Wednesday, August 15, 2007

TT: Wikipedia whitewashers!

When associates of Diebold, Wal-Mart, Monsanto, the Mormons, the Church of Scientology and the Republican Party see something embarrassing on their Wikipedia page, they don't worry much about the truth content of the information, or about Wikipedia's Neutral Point of View policy, they just remove the irksome entry and often put text more favorable to them in its place.

Time to add another to the list of whitewashers. Can you guess who?

All links and most in-text references to sources critical of TT beliefs and practices were removed from the Twelve Tribes Wikipedia page back in May (I restored the link to this page). The nice thing about Wikipedia is that history of all edits are preserved. Here are some egregious edits made by someone identified only by their IP address ( which traces to the Cox broadband service in Atlanta. Here are others which add text that only a TTer or a true apologist for them could write. Other edits were made by someone logged in as "Davidderush," the well known TT internet pit bull.

An ex-TTer friend of IOTTC learning of this commented: "What happened to 'Count it all joy when others speak ill of you...'?"

Funny how those most dependent upon the free speech protections embedded in our laws rush to censor other points of view when given the chance.

UPDATE 9/05/07: Well, they've been caught red handed again.

First the good news: since I wrote this article, many of the original external links to the Twelve Tribes Wikipedia article have been restored. Among these was the link to the "twelvetribesteachings" site that archives a collection of hundreds of "teachings" of Spriggs as well as the TT's Intertribal News. Trouble is, these documents were not meant for outsiders' eyes and are a public relations liability for the Tribes. Here is to be found Spriggs' unvarnished eschatology and views on child discipline, blacks, gays and the role of women. No one takes credit for making available this mountain of material, although one might guess that this is the work of an ex-TTer. Interestingly, the mystery compiler/publisher says nothing negative about TT, letting the reader draw their own conclusions from the documents themselves. The TT will never officially claim these as authentic, but when I showed selections of a few to several TTers, none expressed any suspicion that they were less than genuine. It would be a monumental feat to forge, or even alter, all these hundreds of documents. The writing style for most of them is the same and it's clear to me these have a single author. Many are on points of doctrine and aren't particularly scandalous or noteworthy, while others will stand the hair on your head.

Someone (anonymously, leaving only an IP address) once again removed the link to this site and offered a pathetic rationale for doing so on the discussion page. The editor Seldom4 smartly traced the IP address to Parchment Press, a TT-owned business in Coxsakie, NY, chided this perpetrator, and restored the link to TwelveTribesTeachings site as before.

When will the Twelve Tribes organization learn the Twelve Tribes Wikipedia page doesn't belong to them?


Erica said...

Way to blow it out of proportion. From what I saw all they did was change the racism section to point out that they have people of different races in their communities which makes the claims of racism kind of ridiculous. It's a valid point because they do have members of various races and they are treated as equals.

I notice that most of your posts focus on the teachings of Spriggs but in my dealings with the TT they appear to act on them very rarely. I think you are judging thousands of people by one man's words, which seems unfair to me.

Aloysius Horn said...

Wrong on all counts.

You obviously didn't examine the links to the page's history and to the changes made by the mystery individual from Atlanta who removed links to sites critical of TT, including this one. The Twelve Tribes teachings site, the link to which was removed, is not even critical of TT. It has just made available Spriggs' teachings that are not supposed to be for public consumption. I showed a number of these to current TTers and not a one ever claimed that they were other than genuine.

TT does allow African Americans to join TT: only those who denounce the civil rights movement as "evil" and accept Spriggs' teaching that God intended blacks for servitude to whites. This hardly absolves them of the charge of racism in our opinion.

As for your point that Spriggs' teachings have little effect on the daily life of TTers, ask them next time why they balance on stools to defecate. Did the general membership vote that policy in?

Keep in mind that the face TT shows to the outside world and the reality of life in TT attested to by many ex-TT visitors to this site are very different.

Anonymous said...

this really is a site full of garbage and slander and hearsay anyway... i applaud the twelve tribes for trying to remove this site of garbage from their wiki...

Aloysius Horn said...

If there is nothing but garbage, slander & hearsay on this site you'd think it would be easy for you to point out examples and make an argument for your position. The fact that you and other TT apologists never do is telling.

Erica said...

It's telling that we have interests besides criticizing other people's religious beliefs? It's your choice not to eat at their establishments and I respect that, but I have little respect for a site that bases claims off things it found on the internet or was e-mailed. If someone wants to join the Twelve Tribes that should be their choice as it should be their choice to be educated about it or not. Hopefully it is the former but sites like yours really don't help matters. I have no religious tendencies whatsoever and yet I manage to respect other's beliefs, including the Twelve Tribes.

You said:
Keep in mind that the face TT shows to the outside world and the reality of life in TT attested to by many ex-TT visitors to this site are very different.

Exactly. You're only insider views of life in the Twelve Tribes are e-mails you've gotten from supposed ex-members. They may be true, they may not, or maybe, as is likely, a mixture of both. Correct me if I'm wrong but you were never a member of the Twelve Tribes so I'm sorry if I choose to believe the happiness I see on their faces and that of their children rather than anonymous text on a website.

You're just creating more hatred and intolerance in the world which I understand to be something you oppose. In times such as these more hate is the last thing we need.

Aloysius Horn said...

I agree with you that hate is the last thing we need. I and the other IOTTCers have never urged anyone to hate TTers. Many are people with no particular hostility towards others searching for a meaningful life who have been misled and taken advantage of.

While I don't hate TTers, I do detest the ideology that TT promulgates which is one of intolerance, patriarchy and complete loss of personal liberty. I detest the absurd notion that in preparation for "martyrdom against the Beast" children should never be exposed to non-TT books or ideas and that they should beaten with switches if they exercise their imaginations.

It's Spriggs who says that homosexuals "deserve death" and that MLK was full of "evil." You'll find no such language on this site. If you're looking to give an intolerance award to someone, best look to the leadership of TT.

TT is not just a small group of people with weird beliefs who wish to keep to themselves: their recruitment effort is enormous with their bus tours, presence at outdoor concerts across the country, "Free Papers", and their slick website. Cafés like Maté Factor are central to this effort. Because they're actively affecting the community in which we live and doing their best to erode societal values most of us cherish, we have a responsibility to push back (in ways that respect their rights, obviously).

We didn't go looking for a group like TT to protest, THEY came to our backyard here in Ithaca, NY. As long as they are down the street promoting a Taliban-like social order and child martyrdom to beasts (call it religion if you like), IOTTC will be here urging a boycott of Maté Factor and other TT businesses.

Anonymous said...

As I prepare to be a contributing writer to this site, I have to defend the criticism aimed at this Web page.

This Web page offers a plethora of information on the Tribe--information one needs to balance the plethora of information the Tribe distributes.

The Twelve Tribes is a dangerous cult that brainwashes young people and promotes a close-minded society that only promulgates negativity and hatred. By looking at them face value, I can see why many people would deny that.

Erica, this is not a religion. The Twelve Tribes do not follow a "religion." It's a philosophy, one created my a troubled man who felt alienated from the traditional church and created this cult out if spite.

Now, the Twelve Tribes owns millions in real estate and has brainwashed young people into joining by showing them the smiles and the "freedom."

And once they are in, and have that free bed at night, and they alienate these people from their families, turning them into robot speakers "LAke of Fire" dominionists, it becomes quite apparent that the Twelve Tribes is probably one of the unhealthiest creations on earth, next to satanism.

No one cares if these folks created their Cult and lived happy lives. But what is astonishing is what they promote and how it completely contradicts what religion is supposed to be about. This is why you see so many people decry the traditional Christian Churches who denounce gays and homosexuality. Common folks, intelligent, open-minded majority of people, are just tired of this crap.

Well, the Twelve Tribes takes it two steps farther with their ideology. And I suggest, rather recommend, you just glance at the material.

Sure, we all see the smiles and the happy children. But we also know about the harsh punishment, their lifestyles and beliefs. The writers here go beyond face value and dig deeper to provide the other side---the darkside of the cult.

And this offends them so much. Because they've been able to succeed on their nice buses, coffee drinks and real estate monguls to build a fortress of money. How funny that one of the basic tenets they have is to deflect materialistic instincts.

But there is a far deeper sense of this cult that many people just don't see, including you. This Web site helps turn the lights on.

I just hope these people can find their way out.

Erica said...

I see that neither side will ever agree on this matter and that this argument could go on endlessly, especially since most of what you say is based on hearsay ("Taliban-like?" Please!). However I will make a few final points and then leave it at that.

I'm not sure what fairytale world you have been living in, but intolerance and loss of personal liberty is something happening everywhere and in most religions. At least the TT is willing to take in people that would normally be shunned by other groups, unwed mothers, drug addicts, etc. I've seen mothers read non-TT books to their children, I've seen them watch TV on occasion, and I've seen them use their imaginations without punishment, all of which are things many overzealous Christian parents often forbid their children from doing.

I'm not sure I would call their website "slick" but anyone with half a brain should be able to read their words on their website or in their papers and think critically about them. You are putting very little faith in the human race by assuming people are so susceptible to their recruitment methods. I think a better method of recruitment is showing people the happy and hardworking people who live in these communities so I'm curious exactly how they are eroding your societal values? I can't speak for the community in your area but the community here are ideal citizens who work hard, pay their taxes, and help their neighbors, which is more than I can say for most U.S. citizens.

Anonymous, thanks for your recommendation that I read more on the subject of the TT, but I have been researching them for years, before I ever met them, so I don't think my knowledge of the matter is lacking. I am curious what gives you the right to judge what a religion is though, seeing as how by definition one person belief's can be their religion.

As for the matter of "brainwashing," no reputable scientific or psychological organization has confirmed that it is real so I really can't agree with you that these people are members against their will. Many TT members still have relationships with their families and I think your basis for that argument comes from ex-members who claim the TT tried to cut them off form their families. The writers here aren't digging deeper, you're just rehashing things you Googled without actually getting to know your subject. If you actually knew them you wouldn't be talking about how they are materialistic or just as bad as Satanists. I hope Suanne Gumienny's documentary will finally provide a much-needed objective view on the subject.

I judge people by their actions, and if I were to compare the creators of this website and the Twelve Tribes, who do you think would seem the better person? Don't promote lies and then pretend you are somehow preforming a public service, you aren't fooling anyone. This isn't Jonestown, no one is being kept there against their will. If they were going out and harming these groups they supposedly hate I would feel differently, but they aren't. They are living their lives and not intruding into others', which is more than I can say for most religions.

Aloysius Horn said...


The very fact that we encourage responsible comments sympathetic to TT here should tell you something about our motives and sense of fairness. I will note that other anti-Twelve Tribes sites do not do this and that TT's own site lacks a comments forum.

We will never post something we know to be untrue here. We do, obviously, have to rely on what ex-TTers and outside observers tell us go on in the communities. It is not fair to characterize honest accounts based on personal experience with the group as mere hearsay. Of course it is possible that someone with an axe to grind will feed us bad information. If and when this is pointed out to us, we will publish a retraction. You say we are promoting lies. That is a serious charge. Can you be specific about what stated in this blog is a lie?

I stand by my characterization of the group as Taliban-like. All analogies are imperfect, but the similarities are obvious and chilling, even if (thankfully) TT has never had the opportunity to govern a country. (BTW, do I have to have personal experience of the Taliban to be critical of them? Is all information about the Taliban not provided by a member in good standing of the Taliban to be dismissed as hearsay?)

As for the TT not intruding into people's lives, you need to talk to those who no longer have a relationship with a loved one or family member who has joined TT. (See the blog post "How I lost my sister" below.) I haven't heard such complaints about any other religious community here in Ithaca.

Anonymous said...

the fact is we and others know garbage when we see it and dont need to point it out... you do that already with this site... you are the spinster here... putting quotes areound words like "death" and "evil" dont add credibility to anything you say... in fact this entire site lacks credibility all together... why dont we and others 'like' me respond to your garbage ? that is why... it is garbage... complete and utterly garbage... you do a great service however... you gather together those like you and keep them from visiting these hard working god fearing folks in the first place... they are less distracted by haters like you and have time to actually love one another... and raise their children... maybe , just maybe your garbage spinster words will insite the hatred you so covertly try and disguise here and invoke someone to actually harm these people... thinking what you spin here is actual true... then i suppose you will have ultimately succeeded... as for this site... judging by the fact your last many posts have had 0 comments its telling of what people really see in it... so ill leave it at that... and like erica, ill just cast you off to the bin bucket of the internet... as anyone else who is not a hater will do...

Amy said...

Oh dear.

Personally, I find this site to be VERY informative. I live about five miles away from one of their major locations in the northeast, where they also own a store, two restaurants, and the headquarters for BOJ construction. From what I've seen with my own eyes, everything on this site is true. I've seen the cowed children as well, and watched a mother recoil in horror when my 18-month-old merely said hi to one of her TT children. At one time I seriously considered staying with them to see what they were more about, but even cursory research turned up scary stories about broken families, abused children, and bankruptcy. Once you're in, there's no easy way out.

And they do mislead in their recruitment efforts. They use their businesses for major outreach and recruitment. They target more "hippie" locations and events-- the organic foods, loose clothing and long hair initially appeal to people who embrace that aesthetic and make it seem like they're just another commune. I've been very concerned about a friend of mine who has a very high interest in, and close association with, the local tribe. She's pretty much against everything they REALLY stand for (aside from the earthy-crunchy lifestyle) but totally overlooks it.

nabashalam said...

erica said"If someone wants to join the Twelve Tribes that should be their choice as it should be their choice to be educated about it or not."

But she failed to mention the children that are dragged into this group who have no choice. Nor does she mention the spouses, children or both that are abandoned by the other spouse who has been encouraged to save their soul and leave the "unbelievers" and I'm not talking about unbelievers of the Christian faith but the unbelievers of the Twelve Tribes fanatical teachings.

I AM an ex-member of nearly a decade and can attest to the validity of the facts posted on this site.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nabashalam said...

The TT has taken over the "Wiki" page for them and Spriggs's page too and have turned it into a "Evangelistic tool" and directory for all their propaganda sites and "freepapaers". I sure wish someone with the skills and talent could once again bring back the supposed "neutrality" of the pages.

I wanted to post this here to bring it back from my early days of "opposing" the Tribes and their destructive ways.

"The rise of "Yoneq" and the hardening of the new wineskin..."

Every word that was written here is of optimal importance for anybody that is thinking of joining or has left, to read.

I posted this 5 years ago while I was at Bob Pardons place
for those exiting cults... and the words still ring true, maybe even truer today...

quote from the above letter:

"Grace happens in spite of the legalism
of the leadership. But grace doesn't stop because
you left TT. You can't bottle up grace. It is there
because it's in your hearts. The "law" says grace is
a part of a specific physical community, a specific
locality, a certain leadership. . . the spirit of
God's grace goes where there is love: where there is
being practiced the simple, but profound ethical
principles found in The Sermon On The Mount.
Spiritual authorities who base their authority
on some system of "law", are disturbed by an attitude
of grace. The leaders of the law want to make the
false claim that they somehow own grace, have the only
legal spiritual franchise on it. . .that they alone
get the chance to dispense it to whom they choose;
but, as the old blues song says: "it ain't
necessarily so!"
While writing all this, it looks like Gene
eventually became the same type of Christian minister
that he grew up under in the small Alliance church his
family attended in Chattanooga, Tennessee:
controlling, legalistic, overly-critical, preacher who
does everything he can to maintain his control over
his little flock. And I doubt that Gene can even see
it. I'm sure in his own mind, he is still fighting
for God. I think he has been so busy for the past 30
years building this organization that perhaps he
hasn't had time to sit down and reflect about what he
is doing and why he is doing it.
So, enjoy your chopsticks. . . but it's OK to eat w/
spoons, forks or even with your hands. Just give
thanks for what you do have. It's all God's good gifts
of grace."

respectfully and sincerely from the desk of David T Pike

Jesse said...

A member name Kafir once left the Tribes community I was living in and took a community business credit card with him and charged approx. $3000 while he was away from the commune with his wife Tamidah and family. When he returned to the community nothing was done about it. No repentance, nothing. This is am example of the double standard in the Tribes. If you've been there long enough, you can get away with almost anything.

It's like Geroge Orwell's book "Animal Farm." We're all supposedly equal in the Tribes, "but some are more equal than others!"

Jesse said...

When I lived in Island Pond in the community, the community had been warned by local authorities not to remove asbestos from a building they owned unless they had licensed professional do it. Well, the Tribes went ahead and had their men do it anyway, with just cheap dust masks to protect them. While the work was going on, someone reported the Tribes of breaking the law in this way. At the time we thought it likely a fellow Tribes members had reported this to the local authorities. So, the Tribes was then to be fined by the Island Pond township. But the Tribes shepherds worked out a compromise with the town whereby the Tribes would sweep the streets and local highway for 2-3 weeks. So, that's what many of us members did everyday for awhile was sweep the winter sand off the local streets and highway, because the shepherds once again thought they were above the law, because they think they are Israel, God's Chosen Nation who can do what they want.

Eric Christopherson said...

Hi Jesse, noticed your posts and think we may have lived in the community together some years ago. Not sure. I still think about the communities and miss it there in many ways. I think as a group they've learned much through the years. But no one is ever above the law of the land, we agree. Most of the people I know and stay in contact with in the community are people who care about others and want to do what is right. Keep in touch. Good to hear from you after all these years.

James Grant said...

I have friends still in this religious sect. I'm not sure whether to call it a cult or not. What I do know is that to their way of thinking, you are not going to God's premier Heaven unless you join them and stay in there. They do really begin to mess with your mind. This place is not all it seems. You join and give them all your possessions and money. If you decide to leave, you'll be lucky to get a bus ticket. Doesn't that seem odd, giving them everything, instead of the poor. They take everything you got, and then make you poor. Yoneq and his 4th wife Ha'Emeq, get to call the shots. Everyone else is under someone else 24/7. If you enjoy working long hours for room and board and believing you're God's chosen disciples, this is definitely the place for you. Have a good time. Chances are, in about 3-6 months you'll leave. Most of the original disciples left a long time ago, when they thought God's 1400 mile Holy city would someday surround Chattanooga Tennesee! Gene Spriggs is a false prophet as far as I'm concerned. He used to say they'd never live west of the Mississippi River, cause God never wanted anyone to live past there. now they're in Colorado and California! What a crock of crap. The sisters used to wear head scarves most of the time, then one day Yoneq and/or Ha'emeq decided everyone wouldn't. Now they jjust mainly wear them to gatherings. These guys are making it up as they go along. It looks nice in some ways from the outside, until you move into the workhouse. Shepherds shepherd, and elders eld, and sheep disciples you get to work. A few men in there have abused children and should rightly be in prison right now. But, as yes, Master Yahshua is so merciful, even to pedophiles.

