The Real Life ‘Kimmy Schmidt’: Twin Sisters, Former Children of God Members … – ABC News
Most childhoods are filled with bike riding, eating pizza or going to the movies, but twins Flor and Tamar Edwards, both 34, have been discovering many of these things for the first time as adults.
Thatâ€™s because for the first 13 years of their lives, these twins lived in what some ex-members call an apocalyptic cult.
â€œI didnâ€™t know what a movie theater was,â€ Flor said. â€œWe saw a drinking fountain for the first time, and we all just kind of like saw it, and we, like, huddled around it like it was some …â€œ
â€œ… novelty,â€ Tamar said, finishing her sister’s sentence.
Flor and Tamar were raised in a controversial religious sect called â€œThe Children of God,â€ which formed in Huntington Beach, California, in the late 1960s out of the â€œfree loveâ€ hippie era. The twins said the group lived as nomads and were shut out from mainstream society, believing that they were among God’s chosen people who would be saved when the apocalypse came.
As children, Flor and Tamar said they were taught they were â€œgoing to be Godâ€™s Martyrsâ€ when they were 12 years old — because they said members believed the apocalypse was coming in 1993 — and the twins lived in constant fear of that approaching year.
â€œI was terrified because of the this â€˜end timeâ€™ that was coming up so I had to deal with a lot of, as a child, very real fear,â€ Flor said. â€œI thought a lot about my death that was supposedly coming when I was going to be 12 years old.â€
Flor said she has watched â€œUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,â€ a popular Netflix show about a group of young women who are freed after years of being held captive by a cult leader in an underground bunker. Itâ€™s a storyline she said she can relate to. In the first episode, the character Kimmy Schmidt â€œsees water in the bathroom for the first time,â€ Flor said, a moment that really resonated with her.
Within The Children of God, the twins said they and other families lived in tight quarters. They said they were prevented from going to school, and they said they didnâ€™t learn to read until age 9.
â€œEverything was evil. You know, education,â€ Flor said.
â€œPolitics was evil,â€ Tamar added.
â€œMusic,â€ Flor continued. â€œAnything. Anything outside of the group was evil.â€
They missed the 1980s entirely, they said, and are still catching up on a those lost years of pop culture references.
â€œIf I watched all the movies from the ’80s and got a whole collection of music from the ’80s, I just — there’s no context there,â€ Flor said. â€œWe knew that there was someone out there named Madonna and Michael Jackson. That’s about it.â€
All of this, they said, was determined by one man, David Berg, known to them as â€œFather David.â€
â€œFather David taught us that churches were evil,â€ Flor said.
â€œAnd money was evil,â€ Tamar added.
Flor said Berg actually came from a â€œlong ancestral line of evangelists,â€ and that he was â€œvery familiarâ€ with the established Christian church, but rejected it.
â€œHe wanted to break away from that and he came out to California,â€ Flor said. â€œHe had some sexual experiences when he was very young and he was living in a constant conflict between his desire and his commitment to God.â€
The Edwards family was living in Los Angeles when they joined The Children of God, and then, in 1985, when the twins were 5 years old, Flor and Tamar said Berg decided his followers should leave the United States. So the family packed up and left for Thailand, where the twins said they lived until they were 12 years old, when Berg decided it was safe for his followers to come back to the states.