOLOGY Monday 2/12/01
All new religious movements have trouble with apostates - those who denounce their former faith. But the Church of Scientology plays hardball with heretics.

button Leaving The Fold: Third-generation Scientologist grows disillusioned with faith
   Astra Woodcraft, apostate and defector, is the latest enemy of the Church of Scientology. Woodcraft, 22, never really joined this controversial psycho-spiritual movement, at least not as a free-thinking adult. Astra was born into it.

button When Scientology Is Passed Down: Second-generation disciple dedicates his life to the church
   Since the age of 14, San Francisco native Steve Latch has dedicated his life to Church of Scientology's spiritual counseling regime. Like all serious Scientologists, he began with "auditing" sessions using the e-meter, a simple biofeedback machine that purports to measure unconscious thoughts that impede spiritual development.

button Scientology Founder's Family Life Far From What He Preached
   When it came to marriage and family life, the late L. Ron Hubbard did not practice what he preached.

portion of photo of krishna girl PART III - HARE KRISHNAS Tuesday 2/13/01
They were one of the most visible spiritual movements of 1970s, but a child abuse scandal following their founder's death could bankrupt this Hindu sect.
button A Test of Faith: Allegations of past child abuse threaten Hare Krishnas' existence
   In 1975, Swami Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the worldwide Hare Krishna movement, was visiting his Berkeley temple when a disciple asked him the $64,000 question.

button Growing Up in the Hare Krishnas: Couple have mixed views about upbringing in sect and continuing to keep their faith
   Subal Smith was only 6 months old when his parents left New York and joined the great hippie migration, heading "straight to the Haight." It was the early 1970s, and the peaceful glow had already faded from San Francisco's counterculture scene, replaced by hard drugs and harder hearts.

1977 photo of Moses Berg and his PART IV - CHILDREN OF GOD Wednesday 2/14/01
"Moses" Berg attracted thousands with his prophesies about Christianity and free sex. Now the children born from those unions are living his legacy.
button Escaping a Free Love Legacy: Children of God sect hopes it can overcome sexy image Last of a four-part series
   They are the children of the Children of God, a new generation of freewheeling Christian revolutionaries. According to their detractors, they are heretics, cultists and polygamists, spawned by a twisted prophet preaching a strange brew of Christian compassion and free love. But to Sarah Lieberman, the oldest of 10 children born to a female member of the sect, the Children of God have been misunderstood and maligned.

button Daughter of Family's Founder Renounces His Teachings
   Deborah Berg, the oldest of four children born to David and Jane Berg, always thought of her father as "Dad." But in the early 1970s, Dad revealed himself to be "Moses David, God's Endtime Prophet."

The Chronicle has a message board at the Web site where comments can be posted. It can be accessed off any of the pages of the series or directly by clicking here. The author of the series, Don Lattin, can be reached at