Janice said...

I think the women should be allowed to have their babies in the hospital if they want to. Having your baby in a hospital is often viewed as "lacking faith" or "failing to trust Our father." I'm very concerned about some of the still-born deaths that have occurred over the years. And, I'm concerned about the real motives for pressuring women to have their babies at home in the community. Is it about money, the hospital bill? Is it about the government not knowing about the birth? They say sisters can go to the hospital, but it's always in the context of "if she lacks faith..." What if she lacks faith in the community? While I lived in the community, the community was always right and the individual was always wrong if something negative happened. It's almost always the individual that gets blamed. They talk about "judgment beginning with the household of God." But seems like they really don't believe that. God will hold the communities accountable as the nation they claim to be, when they have hurt people, and never repented for it. And by the way, I couldn't even talk about any of this in the community. That would be considered "opposing the Body" or "opposing the Anointing" (AKA Gene Springs) and "opposing God." I'm tired of Yoneq and Haemeq being at the top of this organization as untouchable king and queen. Who are Gene and Marsha Spriggs really accountable to? I'd like to see Yoneq and Haemeq someday have to stand in the middle of a household circle and everyone tell them both everything that's wrong with them, like they have done to others. Maybe they should have to stand there naked like "rebellious" children have had to do in the past. Maybe they should also be locked in a dark closet for hours or be "scourged" from the back of their neck to their heels. I'd like to see their credit cards, airplane flights, and shopping trips taken away from them, and they really live like the new disciples that get recruited, instead of casually writing new teachings and Inter-Tribal news articles. I'd like to see Marsha Spriggs at the dish sink doing all the dirty dishes, doing tons of dirty laundry, changing diapers, and cleaning toilets, and finally someday hear her openly repent to the whole Body for the adulterous affair she had with a newer disciple, but never received any "discipline" for. Unbelievable. And if I could say one more thing. Yoneq and Ha'emeq don't have the power to forgive sins, but they act like it. Telling people this or that has been forgiven. Really? How do they know what God has forgiven? Why do they even need to open their sanctimonious mouths? They have become a defiled clergy priesthood. The very thing they condemn and repeatedly whip Christianity for. Instead of Yoneq posting little critical notes on things, like when someone forgets to put the lid on the mate pot. He should post a sticky note on himself that says, "Stop everything and look in the mirror and take a good look at what You have created...remember to do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

John S. said...

Janice, sounds like you're just a disgruntled ex-member. You knew what you were getting into. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

I visited the community in Ithaca on some Friday evenings. They're nice people. Alot nicer than my relatives! I'm not sure I would live there or not, but I think we should give them some slack.

Julie said...

Why don't you all just leave these people alone. they're not hurting anyone.

Jesse said...

It's about more than being "disgruntled"! Sometimes people get badly hurt in various ways. It shouldn't be denied or covered up. I'd have much more respect for the communities if they were basically more honest. It's about honestly. Especially the leaders. It's supposed to be about salvation and caring for one-another. Okay, how does that happen? I like what Janice said about "doing unto others as you would have do unto you." Somehow salvation doesn't need to be defined always in terms of pain and suffering, and exhaustion from being over-worked, and sometimes medical neglect. If they could only take a few steps back and look at the big picture. It shouldn't be about how fast we can expand and open new communities. Slow down and take care of one-another and have a few more people in each community to shoulder the work. I shudder to think what's going to happen when more of the members become elderly and need more care. It seems to me many new disciples simply get burned out and leave. It used to be "apostolic" for everyone to get to bed by 9PM. What happened to that divine revelation? Guess it was over-ruled by money and more expansion plans and need for late night labor. I'd still like to believe in this place. I had some good times there. It's got good qualities, but somehow there's other motives mixed in. I wish it didn't have to be this way. Yoneq could wake up tomorrow and change it all for the better, but not likely to happen. He and Haemeq will give an account to somebody someday. I won't bow down to them anymore. And, I don't believe he's the Elijah or came in the spirit of Elijah. He's simply a man who was inspired to do something that got bigger than him and what he was capable of.

Annie said...

Could someone please find and tell Ha'emeq Marsha Spriggs to please come over to the dish-sink? We have a lot of dirty dishes that need washing tonight. And after all these years, it's her turn to do some dishes!

Anonymous said...

I don't like it that they make members work long hours when they are seriously ill. It's bad enough that you're working for free.

Anonymous said...

Community Shepherds are now searching rooms, I'm told by someone who has lived in one of the communities for several years. He said, "They have to..." IPods are of particular interest. One shepherd says, "No matter how often we've warned members against them, Ipods are still making their way into the community."

I'll never forget a sincere young man who moved into the Tribes, and the shepherd told him to throw all his books on God, religion, and meditation into the dumpster outside. Then later he was told he couldn't visit his brother in prison.

The community lifestyle cuts you off from your family and friends. They become your father, mother, and family. You serve them. They are literally God to you.

When my wife and I moved into the community some years ago, her teddy bear was taken to the wood-stove and burned up. And after wash day, some of the sisters had burned up some of my clothes without asking also! The Tribes are not so much about God as they are about the mind of Gene and Marsha Spriggs. The communities is their baby. They call it salvation. I call it slave labor in the name of God.

Anonymous said...

In the communities "we have not loved enough" which translated means: you have never done enough, you have never worked hard enough, you have never worked long enough, so get back to work, and don't stop until late at night for "we labor day and night for our Twelve Tribes."

"We have not loved enough."
In reality, we have not slept enough. We have not received proper medical care. We work while we are sick and exhausted, so we can expand as much as possible and recruit others to lead the same exhausted life, and we will teach them: "We have not loved/worked enough." So they can recruit other to do and teach the same.

One Tribal bi-polar sister lay down for a few minutes one afternoon, soon in came an older sister who declared, "What do you think this is? A holiday!"

(There are no holidays or vacations in the Tribes).

And somehow, God is happy with all of this exhaustion which in some mystical magical way will supposedly bring Yahshua/Jesus back to earth, so all the Tribes members can someday rule over the Universe and planets and the rest of us. Yes, the rest of us, if we escape the Eternal lake of Fire will be on work crews outside of the Holy City/New Jerusalem under the supervision of Twelve Tribes members.

One small thing the Tribes Apostle didn't mention to the members though, Jesus' disciple the beloved John didn't write the book of Revelation. In reality we don't know who wrote Revelation and a number of other books in the New Testament. So, would you believe and base teachings and doctrines upon anonymous Books?

See "MisQuoting Jesus" and other books by Bible scholar Bart D. Ehrman.

I'm all for the real Jesus, but I'm not for the Jesus/Yahshua that Gene Spriggs and other previous Christians have created.

Jesse said...

Maybe it would be okay to share this. It is true. Shortly after my spouse and I joined the communities, we were asked how much money we had and encouraged to donate it to the organization. So we did. I did ask at the time, however, why new members give their money to the community, instead of to poor people in society or relief organizations. It was explained to me that my new brothers and sisters were poor, so giving to them would fulfill Jesus' instruction of selling all you have and giving to the poor. Well, at the time, that sounded reasonable to me. So I handed over our entire savings of about $3000. Soon after I was informed that the money would be used to send one of our elders Qatan and his wife Hasidah on a much needed time away. I swallowed hard. I didn't oppose this, but it really shook my faith. How could they take all that money and give someone wlse a vacation. Yes, I know, the Twelve Tribes doesn't have vacations, but some do! And I never saw this brother do any manual labor, none. This also bothered some of the other brothers who literally worked liked slaves 6 days a week. Qatan sat around writing Twelve Tribes Freepaper articles and went to meetings and presenting teachings to us revealed by God to Apostle Elbert Eugene "Gene" Spriggs aka "Yoneq". So we gave up our "rotten stinkin' lives in the world" and gave them all our money, and Qatan and Hasidah went on "a much needed time away." Ahh..such is the fallacy of any form of communism - communal living where everyone "shares" the money. What a fool I was. Maybe "someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one..." John Lennon was really high on something when he wrote that. What a sick joke and lie. You'll "live as one" all right, in poverty working like a slave.

John said...

Don't some of you people have anything better to do with your time than bashing the Twelve Tribes? They're not hurting you. And if you joined them, that's your stupidity. Sure, I think some of the things the believe are stupid. So what? This is the USA. I'm going to still eat their food and drink their smoothie's on the Ithaca Commons. try and stop me.

Anonymous said...

When we lived there our incoming mail return addresses would be looked at and sometimes questioned. Like if it was relative, I would be asked what they had to say in the letter, and if they wanted me to leave the community. We were asked to stop all incoming shoppers catalogs, because "the community would meet all our needs." And they didn't want the children to see any literature from the outside world which is all under the control of the Evil One.

Anonymous said...

When I first moved to the community, I started dialing the telephone one evening to call one of my children who lived with their mother outside the commune. Immediately another member saw me using the phone and asked who I was calling. I told him I was calling my small child. He looked at me very concerned and said, "We don't just call people in the world." "Our life is here now." Later, I went to someone in higher authority and got him over-ruled with permanent permission to call my small child.

If you move-in and/or join, everything about you will be scrutinized and corrected. They are attempting to be perfect disciples of Master Yahshua, which really means you follow exactly what Gene Spriggs "Yoneq" (the founder) has brought forth in the Teachings.

The Teachings are given about 3-5 times per week. You can humbly ask questions, but you are never allowed to disagree with anything. That would be rebellious and not "honoring the anointing."

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked "The Yellow Deli" hasn't been mentioned. I found this site because there's restaurant in the San Diego area (Vista, north county). It's funky, (admittedly) delicious, eclectic and VERY unique for the area. It's always SUPER crowded and I spend $12 for a soup and sandwich.

But that's besides the point. Of course the amish-hippie appearance immediately made me wonder what they're about as that is rarely seen in urban southern California. AND they're open 24 HOURS but only 5 days a week. They close friday night (presumably for the agave fest?) and re-open sunday night. I looked on yelp and read some reviews that mentioned they were part of twelve tribes, but I'm not one to judge on religion, so I didn't let anything like that stop me from going.

Since then, I've gone 5 or so times, take out very time. There are always a large number/high density of workers and after reading this I'm wondering if they're all getting paid legitimately. Anyways, tonight while picking up my order at The Yellow Deli, something struck me, a (VERY) pregnant worker. I thought, that's odd that someone that far along is running around a very busy kitchen, visible from the cash register area. Now from what I'm reading about the intense labor in this group it makes more sense now!

Something else I notice like a FLASHING FIREWORK is the vibe I get from the workers. The guys all make eye contact and one even did a flirty "double-eyebrow-raise" tonight. Was he trying to "recruit" me? There's always two guys there to greet at the door with great big (almost too big) happy warm smiles. As for the women, I feel very threatened and intimidated by them, despite the descriptions of them being submissive to their men. My first visit, I was second in line. The woman in front of me left, and as I came to the register the woman worker behind the counter did not acknowledge, look at, or greet me. I looked at her to try to make eye contact, but as I obviously stood there at the counter, she looked down at her papers then walked away. I saw her chatting with other women workers and laughing very hard and joyfully, but as I obviously stood there she took her time. Finally a male worker walked up to me gave me eye contact and a smile and asked if I had been helped. I told him of my order and he got it for me and began to ring me up. Then walked over the woman who had ignored me. She was older, maybe in her 50s or 60s and seemed "in charge". She asked what he was doing, and the younger man told her he was ringing me up, but he didn't charge me for the cheese, because he figured it was included. She seemed upset and asked to speak with him privately. As I waited she and him had a bit of a discussion about the transaction. Eventually she returned, I paid, and she barely spoke a word to me. It struck me as odd and was a bit off-putting. Since that first visit, ALL OF MY VISITS are this way. The two older "in charge" women are very cold and callous to me. The men are warm friendly flirty and helpful. The younger women are usually waitressing or in the kitchen (but never make eye contact or say welcome or goodbye as the men do). I haven't dealt much with the younger women (since I get take out).

(to be continued on next post)

Anonymous said...

(continued from previous post)

I know I'm not a first-hand member of the TT community or anything, but I just wanted to make you all aware of The Yellow Deli. Have their businesses been investigated by the bureaus to ensure all of their employees are being paid fairly with workers compensation/maternity leave?

Jesse (the previous post), I feel for you, I can't believe your generosity went to this Qatan guy's vacation. I APPLAUD you for realizing this was a (as you call it) "sick joke and lie". You are strong and smart (not a fool as you put it).

The Yellow Deli preaches on their website and even in their food that everything is love and that "God is Love." When I go in the restaurant I see customers (especially older ladies) enamored with the staff and their genuine-seeming "love" and (deliberate and over-the-top) SLOW-paced demeanor. I can see how nice, vulnerable people can fall in love with this "act" as I see it. After 5 or so visits I'm sad to say I can't go back to that place and support something that is CONFIRMED by actual former (some long-time) TT members! These posts are recent and I hope that the people that support their businesses (me until now finding this blog) will realize. Tag THE YELLOW DELI in your discussions/on your site so that people can find it.

Take a look at their "OUR HISTORY" on the Vista restaurant's site. It's different than other cities'.

Thanks for an intriguing read-up on the dark side of twelve tribes.

Jesse said...

The workers are not paid any money, they only receive room and board. In one household once many years ago, each couple received a weekly stipend to go out and get an ice cream or save the money for personal needs, but that soon ended. You're basically working for free. You're usually up and about from 6am-11pm+, double work shifts are common. The communities I was in had no worker compensation insurance on the members. There's no health health insurance of any kind. None. Pregnant women generally do not go to any doctor or nurse throughout their pregnancy and delivery. They see pain and suffering as good things that God wants for you. The leader "Yoneq" Gene Spriggs and his wife Marsha could make things different, but they won't.

You get corrected and criticized often in the community and the kids get hit often for the smallest things.

But some people join, desperate for a new life of some kind. They make friends and feel loved.

Some members are happy and striving to do their best for God. But others, like the cold women you met, are very unhappy and over-worked. Some feel trapped as well.

The community has the feeling of security. You can feel like everything is taken cared of, but really it isn't. Often the leadership doesn't really know what they're doing.

I lived in one Twelve Tribes community where the goats were not properly cared for and started to get sick and die. I watched one mother goat painfully die, there wasn't even a gun around to put the poor thing out of its misery. I prayed an angel would come and end its suffering. Within a few minutes she passed on.

What most people don't really realize about the communities is that money disappears like the wind. There's usually not money for what you may need. One sister went for two years without a bathrobe. Our household at one point was so poor, that we only had $10 per week! allotted for each person's food and personal needs!

In another Tribal area, further back in time, all the married people had to sell their wedding rings.

But here's the kicker, all the communities no matter how in debt they are with home and business mortgages have to pay the "tithe" 10% for "evangelism" to reach out for "sheep" so that they can "give up their rotten' stinckin' lives in the world" and "come to where God lives", because "God doesn't live any other places on earth." Only in the Tribes. And then the new people get to add to the free labor force.

Jesse said...

Are brothers and sisters sharing the wealth? No. The money disappears. No one gave me any to enjoy.

They talk about "laying wealth at the feet of the apostle(s)." Am sure Yoneq & H'emeq and Hakam & Havah Wiseman always have whatever they need.

If people just use a little common sense, they can see through the veneer of this life.

"We live just like the early Christians in the book of Acts..." Really? And what was that really like? Donations from other places had to be constantly taken to send to the communal churches in Jerusalem. Communism tends to make the majority of members dirt poor. It's sad. That's because theirs always leaders sucking up most of the money, either for themselves or for their dreams and the fulfillment or expansion of their dreams. The individual is neglected, the group/movement becomes supreme.

Because the Tribes are trying to expand too quickly, unnecessary suffering results. But I was told that unless everyone stays busy all during their waking hours, people tend to get themselves into trouble just like children.

So, get to work you sheep. "Submit to the anointing" aka Gene Sprigss aka Yoneq (& H'emeq). "You no longer need to be concerned about your own needs, the Body will take care of you." "You now have a will for your life.""Before you were lost in the world, but now you have been found by your brothers and sisters.""We don't go home for the holidays, this is our home, love is our home.""We came out of the world and into God's Kingdom, never to leave." "We gave up our own opinions. Dead men don't have opinions. We have died to the world system and our old life and are now living a new life for the one came and died and lives for us, Yahshua Messiah the King of Kings." "Take off your head (your thinking & opinions) and put it on a shelf, and take on the mind of the Body (Gene Spriggs' teachings." We will tell you how to think.""You will come when you are called, and go when you are sent." "It's doesn't matter how you feel." "We live by the objective Word.""We live in complete unity with one-another.""There is no other way to be saved." "Yahweh is raising up the Twelve Tribes as a light to the Nations." "Most of the people now living in the world will go to the Lake of Fire, but some will be saved." "We need to find our brothers and sisters in the world who are lonely and hurting and longing deep in their hearts for a new life of love." "We have given up everything to follow Yahshua." "We have given up homes, marriages, children, relatives, friends, money and possessions for something of far greater value."

Jesse said...

"After dinner, Let's have some fellowship at the dish sink (cleaning piles of dirty dishes by hand), then you're needed at the Yellow Deli to work until midnight..." "Make sure you go right to bed after work, we don't want to be late for the morning gathering at 7AM."

friend of Broooks said...

My friend first told me about their life. He was very excited about it. He told of a people who loved each other. They worked and prayer together each day. They kept the Sabbath rest. They home-schooled their children. I wasn't interested at first. But my friend seemed so happy. It's like he found what he had been looking for his whole life.

First he was visiting Island Pond. All seemed well on the surface. They he went and actually moved into the community somewhere in Massachusetts. Then everything turned bad.

My friends happiness turned to sadness. Disbelief. He was crammed into a small single brothers room. Brothers were forced to use bunk-beds to share a very small room together. To avoid various air-born diseases from living so closely together. And to have enough fresh air to breath, they kept the windows opened all night in the middle of winter!

My friend was freezing cold most of the time. Then they would also go outside in their underwear in the winter weather to have snowball fights.

But the breaking point for my friend was the frequent cries throughout the house of children being hit. They would be punished with long flexible wooden rods for anything disobedient. Even for making funny faces, or refusing food when they were already full.

