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Part 8: Fleetwood Mac's Guitarist Joins Children of God

Jeremy Spencer disappears from the Fleetwood Mac tour in 1971 only to be discovered in the Children of God cult.

It was February, 1971 and Fleetwood Mac was on tour but founding guitarist Jeremy Spencer was nowhere to be found.  His bandmates reported that Spencer had gone to a bookstore in Los Angeles to get a magazine and never returned. They were in town to play a show at Whiskey A Go Go. Soon the FBI and authorities were searching. Days went by with nothing. There were radio mentions and a story came out called "Jeremy Spencer: Lost in America?"

Five days after he disappeared he was located. But he had a shaved head and had been renamed Jonathan. He was at the headquarters of Children of God cult also known as the Family.  “His head was shaved and he had a different name. Basically, he was like a zombie," Mick Fleetwood said later during an interview. The tour manager said, "He just kept mumbling: 'Jesus loves you'. It was awful, like he'd gone off his head or something. He's bloody well brainwashed, that's what."

Spencer claims that he met a busker on the street who invited him to the Children of God building. He said he was frustrated with Fleetwood Mac and wanted out. The impromptu cult meeting was his way. “I was sad, uninspired musically, I had questions about life, death, love, my future, God – everything,” claimed Spencer.

Somehow Spencer convinced his wife to join him in the cult and she brought their kids to Los Angeles.

Soon after leaving Fleetwood Mac, Spencer created his own Children of God cult band called Jeremy Spencer and The Children. Their self-titled album was released in 1972 on Columbia Records. It's described a mix of psychedelic folk and American and British styles. The lyrics of their single "Can You Hear the Song" were deeply religious and Christian, even referencing the apocalypse.

The band toured in the US and Europe supporting the album.

Music played a central role in the cult according to former members. There was a famous group in France called Children of God or Les Enfants de Dieu who appeared on national TV stations. They released several vinyl record albums in the 1970s including My Love is Love, Liberty and Welcome. There was also a famous dance troupe in Thailand where some of the singers became very well known.

CHILDREN OF GOD WAS "ONE of the most horrifically abusive and destructive cults in American history," according to cult expert Rick Alan Ross. Founded by evangelical Christian Dave Berge in 1968 it had tens of thousands of members around the world who lived in communes in places like Greece, Thailand, Argentina and the US. Children were separated from their families and sent to live internationally. Members believed Berg was the reincarnation of Jesus and the Dalai Lama.

Members allege they were beaten, brainwashed, physically abused and locked in closets, sleep deprived, or forced to remain silent for up to a month. There was also widespread sexual abuse and child sexual abuse within the group. Kids were put into detention camps where they endured forced child labor, terrible living conditions and abuses. Members were encouraged to imagine Jesus was joining them during sex and masturbation. The term they used was "Loving Jesus."

Ex-followers describe commune living like a military camp with strict schedules and up to 150 people would live together in one housing unit. Members had to give over all possessions, inheritances and property upon joining.

Video from the 1970s shows teenage members evangelizing on the beaches, playing music, wearing sack clothes with ashes on their foreheads. They were warning the end time is coming.

Children of God members were raised to believe they were soldiers of God's final army. "I thought I was going to die at age ten," says ex-member Natacha Tormey speaking of the apocalyptic nature of the group. "It was our job to fight the anti-christ. We would receive superpowers from God in the end times. We could shoot lightning from our fingers." David Berg claimed to have received his information from prophecy direct from God but Tormey said he was a raging alcoholic.

Originally more conservative, the group became sexually radical over time. Berg instructed sexual sharing, threesomes, orgies and scheduled sexual nightly pairings in the homes. It was taught that adults should share their partners to create "unity" in the group. They didn't believe in contraception so 60-70 percent of the members of the group were children.

The group also began using a technique called "Flirty Fishing" where women would use sex to recruit men in the name of God.

Berg's "Law of Love" said children should also be part of the sexual liberation. "Anything was permisable in love," Berg would say. This led to sexual abuse of babies, toddlers and teens.

A book was published called the "The Story of Davidito" which contained graphic images and descriptions of sexual abuse of a young member named Ricky Rodriguez. He was adopted by Dave Berg and Karen Zerby, who proclaimed he'd be a prophet in the end times. The book showed images of him being sexually abused by adults from the age of one onwards. Many of these images had already been sent as pamphlets to members around the world. Rodriguez was sexually abused by many of the adult women, Zerby the worst. She is currently the head of the organization.

Many years later Rodriguez sought to track down Karen Zerby and kill her but couldn't find her. Instead he found her secretary Angela Smith who had participated in the sexual abuse. In 2005 he stabbed her to death and he then committed suicide.

IN 2014 A NON-PROFIT CALLED Safe Passage Foundation started a petition protesting against Jeremy Spencer's Kickstarter to produce his next album and his US tour. The petition said Spencer was involved in sexual abuse of children and production of child pornography:

Jeremy Spencer left Fleetwood Mac in 1971 to join The Children of God (now known as The Family International), a cult founded by pedophile David Berg that was responsible for widespread and systematic abuse of thousands of its children. Jeremy Spencer played a central part in this abusive cult for decades and the fact that he has sexually assaulted children and participated in the production and distribution of child pornography has been well documented.
In published statements, books, sworn affidavits, and court testimony (in legal cases in the United Kingdom and Argentina), a number of people, including one of his own children, have publicly accused Jeremy Spencer of sexually assaulting them when they were children.
In 1995 during a child custody case in the United Kingdom, Lord Justice Ward noted that Jeremy Spencer sexually abused his own daughter and the granddaughter of cult founder David Berg while at the Music with Meaning commune, which Justice Ward described as a “particularly corrupt and corrupting organisation” that Spencer “played a central part in.”
While at Music with Meaning, Spencer also participated in the production and distribution of pornographic videos created for and distributed to David Berg and other members of the cult.  Many of the videos also included sexual performances by young children.  In one video tape, Spencer appears on camera having sexual intercourse, while in another scene, his own daughter appears performing a strip-tease dance distributed for the gratification of the group's adult members.

Just four days after the petition started Spencer's publicist announced that he was canceling the tour and Kickstarter campaign.

The details of Spencer's child sexual abuse are disturbing. Three people testified in 1992 during a child custody case that Jeremy Spencer sexually assaulted and abused them. Several people submitted sworn affidavits to the FBI in 2005 alleging child sex abuse by Spencer. There was a 2007 book called Not Without My Sister published by Harper Collins that described Spencer's child sexual abuse in detail. And yet again in 2014 another victim published a statement that described Spencer's routine sexual abuse when she was seven. She also noted his violent physical abuse of her two-year old sister.

"Argentines Say a Sex Cult Enslaved 268 Children," reads a New York Times headline in 1993. "An Argentine judge said today that a police raid had found 268 children living in cramped quarters, many of them underfed and poorly clothed, and literature promoting sex between adults and children." The police also found a video of a father having sex with his daughter. 30 leaders were charged with "racketeering, depriving minors of their rights and kidnapping."

Other raids took place across the world in places like Australia, Argentina, France, South America, England and other countries. "In May 1992 the police in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, took 140 children between the ages of 2 and 16 into protective custody," the NYTimes reported about another Children of God raid.

In 2013 Spencer moved to Munich, Germany. He is still a member of Children of God and illustrates their children's books as well as performs in studio recordings. Spencer toured with Children of God musicians in the 1990s through India. In 1998 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame with Fleetwood Mac.


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