Childhood is destroyed


Twelve Tribes children receive blows from a rod on the hands or buttocks. Former Twelve Tribes member Christian Reip now tells his story for the first time on the radio.

Bayerischer Rundfunk

Judith Zacher

March 26, 2014

Translated from the German

About 6 months ago a hundred police officers in cooperation with German social services raided the Bible-based Twelve Tribes cult and removed 40 children from their parents. Witnesses confirmed beating allegations. RTL journalist Wolfram Kuhnigk secretly filmed how the Twelve Tribe children were beaten and thrashed on a daily basis.

“I was beaten every day”

Nevertheless, some critical voices were raised because of this police action. The Twelve Tribes parents feel they were treated unfairly. For outsiders it is difficult to judge to know what is best for the children. Christian Reip managed to leave the Twelve Tribes cult four years ago. For him life was a Twelve Tribes night mare in Klosterzimmern.

“My “teacher” beat me everyday at school. If I could not mentally count fast enough or if I was day dreaming or if I was fidgeting in my seat then the “teacher” would say “You fell in the mud and now you need a shower.” “Go into the next room.” Christian Reip

Twelve Tribes children are hit with a rod on the buttocks or palm, Christian continues. They are even hit outside of school situations. Even the toddlers are struck with the rod!

“As soon as the child is born the baby is tightly swaddled so that the child can not move. This also helps to break the baby’s will.” Christian Reip

Independent thinking is discouraged

Several times a week, all members gather in a large room to rehash and obey the teachings of their “Apostle” Elbert Eugene Spriggs. Obedience to Spriggs and his teachings is the prerequisite for remaining in the group according to former member James Howell. Even the smallest ones need to listen attentively for hours. Christian endured this torture for years. He was born in the Twelve Tribes community and spent his childhood – or what was supposed to be his childhood. “There is no childhood and youth it is destroyed.” Christian Reip

Independent thinking is undesirable, said Christian. Twelve Tribes members must wear long baggy trousers and shirts or blouses. Men have beards and wear their hair in short ponytails that hang at the neck. Women have long hair. Eventually Christian couldn’t endure this type of lifestyle and left the Twelve Tribes with his sister.

He and his sister played with the thought to leave. Again and again the others persuaded him to stay. The outside world was full of evil people and Satan possessed it. Only in the community can one find salvation. Christian’s brother still lives in the community. The rest of the family, his parents and three siblings have left the community.

When a person comes out of the Twelve Tribes cult they don’t know how to behave or how to dress. They don’t know where they should go. They have no money, no car and no apartment. In the world they just can’t cope.

“Raised for a life of disability”

The sect educates for life disability, he continues. The beatings and psychological pressure created group dependency. Christian feels good that the children were separated from their parents. He knows it was the right decision.

Currently Christian is taking a professional drivers course. He barely received an education in the community. Now he barely copes. He can hardly get the cult out of his mind, he says. At night, he has nightmares and feels persecuted.

The traumatic experiences run like a red thread through life, he says.

“As far as the community is concerned, I am dead, but the community is always there for me.” Christian Reip