My friend had visited many monastic communities throughout the United States. but his experience at the Tribes communities was the worst.

He was also surprised to be told that he could never be saved by God, unless he joined the Tribes. That God's spirit only lived their and everyone else in the whole world believed wrong, except the first believers in Jesus centuries ago.

My friend left and went back to being Catholic and helping street people at a Dorthy Day catholic Worker community.

By then I had begun visiting the communities. My wife and I were out of work and desperate for a new kind of life. The Tribes warmly welcomed us. They seemed happy and kind at first. But soon things got ugly. It was all about doing exactly what you're told. Every doctrine must be believed. We were told to stop thinking for ourselves. We were in the Body (Tribes) now. Each day someone else would have "a will" for our lives.

Our incoming mail was examined. Our telephone calls were listened to. And we worked like dogs for free.

The Tribes people at that time lived in homes that they did not properly maintain. They actually trashed and worn out house so bad in Island Pond, that some were simply abandoned and they moved into other houses.

I've never forget the looks on the children's faces as they stood on commune houses porches with nothing to do. No toys to play with. And any kind of disobedience was met with the rods of correction.

I'm back "in the world" now and have found that people in the "world system" can be just as kind as loving as in "New Israel" Tribes. Some people in the Tribes can be pretty mean and cold-hearted. It's scary what some people have gone through. Going without right medical care.

On the good side, there can be some very happy times in the Tribes, and some people find friendship and a marriage partner and things are better for some people in the Tribes, than if they were drug addicted on the street and things like that.

Maybe someday the communities can be different. When they no longer think they're the only ones. When they really start taking care of each other. And doing the things they say they believe in.

Right now, I no longer trust them. I've seen too much go wrong. Later members say it never happened. Yoneq taught us it was okay to "not tell the truth" if it hurt the community in any way. That others "in the world" may not always deserve the truth.

If you want to avoid a lot of hurt and heartache, I would stay away from these people.

Anonymous said...

"It wouldn't be so hard, if it were not for self-regard."

In the community you are told to die to yourself. The movement, the emerging culture, the beehive, is what really counts.

Individuals can be replaced. They can be asked to leave. but the "hive" will continue on.

Personal happiness and fulfillment is not the goal. Surrender and obedience is what really counts. Fail to do this, and you have Death and Hell Fire to look forward to.

Ever wonder why the God of certain religions such as this would torture people eternally? Would you do this to your child? I wouldn't. These type of groups make God look really bad. Oh, I forgot, God loves you. Really? and the next minute your destined to the Lake of Fire...

Anonymous said...

The Twelve Tribes can try to make their life look good. But it's really just another form of communism. You end up with two groups, the shepherds (the communist party) and the sheep (those who have nothing and work for nothing).

Anonymous said...

They preach one thing but live completely different and they hold out on you about what they really think about many issues until you've given them your money and future and made a covenant.To sum it up my life was a living hell there and i am very fortunate to have recovered as much as i have.

Anonymous said...

On the Missouri farm in Weaubleau, one of elder Naboth's own sons was found to be having sexual intercourse with some of the farm animals. It all got swept under the rug and that same son married later that year. I am telling the truth. A truth they would deny and call slander. Some of those who lived there know what i am talking about. I lived there several years. I decided right then and there that i dont believe in god, and it has been my experience that it is a created concept that is used for personal interest. Everything i need to know in order to be a good person is already inside of me, and if there is a god he'll understand my justifiable reasons for doubting his existence.

Rakam said...

They don't do this so openly anymore, but when my wife and I first moved in, our polyester clothes were burned up in the woodstove by the laundry sisters without asking us!

Also stuffed animals are banned, so my wife's teddy bear got burned up also!

It doesn't say in the Bible that you can't wear polyester or have stuffed animals, but Apostle Eugene Elbert Spriggs AKA Yoneq and wife Marsha AKA Ha'emeq decided that no members would be allowed to wear polyester clothing at all, except for jackets and coats. And decided that stuffed animals and such are evil. No I'm not making any of this up.

Some years later, we were allowed to wear polyester, if it didn't touch our skin. There was some sort of concern about negative ions poisoning your skin or something. I don't know if this is true or not, but am sure God didn't speak it to Ha'emeq or Yoneq, anymore than He did about what color underwear is allowed or banned.

Trust me dear readers, once you have a religious Prophet or Apostle, you've got a big problem. Human beings hearing from and speaking for God. Little Popes telling you what to believe and how to live.

Yoneq is truly a Pope for the Twelve Tribes, and they will defend him and his wife Ha'emeq no matter what.

Eric said...

I don't think we should judge the whole tree by a few bad apples. The community should admit bad fruit, since the world tends to find out about incidents anyway. But I think we should look at the whole picture. What do you think?

Anonymous said...

When I recently asked one of the shepherds why the members have to work such long hours, he replied with a smile, "Adults are like children, if they're not kept busy, they will get into trouble."

Anonymous said...

If Jesus were alive today he would probably say, ..."be not called Apostle or Apostolic Worker or Shepherd, for you are all brothers and sisters, and you have one Apostle and Shepherd who is God in Heaven."

Eric said...

I like the music and sharing from brothers and sisters at the gatherings. It is very meaningful to me. I have real friends there, and it seems like they are doing their best to love their children in the Ithaca community and one-another. I also have some concerns and continue to try to sort this all out in my own mind. Think it's helpful to talk about this, And hear from everyone.

Hakam said...

They'll continue to work for 16 hr. days, even when you're very ill with pneumonia, and they have no health insurance, so members go without medical care for as long as possible, some have actually died from medical neglect. While they were dying in bed, they were brought real fruit juice, something you otherwise would never get, but no medical care. And pain? They don't believe in any pain killers for anything."It is through much trial and tribulation that we enter the Kingdom." "Yahshua (Jesus) was well-aquianted with pain and suffering."

Lem said...

It can look really good on the outside. But inside there often is a lot of suffering and unhappiness. My wife says "there is a lot of pretending going on" from a women's point of view, and that most of the women in her estimation are unhappy. Some never smile at all. My wife says only a couple women would even talk to her as a visitor. She felt rejected because she felt they viewed her as unuseful to their community. A liability instead of an asset, maybe because she was older and didn't have much money.

Anonymous said...

I am an exTTer myself. Spent 13 years from 1997 to 2012 in Australia. I have looked at the Teachings published online and I can tell you they are the exact teachings we were taught day after day.They are either the transcript of a gathering at which Yoneq spoke with added comments chosen for their pertinency(or echoing tone) by anyone else in the group that day, or a teaching written by Yoneq. If they happen to be written by someone else it is always the case of an elder next in line clone as I perceive. And to comment on someone's remark about the members life not reflecting those harsh intolerant teachings, here it comes. Yoneq rules. Beards and ponie tails? Yoneq, Child discipline?Yoneq. Some details of life might be different according to household heads preferences etc. But everything important is dictated by this noxious,vengeful,intolerant,ignorant,superstitious, racist, mysogenist, narcisist, melomaniac.

Anonymous said...

The gatherings, friendships, working together, and a new identity can be very meaningful and special, but the daily reality is exhaustion "working day and night as we labor for our Twelve Tribes as did the Apostle Shaul (Paul)." One sheherd I've known for years told me, "Adults are like children, they need to be kept busy or they will get into trouble." They claim not to have a "clergy laity division like Christianty does", but in reality they do. The "shepherds" rule over the "sheep", and the Apostle, and his wife, rule over the "apostolic workers" ("dignitaries") and everyone else. There is an outward beauty in various ways that wraps and shields newcomers from really seeing how things work? The leaders statements and teachings on black people and Native Americans are clearly racist. He actually supports slavery outside of the communes and supports the past subjugation of Native Amercians. Members will deny this, but it is completely true. I wish I had never been a member in this group. It has the affect of messing up your life for time to come. If you do leave, it's better to never go back and try to replace this cult with something else that is meaningful to you and not harmful to your physical or mental health.

Anonymous said...

Gene (Eugene) and Marsha Spriggs AKA Yoneq and Ha'emeq are the ones who decided how everything would be in this cult. My big question is, who inspired them. Are they somehow self-deceived? I don't believe they are cons, but it's very difficult to say what really goes through their minds. What makes them tick. It's also strange that members talk frequently about Yoneq, but not much about the influence of Ha'emeq, his wife. This was true even before her sex scandal with a young disciple emerged years later. This groups as a whole is very good at denying any truth that makes them look bad. It would be so refreshing someday for the Yoneq and Ha'emeq and the whole Twelve Tribes to actually repent to the world.

Daniel Upton said...

After my wife and I moved in, one of the elders began to inquire why my wife and I hadn't had any children. He tried to know about our sex life in detail. Then the women at times would gather around my wife during the day and try to convince her from the Bible that she wasn't saved, even though my wife considered herself a born-again Christian woman. They made her repeatedly cry. They tried to break her of any salvation assurance she had, apart from the communities. The message was always clear, you cannot be saved from everlasting punishment from God, unless you join the cult. The Tribes are the only way. They are God's container for His Holy Spirit and those people who are really being saved. Yahshua (Jesus) died so that your sins could be forgiven by trusting Him AND joining the community! And, if you leave the cult, God automatically hates you and will punish you, now and in the life to come. Looking back, I realize how sick and perverted their Gospel is. Their Gospel is no more "Good News" than trying to follow all the rules in Islam, or by repeatedly praying the Rosary and performing endless penance in traditional Catholicism.

Anonymous said...

I still miss the people, but I don't want to be a slave either.

Rafael jQuery Santos said...

I lived in the Twelve Tribes in Brazil for some time, and I have relatives that still live in it, since 1999.

I'm pretty sure they WOULD take me back, if they didn't strip each penny I had when my mother got the inheritance, 8 years back then.

So, synthesizing what I have to say to you: don't believe the shit they try to sell, until you get fucked up by yourself, until they destroy the bounds you have with your parents, your family! It looks awesome, but it's just a different kind of fantasy that people tend to believe because it tastes very seet on the surface, until you byte it and begin to swallow.

jasoneric said...

Hello, I lived in a couple Twelve Tribes Communities in the US and I would like to say they are very kind and hardworking people! What is important to them is serving God and learning to love others the way the Son of God did! I learned more there in a few years than all of my other years in life combined! Yahshua (Jesus) and his people are amazing, but it is no small thing to serve him - if you get baptized it is like marrying Yahshua and his people.

jasoneric said...

Hello, I lived in a couple Twelve Tribes Communities in the US and I would like to say they are very kind and hardworking people! What is important to them is serving God and learning to love others the way the Son of God did! I learned more there in a few years than all of my other years in life combined! Yahshua (Jesus) and his people are amazing, but it is no small thing to serve him - if you get baptized it is like marrying Yahshua and his people.

Joseph Parkton said...

I was a member for about 7 years and in that time I came to see many beatings but if you say anything to the parent you are held to judgement as well. The beatings start around 6 mo. old, and the tool used is a baloon stick (a small wooden dowel) soaked in oil to strengthen the dowel. They start using the hands and bottoms of feet to beat (until those parts develop callouses) then the back, legs, thighs etc until the whole body is one giant callous. A truly sick and disgusting people.

There are WAY TOO many injustices going on in their lives to even begin to mention here. If a youth begins to have feelings towards another and say they hold hands as a sign of affection, they are brought before the Qahal (council) and judged and either have to move out with their parents or are forced to marry this person they held hands with. Mental abuse is ongoing and daily, depression, delusion, suicide, homicide etc etc and go completely unchecked. I say a doc is needed with more truth.

These are not Godly people, they are simply a bunch of cowards who cannot live in the world on their own so they congregate together and codepend on one another. They lie on taxes, homeschooling and other documents to save money. They cheat the elderly, rich, well off, etc to gain more money to buy more properties and infect another community. There is blatant harm, theft, prostitution, and other evil acts going on. Oh and most awesome of all the children,

Members are appointed by the "government" of that community (speaking on Yashuas behalf) and then go on to molest, sodomize, rape those children (unreported to the authorities) and then simply kicked out. The mentally ill are left untreated and simply "prayed for" and if they don't "recive" the prayers and become magically mentally well they are also kicked out. The infirm, the sick, are denied medicine and simply need to "deal with it" even to the point of death.

Joseph Parkton said...

EVERY single aspect of a members life is public. Sex lives of single men, women (regarding masturbation) sex lives of Husbands and wives (to critique whether it is sinful or godly) what you drink, what you eat, what you wear etc etc.. Members are held to a standard the leaders themself do not follow (ie Ha'emeq and her affair with Yadutan) ANY other "normal" member would have been thrown out immediately yet Ha'emeq is "forgiven".

I have debated over writing a comment or not for a while after reading comments by others and here it goes...once you get past the "preaching" and conversion process you would see the hypocrisy, lies, scandals etc that go on DAILY! Children are beaten mercilessly almost to the point of death, and some have died as a result.

eqborn said...

Whenever you are going through ANY kind of suffering or pain in the cult, they compare it to their dumbass "yahshua" carrying his cross!!! And now my formerly brainwashed poor sweet mother who wouldn't hurt a fly will live in pain for the rest of her life due to their selfishness, there's a lot of people that want to believe that they're this charming little addition to society and don't even wanna know the truth. I am 23 as well, fortunately my mom left and I followed, they screwed us totally as well, my mom who weighs barley 110 lbs has permanent back damage from constantly lifting heavy pots and boxes during the 14 years of slave labor

Rafael jQuery Santos said...

Well, if you want to know about the dark side of it, I know it well.

Take a read at this, believe in every word, I'm from Brazil and that was a scandal that happened there and they tried to put it under the rug:


And if you want to really go down the rabbit hole about it, take a look at this:


Most people there have good will, but they DO trick themselves, and the leaders are mostly hypocrites.

Also, they don't deny anything of the scandal I just sent you. But the leaders, specially Yoneq (but the other big leaders too), tried to make the issue disappear into thin air, before they were forced to make a real council about it and judge Ha-emeq (and leaders there punish people very hardly for much less than holding hands of a married people, masturbation is a total different level of adultery there).

If you don't know who Ha-emeq is, you'll get a little shocked: she is the wife of Yoneq.

I ended up having to take pill for the rest of my life because I had a psychotic episode after 3 months living there, when I was 18. They simply tied me up for days instead of taking me to a medical facility, taking the whole shit to another level, and trying to take command satan to get out of my body instead of giving me medicine. When that happened and my father took me out of there (a lot of details I'm just not mentioning, but that agravates it), they didn't even want to take me back!

Now I understand this is a total bullshit they got carved deep inside my brain, but imagine having all of this inside of you while you're a child, a teenager! That shit completely fucked me up!

Rafael jQuery Santos said...

Can you see the type of shit a double-thinking institution like this can bring to a family? Now I'm 23, and had almost 14 years without my mom, without the confort a child needed, having to struggle against the guilt of having betrayed the almighty fucking god and the fear of going to the lake of fire because of it, condemned to burn the entire fucking eternity for not wanting to be controlled, for wanting to be free and think for myself!

My mother gave them my entire enharitance by going there and left me with nothing more than NOTHING. But I was too young and didn't do anything legal against her because, SHIT, SHE WAS MY MOM! I felt guilty just to imagine taking money by force from my mom and the children in the community, I was only a 10 years old boy, my grandmother had just died and she had a very important place in my life, I didn't want to fight for her money like if I were a crow flying around her grave.

Rafael jQuery Santos said...

And if you don't know who Yoneq is, he is simply the man in charge, the man claimed to have direct connection with god, the man who nobody there dares to disobey, nobody! That is the man who tried to cover up the biggest scandal this shit has had in 40 fucking years. That's what makes me mad about this: they try to make you believe that place is a whole new experience of purity and holiness, and love, by hiding everything bad from you until you get your feet too deep in the shit.

Jay can't fly said...

i cant believe other people are calling these people child molesters among other things.... it horrible. these people are my family and it really bothers me that others see them this way

chopper cruzado said...

Asher-Australia, 1375 Remembrance drive Picton N.S.W. i was beaten with a paddle/Rod non stop for such petty things, was never right. always on the defensive, i basically was not allowed to be a child , all the children were not allowed to talk among-st them selves . the leaders are completely selfish,.. no bikes no radio no tv, no toys. no prerecorded music. its so wrong, im still going through psychological treatment for several different things. the leaders name is Andrew hundleby, and Nun.

esagewa said...

I lived in the Tribe of Gad (Winnipeg, Canada) as a WOOFer (Willing Worker On Organic Farm) for 2 months. I was scared of the community at first, but after a week I realized it is NOT a cult, and grew to love the 12 Tribes of Israel's kindred spirit and open views on other cultures.This is a fantastic reminder of why I should go back to visit. <3

Much Love

alicia rae said...

they banished a women that was staying with them when they caught her masturbating in a room alone..and they still believe in and practice forms of slavery..enough said..

Laurie Collier said...

I have met many people who grew up in this cult and the abuse is EXTREME. I can't believe they have not been busted. They beat children bloody and they start at six months old. They beat most children many times a day. Do you think that is okay? Yes the world has a lot of evil in it but child torture is part of that evil.

Laurie Collier said...

The Twelve Tribes does terrible things to children and is exremely controlling. BEware if you think something is too good to be true it probably is. There is a lot of love in TT members and most are earnest about their devotion to God and eachother, but the group is in many ways destructive and they raise children to be prejudiced and ignorant and the cruelty towards children is appalling. I believe in religious freedom and tolerance but people should be warned about this group.

Anonymous said...

some guy at a dead show gave me a brochure on these guys ha ha, they sound the complete opposite of what he said they were

Ellie said...

I just spent a week visiting a household in my area, and their children are healthy and happy. They're unafraid of the adults around them, they love their parents, they grin, make jokes, play and help out.

Personally, I do believe that in the early years horrific things happened. However, I also believe that the tribes have learned from them and that they don't happen anymore. Discipline- yes. Abuse- no.

TwelveTribesTeachingsdotCom said...

Tribes cult has gotten their own way again: the site has been taken down form the web. I can't believe. Another person caved in to them?

Chris said...

CHILD DISCIPLINE/ABUSE (physical, medical, and sexual) has occurred and is always denied. Most members sincerely love the children and do not want abuse to occur, but it does happen on a regular basis, and the babies and children are frequently hit with oiled balloon sticks on the palms, buttocks and thighs.
Babies are hit as early as 6 months old (sometimes earlier) for things like excessive crying and resisting an adult's embrace. Children may be hit by any adult member for any kind of “disobedience”, fantasizing, “foolishness”, “gravitating toward one another”, forming “underground” child or teen-only secret communication, make-believe, not sitting still, refusing or not being able to eat all the food they were served, talking to imaginary friend(s), and talking to themselves.

