Twelve Tribes bible-based cult mistreats their children

“They live separated from the world with their children.”

Spiegel Online
September 20, 2013
Anna Kistner
Translated from the German

Shovels and buckets are scattered in the sandbox. Two empty swings dangle in the wind. A volleyball net is set up in the front yard.

A “robbery squad” (the police), took their children on Thursday, says Klaus Schüle. In the early morning hours agency employees and police came to the Klosterzimmern estate in Western Bavaria (Deiningen) and police officers in body armor and guns and combat boots herded Twelve Tribes families into the living room. The head of the youth department said that the parental custody was revoked, said Schüle. Then the agency employees slowly approached the children. “Our 13 year old child shook with fear,” says a mother with tears in her eyes.

What the Bible-based cult “Twelve Tribes” describe as an assault – the German authorities call a preliminary loss of parental custody. The German authorities believe that there is “credible, concrete and actionable intelligence” to prove that the children are physically and emotionally endangered.

Evidence of significant and lasting child abuse

The “Twelve Tribes” have argued for more than a decade with the authorities. At first they argued about compulsory education. The Bible-based cult keeps their children out of state-approved schools so they will not learn about sex education and the Theory of Evolution. About a year ago allegations of systematic child abuse surfaced. Twelve Tribes members view corporal punishment as a means of normal education. In August, however, the Augsburg public prosecutor stopped investigating the case for lack of evidence.

Wolfram Kuhnigk who lived with the Twelve Tribes as a bearded seeker for two weeks on the property in Klosterzimmern now has provided explosive material. The Bible-based cult had no idea that Kuhnigk installed in several so-called “punishment rooms” and in the basement hidden cameras and microphones.

Filmed “spooky” beatings

A scene shows a little boy in a poorly lit room with his pants down again. A woman strikes him with a rod several times hard on the buttocks. Another boy is standing next to him.

Kuhnigk has filmed more than 50 thrashings, according to Spiegel Online. The scenes were “spooky” says an “Extra” editorial staff member. Kuhnigk’s findings were seen on Monday at 10:45 p.m. The pummelings happened so quietly because the children are accustomed to it.

The Bible-based cult erroneously believes that “the blows the children receive, free them from the devil.” “Teachers” often would strike their students and for different reasons. Even if a child was not careful enough in his school work, his “teacher” would thrash him/her. Every baptized community member could and was obligated to discipline children. Although some members want to educate the children liberally, a ubiquitous, mutual control, environment of intimidation, and 1984-like spying and telling on one another exists. This makes living as one desires almost impossible, says Kuhnigk.

The journalist showed his documents to the Youth Welfare Office about three weeks ago in Donauwörth. The District Court of Nördlingen completed the case and removed the children. The German authorities are now investigating the Twelve Tribes Klosterzimmern community because of allegations of child abuse and grievous bodily harm. During a search, police secured sticks and rods. In addition, the police found rooms in which they suspected child abuse took place.

“Harmless, lovely people”

When the first allegations of thrashings surfaced in early summer, Twelve Tribes members went on a charm offensive in the village of Deiningen. “Surely you have seen us and our children often stroll through the village.” What do you think of our children? Since their well-being is threatened, they asked on their Twelve Tribes website.

In the nearby butcher shop the police action has apparently caught the butcher’s attention. He believes “the Twelve Tribes are harmless, lovable people.” The woman at the cash register says: “live with their children in their own world.” The village of Klosterzimmern is a peaceful green meadow, with hanging geraniums on balconies and peacefully grazing cows but the Twelve Tribes Bible-based cult stands in stark contrast. The Twelve Tribes believe in thrashing and pummeling their children. Who would imagine?

When asked if their children were beaten, Klaus and Annette Schüle decline to comment. No confirmation, but also no contradiction. Accusations against the community would be interpreted as a “revenge action.” Revenge for what? The Schüle’s look dumbfounded. No answer.

We are labeled as cult members. However, those who tell us this, say we will not believe them. We love our children. “The child’s will is not broken in Klosterzimmern,” says the mother. A year ago, a doctor examined her six children and found no injuries. Your children are happy. Only 1 son left the Bible-based cult.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>