Is the Twelve Tribes a Cult?

There are many ‘anti-cult’ sites (Rick Ross Twelve Tribes resources, Twelve Tribes-EX) that attack the Twelve Tribes for being a cult. Their claims often attack positions the Twelve Tribes takes on discipline, lifestyle and Biblical authority. I’ve had a couple people request feedback from my stay at the Twelve Tribes commune in Vista, and whether I believe they are a ‘cult’.

First, I want to say that my experience there greatly impacted me. I was blown-away that a community of people were willing to ‘give it all away’ so that they would share all their life’s resources. At the start of each day, the community gathers in a covenant reminder that they will ‘die to themselves’ and love one another. Much of the bad press towards the Twelve Tribes isn’t so much an attack on their community but on them living out what the Bible commands. You may be surprised I say that. Well I do need to say my experience was not exhaustive, so I did not get to see how (method) they lived out these beliefs (principles). But they do seek to base their principles on the Bible. For this, most of American modern Christianity will want to reject what they are doing. The price is far too great for us to give up our worldly possessions and consumer mentality. Many of us our too deeply entrenched in the American-brand of Christianity that fits our lifestyle easily.

Here is where I would differ with the Twelve Tribes and warn people about deciding to join their community.

1. They believe that in order to be saved, you must accept Jesus and move in to a Twelve Tribes community. They mix justification with sanctification. I asked several questions to determine what they meant. First, I asked, if a person came to the same convictions and were not in an area where the Twelve Tribes had a community, would they be saved. Second, if a person came to the convictions and decided to move to a Twelve Tribes community but died before they got there, would these people be saved? An elder at the Vista location could not say ‘yes’ to these scenarios.

2. Three different people stated that from after the book of James was written until 1970, there is no evidence of true Christians in this (roughly) 1,900 year period.

3. They believe there is no room for disagreement with their doctrine. Those who disagree are considered rebelling against God’s bride, the church. There ‘doctrine’ is the interpretation of scripture based on Eugene Sprigg’s (and other leaders?) interpretation.

4. There is an element of sectarian us/them with the world. Don’t catch sin like the ebola virus out there in the evil world. People only work for the Tribes, they see the ‘world’ as being the evil system rather than a place where they work side-by-side with non-believers and live out the gospel.

5. An elder told me that John Calvin was ‘under a spirit of evil’ when he interpreted scripture. He said that the modern (false) church has been under his influence ever since.

6. They believe that all professed Christians that are not apart of their community are no different than atheists.

It is because of these stances that I would not encourage people to get involved in their community. I say this with sadness because so much of their life seems more Christian in substance than my life and the church-communities I see.

  • bob hyatt

    November 2, 2005, 11:25 am

    hey Drew- Thanks for a good review- highlighting the good, the bad and the kind of kooky 🙂

  • Robert Roberg

    November 2, 2005, 5:49 pm

    I spent some time living with the 12 tribes but left because they taught at that time that they were the only true body of Christ on the earth. Sounds like a cult to me.

  • Ben Keller

    November 2, 2005, 6:32 pm

    Very thoughtful remarks, Drew. The communitarianism I’ve seen among them does bear some hallmarks of Acts Christianity, and yet historically “perfect” communities either veer off into free love or rank legalism. 12 Tribes has opted for the latter. Your questions about salvation were probing and it seemed to uncover lots of Bible saturation (machine-gun use of Scriptures at any moment) but not too much Biblical thinking and reflection. We materialistic capitalist American Christians certainly have much crap to answer for, but the “join us to be saved” theology is getting the gospel seriously wrong.

  • D. Goodmanson

    November 2, 2005, 6:49 pm

    The communitarianism aspect did get me thinking about a ‘corporate witness’ of the church as the bride of Jesus Christ.

  • fatherofaking

    November 6, 2005, 4:06 pm

    according to what you said in your article, they did not say that everyone needs to join their group to escape the second death (the lake of fire).
    that doesn’t sound exclusionary to me.

  • Chezikah

    January 1, 2006, 10:00 am

    Reasons for Leaving
    89 Reasons why a past member left the Cult.

    The reasons why a past member left the Twelve Tribes Cult.
    The past member that wrote this has wished to remain anonymous.
    Formerly known as: Northeast Kingdom Community Church, Church of God, The New Apostolic Order in Messiah, The Church in Island Pond and generally, The Communities)

    (Friendship-love-dogma-shame-guilt-fear-) Warning: The Tribes consider all negative reporting on their life as “malicious lies and slander.” They also state “both those who lie and those who listen to lies are worthy of the lake of fire.”

    The community started in the 1970’s with a Christian couple, Gene and Marsha Spriggs, who helped troubled teens and furnished them a place to stay in their home. Somehow Christian hippie love and a free communal life degenerated into a total control religious cult mixed with Jewish Old Testament Law and the Christian Gospel.

    Though they beat around the bush with first time visitors, the tribes clearly consider themselves “the only true work of God on earth since the apostles.” Being the called, chosen, and the faithful, one member repeatedly shouted at a daily gathering, “1 am so thankful and not ashamed to declare we’re it! We’re it! God’s only people! We are the people He’s always wanted and never obtained!” The tribes teach that only they possess God’s Spirit. “If you’re in the world, you have another spirit, or perhaps an angel leading you to God’s body (Tribes).

    Only community members can preach the “true gospel.” They say “the sheep will obediently receive, hear and obey a ‘sent one’ giving up wealth, jobs, friends, relatives and inheritance to enter the one sheepfold.” To join the community “sheep” must donate their time and free labor. “Saved” means calling upon Yahshua (Jesus is a demon) and consenting to outdoor baptism even in the middle of winter. Within the communities, opportunities abound for a member to “die to themselves” and “crucify their flesh.” Believing Jesus’ death insufficient to save a person, they render community members totally dependent upon the group.

    I was told, “God created a special place for His own where His Holy Spirit dwells, the Edah, our Twelve Tribes. Currently we don’t have twelve tribes, but someday we will. Forgiveness, love and restoration cannot occur anywhere else. Our Master Yahshua accomplished this through His death on the tree, suffering in our place and rising again on our behalf.”

    Full of unclean birds and spirits, Christianity is “the bloody whore of Revelation. Her ministers are liars. Thieves and draw glory to themselves while destroying the sheep,” according to Spriggs’ teaching. Instructed regularly, members omit ‘the bloody whore’ part with new visitors. Community members also believe “Jews and Christians failed to perform God’s purpose, so God cut them off, cast them aside and waited 1900 years for a people willing to obey His commands.” They try to persuade people into believing that “only they bear good fruit.”

    Members cannot enter any Church or Temple “especially on Sundays,” because “evil spirits are near”.

    E. Spriggs refers to the Bible as “the most dangerous book.” The tribes also say “In order to understand the Scriptures one must connect himself to the vine (the tribes). And in another teaching Spriggs says “The Bible is written to confound the wise and meant to be misunderstood unless you are under the anointing.” (Spriggs’ interpretation) Stone IV 6/18/89

    Before Messiah can return for “His Bride,” the tribes believe they alone must perfectly keep God’s laws for 49 years.

    Filling their members with fear and dread, the community makes it difficult for devastated members to depart. As they are leaving, defectors may hear “Whoever has the Holy Spirit and leaves the body is turned over to death. You will not live long.” In another teaching Spriggs says, “If a person even thinks about returning to Egypt, our Father will provide them an opportunity to return. ..If you go back, you will drown.” These damaged people can no longer trust God, themselves or others, and are unable to receive ‘help from the world.”

    AI Jayne “Ne’eman”, one of my shepherds told me candidly, “We make people unable to survive and stand on their own two feet in the world.”

    The tribes latched onto the Catholic purgatory model for their “three eternal destinies” teaching. One of their main sales pitches, they treat this teaching like golden revelation from on High. Even though Jesus said, “Why do you call me good, only God alone is good,” the tribes teach some people are “good” and “live according to their conscience.”

    The tribes “freepapers” and Website fail to give potential “sheep” the dark, depressed, painful side of life in the communes.

    Community members cannot accuse their leaders of wrong or voice discontent. Concerning complaints and malcontents Spriggs says, ‚ÄúWhoever is against the Father makes himself brother to Satan, the rebel prince of this world system.”

    If you “oppose the anointing” (Spriggs, his elders or teachings), God may cause you to become ill, experience an accident or die.” Mary Wiseman, who died of cancer, told another sister, “You don’t know Yoneq (Spriggs), he can have real anger.” Following her death, the elders remarked, “Our Father removed Mary from His body because she opposed the anointing.” Spriggs and his henchmen are untouchable little kings.

    By inhibiting critical thinking among community members, a “group think” mentality prevails. Accordingly, followers surrender their right to make value judgments. (They cannot reason ). All female members must wear dresses or hideous clown-type pants. Men must grow their hair long enough to tie their hair in a short pony tail. Unity means “we perfectly agree about everything.” We do not agree to disagree like Christianity with all their denominations.” We are one as Yahshua commanded.” They always rid themselves of those who cause division.

    Young adults who break away from the tribes are told, “you are forsaking God, your parents and friends, so you can indulge your flesh in the world.” One young man courageously told two shepherds, “I can’t live this way.” Later the elders publicly blamed the young man’s mother as a poor example of an imma (Hebrew mother).

    Gene Spriggs decides all belief, practice and lifestyle. Positioned in a place of unrivaled power-and control. Spriggs the monarch and pope of the community answers to no one. Being the sole leader of the tribes. Spriggs prefers to maintain a low profile, and keeps any knowledge of his whereabouts, lifestyle, or finances secret.

    Carefully guarded in each commune house, Spriggs’ teachings are not available to the public nor to many of the sheep. Sometimes an elder may give a less dramatic teaching if he believes “It will help a ‘sheep’ to increase. One newer black member repeatedly asked to see “the Ham teaching” which describes “God’s curse on the black race, their continuing sin of disrespect, and their duty to serve whites.” Believing that the teaching would cause him to stumble, the elder denied him access. Outsiders often hear, “any brother may bring a teaching.” Actually this means any brother may study a teaching Spriggs dreamed up and then repeat the teaching to the household. I often heard, “scripture is not personally interpreted.” Another oft heard control phrase within the community is, “you need to receive and cling to the anointing (Spriggs).”

    Though I’ve heard reports of Spriggs watching television and reading whatever he chooses, the average community member cannot exercise such freedom. By contrast, radio, television, and printed materials are off limits to almost all community members. Musicians use cassette players, but soon they will not enjoy access to them. Tribal teen boys often read newspapers and various magazines when they are alone. Listening to the car radio is a gray area.

    Bowel movements and how you have them are critical. During bathroom visits, members squat on small unstable wooden stools. A difficult feat it is! They say “toilets are killing Americans, because as you sit not enough crap comes out. This causes colon cancer.”

    Concerning crap, while outdoors “members must bury all bowel movements because our Father walks around and may step in the crap.” Upon hearing this, I almost rolled on the floor laughing. All I could picture is a half-man half-horse deity trotting around the countryside and through the woods at night. You must honestly question who their God/god really is.

    A husband no longer holds authority within his family, but a shepherd usurps authority over your wife and children. This is humiliating and frightening.

    Eddie Wiseman beat a teenage community member leaving 89 bloody welts on her body. As a result, the family stayed away from the commune for 15 years, but sadly returned in 1998. None of them received the courage to pursue charges against “cold Eddie” (Hakam). I have heard stories of this man sexually abusing at least one boy. As the boy courageously told his elders of the abuse, they rewarded him by beating him and locking him in a closet. People like Eddie Wiseman and Gene Spriggs don’t repent. They never do anything wrong.

    Awakened and frightened by the boring religious service, a crying 2 year old child refused to sit like a miniature adult. In response, the parents rolled their son in a sheet to prevent him from moving his arms or legs. The parents repeated this “discipline” over several weeks.

    One of my shepherds approached me and said, “I don’t like the behavior of your two year old son. You need to hit him.” I felt like telling Al Jayne “Ne’eman”, “Too damn bad, look at your own children.” If I didn’t hit my son, I felt like Al Jayne would have enjoyed the task in my place. The tribes expect too much from small children. Burdened with the goal of raising up three successive generations of increasingly pure and perfect children, community members constantly “beat the tar out of their babies.” Spriggs also says, “If our children can’t learn obedience, Yahshua will not return.”

    Many parents “in the world” punish their children as a last resort. In the tribes, parents punish their children as a first resort. Walloping their children provides some adults with an excuse to leave a gathering. Instructed to remove their “disobedient” children far from the listening ears of visitors, the parents strike their children on outstretched palms or bare buttocks with long thin flexible sticks. Foolishness, joke telling, laughing or making faces often results in “discipline” for these young children.

    “My imma and abba (mother and father) hit me all day, “exclaimed a little boy.

    After my wife and I divorced, she and my 6-year-old son lived outside the community. I asked Al Jayne, I haven’t seen my son in several months, and I really miss him. You often drive to his town, can I travel with you sometime? Al responded with, “”If you visit your son when he is young you will only confuse him. As he reaches his teens, he will wonder and visit you.” Another newer, but older member told me, ‘”You’re just a babe, Eric. You must mature before you visit your relatives. Perhaps your son and former wife are sheep. They need to see you living obediently with God’s people, then you can share the gospel with them.” Several other members emphasized, ‘”You must follow the example of Abraham and place your son on the altar. You must reckon Jason as dead, just as Abraham reckoned Isaac dead.” One sister suggested I seek legal custody of Jason, and remove him from his mother. My former wife is an excellent mother. Taking Jason would break her heart and destroy her.

    According to Spriggs “parents who send their children to public schools hate them.”

    Community children cannot celebrate birthdays or “demonic” holidays such as Christmas or Easter.

    One teen-age girl boldly told me that “at one time the adults used to put children into boxes and lock them in closets. They wanted the children to experience DEATH.”

    To control difficult teenagers, the tribes sometimes sends them overseas to sister communes. This hinders relatives from helping the imprisoned teenager.

    The community routinely removes children from their parents, if the parents cannot raise them according to Spriggs’ standards. One young child moved into my communal home, and shortly thereafter his “teacher” thrashed him with a balloon stick.

    Within the community, parents routinely deny their children immunizations and medical care. They don’t want doctors to discover the many scars on their children’s buttocks. The community hates to spend money on “worldly medical care.”

    The daughter of one shepherd told me, “Growing up in the Edah is difficult. As a young child, I endured constant “discipline.” Currently, I am busy with never ending work, but when I marry I will have even more work, and my husband will rule over me. I know Yahshua loves me. I need to trust Him and give up my life.”

    I was told several times, “If you don’t use chopsticks during your meal, you offend and hate Japheth. (Oriental people, Native American people). The tribes hope to recruit more minorities. In Hamburg, members exercised more freedom concerning the use of forks or chopsticks.

    If the young children engage in imaginary play, pretend, fantasy or imaginary friends, their parents beat them. In one commune, small boys could not push blocks of wood, or make truck noises. Community children possess few if any toys, and cannot play unless an adult “covers” them. In defense of their views, they say, “we want our children to deal with real life, such as learning a trade or helping their mothers in the kitchen.” A commune house may own one ball or bicycle, which, the children may play with provided they don’t have too much fun. Sadly, the children enjoy little play time, because the adults must continue working “so that the sheep have a home to come to, food to eat and clothes to wear.”

    Within the communities, tightly swaddled babies, toddlers and small children are a common sight. Unable to move their arms or legs, the poor children are wrapped in a cloth or blanket like little mummies. They are made helpless and often must sit for long periods, while their mothers work. One member explained, “swaddling helps to break their will without breaking their spirit.” I often pitied a frightened little black baby wrapped in this way. She wanted to move but couldn’t.

    Mothers who deliver their infants in the hospital, lack faith in God and their brothers. A woman named Amy who suffers from a heart condition, endured six days of sleepless labor with a breech birth. She and her husband, Aaron Anderson, refused outside medical help and chose to “remain where our Father dwells.” “If you trust our Father you can accomplish anything.” They place no trust in doctors, hospitals or Christians.

    Years earlier, I questioned my household coordinator regarding women “who are just too small to safely deliver their babies at home.” Coldly he said “LET THEM RIP!” I was stunned. A cold religious spirit dominates in the community, which reminds me of some Old-Order Amish groups and “Desert Father” type monasteries. To them the “pain of child birth is beneficial for a woman.” Through many trials and tribulations we will enter the kingdom.” You need to die.” – –

    Spriggs’ teachings dictate that married women must produce at least seven children. According to Spriggs he says “God is going to bring forth a male child (144,000) with absolutely no deceit in them. There will not be one lie in them. They will be just like Messiah. They will be so pure that fire comes out of their mouth and they will be righteously indignant.”

    In each communal home, every newborn male endures circumcision. Furthermore they say, “Every adult male should desire circumcision.” The tribes totally ignore the apostle Paul‚Äôs extensive teachings regarding law, grace, and circumcision.

    Individuals and families lack personal privacy.

