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SF Chronicle”Jesus Freaks is an impressive feat of investigative history, bringing to light the warped worldview and abusive sexual and disciplinary practices of a deluded secret society...It's one more reminder of religion's awesome power, another look at how easily it can be twisted to destructive ends.“

Mary D'Ambrosio
San Francisco Chronicle,
October 21, 2007

Praise for Jesus Freaks

“Jesus Freaks is a page-turner and a heart-stopper, a descent into an inner circle of hell in the guise of hippie heaven. It is also an intimate tale of a family scandal compounded of sexual exploitation and betrayal, psychological terror, and cold-blooded murder. Above all, Don Lattin’s gripping and masterful book is an eye-opening account of how religious true belief can go terribly and tragically wrong.”
By Jonathan Kirsch
Author of A History of the End of the World.

“Don Lattin’s analysis of the life and death of Ricky Rodriquez is, and will remain, the definitive account of life within the inner circle of a very abusive new religion. Jesus Freaks recounts a religion slipping into the abusive madness of its leader, with deadly consequences for generations…If this tale of revenge and murder has any heroes, then they are the members of the second generation who had the courage to leave and the conviction to speak out. Lattin uses their accounts masterfully to analyze what surely must be among the most compelling accounts of a harmful religion in our times.”
By Professor Stephen Kent
Sociologist at the University of Alberta and a leading scholar in the study of new religious movements.

“…a tragic and gripping story with powerful and chilling detail…leaves the reader disturbed but full of insights.”
By Tim Reiterman
Veteran investigative journalist with the Los Angeles Times and the author (with John Jacobs) of Raven -- The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and his People.

“Don Lattin has written a book that will sear its way into your mind like a late August California sunset. As you follow the twisted lives of David Brandt Berg and the people involved in the Children of God,you can’t help but wonder: is this a simple tale of perverted values and pathological excess, or is this the inevitable consequence of giving free reign to the spirit…”
By Harold Rabinowitz
Editor, Encyclopedia of Religion in America.

“…the most meticulously researched book on The Family to date. Lattin has taken the complicated and intentionally clouded history of The Family and distilled it into a gripping and profound narrative.”
By Daniel Roselle
Second generation Family defector

“A must-read for anyone who wants to better understand the potential dangers of too much power and too much faith, this book provides an in-depth, insightful, and often startling look at one home-grown manifestation of rigid fundamentalism combined with righteous fanaticism. You might be asking, ‘Why should I care about this kooky group with its perverted leader?’ Lattin explains exactly why, letting us see how genuine believers and good people can get caught up in reprehensible activities. In today’s environment of religious extremism, global terrorism, and the growing international sex trade, this is a book not to be ignored.“
By Janja Lalich
Author of Bounded Choice: True Believers and Charismatic Cults

“Don Lattin, a veteran religion reporter, paints a horrifying picture of what happens when abuse is cloaked in religiosity, and the devastating impact on a generation of children held hostage to that abuse.”
By Judy Muller
Associate Professor of Journalism, USC Annenberg School for Communication.

“Jesus Freaks” is both terrifying and fascinating.“
By Jim Willse
Editor, New Jersey Star-Ledger

“Don Lattin has written a gripping and masterful account of a toxic, sex-soaked cult that espoused free love and instead spawned frightening violence. It is a spectacular read, and with it Lattin, one of the country’s foremost religion journalists, has shown himself to be as adept as Bugliosi and Krakauer at plumbing the depths of group fanaticism.”
By David McCumber
Managing Editor, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Don Lattin’s pulsating page-turner mixes religion, sex and 60s weirdness in a heady brew. His well-researched account of The Family deftly places this new religious movement in the mainstream of alternative American spirituality.
By Diane Winston
Associate Professor, Knight Chair in Media and Religion at USC and author of Red Hot and Righteous -- The Urban Religion of the Salvation Army


Anderson Cooper and CNN
Report on Jesus Freaks
Link to Video CNN Report
Cult blamed in suicide
A religious sect that once advocated adult-child sex is blamed in a young man's murder-suicide.

Link to Times Book Club
Author Profile

CC Times
Published in the San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Times - Oct 25, 2007
“The Offspring of ‘Jesus Freaks’
• Shocking book delves into the inner machinations of the Children of God.

David Berg was a small-time circuit preacher whose flocks ran thin until the late '60s, when the sexual revolution and the Jesus movement bloomed at once.
The sex-obsessed Berg wove the two into a double helix, drawing from the remnants of hippie life -- people with nothing to lose, nowhere to go, and no Christian background to serve as a compass while in the thrall of a man who purported to live by Scripture.

By Rebecca Rosen Lum
Staff Writer, Contra Costa Times

Link to the
Arizona Daily Star Article

Arizona Daily Star“New book calls cult practices madness – 2005 murder in tucson followed tale of sex abuse”.
By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star


  Don Lattin and Jesus Freaks
featured on ABC News.

Link to “Nightline”
NightlineThe Tragic Legacy of the Children of God New Book “Jesus Freaks” Explores Motives Behind a
Violent Revenge.
By Jay Schadler and Karson Yiu
From Nightline

Jesus Freaks is the story of a January 2005 night of rage that left two people dead and shed new light on the Children of God/Family International, an evangelical sect founded by David “Moses” Berg, a self-proclaimed “Endtime Prophet.” During the spiritual counter-culture of the late 1960s, this previously unremarkable evangelist embraced a strange brew of Christian witness, radical politics, apocalyptic doom and free love.

His story is told here through the eyes of Ricky “Davidito” Rodriquez, a child born into the inner sanction of the cult, which sent thousands of hippies, leftists and “Jesus freaks” on a long, strange trip into the messianic fantasy of its leader.

Ricky was christened to be one of the  “two witnesses” destined to sacrifice themselves and bring on the apocalyptic battles foretold in the Book of Revelation. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy, but with a twist.  Ricky would grow up, leave the fold and denounce his estranged mother and spiritual father, making his own date with destiny. Consumed with rage, he would become the reluctant martyr for an abused army of troubled souls  -- a lost generation that would return to haunt The Family International.

Early Reviews

"A valuable exposé, with well-documented sources, of a fringe group that is still active worldwide," says Library Journal. "Lattin also provides a capsule history of similar countercultural religious movements. The book, which reads like a suspense
novel, will be in demand."

"Eminently readable," says Booklist. "A treasure trove for those curious about aberrant cultic enterprises."

"Carefully researched...a true crime tale," says Publishers Weekly. "Lattin, who covered the religion beat for the San Francisco Chronicle, offers an arresting, if uneven, account of The Family. He begins by arguing that the cult is best understood in the context of American evangelicalism, and does some strong investigation into the founder's ancestry to prove this point."

"Andrea Useem Interviews
the Author on the Making of a Twisted Sexual Theology."

Link to article



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