Understanding Cults, God Willing, April 2, PBS
Filmmaker Evangeline Griego’s nephew, Daniel, left home and became a member of the nomadic Jim Roberts Group, also known as The Brethren and The Garbage Eaters (because they eschew working in favor of foraging supermarket dumpsters for salvageable food). After he returned home she began work on a documentary, God Willing, an examination of The Brethren and families who have lost their children to the group.
God Willing will be shown on Public Television stations beginning April 2, 2011; check local listings for dates and times. Included are several former members of The Brethren who severed ties and returned to their families; they share some of their experiences and opinions about the group.
There are over 5000 cults in America; the Jim Roberts Group was founded in 1971 by Roberts, a “mysterious messianic figure” who has not been seen in public since 1998. The group is allegedly Christian, with a strong reliance on scripture, but that’s scripture as interpreted by Jim Roberts. “The group has survived for decades as a separatist society that preaches a strict path to salvation, proselytizes for new members, adheres to strict ascetic values, subsists on discarded food and refuse, and shuttles its members from town to town, often on the run from concerned parents…”
Video of one mother who reunites on the street with her daughter after seven years is heartbreaking. Although the daughter does not reject her mother, she is far from welcoming and refuses another meeting because she has “things to do.” Other parents report that they haven’t seen their son in 22 years, since he ran off and joined the cult.Continued on the next page