    Because they enjoyed a “burlesque” piece of lingerie, one couple had to confess their “sin” to the entire household. I felt sorry for them. Through his teachings, I believe Spriggs instructs couples about “correct” sexual positions. Tribal control doesn’t necessarily stop at the bedroom doors. Content with their one baby, one couple had to repent when they honestly stated that they wished to have no more. This couple left the tribes after an entire household collapsed in Lancaster, New Hampshire, amidst a series of hushed up scandals.

    As I sat in a chair and silently prayed, One brother accused me “of communing with evil spirits.” A shepherd’s wife told me “You should pray aloud because the angels take our prayers to God.”

    If a wife refuses to join the tribes with her husband then “she was never his wife.”

    Within the communities, women must obey their husbands without reasoning or questioning. The community views a disobedient wife as rebellious, independent and un-submissive. To persuade the wife to repent, sometimes the husband may withhold sex from her.

    A household coordinator referred to my wife as a witch when she tried to dissuade me from joining the tribes. At our baptism, we were told to ‘renounce Jesus and the demonic spirit of Christianity.’

    Several times a household coordinator secretly tapped into phone conversations when I spoke with my wife. In response he said, “I pay the telephone bill, and I have the right to know if someone is filling your head with defiling negative information.” (about the community).

    The tribes belittle Christians for attending church, sitting in a pew and listening to a clergyman talk about ‘white bread Jesus,’ yet in the community, teaching sessions may last three times longer than a sermon. I certainly didn’t feel like dancing when I heard these teachings.

    Those who sleep during a dull teaching must stand until the remainder of the session. During teachings, members may not use the bathroom or drink water

    At any time, you may be asked to stand in the center of a room ‘if you need help or correction.” They call this a “lemon fight.”

    You can understand why the tribes don’t tell new guests the real details of their life. It’s too bad for the guests who may be hypnotized by the initial love, smiles, compliments, hugs, dancing and testimonies. Because I was so sad in the world, I tried to sell myself on their “gospel.” I tried daily to believe that twelve tribes members were “the only Ones being saved.” After a while, I felt sick inside.

    Financially, the shepherds live better than “the sheep.” Makes sense right? Shepherds and sheep. Overseers of the community, shepherds possess credit cards, own cars, and control the money. They can buy food, purchase gifts for their wives and children, and take frequent trips. In contrast, the dumb sheep wash piles of dirty dishes, clean the toilets and wash the clothes. While most tribal women have few if any pictures to enjoy, Prisca, the wife of “Aquilla the Gorilla” owns and enjoys an expensive camera. Shepherd Al Jayne is fond of buying new higher-grade tools for his sons. His oldest son Nehemiah drives his own van and owns expensive musical instruments. Jesus said, “If you want to be the greatest, you must be the slave of all.” What did Yahshua say? “Disciples wash dishes.” Shepherds and their children do not. When I once hinted that Al Jayne’s boys never washed dishes, their mother responded with “you never sing songs or tell stories to my teenage sons while washing dishes.” A clear double standard prevails in the tribes. I think you call it a clergy-laity division.

    Men and women work long hours 16-18 hours) with no wages and little if any medical care. Members give everything and receive nothing in return except dances, hugs, baked squash, millet, beets, maggot infested potatoes, teachings and house arrest. As one brother said a couple of days prior to finally leaving, “I’m so tired…I‚Äôm so tired.” He could barely drive the car. After his departure, the elders said “his parents spoiled and pampered him.” The twelve tribes routinely use people and then cast them aside as “weak”.

    While working past midnight, a brother accidentally struck himself in the face with a hammer. Muscle hanging from his injured face, he called an ambulance. Because the elders desire to maintain control over communal money, the shepherds admonished the man for seeking medical care. Paid overtime isn’t even in tribal vocabulary. I remember hearing brothers ridicule time clocks “in the world.” If you have a time clock, be glad. Now that I live in the world, I’m glad that I receive “a living wage for a fair days work.”

    All communities will soon pay a tithe to cover tribal expenses such as property taxes and evangelism.. Guess who profits from any left over money? Elbert Eugene Spriggs. Eddie Wiseman. Don’t forget the higher ranks of “apostolic workers.” Silver and gold we have some. Lowly sheep you get none. We have it all. Keep laboring you sheep. –

    When I last lived in the tribes, the elders allotted only $10.00 per week per person for food, clothes and personal items. I waited three weeks to receive dental floss and longer for toothpaste. The shepherds and their families always had money for personal trips, ice cream and pizza. One elder, “Aquilla the Gorilla”, often frequents the local Denny’s Restaurant.

    One sister waited over two years to receive a bathrobe. Meanwhile, the shepherd just purchased a new and expensive computer system. Another sister spoke with me about her fear and guilt as she needed an eye exam and new glasses.

    Members need permission to visit family or friends “in the world.” They cannot attend any family funerals. Parents who oppose the Edah may never see their children again. When a young person joins the community, shepherds and their wives sometimes become the young adult’s new parents.

    Sexual abuse of children and physical abuse of married women, continues to be a problem within the communities. One single brother repeatedly exposed himself to the small children in a bathroom, and was asked to leave. Collectively, they refuse to repent for destroying the lives of their members. Denial is a key concept with the tribes, because they are always right and the individual is always wrong. One of their favorite sayings is “It is better to be wrong together, than to be right alone.”
    Hitler would have agreed! Emphasis added!

    The tribes insisted that they never helped Steve Wooten, a member wanted by the police for kidnapping. I was present at the morning gathering when the FBI arrested Steve Wooten in Florida. The tribes lied. They sheltered him for many years. Member’s called his former wife, a witch, a prostitute, a liar and an unfit mother.

    The tribes forbid it’s members from taking medication. Over a ten year period, one sister stopped taking her medication for manic – depression which resulted in irrational behavior. Repeatedly dumped at homeless shelters and cheap hotels, the elders insisted that her condition was the result of rebellion and unconfessed sin. Several months later, she returned to the community amid promises from the shepherd “Aquilla the Gorilla” that they would never again ask her to leave. Sometime later, a brother substituted a strong Tribe -produced St. John’s Wort tincture for her prescribed medication. As a result, she suffered from insomnia for four days. Once again,
    Al Jayne ditched the penniless sister at a hotel and told her “I guess the last nine or ten years have been a real waste.” When I inquired about the sister’s whereabouts, the shepherd responded with “she went crazy.” The community always treats the individual as a scapegoat. In contrast, the twelve tribes are always “God’s holy people.” The communes are far worse than the churches they condemn, because love is not the rule.

    The tribes condemn Christianity “for the sin of the Nicolaitins” which they interpret as a clergy -laity division. In the tribes you have Spriggs-shepherd-sheep division.

    Attempting to obey the many Old Testament laws, the communities in essence practice legalism. They ignore the many warnings of the apostle Paul and the Jerusalem Council. In Acts 15 Paul said, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: To abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality.”

    Forbidden to tuck in their shirts, tribal men look like slobs. Considering clean shaven men as emasculated and Roman, tribal men cannot shave or closely trim their beards. Priestly robes and wide headbands for use during the gatherings, are on the way.

    Members must eat whatever is on their plate, and if someone doesn’t like a particular food, they must eat more of it. Because I hate beets, one member told me, “Don’t think you’ll enter the kingdom if you don’t eat your veggies.” Sounds like legalism to me. Emphasis added!

    Community members can only wear cotton clothing against their skin.

    Community members cannot wear jewelry or wrist watches. During a gathering, his holiness Gene Spriggs smashed a member’s watch under his foot when the alarm accidentally sounded.

    Women in the community really suffer while working in the kitchen. While the men buy new tools from Home Depot, the women must chop cabbage and shred carrots by hand because they don’t have a food processor. They constantly cut their fingers on the very dull knives they must use. They must use temperamental old washers and dryers and hang out the laundry by hand. Because they refuse to install a dishwasher, the sheep must wash piles of dirty dishes. A former member once said “the community is the worst place for women since ancient China.” A drinking fountain would eliminate the need to wash 400 glasses each day.

    Women do not participate in tribal government.

    Children and adults within the communities cannot own personal pets. Most tribe children are fearful of cats and dogs, because they believe them to be unclean to a true Hebrew.

    A man cannot sleep with his wife during her monthly period, but must sleep on a floor mat. During this time, the woman is “unclean” but not too unclean to continue her daily work. You can see why the apostle Paul said: “The law kills.”

    Everyone in the tribes except Gene Spriggs and those closest to him are “covered.” This means someone always knows where you are working or where you can be found. In my opinion, it is the aim of the twelve tribes commune to discourage all independence (thought, action, freedom of movement, opinions, access to information, access to families) and to drive them into a hopeless, dispirited, gray herd of robots. They have lost all personal ambition, are easy to rule, willing to obey and willing to exist in selfless slavery to the community.

    Except for Spriggs, anyone can be “cut off.” Those who are “cut off” cannot wear their head covering (women), pray at gatherings, or participate in breaking of bread. Concerning those who are cut off, Spriggs says” … Don’t eat with them. We don’t talk to them except to reprove them, trying to bring them back to the faith -if we believe they are a brother or sister. We don’t have communion with them.” He also says, “One who has fallen and contracted “leprosy” needs to be restored and washed so everyone can touch him. If you touch him before this you get dirty, you contract their leprosy. “They shun the disobedient and rebellious member until they repent.

    Communal cars almost always have empty gas tanks. When people are given money for fuel, they usually buy a couple of gallons of gas, and then pocket the remaining money. Members are rarely given enough money to fill the tank, unless a shepherd needs to take a trip somewhere.

    Do you currently know where Yoneq is? What is he doing? How much money does he have stashed away? What kind of car is he driving? Who covers him? Has he been “cut off”? Is he “clinging to the anointing?” (Himself) Has he repented? Want to cause waves in the tribes? Start asking pointed questions about Yoneq. Why have some teachings “disappeared,” never to be heard again ?

    One brother told me he sleeps on a very hard futon so he can be prepared “for the wilderness..” The tribes are planning to gather in “the wilderness” someday because they believe the world will reject them. Sounds like Jonestown and Waco doesn’t it? Spriggs and elder Hawkins of the House of Yahweh should meet sometime and compare notes. But, they would probably “cut off” each other.

    The elders often censored, scrutinized and sometimes intentionally opened my mail. They always wanted to know if the sender was “a friend of Israel.” (The tribes).

    I often heard, “Only the strong survive in Christianity.” I marvel at this statement when I think of all the weary eyed, broken down and exhausted people I knew in the tribes. As Gene Spriggs says, “the longer you are in the body, the harder it is to remain, Only the faithful will endure to the very end.”

    Community members are slaves. It’s that simple. Members make it possible for Gene Spriggs to fly around the world, and for Spriggs and his buddies to retire in style.

    The twelve tribes is a high control, devastating religious cult which robs it’s members of basic human rights. Within the tribes there is no: free thought, free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, private property, freedom to travel, family contact, burial of relatives, earned income, inheritance, education, current events/world news, labor laws, workmen’s compensation, health insurance, right to bear arms, voting rights, fair trial, prescribed medications, choice of personal appearance, diet choice, marriage decisions, music choice, radio and TV.

    Before leaving I challenged the authority of my shepherd. He took on a different personality altogether as he said, “I am God in this house. You hate me and despise our Master. You love your own life. I’m trying to help you be saved.”

    The communities routinely give their “sheep” Hebrew names. They say, “Dead men don’t have opinions.”

    Everyone in the tribes must end each shower with a straight cold rinse. Cold not cool. This signifies the cold response disciples receive when they share the Tribes “gospel.” According to Spriggs, “the cold rinse multiplies white blood cells, prevents illness, and increases longevity.” I still cold rinse in the warmer months. In the winter, cold rinses terribly aggravate arthritis.

    Community members can only marry another member only if the body gives their holy approval. If the union benefits the body, they will approve the marriage.

    The last time I tried to visit the tribes, Aquilla the Gorilla escorted me out the door, because he feared I would “defile” their gathering or cause more “sheep” to leave. He was intensely interested in knowing if I was a Christian.

    No one needs to live in a legalistic cult to know God’s love, forgiveness, and brotherhood.

    I was told several times, “if you don’t use chopsticks during your meal, you offend and hate Japheth. (Oriental people, Native American people). The tribes hope to recruit more minorities. In Hamburg, members exercised more freedom concerning the use of forks or chopsticks.

  • Rick

    January 1, 2006, 10:14 am

    On The Seventh Day He Violated Me
    In 1987 my parents had been in a cult called “the Twelve Tribes” for two years. My mom gave birth to me without the assistance of any doctors, anesthetics, nurses, or hospital beds. It is forbidden to go to hospitals or have a normal life in our cult. Yoneq, our leader, had made these things forbidden to all members so that they would have no contact with the outside world. That ensured the cult leader there would be no interference with his brainwashing process. It took my mom five long, painful days to give birth to me because of cult law.

    A cult is a group that has a leader (s) that has almost complete control over all their members. The group usually does strange rituals or worships strange things. Some groups may sacrifice women, sheep, or kids as a part of their cultic way of life.

    As time passed I was growing up with weird rituals and the teachings of our leader, Yoneq. I remember having to go to a ritual every Saturday night called “the Breaking of the Bread.” All the kids would be read a story from the Bible and then sent to bed with the night watchmen. The adults would all go into one room of the house to eat and drink the blood and body of Christ. They did this to pay their respects to Yahshua and remember the sacrifices He made for them.

    My parents began to teach me what they had been taught by the cult, all the sick ritualistic habits of everyday cult life. When the horn blew we had to drop what we were doing and run into the desert where we would be safe from the Satan worshipers. They would teach us how to keep from committing sins. Sins were being unsubmissive or being too provocative. Teaching us these lessons was so that when the time came I would be able to jump up, like everyone else, and fly with Yahshua without being weighed down by my sins. I was taught that the outside world was evil and filled with Satan worshipers. I was taught that my purpose in life was to wash men’s clothes, get married, and have kids. I was to always to obey the three authority figures in my life: my husband/father, Yahshua, and Yoneq, the cult’s leader, who was God’s messenger. From an early age I understood, because of the many beatings I endured, that men were honored and women should be obedient in whatever way they were asked to be. Understanding this made me a very submissive and trusting girl. I questioned very little authority appointed to me.

    As I got older, my parents no longer took care of me as much. I began to be left in the care of various cult members. Most kids began to get handed over to others around age 9 so that everyone could help with the brainwashing process. One day my sister and I were left in the care of a man named Aquilla, (Ricky Kendricks ) and his wife Prisca. They had two daughters and a son. We were all about 6 or 7 at the time.

    The day began like any other normal Sunday in the cult. Everyone slept in on that day because that was the day God rested after creating the earth. My sister, a few other kids, and I were dropped off in Aquilla’s room for the day so that our parents could have their family night, otherwise known as some alone time for adults. We began the afternoon by taking a stroll around a city park in St. Joseph, Missouri. It was a perfect sunny, warm day. Everyone was in the park enjoying nature, even a group of exotic dancers. They were practicing a routine in a secluded part of the park. Skin attracts a lot of attention, and of course Aquilla lead our whole group straight over to the dancers. We were all very young and the show of flesh was very inappropriate for us. After an hour of gawking at the spectacle, we all finally made our way back to the houses. Once inside the house the children were made to feel guilty about watching the satanic skin fest; as if the kids had a choice in the matter. We were told that we would receive punishment for our sins.

    My sister, his daughter, and I were escorted to Aquilla’s room. We were told to take off all our clothes, even our underwear. Aquilla got an oiled bamboo rod and then he started to touch our butts with his hands. All three of us thought that there was nothing wrong with this because we were always getting punished. Even though no one had touched us in this manner we thought of punishment as a normal thing.

    Although we didn‚Äôt like what was happening, we had no idea that we were experiencing sexual abuse. He began to spank us with the rod leaving big welts on our bottoms and thighs. We cried, but we were used to this kind of torture. This was the way of the cult. The children of the cult must have been beaten at least once everyday in a similar fashion for anything an adult thought was bad. After the welting, Aquilla (Ricky Kendricks) proceeded to use the rod to violate our bodies in the worst way imaginable. I remember feeling weird and being in a lot of pain. The pain was from the beating, the guilt, and the 7-inch rod that was inserted into my private parts. After he was done he told us all a phrase that I will never forget, “Now we can be FRIENDS.” I never told my parents about this event until years later when we had escaped the cult. When it happened I said nothing because it wasn‚Äôt necessarily unusual for me to get punished. I was worried that they would be upset at Aquilla, that would lead to me getting further punishment from him.

    This sort of abuse happened twenty-four, seven in “The Twelve Tribes.” Many more stories of physical, sexual, and mental abuse were reported to my family after we left the cult. A sexual abuse case is a common occurrence in some cults because of the people that are in it. Many cults are set up so that women are not equal. This way men can demand to get laid and it happens.

