Kerista was a new religion that was started in New York City in 1956 by John Peltz "Bro Jud" Presmont. Throughout much of its history, Kerista was centered on the ideals of polyfidelity (called "responsible non-monogamy") and creation of intentional communities.
From 1971 until 1991, the community was centered at the Kerista Commune (not a single physical building), founded in San Francisco, California. The Keristans practiced group marriage and maintained a very high profile which included publication of a popular free newspaper and several national media appearances.
Kerista also produced zines that included drawings and comics drawn by Even Eve (also known as Eve Furchgott, the daughter of the Nobel Prize winner Robert Furchgott), one of the earliest and core members. Some concerned day-to-day life, others presented a lighthearted polytheistic mythology which revolved around a pantheon of benevolent and technologically adept goddesses and gods. Kerista adopted singer Joan Jett as the "Matron Saint" of their community. Features presented in the zine included articles and essays concerning life within the community and concerning World Plan to establish a functional Utopian society on a larger scale.
The Keristans shared income and could choose whether or not to have outside paying jobs or work within the community (which operated several businesses, a legally incorporated church and an educational non-profit organization). The most successful of the businesses was Abacus, Inc., an early Macintosh computer vendor in San Francisco, which eventually offered a variety of computer hardware, training and services, and employed over 50 people (many of them non-commune members).
The official website lists 33 people as having joined Kerista at various times during the community's history, though more than this number passed through for short time periods. In 1979 and 1980, two children were born in the community. In 1983, the adult male Keristans had vasectomies, officially as a means to deal with birth control in the group and address global population issues (and, unofficially, to curtail the division of members' loyalties between children and the group "trip," that occurred when children were involved). All male applicants subsequently had the requirement of having a vasectomy within a set period of time after joining the community. This and many other rules or "standards" were in part responsible for keeping the size of the community small.
In 1991, the community experienced a major split, the founder going on to create The World Academy of Keristan Education. The residential commune itself dissolved, with the rest of the members going on to do other things with their lives. The terms polyfidelity and compersion were coined at the Kerista Commune.
John (Bro Jud) Presmont died on December 13, 2009 in San Francisco, CA. In his last years, Jud had been seen regularly on 'The Bro Jud Show' on San Francisco Public Access TV.
- ^ Kerista
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