Miss Indonesia’s link to religious cult The Family International
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Monday December 14, 2009
Miss Gibraltar Kaiane Aldorino was crowned Miss World 2009 on Saturday, outshining 111 other hopefuls at a glittering ceremony with a distinctly African flavour, AFP reports.
Among those losing out …
was Miss Indonesia, Kerenina Sunny Halim, who was the subject of a last-minute legal battle with a South African weekly that reported on her public comments about her ties to an American religious cult.
According to a report by the weekly Mail and Guardian, Halim belongs to The Family International, which has been mired in child and sexual abuse allegations by former members.
The 23-year-old Halim told the Jakarta Globe that she is a member of the church, for which she did humanitarian work after the Asian tsunami in 2004, the Mail and Guardian said.
Organisers lost a court battle to quash the story early Saturday.
Following her national coronation, Miss Indonesia, 23-year-old Kerenina Sunny Halim, admitted to the Jakarta Globe that she is a member of The Family International, a “non-governmental-organisation” for which she did humanitarian work in Aceh after the Asian tsunami in 2004. Halim, whose American mother and Indonesian father were members, was born into the organisation.
The Family International is the modern day spawn of The Children of God — and admits as much on its website. The name was changed in the 1980s after negative publicity forced it “underground”.
Founded in California in 1968 by David Brandt Berg, The Children of God was a counter-culture evangelical group with a foundation of biblical fundamentalism — and bonking.
Berg, who was also addressed as “Moses”, “Chairman Mo” or “Dad”, preached free love to his followers, to the extent that females were encouraged to go into the world and engage in “flirty-fishing” of men: essentially to use sex to proselytise.
Perry Bulwer, a Canadian lawyer and blogger who “escaped” the cult in 1991, described the now deceased Berg to the Mail & Guardian as “a self-professed prophet who was an alcoholic, incestuous, paedophile”.
During the 1990s the group, which sets up large communes for families to live together, was investigated for prostitution, child abuse and kidnapping in countries such as Argentina, France and Spain, with some members jailed briefly.
Thomas Bergstrom of Family Care, the Indonesian arm of The Family International, said Berg’s sexual-
healing approach to lost souls was “ancient history” and that while “there have been allegations, these were all proven untrue in court”.
On Friday night, the pageant organisers went to court in a bid to gag the Mail & Guardian newspaper, which published damning stories on a contestant’s alleged cult connections and the pageant’s ballooning costs.
According to the Mail & Guardian, the 2009 Miss World pageant would cost the City of Johannesburg at least R90-million – twice the previously allocated R45-million.
It also pointed out links between Miss Indonesia, 23-year-old Kerenina Sunny Halim, and The Family International, a US religious cult infamous for child and sexual abuse scandals.
The organisers of the pageant appealed to the South Gauteng High Court for an urgent interdict on Friday night, saying the stories would cause “irreparable commercial damage to the organisation if a global audience was exposed to them on the day of the pageant.”
But Judge Rami Mathopo disagreed and struck the case from the roll.
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