    My family finally left the cult in 1996, after many more disturbing events that have scarred me for life. It has taken many therapy sessions and life lessons to get to where I can write about my experiences in this way. I have even begun to accept that I was sexually abused! I now accept my situation and I am facing problems with my sexual and authoritarian relationships. I am beginning to understand why I cannot have healthy relationships or why I tend to use sex as an escape when I’m feeling depressed.. This also means that I understand why I clash with every person who has authority over me. The reason is, I am still fighting Aquilla subconsciously. This experience has affected me in many areas and the most severe of those areas is school. I moved from middle school to home school because everyone in my school was calling me a slut, horror, and a ho. I wasn’t even sexually active yet, but they called me these names because I subconsciously carried myself in a sexually inviting manner. My therapists have explained that this manner in which I carry myself is a result of being abused and needing to fight back. This and many other experiences brought my self-esteem down. They made me depressed which in turn led me to sex. So, over time, I have learned to have high self esteem instead of judging myself as other people perceive me. Slowly I am mending my relationship problems. I still have years of work ahead of me.

    Most cults prey on women or men with low esteem because they are the most impressionate. These are people who are always searching for someone else to provide a remedy for them. People with high esteem do not wait for others to tell them what works, they look inside themselves for the answers, they believe in themselves. To avoid getting trapped in a cult women should work on having high self esteem. This way when cult recruiters try to approach you on the street you will have a good sense of what you really need and what is good for you. If women have high esteem they will avoid cults that prey on victims with low self esteem.

  • Ex Yathed

    January 1, 2006, 10:29 am

    Are community member’s mindless robots?

    Reasoning makes my life complicated and dark., There was a time I envied the flowers and birds whose life seemed so simple. Tonight I received hope because we are called to live a simple life – a life of obedience. -Reasoning 11/18/90

    After you join the community, you do not think, nor do you make decisions. You must submit, the guilt is so strong.
    -Melinda Horton Former Member

    The Holy Spirit is only given to the many whose hearts are known by God. He knows that their heart is to repent, capitulate, surrender their head They know that their head has to go…
    -Ransom 3/23/89

    All servants of God must be delivered from a life of reason.
    -Reasoning 11/18/90

    To live by reason is so complicated Consider the birds and flowers how simply they live. The more we subject ourselves to authority, the simpler our lives become and the more our offspring will be full of grace. The flowers and birds do not have reasoning. We have to be like them.
    -Elbert Eugene Spriggs

    If all of His commands must pass through our reasoning, we are operating under a satanic principle, setting yourself up on a equal plane to God.
    -Reasoning 11/18/90

    There are disciples who receive authority, and disciples who receive reasoning Those who have to be reasoned with will betray the body in the end!
    -Breaking of Bread 8/27/94

    Community members are always told “you don’t have to understand or have revelation to obey. Just stop thinking. Take off your head and your mental reasoning.
    -Former Member

    Anyone who reasons does not have eternal life.
    -Understanding the Deep Mysteries of Our Faith

    The broad road is full of reasons, the narrow way is obedience only.
    – Reasoning 2/16/91

    We learned reasoning from childhood through adulthood. In schools they taught us to question authority… We need to guard our children from reasoning.
    -Reasoning 11/11/90

    Reasoning is in us, the only way to be done with it is by confession…All servants of God must be delivered from a life of reason. Reason is the first thought of rebellion in word or thought. Many are enslaved by a spirit of reason – they will only come when they are called and go where they are sent, when it seems right to them… Satan can only be bound when there is a people who don’t utter slanderous words against authority.. To cease from reason asks for the very life of our flesh. Our flesh must die. Satan is the father of reason. 2 classes of believers: 1) those who live by reason 2) those who live by authority.
    -Reasoning 2/16/91

    If you trust in our Father you can put your foot on reasoning. I learned reasoning by day and by night. When I came here one day, I gave up me head.
    -Reasoning 1/18/90

    We are to learn obedience and teach our children to be obedient. This is done by casting out reasoning.
    -Reasoning 1/18/90

    Reasoning is rebellion in its highest form.
    -Reasoning 12/18/90

  • Jacob

    January 1, 2006, 10:32 am

    Spriggs’ Position
    Who does Spriggs claim to be?


    We are Yoneq new sprout. We are Yoneq’s most precious possession. We are the validity of his apostleship. We stand in his place. We are the new sprout organically related to one another. We must practice his words.
    -Apostolic Workers Meeting 6/13/88

    Yoneq is the anointing everyone refers to.
    -Former member

    We must see that it is Yoneq’s spirit holding our community together. If we resist then it is hard to function in community. Resistance makes life miserable. Subtle rebellion disables Yoneq from functioning as an apostle. If we pick apart our leaders it makes it hard to rule. The work will go forward with cooperation. But if you resist authority the work ceases. We must be loyal to Yoneq and his anointing.
    -Apostolic Workers Meeting 6/13/88

    Only one of millions of sperm made it to the egg to make me! The exact combination of genes that made me were one of millions of possibilities. The odds are so against me having been made just like I am, I am truly unique. If I never come to Colossians 1:18 I will not fulfill the purpose that I was created for. There is no other reason for me to be on this planet.

    Our safeguarding – our umbrella of protection – is our loyalty to the anointing…

    The Lord has really gifted Gene Spriggs. He functions as an apostle of the church and we respect him deeply.
    -Judy Nunley current member

    My three dear brothers and friends. I am writing this to you by way of commission by our apostle… I know all of you are filled with the life that Yoneq has lavished on you. We are beginning to have this life revive our faint and weakened souls as his coming has been a most waited for and treasured event.

    It grieves me that I was not connected or attached to Yoneq.. Dullness prompted me to call you, when Yoneq should have been the one I sought wisdom from.. All this stuff about Ayal’s baptism came about without Yoneq’s approval or knowledge…! Ayal will be restored by a ruling government who are attached and connected to Yoneq. For weeks my heart has been grieved at my lack of loyalty to Yoneq.
    -Letter Sent to Deshe 2/8/94

    Spriggs’ control is in every place where he has established a community. His control is the one common denominator that marks every community. James Howell Former member

    If there are any opinions contrary to the anointing then we are a potential hazard to the body..
    -Receiving the Anointing

    Elbert Eugene Spriggs controls everything in the community. Nothing happens unless it comes directly from him.
    -Michael Painter Former member

  • John Woodruff

    January 3, 2006, 7:05 am

    My wife just joined the twelve Tribes of Israel and I am at a loss to know what to do. she has already given them over $50,000 and i am afraid she will give them everything because all our stuff is in her name.
    do you have any advise?
    Bewildered, confused, dazed, shocked and fearful.

  • David Alexander

    January 5, 2006, 9:34 pm

    I would like to point out that the four posts above John’s, supposedly by “Chesikah”, “Rick”, “Ex-Yathed” and “Jacob”…were all posted by the same person…put on here consecutively a few minutes apart. They are all put on by the disturbed young man who runs the Twelve Tribes Ex website….

    There are people who leave the Twelve Tribes, and who decided to forsake the covenant they made. They do their best to slander our wonderful life, for the same reasons that a person who deserts a marriage tends to build a case to make the one they deserted out to be evil….

    But the fact is, we are a simple people, who have forsaken everything to live together in a common life of love and unity, according to the teachings of the Son of God. That is really the substance of our life, to lay down our lives for one another, as He commanded.

    To any reading the above accusations, please consider this: the Son of God himself said plainly that those who give all to love one another would be hated by all men, and have all manner of evil said against them falsely. So if you want to know the truth about us, just come and visit us. We are simple, loving people, who are true friends to God and man.

    But also, know this…the Gospel is a call to forsake all, for the One who gave up everything for us…our Master, Yahshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus) and if you visit, you may well hear the call to give all to love as He loved…and you, or someone who visits with you, may well respond. We are not playing games, unlike Christianity…we are the real thing. Your life may never be the same. That is what happened to John and Diane…the man who posted just above me here. He and Diane visited for many, many months, and Diane came to a point where she wanted with all her heart to give all to follow our Master Yahshua, just as all of the rest of us have…and just as the early disciples all did.

    John can pretend to be shocked, but I personally have spent many, many hours in honest conversation with John…and he well knows that Diane is simply following her hearts deepest convictions…and that we are a real people, with a real life of love. He also has plainly vowed that if to share our life was what Diane wanted, he would not oppose it.

  • David Alexander

    January 5, 2006, 9:40 pm

    Oh, yes….if you want to visit us, all you have to do is email me at and I will arrange it. Anyone can visit us at anytime, stay as long as they want, and share our life in every way while they are visiting.

    That hardly sounds like the policy of a People who have anything to hide, does it? Our lives are open, our homes are open, and we are not ashamed of them, because our Master Yahshua and our Father live among us. Come and see! We live in communities in nine different countries…one may well be near you.

    Sincerely, David Derush

  • John Woodruff

    January 7, 2006, 3:14 am

    I said that I want the best for Diane and I do. I was shocked and surprised and purplexed and confused and afraid…And still am to some degree…But yet it has made me examine the world and my life in it. I have read the negative comments on several sites and they are alarming until juxtaposed to the real life and very visceral loving experiences I have had with the many members of the Twelves Tribes. I have come to love them deeply. The children are alive, precious, responsive, attentive, loving and tenderly cared for. The adults are the same. The singing and dancing is fun to participate in. It has about it a very spontaneous and creative nature while also being generously peppered with an openness, a warmth, an understanding of people living and loving together in community and of course more love. I feel wanted, important, cared for and loved when I am there and I know by the responses when I leave and then return that my presence is genuinely missed. I am more comfortable in the Vista house or at the Ranch than anywhere I have ever been. I always feel that I am somehow at home with friends and loved ones like life is supposed to be when I’m in Vista. The dinners with David and Shalem have been more than special. But now , we segue back to my wife: love my wife very much indeed (with a heart and a Half or you might say “more than my arms can reach”) and I want to be with her and to not be with her is excrutiatingly hard to bear , but I know she is following her heart and she is in a very desirable place. Ish Kadosh, my rootbeer loving friend suggested I ask YHWH for Guidance. I have done so and am continueing to do so. One of the things that came from my praying is the knowledge and certainty that I want to and will become a disciple of Yahshua. I have a lot to learn as I am very untutored, but I look forward to new lessons, new experiences, a new life and a new song to sing. I long for it. I can think of no goal greater than to be a disciple of my master and king, Yahshua. I will soon be joining my wife as a proud member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel if they will have me.
    I haven’t given up all that Iknow I must give up, but I’m working on it.
    Please be patient with me.

    Meant sincerely and with a full heart FOR (not AGAINST) the Twelve Tribes!
    John Woodruff

  • The Doubter

    January 7, 2006, 4:37 pm

    I personally came to the point of leaving when I became convinced that things there were never going to change, that there was no will on a governmental level for change. If the Tribes gov. spent as much energy and zeal working at remedying the problems, and working towards the reality of Love, as they do in Pretending, Defending, Suppressing, & Oppressing, things would be much different there. One of my main areas of concern (though certainly there are other serious errors) was the blatantly hierarchical system (1. an arrangement, especially of people in a group, in order of rank or importance 2. the people who control an organization. {from Greek hieros, sacred + archein, to rule}). This system is so well defined that you see even the children (especially the elder’s children) participating in it, under unwritten but well defined rules. I can’t tell you the number of times I confronted this in meetings, private and otherwise. And I certainly didn’t win any popularity awards over it. You could almost compare it to the Hindi caste system, with the Brahmims on top (elders, apostolic workers, their children) down to the lowest castes of single brothers and sisters recently ‘baptized’. Of course they have many justifications for it, honoring those who have gone before you (even if they are unloving jerks), recoginizing the so-called grace of ‘your brothers’…But the sad reallity of this system is that it only breeds an elitist spirit in the Brahmins, and is diametrically opposed to loving ‘the body’. How often is it that those who run the community and its industries have their credit cards, laptops, cell phones, ‘industry’ vehicles, petty cash, and the means of meeting their own family’s needs quite apart from any ‘needs list’? Better clothing, shoes, food, dental care, etc etc. And those who are further down the food chain, they just don’t seem to do as well. Raggy clothes, shoes worn out, no opportunity for going out anywhere for anything that might be special, and certainly no braces for their kids. It is a system of extreme inequity, and quite contrary to the purported life of Acts that they claim to have, where everything is shared commonly and there was no need among them. The very thought of comparing the scriptural account and the truth makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time. Those who control and perpetuate this system are not inclined to change it, because it would cramp their style, they might lose their perks. And it really grieves me when I see TTers like David who really have no clue, defending this situation with pithy and out of context scriptural references to the elders deserving double honor…I can only honor those deserving it by deed, not by appointment from some ecclesiastical body of one, namely Yoneq. The very thing that the Tribes condemn Christianity for, namely a clergy-laity system, is exactly what they have created in a more oppresive and coercive form than I ever personally encountered in any conventional church setting. Anyway, this is just one issue, there are quite a number of others I may expound on in later posts. I look forward to the reponse this will generate.

  • David Alexander

    January 9, 2006, 10:09 pm

    When I read things like what “Doubter” wrote above, all I can do is feel sorry for him.

    I have lived in three different Twelve Tribes communities, and visited a dozen others. Everywhere I have been, the elders and shepherds are daily laying down their lives for the sheep. They are the first to get up, and usually the last to go to bed. I have never seen any of the inequity that this poor person speaks of with such bitterness.

    But inequity is in the eye of the beholder. And anyone who comes into our life, if they mean what they say when they surrender their life to Yahshua in us, comes into our life with no other purpose than to love the brothers just as Yahshua loved His friends, with nothing held back for self. And love does not keep a record of “wrongs”, real or imagined.

    This means not comparing ourselves among ourselves. It means being glad to see your brother go to the dentist before you go. It means taking no thought for yourself, but looking to meet the needs of your brothers. It means suffering long…and giving up “pointing the finger”. It means trusting your friends just as unto Yahshua…and especially, trusting those who are your shepherds.

    We have surrendered ourselves to love one another with Yahshua’s love; a love that is stronger than death. We have surrendered ourselves to suffer long with one another, and stay together, even if it kills us. Even if it means we have to suffer unjustly, in order to remain together and keep covenant and work things through.

    Nothing short of that can lay any real claim to loving as He loved, and truly following Him. He is our example, and if anyone on earth could justly “point the finger” and cry “UNFAIR”….our Master Yahshua could.

    Doubter is just like Judas. Judas saw the woman pour out her precious ointment on our Master, and he cried, “UNFAIR”! “This ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor!”….He built a case against our Master, and betrayed Him. And he did it in the name of “the poor”.

    Any of us in the Twelve Tribes Communities could build a case against our leaders or against our friends in a day if we just gave place to the vile spirits that Doubter has surrendered himself to. And we would think ourselves justified in doing so.

    But there is no life in such a path. We are not interested in trying to live up to Doubters’ standards of “fairness”. We would rather follow Yahshua, be led by the Spirit, and do what is loving to the best of our ability. And love is not necessarily always “fair”. Love wasn’t fair to Yahshua. Love demanded that He suffer many things that were not at all “fair”.

    If I see my brother doesn’t have what he needs, I make it my business to help him get it. I do what I can to meet my brother’s need myself; and if it is beyond me, I go to my shepherds, and make them aware of my brother’s need. In my experience, the need is met; or if it isn’t there is some good reason why not.

    The simplest, humblest disciple in our life has everything he truly needs, as do we all. We eat the same food, all wear decent clothing, (mostly all from thrift stores) and have warm beds and a roof over our heads. According to Paul, if we have that, we should make it our business to be content.

    Especially since we have The Pearl of Great Price…a life in the Kingdom, of forgiveness, and extending forgiveness, of loving and being loved, and living and suffering gladly for the only purpose worth living for…to give our Master a Bride worthy of His return, to bring an end to this wicked age.

    But such a life is not good enough for Doubter. It is clear he loves the world. He couldn’t have a cell phone in the Tribes, or a laptop, apparently….

    So what. Hardly any of us have them. And those who do, contrary to Doubters’ slander, have them for no other reason than that they have very large responsibilities that make such tools necessary; and because they use them responsibly for the good of all. Personally, there is not one person in the Tribes that I envy…first, because I surrendered myself to love, and love does not envy; and second, because those in responsibility pour their lives out daily more than I am capable of myself, at this stage of my discipleship.

    Our leaders authority truly comes from the fact that they are servants; and Doubter’s slander to the contrary is nothing but the lies of the Accuser, trying to tear down our wonderful shepherds. The evil one hates the authority and leaders in the Body, because if he can tear them down, he can destroy our life.

    A person who has no appetite for suffering for Yahshua, but who comes into our life in pretense, will always look for excuses to desert their friends, heap scorn on those in authority, and break the blood covenant that they made. It is shameful and low behavior.
    But to justify themselves, such people come up with the most ridiculous accusations imaginable.

    Doubter claims to be shocked to have found out we are “blatantly hierarchical”. This is so ridiculous I have to remember what a sad case Doubter is, lest I hurt myself laughing. I can’t help but recall the Captain of Police in Casablanca…. When told by the Nazi’s to close Ricks Gambling house, where he habitually gambled…and he seizes on that as a pretext for obeying the Nazi general…turning to Rick, saying “I’m shocked, shocked, there is gambling going on in here!”…and a second later, one of the employees comes to him with a bag of money, saying “Your winnings, sir.”….to which the Captain says, “Thank you”. What hypocrisy, for Doubter to make such a claim.

