‘Conan the Barbarian’ star Rose McGowan recently revealed how she spent the first nine years of her life in the controversial ‘Children of God’ cult with her parents, Terry and Daniel, on a large commune in Italy.
She told People magazine, “At a very early age, I thought: ‘These beliefs are absurd.’ Like in most cults, you were cut off from your [outside] family. There were no newspapers, no television. You were kept in the dark so you would obey. It was not a wealthy existence.“
Although she did believe in God, McGowan did not buy into the group's philosophy or their attitude towards women: “I remember watching how the cult's men were with the women, and at a very early age I decided I did not want to be like those women. They were basically there to serve the men sexually. The women would go to bars as lures (to pick up recruits), they called it flirty fishing.”
Eventually, McGowan and her family left the cult after it began to advocate sex between children and adults. “I was not molested because my dad was strong enough to realize that this hippie love had gone south,” she added.
The family fled in the middle of the night and returned to America where McGowan went to live with her mother and stepfather after her parents' divorce. McGowan says she ran away from home and was temporarily taken in by drag queens, before returning to live with her father.
The 'Children of God' was founded in 1968 by David Berg who advocated free love attitudes and the second coming of Jesus. The cult is said to have used sexual sharing to recruit new members in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
After Berg's death in 1994, the group's name was changed to ‘The Family International’ and is reportedly led by Berg's former partner Karen Zerby.
“There's a trail of some very damaged children that were in this group,” McGowan says. “As strong as I've always been, I'm sure I could have been broken. I know I got out by the skin of my teeth.”