Heaven's Harlots: My Fifteen Years as a Sacred Prostitute in the Children of God Cult

Miriam Williams, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (288p) ISBN 978-0-688-15504-9
For over 15 years, the elusive Children of God cult leader, Moses David, commanded a fold of 19,000, his teachings disseminated through pamphlets that combined quotes from the Holy Scriptures with theories that condoned arranged marriages, the use of sex to attract recruits and the separation of children from parents. In her first book, Williams describes how, in 1971, as a young hippie who burned to ""live in the purity of Jesus' words,"" she joined the Christian fundamentalist cult (River Phoenix had spent years in the cult as a child). Williams soon found herself pregnant, married and forced into ""giving sex in order to tell a person about God's love."" Over the years, Williams says, commune life shifted from prayer, panhandling and street evangelism to hardcore crime, as David became more tyrannical. A high-class prostitution ring evolved that funneled thousands of dollars a month into COG's Swiss bank accounts. David's request (according to Williams) that couples practice group sex, homosexuality and pedophilia prompted the author to leave the security of the COG family to protect her younger children. Williams's painstakingly candid story provokes striking insights and questions about disenchanted youth, misogyny and the psychological appeal of cult living, demonstrating that the best stories strive to tell the truth and let readers draw their own conclusions. 16 pages of b&w photos, not seen by PW. Author tour. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 324 pages - 978-0-688-17012-7
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