    Of COURSE we are hierarchical! And anyone with any sense that comes into our life knows it full well up front. We are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Yahshua the Messiah being the chief cornerstone. We have genuinely apostolically gifted men leading us, men with real authority from our Father. No one comes into our life apart from knowingly coming under the authority that is in the Body; in the Communities of the Twelve Tribes.

    Wherever you have authority, you have hierarchy. We are an army, in a spiritual sense. We obey those who have the rule over us (Heb.13:17); we come when we are called, and go where we are sent, just like a soldier does. Doubter knew this when he made a solemn covenant with us…but now he pretends to be shocked! Shocked!, that we actually have authority and hierarchy in our life. I find his protests unbelievable.

    I spent my entire life in Christianity. I was a pastor myself for 10 years. I know what a clergy-laity system is, and Doubter is spouting slander and lies when he claims such a thing exists in our life. It is just an excuse to break his covenant and live his own life.

    As I have said, I have lived in 3 of our communities, and visited a dozen more. Everywhere I have been, the shepherds and responsible people are those who love the most. They live with those they lead. They work harder, stay up later laboring for the good of those in their charge; they bear a greater burden than any of us. I for one am honored to be following such men as those who lead us. And I know them, for I live with them. I know how they are with their wives, with their children. They cook fish with me, wash dishes with me, worship and pray with me every morning and evening. They stay up late in meetings, seeking for what will please our Father in caring for those under their care.

    I am 51, and spent my entire life in Christianity till I met us back in 2002; and I have never seen anything like the quality of men who lead us in the Communities of the Twelve Tribes. It was precisely the character that I saw in them, and in their wives and children, that won my heart and gave me faith to surrender my life to Yahshua in this Way. And like the thousands of us here in our life, I have not been disappointed. Are our leaders perfect? No. But they are on the path to being like Yahshua, and we are gladly on the path following their lead.

    Doubter is not with us any more, whoever he or she is. And we are better off without him, if he prefers the kind of spirits that he has given himself to. If he had the courage, he could blame himself and love his brothers and suffer long with them…and live. But it seems he has chosen to blame others, stop loving his brothers, break his solemn oath, go his own way, and die. That is a shame. He would have been far better off never to know the Way, than to know it and desert it and heap scorn and slander in public on those who have chosen to be faithful to the same covenant that he broke.

    If anyone wonders how to sort out who is telling the truth here, all you have to do is come and visit us…even live with us for a month or more. Then, go live with Doubter or any of the others who heap slander on us…and you will know where the truth, and love and unity are. All that is happening here is just what Yahshua said would happen; that those who follow Him, and give all to love as He did, would have all manner of evil said against them falsely. We rejoice and leap for joy at it, just as He commanded!

    I am not going to dignify any more of Doubtful’s slander with response. I only answered him this time to give any who view his lies a real context for understanding the truth. Now that I have done so, I have better things to do that go back and forth with people like him. There are many people out there who are hungry for truth and a real life of loving and being loved; and will not act like ungrateful children once they find it. They are the ones’ we are seeking, and if you are one of them, you can write me at . I can show you the way to come home, like I did.


  • The Doubter

    January 10, 2006, 1:04 pm

    It seems clear that the TwelveTribes embody traits that could only be called _SATANIC_. They throw up a flurry of arguments to prove their validity whilst breeding the very same pharisee mentality that put Christ on the cross. And they do this unrepentant, devoid of any honest introspection or self-reflection.

    Many who once lived in this HELL-cult can confirm that the Twelve Tribes are without fault and blameless…IN THEIR OWN EYES! Even after horrible facts are made public, broadcast to the world, they will only make a feeble public apology. While inside they will be “witch-hunting” and crucifying anyone who even suggests there may be a problem.

    Does this sound like a Holy life? A life inspired by God? It depends on which “God” your talking about.

    The Tribes serve the God of the mind. A God of reasoning and elaborate theologies. A God that cares more about HOW they look than how they actually are. A God that can overlook abuse and mistreatment in order to have a “nice” cafe. Yes, a God that doesnt care about the human cost to have HIS kingdom built.

    Who prospers in this HELL-cult? Definetely not the HUMBLE! Definetely not the WEAK! They are trampled and trashed, worked to exhaustion and then treated with contempt! While the ELITE enjoy “special” favors reserved only for them! Does this sound like the first church in the book of Acts? Or more like one of the churches in REVELATIONS!!!

    Yes, the facts are obvious to those who have eyes to see.
    A cult from Hell.

  • Jacob

    January 12, 2006, 3:46 pm

    Can community members make decisions for themselves?

    1. Led by Elbert Eugene Spriggs who claims to be an “Apostle” and “the prophet Elijah.” Spriggs says of himself, “I must begin by saying that the only authority I have to be called an apostle is my fruit. Of course authority comes from God, but is recognized by men according to its fruit its practicality”. (Apostolic Role) He also says, “This is why Elijah must come to raise up the age old foundation, restore the church to the Israel of YHWH. The Roman, Greek and Protestant are completely off the foundation (Apostasy, Apostate Israel Today).

    2. Elbert Spriggs also claims a “direct pipeline to God”, and that he is a special messenger with a unique revelation! “Yoneq (Spriggs) expressed how there have been several things which our Father has spoken to him which have kept us on course.” (Letter from Yoceph to Jonathan and Caleb). And in another teaching Spriggs says, “This is a word to all true disciples. Our Father revealed to me that we were to observe the Sabbath – the day He made, not Sunday.” (Observing The Sabbath).

    3. Only Elbert Spriggs is allowed to give original teaching, and his writings are the final authority within the communities. Elbert Eugene Spriggs has no real accountability.

    4. Community members must obey the teachings of Spriggs or risk shunning or excommunication. “Everything we hear in the teachings we are required to obey.” (Repentance 4/2/91). “If an elder questioned Spriggs’ teachings he could lose his place of authority. Dissenting elders were also talked about in the apostolic workers Meetings.” Michael Painter, Former Member

    5. Every person must submit to the elders who are in submission to the leader (Spriggs). Demand absolute obedience.

    6. Inhibits critical thinking so that a “group think” predominates. Followers give up the right to make value judgments of their own. (They cannot reason). Behavior Control

    7. There is intense control over community members in the areas of dress, and the regulation of where one lives. “When we are in the Body we have no independent action or movement. AWM 6/12/88) “When God commands us, if we stop to consider the matter to see if there is sufficient reason for us to do it, then we are still living according to the flesh. If the elders say, you need to move to…’ and you say, ‘what is the reason for that? I’m doing fine here, etc., no matter how good you may do in the flesh, you cannot go past that rebellion” Reasoning 11/I 8/90

    A. All men must wear their hair in short ponytails with a long, trimmed beard. All women wear long dresses, skirts or ‚ÄúSus‚Äù pants. Women also have long hair. Unity with the ‚Äúchurch‚Äù is heavily stressed, usually to the point where it becomes the chief doctrine. Unity is considered to be more important than ‚ÄúDoctrine”. (Behavior Control)

    B. Food restrictions are also tightly regulated. This is not only in regards to what a member can eat but even his enjoyment of food and how fast he eats. “Lev 11:46‚ĶA LAW NEVER CHANGES…There will always be clean and unclean beast, birds, fish. The law for us is to eat what is EATABLE. ALL FOOD IS CLEAN. We must distinguish the unclean and the clean – between the animal that is food and the animal that is not food‚Ķ (Priesthood Distinguish Between the clean and Unclean). “If it is not a need it is an act of the flesh – like eating when you don’t need to. Eating for pleasure is greed. No one who does this will enter the Kingdom, also no one who eats fast- even when you are alone – will enter the kingdom… If we eat hurriedly it means we don’t know God or our brothers and sisters.’

    C. Twelve tribes’ members live communally where their movement, thoughts and actions are monitored.
    8 Emotion control is also practiced within the communities, narrowing a person’s emotional responses. The gray areas of life are slowly eliminated, and everything progressively becomes black and white. This manipulation and narrowing of emotions occurs in three ways. ‚ÄìBob. Pardon NEIRR

    9. The Twelve Tribes Community practices brutal information control. Community members are not permitted to read newspapers, books or listen to the radio. This causes the individual member to become highly dependent on the group.

    10. The community claims a special exalted status for itself. “We are the light and the hope of the world. We are the only ones who can reclaim this earth for its Maker. We are the only ones whose lives of love and pure devotion, like a bride for her groom, can bring heaven to earth all other attempts to do so are not merely futile, they are evil..‚Äù

    11. Members are encouraged (strongly) to break ties with family and friends and society. The Community becomes a replacement family and society.
    Restricts the ability to leave the group.

  • Erin

    February 6, 2006, 4:06 pm

    I lived at several different Twelve Tribes communities over a ten year period. I can not recommend this life. Yes, it is beautiful and loving in many ways, especially to the newcomer. But, all that glitters is not gold. Under the surface, there is much saddness, and in general, the operation is one big workhouse. The emphasis is work. Work, work, work, and it’s their beliefs without any significant questioning of anything. Do what you’re told and get to work.

  • Nabashalam

    March 3, 2006, 12:40 pm

    Well, I was discussing this TT’s teaching with a Christian man, who happens to be the grandson of a freed slave, who later became a pastor. He quickly pointed me to the clearly gross error and misinterpretation of the supporting scriptures the TT’s use, which are the same ones as the slave owners of the old south used. I was very surprised that I hadn’t noticed this obvious and glaring error before. I also felt foolish that I missed it. IT IS SO OBVIOUS!

    Here it is:

    After Ham went in to Noah’s tent (when Noah was drunk) and saw his father’s nakedness, exposing Noah to shame, Noah sobered up the next day and pronounced a curse, BUT IT WASN’T ON HAM!!! IT WAS ON CANAAN!!!!

    The curse was not on Black people, because Canaan wasn’t black! Canaan was the father of the Canaanites (Amorites, Jebusites, etc.), whom Joshua had displaced fulfilling the curse, that Canaan would serve Shem (Israel).

    DOH! Cush, Ham’s OTHER SON was the one who settled in Ethiopia and is therefore considered to be the father of the black race, not Ham, whom the TT’s say is the father of black people, who are under the curse!! The curse was not on Cush or Ham but on Canaan!!

    SO…. This teaching is clearly errant and heretical (besides being downright racist), because it appeals to scripture that is simply read incorrectly! Hmmm… maybe someone should tell them this, because it is kind of an Emperor’s New Clothes type thing. They are so clearly wrong and need to know it. Does this mean that they can be wrong and fallible in their interpretations of other scriptures? YOU BET!

  • Chunky Monkey

    March 3, 2006, 5:45 pm

    The twelve tribes teachings web site has been resurrected! Finally the psychopathic narcissicist Elbert Eugene Spriggs will be exposed for the charlatan and rip off artist that he is. The address is

  • no name bob

    March 23, 2006, 5:22 am

    i live in island pond vt where there is a twelve tribes cult, I hear screams late at night about 12 – 1 in the morning, women screaming names of people, sometimes just screaming for as long as 15 minutes…like as if she was being tortured in a war prison camp i hate it here i will be moving soon

  • Nabashalam

    March 27, 2006, 8:38 am

    This article addresses the fact that “Yoneq” is not a linguist and his ability to interpret the Bible is the same as a plumber’s ability to set up nuclear fusion. He just has NO expertise in the original languages what-so-ever (other than the elusive “anointing”). Then he has the audacity to send people to the Lake of Fire for questioning his interpretations and credentials. A true Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    ‚ÄúThe things I want to speak to you about are things that have been misunderstood for at least 1900 years. That is because the Bible is written in a way that assumes you already know what it is talking about…But for 1900 years it has been misunderstood. The Apostles back then would travel from village to village, from house to house and teach these things verbally. and (sic) then they would write a letter and confirm some things they had already spoken about — they did not explain it all again in the letters because it was understood. But this understanding has been lost. People in Christianity do not have it. Peter said that in his letters some things are hard to understand by the untaught — they have been taught by the wrong people.‚Äù Elbert Spriggs, More On The First And Second Death, 11/19/89, p.21

    It must be stated in the very beginning of this section that we have never personally met with or spoken to “Yoneq,” Elbert Eugene Spriggs, Jr. This is not the result of lack of desire or effort on our part, and has been very disappointing to us. We have made repeated requests to meet with him. After all, he is the “apostle” of the group, and it is his own teachings that indicate what the group truly teaches and believes. This is also the first of any comprehensive analysis of The Twelve Tribes. It would seem that the “apostle” would find it important enough to meet with “these outsiders” to correct any misperceptions on their part. In a letter sent to Nicki Cruz by Eddie Wiseman (second in authority under Spriggs), dated 2/8/95, Mr. Wiseman writes:

    “In fact we tried on several occasions to get with you after my wife and I initially contacted you in Kansas City. We wanted to discuss who we are and what we believe with you but you didn’t seem to have time to meet with us. Elbert Spriggs and Jose Rodrigez came to one of your crusade meetings in south Florida to see you, but your schedule was too busy.”

    It is our feeling, also, that Mr. Spriggs has missed a golden opportunity to “set the record straight.”

    One question to ask in evaluating any group that claims to have the truth is, “Where does your authority come from?” This question may arise in regards to their rituals, practices, or beliefs that deviate from an historical, orthodox understanding of Scripture. To truly understand The Twelve Tribes “Yoneq,” Elbert Eugene Spriggs, founder and “apostle,” has to be understood in terms of the position, stature and authority he holds within the group. We were continuously told that he was only “one amongst many leaders” in the Tribes, however ex-members and hundreds of his own teachings (that are disseminated worldwide to all the Tribes) give a far different picture. These teachings are their “inner doctrine,” and are not for public consumption.2 No one else in the Tribes is able to give original teachings, the teachings of others are merely a rehash of what Spriggs has already taught. This is because it is believed that he is an “apostle” and has the authority similar to that of Paul. This divine authority is demonstrated by the fact that he has brought the Twelve Tribes into existence.3 There are other “apostolic workers” in the group but they clearly do not carry the same weight/authority that Spriggs does. The following quotes clearly reveal his position and authority. These are just a very few of the many that could be quoted. Taken in the total context of his teachings they create a very clear picture.

    Sole Leadership

    “Ha-Emeq (Marsha Spriggs Рrp): When Yoneq (Spriggs) was talking it reminded me of my first love, my first faith. I remembered how I came out of the world. There was no community like now. Just follow Yoneq.” Breaking of Bread, Sus, 2/24/90, p.5.

    ‚ÄúThe day when I heard that you would come in a few weeks, I was crying out so much. I didn‚Äôt know how to continue – I was really finished. But when we heard you were coming, that gave me strength to go on. I can‚Äôt wait until you arrive – I long for you so much…I appreciate you so much.‚Äù Letter to Yoneq and Ha-Emeq from Shua, (a member of The Twelve Tribes) 6/94.

    ‚ÄúMy three dear brothers and friends. I am writing this to you by way of commission by our apostle…I know that all of you there are filled with the life that Yoneq has lavished on you. We are beginning to have this life revive our faint and weakened souls as his coming has been a most waited for and treasured event.‚Äù Defensiveness, Letter Given to Three Brothers by an Unnamed Sister, undated, p.1.

    These are not private communications, but are disseminated to the teachers within The Twelve Tribes throughout all their locales.4 These statements are also very similar to those found in other groups like the International Churches of Christ (Boston Church of Christ).

    “Kip Mckean is the greatest living treasure that God has given the kingdom on the face of the earth today.” Sam Liang, Discipleship Magazine, 1988 Summer Quarter.

    “With eyes wide open I’m following Kip McKean; Consciously; Intentionally; Thankfully.” Steve Johnson, Discipleship Magazine, 3/86/89.

    Gene Edwards in his excellent little book, Letters to a Devastated Christian, speaks of evaluating a group by the “ten year test.” The question to ask is, “Just how many ex-elders are there?”

    ‚ÄúA man begins a movement. In some solemn ceremony, he ordains a group of elders and announces…these men have been chosen by God and appointed by God to have authority…a few years pass and some of these elders defy – or at least disagree with – the founder…The leader gets upset and announces that those who‚Äôve opposed him are…of the devil. He throws them out – or in some ugly scene – they leave.‚Äù Letters to a Devastated Christian, The SeedSowers, 1984, pp. 23-24.

    Of the original Elders/Leaders of the Twelve Tribes in Chattanooga, Tennessee, many have left in disgrace or been “cut off” from the group. This includes: James Howell, Larry and Maryann Davis, Michael Painter, Bill Tiller, Roger and JoEllen Griffin, Bill Hinchliff, Cliff Daniels, Ron and Jan Schneider, Mike and Debbie Paris. After the Community moved to Island Pond other very prominent members left: Bob and Susan Benoit, Dante and Janet Gargenese, Valerie Henderson, etc.