Chris said...

It's unlikely you'll understand how things really operate in this life, unless you spend a year or more there, but at the same time, you may actually be mostly brainwashed by then. I'm not saying this to be mean. In alot of ways, I'd like to live that kind of life, but the last straw for me was when they wanted me to start hitting my 2 year old for trivial "disobedience" like running around the house with another small child, laughing and just having a good time. Then, one of the adult men asked me if I would like him to "discipline" my child. The I really became afraid. Also communities vary "in grace." Some really are more loving and sincere than others. There's different experiences, depending on who you're living with. A few members really are mentally ill or damaged. Some have done some really bad hurtful things in the community. Most of the people are giving their all. It's confusing to think about. Confusing to evaluate, because I like many of the people. But I have to ask myself, "Is this movement really helping people and saving them, or hurting and abusing them?"

R Jackson said...

I lived with them briefly in Colorado Spings Co and in Warsaw Mo. My husband is still with them. They seem so loving, they truly have a desire to love God...But everything you will read about them... beating their children daily from age 3 months, slave labor, and bigotry, I witnessed personally.

Marteen926 said...

I went to visit this place ,and it is full of mind control,In the last days deception will be ramped ,this is a cult and if the dont repent they will find themselves in hell .the rapture of the church is very very close ,and we need to be saved by Jesus ,because the tribulation period is about ready to start.

Chris said...

Can someone please answer these question? It's clear they believe that at one of the things a person must do to be saved is to give up all their money and possessions to follow God/Yahshua.

Okay, here's one question? Why does the money and possessions have to be given to the Tribes? Why can't it be given to the poor elsewhere? It seems to me having the Tribes ready to collect a person's money is a real spiritual conflict of interest.

Here's 2nd question?
Why hasn't Yoneq and Ha-emeq given up everything to follow Yahshua? Why haven't they given up their credit cards and frequent trips around the country and around the world?

I think these questions deserve to be answered. I don't think any of the members should have credit cards.

Alice said...

I get weary of hearing bad things about these nice people. I can't see them doing anything wrong.

Pam said...

I went to visit the Ithaca community 8am Saturday gathering this morning. The negative reports I read here sure don't match up with the life I see there among the people. Am I missing something? The children appeared normal and actually more full of life than other kids I see in front of TV, video games and smart phones. Am I missing something? The members fed me breakfast and seemed genuinely interested and hospitable to me. And genuinely interested in my family. Am I missing something? I can't vouch for all the various beliefs they may have. But if I were to judge a group by the love they have for each other and visitors, I'd say they're on the right track in this world. Maybe others can elaborate more. Having visited more than a few times there, they and the children appear to be living a normal, consistent, meaningful life. However, am not ruling anything out, and will continue to ask questions and carefully observe. Maybe stay overnight also and be there during the work week. It may be that some of their past blunders reported they have learned from? Past doctrines that haven't stood the test of time also? We'll see. If anyone else has visited recently, maybe let me know here and report. It sounds like more people are coming to visit all the time. I can see how the wholesome life together and love could attract people. Does anyone know what percentage of people remain and thrive? Any past members on this site who have visited other types of spiritual communal groups and remained there? Let me know.

KC Harloff said...

These people now are in our city of Oneonta.
At their deli, The Yellow Deli, a member recently told me that they believe that white people were the first to populate the planet and that all races evolved from them. That is their interpretation of the bible. Thus, they believe that they (white) are superior to all other races. Does this sound like a previous occurrence in world history?

outer sider said...

I think some of you are barking up the wrong tree.I know the twelve tribes and they are harmless .They are genuine and well respected by many including the police.Never have i seen or heard of any violence or abuse within the group.

On the other hand Mathew Klein has assaulted and harassed members of the twelve tribes.What a hypocrite!

leave them alone they are good people.

boubabal said...

Cult !

kiwi d. said...

haha, you sure make it sound like you don't know anything about them. The children do go to school (homeschool), are absolutely allowed to talk (and play) with one another, and those that live on farms have 'pets' in baby goats and cows that they adore. They're HEALTHIER for not using internet/tv, and for not randomly kissing (or having sex with) whomever they like. And family visits are a frequent occurrence, UNLESS your family is actually openly aggressive or something.

Junior DoGoode said...

Hey, where else can you go to hear "God's Chosen People Israel" declare that "College is stupid, for people who are too lazy to work by the sweat of their brow."? And then, giving their own children basically a 6th grade education?
I could care less about their pet goats. I lived with a brother who took the boys outside to cut off the head of goat they were learning to butcher. The he wanted to bring the big long knife back into the kitchen, but the sisters told him to take the knife to the garage. No one in the community ever ate the goat meat. He's never butchered anything before in his life. The Tribes operate on the foundation of Gene and Marsha Sprigss combined with stupidity with a capital "S" for _hithead.

Heini said...

Can anyone tell me HOW Yoneq decided the location of each Tribe? How come Africa got left out? No Tribes there. And how come Asia got left out? No Tribes there. But North America gets 1, 2, 3+ Tribes! Who figured this all out? Who heard from God? Tell me if you can...

Chris said...

I remember when Christmas came, it was a little depressing that day in the community. No decorations, no tree, no presents, just the usual routine. We had the day off somehow at that time. Around Christmas time when we'd drive down the road from the household to work and other commutes, I remember some of the people in the car saying how ugly the Christmas decorations looked around the town in other people's yards. Maybe we were all trying to make ourselves feel better. After all, we were God's Chosen People, the true Jews, the only ones being saved, we shouldn't be sad about anything, right?

thecorksailor said...

I spent 4 yrs in tt in the Old schoolhouse restaurunt in nova scotia about 20yrs ago. when I met these people I was

on my way to youth jail and planning to commit sucide. they (TT) helped me and took me in. And for that I am alive today

Now I am a public speaker and travel all over Canada speaking to teachers\students,parents,doct­ors,police,

laywers,judges About the effects of drinking alcohol during pregnancy (FASD)

TT change my outlook on my life and myself and for that I thank them

Chris said...

Let's do something really different, and if we live near one of the Twelve Tribes, go over there and welcome them to town and bring a welcome gift and make friends with them. That way, if they are off or controlled in some way, we have a real basis for communication. Friendship. It's easy to write bad things about them. Maybe somethings need to be exposed. But there should also be some more positive ways to help the situation. Also such as allowing members who wish to leave to come to our homes to stay and help them find work and a place to live. Or if the Tribes cannot not be a good place at all, to form an alternate Tribes community where everyone loves each other and works for the common good, like they are trying to do. What do you think? Would you be willing to try some of these ideas and brainstorm for some other ideas?

Ali Kubarri said...

Concerning gays, I don't understand what's so great about two men sodomizing each other, and performing other sex acts on each other. People's butt holes are not made for intercourse, heterosexual or homosexual. Or two women licking each other. But it's their life. But we ultra-conservative also have the freedom to condemn it. What I've really wondered about is why this blog doesn't criticize Islam the way it does the Twelve Tribes. Are you afraid, cowardly blog owner? Islam condemns homosexuals also, and believes most fervently in Theocracy. If you people have so much to say about the Tribes people, maybe you should also have something to say about Islam. Try it out. We Muslims will not hurt you too badly.

Aloysius Horn said...

I am really curious. Why the sudden rash of comments (both pro and anti-TT) that are suddenly flooding into this blog? How did all of you simultaneously come to start posting comments after all this time? Was this blog advertised somewhere? Please fill me in!

Joseph said...

I don't know about these other people. I used to live there and this site is on first page of Google toward the top. I used to go to but it is parked at Godaddy now!! because someone didn't pay their bill to them. Am frustrated about this. One of my friends is looking into this. We also don't know if the Tribes in any way intimidated the unnamed creator of that site since it is their teachings. I don't know what else to tell you. Yeah, I miss my life with them. But, there could be a lot of changes for the better. It's not as bad as it used to be, but still...I guess this is an outlet for some of us. Yeah, it may be a waste of time. Maybe negative? Anyway, anyone who Googles twelve tribes cult now sees your blog at the top. I thought alot of people were already coming to this place? But a couple of people I know come here?

Aloysius Horn said...

Was there a discussion board at Twelve Tribes Teachings? I know there used to be a discussion forum on TT at FACTnet. I am the admin of this blog and haven't written a new article in years, so I was surprised to be suddenly getting so many comments. This isn't perhaps the best format for real discussion, but I will continue publishing responsible comments, pro and con. If there are any former or current members of the Ithaca community specifically, I'd very much like to get in touch with you and hear your story. Just let me know if you're present or former Ithaca TT and let me know if I can email you a few friendly questions. Best, Al

Kiwi girl said...

For the record, I DO believe that the TT is full of wonderful people, and wonderful traditions and way of life. There's not a single person living there who I think would be better off living outside the community-- they lead an idyllic, character-forming life together. If I only shared their beliefs, I could have joined with integrity.

The reason I left (rather than be baptised and stay) was basically that I didn't believe that they were who they BELIEVE they are. From my perspective, the Holy Spirit may have been there at the beginning of the TT, but it's no longer alive there; all that remains are some very wonderful people and the vestigial traditions left over from the inspired beginning. It's like watching the original community of Acts turn into the Catholic church all over again.

As someone who lived with them for 3 months and participated in everything from the inside, I'd just like to remark that if you really knew the people you're talking about, you'd feel ashamed of yourself for suggesting they're victims. That belittles the very serious (and sacred) choice they've each made to be there and live for others and not themselves. The food's wonderful, the kids are amazing, and the money goes to groceries, not Yoneq. Don't be so quick to point fingers.

Jonas said...

Well, I also miss the twelvetribesteachings website. Big disappointment when that went off the air. Still go to for some material, but the community doesn't give most of the teachings. I agree with most of the teachings and find them profound, but some teachings should be flushed down the toilet. That's part of life.

Billy said...

Jonas, I wonder if the whole thing should be flushed! They're still working double shifts 6 days a week, and yet they condemn communal groups such as the Bruderhof where children graduate high school and go to college, and where members have health insurance and are taken care of, and get proper sleep. The communities have a big wake up call coming when more of their elderly people need serious long term medical care. They are so arrogant and self-righteous in their refusal of medical insurance. It's all about what Yoneq and Ha'emeq want. It's always been that way, and it's sickening. I feel bad for the people I know who are still there. If it weren't voluntary, you'd really have to call it abusive. I wish something could be done to help them.

Chris said...

I really can't disagree with what you said. I honestly feel the same way. I called one of my friends today at a Yellow Deli and he just total me that if I don't completely surrender my life to Yahshua and join the community, then I'm going to hell, because I've already heard the Gospel and if I don't come back I'm condemning myself. It made me a little afraid at first, but then I came more to my senses. He told me that I'm being affected by evil spirits where I live and that the only solution and salvation is to come back. He was very sincere. But I'm tired of being afraid. I don't want to be there working for free and doing double shifts either. Sure I like the food and the brothers and sisters are loving and very sincere. But, I list some things I been writing for myself to help me remember the bad side:

Chris said...


Reasons Why I Left And Didn’t return

911 EMERGENCY SERVICES (POLICE-FIRE-AMBULANCE) may not be called without permission.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN is called an evil man who deserved to be killed.

AFRICAN AMERICANS AND ALL PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT are said to remain under God’s curse, and should still be slaves to white people, unless they become equal by joining the Twelve Tribes.

ALIMONY PAYMENTS for spouses living outside the community are avoided.

ASBESTOS REMOVAL SAFETY LAWS have been intentionally violated to save money.

BEDROOMS FOR SINGLE BROTHERS are usually very small and stuffy with two or more bunk beds.

BIRTHDAYS are not celebrated.

CHILD DISCIPLINE includes frequently hitting children with thin flexible rods on palms, butt, and thigh by any adult member for any form of disobedience on the first offense. Children are punished for fantasy make-believe play, imaginary friends, and anything considered foolishness.

CHILD EDUCATION is equal to a 7th grade public education at best. None of the children receive a GED or High School diploma. They are raised to remain within the community.
CHILD “SCOURGING” used to take place. Children would take off their clothes and be hit for longer periods of time with a flexible rod from the back of the neck to the heels. Am uncertain if this practice continues for very rebellious children

Chris said...

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSES have occurred, but it is almost always denied.

CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS for children living outside the community are avoided.

CHILD TOYS are not allowed, including dolls, stuffed animals, and little cars.

CHILDBIRTH PAIN is not to be lessened in any way, and is seen as God’s will and curse upon women.

CHRISTMAS is not celebrated.


CIRCUMCISION is performed at home on all male babies. May also be required for uncircumcised men.

CRITICISM AGAINST THE TRIBES is not allowed and is called “untrue, malicious lies, and slander.”

DISHWASHING MACHINES are usually discouraged in the homes. “Fellowship at the dish sink,” mainly for the single adult men, while the married people and teens disappear into thin air.

DOCTOR CHECK-UP’S are not usually allowed for babies, children, or adults.

DRUM SETS are not allowed.

DYING TO YOURSELF is commanded. “You just need to die, and give up your life.”
EASTER is not celebrated.

Chris said...

ELBERT EUGENE SPRIGGS “GENE” “YONEQ” AND HIS 4th WIFE, MARSHA ANN “HA EMEQ” DUVALL SPRIGGS are the founders and cannot be criticized by other members. Marsha avoided banishment after she lied about a sexual affair with a much younger disciple. Unmarried teens and adults have been banished for holding hands or kissing. This double-standard is unprecedented, but is mostly denied. When Gene finally found out, he said “her punishment will be that the world will know.” Gene and Marsha have decided all doctrine, rituals, food, clothing, and lifestyle for the Twelve Tribes. Gene’s only son from a previous marriage was never interested in joining and says his dad is leader of a cult.


EVANGELISM is a required activity.

EXHAUSTION is common, because members are to give 100% of all they are.

GOING OUT TO EAT is usually not allowed.

HEADBANDS must now be worn by members to the morning and evening gatherings.

HOMES are usually very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer.


IMMUNIZATIONS/VACCINATIONS are not allowed for babies, children, or adults. Whooping cough and other illnesses have disabled entire communities as a result.
IPOD’S and MP3 PLAYERS are not allowed.

Christ said...

JEWISH FESTIVALS are now celebrated.

LINGERIE is not allowed.

LYING is allowed and encouraged when needed to legally protect the community or individual members.

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. is called an evil man who deserved to be killed.

MEDICAL DOCTORS are avoided.

MEDICAL INSURANCE is not provided, and is denounced.

MEDICAL NEGLECT is not uncommon, mainly due to insufficient finances, and refusal to buy health insurance for the members. Babies and adults have died from conditions that could have been treated. They would rather take a member to a chiropractor than to a medical doctor or hospital. They will try to barter with dentists and doctors when they can’t avoid their services.

MEDICATIONS are generally not allowed or reduced as much as possible.

MEMBERS WHO LEAVE are condemned by God to Death and possibly the Eternal Lake of Fire.

PERSONAL COMPUTERS are allowed for some, but not for most members.

PERSONAL OPINIONS are to be set aside and forgotten.

PONYTAILS, short in length, are required for men and boys.
RADIO is not allowed.

Chris said...

RETIREMENT is not allowed.

SABBATH DAY OF REST (SATURDAY) WORK is performed in the late afternoon on Saturdays.

SHAVING ANY PART OF THE BODY is not allowed for men or women.

SHEPHERDS are the ruling authority over the household “sheep” which includes you and your family.

SHEEPLIKE QUALITIES are desired in members, such as being easily led.

SOUTHERN CONFEDERACY is sided with in the US Civil War as being more righteous than the North.

TELEVISION is not allowed.


-The Bible exists only for their benefit.

-To eventually be parenting the 144,000 male virgin evangelists of the Bible book of Revelation.


-The only people who are able to understand the Bible.

-The only people who are being saved by God from their sins.

-The only people who have God’s Holy Spirit since the 1st century.

-The only people who really love each other.

-The only people who see and understand life objectively.

-The people God will use to bring about the end of the current world system.
-The true Jews.

Chris said...

THINKING FOR YOURSELF is condemned. The “Mind of the Body” (Tribes mindset and Teachings)” replaces your own personal opinions and mental reasoning. “You just need to take off your head, put it on a shelf, and put on the “Mind of the Body.” “We need a new mind.” “We were taught to think all the wrong ways in the world.”

UNSAFE WORK CONDITIONS have contributed to serious injuries, such as members falling off high ladders and roofs.

VACATIONS are not allowed, though shepherds and their families do “have some time away.”

WAGES are not paid. All members are volunteers who only receive room and board.

WAL-MART is avoided.

WATER DRINKING FOUNTAINS are not allowed, even though not having them makes for a huge amount of dirty glasses to wash in the homes.

WOMEN are to all be under the authority of men, and none have government positions in the Tribes.


WORK all day and all evening, six days a week, has been the norm for years.

Chris said...

The topical report isn't done yet. It will take awhile. I needed to do this for myself, but maybe it will help others really think before they sell everything and join. I don't think God wants humans to be afraid all the time. And I don't think God gets angry and hates things or people. The community is making people afraid and leading them to make serious decisions based upon fear. This seems very wrong to me. My friend in the Tribes is now referring to the community as God's army which will someday erase evil from the earth. I don't like what I'm hearing. It's like terrorist Muslim people. It's the same idea. We should be trying to make the Earth a peaceful place. Real crimes should be punished and people locked up so they don't hurt others. But going beyond this means we end up with another Inquisition and people get punished for their beliefs and various lifestyles. It's very wrong. People who believe in freedom need to stick together. The communities are training their children that everyone in the world is evil, even all of Christianity.

Billy said...

I understand. I agree. But nobody is going to stop them. They keep taking people in. They keep indoctrinating them. The good thing is, maybe more will end up leaving than continue to join?. The majority are innocent people. They are just like us. We wanted a new life. get off drugs. have real friends...

Ann Phelps said...

You talk like these are evil people or something. Nothing could be further from the truth. They helped me when no one else would. Even though I didn't choose to stay, they didn't hold it against me. They are truly the most loving people I've met. They gave me a loving home, healthy food, a safe place for my child. I had real friends. Did any of you who say hateful things ever do the same kind things for people you didn't know? Think about it. Look in the mirror first.

