Faith Jones, author of “Sex Cult Nun,” has written a memoir of breathtaking resilience. Raised in the Children of God community, she describes her upbringing and finally her escape from the cult, driven by her craving for education and refusal to live a life of subjugation.
Jones is the granddaughter of the founder of the religious cult Children of God that gained popularity in the late 1960s. The organization appealed to disenfranchised young people, and eventually included 15,000 members. The cult believed conventional work and education were of limited value, that free love was an enactment of God’s love, that communal living meant everyone would have a home, and that the world was soon to end.
Jones’ youth was spent in Macau, Taiwan and Russia. Cult followers ended up working in obscure towns in mostly foreign countries, moving when authorities became suspicious of their practices.
Within the cult, children were barely educated, begged for money, took care of siblings and the household, and worked as farm hands. Every day, children spent two hours memorizing the doctrines of the community. Just a child herself, Jones was given the task of raising her younger siblings while her dad or mom carried out other tasks for the Children of God community.
“Free love” meant that sex with anyone, at almost any age, was a sign of God’s love. Sex was used to attract donors and followers. Multiple wives were common. Jones had many half-siblings.
Jones left the cult in her late teens, penniless and alone. She acquired a stellar education and found financial success with a prestigious law firm. Ultimately, with a TEDx talk in 2020 and with the publication of this book, Jones gives voice to those who have been abused and coerced into thinking they are responsible or guilty for the abuse. She sheds light on how people can be drawn into joining dangerous and evil cults, even today.
Jones included the word “nun” in the title after she observed the behavior of young novices at a retreat center she visited. Their duties as cooks, servers and cleaners reminded her of her own upbringing. That her childhood community was a sex cult is made clear.
The name Children of God was changed to The Family International in 2004 following a scandal that included a murder and a suicide.