    Edwards goes on to state that it does not matter how many people come and go over the years. The issue is the manner of their leaving. Were they thrown out? Was it an ugly scene when they left? “Or did they encounter true Christian grace, understanding and love as they struggled through the question of whether or not to leave?” He then goes on to ask, “Of the many people who left, how many of them feel really comfortable in coming back to the group for a visit?”5 Out of the scores of ex-members we have become personally acquainted with, we have yet to meet one who would feel comfortable going back for a visit.

    Only His Teachings Disseminated

    “I (Yoneq) heard from Derush in Judah that as he was teaching about mercy from a teaching I taught here a few months ago, which Baherah had typed, up a young 18 year old woman began weeping and cried out for salvation.” The New Age Movement Philosophy, 2/22/93, Brazil.

    “Havah Р‘I want to share how thankful I am for the teachings (Spriggs’ interpretations Рrp).’” Authority 6, 9/26/90, p.10.

    “After this, Yoneq continued to feed the flock.” Ahavah 3, 9/13/89, p.2.

    As stated earlier, the Community leadership, less Spriggs, has denied many times that only he can bring teachings. However, in the hundreds and hundreds of teachings of the Tribes that we have read perhaps 3% are by others. Not one of these other teachings bring anything new to the “revelation” that Spriggs has already brought. A challenge to his understanding of Scripture by one of the others in leadership would not be tolerated.6

    It is easy to understand why his teachings are the final say in the Tribes. At an interview with the leadership in August of 1994, we were told that “he has the grace to bring light to the Scriptures.” This is meant to the exclusion of others. But this is not to say that others cannot have insight into Scripture. However, everything is measured by the “revelation” that Spriggs has uniquely brought, and this “revelation” cannot be countermanded.

    We were also told at this same meeting that Spriggs is able to ‚Äúextract truth from the Scripture without violating them.‚Äù However, as will be demonstrated in this section, Spriggs lacks the critical skills to justify the many doctrinal deviations he makes from the clear teaching of Scripture. This is not to say he is to be faulted because he does not have training in this area. But if an expositor of Scripture wishes to declare, ‚Äú…Greek scholars cannot read plain Greek in Col 2:17,‚Äù he best have very convincing arguments to demonstrate that such is the case.7 At the least he would need to be on a par with them in his own Greek competency!

    It was also reported to us in a phone interview with Larry Davis, an original member, that one of the factors that disillusioned him greatly was when he taught at their community in France a “teaching” that didn’t originate from Spriggs. When Spriggs heard about it he “was angry because this teaching didn’t come from the head.”8

    Holy Spirit Required to Understand Teachings.

    ‚ÄúThe Holy Spirit dwells in our heart by faith…only if the Spirit dwells in your HEART can you understand the teachings.‚Äù Ahavah, First Day Teaching, Sus, 4/23/89, p.9.

    Many ex-members told us they were frequently confused by Spriggs’ teachings. They just did not seem to make sense or were not consistent with previous teachings given by him.

    No One Can Speak Against God’s Anointed.

    ‚ÄùActs 3:19-23…In verse 22 when someone comes from Him there cannot be obstinance in anyone or the obstinant (sic) one will be cut off from the Holy Nation (Twelve Tribes -rp). So you can see, shortly people will be cut off if we are not in unity about the anointing.‚Äù Receiving the Anointing, 8/2/88, p.1.

    Spriggs is referring to himself in this teaching. It is clear that to be obstinate regarding the one who “comes from Him” is to risk excommunication from the Kingdom of God. This is very similar to statements that are frequently made by those in other highly controlling movements. The following are examples of such threats.

    “Several people I know have criticized. Some of them are dead right today in an early grave because of it and more than one of them got cancer.” Kenneth Copeland

    “I love Copeland. He’s my friend, and anyone who is attacking him is attacking the very presence of God.” Benny Hinn

    It was reported by every single ex-member with whom we spoke that one prominent female member of the Tribes had contracted uterine cancer and died. Apparently, about

    ten years earlier she had made a negative comment about Spriggs.9

    Spriggs Views Himself As An Apostle And Elijah

    “I must begin by saying that the only authority I have to be called an apostle is my fruit. Of course authority comes from God, but is recognized by men according to its fruit its praticality.” Apostolic Role, 1976 or 1977, p.1.

    “The test of an apostle is that he works to raise up others to be greater than himself.” Sent Ones, undated, p.1

    “This is why Elijah (in the context Spriggs is clearly referring to himself) must come to raise up the age old foundation, restore the Church to the Israel of YHWH. Matt. 17:11 The Roman, Greek, and Protestant are completely off the foundation of Messiah.” Apostasy, Apostate Israel Today, undated, p.2.

    These kind of claims have been repeated many times down through history. They are also similar to the statements of individuals like Kip McKean who “follows in the pattern of Paul,” and Carl Stevens of the Greater Grace World Outreach who is “God’s prophet for the east coast.”

    Receives Special Revelation

    “Yoneq expressed how there have been several things which our Father has spoken to him which have kept us on course.” Letter From Yoceph to Jonathan and Caleb, Sus France, 9/89, p.2.

    “This is a word to all true disciples. Our Father revealed to me that we were to observe the Sabbath Рthe day He made, not Sunday.” Observing the Sabbath, 4/30/94, p.1.

    There is no problem with God speaking to an individual. This is abundantly demonstrated in the Scriptures and down through history. There is a problem with God supposedly speaking to someone who leads a group that is almost entirely dependent upon him, and who teaches heresy. Please see Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and 18:20-22 and then turn to the section on theology.10

    Thus, when the Tribes state, ‚ÄúWe are not followers of any man…,‚Äù that is not entirely accurate.11 While members are very sincere and not attempting to mislead in this regard the reality is that Spriggs is God‚Äôs prophet for these end times, and is the only one preparing the ‚ÄúBride‚Äù so the heavenly ‚ÄúBridegroom‚Äù will be able to return.12

    It also appears that a two tiered system exists within the Tribes. Upon joining, the convert must divest himself of everything he owns. People literally own only the clothes upon their back and a few personal items. Everything else is held in common. Also, there are no televisions, books, magazines, newspapers, etc., and members are discouraged from using a Bible that has study notes or any other such helps.13 However, Spriggs when he travels takes many suitcases with nothing but books. He is described as being a “voracious reader,” and from his teachings it is evident that he uses commentaries and reads other books dealing with the Bible, books not readily available to the average member.

    As The Apostle, Spriggs Wields Vast Authority

    This is evident in the stories told us by ex-members and by written communications that are disseminated throughout the Tribes.

    ‚ÄúIt grieves me that I was not connected or attached to Yoneq…Dullness prompted me to call you, when Yoneq should have been the one I sought wisdom from…All this stuff about Ayal‚Äôs baptism came about without Yoneq‚Äôs approval or knowledge of what was happening!

    “Yoneq wants him to come to full repentance and be sorry for all he has done. I was working against this!

    “Ayal will be restored by a ruling government who are attached and connected to Yoneq.

    “I am a brother who was independent in my thinking and deeds. For weeks my heart has been grieved at my lack of loyalty to Yoneq.” Letter Sent to Deshe, 2/8/94, p.1.14

    This is an amazing admission to the authority and power that Spriggs exercises over the leadership in the Tribes. Continuosly (six times) the author berates and castigates himself for “independent thinking” and not being “attached to Yoneq,” not “seeking wisdom from Yoneq,” acting “without Yoneq’s approval,” “lack of loyalty to Yoneq,” etc.

    An ex-member also related to us an incident that occurred in Island Pond, Vermont. Apparently, the Elders in Island Pond decided to send a family that was living in their Community to another Community in Nova Scotia. This had been discussed between the Elders in both Tribes and agreed upon. Yoneq found out about it and rebuked the Elders in Island Pond. They had sent someone to “another tribe” and that was wrong even though both tribes agreed.

    Use Of Scripture — Misleading Methods

    The Twelve Tribes believes the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant Word of God. In that position it stands with historic Christianity. However, that being said, the method of interpretation utilized by Spriggs is fundamentally flawed. He seems to work backwards from his theological position to the Bible in order to prove a point of doctrine. He believes that agreement with the historic Creeds “is not proof of sound doctrine,” and that “the acid test for detecting orthodoxy is: Is it producing love?”15 Certainly precise agreement with the historic Creeds is not the ultimate standard whereby doctrinal purity is measured. The Creeds were not inspired, only God’s word is. However, one would be hard pressed to find a better or more concise statement of what the Bible teaches. What is extremely problematic is the standard of “love“ being elevated to the place where it determines doctrinal soundness. Biblical love is the hall mark of a truly vibrant Christian witness, however, love is always the handmaiden of sound doctrine and not the other way around.

    Therefore, proper principles of Biblical interpretation are critical in this subjective age in which we live.16 From the time of Paul the Church has been exhorted to “rightly divide the Word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15). The implication is that there is a wrong way to divide the Word of truth.17 Those involved in Biblical interpretation, or the interpretation of any other ancient document, generally employ three approaches to understand the author’s intent. These are the grammatical, the historical, and the theological approach.18 These approaches are absent from the Tribes’ (Spriggs) interpretation of Scripture, partly because no one understands the Biblical languages, and partly because the historical context is neglected or distorted. It appears that his scholarship is built upon the desire to find Biblical permission for what he has already planned to do. As has been aptly stated, “When all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.” Because Spriggs so desperately seeks justification for his heterodox teachings he is forced to filter out all Biblical evidence to the contrary. The result is Biblical confusion and gross perversion of God’s word. In the height of irony Spriggs underscores the importance of “rightly dividing” the Scriptures when he writes,

    “Rev. 22:18 Р‘if (sic) any adds to the word of the prophecy of this book, God shall add to him the plagues of this book, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and the Holy City which are written in this book.’ That is a solemn warning for everyone Рfor me too, if I deceive or am in such a state that I am being deceived.” First Day Teaching, Sus, 4/15/90, Members of Messiah, p.15.

    Spriggs’ errors of Biblical interpretation generally fall into four categories.

    1. Misunderstands Cultural/Historical Context

    “When the sun goes down, the Sabbath ends and the first day begins. It is obvious that Christianity has the wrong person (who died on Friday and rose on Sunday). But the real Savior spent three days and three nights in death (not one and a half).” Evening Sacrifice, 112/12/92, Brazil, Out of His Side, p.3.

    The Jews like many cultures, ours included, often used a figure of speech called synecdoche, where a part is spoken of as the whole. Jesus was in the grave part of Friday, all day Saturday, and then rose on Sunday morning. Thus, to Jewish reckoning He was in the grave three days.

    “2 Peter 3:14 РBe diligent to be found by Him to be without spot or blemish, having PEACE (SHALOM Рthey didn’t speak Greek back then, they hated it).” Sabbat Morning, Boston, A Seed Preserved/Serene Confidence/Peacemakers, p.2.

    Peter was a fisherman on the sea of Galilee. Galilee was a Gentile stronghold in Jesus day. It is unimaginable to think that Peter did not speak Greek in addition to his native tongue, Aramaic.19 Greek was the lingua franca of the times, and many, many people were bilingual in that culture.

    2. Misunderstands Greek

    “Matthew 5:17-19 The Law won’t pass away till the world’s (sic) pass away so they can become eternal and inhabitable. If the Sabbaths, new moons, and festivals are shadows of things to come, (In the Greek of Col. 2:17 it is ‘are a shadow’) where does the light come from? It is obvious anyone who had a hand in mistranslating this verse is going to the second death.” For This Cause, Part II, 6/19/90, p.15.

    “Weymouth and the rest of the Greek scholars cannot read plain Greek in Col 2:17. They fabricate the word ‘were’ in place of the ‘word’ are.” Redemption, undated, p.13.

    The arrogance of this second quote is amazing. Weymouth was a classical scholar of the last century and understood Greek fluently. Greek scholars understand that when Paul writes “is a shadow” this is a doctrinal statement. Such doctrinal statements are often timeless and appear in the present tense, which simply states a fact without any concern for time.20

    3. Changes Words

    “There is only one true Messiah and He is raising up the tribes of Israel. ‘I will build My community and the gates of hell will not prevail over my community Рwho stays in communion with one another and with Me.’” Evening Sacrifice, 12/12/92, Out of His Side, p.3.

    Unless Spriggs is speaking prophetically this is a partial quote of Matthew 16:18. Matthew writes ekklesia, which is literally “called out ones,” almost exclusively translated as church. The word community is inappropriate and misleading in this context, although that term fits the theology of The Twelve Tribes. This will be explored later in the theology part of the paper.

    4. Fanciful Interpretations

    “The steward in Luke 16:9 cut the bills of his Master’s debtors in half in order to have somewhere to live. He acted shrewdly. Our Master said, ‘therefore’ (in relationship to the context) make friends for yourself with all the money you have made in the world so that when it fails you may have an eternal dwelling. If you give it away to your parents or your ungodly friends, you are making homes for yourself with them. Submit it to the apostles feet who would do, with mercy and compassion, the righteous thing with that money.” First Day Teaching, Sus, 7/9/89, Matt “Be on the Alert,” p.5.

    This is a very interesting interpretation of this passage, and is pure eisegesis by Spriggs. It is unhinged from what Jesus was speaking to His disciples. The simplest explanation of such a parable is that Jesus was employing it to describe a worldly astuteness, and to teach a lesson on spiritual prudence. As in many parables, the details are often the “furniture” of the story and are of no intrinsic importance. All Jesus did here was use the wicked steward’s foresight and promptitude, evil as they were, to illustrate qualities that have an important place in the life of a true disciple. It is absurd to squeeze from this that a true disciple is to give all his worldly possessions to the apostles and not one’s parents or “ungodly friends.”

    Another very fanciful interpretation is Spriggs explanation of the fall of Adam and Eve. This is without any Scriptural support but does buttress the theology of the Twelve Tribes.


    ‚ÄúWoman can appreciate man for not leaving her alone to die but eating the fruit and choosing to die with her…Adam chose to eat the fruit knowing that he could not nullify Eve‚Äôs act…seeing that he, her covering, had explained in detail to her all that God had told him, Gen. 2:15-17…If he had been negligent to tell her, the blood would have been on his hands. But he was a good covering…Adam could not nullify Eve‚Äôs act because she vowed with him to be obedient. Adam had only one recourse. He loved his wife, they were one flesh. He was so thankful to our Father for her. He loved her….He entered into death with her to lead her until Yahshua could bring restoration. Adam wasn‚Äôt accusing Eve in Gen 3:13 (sic, v.12).‚Äù Headcover, undated, p.9.

    Inaccurate Historical Statements

    Spriggs also makes many inaccurate historical statements to support his position. Classic among these are his statements about how Sunday replaced the Sabbath (Saturday) as the day of worship in the early Church.

    “The Sabbath has not passed away. The Catholic Church and all her daughters have changed the Sabbath to Sunday in 336 A.D. at the council of Laodicea.” More on First and Second Death, 11/19/95, p.11.

    “In 334 A.D. the council at Laodicea removed the sign (speaking of the Sabbath Рrp).” Redemption, undated, p.15.

    ‚ÄúWe see so many things that Constantine put in. 100 years after Revelations (sic) declared the Laodiceans lukewarm a council there declared there would be no more 7th Day Sabbath…If you don‚Äôt keep the Sabbath you die, whether anyone knows it or not.‚Äù Who We Are, 10/3/89, p.8.

    First, there is a discrepancy with the dates given for the Council at Laodicea, and it is more properly called a Synod. Also, there were seven great ecumenical councils in the early Church.21 Laodicea was not one of them. There most likely was a regional council at Laodicea but historians are unclear about this. The one that is at times alluded to probably occurred around 363 A.D.. However, leeway can be given for anywhere between 343 A.D. Р381 A.D.. Regardless, it most likely occurred decades after Spriggs date and certainly was not called by Constantine. In fairness, Spriggs is probably confused with some of the edicts of Constantine around the year 325 AD. Sunday was set aside for part of the empire as a day of rest in deference to the Christians, and his new found Christian faith. He did not legislate something that Christians were not already observing. The early Church father’s writings are replete with references to Sunday, the Lord’s Day.

    The Bible and Extra-Biblical Writings

    Spriggs will also use the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha in the same capacity as Scripture to support his doctrines.

    “Extra Biblical writings can be useful to those who have a safe spirit (e.g. gospel of Thomas, Testimonies of the 12 Patriarchs). Paul in his day ‘added’ to the O.T. speaking prophetically, so it is today.” Pray Lifting Up Holy Hands Without Wrath and Dissension, 6/5/88, p.1.

    “The Gospel of Thomas which was found in Egypt not too long ago said, ‘He who is nearest to me is nearest to the fire.’ Fire is for purification.

    So we see the meaning of baptism here.” Reasoning 2, 10/19/90, p.5.

    “In the quote from the book of Maccabees it was THE PRIESTHOOD who became completely defiled by sports. (2Mac. 4:14) Though they may have been late for everything else, “at the stroke of the gong, they would hurry to the games”. The Dangers of Sports, 1/95, p.1.22

    What is also very disturbing is how Spriggs’ own teachings are give a place of equal divine authority with the Bible. This is true of the Freepapers as well.