KiwiGirl said...

Many people AREN'T aware of what they (as a TT member) officially believe. They just know that they'll choose to believe it because they see the "fruit" of their life as evidence that they're fulfilling God's plan for humanity. And the older ones acknowledge that maybe they'll turn out to be incorrect about specific doctrinal things-- but again, the doctrinal things aren't the important part for most of the people there. They value whatever helps them to become more loving.

KiwiGirl said...

In the community I lived in for 3 months, they believed the important part wasn't what you BELIEVED, but how you lived (and loved). It's not about what's "right or wrong", but what's "life-giving". Many members echoed the sentiment that if they found some other group that was more loving, they'd join that, but they don't believe there is a more loving way to live than the way they do (with their salvation process).

Eric said...

I still like to visit the community. It's meaningful. Like the people. Enjoy the friendship. Seems like a real life. Most meaningful to me is what people and children share at the gatherings. Completely blew away what I experienced in most other churches. Maybe it's just me. But the personal connection they seem to have with God and each other is really breathtaking at times. Don't know how else to describe it. Deeply moving.

Anonymous said...

17+ hour work days while standing most of the time.

All believe and do what the founder Gene Spriggs has taught.

All of Christianity and the Christian Jesus is condemned as

demonic, and the satanic scarlet whore of the Bible book of Revelation.

Birthdays, Christmas and other holidays are not celebrated.

Children are frequently hit with balloon sticks by any adult

member for any form of disobedience or “foolishness.”

Childrens toys, dolls, and stuffed animals are not allowed.

Claim Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. deserved to die.

Claim black people should still be slaves to whites unless they join.

Claim to be the only people forgiven and being saved by God.

Claim to be the only people who have the Holy Spirit.

Claim to be the only people who will bring Jesus back to earth by

eventually birthing 144,000 celibate male evangelists and being

perfectly obedient to God for 49 years.

Claim to be the only place on earth where anyone can be saved by God.

Founder Elbert Eugene Spriggs “Yoneq” is unquestioned Prophet Pope.

Home births and home circumcisions are required.

Childbirth pain is God’s will and is not to be lessened in any way.

Males must wear fur-face beards, short ponytails, and untucked shirts.

Medical and dental neglect is common with no health insurance.

Medications of any kind are generally not allowed.

Non-Tribes reading material of any kind is not allowed.

Shaving any part of the male of female body is not allowed.

Telephone calls to non-member family and friends is by permission.

Television, radio, personal music devices and internet aren’t allowed.

Women are not allowed in any leadership positions.

You can leave, but you’re damned to Death for 1000+ years or eternal Hell.

You’re rarely be able to visit friends and family “in the world.”

Your whole life is scrutinized and completely controlled everyday.

“It is through many trials and tribulations that we enter the kingdom.”

“You just need to die, and give up your rotten sticking life in the world.”

“Where did you learn to think anyway? In the world?”

“You just need to die and take off your head (personal reasoning),

and take on the mind of the Body (Twelve Tribes).

“You just need to die, and receive your brothers and let them handle you.”
(If the Twelve Tribes is not a cult, then what is a cult?)

mammie said...

There is a very strong and baffling spiritual presence within this group by which many have been deceived into thinking that it's from God, but it is not. There is a great wresting of scripture that takes things out of context causing the followers to believe teachings which are disproven in other areas of the Bible. This is a dangerous sect of deceived people being led by a man that believes that he is the Elijah prophet.

friend of chamites (blacks) said...

very true mammie, Eugene and Marsha Spriggs own the Twelve Tribes and control the lives of every member. It's like playing Simon Says with Gene and Marsha.
Some years Gene "Yoneq" said do aerobics, so many did aerobics.
Another year Gene said we needed sweat lodges. Nothing about that now.
Another year, Gene said all members should get to bed by 9pm. Gee what happened to that! Work all day now, and all evening, and sometimes all night. But who's counting. After all we gave up our lives to follow Yahshua, and he obviously doesn't care how much we work, because he had a stone for a pillow and was crucified. By the way, I care about Jesus, just not the Tribes recreation of his life.

It's also interesting how Marsha got all the health food info. from the 7th Day Adventist people and other books and then they make it seem like God revealed it all to the Twelve Tribes. They're full of such bs. Put on your tall boots, before you enter the waters of baptism. Sorry the waters of BS. Because your life will be full of it after you join.

Oh, "did you hear the latest from 'the annointing'? (Gene Spriggs - April 2013) "We're not going to have little chairs for the children anymore in the communities. The children are all going to sit on the floor, and only the adults will use the chairs." The member who shared this was so excited to see the children lowered another notch on the Tribal totem pole. Former drug addict and computer hacker with fried brain, but still smart enough to be mean. See how it works, one person gets corrected and suffers in the daily life, then they enjoy seeing others members or children suffer. Oh I forgot, "it's the perfect place" for us "to die and give up our lives for Yahshua and one another." How could I forget? It brings such joy and love to all. "The world will be amazed at our unity and care for one another." Really, they don't tell you about disabled members who have died and others that are in government homes. The Tribes wants you and all your money, but bank on them giving their all for you. They won't, they can't, as soon as the money comes in, it disappears down a deep dark stinking hole "at the feet of the apostles." Wouldn't Jesus, sorry Yahshua, be so proud of them and the wonderful life they are "living in the midst of a crooked and depraved generation."

Margaret said...

Yes, very true mammie. They "are under the Annointing." And "the Annointing" is Elbert Eugene "Gene" Spriggs AKA "Yoneq". What will they ever do without Yoneq and wife Marsha AKA Haemeq? Last I heard they are planning to be a Confederacy of Tribes right in alignment with their devotion to the Civil War Southern Confederacy, but unlike the honorable South, the Tribes Confederacy does not include freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, or other American and/or human rights.

Gene Spriggs will always remain, even after his passing, through "The Teachings" and "the Pattern" and "the traditions handed down" "that they are not to depart from."

Gene Spriggs has become the Apostle Saul/Paul to them, and he exerts the same control. SO much for Jesus and everyone being brothers and none be superior to another. Yoneq has also been indirectly referred to as "the ruler of your people" and "him you shall not slander."

Yoneq you need to receive your discipline for the lives you've wrecked in your Tribal machine of slave labor, the families you've divided in the name of Jesus, the people you've banished when your own adulterous wife remained and broke bread like nothing had ever happened and then lied about you forgiving her when you hadn't even found out yet! If you condemn Christianity for her sins, who will condemn you for yours? And if Christianity is fallen and cannot be forgiven, what about the Twelve Tribes?
You're no more "true Jews" than Louis Farrakhan is white.

Imagine the Twelve Tribes communities, "the only ones to be forgiven by God," and the ones who will rule over all others when Jesus returns for this "spotless bride who has not defiled herself!"

Mary said...

I don't like how you people are being nasty to the community people. What do you really know about them? I have visited them and they were very kind to me. Who operates this stupid blog anyway?

alex said...

I always thought that the "anointing" referred to God's Holy Spirit. But later on I would hear about charismatic type Christians refer to some of the their pastors in a similar way, but in their case, some of them were said to not be able to mingle freely with the parishioners so as to protect "the anointing." How arrogant and proud.

But in the case of Gene Spriggs, leader of the Twelve Tribes cult commune, he gets directly labeled as the anointing. It's sad he let this happen. He's the only one who can really change the belief system there, and he seems to only make things worse.

I'm hoping they don't really go forward with his new brainstorm of taking away all the chairs from the toddlers and small children and making them sit on the floor for all the gatherings.

Maybe Gene Spriggs AKA Yoneq and his wife Haemeq should sit on the dirty wooden floors for awhile and see how they like it.

Jesus said someone like Eugene Spiggs should be the servant of all, but Yoneq morphed into the leader of all who is accountable to none but himself, and in his own mind, to God.

What a cruel God that requires all humans to join the Twelve Tribes cult, or face 1000 years of agonizing death and then also possibly burn forever in a lake of fire.

I believe they misrepresent God.

Anonymous said...

When I lived there, it was not uncommon to hear the AMA American Medical Association put down, condemned or ridiculed in some way. The Tribes would love to be able to practice medicine/be medical doctors without a license. Sorry community people, get better educated first and be qualified, before you go experimenting on each other! And while you're at it, why not give credit to the Seventh-day Adventist people and others who you gained natural remedies and health practices from!

Cassey said... has turned into a casion review site. He formerly exposed cults. What is going on? All that information about the Twelve Tribes is gone. The Tribes can do the most terrible things and seem to get away with it through the years.

Please everyone, publish this on the web and webmaster please publish on this blog:

Rakam said...

Looks like Rick Ross has reinvented himself and changed from expert cult investigator into a casino gambling expert! Unbelievable. I never saw this coming. amazing.

Shem said...

You never saw it coming because you're an idiot. Instead of loving your brothers and sisters in the community, you left and betrayed us. We had nothing but love for you and tried to help you and be your friend. What real friends do you have now?

Rick said...

Cult News from Rick Ross

A news perspective with analysis from cult expert Rick Ross
The Ross Institute has officially changed its name

Posted in Miscellaneous at 12:17 pm by Rick Ross

The Rick A. Ross Institute for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups, and Movements has officially changed its name to The Cult Education Institute for the Study of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements.

The new domain name entry point and gateway to the Internet archives of the institute is now

The Cult Education Institute archives is a library of information about destructive cults, controversial groups and movements, which was initially launched in 1996 and has continued to be under construction and expansion for the past 17 years.

Rick said...

The blog Cult News will continue with the same domain name

The Cult News Network, a link sharing site for networking breaking news stories about cults and related topics, will also continue using the same domain name

A new Web site design for The Cult Education Institute is now being developed and will reflect many improvements. All the same documents, news reports and information will continue to be archived within The Cult Education Institute library.

During development the old site will remain intact, which includes all the accumulated information and material and the attached message board, but it will only be accessible through the new domain name entry point of

The general email address for the site will also change from to

Likewise the email address for Rick Ross will change from to

Berlin Germany News Report said...

Germany's Twelve Tribes Sect Raided On Accusations Of Abusing Children:
BERLIN — Police raided a Christian sect in southern Germany, taking 40 children into foster care on suspicion they were physically abused and seizing sticks allegedly used to hit them, authorities said Friday.

Members of the so-called "Twelve Tribes" sect acknowledged that they believe in spanking their children, but denied wrongdoing.

Augsburg prosecutors said they had opened an official investigation into an undetermined number of the adult members of the sect on suspicion of causing serious bodily harm and mistreatment of children.

"The suspicion is that they hit their children – with sticks, for example," said spokesman Christian Engelsberger.

About 100 Bavarian police raided the sect's premises on Thursday, confiscating evidence including the sticks alleged to have been used, Engelsberger said.

They also identified rooms where the abuse is alleged to have taken place, Engelsberger said.

Authorities say 28 of the children were removed from one of the sect's locations near the town of Deinigen, and 12 others in the Woernitz area.

The sect said in a statement on its website that the children were aged 1 1/2 to 17 and that members were told they would remain with foster parents at least until a court hearing next week.

"Where is the legal basis here?" the statement said. "People cannot be found guilty based on their association with a religious faith. ... There was no direct evidence against any individual provided."

Still, in a description of the U.S.-founded sect's beliefs, the group said its members believe in spanking their children, though "we know that some people consider this aspect of our life controversial."

"We love our children and consider them precious and wonderful – because we love them we do spank them..." the group said. "When they are disobedient or intentionally hurtful to others we spank them with a small reed-like rod, which only inflicts pain and not damage."

The sect, founded by a Tennessee high school teacher in the 1970s, today has about 2,000 to 3,000 members worldwide, according to its website.

They have previously had problems in Germany for violating laws on homeschooling their children.

The sect's practices have run afoul of the law in the U.S. as well, including in 2000 in Connecticut where a couple belonging to the group pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and cruelty for disciplining their children with a 30-inch (76-centimeter) fiberglass rod.

In 1984, authorities raided the group in Vermont and removed 112 children on abuse allegations. A judge later ruled the raid illegal and returned the children to their parents.

The raids in Germany came after an undercover reporter for RTL television passed on evidence he had accumulated over months of work, the station reported.

Engelsberger said he could not comment on where the tip came from, but said initially an area family court had ordered the children removed after receiving evidence, then his office began a legal probe after the sticks and other evidence were found during the raids.

Scott "G" said...

German law forbids corporal punishment at schools and at home. Every individual, even a child, in Germany has the right to physical integrity. In fact, multiple countries in Europe have this policy.

If the police has reason to believe that a law is broken, they have to intervene.
If you don't like it, don't live there.

Cassey said...

How American Homeschoolers Enabled and Funded German Child Abuse: The Real Story Behind the Religious Right and the Twelve Tribes
Go to:

Cassey said...

The Twelve Tribes, Child Abuse, and Michael Farris
September 11, 2013 By Libby Anne

Cassey said...

"The Twelve Tribes Group in Germany"

Cassey said...

In 2000 in Connecticut a couple belonging to the group pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and cruelty for disciplining their children with a 30-inch (76-centimeter) fiberglass rod. All parents i've know in the Tribes love their children, but the Teachings and child-discipline is very very strict, i'd say severe and because of the frequency of it for trivial matters and because "blue wounds show you love your child" it's abusive. Yoneq could wake up tomorrow morning and change this, and all the members would have "to take on the mind of the Anointing." But it's not likely to happen.

I guess all this makes me appreciate non-religious people and science, because the whole world of religion can become as dark and murky at times as organized crime. It's sad. Some people are looking for genuine love, and friendships, and to know God, and sometimes religious groups take advantage of this. When I lived as a member in the Tribes, I had to go along with everything. Everything. Whatever was decided, that's what you believe, that's what you think, that's what you tell others is the truth, whether you really believe it or not. Personally, I don't think it's right to worship Jesus/Yahshua, but of course they do that and bow down to bread and wine weekly. If they'd lighten up even a little on the child punishments and get even an extra hour or two sleep each night, it would be a far more healthy lifestyle, but they still would be taught they are the only ones pleasing to God.

I still have love in my heart for the Twelve Tribes. It was better when we simply called ourselves the Communities. It definitely became more cultic with the Twelve Tribes label and branding. A big mistake. They will not "bring about the end of this wicked age." Humans have been here for a very long time, and are likely to remain here a very long time, regardless when Jesus returns. The Tribes won't bring him back, no matter how harshly they discipline their children to try to produce 144,000 male celibate evangelists ("the Male Child"). The Tribes worldwide membership is about 4000 and half the children leave when they get old enough. It could take as many as 300,000 adult members to get enough male children to fulfill Yoneq's prophecy. Will take a very long time before "The Race" begins to be a perfectly obedient People for 49 years and have Jesus return on year 50. I surmise by then, the Teachings will change, when Jesus doesn't return when they think he should. The Teachings will change to protect the image of the group. Because the group image is far more important than any individual member or individual health and happiness. I wish it could be the life of love they talk about. But as one brother recently told me, "We're not really here to make the world a better place."

Marty said...

If you're a current Tribes member, you're not supposed to be here reading any of this, because those of us ex-members "lie and slander" the Tribes. If you're here, reading any of this, you need to repent at the next Gathering, or your prayers will not be heard, you will go to Death, and possibly the Lake of Fire.

Marty said...

I didn't like it when my wife's teddy bear was taken to the Tribes household woodstove and burned up. And my polyester shirts were burned up without my permission. How would you like someone going through your dirty laundry and deciding which of your clothes would be burned up today?

Marty said...

One of the young women who grew up in the Tribes, said they burned up a Tribes dead baby in the furnace at Tabitha's Place community in France when she lived their with her family. It likely was a still-born or died from medical neglect later. The Tribes avoid doctors, nurses, and hospitals like the plague. They probably burned this baby, because they were afraid to get a proper death certificate and be questioned about the death. They think they're above the laws of the land and that they can just bury their dead without anyone else knowing what happened and where they're burying them.

Hobob said...

I heard the same thing, but I try not to think about it. When people think they're better than others or "Chosen" it invites all kinds of problems. The same with letting any adult in the commune hit any child. I've seen some real lies concerning child training. It's not right. They say only the flexible balloon stick rod is being used, but that's not always the case. Thicker lightweight wooden rods and canes are also used. Sometimes I think, why don't the fathers just take off their leather belt and use that, the way my father did when I grew up. I'm not saying I agree with this, but just to point out it might be better just to be honest and open, than to pretend all members are doing the discipline a certain way, when they're really not. To me, the real problem here is economic communism, communalism. It sucks in almost everyway. It you doubt this, try it out, see how you like it. Mix in monarchy and condemning religion to the mix, and you've got a real batch of sour dough. Thanks Yoneq for giving us all a new life and true friends! You need your head examined at the Tennesee State mental facility.

Hobob said...

I don't like it that they say they love us black people, which they do, but then don't tell people the truth that they also believe black people should still be slaves to white folks unless they join the community. It's also bad they still support the Southern Confederacy. The Tribes talk about about all people working by the sweat of their brow as God's curse. Well what about the southern plantation owners and others in their beloved southland? Let them plow the fields by hand and pick the cotton, instead of kidnapping black folks from Africa and bringing them over here to do their dirty work. This is all about Yoneq's childhood and black folks saying to him: "Yes sir, Mr. Spriggs." Did Yoneq ever belong to the KKK? The Tribes now have a community in Pulaski Tennesee, the birthplace of the Klu Klux Klan! The Cham teaching is racism. A piece of dog crap called by any other name, is still a piece of dog crap. And that's what I think of Yoneq's Twelve Tribes Teachings. Am so glad I moved out of there. Some of the people I do miss, but not my whole life being taken from me, and then being called "a proud black man" who "needs to learn respect" and "be saved from the disrespect of Cham." They say Noah's 2nd son, was my ancestor, a black man who found Noah drunk and naked, and who went out and made fun of his father in that condition. So all black people get to remain cursed by the Tribes loving Heavenly Father. And be slaves to white people for centuries. Yoneq, how would you like to be kidnapped from your family, forcibly taken to a new country, and sold to another human being?

benjamin said...

yeah, one of the brothers named adam told me how he was trying to outrun police to take his dead baby girl out into the countryside to bury her in a field without anyone finding out about it. i think he got caught by police, not sure. his wife havah hasn't talked to her relatives in years since she joined the commune. seems like such a nice bunch of people, but some bad stuff happens. no doubt about that. they usually get away with it. like not paying child-support, workmen's compensation insurance, or giving the people proper break time at work. like the guy who wrote who also lived there, i blame yoneq mostly. they say they don't have leader, but we did everything yoneq said and taught. he was the elijah.

