Q&A: "The Word," Relations with Relatives

Were Mo Letters on a par with the Bible? Or even superior?

Yes.

Berg wrote, "...if there’s a choice between your reading the Bible, I want to tell you you had better read what God said today in preference to what he said 2,000 or 4,000 years ago!" ("Old Bottles," July 1973)

Mo Letters were considered "God's Word for today" and an important update on what was written in the Bible. "We're the Latter Church! The latest Church and the pattern God wants us to live by today is not exactly the pattern they lived by 2,000 years ago!" ("Old Bottles," July 1973) Therefore, Family members were to look to his writings for guidance rather than to the outdated writings of the Bible.

Was contact with family actively discouraged or was that just a natural consequence of the life being led?

Contact with family was discouraged in the days of the COG, except for asking for donations. We were to "burn our bridges" with "the System." Among the required verses for memorization was a category devoted to relations with family, exemplified by the verse, "A man's foes shall be they of his own household." (Matthew 10:36) They were our "Egypt," derogatory term used for members' former families and lives, which we were to unequivocally renounce, because by "forsaking all" - including family - we would "receive a hundredfold." (Matthew 19:29) And, "he that forsaketh not all that he hath cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:33)

These ideas were/are still fundamental to COG/TFI beliefs.

We were warned that family members could be our weakest link and the ones that were the most likely to cause us to "backslide" and leave the Lord's work. Any letters written home were generally brimming with happy stories of the member's wonderful lives.

As the years passed, family members were likely to receive more appealing donation requests in the form of newsletters of their relative's "work for the Lord," generally including posed photos of their relative smiling with groups of beaming children from the Developing Country or wherever they had their current mission. 

The "them" and "us" belief still continues. "They" being the unenlightened ones still in "the System;" "us" being the "called out elite Endtime disciples." Relatives are "them," not "us."

Would COG members not be given sufficient money to travel overseas to see family?

Members were encouraged to ask their relatives to pay if they were to visit family. If they were unwilling to do that, it was the member's personal responsibility to raise the needed funds themselves, usually on their free days. I have never heard a case where members were given funds for a visit home. After all, Berg wrote in 1970, "God created the System for His use‚ so His Children wouldn't have to be bothered with the little things like government, transportation, education, business, and earning a living!" ("Use It!" 1970)

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