    “The teachings (Spriggs’ teachings to the Tribes Рrp) kill us. The Bible Рthe Word of God kills our flesh. It requires our death.” Ahavah 2, The Work of Faith, The Labor of Love and the Perseverance of Hope, Tabitha’s Place, 9/6/89, p.7.

    ‚ÄúThese Freepapers are eternal life – the Word of God…How much time do you think you can devote to this paper every day with your busy schedule…? 20 seconds? Maybe some people could build up to a minute a day – that‚Äôs 60 seconds…See if you can and watch what happens to your life! I‚Äôm saying this because some people don‚Äôt read it at all, then they claim to have eternal life – Impossible!

    ‚Äú…I‚Äôm talking about this because I want you to know how great a sin it is if you don‚Äôt read them yourself. Don‚Äôt even imagine that you are saved and have eternal life..‚Äù Reading Our Freepapers, 7/13/94, pp.1-2.23

    It would seem fair to deduce that Elbert Eugene Spriggs, “Yoneq,” has an unequaled place of authority and influence within The Twelve Tribes. His unquestioned and unchallenged interpretation of Scripture, his equating his own writings with the Bible, his position as the “apostle” in the group, allows him to come across with teachings and pronouncements that are no less weighty than the Bible’s, “Thus saith the Lord.” The rest of this paper will develop the tragic impact this has had on the lives of thousands of people. It is a very dangerous practice to delegate to any human being a “direct pipeline to God,” with no real accountability.

    1The Tribes complained that part of this quote was missing and that it changed substantially what was being communicated. It is true that the quote is more narrow in its application, for Spriggs was specifically talking about a point in the Book of Revelation. However, the quote overall stands as a prime example of the Tribes’ approach towards the Bible, Spriggs, and the Early Church. It is explicitly taught that for 1,900 years there was no true Church on the face of the earth until The Twelve Tribes began. The Bible is also intended, by God’s design, to be misunderstood by unbelievers unless you are under the “anointing” (The Twelve Tribes). Also, so many of the Tribes’ arguments for their position are “arguments from silence,” which is the point of this quote. “Arguments form silence” are also used to justify other major doctrines: the giving away of all one’s possessions, the story of Adam and Eve’s fall, living in community as a perpetual concept, etc.

    2 Groups frequently have what is understood to be “inner” and “outer” doctrine.” Outer doctrine is for public consumption and in The Twelve Tribes this includes their Freepapers, booklets written by them, letters to the press, etc. Their inner doctrine is the teachings of their founder Elbert Eugene Spriggs (Yoneq). These are not necessarily in contradiction with one another, however, the teachings do reveal a picture of the power Spriggs exercises in the Tribes that is never evident in the Freepapers. We were able to get these teachings from numerous ex-members and two members in the group. The group’s leadership would not give us these teachings, although we asked on numerous occasions. Their contention was that they would only be misunderstand by outsiders who are not under the “anointing.” These “teachings” with their titles are extensively quoted throughout this paper, and are available for inspection.

    As an aside, our initial response to the Tribes was very favorable. It was not until we were able to secure the bulk of their teachings that we became progressively troubled. They evidence a litany of destructive control on the part of Spriggs that is almost unparalleled in our experience. This control is not administered with an iron fist, but rather with a velvet glove. Thus, it is more insidious and difficult to identify, particularly by those under its sway.

    At our final meeting with their top leadership we mentioned to them that as far as public relations were concerned “these ‘teachings’ were their worst nightmare.”

    3 In 1978 the Chattanooga Times reports that Eddie Wiseman referred to Gene Spriggs as a ‚Äúgift from God,‚Äù and that ‚Äúupon him…the church is built.‚Äù Chattanooga Times, 1/10/78.

    4 The Tribes disputes this assertion in their Critique of this paper, however, we have since come into possession of a 1,000 more of Spriggs’ teachings that are filled with statements that demonstrate this contention. It would be good to hear from the Tribes why they feel it necessary to distribute “teachings” of these kind that glorify Spriggs. It has also been our understanding from conversations with members, family of current members, ex-members, and others that Spriggs carries an unrivaled, exalted position with the Twelve Tribes.

    5 Letters to a Devastated Christian, Gene Edwards, The SeedSowers, 1984, p.25.

    6 The Tribes wrote in their Critique of this section of the Analysis: “What is the Scriptural authority for this business of challenging one another? Is it supposed to be tolerated? Is disagreement among leaders regarding their interpretation of the Word some sort of proof of orthodoxy? The apostle Paul wrote, ‘Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another’ (Gal 5:26). He also wrote that ‘the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets’ (I Cor 14:32). It is a matter of attitude and motive. We do not challenge one another, but we do submit to one another out of reverence for Messiah (Eph 5:21).” Obviously, the Tribes takes issue with the word challenge. Thus, Spriggs, cannot be “challenged” regarding his interpretation of Scripture. However, he can and should be “submitted” to.

    7 Redemption, undated, p.13.

    8 This conversation occurred on March 27, 1995 and we found Mr. Davis to be a very humble Christian with no animosity towards the Tribes, and great insight into them. Mr Davis left in 1983 and has since been vilified by Spriggs in later teachings, ‚ÄúLarry Davis left of his own accord because he didn‚Äôt get the recognition he wanted…So he received a spirit that said ,‚Äôyou (sic) need to be exalted in the Body.‚Äô He was lifted up in pride – Satan‚Äôs sin.‚Äù First Day Teaching, Sus, 4/15/90, p.17. In a very insightful statement, Davis told Spriggs at the time of his confrontation, ‚ÄúWe are growing hydroponic Christians here. They can only survive in the artificial environment of the Community, not outside in the world.‚Äù

    In the Tribes’ Critique of this section of the Analysis they supplied a letter written by Davis, shortly before his departure, to another member of the Tribes. In that letter, Davis bemoans his lack of spirituality and that the Holy Spirit had never regenerated him in the Church. These kind of letters are common when a person, torn about their allegiance to a group, are on the verge of leaving. They reflect more the inner turmoil of the person’s emotional state, and are as much an attempt to convince their own self as they are a confession of their true inner condition. Once the person has left the group, and is no longer under the intense pressure and scrutiny to conform, such letters are rarely written, and often regretted if were.

    9 This sad event happened to Mary Wiseman, the first wife of Eddie Wiseman (‚ÄúHakam‚Äù), an apostolic worker and chief lieutenant of Spriggs. Eddie is an extremely sensitive and caring man. This whole event must have been devastating to him. Mary, in every instance, was spoken of with great love and respect and greatly influenced many members for good over the years. She and her husband tried many homeopathic therapies to treat her cancer, even laetrile brought back from Texas, but all with little to no effect. Shortly before she died a long prayer meeting was held that began above their Common Sense Restaurant and ended at Mary‚Äôs house, the Maples. This prayer meeting was intense with a great amount of singing and pleading before God on Mary‚Äôs behalf. ‚ÄúHuldah the Prophetess‚Äù even prophesied that ‚ÄúGod had healed Mary.‚Äù Three or four days later she died. This created huge problems in the Tribes because Mary had been pronounced healed and was such a high ranking, beloved member. Why would God allow her to die? It was stated at an elders meeting that the ‚ÄúGospel was on trial.‚Äù Either there was something wrong in Mary‚Äôs life that brought her to this premature end, despite the prayers of the believers, or, the Tribes were wrong. A short while later, after Mary‚Äôs funeral, one of the largest meetings ever held in the Tribes occurred and lasted into the early hours of the morning. Hundreds of people attended, many from their other communities. It was then revealed by a Tribes member that she remembered standing in a kitchen, talking with Mary, years earlier. Some remarks were made about what a great person Spriggs was to which Mary commented, ‚ÄúYou don‚Äôt know Yoneq. He can really have anger.‚Äù Her husband, Eddie, also confessed that years earlier, when they had first moved to Island Pond, Vermont, Mary had tried to leave with their two boys, Luke and Nathan. He prevented her from going and confessed that his actions were a mistake. He should have let her leave because she demonstrated, by trying to leave, that she was no longer his wife. It was then stated that Mary had died for three reasons: she had a ‚Äúspirit of her children‚Äù ( she was more committed to her children than she was to the Tribes), she had twice tried to leave (and thus demonstrated that her commitment to Yashua and the ‚Äúanointing‚Äù was weak), and she had ‚Äúspoken out against the anointed‚Äù –Spriggs (this was her most grievous error). Spriggs was at this meeting and said nothing in protest. Indeed, it was explicitly stated that Mary had contracted uterine cancer because she had a ‚Äúspirit of her children.‚Äù He condoned this line of reasoning by what he taught at the time, and how he directed the meeting. Mary had become the sacrificial lamb. But equally devastating was that Mary‚Äôs children were there and heard these things spoken about their mother. The magnitude of this whole sad event demonstrates the extremes to which Spriggs has allowed the importance of his own person and position to be taken. Even the second-in-command‚Äôs wife‚Äôs godly character can be destroyed.

    Mr. Wiseman, in their Critique of this Analysis, was understandably very disturbed that we included this account of his deceased wife‚Äôs last days. He claims that this was ‚Äúoffensive, vicious‚Äù and ‚Äú…that academic researchers warn and caution…of the unreliability of ex-members‚Äô accounts.‚Äù Since receiving their Critique we have come into possession of the Apostolic Workers notes and Body Meeting notes from around the time of Mary‚Äôs death. They reveal far more clearly the tragedy of that time and the systematic decimation of Mary‚Äôs character. She had spoken against the ‚Äúanointed‚Äù more than a decade earlier, and had tried to leave twice. And even though she could not remember the complaint against Spriggs‚Äô abuse of authority, God did. Her disease was the consequence of not initiating a proper repentance when she had the opportunity. This account of Mary‚Äôs death was also revealed to use by many ex-members and one current member.

    10 The Tribes in their Critique responded thusly to this section of the Analysis. “Since Mr. Pardon is so keen on understanding the historical context of Scriptures, let him answer this question: who would the hearer of Moses’ words think was leading the people astray after other gods, one who told them to observe the Sabbath or to observe the day of ‘the invincible Sun,’ the Dies Solis of the Roman empire which honored the solar deity?” As is usual, in much of their Critique they do not deal with the real issue, which is Spriggs receiving special revelation. The implication is that he does receive it and propounds it in his teachings.

    11 What We Believe, undated, p.4.

    12 Again the Tribes in their Critique attempts to downplay the authority of Spriggs by asserting that it is the whole Body that prepares itself for Messiah to return. However, it is only Spriggs that has called the “true” Body into existence after 1,900 years, only Spriggs teachings that are disseminated, and only Spriggs who functions in the role of Elijah. Our point stands as is.

    13 I was personally told by David Jones (Yonah) that Bibles with study notes kept a person from hearing from the Holy Spirit as they read the Scriptures. This was because they were hearing the opinions of another man. However, it does not seem to dawn on members of the Tribes that in listening to only the opinions of Spriggs they are in effect in the same bind as the person with his Bible with study notes. Their defense would be that Spriggs has the ability /anointing to understand the true word of God.

    14 This quote is amazingly similar to statements found in the Jehovah‚Äôs Witnesses, only there the locus of God‚Äôs anointing is not a single person but the Governing Body, a small group of men. ‚ÄúYet there are some who point out that the organization has had to make adjustments before, and so they argue: ‚ÄòThis shows that we have to make up our mind what to believe.‚Äô This is independent thinking! Why is this so dangerous? Such thinking is evidence of pride. And the Bible says: ‚ÄòPride is before a crash…‚Äô If we get to thinking that we know better than the organization, we should ask ourselves: ‚ÄòWhere did we learn Bible truth in the first place? Would we know the truth if it had not been for the guidance from the organization? Could we get along without the direction of God‚Äôs organization?‚Äô No, we cannot.‚Äù Watchtower, 1/15/83, p.27.

    15 Apostolic Role, 1976 or 1977, p.2.

    16 In a Chattanooga Times article, 1/19/78, written by Alan Murray, he asks the question of the Vine Church (Twelve Tribes) how they can be sure their interpretation of Scripture is the correct one. Eddie Wiseman responds, “By the fruit of our efforts. We know that we have passed out of death into life because we love our brethren. The life is what gives us credibility, not just the doctrine.” This is very reminiscent of our meetings with Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon’s and Baha’is who have all stated to us that the “proof” of their interpretation of Scripture is in their “fruit.” “See how we love one another! See how we have grown! Look at our lifestyle!” are the things that we continuously hear. They ask, “Isn’t it obvious that God is with us and blessing us?” Each of these groups believes that there particular _expression has given them a real corner on the truth of Scripture, and all the other groups are wrong.

    17 Leaders of heretical groups often have an exalted sense of their own unique ability to understand Scripture, and recapture what has been ‚Äúlost‚Äù from Scripture, in a way that nobody has ever been able to. ‚ÄúNeither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness…because the plain and most precious parts of the Gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by the abominable Church…‚Äù Book of Mormon, I Nephi 13:32 . ‚ÄúThe desire to compel all men to think alike on all subjects, culminated in the great apostasy…the one faith that Paul and the other apostles set forth, was lost – buried under the mass of uninspired decrees of popes and councils‚Äù Charles Taze Russell, Watchtower. ‚ÄúChristianity has mistranslated the scriptures. A spirit caused them to purposely distort the bibles according to their beliefs. Every study bible, every translation of the bible has a different diversification behind it…‚Äù E. Spriggs, Ahavah, First Day Teaching, Sus, 4/23/89, p.8.

    18 The grammatical approach looks at the meaning of words in their original language, and their etymology. It also takes into consideration their usage at the time the document was written. Then the words need to be considered in their connection with one another. This will deal with such things as their metaphorical and figurative meaning.

    The historical approach assumes that the Word of God originated in an historical context, and can best be understood in light of that history. This involves considering the personal, social and religious characteristics of the author, the circumstances peculiar to his time, and the original recipients of the letter.

    The theological approach (this pertains only to Biblical interpretation) takes into consideration that the Bible is the Word of God; that it stands as an organic whole and is to be understood within that context; that the Old and New Testament are best understood as type and anti-type; and that not only the clear statements of Scripture comprise its message, but also those that may be deduced from it by employing these methods. See L. Berkhof’s, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, Baker Book House, 1950.

    19 The Way International also tries to prove that the Gospels were written in Aramaic as a justification for many of their doctrines. Spriggs attempts to do the same kind of thing in stating that the Messiah would never have been called Jesus, because that is a Greek name, or that none of the disciples would ever speak Greek. However, we possess the New Testament only in Greek in its earliest manuscripts. No Aramaic originals are extant. All the earliest New Testament manuscripts that have been recovered (and they number in the 1,000’s) are in Greek, not Aramaic.

    20 Rev. 13:8 is an even clearer example of this disregard for time. Jesus is the Lamb that is “slain before the creation of the world.” John 1:29 is a similar example of this kind of statement. Jesus “takes away the sin of the world.” “Takes” is a present active participle. Yet in space and time this event had not yet occurred. Paul has many examples of this in his writings.

    21 Only the great ecumenical councils carried the authority to influence the whole Church. These councils were: Nicea, 325 AD; Constantinople, 381 AD; Ephesus, 431 AD; Chalcedon, 451 AD; Constantinople, 553 AD; Constantinople, 680-681 AD; Nicea, 787 AD.

    22 As an aside, this comes from a very interesting teaching that equates the playing of “sports” with setting up a “high place” in one’s heart. This “high place” is an idol that now takes the place of God. “False Prophets encourage them (people in The Twelve Tribes Рrp) to play sports. False leaders lead the saints into sin by playing.”

    23 The Tribes refers to this assertion in our Analysis as being ‚Äúsensationalistic‚Äù and without any merit on such ‚Äúscanty evidence.‚Äù They then assert five things in their defense. First, the initial quote deals with the Biblical demand to die to selfishness (which does not deal with the obvious parallel between Spriggs‚Äô teachings and the Bible). Their second and fourth objections emphasize that there are abundant Biblical citations in both articles quoted in the Analysis. Building on this, their third objection makes it very clear that anyone reading the two articles would not be ‚Äúconfused as to which was which‚Äù (which was Scripture and which was Freepaper). Their fifth objection demonstrates our point, ‚Äú…we have no qualms about saying that our literature would be words of eternal life to a lost person, and that for one of us to give out a Freepaper without reading it would not only be hypocritical, but would also exhibit a sinful indifference to God‚Äôs Word.‚Äù However, this is not what Spriggs states. He says the Freepapers are ‚Äúthe Word of God,‚Äù not that they contain the message of eternal life for a ‚Äúlost person.‚Äù Also, this teaching was not given to ‚Äúlost persons.‚Äù It was given to ‚Äúbelievers‚Äù in the Tribes who were told that if they did not read the Freepapers to ‚Äú..not even imagine that you are saved and have eternal life.‚Äù This is all too reminiscent of a quote by Charles Taze Russell of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, ‚ÄúFurthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the Scripture Studies aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten years–if he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the Scripture Studies with their references, and had not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light in two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures.”

