I received this book for free from the library in exchange for my honest opinions/ review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.Heaven's Harlots: My Fifteen Years as a Sacred Prostitute in the Children of God Cult by Miriam Williams
Published by Quill on June 1st 1999
Genres: memoir, nonfiction
Source: the library
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An explosive first-person account by a young woman who spent fifteen years in a sex cult called the Children of God, which encouraged "sacred prostitution" and taught that "The Lord is our pimp."
Miriam Williams was an idealistic child of the sixties who, at seventeen, accepted an invitation from a "Jesus person" to visit a commune in upstate New York. She would soon be prostituting herself for a perverse cult that used sex to lure sinners to the Lord -- and this is her shocking, searingly honest account of a fifteen-year spiritual odyssey gone haywire.
The Children of God turned its female devotees into Heaven's Harlots, leading strangers to the love of God by enticing them with the pleasures of the flesh. At its height, the cult boasted 19,000 members around the world: In such places as France and Monte Carlo, young women, Miriam among them, mingled with the rich and famous to save their souls, and in this unsparing, unnerving autobiography, she'll identify some of her high-profile "clients." She left this bizarre world in an attempt to protect her son, born through an arranged marriage and kidnapped by his father.
Now, in a clear, compelling, cautionary tale, she shares both her extraordinary existence as a holy whore and the daunting experience of rebuilding a normal life -- an ordeal that led her to found a group dedicated to helping other cult survivors reclaim their souls as well.
I definitely have a thing for reading memoirs and books about cults – I’m a bit obsessed, truth be told. I was born in 76, and had really only heard of this cult before, but other than the name and that it was a cult, knew nothing at all about it. I prefer autobiographies to memoirs but actually read more memoirs than autobiographies, and this book was the first book I found through interlibrary loan when the time came to read about this cult.
Williams is clearly not an accomplished writer; her book reads very flat. That being said, her life is fascinating. You can clearly tell she’s censoring herself a lot, and I do get that, but on the other hand, she was the one who chose to write this book, you can’t now only share half your story, and you definitely get the impression that that is what she is doing here.
Her constant, reoccuring theme throughout the book is how she would do absolutely anything to protect her children and claims she finally leaves the cult because of her children, when that’s clearly not true. I also really hated the fact that she constantly talks about how much she loves her children (plural) and constantly tries to tell us what she did that made her such a good mother, when in fact she mainly obsesses over her oldest child, and mainly puts him (and her other children) in harm’s way, rationalizing that she’s in fact exposing them to emotional and psychological abuse. Williams seems more interested in telling us what a good mother she is, then in actually sharing her experiences in a cult.
I also was surprised, when she finally got to how she left the cult, by how she actually left. Without spoiling the book for you, she constantly tells us how she left the cult because she wanted to save her children, when it seems more like she just got left behind. The whole thing reads as a story, and I wonder where the truth actually lies.