Sunday, January 06, 2008

Some nasty fruit

People come to their dislike of the Twelve Tribes cult from a number of different perspectives. Some are appalled by the racism, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia that lace their literature. Some are disgusted by their practices of thrashing their children with switches and depriving them of a high school-equivalent education. Others who consider themselves Christians object to how the group uses the preexisting affinity with Christian scripture of many potential recruits to get them in the door. For them, the TT's belief that they are the only true disciples of Yahshua/Jesus since the First Century and that Spriggs (Yoneq) is Elijah the prophet is not just weird and dangerous, it's a heresy. What follows was submitted to IOTTC by "V.O.R." The author has had long-term personal experience with the cult. The article contains some information that is difficult to fact-check, but many points made are corroborated by other sources. Opinions expressed in this essay represent the personal views of the author, and are not necessarily those of IOTTC. -Al

The Twelve Tribes leader and self proclaimed apostle and prophet (who also considers himself the return of the Biblical Elijah) goes by the name "Yoneq". His birth name was Elbert Eugene Spriggs. Spriggs has gone on record as defining his new name as meaning "a Twig". The word "Yoneqet" is used in this manner in Ezekial 17 speaking of an eagle that breaks off the top most "twig" of a cedar. Anyone familiar with the history of the Twelve Tribes knows that Spriggs broke away from a Christian based church due to differences of opinion and ultimately started his own "church" which at first accepted other Christians and Christianity as a whole. Later, he condemned Christianity as an Apostate church and his teachings state there has not been a valid Spirit filled church for over 1900 years. The Twelve Tribes like to use parables in their "Free Papers", so I wrote this parable just for Yoneq

The Parable of the Twig

There was a tree that grew alone in a field and was cared for by a very loving farmer. The tree had both strong and weak branches. The weak branches bore bad fruit. The strong branches bore good fruit. One day a twig started to grow on one of the strong branches. It was a humble twig that enjoyed being a part of a strong branch that grew good fruit. It flourished on the branch and started to grow beautiful healthy leaves. Then it started to flower and later the beginnings of one of the most beautiful fruits started to grow from the twig. At first the twig was happy to be contributing to the production of the branch and the tree overall. The tree produced healthy delicious fruit that made the farmer very happy.

However, overtime, the twig started comparing its fruit to those grown by the weaker branches on the tree. At first it felt sad that the other branches could not grow healthy fruit and wished that it could help them grow stronger. The farmer chose to prune some of these branches. And the twig started to think, “The farmer loves my fruit. He is happy with me and the branch that I belong to.” Then the twig started to compare it’s fruit to the fruit of other strong branches and it started to become judgmental of those branches for not having the “best” fruit. The twig started to question why the tree even bothered to grow weak branches at all? The twig started to become more and more proud and was becoming unhappy to be a part of the tree.

The twig shared its thoughts with the branch that it grew on but the branch would not listen. Therefore the twig started to compare its fruit with the fruit grown by other twigs on the branch. In its view, their fruit did not even compare to what it produced. So finally, the twig decided, “I need to break away from the branch and the tree and flourish on my own. Maybe by not being constrained by the tree I can become my own tree and make the farmer happier.”

When the twig broke away from the tree it fell to the ground. From the ground, the twig was able to see the results of the weaker branches face to face. Over time, all the twig could see was the rotten fruit surrounding it. It could no longer see any good fruit on the tree from its position on the ground. Therefore it determined in its heart the entire tree was “rotten” and unable to grow good fruit. Pride had completely taken root in the twig and it truly believed that the farmer only loved it and its fruit. The tree from which it grew was no longer loved by the farmer. It judged the tree by the dead fruit it saw and there was plenty to judge.

But something slowly started to happen that the twig’s pride prevented it from seeing. Due to being disconnected from the tree, the twig was no longer being fed by the tree. The twig had to produce food for its fruit entirely off of what it had inside it. Slowly the twig’s fruit began to shrivel.. The twig was too proud to admit that it had made a mistake by disconnecting from the branch and the tree. The fruit on the twig increasingly started to look like the fruit it was surrounded by on the ground. The twig was growing old and as a twig with rotting fruit, it did not have the ability to grow additional branches and twigs to grow good fruit. Now it’s fruit is withered and as rotten as anything ever produced by the weak branches on the tree. And still the twig’s pride declares, “I am the only true tree!”.

Yoneq said, “Judge me by my fruit, if I am an apostle or not”

Criticism of Christianity: Fathers and mothers being too busy working to spend time with their Children.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Fathers too busy working in “Industries” and mothers too busy working in communities to spend time with their children. Young singles and other families raising their children. Families separated within and outside the communities.

Criticism of Christianity: Christians focused on “the love of money.”

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Communities and elders so focused on Industries and making money enough to pay the 10% tithe to the Apostle they don’t have time to Shepard the followers or raise their children properly. These facts are documented in their own teachings and minutes from the Apostolic Meetings.