Anonymous said...

I probably won't visit the communities anymore. There's just so many things that are messed up with the Tribes religion and lifestyle, even though I like my friends there. It's really hard to turn a blind eye to what amounts to child abuse and slave labor. They're so brainwashed in so many ways. And this is really an understatement. Might as well call an ace an ace.

Daniel said...

Maybe more things are messed up with your own life and thinking! What child abuse? What slave labor? Just because you are lazy. Unwilling to serve your brothers and sisters who love you. And who is the brainwashed one? Are we brainwashed because we love our Father in Heaven? And don't enjoy movies and football games and beer anymore? Before you judge us, take a serious look at your own life, and work on that. And remember that we, as parents, are raising our children and love them. You obviously don't.

Amanda said...

Cultic Groups Stalk Harvest Crusade Attendees

Contact: Amanda Huffman, Rose Publishing, 253-266-1025,

TORRANCE, Calif.,/Christian Newswire/ -- When Lynn's son Bryce went to the annual Harvest Crusade, a Christian music and evangelism event, she had no way of knowing he would be lured into a cultic group known as the Twelve Tribes.

Before she knew it, Bryce abandoned his studies at Christian college and disowned his family.

The Twelve Tribes regularly field teams of proselytizers to intercept new converts and their friends as they leave the Crusade. Dancing and distributing literature around their brightly painted "hippie bus" in the Angel Stadium parking lot, Twelve Tribes members invite passerby's to commit themselves to a more authentic Christian lifestyle in their "messianic communities."

But as Lynn discovered to her dismay, behind the quaint "freepapers" and homespun clothing is a religious system marked by exclusivism, racism, manipulation, and the spiritual domination of a man who calls himself "Yoneq."

Seventh-day Adventists are among the other groups that chase down Crusade attendees. These followers of the prophetess Ellen G. White emphasize end-time themes, especially the observance of Saturday as the true day of worship, in order to avoid the coming wrath of God.

"Churches need to inoculate their members against 'love bombing' by predatory groups at crusades and concerts," says Gretchen Goldsmith, CEO of Rose Publishing. "Christians need help in discerning truth from error so they can recognize and resist counterfeits--and this is especially true of new believers who have just responded to an invitation to trust in Jesus."

Goldsmith recommends that churches educate their attendees on a regular basis on key beliefs and doctrines, and be familiar with the way these are twisted or denied by groups claiming to be Christian but actually rejecting the 2000-year-old message.

To help bridge the gap for Christians, Rose Publishing has just released a new 6-session DVD-based course called Christianity, Cults & Religions. It covers the key Christian beliefs and why Christians hold them. It also goes into detail on the beliefs of six groups that aggressively proselytize today and how to answer them. (ISBN: 9781596364134 Rose Publishing)

A new pamphlet, 10 Questions and Answers on Seventh-Day Adventism will release in October. It directly evaluates the Seventh-Day Adventist cultic background and beliefs, while comparing them to Christianity. (ISBN: 9781596364226 Rose Publishing)

Lynn grieves for her son, who now refuses even to receive visits from her at the sect's rural compound in Vista, California. Alienation from family and friends is common for converts to the Twelve Tribes, who support themselves through their "Yellow Deli" cafes and other businesses.

She prays that God will rescue Bryce and reconcile him to his parents and to the Body of Christ. "I don't know if I'll ever know why God is allowing this to happen to my family, but I'll still praise His holy name and believe that He will make all thing work together for good," said Lynn.

For fact sheets on the Twelve Tribes and Seventh-day Adventism, go to:

Amanda said...

Twelve Tribes Community Cult now exposed on Facebook and the Tribes lawyer can't do anything about it:

Ricoo Chie said...

I am a parent ex-member and very traumatized by what my children suffered at my own hands and the hands of others, also by what I had to endure myself as a parent. We lived in fear and stress all those years and the way we were all treated was the opposite of christians values. Studying mind-control- undue influence-coercive persuasion and cults in general as well as having a dialogue with ex-members of the TT cult and other cults helps me tremendously to recover. I appreciate any efforts to expose this cult and pray the children will not be returned unless there are measures in place to 100% assure they are not leaving the country and have to report or something involving social workers to assure everyone Yoneq's childtraining crazy methods are not applied to them, which means leaving the group because the whole foundation of traditions and prohibitions comes solely from one man Eugene Spriggs -Yoneq and his interpretations. But the chiltraining methods go hand in hand with the vision that he has of 144000 pure male child. Those parents need to have interventions done to them to show them they are in a cult. Pray for exit-counselors to get involved with families of members still in there, specially those who have lost their kids because they would be in turmoil and that is a chance for their true heart and personnality and rational mind to kick in and start thinking and hopefully come to some healthy conclusions.

Anonymous said...

I was a JW for ten years and this cult sounds so similar. A cult is a cult.

former member said...

The Twelve Tribes is comprised of mostly very faithful members who have given their lives to serve God in the most sincere way they know how. Unfortunately it is led by leaders who have been trained to fear their superiors in a way that turns everybody into Nazi informants like George Orwell’s 1984.

former member said...

I spoke with one of my friends in the Twelve Tribes in America. I am reporting this to show the effects of a negative religious group consciousness can have upon cult members. My friend told me how in the past that God killed people who "came against" the community. He said this can happen again to various German people who would come against the community there. He said some of the children now being forced to go to public school in Germany are being abused at school, and some are being abused in foster homes. He said the Twelve Tribes is planning to remain in Germany and stand up to the government there for now. He asked me if I knew anything about the history of the German people. I said that I did. He told me the German people are barbarians at heart and cowards. He emphasized this in the conversation over and over. He said the German people produced Hitler and knew what was happening to the Jews. He called the German people and the current German courts other names that I don't care to mention. What he said to me made me sick to my stomach. This is the type of thinking pervasive in the Tribes, but he did say when German people join the Tribes and follow God, they can be one of the nicest and most loving people. For myself, I love all the German people, I think it's awful to stereotype an entire country. He is very ignorant of history and the conditions from which a person such as Hitler and others arose. What happened in Germany at that time can happen in any country under the right conditions. Some of my previous life in the Tribes I do miss, but I still have to say it is a totalitarian/high-control religious elitist sect or cult if you prefer that word. I love the people there and miss many of them, but how could I ever return, knowing what I do of some of their leaders beliefs. My friend also condemned Christianity, as is often done in the Tribes, and called it "Lucifer's greatest tool on earth for evil." I wish that I had never become a member of the Twelve Tribes, it haunts me everyday, good and bad. Some people are better off there, yes, it is true. Better to be there than addicted to drugs on the street with no home or as a prostitute, or thief etc. But the Tribes is a kind of prison, where you think and believe the thoughts and beliefs you are given without questioning them. My spouse and I left the Tribes some years ago because we believed the child discipline was excessive, and by that it was applied to frequently for small insignificant infractions. What disturbs me the most is that one man decided everything in the Tribes, Elbert Eugene Spriggs "Yoneq". His own son wouldn't come to the Tribes to live, and he left that son and his mother, and never had any other children, yet he has had so much instruction to parents in the Tribes as to how to raise and discipline their children. I began reading the Urantia Book some time ago, and it has helped me to see how religious sects and cults develop. I don't like to hear the Tribes people belittle and condemn Germany. My American friends in the Tribes should look at the recent and past history of our own country before condemning an entire nation elsewhere. I would like to know if it true that some of the Tribes children are being abuse at public school or in the foster homes, or if the Tribes is just starting stories.

former member said...

I did write previously to the German court regarding the Twelve Tribes sect and recommended a stop to the Tribes practice of home circumcisions, and that the children be able to see a doctor once a year, and receive a high-school education at least, and some other things. My Tribes friend that I mentioned, also said that no child who would call the police on their own parents or turn against them has any hope of eternal life with God. Being associated with the Twelve Tribes is the most disturbing thing to me in this lifetime. So much beauty and goodness in some ways, and so much twisted thinking and control of people's lives in other ways. It makes me think that such groups are begun by men with sometimes initially well-meaning, but ill minds or they are truly influenced by some kind of evil of some sort. The Tribes place themselves so highly in their own minds as to their standing before God. It is a pride they themselves do not recognize. They think they are the Chosen Ones and everyone else is not. They are objective about life, all others are not. They know how to best raise children, others do not. And the list goes on. I try not to phone the Tribes communities that I am associated with, because I cannot have a normal conversation, because they view me as unsaved by God in the world and without hope, unless I return.

former member said...

The Twelve Tribes was started by a man who was previously an evangelical Christian with 3 failed marriages, and he later turned against and condemned and taught others to hate what he left behind in the Christian & Missionary Church he once belonged to as a Sunday School teacher. I don't hate him. I just wish that what he put into motion in the so called "Twelve Tribes" could have been stopped or reshaped before it took on a life of its own from his own ill "apostle" mind and twisted Bible interpretations, including him being the returned Elijah among other things. Before they condemn Germany or belittle the German people, they should examine their own lives and that of their leader and his mind. He has been the dictator and pope of the Tribes, since he began the communities. And when he dies, he has now instructed them to not depart from the traditions that have been handed down to the members. I see nothing but heartache ahead for the Tribes people, but they have each other, and as they say: "All we have is each other" and "It's better to be wrong together, than to be right alone!" "We have given up everything to follow Yahshua/Jesus and more importantly to follow and obey Eugene Spriggs and his hierarchy of "older brothers", apostolic workers, and shepherds. I thank God that our family left the Tribes.

former member said...

I don't like everything about mainstream society, but I value sensible freedom for myself and all people. Most basic constitutional type rights are denied members in the Tribes. "Everything matters." You must believe and do everything their way, the way of their Apostle, or you will be asked to leave, and when you leave, you will leave with nothing, except perhaps a bus ticket. You have given them everything you had, including your own life working long hours for free, and when you leave, you leave with nothing. This to me is the very worst form of communism. I lived previously with Benedictine Christian monks, and they had a sensible, healthy, devoted communal life together. To me the Tribes life is not healthy. It is very cruel at times. "We are true friends" means you will be corrected for every little thing you do wrong. In the Tribes I could never be perfect enough for them or for God. I would cry about my supposed sins that never seemed to go away, no matter how many times I asked God, because I was always doing something that was "wrong" and my life was so scrutinized. I at first believed God was there. That God lived there as they say "the only work of Our Father on earth." But later I saw things that were terribly not of God, negative spiritual things also. What I have written is not in hatred of the Tribes or to be mean. I have no meanness in me toward the people there, most of whom I love. I wish their life could be different, but the members can not change the situation, no matter how much they might secretly want. The Tribes for years has been a dictatorship. But their dictator does not desire fame or recognition, he only has desired control. Control to try produce the fulfillment of the Bible Book of Revelation. His vision is to have many people join, and very many babies to be born, to remain in the Tribes the rest of their lives to produce more babies, so they can fulfill the prophecy of the 144,000 male virgin evangelists "to bring about the end of this evil and wicked age." He has declared the Twelve Tribes to be the True Jews, but they are not. Yet they are taught in unison to condemn all of Christianity as the scarlet Whore. And "Yoneq" Gene Spriggs believes himself to be the Elijah to help produce the 144,000, something that God never asked him to do, but in his own mind, someone has asked him to do this, and he believes it to be God. And he has convinced enough members for years of this very thing. I now understand why some people are atheists, why some are agnostics, why some people hate religion. I don't. But I understand why they do. I believe in a God of love that cares about this earth and every living thing here and everyone else throughout the universes, in spite of every misguided and delusional prophet, president, and dictator. I pray for the communities of Elbert Eugene Spriggs that they can somehow be more of what a good God would want them to be, whatever that may be, and not according to any one man's dream or vision.

former member said...

Secrets of the family
Peace, love and mind control - one Sydney couple's journey through the Twelve Tribes religious cult.
By Tim Elliot

Surviving a religious cult

Thought control and brutally strict discipline were among the things Rosemary Ilich and her family survived inside a religious cult.

One Saturday in October 1996, Mark Ilich and his wife Rosemary did something they would regret for the rest of their lives. They attended the Newtown Festival. It was a warm spring day and the festival, in Sydney's inner west, was busy with music and people. Together with their daughter Undila, who was six, and their three-year-old son, Abraham, Mark and Rose wandered about, then sat down on a patch of grass in front of the stage, where various acts were playing.

Mark, now 53, is originally from New Zealand, but moved to Australia in 1984. A glazier and professional musician, he is contagiously optimistic and compulsively friendly. Rose is more reserved, but highly curious. She grew up in Spain and Paris and speaks several languages. They describe themselves as "idealistic". "We have always been interested in trying to come back to what seemed like a more natural, sustainable, fulfilling way of life," Rose tells me.

On that day in 1996, however, the couple were at a crossroads. They had just returned from two years in Spain during which they had struggled to find work. Now they were back in Sydney, living in an apartment in Coogee that belonged to Mark's brother. "We weren't exactly desperate, but we were at a loose end," Rose says. "We were hungry to make friends, to have a stable social life. I'd come to the conclusion that I didn't care who people were, I was just going to take them as they are."

After a while on the grass, Mark got up to walk around. Half an hour later he returned, clutching a pamphlet entitled A Brotherhood of Man. A friendly woman in a long dress with long hair had given it to him, saying, "You look like you need a home."

The pamphlet was produced by a group called the Twelve Tribes. "Where is the brotherhood of man that John Lennon imagined in his song?" it asked. "Where are the dreamers who have given up their possessions so that greed and hunger could be done away?"

The pamphlet mentioned Jesus, "the ultimate dreamer", who was referred to by his Hebrew name, Yahshua; it also quoted the Bible. But it rejected mainstream Christianity, denouncing it as "the whore spoken of in Revelations".

former member said...

All this appealed to the Ilich family. "I'd always condemned the mainstream church," says Rose. "We'd also visited a few communes in Europe.

I said to Mark, 'If these guys are what they proclaim to be, this could be the community we're looking for.' "

A few days later, Rose called the number on the pamphlet and spoke to a woman called Shomrah, who invited them to visit the group at Peppercorn Creek Farm, a nine-hectare property it owns near Picton, south-west of Sydney.

The Iliches drove down that Friday, arriving at 7pm, in time for the evening gathering. They were greeted by a man with a long beard called Asher. (Asher's real name was Andrew McLeod, but like all members of the Twelve Tribes he had, upon joining the community, been given a Hebrew name.) Asher showed them to a guest room in the main farmhouse, where they left their bags. He then took them to a big tent full of people dressed in simple clothes. There were lounges and chairs and tables set with flowers and candles. There was music, too, a piano and an accordion, and beautiful, home-cooked food.

"I remember everyone was super interested in us," Mark says. "There was a guy called Yotham, who stayed with us all night, who was always telling me, 'I really like you, you seem like a really nice guy.' It was like we were part of an instant family."

Mark and Rose and the kids stayed that night and the next day and the night after that. In the morning they drove back to Coogee, got changed and went to the Glebe Street Fair, where the Twelve Tribes had a cafe stall similar to the one at Newtown. Yotham was there, with some of the musicians. Members of the group were dancing and they invited Mark and Rose to dance, too. "We are a family and you can be part of it," Yotham told Rose, as they spun about in the sunshine. "We can go grey together; our children will marry each other."

Rose and Mark were sold.

former member said...

One of the first things the Iliches did was return to their flat in Coogee, accompanied by one of the community's "elders", a man named Israel. Israel told them what to keep and what to throw away. Most of their possessions - the kids' clothes, Mark's surfboard, books, toys - had a "spirit" about them and were deemed unsuitable. The Iliches had a small car, which they gave to the community, and some money in the bank, which they also handed over.

In January 1997 they were baptized, or "washed for their sins", in the creek that runs behind the farm, and given new names: Mark became Qatan ("childlike", in Hebrew); Rose became Asarelah (meaning "virtuous"). There were about 70 people in the community, including a dozen or so families, some of them second generation. "That's one of the things that attracted me," Rose says. "I thought, well, people have grown up here and decided to stay, so it must be good."

The Twelve Tribes group was founded in 1972, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by a former high school guidance counselor and carnival showman called Eugene Spriggs, known in the movement as "Yoneq". The group has 3000 members worldwide, with communities in the USA, Canada, France, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Germany and England. The Australian "tribe" was established in the early 1990s by an American named Scott Sczarnecki (who has since left), and William Nunally, or Nun (pronounced Noon), another American who remains a senior figure at Peppercorn Creek Farm.

former member said...

Following a hybrid of Judaism and Christianity, the group's aim is to re-create the 12 tribes of Israel, thereby ushering in the return of Yahshua, who will arrive like a "King coming for his bride when she is fully prepared for Him". Members use the Old Testament as a blueprint for their lives. The insistence on communal living, hard work and, most controversially, harsh child discipline, are all modeled on life in "the first church of Jerusalem", before the advent of the clergy, which the group abhors. Marriage outside the Tribes is forbidden, with elders and even Yoneq himself acting as matchmaker.

The group has been likened to the Amish, with whom they share some similarities, particularly in regard to marriage and modern technology. Wives must submit to their husbands, and are encouraged to have at least seven children. Condoms and the pill are forbidden. Mainstream medical care is likewise shunned, something observers have linked to what appears to be a higher than normal rate of stillbirths. (Rose had a stillbirth in 2001 and says she knew of five in her time at Picton.)

Community life is strictly regimented. Members rise at 6am (except on Saturday, the Sabbath, when they rise at 7am), woken by a blast of the "shofar", or ram's horn. There is a morning gathering, or "minchah", at 7am, which includes prayers and singing, followed by work, either in the farmhouse, kitchen or fields. (One of Mark's first jobs was to tend the farm's 30-strong flock of merino sheep.) The community also operates many businesses, including bakeries, cafes, house painting and demolition crews, to which Mark, and later, his son Abraham found themselves assigned. Children, meanwhile, are home-schooled using specially approved texts printed on site. There is no TV, internet, magazines, newspapers or radio. Members are discouraged from contacting former friends or family and do not vote.

former member said...

Mark and Rose weren't particularly religious, but they were impressed by the group's commitment and the sense of the farm being "one big family". "One of their teachings is to 'Take counsel from the least', meaning everyone is listened to," Rose says.

Early on, Mark and Rose were each assigned a "shepherd", a senior member whose spiritual insight enabled them to act as a mentor. "My shepherd was a woman called Bakhirah," Rose says. "If I had any problems in my marriage, any concerns or troubles, I'd go to her and open up."

