The “Twelve Tribes Teachings” site (for which there is a link on this page) contains material the group wisely doesn’t put into their recruiting magazines. This is stuff that was never supposed to leave their compounds to be seen by prying eyes like mine, but that has been smuggled out one way or another. Apparently the TT elders use these “teachings” to instruct the underlings from time to time. I have no reason to think that these are not 100% genuine. In fact this one, “Execution of Justice” was the subject of conversation and mentioned by name by ex-TTers on a discussion board. Even without such external evidence of its authenticity, who could possibly make up stuff this weird and sick?
The entire thing is available here.
I’ll reproduce just two short sections of it. Here’s the beginning:
Teaching: Execution of Justice (Letter from Elbert concerning discipline and the seed of Abraham)
The execution of justice is joy for the righteous, but is a terror to the workers of lawlessness. A man who drifts from understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead (Pr 21:15-16). He who spares his rod hates his son. This is a high standard of justice; many will be terrified at the standard in the last days and will desert that standard. They will drift away from what they have heard. But he who loves his son will be “diligent to discipline him.” The ground which drinks the rain which often falls upon it produces vegetation, but if it yields thorns and thistles it is worthless and ends up being burned. "Diligent to discipline” and “disciplines diligently” can be kingdoms apart in their meanings. We may be diligent to discipline, but the discipline that we administer may not be with diligence within the standard we have received. The difference is according to our hearts (Ex 19:5).
Unless your son has blue wounds, by this standard, you know what kind of a standard is in you — it is the spirit that hates your son. If one is overly concerned about his son receiving blue marks you know that he hates his son and hates the word of God. There is a destructive spirit in him and somehow he can’t detect it. It is like a false shepherd who has a ravenous spirit within, yet he covers it with a mask of meekness and mildness. Poverty and shame will come upon him who neglects discipline.
Who is Elbert? None other than the man who thinks he's Elijah, Elbert Eugene Spriggs. (There is no date on this document, but it seems to predate his adoption of the name "Yoneq.") I have no idea who David Jones is/was. I hope there was some sense left in him and that this letter spurred him to take his family out of harm's way & maybe give Presbyterianism a second try.
I find yet more troubling what's to come: Spriggs practicing what he preaches. The authorship of the teaching seems to change after Spriggs signs off with this information about how he's thrashed a little girl named Hephzibah.
Tell Hannah that Hephzibah is like Paul and says: “From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the brand marks of Yahshua.” They are blue and she is receiving her discipline. She is growing up to be that last generation, being prepared, even in her nervous system, to be in that hour of supreme demand.
I dare not imagine the state of this poor girl's nervous system, especially after learning what we are told next. An unidentified author fills in the details of what the little girl did to deserve punishment and how Spriggs responded, likening the situation to the story of Abraham and Isaac. Remember, this act is recorded and presented as an example of proper parenting! Several ex-TTers have informed me that Spriggs is not the biological father of this child.
The reason Isaac was so willing to let his father sacrifice him was because he had been raised his whole life knowing that he did not belong to himself, but belonged to his father, and he was not living for himself, but living for his father. Hephzibah is coming to understand that she is living for her father and belongs to him. The other day she was having great difficulty being obedient to his command: not to suck her thumb in bed. Elbert asked her to stick out her thumb because he was going to cut it off. He took a huge pair of scissors and came toward her. She was terrified, but (after receiving her discipline) she willingly stuck out her thumb to be cut off rather than let it cause her to stumble in her obedience to her father. Elbert didn’t actually cut it off, but he wants Hephzibah to understand that it is better to have your hand cut off now rather than later. He wants her to be saved. It is absolutely necessary to raise our children to know that they do not belong to themselves, but to their father.
The Horror. And there is a subtext here that goes beyond child-rearing. "Authority" is a fractal and is absolute to TTers: As a child must show complete submission to the authority of parents, so a wife must to her husband, so the initiates must to the TT elders, so must all TTers show to Spriggs. And of course Spriggs, the prophet, answers to God. The message is that each member of the flock, just like the little girl, belong to Spriggs and they had better unquestioningly submit to whatever he demands.
I need to state here that I have no evidence that anything constituting child abuse of the physical or psychological kind described above is going on at the Ithaca Twelve Tribes community. Of course, I hope there is not. But this "teaching" is what they have in place of Dr. Spock's childcare manual, written by their infallible leader. It would be nearly impossible for an outsider to detect were such abuse going on. As Kathy Cunningham, a Vermont state trooper, told a Newsweek reporter back in 1984 after authorities raided the Twelve Tribes community at Island Pond, "They've taken away all our normal ways to detect child abuse. There are no teachers to report scars, no doctors to report anything funny."