Criticism of Christianity: Christians having the same divorce rate as non-Christians.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Community members are encouraged to divorce non-believing spouses. Members who have spouses leave the TT, are encouraged to remarry.

Criticism of Christianity: Critical of Christian Leaders that fall (Baker, Swaggert, etc) and judging all Christianity based on the sins of these few.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Multiple leaders accused and at least one arrested for molesting children. Jeff Leonard was arrested in Brunswick, Ga for child molestation and extradited to Desoto County, Fl (Arcadia) were he was later convicted and placed in jail. Stories of multiple others accused of child molestation and disciplined but then forgiven by the TT leadership.

Criticism of Christianity: Christian Denominations divided and divisions within churches therefore they are accused of not having the “Holy Spirit” and Christianity as a whole being an apostate church.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Many of the original TT elders (“the nucleus”) have left the communities because of differences with Yoneq. Those who were credited with having “The Holy Spirit” now accused of never having it because they disagreed with Yoneq.

Criticism of Christianity: Christian churches leading people away from God instead of towards Him. Yoneq repeatedly states Christians and anyone who openly disagrees with him or his teachings should have a millstone tied around their neck and they should be thrown in the sea or sent to the Lake of Fire.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Yoneq requires new members to denounce their Christianity before baptizing them. Many former members have not only abandoned the TT but also their belief in God altogether due to Yoneq and his controlling practices. Yoneq is personally responsible for leading thousands away from their faith in Christ and God.

Criticism of Christianity: Christian children don’t have their hearts turned towards their father. The Spirit of the Eliyah will turn the hearts of the children towards their father and the hearts of the father towards God.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: It is estimated by many ex-TT members that between 50-70% of male teens leave the TT between the ages of 14-19. Many of these teens have gone on record as “despising” their fathers and mothers for the abuse they had to endure in the TT. These teens are rejected and abandoned by their parents once the leave the TT.


Dan said...

Hi, I was curious if you had an article/study/primary source document that you derived the 50-75% rate from.

Anonymous said...

I remember living in the Tribes in Island Pond. Black olives were being served in our commune house that day and I didn't want to eat them. Qatan's wife Hasidah said I needed to eat all of them and it didn't matter if I detested black olives, as we eat food for the nutrition and in gratitude to God. So I ate all those nasty black olives. However, guess what? A few days later, bananas were being served and Hasidah was not eating any. I asked her why. She said she didn't like bananas! Another double standard. The lowly "sheep" and children are to eat whatever is put in front of them. But "shepherds" and their wives can have more discriminating tastes. Hasidah you need to eat some bananas right now!

Anonymous said...

Concerning Christianity, it's sad and unfortunate the leader of the communities has always felt the need to use the Christian religion as a whipping boy scapegoat. It's always about how Christianity failed. What about Islam and Eastern and pagan religions? Why do the Tribes only hammer on Christianity? If Christianity is that much of a total failure, why use Christian Bibles in the communities?

friend of Brooks said...

If you decide to visit or join the Twelve Tribes, let me give you some advice. Don't give them all your money and car, in case you don't like it there later. Most people who join later leave. they leave with nothing. They have to start all over in the world. I want to save you this pain and depression. When you leave the Twelve Tribes, you leave with nothing. They might buy you a bus ticket or a bug-infested hotel room for one night, but that is all. Often not even that. Use your brain and do some careful thinking before you stay or move in with this group. You'll be glad you did.

Anonymous said...

When I moved in I was surprised that they wanted me to work all the time. I didn't have time to do anything I wanted to do, like play my guitar.

Your Godly Hero said...

your hate proves your insincerity. Such harsh words, have you lived with them as a guest?

Probably not. the children are so pure and uncorrupted here. I might consider living there to escape the poison of the world for a community that loves despite who you are or what you've done.

haloplayer said...

amen! dont back down in your belief! stand firm in your Faith!

James said...

I have no problem with the TT in the UK. I found them a positive experience and it helped me change for the better. I have met very positive examples where people are helped greatly by being in the TT. One I met joined in the 1970's, every year in the TT is another year living and not dead - he would not have lived long outside! Thanks for sharing.

Candice said...

I've met people with different personalities, and the children didn't act abused or frightened of their parents. They were very happy, very loving children. I enjoyed them and miss them the most. I've watched them being punished before, but it wasn't abusive at all. I was actually surprised that they did it openly in front of me like they did. They used a thick, long twig, and just took the palm of their hand and swapped it a few times to give a sting. Then they would hug the punished child and say they loved them and they went of with their duties. It was never out of anger.