And there was a lot to open up about. The teachings, some of which come from the Bible and others from Yoneq, stress the deep iniquity of the outside world, a dark place in which the only light is one's conscience. Failing to follow your conscience inevitably sees one consigned for eternity to the "Lake of Fire". Members are encouraged to "renew your mind" - a phrase from the apostle Peter - and to be "an open book before your brethren", always "sharing" your sins, either with the elders, your shepherd, or at the gatherings.

The Iliches' sins were considerable. Rose, for example, had slept with men before getting married; she had also "rebelled" against her mother. Mark, meanwhile, had played drums in a rock band ("I had a 'drum spirit', apparently," he says). He had also surfed and smoked marijuana. "They present a very high standard," Rose says. "It's all you hear, all the time, and so you start judging yourself by this standard. Your thinking becomes very black and white. At the same time, they present themselves as the only way to truly obey God, whose spirit they embody. So if you disagree with the elders or your shepherd, you're disagreeing with God himself."

former member said...

The pressure to confess was considerable. If just one member held back, God could not answer anyone's prayers that day. And so Rose would scour her mind daily for any hint of sin. "In the end you run out of things and your mind invents trouble." She also began examining Mark's conduct. "They told me Mark was 'worthless' because he'd been seeking 'worth' through other things, like performing music. In the past I'd thought his music was beautiful; now I started to see it as a sign of weakness."

Rose became suspicious of Mark, thinking he was "full of sin that he wasn't confessing". At the end of each gathering, having tendered their transgressions "like a lamb to God", the group would join hands and engage in a screaming session that lasted several minutes. "At the time it felt therapeutic," she says.

Mark and Rose were under the impression the group's teachings were drawn from the Bible. In fact, the majority come from the group's founder. Spriggs, 76, is a mysterious figure: a former football player, boxer and soldier, a charismatic evangelist whose rejection of "rote religion" in the 1970s proved popular with the "Jesus freaks" of the counterculture. Though initially predicated on an open-door policy - there was "no leader", and everyone was a "priest" - his movement has become increasingly fundamentalist and authoritarian.

"Spriggs regards himself as the Anointed One, with a direct pipeline to God," says David Pike, an ex-member of one the group's tribes, Manasseh, in the US. "He comes off as loving but is the perfect picture of a narcissistic cult leader. One thing I'll always remember is what he used to call a 'spirit check', when he'd come up behind a male disciple and slap his back as hard as he could and wait to see the person's reaction, whether he winced or jumped or brought his fists up. I hated it."

Spriggs is thought to live mostly in Hiddenite, in North Carolina, in an antebellum mansion the group bought in 2006. But he also travels a lot, flying from community to community, his every word transcribed into "teachings" (or "the anointing") which are published in Intertribal News, the movement's in-house newsletter.

Spriggs's teachings, some of which are withheld until members are deemed capable of "receiving" them, are frequently bizarre. He has said that "submission to whites is the only condition by which blacks will be saved" and that Martin Luther King was "filled with all manner of evil". (The group denies it is racist, pointing out that they have high-profile black members in America.)

The teachings are also minutely prescriptive, shaping every aspect of members' lives. Spriggs insists that men wear beards, since it was only the Romans who started shaving. He forbids wristwatches, which he considers a vanity, and has decreed that all members eat with chopsticks in order to speed the group's movement into Asia. Diet is strictly regulated: no sugar, chocolate, coffee or tea, with plenty of flax seed, whole grains and millet, and an emphasis on cultured foods, like yoghurt and kombucha. "At one stage chilli was strictly prohibited," Rose says. "Then it was permitted again."

All Twelve Tribes members are instructed to finish their showers with a cold rinse, which Spriggs believes boosts the production of white blood cells. When Rose asked her shepherd how cold it had to be, she was told: " 'Straight cold, even in winter, for one to two minutes.' If I tempered it with hot, I was allowing my 'flesh' to be stronger than me."

former member said...

Michael Painter, who spent 18 years with the Tribes in the US and rose to become third in command, has described Spriggs's approach as "teeth, hair and eyeballs". "It was thought that if God doesn't control your teeth, hair and eyeballs, he doesn't have you."

But Spriggs's strictest teachings pertain to child-rearing. Children have a special place in Twelve Tribes eschatology, which holds that Yahshua can return only when God has, through the movement, brought forth 144,000 perfect male children, "so pure that fire comes out of their mouths". Raising obedient offspring then, is imperative. Children must at all times be "covered", a Twelve Tribes term meaning supervised by an adult. They must not play games (playing is "dissipation"). They must not have toys. They must not whistle. They must not engage in make-believe or fantasy, or possess books that anthropomorphise nature, depicting, for instance, a talking dog or a smiling sun. "At Picton, kids weren't even allowed to talk to one another unless covered by an adult, since this could only lead to 'foolishness', " Mark says.

According to Mark, unquestioning obedience is mandatory: children must reply "Yes, Abba" (Hebrew for father) or "Yes, Ima" to any parental command. Any breach earns a spanking with the "rod", a 50-centimetre-long plastic stick, one of which is kept above the door ledge in every room. Parents are instructed on how to use the "rod" in monthly child-training sessions and also in a 267-page Child Training Manual, a copy of which Mark and Rose received after their first year. Written by Spriggs, the manual insists that "you must make it hurt enough to produce the desired result" and that "stripes from loving discipline show love by the parent".

"It's called 'the rod and reproof', " Mark says. "The kids are not meant to cry. They're meant to 'receive' their discipline quietly. Then you tell them why you hit them and they say, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry.' It becomes a ritual."

Children aren't beaten only by their parents. Any "covering" adult can "correct" them. Abraham was beaten regularly, by numerous adults, either on the hand (six strokes) or bottom (12). "The more you cried, the more you got spanked," he says. "If it was a lady and I was beaten on the bottom, my pants were kept on. But if it was a man, he put my trousers down and beat me directly on my skin."

The beatings started at the age of four. "The first time I cried a lot. But I stopped crying forever when I was 12." By then, he had decided to rebel. "I decided I would never do what they wanted me to do, unless I was beaten until I couldn't take any more pain, and then I would obey."

In 1984, alerted to claims of abuse, US authorities raided the group's Vermont headquarters, taking 112 children into care. (The raid was deemed unconstitutional and the children later released.) The group has been investigated for child abuse several times over the past decade in the US, France and Germany. In September this year, Bavarian police removed 40 children from two Twelve Tribes communities following a TV program that showed footage, obtained with hidden cameras, of adults beating six children with 83 strokes of a cane in the space of a few hours.

The group has repeatedly denied allegations of child abuse. Responding on its US website, it describes the Bavarian raids as "unjust" and suggests the authorities had been "manipulated by unseen spiritual powers".

frmer member said...

The Iliches found the child discipline particularly difficult. Their oldest daughter, Undila, was largely compliant and their youngest daughter, Lebana, who'd been born in 1998, was still a toddler. But Abraham was problematic. "He was a normal boisterous boy, which to them is unacceptable," says Rose. "I ended up having to spank him almost constantly, for everything." Abraham soon became labelled a "rebellious element", something for which Mark and Rose were blamed. "We were bad parents," she says.

This became their signature stigma. In 2001, when Rose delivered a stillborn baby boy, she was told it was because she was "full of sin". "Mark's shepherd came into my room while I was still in bed and said it was 'God's kindness' that the baby had died, because it would be evil to bring a baby into the world with parents like us." Soon afterward, the elders forbade them from having sex altogether. "And we actually complied," Rose says.

Many times during our conversations I ask Mark and Rose why they didn't leave. "Leaving is not an option," Rose says. "You have to understand how brainwashed you become. You lose the ability to think critically."

They were also afraid. The Tribes consider an ex-member someone who was once enlightened and willfully chose darkness, and who is thus more evil than an ordinary non-believer. "Nun told us that people who leave become prostitutes or homosexuals, that you'll suffer sickness, die an early death and go straight to hell."

One former member from Picton later told Rose how she had taken a flight to Auckland shortly after leaving. "She was terrified the whole time that God would make the volcanoes underneath them erupt, killing everyone on board."

Besides, there was little time to think. "You work the entire time," says Rose. "The first thing I'd do in the morning was report to my 'covering sister', who would give me my chores for the day - cooking, cleaning, child minding." Mark, meanwhile, found himself assigned to painting crews and construction and demolition teams.

The Tribes are nothing if not industrious. They own at least 24 businesses worldwide and are extremely well resourced, especially in America, where they operate furniture stores, kids' clothing outlets, a printing press, leather shops, soap factories, wholefood outlets, cafes, bakeries and several multimillion-dollar construction firms, the biggest of which, Builders of Judah, specializes in nursing homes and historic restorations. They also own a maté farm (maté is a tea-like herb) in Brazil, which according to David Pike, now makes "huge money for them".

In Australia, as elsewhere, members are not paid for their labor. "I'd regularly do 12-, 15-hour days," Mark says. "I built their Common Ground Cafe in Rozelle and their Yellow Deli in Katoomba. Every year we'd build the Common Ground Cafe at the Royal Easter Show."

The businesses were highly profitable. "Once I helped them carry $40,000 in cash out of the Easter Show. But I never saw a cent."

When Abraham turned 13, he was taken out of school - "they told me I had a bad influence on the other students" - and set to work, digging trenches and chopping trees. By the age of 14 he was working with Mark in a bakery in Lidcombe, where the Tribes made buns to sell at the Woodford Folk Festival.

"The bakery was the worst," Mark says. "For the first three weeks we slept on mattresses with doonas, on the ground, in a shed next to the bakery. We ate from the bakery, every night, doing 12-, 15-, even 20-hour days."

frmer member said...

After 18 months at the bakery, Mark snapped. "I just said, "F... this, I'm leaving.' I didn't tell Rose - anything I told her, she'd tell the elders. So my son and I just pissed off. We hitched a ride to Sunnyholt Road. I had some spare change in my pocket and I called my brother, Peter, who lived in the Blue Mountains and told him to pick us up."

Mark and Abraham slept at Peter's house that night. But the next day, Israel turned up. "Israel had met my brother and he knew where he lived. He also knew that we had next to no money and that I'd be at Peter's place."

Mark and Abraham surrendered and were driven back to the community.

Mark's family, most of whom live in New Zealand, never had any suspicions about the Twelve Tribes. "They just thought we were in a nice Christian community," he says. But Rose's family was different. "We knew from the beginning that it was a cult," says Rose's sister, Cathy Cruzado, who lives in Paris.

In 2000, Cathy and her brother Henry made plans to visit Rose in Sydney. But when Rose told the elders of their imminent arrival, all hell broke loose. "Nun became convinced my family was coming to get me," Rose says.

Within a week, Rose, Mark and the three children were on a plane to Spain, where they were installed in a Twelve Tribes community in Zeberio, in the Basque Country. Rose's mother lived nearby, in Laredo, just 20 minutes' drive away, but Rose was not allowed at first to visit her. Instead, she was instructed to call Cathy and Henry and tell them that she and the family were in Boston. "The whole time, one of the Spanish leaders, a guy called Yowcef Rodriguez, was sitting next to me," Rose says. Cathy was upset and cancelled her flights. But Henry decided to go anyway, visiting the community in Picton, where he was served tea and cake "by robotic looking ladies wearing large skirts".

"I talked to the leader," says Henry. "He was courteous and charming until I asked him his reasons for hiding my sister, when he laughed in my face and replied that he had no idea of Rose's whereabouts."

Henry would make a total of five trips to Australia over the next decade, often with Cathy. They contacted Matthew Klein, an ex-Twelve Tribes member, for help and worked with Melbourne cult buster Raphael Aron. "I traveled 100,000 kilometers and saw my sister once, for a total of 10 minutes," Henry says. "It was in 2004 and Rose had finally agreed to meet me at Peppercorn Creek Farm."

Henry had brought a rolled poster of the Cruzado family tree since the 16th century, to show Rose that she already had a family. But Rose rebuffed him. "I was scared stiff of Henry, because the elders had been saying he was part of an anti-cult movement and that he'd kidnap me and the kids."

The minute Henry appeared, Abraham and his sisters were whisked away by an elder and hidden in the roof of the main building. "I was devastated," Abraham later recalled, "because I knew I'd just missed the best and perhaps the last chance to escape."

Dodging Rose's family was surprisingly easy: whenever Henry showed up, the family would simply be shuffled between a network of properties - an apartment in Leura, a house in Burwood, a hotel in Lithgow. At one stage the Tribes rented them a bungalow near Parramatta, then a house on the beach in Coledale, and later a home at Seven Mile Beach, near Gerroa. The elders were so paranoid about Rose's family finding them that they wouldn't allow Mark to renew his New Zealand driving license. "They thought the authorities might use it to track us," Mark says.

frmer member said...

Mark enjoyed living at Gerroa; for one thing, it meant he wasn't slaving his guts out. It also meant he could go surfing again. "I'd found this board in the rubbish and repaired it," he says.

But one day, when Mark and Abraham were out in the surf, some elders paid a surprise visit. "Man, were they angry," says Mark.

The elders took the family back to the farm where they staged a meeting or "cohol", interrogating Mark for five hours. "They just hammered me," he says. "They were quoting verses from the Bible, telling me I 'loved the world', and that anyone who 'loves the world would lose their life'. "

Their solution was to split up the family, sending Mark and Abraham away, firstly to Katoomba, then to Bargo, while the women stayed on the farm. "Rose was allowed to visit me from time to time," says Mark, "so that I could see Lebana, who was still only little."

Throughout the mid 2000s, Mark and Abraham were allowed to come back to the farm from time to time to reintegrate. But Abraham would invariably do something "worldly" - cut his hair, smoke a cigarette, wear his trousers low - and be reprimanded. Then, when Abraham turned 15, the elders asked if he would like to "get washed", or baptised. "You can all get f...ed," he told them. "The elders almost had a heart attack," Mark says. "After that, they sent us away again, to this farm they own in Bigga."

The property, near Crookwell in the NSW southern highlands, was 460 hectares, with no power, water or house. "We just lived in this shed," Mark says. "Drank rainwater off the roof. They put a phone on for us and gave us gas cylinders to cook with. And every few weeks, Rose would visit." Their job was to chop wood, which was taken to Picton for heating. But Mark was increasingly disillusioned. "I was just so pissed off by then. Rose was in turmoil, too."

Then, in 2009, the elders sent Mark and Abraham to New Zealand. "They just wanted us out," he says. "So they gave me a couple of hundred dollars and said, 'Your New Zealand family can look after you.' "

It was in Auckland that Mark finally decided to leave the group. "I rang Rose and said, 'I think I'm leaving.' She said, 'My life is with you, I'll come with you.' "

Mark had the family sent over, ostensibly just to visit. Once there, he told them of his decision. Abraham was thrilled: "That's the best thing you've ever told me," he said. But Undila was devastated. She didn't want to leave, and began crying. She was due to marry Erez, a young man who had been sent over from the community in France. So Mark let her return. "That was the stupidest thing I ever did," he says now.

frmer member said...

The family spent a year in Auckland before returning to Sydney. "We wanted to be closer to Undila," Mark says of the decision to return. "At that stage we thought we might have a chance of maintaining contact."

But they were wrong. Undila, who had a daughter in 2011, has made it clear she wants nothing to do with her family. "When you ring her she says doesn't want to talk to us," Mark says. "When you go there, her husband comes to the gate and says, 'Look, I told you, you're not allowed here. Don't come here.' The last time we went there, Rose got very emotional. She was crying. Our little granddaughter was there, and a couple of elders came up to cover the situation."

Mark and Rose now live in the Blue Mountains, with Lebana and Abraham, and are slowly putting their lives back together. Mark works in maintenance and has got back into surfing and music. He plays drums in a band called the Fabulous Shapelles and gives drum lessons at home. "I'm 53 years old, but it feels like I'm 21," he says. "It's like I'm starting over again, because you come out with nothing."

Rose works as a cleaner. "It's a bit of a disappointment to my family," she says. "I don't want to spend my life being a cleaner."

She has read about mind control, trying to come to terms with her experience. "When I look back, I can't believe it all happened. It's so bizarre. It's like I became a completely different person."

In the cult, she notes, they decide who has the right to exist and who does not. "But here we are," she says. "We still exist. That's something."

- The Twelve Tribes was approached by Good Weekend, but declined to comment.

former member said...

I read the above again, and it really moved me. I think a question everyone needs to ask themselves in relation to the communities is this: When a person "gives up their life" and "gives up everything to follow Yahshua"(Jesus) in the Twelve Tribes, are they really giving it all up to follow and obey God, or is it really giving it all up to follow the Twelve Tribes apostle Elbert Spriggs and his understanding of how life should be? I am glad for these various websites that get into the nitty-gritty of the Messianic Communities, because new recruits are really not given the complete picture to make a more sound decision. Much is said about the first church of believers and how they lived communally like the Twelve Tribes. Is this really accurate? Did the Apostle Paul/Saul of Tarsus really establish communal churches? As the Tribes say. The Pattern?

former member said...

For me, this sheds further light about the subject of economic communalism among the believers in Jesus after he departed. I humbly present it here for your consideration:
"194:4.7 Unmistakably, a new fellowship was arising in the world. “The multitude who believed continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” They called each other brother and sister; they greeted one another with a holy kiss; they ministered to the poor. It was a fellowship of living as well as of worship. They were not communal by decree but by the desire to share their goods with their fellow believers. They confidently expected that Jesus would return to complete the establishment of the Father’s kingdom during their generation. This spontaneous sharing of earthly possessions was not a direct feature of Jesus’ teaching; it came about because these men and women so sincerely and so confidently believed that he was to return any day to finish his work and to consummate the kingdom. But the final results of this well-meant experiment in thoughtless brotherly love were disastrous and sorrow-breeding. Thousands of earnest believers sold their property and disposed of all their capital goods and other productive assets. With the passing of time, the dwindling resources of Christian “equal-sharing” came to an end—but the world did not. Very soon the believers at Antioch were taking up a collection to keep their fellow believers at Jerusalem from starving." (Urantia Book, Paper 194)

former member said...

