OF A LESSER GOD:
Charismatic Leaders Gave Birth to New Faiths But Can They
A Four-Part Series on Alternate Religions
by Don Lattin, Chronicle
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.
PATH: Coming of new age for alternative religions
Their parents came of age in that burst of
idealism and naiveteacute; 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.
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.
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.
II - SCIENTOLOGY
All new religious movements have trouble with apostates
- those who denounce their former faith. But the Church of Scientology
plays hardball with heretics.
The Fold: Third-generation Scientologist grows disillusioned with
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.
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
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.
III - HARE KRISHNAS
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.
Test of Faith: Allegations of past child abuse threaten Hare Krishnas'
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.
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.
IV - CHILDREN OF GOD
"Moses" Berg attracted thousands with his prophesies
about Christianity and free sex. Now the children born from those
unions are living his legacy.
a Free Love Legacy: Children of God sect hopes it can overcome sexy
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.
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."
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
directly by clicking here. The author of the series, Don Lattin,
can be reached at email@example.com.