I don't doubt, however, that there are people abusing the system. Of course, people let their anger get the best of them and hit their child too hard with the rod. It's a mistake and should be corrected. I don't doubt it's happened over the years in TT. I pray that God would have mercy and expose those people and their sinful ways. But the people I saw, the women whom I watched punish their children did NOT do it out of anger. In fact one woman felt bad that I had to see it, even though her one year old boy immediately recovered after a few seconds of whining and went on to eat his food afterwards.

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.

Cassey said...

CHILD PUNISHMENT is frequent and painful for even the slightest attitude or foolishness.
Corporal punishment may be applied by any adult member with love.
“The blueness of the wound drives away all evil.””
(October 1980 Child Training -Notes from Teachers Meeting - Page 5)
“Unless your son has blue wounds, by this standard, you know what kind of a
standard is in you — it is the spirit that hates your son. If one is overly concerned about
his son receiving blue marks you know that he hates his son and hates the word of God.”
(No date – Execution of Justice – Page 1)

Cassey said...

CHILD PUNISHMENT is frequent and painful for even the slightest attitude or foolishness.
Corporal punishment may be applied by any adult member with love.
“The blueness of the wound drives away all evil.””
(October 1980 Child Training -Notes from Teachers Meeting - Page 5)
“Unless your son has blue wounds, by this standard, you know what kind of a
standard is in you — it is the spirit that hates your son. If one is overly concerned about
his son receiving blue marks you know that he hates his son and hates the word of God.”
(No date – Execution of Justice – Page 1)

Cassey said...

The main purpose of the communities is to try to eventually raise up the 144,000 celibate male evangelists as the "TwelveTribes" mentioned in the Bible Book of Revelation. The members are taught that they alone are the "true Jews" "the chosen people of God" and only they are being forgiven by God. So there's frequent punishment of children to "obey on the first command" with the hope that the children will always "obey without questioning and reasoning" and remain as adults in the Tribes, and raise up more obedient children, so the 144,000 can be born someday. They believe if they don't produce the 144,000, then Jesus cannot return, and the Earth will remain under the control of Satan. They refer to all Christian churches as the Whore Babylon mentioned in Revelation. It's interesting to note that the writing style in the original languages of Revelation is not similar to St. John's writing style in the Gospel of John at all. When you are a Tribes member, you have to believe everything you are told to believe without question, it's "apostolic" (from Apostle Gene Spriggs, "Yoneq"), if you don't you will be asked to leave the communities. If your children are deemed to deserve punishment, they will be punished, whether you agree with it or not. You either punish them, or someone else will. I and other exmembers left the Tribes due to the Child Training Manual, and having to hit our children so frequently. I won't get into the home circumcisions, required home births, and tight "swaddling" and "restraining" of babies, and medical neglect cases.

Anonymous said...

They may be a cult... but their waffles are pretty fucking good.

tina said...

this has touched my heart to the core.. I met Hasah and she embodies the spirit. I truly believe that the way is through yahshua. I should never have left, imiss being there. They dont care about your status in the world, or if you were old young black white, dont know. they love you geniuneally and ask for nothing but you in return.

ding bat batah said...

I lived in one of their communities longer than I care to admit. What members are doing is playing a children's game called Follow The Leader.
Elbert Spriggs is the "Yoneq" and he's the leader.
Everything done in the Twelve Tribes follows what Spriggs and his wife Marsha "Ha emeq" direct through "the teachings" and through their hierarchy.
So, just check out your brain at the door. "Stop thinking." "Stop reasoning" and follow the leader.

Sarah said...

This is mean what you are saying. I lived with them and you seldom even hear Yoneq's name mentioned. Yes, they have Teachings that are mainly applications from the Bible, and these help the members. I don't agree or understand all the Teachings, but I didn't see that they brought hurt or unhappiness. Yes, there is a type of hierarchy without which I doubt the communities would be able to endure or be in unity, but love of God and one another and the forgiveness they experience among one another seems to be what matters most. Do consider their society a social and religious phenomenon of our time. Am not sure what will come of it all. But, it's not as negatively one-sided as some make it sound, but do admit, it's a very polarizing subject as is very evident on the Internet. To really understand it, one has to really live and work there for about a year at least. It is true there have been many mistakes and some abuses through the years, as there would be in any communal living situation. Use your imagination. But, generally, the members are giving it all they have for what they believe God requires, for each other, and also frequent hospitality for others.

Anonymous said...

When I was there I found several things they believed that did not match up with scripture. Paul warned in Galations chapter one," that if anyone teaches ANYTHING contaray that they will be eturnaly accursed. Jesus warned
In Mathew," Take heed to yourselfs that no one deceive you, for there will be many False Prophets who will arise and DECIEVE many...1. The women are allowed to speek, Pual says in Mathew they are to be silient. 2. They teach their youth to masterbate to relieve sexual tensions. 3. They teach they cant obey Luke 17:4 because if they obeyed it, then sin would enter their church." 4. If a wife does not want to be with her husband, she dont have to be.