Twelve Tribes in the Czech Republic: New life after an old pattern

Source: 24

1rst December 2016

In September 2013, the Twelve Tribes faith community was hit by concerning headlines. At that time, administrative offices and Police removed their children to protective care. Between then and now, we have hardly heard more about the community – also as they begin a new life in the Czech Republic.

The sign still hangs at the entrance of the community. Just a few weeks ago there were containers filled with mattresses, building materials and waste on the site. For months, the members of the Twelve Tribes have been moving back and forth between their new branch in the Czech Republic and the Donau-Ries area.

Well settled into the Czech Republic

They have had a good life so far in the Czech Republic, they told folks at a meeting a few weeks ago in Klosterzimmern. There, they could live the way they wanted in accordance with their beliefs. The Twelve Tribes literally interpret the Old Testament and as an example of that literal belief; chastize their children with rods.

“To properly raise children, you simply have to set limits. As it was for hundreds of years, children have been hit on their rear ends and it’s never damaged anyone.” – Father in the Twelve Tribes

Ex members speak of beatings
In the many branches of the worldwide religious community, and in the Czech Republic, they teach their children at home and beat them with rods. They did this also in Germany until the ex-members spoke out to authorities about the beatings they experienced daily. For this reason, police and child protective services took twenty four children into their care in September 2013.

Severe Decision for child protective services
The last few years weren’t easy for the Donau-Ries youth services manager Alfred Kanth. He stood by during the parent’s struggle and tried to meet and clarify their misunderstandings about the treatment of their children. It was not an easy decision to separate the children from their parents, but due to the heavy accusations, Kanth was unable to see another way.

“We wanted to offer the children an alternative life, to show them that they deserved other values and can lead an independent life.”, Alfred Kanth, head of the Donau-Ries Child Services (Jugendamt) office.

One child is missing at the moment
Experts and judges then had to decide whether it was better for the children to live with their parents or not. Today, only eight of the twenty-four children are in foster homes or in children’s homes. One has again disappeared, possibly abducted by their parents.

For one child, the court’s decision is still pending. The sixteen others were allowed to go back to their parents, either because they were of age, or the court decided so. Some children wished to return, but Alfred Kanth had other ideas.

“In individual cases, there are young people who are self-employed and are trying to go their own way. This is a success, a step further than what we had hoped to achieve.”, Alfred Kanth, head of the Donau-Ries Children’s Services

Other jurisprudence in the Czech Republic
One youth, for example, has begun lessons at a public school, which has been enriching for many children. This was confirmed in the actions the Child Services offices carried out. But now, the employees have watched as the Twelve Tribes have drived over two hours by car to the Czech Republic.

“We cannot do anything in the Czech Republic, all we can do, is as we have done before – inform the Czech authorities about the situation in Germany [and how it may continue in their country]. – Alfred Kanth

As the Twelve Tribes report, they feel very comfortable in the Czech Republic so far. The children in the homes have regularly visited with their parents under supervision. However, the Twelve Tribes parents look forward to homeschooling in the Czech Republic according to their rules – also those that include using rods to discipline them.

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