A Bakery, a Christian Cult, and the Reach of Social Media
July 11, 2016 by Peg Aloi
The Blue Blinds Bakery in Plymouth, Massachusetts looks to all outwards appearances like a nice friendly family-owned business. It’s gotten great reviews for its food and service in major media outlets like the Boston Globe and, until rather recently, their Yelp page also contained many positive reviews for their friendly service and delicious fare.
But the recent creation of a Facebook page that exposes the family behind the establishment as a fringe sect of evangelical Christians who believe in severe corporal punishment or children, as well as the importance of slavery to “save” black people from “degradation” (huh?) is drawing the ire of many former and potential customers in New England, not to mention decent human beings everywhere.
Boston Magazine‘s recent article draws attention to the Facebook page that has been reportedly created by a former employee of the bakery. On the page, which started out posing as an “official” business page first established in 2011, went dormant after scant activity in 2012. But recently a post on July 7th stated “We have decided to use our Facebook (sic) page as an active evangelism tool.” Then the racist post promoting slavery happened; along with one that was oddly supportive of the LBGTQ community (or was it?); and perhaps most disturbing, since it hinted at the personal experience of the poster, statements about punishing children with long and recurrent beatings. Another post seemed to be sarcastic, posting from the point of the view of the “parents” of children who had stayed up all night painting the bakery’s exterior.
Responding to the reprehensible views displayed on their page, most commenters have stated their displeasure and intention to never support the business again (although some have been supportive). The business’ tax -exempt status for being a religious organization has also come under fire. A statement that appeared on the page late last night, linking to the Boston Magazine article (which also contains a brief interview with the former employee), begins:
Pretty soon you’re going to see articles on Boston Magazine and possibly Boston Globe alleging that this Page is being run by a former employee who is disgruntled. That is both false and true.
Firstly, the Blue Blinds Bakery has no employees because to be an employee you have to get paid. But yes, it is true that I worked at the Blue Blinds Bakery for some time.
I was born into the Twelve Tribes, which owns the Bakery, and over the time I grew up there, the things I have posted on this Page were all taught to me as being fundamental truths. Without access to internet or books that carried an opposing view, I knew nothing else.
It was only after I left that I started realising how demented and twisted the views behind this religion are.
Common Ground Cafe, Hyannis, MA (photo from twelvetribes.org)
Friends of mine in Boston have told me they’re familiar with the business, and that the Twelve Tribes “family” or sect has more than one business in the greater Boston area (like the Common Ground cafe in Hyannis). The business’ website is very open about their religious affiliation.
Meanwhile, according to Boston Magazine, the actual owners of the bakery have created a Facebook page of their own, and have begun addressing what they call the slanderous remarks of this former employee.
More on this story as it unfolds.
Comments from the public:
I live mere minutes from a TT community. The stuff on the page is absolutely, 100% true. Most (though not all) of it is readily available on the Twelve Tribes web page (not their satellite business pages, which they deliberately try and make look like small businesses owned by one family each). Anything with BOJ in the name is affiliated with them, as are many businesses using the phrase “Common Ground” somewhere, or sometimes just “Common” or “Commonwealth” followed by whatever the business is. They also run a chain of delis called The Yellow Deli. ALL of their restaurants and cafes have identical decor. Very woodsy-looking, when you’re inside it feels like a treehouse, in a good way.
But they actively recruit at jam band concerts and other festivals and events that are “hippie” in any way. Their very strict dress code makes them all look like a bunch of hippies themselves: beards and identical short ponytails on the men, long uncut hair and no makeup on the women, floor-length skirts or loose baloon pants for the women and untucked shirts for the men. They follow an organic diet and use alternative medicine. Big overlap among people who find that superficially appealing and people who like bands like Phish– people like me, actually! But even minimal surface scratching reveals a dangerous cult.
-In order to join, you have to sell everything you own and give them all the proceeds– makes it almost impossible to leave, although if you look up older news articles about the TT and then track down the members profiled in them, a LOT of them have indeed left.
-When you join you have to pick a new Hebrew name. While some of the names are actual names used by Jewish people, a lot are just random Hebrew words.
-Alternative medicine isn’t a choice, it’s required. The kids aren’t vaccinated. Women have to have home births whether they want to or not.
-People are required to eat with chopsticks.
-Weddings are 100% scripted, down to what the bride and groom wear. Zero individuality.
-Children are beaten multiple times per day, every day, starting in infancy. Children are forbidden from engaging in any imaginative play whatsoever. “Homeschool” ends at age 13, although there are accounts from ex-members that younger children were often pulled into laboring for their for-profit businesses if they got backed up.
-Internet, book, and news access is tightly controlled.
Personally, I stay far away.
This Twelve Tribes outfit is interesting, but in the scheme of things, their business ventures are a kid’s lemonade stand. If you want to talk about some cults that are commercial powerhouses and fund some ugly agendas, look no further than the Church of Latter Day Saints and the Roman Catholic Church. If the LDS were a Fortune 500 firm, it would rank squarely in the middle of that pack. It has vast holdings in land, equities, businesses and 10% of everything its members personally earn each year via tithing, all of it tax exempt and subject to no disclosure or transparency whatsoever. The Mormon Church was virulently racist until the late 70s right about the time they stood to possibly lose their tax exempt status over it. More recently, it was known as one of the key financiers against LGBT rights. The Catholic Church, in addition to its riches from the plunder of the Western Hemisphere and the ancient world also has large real estate holdings and one of the shadiest financial institutions in the world, the Vatican Bank.
I saw other places, Patheos and elsewhere, talking about the Twelve Tribes. They were also apparently part of a small child labor scandal back in 2001 when one of their companies was making a line of cosmetics for Estée Lauder (I knew the name sounded familiar).
Normally, I’m a bit skeptical of tell-all Facebook posts given how easily someone can fake being someone else on the Internet, but all this seems quite damning.
This is also being covered by the friendly Atheist blog. I am not sure if you want/allow cross-linking or not.
I highly advocate to find your own spiritual path and don’t follow others. Look inside yourself, meditate. You’re own connection with the Divine will be revealed to you and its for you alone. Religious organizations are a means to control and manipulate people.
“Mate Factor” on the Ithaca, NY commons has long been rumored to be owned by Twelve Tribes people. Lots of stories from my cousins and my wife’s college friends about them being anti-queer, and anti-semetic.