Thrashed in the Twelve Tribes cult

RP online

September 7, 2013
Translated from the German

In the Bible-based cult at Klosterzimmern authorities have found “rooms where children were beaten.” The police and social workers removed 40 Twelve Tribes children and then placed them in foster homes.

During their searches of the Twelve Tribes buildings, the police discovered areas in which the children may have been deliberately abused. “The room resembled a torture chamber,” explained Christian Engelsberger, spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office Augsburg. The police found many sticks and rods in Klosterzimmern and Deiningen. Investigators believe the baptized adults thrash the children with the rods. The sect denies the allegations and complained in a statement on its website about the actions of the authorities.

The Twelve Tribes members have lived in Klosterzimmern since 2000. About 100 Tribes members eagerly obey their leaders’ (Elbert Eugene Spriggs) teachings and during the morning and evening meetings they discuss Spriggs teachings. A former member said, “that obedience to Spriggs and his teachings is the prerequisite to remain in the group.”

The communal Twelve Tribes engages in organic farming and most of their farms in the U.S. and Canada are secluded from society. They include their children in their cult life and refuse to send their children to state schools. They also reject sex education for their children.

After the police raid, the head of the Youth Office said that most of the children said goodbye to their parents and were largely emotionless. “I have not seen that in 40 years on the job,” he said. The Director of District Court of Nördlingen, Helmut Beyschlag, described the corporal punishment the Twelve Tribes children received and said it was against German laws for non-violent upbringing.

The pummeling allegations against the Bible-based cult are not new. Just last year a former member said to the news magazine “Focus” that children were beaten at least three times a day with rods. All baptized members must discipline children. The children were thrashed only to break their wills.

For about ten years the “Twelve Tribes” carried on a dispute with the Bavarian Ministry of Culture because they refused to send their children to state-approved schools. So in 2004 7 Twelve Tribes fathers were incarcerated for several days and accrued fines totaling more than 150,000 Euros. In 2006 a special permit was negotiated and the cult was allowed to operate its own private school. The adults teach the children on site and use their own textbooks. Since Aug. 1, the school is closed, however, because the sect failed to appoint a professionally trained teacher.

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