Christian fringe sect, known for its intensely sexual approach to Christianity, and currently believed to have 10-15000 members worldwide. Also known as: COG, The Family (the name currently in vogue), World Services, Fellowship of Independent Christian Churches, Heaven's Magic and Martinelli. Founded around 1968 by "Moses David" (David Berg, 1919-1994).
The Children of God received a great deal of media attention in the 1970s and 1980s as the result of dubious proselytisation methods involving what the sect called "flirty fishing", the use of sexual favours by sect members to recruit new members. Among the tracts published by the sect was one discussing this practice as "Hooking for Jesus". The practice was officially abandoned in 1987, though rumours of its continuation persist.
The organisational structure of the church is geographically subdivided into Continental Reporting Offices (CROs), which oversee local communal settlements called Homes (formerly: "colonies"), headed by "Shepherds". At the head of the sect is the reclusive David Berg himself, and Berg's common-law wife Karen Zerby, known within the sect as "Maria"
The authoritative scripture of the sect consists of the Mo Letters (written by David Berg) and the Mama Letters (written by Karen Zerby). The sect appears to consider itself to be in a state of ongoing revelation.
As far as the internal religious dogma of the sect goes, the sect would seem to have an eccentric version of the Trinity, where the Holy Spirit is apparently the wife of God, Jesus Christ is a created being, and Heaven is a place of orgiastic abandon. The centrality of the sexual act is what defines the sect's approach, and the aspect of its faith that is most abhorrent to other Christian sects.
Persistent rumours indicate that the sexualisation of religious as well as everyday life within the sect is so pervasive that it includes sex between adult sect members and children. This has resulted in several police investigations around the world, but (so far as can be determined) no convictions. Accusations of tax evasion, kidnapping and fraud have also been levied against the sect, on several occasions.
The sect appears to have an Eschaton myth of the end of the world, possibly predicted to occur in 2006. The sect's founder, David Berg, is known to have made several eschatological prophecies, as well as predicting California's subsidence into the Pacific, and the total destruction of the United States of America by Comet Kohoutek (1974).
Thanks to Timeshredder for a few emendations.