I very much admire various aspects of the Twelve Tribes, but I cannot in all honesty ignore the negative and harmful elements either. As a former Muslim, I see this same tendency in the Tribes as in Islam. Both groups will distort the truth and reality in order to protect the reputation of the founder and the religion, and the member may not criticize the founder, the teachings or laws. And when things go wrong in the religion, individual(s) are blamed, and never the founder of the religion itself. This is very disturbing to me. This ushers in deceit/dishonesty. Even though I consider myself a person of faith, have had various esoteric experiences, and have a love for a universal Source/Origin of Life, I want to be able to be completely honest/candid about my evolving knowledge, belief, and faith about all matters. I feel I don't need to have to defend any founder or creed, except an individuals human rights, including the right to freely think, question, and draw one's own conclusions, which may change. In the Tribes, I was locked into the Teachings, and any serious questions about Yoneq (or Muhammad in Islam) were met with an instruction not to question, but instead to trust.

former member said...

I would like to be able to continue friendships with people I know in the Twelve Tribes, but as a former member, I find this very difficult to do. My friends in the Tribes have been very patient with me, but we do have serious differences between us. For me to return to the Tribes, which in some ways, I would love to do, would require I consent to Teachings such as the Cham Teaching on black people and other Teachings such as the Tribes being the only People at this time who are being forgiven by God and who are the only work of God on earth etc. And the home births and home circumcisions. I sincerely believe that Joshua Ben Joseph's (Jesus) message was much simpler as first taught. Simply: love for God, and love for each human being as a brother or sister. Saul of Tarsus was a prime spokesman to alter this simple gospel, and making it necessary to join something and adhere to his gospel about Jesus versus the gospel of Jesus.

former member said...

"In the enthusiasm of Pentecost, Peter unintentionally inaugurated a new religion, the religion of the risen and glorified Christ. The Apostle Paul later on transformed this new gospel into Christianity, a religion embodying his own theologic views and portraying his own personal experience with the Jesus of the Damascus road. The gospel of the kingdom is founded on the personal religious experience of the Jesus of Galilee; Christianity is founded almost exclusively on the personal religious experience of the Apostle Paul. Almost the whole of the New Testament is devoted, not to the portrayal of the significant and inspiring religious life of Jesus, but to a discussion of Paul's religious experience and to a portrayal of his personal religious convictions. The only notable exceptions to this statement, aside from certain parts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are the Book of Hebrews and the Epistle of James. Even Peter, in his writing, only once reverted to the personal religious life of his Master."

"The whole Christian movement tended away from the human picture of Jesus of Nazareth toward the exaltation of the risen Christ, the glorified and soon-returning Lord Jesus Christ."

196:2.6 "Jesus founded the religion of personal experience in doing the will of God and serving the human brotherhood; Paul founded a religion in which the glorified Jesus became the object of worship and the brotherhood consisted of fellow believers in the divine Christ."
(Urantia Book, Paper 196, as a humble contrast to Twelve Tribes understanding)

former member said...

The Twelve Tribes prophet-apostle has taken this several steps further in elevating himself to an Elijah position of the end times and mandating a communal lifestyle, many traditions, and really a very superior/elite proud mentality somewhat cloaked. Ask yourself these questions: Will you go to a Death punishment or a worse eternal Lake of Fire punishment if you do not join the Twelve Tribes community and give them all of your life, money and possessions? They tend to skirt around this, but in reality to their understanding, if you do not join their organization and become their property ("giving up your rottin' stinkin' life in the world") you will not under any circumstances ever go to the Holy City Heaven that they intend to go to after death. You may live outside the Holy City and work on a work crew supervised by them, but you will not be in the best Heaven reserved for God's People.

I have a big problem with this.
Their apostle has set up the Twelve Tribes as to only true Church, and the only True Jews. And he has been the Pope of it all. All others are condemned. How did it all come to this? Is he sincere? Does he think he has heard from God? Did he make this up as he went along? Does he hear a voice or voices? How did he become "The Anointing" "The Elijah?" These are just many questions I have. But am I just wasting my time thinking about any of it?
Obviously, I wish things could be different. That the good, beautiful, and healthy elements would remain, and that the untrue, and hurtful could be removed. But only Elbert Eugene Spriggs "Yoneq" has the power to do that. Will he? Does he see any need to? If he did, would he? I pray to a loving God he will.

FormerMember PostiveVideoLink said...

In all fairness to the Tribes, I wanted to include this link to a video a professor filmed with his University students showing the happiness and joy that is also a very real part of their life together:

"This short video documents my visit with my Franklin Pierce University students to the two Twelve Tribes communities in San Sebastian and Irun, Spain during our walk/study abroad pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in the summer/fall of 2013. The communities gave us the most gracious hospitality during our weekend stay with them and generously shared their lives with us."

former member said...

I did write to the German court regarding the situation with the Tribes children who have been removed from the Tribes by the government and placed in foster homes or orphanages, and suggested yearly medical exams for all Twelve Tribes children, and an end to the home circumcisions for male babies, as well as a high school level education for all Tribes children. Obviously the situation of parents losing their children is disturbing as well as the child discipline that was shown occurring in the Tribes show on German national TV as well as interviews with former Tribes children and parents. Why did the Tribes move into Germany, knowing full well it's against the law to hit children there? Why? I did sign a petition for the children to be returned to the parents, because I feel it's more damaging for the children to be away from their families. However I made it clear that Elbert Eugene Spriggs the Tribes Apostle-Prophet-Elijah should be the one who is on trial, because he determined mosy everything the Tribes believe and do upon threat of members being banished and losing their salvation before God. Mr. Spriggs has condemned others of being cowards. Well he should be in Germany. He always seems to absent when trouble occurs. If he is the Apostle, he should be on the front line of trouble with his wife Marsha and Eddie Wiseman. I have lost most of my confidence in the Twelve Tribes. I miss it there, but how can I believe in them or there anti-Christian anti-Government God? Can you blame me? I wanted to believe in them, but how can I?

former member said...

Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - Revised
Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs,
and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structural, social-psychological, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.

Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a “cult scale” or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.

#1 The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

#2 Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

#3 Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

#4 The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

#5 The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

#6 The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

#7 The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

#8 The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

#9 The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt in order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

#10 Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

#11 The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

#12 The group is preoccupied with making money.

#13 Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

#14 Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

#15 The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

This checklist was adapted from a checklist originally developed by Michael Langone.

hereisdoug said...

I just read the article about the Twelve Tribes and I thought everything has anther side to it. I lived with the Twelve Tribes for about seven months. I found these people to be controlling, some people, i.e., some members to be abusive to their children, and I found that the leaders (Desha and Aquila for example) to hold to a double standard. They, the leaders preach do not lie but in the end they lie to reach an for themselves, what ever end this might be.
I found my time with these people to be very taxing because as time went along, I depended on them for more and I had this sense of if I did not perform I would be outcast.

I also found that these people would just take things from a person and some how use the scripture "give all things up." They stripped the person (in this case me) of all sense of being.

These people do indeed use language in a setting to bend a person to a certain setting. I was called a "sodomite", "Gay", "homosexual" because I shaved the back of my neck. I was also yelled at in front of people with violence and in the end was told the person was sorry for acting the way they did toward me. Nevertheless the damage was done.

I am no expert; however, I was a paralegal and I wonder about things like how can a person live in a "non-profit" setting and then work for a profit company "Common Wealth Construction" and when asked for a W-4 not be given a reply.

The community in Savannah has at least four properties with a huge debt load and yet the "Common Wealth Construction" company is paying for this debt. Again, I wonder about tax law, about the legal area of this.

I have sent an email regarding some of belongings (my bank card, a ruby ring) but have not received a reply).

Terri said...

I lived with Aquilla, and though he did seem maybe more self-centered than some of the other long-time members, he and his wife were kind to me and gave me some extra clothing. They didn't have to, but they did.

Also the communities do take in people that nobody else wants. People that have lost their jobs, people that have no where else to go, people that don't fit into society for one reason or another. Not many people would be willing or able to do this.

John said...

Hi Doug, I think I lived with you before in the communities, but not sure if this is so. Seems like the main problem in the Tribes is the prophet-hood, apostleship, and Elijah status of Elbert Eugene Spriggs, and the unquestioned Teachings. Similar situation Prophetess Ellen G. White and the Seventh-day Adventist church. I consider the Tribes actually an offshoot of the SDA. At the same time without the strong central authority of Gene "Yoneq" and his wife who got herself into a big double-standard moral mess, I really doubt the communities could have progressed to where they are today. It is no easy matter to basically begin a whole new religion and communal lifestyle at the same time. You really have to be inspired or deeply deceived to go forward year after year with all the challenges to unity and numerous defeats. So I have to admire the whole operation in some ways, the love that exists, the unity, the homeschooling to some extent, the music and dance and healthier diet than probably most people have. But there seem to also be serious problems and some abuses, and some of the beliefs blatantly grown on false foundations, such as the now infamous Cham Teaching, the unquestioned Elijah status of the founder, and a type of clergy-laity system of their own, which they blanket condemn all of Christianity for: the pastor and the congregation, while the Tribes have the Apostle-Apostle workers-elders-Shepherds ruling over "the sheep." And they are ever so ready to grad people's money and property, their own cash-gifting program with the Jesus seal of approval. Why not have the people give their money to charity, like monks and nuns do. The Tribes are too greedy for that. Jesus never told the disciples to give their money to him when they joined up. It will be interesting to see where this whole Tribes thing will ultimately end up. Their main doctrine seems to be living communally and joining them in do so to be forgiven by God to a better Heaven than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in the Twelve Tribes and having studied the Teachings as a member, and then having left the community, I am almost completely unable to clearly evaluate this life for myself anymore. Something that would be commonsense to others, is no longer commonsense to me. Something happened, I'm not sure what. Some would call them a cult, or that it is brainwashing. I can say I am no longer the person I once was.

findingtruth2 said...

There is quite a strong, varied commentary here; I think that I would go see for myself before believing any one side of this particular story. Actually, I did, ; ) and couldn't believe what I saw. I have never seen anything so good and real in all my life. I guess someone who hates good could make good sound bad. There is only one way to know the truth for sure.

Leo said...

"Messengers" will soon be traveling/"circulating" from community to community to inspect the local Tribes life to make sure it is conforming to "the Pattern" that their apostle "Yoneq" Elbert Eugene Spriggs has established. I guess they'll be like regional and national supervisors. Someone has to maintain uniformity after Yoneq passes on. Members are being told not to be concerned about this. That it is a good thing. This is "the latest word."
One "traveling dignitary" once told me our community had cobwebs about 15 feet above a back entry way. I felt like telling him to get his dignified ass up there to take it down, but I didn't. I hope their stupid communities collapse under the weight of Yoneq's stupidity. They condemn all other religions, but they are no better. What's going on? What's really behind the Twelve Tribes movement? Yoneq doesn't want fame. He's somewhat cowardly. Is it money? Control over people? Any ideas?

Leo said...

Concerning the children taken away from the community in Germany, they definitely were spanked, but I really don't know if I would call it abuse or not. (?) If you do the math, each child was not hit more than 12 times on the butt. However, it is against the law to hit children at all in Germany. So why did the Tribes move there, knowing this? Who decided?
I didn't like it that a former Tribes boy was put under the discipline 24hrs. of his school teacher who would wake him up at 2am daily for wetting his bed. Is this appropriate. My wife wonders if he did stop wetting his bed? If he did would the hitting by a non-parent be justified. It went on a couple weeks. He now seems happy to be out of the Tribes. He is an adult now. He was not removed by the German government recently. But shared his story previously. I wish the Tribes children in Germany did not have to go through this. I feel like the Tribes leadership provoked this unnecessary drama in Germany. And now that they have done this, are playing the persecution card to reinforce their belief that they alone are the Truth and that Evil persecutes the Truth. When will the Tribes nonsense end?

Leo said...

It is somewhat telling that they are always referring to Jesus as their "Master Yahshua." And telling that they cry out to Yahshua at baptism for salvation. Did Jesus teach that? No, not at all. He always emphasize dealing directly with God, and he didn't make himself into God or declare himself to be a mediator. The Tribes accuse Christianity of having a "white bread Jesus." They may have a whole-grain Yahshua loaf, but what's the difference? Both movements have created their own Messiah. Islam has done the same. And none of them like the Jews, and the Jews probably don't like them very much either. Go figure. The wonderful world of religion. Instead of Alice in Wonderland. It's apostle Yoneq in the world of the Twelve Tribes. It's the world he created. And he got to be the pope and "the anointing." What was he anointed with? The oil of control and deception? If you want to be saved by God, should you lay your wealth at the feet of the apostle? A fool and his money are soon parted. I was one of the fools. Thanks Yoneq for a hard lesson and for being a sincere carnival con man. You really outdid yourself, and lasted a lot longer than Jim Jones. Instead of koolaid, you brought mate.

Suiset said...

The education of the children is very poor (I am a qualified High School Science Teacher). The younger children seem to receive a reasonable education in math and English. The teachers all exercise the right to discipline the children with a rod for any disobedience and even hold a ceremony in the US for children entering training or school for the first time. The parents hand a rod to the teacher symbolizing that they give their complete authority to that teacher to discipline their child as they deem necessary. None of the teachers in Australia hold qualifications. As the children get older they are taught less and spend more time working. The Twelve Tribes do not hold education in high esteem but is looked down in many respects. The children adopt these same attitudes and therefore have no real interest in doing well. The “curriculum” for math is repetitive and does not go much beyond 6th class level.. Out of all the children I taught only one showed competency at this level. One student, age 17 demonstrated a math level less than an average year 7 student although not stupid. The classes I was present in usually focused only on basic math and English. Other subjects like science, geography, history, etc are only brushed over with incompetent instructors to satisfy the education inspectors and tried in some way to relate to the Bible. The teachers lacked resources and they never took the children to outside places such as libraries, museums or theaters. Only the leader’s children at Picton could access the local library. I believe the most damaging aspects of the children’s education are their inability to think or work independently, to rationalize, to research and to exercise critical thought. They can not read books except the Bible. They usually try to get out of as much schooling as possible and seek to work instead. They also receive much physical discipline during their schooling, particularly the boys. Later if they leave (about 90% in the US ) they feel stupid around their peers and their general knowledge is abysmal. They earn no certificates at all and must independently educate themselves in order to achieve their potential in life. Sadly many of them don’t possess the skills to read a novel, because they lack the ability to concentrate on books. The teachers give their students no regular homework or independent research for school projects making academic success elusive for these children. Usually the girls remain in the community perhaps because they don’t experience exposure to the outside world like the boys with their work. The whole role of women in the group is subservience. Maybe this is part of the reason? The whole focus of child raising is to develop obedient servants.

Monique said...

It is very wrong that Twelve Tribes members and their children are now being taught that the German people in general are cowards, that they have a cowardly way in them that they need to be saved from. All this condemnation since the Tribe's children have been taken away, most of them, by social services in Germany due to the children being hit/spanked in the Tribes communities. So now the Tribes leadership is pointing to faulty character in the whole German people, as well as blaming them for Hitler. Is this what their Yahshua-Jesus would do? Are the Twelve Tribes loving their enemies as he would? The Twelve Tribes are playing the persecution card. They have broken laws in Germany, and they knew they were breaking these education and children laws. I have lost most respect for the Twelve Tribes. But, as usual, it is really not the members to blame. They do everything their apostle-prophet says to do. I feel sorry for the parents and children in the Tribes in Germany. What can be done about this situation? Why are the Tribes now directing racism against the German people? Just as they have done against the Jews and black people. They deny it, but they teach each other that black people and Jews remain cursed by God until they become part of their religion!

Monique said...

I have a close friend who lived in the Tribes. The Tribes shepherd in the house got very upset and said, "I am God in this house." My friend said the shepherd sounded like he was possessed or something. The shepherd later apologized but tended to be very sarcastic, and some of his children ended up being very sarcastic and disrespectful also. Most of the shepherd's children later moved out when they got old enough. The Tribes is now calling people who leave: "drop-out's." Like something is wrong with them. But the Tribes always lift themselves up, and say they are the only ones bearing the good fruit of God in the world! There is something very wrong in the Tribes. They work very hard to make it seem beautiful, but inside the group my friend told me life is exhaustion, that they are all often told that they are to die, that dead men don't reason, have opinions, or think for themselves. This is very disturbing. New people moving in have been told to give all their books away or throw them out. There is very strong censorship control. My friend introduced me to people in the Ithaca commune. I like them very much. I like the clothing style and food. The children seem very well behaved. But is all well? Seems complicated? The men seem more happy than the women.

Zeb said...

i saw a big change in the people who came to the community over the 5 years i visited. the children who moved in became much calmer and seemed to be happier - it was even pleasant to be with them in the common rooms and talk - meaningful and pleasant discussions. Most of the adults i met were amazing people and what they did for the common good was fantastic, working long hard hours for the good of everyone. All income went to the community.

Marlo said...

They take everything you ever were, everything you have, and everything you will ever be, in the name of their god. If you want to be nothing but a worker bee with programmed beliefs and behavior, it's just the place for you. Working long hours for the common good is not fantastic. Live there for a year first, then come back and let us know how fantastic it was. Of course all income goes to the commune. It's a cult. It's all about control. It's all about "losing your life." It is communism in a worse sense. I too once thought it was wonderful and beautiful. Then I saw the other side. There goal is to establish "the pattern" of their prophet and strictly obey. They say they have no leader. Big lie. Elbert Eugene Spriggs "Yoneq" and his wife Marsha Ann Duvall Spriggs "Haemeq" are their real leaders, not God and not Jesus/Yahshua.

Anonymous said...

The Twelve Tribes can keep their factory farm animal meat served at their Mate Factor and Yellow Deli culty cafe's where gullible recruits work double shifts for no wages with no worker's insurance serving "the beehive." I was told by my "shepherd" that "adults are like children, they need to be kept busy or they get into trouble." So if you go there to live, you will be kept busy working and monitored. Have fun.

ex commune guy said...

Zeb, all income does not go to the community. When I was a member I saw when "the tithe" was instituted. 10% now goes up the chain of command in the Apostle's direction for "evangelism." There's no open accounting of finances. I'm not sure anyone knows, except for a couple people, how much money goes to the Apostle and his wife.
Ask yourself this question How can people tithe when they have already given up everything they ever owned and given all their money to the cult?

Now they are giving up more than everything. Communities are giving up 10% money they need to buy socks and underwear. Sisters are growing bean sprouts to sell to scrap together a little change to buy socks and underwear!

The average member is really in poverty, working like a slave for room and board, and if you're single, you don't even get a private room, you get a tiny dorm room with 3 other people on bunk-beds with windows they don't even bother to repair the screens on to keep out the insects, listening to people snore and fart through the night. Enjoy.