In the recent issue of People magazine, actress Rose McGowan came out to discuss her childhood and talked about being raised for nine years in a communal “cult” with the international group that was known as “The Children of God.”
McGowan said that the group promoted “polygamy and sex at an early age” and banned newspapers and televisions to keep members “in the dark” about world events so that members “would obey.”
The group, which has an estimated 10,000 members in over 100 countries, has since changed its name to The Family International (TFI).
The group originated out of Huntington Beach, California in 1968.
In a statement to The Christian Post, by Claire Borowik of TFI, Borowik states that, “The usage of the label “cult” in reference to Family International by the media is pejorative and discriminatory.”
When asked by CP of the validity of McGowan's claims, Borowik responded saying they are “suspect at best and at times absurd, seemingly based on wild speculations and imperfect childhood memories, crafted for the sake of sensational publicity.”
McGowan has spoken out about her experience with The Children of God prior to the People magazine interview and once told Howard Stern that she avoided the group’s calls for members to become sexually active as a child.
McGowan also told Roseanne Barr in an interview on her show in 1999 that the group manipulated the usage of the word God saying, “Of course like most people that use God in their name (they) kind of twist it to their own purposes.”
She also added that she found certain practices of the institution absurd saying, “I remember being five and thinking ok, I’m gonna live through all of this stuff, probably then when I’m 19 I’ll have to have a lot of therapy but then I’ll be ok.”
However, Borowik of TFI has stated that there is no foundation for McGowan’s allegations and that courts around the world have evaluated over 600 children physically, psychologically, and educationally and the findings have revealed that courts have not had an issue with the way TFI conducts itself and treats children.
She continued, “Although TFI has apologized on a number of occasions to former members for any hurt, real or perceived, that they may have suffered during their time in our membership, we do not give credence to tales of institutionalized abuse told by those who seek to cause harm to our church and member children.”