The Move, a controversial church group, is the focus of a new episode of People Magazine Investigates: Cults
Richard Kiers had a happy early childhood with his parents and six siblings on a farm north of Toronto, Ontario. The thing that turned his world upside-down seemed “exciting” at first, he recalls.
Church had always played a big role in the family. So when Kiers’ father and others returned from a trip to North Carolina, where they’d heard the apocalyptic gospel of a charismatic preacher named Sam Fife, there was no alarm when his dad announced they would be switching over to Fife’s church.
“We were told that God had specifically chosen our family and a very limited group of people to be the final people that God was going to save when the world ended, and that group of people was going to be rulers with God, sitting at his right hand,” Kiers says in an upcoming episode of People Magazine Investigates: Cults, which airs tonight at 8 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery. (An exclusive clip is above.)
“At 10 years old it was exciting, it was really cool,” he says. “I really thought, wow, this is amazing.”
Fife was a former country music singer and ex-Baptist preacher who, at age 37, said he received a divine revelation from God and acted on his newfound belief that he was a prophet to launch his non-denominational Christian group in the 1960s.
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From a base in Miami, Fife called his first church The Miami Revival Center. But soon he began traveling the country, evolving his group’s name to The Movement of God, before settling on The Move as affiliated groups built his followers from hundreds to thousands of people.
Those who signed on were instructed to strive for “sinless perfection.” The young boy’s parents became church elders, giving them a direct line to the leadership that made stronger and stronger demands on followers, having brainwashed them into believing that demons were responsible for every negative thought or action.
In the fall of 1971, Kiers’ family and other followers were ordered to renounce what they had and move into the remote wilderness, where they would begin building encampments to prepare for the coming apocalypse.
“It was very important to separate ourselves from what they called ‘the world,’ the rest of the world, and in order to achieve the perfection we were supposed to achieve, we could have nothing to do with anyone outside of the group,” says Kiers.
But along the way, Kiers, as a child, made a shocking discovery within his own family that rocked his faith.
“That was the very first moment in my entire life that I questioned God,” he says.
“I finally concluded that the only escape was going to be to choose hell.”
People Magazine Investigates: Cults, The Movement of God, airs tonight on Investigation Discovery (8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT).