“Cult” gets free advertising in Colorado newspaper
DaAdmin Miscellaneous 2008-02-28
“Twelve Tribes,” a notorious religious group, often called a “cult,” has apparently moved into a town in Colorado, Manitou Springs.
The group is ruled by a self-proclaimed “prophet”/dictator named Elbert Eugene Spriggs (see photo with wife left).
The sect has opened a café the “Maté Factor” and two group homes, which house 50 members.
But the local newspaper instead of reporting about the deeply troubled history of Twelve Tribes, provided what seemed like free advertising for the purported “cult.”
Amanda Lundgren writing for the Colorado Independent extolled the group’s “herbal-infusion tea made from the yerba maté plant,” and proclaimed herself a customer or “convert for life.”
However, the factor forgotten by the newswoman is the group’s sordid and well-documented history of child abuse, financial exploitation, family estrangement and lawbreaking.
Lundgren should have shared with her readers some of the decades of bad press that has followed Twelve Tribes wherever it goes including labor violations, illegal abductions and hate literature.
The Independent writer acknowledged that she had been told to “watch out” for the “cult,” but neglected to explain why anyone would be so worried if the group was really that benign.
Instead Lundgren dismissed such criticism as “‘cult’ catcalls” without any meaningful examination.
The reporter waxed poetic though about the group’s new “unofficial drink” sold at its Manitou Springs café.
But what about the official reports concerning its bad behavior?
Lundgren didn’t dig up much beyond a few cryptic comments made by the group’s spokesperson. He said that Manitou Springs is “a mini-Mecca” for the sect, where its tea sales would fuel “evangelism” to recruit “open minded” townspeople.
But before anyone in town “drinks the Kool-Aid,” or “Maté lattes,” maybe they should know just a few historical facts about the Twelve Tribes.
And though the 50 members of Twelve Tribes in Manitou Springs may live in cramped housing, its leader Spriggs lives in luxury like a multi-millionaire.Chased out of Chattanooga in the 1970s for its authoritarian and destructive ways, the Twelve Tribes eventually settled in Vermont, where it developed a reputation for child abuse.
Twelve Tribes has been fined for child labor violations.
All of this information is readily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection interested enough to do some research.
However, Ms. Lundgren is apparently either indifferent and/or too lazy to Google “Twelve Tribes.”
Not one of these historical facts managed to make it into the Colorado Independent article.
And Amanda Lundgren made sure that a Twelve Tribes couple speaking for the group got the last word (see photo right).
Lundgren wrote, “As for critics and those who consider the group a cult [the group spokesman]…shrugs them off.”
“They called Jesus a cult leader,” he said.
But the New Testament doesn’t say anything about Jesus beating up or abducting kids, disobeying civil authority and being banned for passing out hate literature.
Note: Apparently Amanda Lundgren isn’t the only lazy reporter at the Colorado Independent. J. Adrian Stanley, another writer for the same publication, in his article “Tribal Conflict” reports “Twelve Tribes, the Christianity-centered community best known locally for running Manitou’s Maté Factor café. Followers dress modestly, live communally and are given traditional names.” Nothing about the group’s horrible history in this piece. Another reporter seemingly too technically challenged to use Google. Or, could it be that the Independent sees itself as so dependent upon local advertising it’s not a real newspaper?