    Our point is simply that Spriggs teachings, reflected in the Freepapers, is elevated to Biblical status.

  • The Doubter

    March 27, 2006, 9:42 am

    The Food Co-Op and the Hate Group
    Published in Artvoice Magazine on October 20, 2005. Written by Michael Niman.

    It seems wholesome enough, looking at the loaves of fresh locally baked organic whole grain bread lined up at the Lexington Food Co-op ‚Äì each one bearing the homey label of Hamburg’s Common Ground Bakery. An actual visit to the bakery reinforces this bucolic image. There you’ll find a small shop with smiling friendly bakers and the lofting aroma of fresh bread. What’s not readily apparent is that shoppers on four continents are simultaneously walking into Common Ground Bakeries and experiencing the same illusion of a small independent community bake shop. In actuality, however, what they’re walking into is the local franchise of a growing multinational organization, The Twelve Tribes, dedicated to spreading a reactionary racist, anti-Semitic, sexist homophobic ideology.

    The press started paying attention to Twelve Tribes around five years ago when their Common Ground bakeries entered into the concert/events catering business, showing up at music festivals in Europe and Australia as well as stateside venues such as Buffalo’s Elmwood Festival of the Arts (where they were subsequently banned). Along with their tasty snacks and sandwiches, came leaflets, booklets and a recruiting spiel.

    At Britain’s Glastonbury Festival in 2000, they caught the attention of The Guardian after disseminating pamphlets describing Jews as a “cursed” people, and magazines arguing in favor of racial segregation. A year later at Australia’s Woodford festival, Australia’s Courier Mail cited the group’s reclusive leader, Elbert Eugene Spriggs, as claiming “It is horrible that someone would rise up to abolish slavery‚Äîwhat a wonderful opportunity that blacks could be brought over here [the U.S.] as slaves.”

    The Boston Herald reports that the group teaches their home schooled children a doctrine of white racial superiority. They go on to cite Spriggs, who argues that submission to whites “is the only provision by which [blacks] will be saved,” and that the civil rights movement brought “disorder to the established social order.” Spriggs defends slavery as the natural order, explaining that “if the slaves were mistreated it was the fault of the slaves.” The antebellum south, he argues, maintained a proper social order‚Äîwhere black slaves “had respect for people. They got along well because they were submissive.”

    The Twelve Tribes follow up Spriggs’ quotes by advocating for racial segregation both in their publications and on their website. In a piece entitled “Multicultural Madness,” for example, they tell the story of a “rich young yuppie” living in an integrated neighborhood. “From one side of his house,” they write, “comes the throbbing bass of his neighbor’s stereo as they gather out back for some reggae.” On the other side, the mud people are “laughing raucously over the grating syncopation of something called rap” [italics in original]. The piece goes on to explain, “Let’s face it. It is just not reasonable to expect people to live contentedly alongside of others who are culturally and racially different. This is unnatural.” People, they explain, have an “instinctive desire to live with those of like mind, to congregate in neighborhoods with those of the same race and ethnic origin.” This, they claim, is because we have a “natural loathing of perverse and immoral people.”

    The group, however, still purports not to be racist, arguing that segregation is part of God’s natural order, in essence blasphemously passing the racist ball to God. They’re not racist, you see, they just worship a racist god. Whenever communities question Twelve Tribes businesses about racism, the group parades John Stringer, an African-American, to personally counter the charges. Stringer, who they shuffle from city to city and pimp on their website, argues that “our race is becoming increasingly known for its self-destructive behavior.” According to Stringer, blacks are responsible for their history of subjection. “The only way to save our race,” he explains, “is that we would submit to reason and responsibility, just as all the other minorities who are thriving.” This simplistic and ahistorical rationale fits right in with the enlightened racism often espoused in liberal circles, while obfuscating persistent institutional racism and supporting racist stereotypes. This is obvious to people who actually listen to Stringer, instead of just looking at him. In actuality, Stringer needed to submit to more than “reason” and “responsibility.” The Boston Herald again cites Twelve Tribes leader Elbert Spriggs, who explains that blacks “must come to [the Twelve Tribes] with the attitude to be a servant.”

    Twelve Tribes members, sort of like wiggers, dismiss charges of racism, explaining that they can’t possibly be racist since they sing black spiritual songs in their homes. Likewise, the group claims that charges of anti-Sem itism are also false, because they sing Israeli folk songs, give themselves Hebrew names, and have a purported Jewish person traveling the country saying so. Their Jew, Shalom Israel, as it turns out, isn’t Jewish.

    All Jews, they argue, are born “cursed.” According to the group, Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus and hence “called down the guilt of his murder on themselves and their children.” They argue away the fact that today’s Christianity and Islam both descend from the Judaism of Christ’s time, explaining that the curse of the Jews is cancelled by renouncing one’s Jewishness. “For Jews who follow our master, however,” they write, “these curses are removed.” This, they argue, is why they aren’t anti-Semitic‚Äîbecause they will help any Jew who is willing to renounce their culture, history and beliefs. If the Jew ceases to be a Jew, they are welcome among the Twelve Tribes. Likewise, African-Americans willing to blame themselves for their own historic oppression are also welcome among the Twelve Tribes.

    While individual blacks and Jews can earn the right to work wage-free in a Common Ground bakery by renouncing their people and struggles, women have no such option. They will always be women, who, according to the Twelve Tribes, were created solely “to be a friend and a helper for man.” Sort of like a dog. They explain that women have two basic purposes: “to be a wife and a mother.” As a mother, a woman is supposed to raise her children as directed “according to her husband’s heart.” Any additional or alternative life goals, or failure to “submit” to a husband’s “loving” demands, goes against “God’s proper order.”

    They lament that, “Sadly enough today though, many women strive to be something ‘better.'” “Woman,” they explain, “is not meant to rule over man.” Hence, according to the group’s website, “they strive to be what they are not. They want careers, or money, or whatever they think will give them identity and fulfillment‚Ķ” A true woman, however, they argue, “doesn’t need to become ‘greater’ than she was created to be.” Interestingly enough, one of the things it seems the Twelve Tribes believe that women were created to do, is bake bread for long hours without receiving a paycheck. This natural order seems to have bestowed upon the Twelve Tribes a competitive advantage over other organic whole grain bakeries who still have to dole out Caesar’s image to their heathen workforces.

    Child Abuse
    The Twelve Tribes has come under repeated fire for child labor violations in many of their factories and businesses. In one celebrated case, their Common Sense Natural Soap & Body Care division lost a lucrative contract manufacturing Estee Lauder’s Origins line after Estee Lauder found children working in their factory. The Twelve Tribes call the charges “false, unfounded and slanderous,” claiming the 14 year old boys were simply helping their fathers at work. In similar incidents, the New York Department of Labor busted the group for using child labor in a Palenville candle factory and the Sundance mail order catalog cancelled a contract with the group’s Common Sense Furniture division after the Coxsackie, New York furniture factory became the subject of a child labor controversy.

    The Twelve Tribes claim that it is beneficial for children to help their parents work instead of, they explain, “wasting their free time on empty amusements and dissipation, which leads only to bad behavior.” The group seems obsessed with “bad behavior,” writing off entire “countries like Scandinavia” [sic] as plagued with the malady. Their response to bad behavior on the part of their children, however they define it, is for the adults to indulge themselves in bad behavior of their own, whipping kids with a reed-tipped device they call “the rod.” On their website they explain that “To discipline your children is tantamount to loving them‚Ķit shows the child they are loved and cared about.”

    Children who have escaped from Twelve Tribes compounds, along with adult ex-members, talk of abuse, not love. Noah Jones, for example, left the group’s flagship compound in Island Pond Vermont at the age of 22. In an interview with Burlington’s ABC TV affiliate (WVNY), Jones claimed “They spanked me from my feet to my neck, all the way. I was black and blue, basically head to toe.” He recalls being beaten with the rod and locked in basements as a child and later, when he got older, he says he was beaten with a two-by-four.

    Jones was ushered to freedom by a sort of underground railroad that, according to WVNY, has “helped dozens of teenagers and children” to escape Twelve Tribes abuse. One of the ‘conductors,’ speaking to WVNY, explained “The anger of these kids coming out is amazing. They’ve been hit by so many people that they can’t even count ‚Ķ”

    Zeb Wiseman, another escapee, told The Boston Herald that when his mother received no medical care when was sick with cancer. When she subsequently died, they told him his mother’s death was an example of how God punishes sinners. Wiseman claims that he was then shuffled between Twelve Tribes communities and beaten daily from the time he was five until he was fifteen. Among his sins, according to Wiseman, was listening to “outside music.” He also claims that his schooling stopped when he was 13 and that he began working when he was ten years old. As a rule, Twelve Tribes children do not receive high school diplomas, and they are forbidden to apply for GED degrees or to attend college. This lack of education hinders escapees in their search for work. Essentially, the organization is breeding its own free labor force.

    The Guardian quotes a 24-year old Jewish woman attending the Glastonbury Music Festival as being “shocked on two counts.” “First,” she explained, she was shocked “that they [Common Ground] were there at all, and secondly, that no one else seemed to care.” It’s this apathy‚Äîthis gross willingness to silently acquiesce to the presence of a hate group, that is truly appalling. But it’s also enlightening.

    The Twelve Tribes is building its empire by feeding on the resources of some of the world’s most progressive communities, specifically because they are also apathetic and self-indulgent enough to support even those organizations who are ideologically opposed to their very presence. Hence, we see the Twelve Tribes prospering, for example, with a restaurant on Ithaca, New York’s signature Commons, despite that city’s history for progressive politics. And we see them opening up on the fringes of alternative and activist communities across New England‚Äîoften finding a distribution network for their products among food co-ops and hip health food stores. Here in Buffalo, the newly expanded Lexington Food Co-op is The Twelve Tribes largest independent bread retailer, with Common Ground bread dominating their shelves.

    The aforementioned concertgoer explained to The Guardian that “People forget there is no such thing as a benign racist, no matter how tasty his vegetarian couscous.” This is the problem. The bread is good. And the Common Ground people seem friendly enough. Peace Studies scholar and anthropologist Robert Knox Dentan writes: “The impoverishment and polarization of U.S. politics means that we expect our enemies to be all-evil, but they’re not.” Dentan goes on to explain that “Heinrich Himmler famously loved dogs and children. There’s a chilling photo of him hugging a little Jewish boy as the kid was waiting for the train to Auschwitz. The Twelve Tribes,” Dentan surmises, “would be nice to that little boy too, as long as he converted to their brand of Christianity. They’re not, most of them, mean people.” According to Dentan, “fascism isn’t going to come to the US in the form of goose stepping Stormtroopers (SWAT teams aside). It’s certainly going to depend on the help of extreme religious groups like the Tribes.”

    The Co-op’s Response to Hate
    The analogy is frightening. Three weeks after I shared with the Lexington Co-op management and board the data which I subsequently used in this article, I received an official response signed by their store manager and a member of their board. It started out reading, “The Co-op takes it very seriously that one of our primary, longstanding local producers is being labeled a ‘hate group.'” On the next line, however, they write “We have never found Common Ground or its members to be anything but friendly and warm to our customers and staff.” No doubt this is true. But by all accounts Osama bin Laden is also very personable, soft-spoken and has gentle eyes.

    Yes, the Common Ground bakers in Hamburg act “friendly and warm.” But their money is supporting a white supremacist empire. Their leader, Eugene Spriggs, is cited in The Boston Herald as lamenting the end of slavery and celebrating the assassination of Martin Luther King. Money spent at the Lexington Co-op on Common Ground breads goes directly to supporting Spriggs’ group’s multinational business and real estate investments‚Äîincluding a new “mega development project” the group is currently putting the finishing touches on in Tampa, Florida. As self-indulgent liberals continue to buy tasty loafs of bread from “nice” bakers, they continue to fund a growing economic empire that targets vulnerable minorities around the world.

    In their letter, the Co-op management goes on to explain that they will look into the allegations presented here, writing, “Our plan is to research the available information in greater detail and within context. We will share this information and consult with spiritual and moral leaders from the community, member-owners, Common Ground themselves, and other co-ops. We will then make a decision on how to proceed.”
    Companies such as Estee Lauder and LL Bean, which are not particularly progressive, figured this out long ago and stopped carrying Twelve Tribes products. There is no context in which such hate speech is acceptable. And it shouldn’t take consultation with a “spiritual” or “moral leader” to figure this out.

  • David PikeAka Exyathed and Nabashalam

    March 27, 2006, 7:56 pm

    Well Im truly flatered that someone would plagerize my handles! I did not post any of the above but bravo to whoever did!
    I lived in the TT for 7 years and can attest to most of what is posted here.

    Oh! and by the way Alexander, the ex-twelve tribe site is run by a woman you putz!

  • no name bob "THE TRUTH"

    March 30, 2006, 12:16 pm

    but what abou all the screaming late at night coming from the 12 tribes houses? screaming in pain, and screaming peoples names, how do you explain these things? surley you don’t believe that gods people would be doing this, you keep on preaching you useless ridderick, it won’t do you any good outside your twisted cult community

  • Chunky Monkey

    April 4, 2006, 10:30 am

    Do you believe in the total inerrancy of the Bible? That it is totally true and the interpretation of Elbert Eugene Spriggs you will wholeheartedly follow without question? Read some of his teachings online to see if you do agree.
    Are you willing to give up everything you own and hand it over to the community to be used in anyway they deem fit?
    Are you willing to give up use of a computer/internet and to never read a book (or newspaper) from the world again (Shakespeare, Dickens, Emerson)?
    Are you willing to do only housework, cooking, and child rearing the rest of your life? Becuase that is the only thing woman are allowed (expected) to do in the TT. (Jeannie Swantko is a rare exception – she is a lawyer who is being used by the community).
    If you have children, are you willing to use corporal punishment on them from 6 months of age and on?
    Are you willing to cut ties with any family or friends, spouse or children that do not agree with your choice to join the community or disagree with any doctrine or dogma they profess?
    Do you believe only one group of people in the entire world has cornered the market on salvation? Will you be righteous enough to believe you are the only ones worthy of God’s love?

    Because that is what you will be asked to do and if you question any of it, you will be considered rebellious and not of the same heart and made to feel guilty/ashamed until you change your mind (and publically repent) or leave.

  • Debbie, former member

    April 17, 2006, 7:36 pm

    Writing from Chattanooga where the TT have decided to “come home.” What began as simple “authority” that was probably necessary in order to operate businesses, communal homes & to control a group that consisted of the educated & uneducated, former college students & former former street people/reformed drug addicts has escalated to something so bizarre that it is hard to even recognize them as the same people. Why did this happen – well, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The kind of “reunion” I would like to see in Chattanooga is one of the ones of us who were freed from this life & spared to life in the real world.

    Since the announcement that TT is “coming home,” I have read page after page of their own “doctrine,” as well as page after page of commentary from former members, news articles, etc. All I can say is that I am glad I can say “My Redeemer Lives” because He delivered me from the hands of this group. I believe in Jesus – yes Jesus, not “Yahshua” (they can’t even seem to get the name right, as His Hebrew name would be written Yeshua). Jesus. The name at which every Knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is LORD. I shudder when I read their own teaching that those who believe in Jesus are evil and that Jesus is evil. They call such wonderful men as Ben Haden (former pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga) evil – they call Martin Luther King evil – and state that he “hated” the black people. What kind of lunacy has taken hold of these formerly bright, happy & really Christian folks? It is deception in its fullest sense.

    Because I remember many & love them still, I pray that they will all be brought back into the true light. To those from Chattanooga who are no longer in TT – James Howell, Bill Tiller, JoEllen & others – I am so proud you made it. Bill, your house wasn’t a sandcastle after all, was it?

    We truly must be entering the last days – with all this false doctrine spreading around the globe. I pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem as my Lord instructs – but that means the true Jerusalem – the one under seige daily by Palestinian attack -the one over which Jesus wept – the one that will ultimately see His return.

    Gene & Marsha – shame on you. You had such potential and helped so many before you began to seek first your OWN kingdom. May God have mercy.

  • wondering

    June 2, 2006, 1:12 am

    Hi, I am interested in the 12 tribes group. Can anyone offer me some kind of proof that the 12 tribes group is being run by child molesters, etc.?

  • Silent Bob

    June 2, 2006, 11:54 am

    They are child molesters, child abusers, the head guy is the only one that fucks the women…which means they are all inbred, they can’t listen to any music, go to school, go to the doctors, can’t play sports, can’t associate with anyone except from their cult, they teach their kids at a young age to not trust anyone, and in the late 70’s to early 80’s they used to sacrifice humans

  • wondering

    June 5, 2006, 4:22 am

    are you serious? do you have any proof or first hand testimony of this? I am starting to believe some of these stories are true.

  • Silent Bob

    June 7, 2006, 6:49 pm

    I have no physical proof of this but I like in a town in Vermont that is full of them. They live all around me, and I hear screaming late at night like 12 midnight. I also have a friend that was friends with one of them that used to sneak out at night to hang out with common people, and he told my friend of what I told you, plus more.

