God drilled into will-less young ones

source: Suddeutsche Zeitung – 31 October 2014

Robert Pleyer was a member of the faith community “Twelve Tribes”. In a book the ex-member describes how children are ill-treated. It also concerns his own daughter.

When Robert Pleyer’s daughter Asarah is eight months old, he ill-treats her for the first time. She sits on his lap, he tightly holds her hands and commands her: “be quiet and sit still”. The child looks on in fright at her father. She writhes and begins to wriggle. Pleyer holds her even tighter and says, “no, sit still!” Asarah begins to scream. She bends herself backwards. She sticks her back through. She protects herself. She’s got no chance. Her father presses her head with his hand on her breast. She bawls. Little veins burst in her cheeks. The torture is called “restraint” Pleyer puts her through this for an hour and a half. Today, ten years later, he writes in his book, “Satan never sleeps”: I’ve wrestled her down, I broke her internally”.

Zwölf Stämme Sekten-Aussteiger über "Zwölf Stämme"

Robert Pleyer, 45, lived for 20 years in the primal Christian faith community “Twelve Tribes”. In this he also belonged to the extended leadership circle and is responsible for German school education. In 2011 he stepped out of the sect. In his book he reports how children in Klosterzimmern (KreisDonau-Ries) and Wornitz (Kreis-Ansbach) were physically and psychologically ill-treated, and will-less youths had God drilled into them.



The sect starts a counter attack. With a hidden camera the sect members are filmed beating their children. The work of the RTL reporters set off a raid on the Twelve Tribes in September 2013. Now the faith community is disputing criminal charges against it.

In the 265 stirring pages he describes his violations against his own four children, as well as against the children of other sect members, who demanded that as a teacher he punish them. Pleyer confirms the beatings with the rod on the bare buttocks, reported on extensively since the taking into care of 40 children a year ago. Furthermore, Pleyer tells of how the adults of the Twelve Tribes interact with each other. The words cannot be about a peaceful, harmonious getting on together. “As with the children, the adults are subdued by a gigantic punishment apparatus”, writes Pleyer. In conversation with The South German Newspaper , he says, “you can either place yourself 100 percent under, or have a big problem”.

So “restraint” was in demand from everyone. “I had a vice-like grip”, says Pleyer. After that I hated myself and wept uncontrollably”. However, he let himself be convinced by his “brothers and sisters” to do it again and again. The peer pressure is too great. Pleyer isn’t strong enough to withstand it. “I’m ashamed about myself, about what I destroyed in my children”, he says today. At the time he felt that “on the inside of the little people something is breaking”.

 Gut Klosterzimmern, Heimat der Glaubensgemeinschaft  12 Stämme, 2004

In case there are doubts about the parents. Decrepitude. malnourishment, violence. Never before have so many children been separated from their families by the youth welfare department. Regarding the faith community Twelve Tribes, it is not a question of whether the welfare department can do it – rather, it must.

God drilled into will-less young ones

This statement would not really be contradicted by the youth, for indeed according to the sect’s father, Eugene Spriggs, that is the point of it all. “The most important goal of education is to bring children under control, and to maintain that control until the goal is reached”, an education advisory text says. Which goal? The Twelve Tribes perhaps are referring to redemption. Robert Pleyer says. “The only goal is unconditional subordination.” All children are told, “forget what you want and trust in God”. As an adult he was told by an elder, “true young folk don’t have opinions, they just simply support.”

Phone calls can only be made under supervision.

This is how the daily life of disciples looks: they are not allowed to have their own computer. The phone sits in a place where it is always observed. They are not allowed to decide when and where they travel, and when to see their families.

They must work sixteen hours per day, and yet receive no pay. They do have accounts, but only for the receipt of child support benefits. All debit cards are kept by the elders.

All those who have completed high school do not get their certificate handed out.

They make their children mentally and emotionally incapable of making their own decisions”, writes Pleyer. “It’s forbidden to give any back chat and to say what they think”. Any contradiction will be dismissed with the saying: “to contradict the elders is to contradict God”.

Bibel, 2009

 Faith communities in Bavaria: prophets and missionaries.

Esoterics, Islamists, occultists, and lots of Christian communities: in Upper Bavaria alone there are 1200 ideological groups under observation, but not all of them provide as much of a stir as the “Twelves Tribes.” An overview:

One year ” trial period ” before the wedding.

The Elders Council is not democratically elected, but it pries into all private affairs. According to Pleyer, disciples are not allowed to freely decide whom to marry. He himself had to wait thirteen years until a wife was selected for him. But before the wedding, he must complete a one-year “trial period “This includes a weekly cross-examination.

That was humiliating”, says Pleyer. Because the engaged pair sat too close on a bus ride, Pleyer wasn’t allowed to see his bride for six weeks. Even years after marriage the Elders speak about his punishment.

If the Elders come to the conclusion that I’m a bad father, they take my children away, and put them into another family”, reports Pleyer. Twice he had to live in isolation for six months before he could see his family again.

As a teacher Pleyer chastised his pupils “every day” in the “discipline room” with willow branches on the bottom. He had one thing to do… “Sometimes on the landing on stairway to the basement, there would be a bit of a jam, as the room was not yet free. Dazed, the children routinely heard the screams of those before them, counting the beats of the whippings that their friends received”
At the top, the sect members are without their free will, at the bottom they are brutalised. In 2011 Pleyer managed to get out. He took his wife and children with him. His wife later went back. The divorce is proceeding.

Before the family courts in Nördlingen and Ansbach the proceedings are under way for the custody of those children who were placed with foster families or in homes since the raid in September 2013.

Parents accuse the authorities of “despotism” and feel unfairly treated by the courts .

The elders reject Robert Pleyer’s representations as unfounded. “He paints a picture that’s not correct”, says Klaus Schüle. Robert Pleyer says, “I hope that more members think about and quit. I’d be glad to help them.”


Robert Pleyer: Satan Never Sleeps, Knaur Paperback, 14,99 Euro

One Comment On “God drilled into will-less young ones”

  1. I’d like to hear from Children born and raised in the community both who have left and who are grown up and still there.

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