Love Family

A controversial communal living group known for its unorthodox lifestyle and spiritual practices, established in the Pacific Northwest.

Religion: Christianity
Founder: Paul Erdman
Founded: 1968
Ended: 2004
Location: United States (originally Seattle, Washington, later moved to various locations)
Size: Approximately 3,000 members (at peak)
Other Names: The Church of Armageddon, The Family of Love

The Love Family, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon, was a communal religious movement founded in Seattle in 1968 by Paul Erdmann, who later took the name Love Israel. The movement’s ideology was rooted in what they perceived as the fundamental truths of existence: that love is real, we are one, love is the answer, and now is the time; which were meant to foster a sense of unity and love among members and to confront societal issues with a focus on creating a better world​​​​.

Members of the Love Family adopted the surname “Israel” and first names that reflected virtues, in alignment with their belief in living a life exemplified by the teachings of Jesus Christ. Their daily life included communal living, with shared responsibilities and resources. Erdmann’s leadership was characterized by his charisma and absolute authority over the group’s spiritual and material matters​​.

The community practiced group marriage, with Love Israel being the only husband, and had strict rules against unauthorized sexual relationships and the use of birth control. Women had traditional roles of housekeeping and cooking, while children were raised communally. The group also had several businesses, including construction and a food store, and adhered to a vegetarian diet supported by gardening and gleaning​​.

Despite initial growth and the establishment of various communal homes and businesses, the Love Family faced significant internal conflict, which culminated in 1984. This conflict led to the departure of a substantial number of members and the loss of assets and properties to former members through litigation. The remaining group then moved to a rural property in Arlington, Washington, where they continued to live communally until 2004, when financial difficulties forced the sale of their properties​​​​​​.

Today, the remnants of the Love Family live on the shore of the Columbia River, near Lake Roosevelt, where they operate the China Bend Winery. Despite the dissolution of the larger communal structure, those who remain still adhere to the core beliefs that initially brought them together, continuing to emphasize love, oneness, and a spiritual connection to God in their daily lives​​.

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