Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille directed a documentary about a cult called the Source Family, led by Jim Baker, who called himself “Father Yod.” Baker’s followers worked at one of “America’s first vegetarian restaurants” in Los Angeles, which produced cash flow for the group that lived communally in Hollywood Hills. The essentially one-sided documentary presents Source Family as fringy and somewhat bizarre, but not sinister. The filmmakers apparently decided to depict Baker as an eccentric, but benign leader.
However, there is a blog online with first-hand account from a former Source Family member that paints an entirely different and dark picture of both Baker and his group. The blog “Life In The Source Family” recounts the often painful experiences of people that actually lived through and endured Baker’s authoritarian rule during the 1970s.
In a recent blog installment titled “My Own Moral Outrage” a former member of Source Family recounts, “Jim Baker’s own attitude and belief towards the women.” It seems Baker “decided as the group’s head honcho how women’s bodies would be utilized in his cult/group.” And Baker “never once asked what any of [his followers] wanted. He just expected everyone to obey his directives, along with instructing the women on what their roles or duties were to be; which was to be of service to the men.” Baker even referred to some of the women as his “milk cows.”
The blogger says, “It was not until ‘the family’ ended and we all dispersed and went our own separate ways that many former ‘source family’ members were able to deprogram themselves and look back critically and objectively at what we had been made to do/coerced to do while in ‘the source family.’”So what about the rather rosy role of counter-culture trailblazer that Demopoulos and Wille seem to depict of Baker in their documentary?
“It is deceptive for those who continue to present only the window dressing of The Source Family to make it look appealing and to be viewed in a favorable light by the public leaving out entirely the fact that Jim Baker expected men and women to perform a sexual ritual, which caused more harm than good and that was the equivalent of a physical and psychological abuse of power,” states the morally outraged blogger.
The ex-member concludes, “The Source Family was a travesty of women’s rights and the rights of children to receive medical treatment; especially when it was available. It is time that people felt a moral outrage about men who think/believe that they should be the ones to decide what happens to a woman’s body or to the bodies of their own children.”
The Cult Education Institute (CEI) online library has archived articles about Source Family and its leader Baker. But these news reports and reviews largely reflect coverage of the documentary directed by Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille. In order to provide better balance the Source Family page within the CEI database now includes a prominently displayed link to “Life in the Source Family.”
Jim Baker is dead and like most cults when the leader dies the group often withers away and dissipates.
But there are many people that were hurt and scarred by Jim Baker and their stories should be known, not just the misleading hipster/vegan counter-culture narrative promoted by the Demopoulos and Wille documentary.