I watched the film The Tale the other night about a woman finally coming to grips with being sexually seduced by a 40 year old man when she was thirteen years old. But, the film wasn't just about the sexual abuse of a child; it was also about how we often block out certain memories replacing them with only glorified ones in a euphoric recall. The adult woman in The Tale didn't want to allow herself to believe that she had been victimized by a much older man, when she was thirteen years old, claiming instead that it was the 1970's and that was just how it was back then--- the same explanation given in the 2012 film, by one of Jim Baker's more ardent remaining male followers. But, fast forward over 40 years later and one of the women who joined The Source Family when she was thirteen years old told me not long ago that Jim Baker had 'raped her and ruined her life', and yet she will never publicly tell her story, because of the embarrassment, shame and guilt that many women feel worried about how they will be perceived as being complicit in the abuse---something that keeps women from speaking out about sexual abuse suffered at the hands of men who use their positions of power, authority, and leadership to take sexual advantage of women around them. Although, the biggest reason that women who were in The Source Family remain silent is because of how former members are demonized and censured for not adhering to an idealized and romanticized narrative and who no longer hero worship Jim Baker. Sadly, a few of the women who joined The Source Family when they were very young have chosen to cling to a more idealized and romanticized narrative about what happened to them, rather than admit they were sexually taken advantage of by an older man who professed being their loving 'spiritual father' who expressed a great love for them, because what young woman doesn't want to be made to feel 'special' and 'chosen'. The reality of what happened to some of the young women who were only teenagers when they allowed Jim Baker to sexually penetrate them on a regular basis and how it later impacted their adult lives is very similar to what happened in the film The Tale.
I understand how difficult it is to accept the truth of what happened to some of the women who were teenagers when they joined The Source Family and Jim Baker began to groom them to be not only be sexually open and available to him, but to other men within the group, as well---men that he called 'his sons'. That was the message that Jim Baker was sending to 'his sons'/the men in the group: that a woman's role was to be sexually submissive to a man and age didn't seem to matter. Behind the appearance or guise of being an enlightened man who had been specifically chosen by God to father in the new Aquarian age, Jim Baker used his power and position as the 'spiritual' leader of The Source Family to have sex with as many of the women within the group, as he possibly could. It became part of everyday life in The Source Family---waiting to see which woman Father Yod would add to his ever-increasing stable of 'spiritual wives' continually attaching some kind of divine or sacred 'spiritual' meaning and significance to all of his actions (something that every spiritual or self-help guru does), and to have it be seen as some kind of honor or privilege to have sex with the man. Jim Baker actually believed that he was elevating sex to a higher level when he ordered/directed all of the women and men to perform a sexual ritual that he'd gotten from reading occult books by Aleister Crowley and The Golden Dawn, but the truth and reality behind Jim Baker's delusional beliefs about sex was that he ended up abusing his position of authority and power, as a 'spiritual' teacher, by controlling the sex lives of all of his followers particularly some of the teenage women. Which makes it even sadder how some former members from The Source Family continue to try and attach some kind of sacredness to the sexual ritual and beliefs of Jim Baker that he imposed on his followers, because rather than sex being an individual choice and decision; all of the men and women who had become willing and devoted students of the man were expected to follow and obey his directives. Ordering women to perform sex with the men was something that Jim Baker had no hesitation in doing, because like so many other spiritual and self-help gurus around even today like the leader of NXIVM; they hide their sexual misconduct and abuses behind a smokescreen of 'spiritual' wisdom or knowledge. Jim Baker didn't expect women to be physically branded with his initials like what was done to some women in NXIVM, but he did attach a familial label to every woman in The Source Family referring to them as either 'his wives' or 'his daughters' around the illusion of him/Father Yod being their loving and benevolent father figure directing his loyal and obedient children to adhere to and follow his 'aquarian commandments', and ordering the women within The Source Family to sexually service the men by performing a ritual which Jim Baker said would result in 'magical' and 'mystical' powers was an abuse of his power being the 'spiritual' teacher or leader of the group, because it robbed all of us/his loyal followers from making our own individual choices and decisions. But, more than anything Jim Baker should never have used his power and position as the father figure and 'spiritual' leader of The Source Family to have sex with teenage women or attempt to impregnate any of them. That's the difference between being in a cult where the leader decides and makes all of the decisions about how members will conduct themselves in every regard, and simply being in a commune or communal living situation where there is no one leader deciding how everyone should dress, eat and behave. Any group with one central leader who has been deified and elevated to a heightened vaingloriousness of being in possession of some kind of supreme knowledge or wisdom, becomes the perfect setting for sexual misconduct and abuse, as we've seen over, and over again in our culture.
The following statement is from a review about The Tale which I believe applies to what happened to some in The Source Family; "Ultimately, where the film is truly challenging, and potentially controversial for some, is in the way it questions the nature of victimhood, and how young women, longing to feel loved and desired, and needing to assert agency for their actions, effectively collaborate in their own abuse and its covering-up. That doesn't mean we should blame the victims or exonerate any of the adults involved, but Fox's film does illustrate how complex and nuanced these situations can be, especially when they took place in the aftermath of the counterculture's reframing of sexual norms. Just saying "It was the '70s" doesn't let anyone off the hook, but it does contextualize a set of permissive-to-the-point-of-lax attitudes toward child sexuality."
Yes, during the seventies there were a lot of young women who left their homes often searching for the love and acceptance they felt was lacking in their lives, and so when the spiritual leader of a seemingly 'new age' group convinces them they have been chosen by God to help him herald in the new 'aquarian age' espousing how much he loved, cherished and valued all women---it was very alluring. The whole hippie culture of sexual liberation and freedom of expression through 'sex, drugs and rock and roll' during the sixties and early seventies was a powerful attraction for many people, who during that time were also looking for like-minded individuals who shared a vision of peace and love that many believed their parent's generation lacked. Jim Baker, a WWII veteran and family man left his wife and family for greener pastures decided that God had chosen him to become the father of a new Aquarian race, and so having sex with and impregnating some of the young women who joined his 'aquarian family' made perfect sense to him. After all, Jim Baker believed that he had elevated sex to a 'higher' more enlightened 'spiritual' level and making each woman presented before him to feel uniquely special and chosen by him is why some of those women still cling to the belief that they found true love in Jim Baker, and that he only wanted to protect them----especially from the lust of men outside of The Source Family---a subject that Jim Baker talked about all of the time. It began with a big, warm bear hug from the man, but soon went from hugs and kisses and long embraces with Jim Baker, to convincing women that having sex with him was part of their spiritual growth. The fact that Jim Baker had a wife, Robin Baker made no difference whatsoever because he believed that God had chosen him to 'father' or usher in the new Aquarian age and impregnating women other than his wife, Robin became part of that plan.