  • anon_e_mous

    June 16, 2006, 8:27 pm

    Oh come on! Human sacrifice? I’m not a member and I don’t much like what goes on there, but really now, how about the truth? Get REAL and stop lying! There is NO human sacrifice, besides people genuinely trying to honor God by laying down their wills (lives) to the will of God, silly. Oh brother!

    Secondly, there has been sexual impropriety, there, but not by Elbert Spriggs. This is not a cult that has the kind of sexual deviation, where the leader has sexual relations with all the women. Honestly speaking, the baseless accusations from ignorant people like you, obscure the real and very troublesome issues that DO OCCUR in the Twelve Tribes.

  • Silent Bob

    June 18, 2006, 6:24 am

    It’s that true Anon_E_Mous? How about looking in the library through the late 70’s early 80’s paper? There is actually proof of sacrafice, sexual molestation, and rape, and child abuse aswell. So maybe you should do your homework before you throw false accusations abround about who is lieing, and what bullshit is. The other things I spoke about was the words from an x member of the 12 tribes that ran away as soon as he was 18.

  • Issachar

    June 20, 2006, 9:20 pm

    As a member of the 12 tribes, and also being born within the group, I have had the opportunity to see the life of the community from within in every aspect. I would like to say that the above accusations by Silent Bob have no basis whatsoever and are absurd, to say the least. I was physically disciplined as a child, and although there was pain at the moment of the discipline, I knew at the time, and affirm even more today that my parents disciplined me because they loved me. The disipline given to me by my parents and other members of the community has only increased my appreciation for them. I have no regrets, and together with my brothers and sisters (6 of us in my family) we defend the right of our parents to raise us in the ways of God. The fruit of a lack of discipline is obvious and horrifying, graphically represented in situations ranging from the Columbine shootings to the murder of parents by their own children. On the contrary, I really doubt you will find children that love their parents more than my brothers and sisters and my friends in the twelve tribes. I will surely raise my children like I was raised, and, having examples in the person of my parents and my friends who already have children, I can learn from their mistakes and know how to love and train my children to be much better than myself. The children of the Twelve tribes are not abused! They are loved, and love isn’t just a pile of toys and candybars! Listen to the lies above if you want to, but if you want to know the truth, come talk to me, I am not ashamed to show it to you!

  • Silent Bob

    June 23, 2006, 6:49 pm

    Obvioisly you are still a member of the tribe. So obviously you would defend your relifion, or kult whatever you want to call it. I say no lies, there are proof in the newspapers from the late 60’s & 70’s, go look for yourself people, and find the truth. The x member who spoke to me told me no lies, he hated it there because of everything he went through, and everything he saw. I don’t blame him…if I was him I don’t know if I would have had the will to live. And how can you call your crap a religion, and call christianity wrong? Your kult has only ben out since what??? The 60’s?

  • Anon_E_Mous

    June 24, 2006, 10:50 am

    The truth lies somewhere between the both of you. Long story short: There have been been sexual abusers in the TT’s and there have been court cases. My relative was sexually abused. Messed that person up, big time. Is that a pervasive practice? No.

  • Lismond Bernard

    July 8, 2006, 11:35 am

    The Friendly People and the Racist Founder

    Last week my fiance and I visited a bike store in Coxsackie to pick up some bicycle items. We then took a walk along the waterfront and met a man painting one of the historic buildings. He was very friendly and gave us a tour of the area and invited us to his home. We ate, drank and talked about many things and he and his people seems like friends. We are both of african-descent from the caribbean and we felt very comfortable with these people.

    After I got back home I read the literature they gave me which seemed very bible based. I did some additional research on the twelve tribes, found out about their businesses and construction rehabilitation as was very impressed. Some internet research led me to this site and many others which talked about the suffering of ex-members of the group. But I found this site most disturbing:

    It refers to the Genesis 9 account of Noah and his sons Ham, Shem, Japheth. This story has been used many times to justify slavery. As a bible student I know better. Noah curses Canaan, which was his grandchildren, and the father of the many Canaanites (Amalekites, Jebusites …) The descendants of Israel (Isaac, son of Abraham) possess the lands of the Canaanites who were cursed.

    So those friendly Twelve Tribes followers (TT) believe African peoples are cursed to be slaves and can only be freed by the Messiah?

    As a Christian I believed all mankind was cursed by sin and could only be freed by the messiah.

    Slavery was an economic system that had used some religious myth to justify the subjugation of certain people. How does the founder jump from an economic system to religious salvation? When this document referrs to Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln I thought it was ridiculous. What do they really teach those people in the communities? How could any African people join them? Those who are (John Stringer) must be miss-guided.

  • Anon_E_Mous

    July 12, 2006, 3:41 pm

    They do teach this… The term “Chammite” is used very derogatorily by leaders and children alike.

    Furthermore, the curse was on Canaan not on (Ham/Cham), which is a total miscarriage of Biblical truth…

  • Eric

    July 28, 2006, 5:49 am

    I lived many times in the Tribes. Most of the people I knew were loving and very kind. There were some notible exceptions. I mainly left because I felt my three-year old son was at risk. The child discipline is somewhat extreme by most people’s estimate who believe in hitting or spanking children. Babies after several months are hit and restrained in various ways. They have a noble, caring, and loving life in many ways. I miss my friends, who were brothers and sisters to me, but it’s really as off-base as the Christian churches they condemn and sometimes rdicule. You don’t find out about many things until you’ve lived there awhile and become a member. I’ve seen medical neglect in various ways and child molestation not reported etc. There are no birthdays, no Christmas, no major holidays. I have very mixed emotions about the whole thing. There life has a special beauty you won’t find anywhere else, mixed with unique pain and suffering, special revelations, brotherhood, and far-fetched teachings. I can’t recommend it, but if you go and stay and find out later it’s not for you, don’t feel guilty about leaving. They often hold it over a person’s head that they gave their life to Yahshua and then want to leave. I think communism in any form is a big mistake. I used to hold high the idea of a spirtual communal life. It’s true as someone said, legalism and/ or immorality take hold after awhile. The women and children there suffer the most. I feel sorry for them.

  • Trying to Link it together

    August 17, 2006, 2:10 pm

    What you see is not what you get

  • Steven Avery

    August 28, 2006, 10:45 pm

    Hi Folks,

    Debbie your testimony is beautiful and touching —

    “My Redeemer Lives” because He delivered me from the hands of this group. I believe in Jesus Рyes Jesus, not “Yahshua” (they can’t even seem to get the name right, as His Hebrew name would be written Yeshua). Jesus. The name at which every Knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is LORD.

    Halleluyah !! Amen.. Thank you Jesus 🙂

    The incredible bondage, spritual principality, that would fight the name of the Lord Jesus Christ apparently controls this group hook, line and sinker (internally they can call Jesus a demon, externally they will use his name for a season only in order to look like believers to the unwary .. David Alexander (Derush) is particularly adept at this bait-and-switch deception).

    Twelve Tribes have even kept a blasphemous lie in their literature and websites, attempting to equate the name of the Lord Jesus to ‘zeus’. They keep it up even after having to acknowledge that it is a lie, a sacred name fabrication with no scholarly base whatsoever !

    A deep spiritual darkness is the only explanation.

    Here are two of the threads with the blasphemy exposed.
    Jesus == zeus canard
    ‘Jesus==zeus canard’ – history, summary, references’

    Steven Avery

  • liam

    October 6, 2006, 6:44 pm

    anyone who is still a member of Twelve Tribes or who has lived there and left is welcome to stay a night or two in my humble apartment in arlington, virginia. i won’t argue with anyone about anything. i’ll make you a simple meal and offer you a couple of peaceful nights while you continue the journey.

    i live near the Courthouse metro station and might even teach you a little acoustic guitar if you’ll wash the dishes! debating about who is closer to being part of Moshiach’s Pure Bride gives me a headache. since He is the Head…i figger He won’t mind very much if i leave all of that to His discernment.


  • Kiana

    November 1, 2006, 9:35 am

    i am thinking about joining the twelve tribes what advice do you have to offer

  • intrigued

    November 1, 2006, 9:49 am

    i don’t believe any of these lies about the tt. They’re preposterous. Obviously some people that left have had some issues that they didn’t deal with. and have decided to slander the tt. well people GET OVER IT!!!
    I don’t believe children were abused either.

  • David Alexander

    November 14, 2006, 1:43 pm

    Hello. I live in the Twelve Tribes community in Vista….and if anyone such as Kiana, or intrigued really wants to know what our life is really like, and what we really believe….there is a very easy way to know. Just come and live with us for as long as you want, and share our life.

    There is no better way to know what people are really like than to live with them.

    We love to have visitors…and are happy to answer any question you can imagine asking.

    Kiana, you are welcome to call me, David Derush, and talk about what you are thinking with me or my wife Shelem at any time. I have been in our communities for 4 years..and my wife Shelem for 13 years. Our number is 760-631-1833.

    Obviously, a huge amount of gross slander and misinformation is thrown around about us. I would encourage anyone interested in living a life that actually lines up with the commands of Christ to check us out for themselves.

    “Checking us out” is NOT something that can be done on the internet. To really know what someone believes and why….and how they live and why they live that way…you have to take the time to meet them and actually share hearts with them face to face. “Internet Research” is practically an oxymoron when it comes to New Religious Movements.

    David Derush

  • Kiana

    November 28, 2006, 9:52 am

    David Derush
    Thank you for your invitation. But, I have already been visiting the community for 5 years. I only wanted to see people’s opinions. I am waiting until I am not under my parents authority. Which will be in a another year.

  • Eric

    December 22, 2006, 2:56 pm

    One cannot understand their life very well unless you live it with them. I did and find it very disturbing that something so beautiful in many ways can also be so damaging to at least some who come.

    After years of my association with various members and communities of the Twelve Tribes, my personal conclusion is that any form of social, religious, or political communism has many more problems and dangers than capitalism, private property, and one’s private life “in the world.”

    I think many of their ideals and aims are loving, noble, and utopian, but what seems to be behind it all tends toward damaged lives, and basically a life of slave-labor.

    One may call it giving all to God if you wish, but once you live it with them for several months, you will know if it is all really of a loving God or not, then, you must decided whether you will leave or not. Leaving may be more difficult than you think.

    I was never fully indoctrinated. I am no longer there, but I miss many of the loving people I knew, and their relationships with each other, and their relationship toward God was far superior to what I see around me in “normal” society.

    I also like being paid for my labor, vesus working for free and having others tell you what to think and do 24 hours a day. I dislike being told what to eat, and how many times I should chew each mouthful of food.

    I could write a book about all the rules and regulations they have about everything from hitting children to how you should go to the bathroom.

    Once you’re there, you’ll understand. From the outside, it either automatically looks like a weird cult group to some, and a bunch of loving people to others. The truth is both and neither. It’s much more complex than many people care to believe.

    My advice, save yourself the heartache and doctrinal mumbo-jumbo. You probably won’t be happy once you’re living there, and even though they deny it, they definitely are just one more form of Christianity and Judaism. Is that what you really want?

    As far as I’m concerned, Jesus is not God, and never was, and Judaism is also a religion based upon bloodshed.

    We all have to account for our actions, to God and our own conscience. No one’s blood is going to save you, forgive your sins, or save this world.

  • Eric

    December 23, 2006, 10:38 am

    Internet research regarding the Twelve Tribes has some benefit. They will never say anything negative about their life together, except that they have “given up everything to follow Yeshua”/Jesus, and that “it is through much trial and tribulation that we enter the Kingdom.”

    There are many glaring examples of individuals who have been abused and neglected in various ways while in one of the Twelve Tribes households. I knew some, but I was not one of them.

    The internet provides a way for people to freely connect and share their experiences, perceptions, and yes, slander, if you wish.

    One problem with the Twelve Tribes is that they call almost any negative statement made about them, slander.
    I felt very loved in the Twelve Tribes, and I think most members are. But I have also encountered some mean members as well, some who enjoyed hitting children, and some who seemed to get off on controlling other people and “bringing the sword to them.”

    I am fully convinced they are not the bride of Yahshua. All humans are God’s People, not just one nation in Palestine, or a group of people believing the same thing, like the Twelve Tribes.

    They claim to teach all the commands of Yeshua/Jesus. This is not true. For example, they have members who have divorced their spouses and remarried, for a cause other than adultery. The sin of the spouses was that they refused to move in to the Tribes.

    They also definitely do not love all their enemies, as Yeshua commanded.

    The internet has also helped to question the finances of the Tribes. Most members have no idea of Yoneq’s undisclosed accounts. There is no public accountabilty. You’re always told to trust.

    I was told “if you trust God, you can trust anyone.” This is a lie. Tell that to the children growing up in the Tribes who were sexually molested, and others who were excessively beaten with “the rod of correction.”

    I thank God for the internet, because it allows various people to share their own points of view on the Tribes, whether the Tribes like it or not. In the Tribes you lose most, if not all, of your constitional rights. One of which is freedom of speech. Especially the women, who are “ruled over” by their husbands and other men.

    The Tribes exist, in spite of their communism, through free labor and high-control.

    Also, Yeshua said to his disciples, to give all to the poor and follow him. He didn’t say to give all you have to the Twelve Tribes and follow them. It’s also worthy to note that many of Yeshua’s disciples kept their own private homes and continued to go to their own jobs in the world.

    If people wish to give everything they have to the Tribes and go there to live and that makes them happy, that’s fine with me. My problem is with the Tribes thinking they alone are God’s Only Chosen People in this time, the Only One’s who have the Holy Spirit, and making potential recruits feel like they are condemned by God until they renounce their life and join the commune. This is a big pile of B.S. They make themselves out to be riding 1st class with Yeshua, everyone else is either 2nd class fare, or not even on the plane.

    It’s also interesting to me how they condemn Christianity, and yet they buy and use Christian Bibles, and believe in the Trinity doctrine, the deity of Yeshua, and many other Paulist Christian beliefs. I also found it interesting that they command infant boys to be circumcised when the Apostle Paul said very clearly that it doesn’t matter.

    Also interesting is one young lady’s testimony on the internet of how Aquilla, Yoneq’s first disciple, sexually molested three girls. To my knowledge, he has never denied it, but he forbid me to make outside phone calls to certain people when I lived in the Tribes. I never trusted him. I knew in my heart there was something wrong with him. Yet, he is still highly esteemed in the Tribes, and can be intimidating.

    They claim there is no clergy/laity division in their communities. I found that to be false.

    You know, I guess the bottom line for me is this, if I really thought they alone were God’s people, and God didn’t want people to live elsewhere to be His Bride, I would be there. But in my heart, and with my ears, I heard and experienced deceit over and over. Double-talk. Double-standards. Twisted Bible interpretations. And, not any more “fruit of the Spirit” than good people I know “in the world.”

    I liked the music and songs, the friendship, the working together, but not the “spirit” (small “s”) behind it all. They say it’s the Holy Spirit, I don’t believe that’s true at all. Someday they may have to admit to themselves that they are not the Bride of God collectively/communistically and not being obedient enough to somehow jump up to Yeshua when he returns.

    Personally, I don’t think Yeshua is coming back here, and I don’t believe as many people are going to the Lake of Fire as the Tribes believe.

    I wasted too many years of my life searching for the People of God. You know what, we’re all God’s Children, we all reap what we sow, we’re all learning, and I think most of us will be in one of God’s Heavens sooner than later. We came from the Source of Life, and that is where we shall in time return when we have experinced all our Father/Mother sent us here and elsewhere to experience.

    To me, Judaism, Christianity and Islam type religions are about controlling others, especially women, and taking people’s money. I think the main problem with this world is that is being mainly run by men, just like the Tribes. It’s taken me years to realize this, and to see how I thought about women.

    Surprise, the Creator may not be male. How would you lie that? This would be a more compasionate world if people could see the Source of Life as a Mother as well as a Father in Heaven.

    You can tell as you read the Bible, that it’s all written by men, from a man’s perspective.

    I pity any young woman joining the Tribes. But, it’s their choice. My only suggestion to anyone moving into the Tribes is this, whether you become a member or not, if you find out later that you are unhappy most days, move out as soon as you can and don’t go back.

    If their life was so great, they wouldn’t have to promise to stay their the rest of their life and make aCovenant contract as such. Think about it. Listen to your own heart.
    The test of spiritual t

  • Eric

    December 23, 2006, 10:41 am

    The test of truth is spiritual freedom, not bondage, control, deception, manipulation, priesthoods, superiority, group-think, guilt, shame, threats, male domination etc.

  • rachael

    February 25, 2007, 12:31 am

    I finally read through all the comments. I wanted to say thankyou. Especially to Eric. It is so nice to hear an opinion like yours. You have a very gentle and understanding way and such a refreshing view about organized religion. I say “ditto” but now I’ve gone and put it in my own words, just to see myself talk, but I can’t say it any better.

    I came out of a different church and have always hoped to stumble across the “true church”. I stumbled across 12 Tribes and fell in love with the people. I alloted 2 weeks for a stay. I horribly regretted leaving but by then I had enough doubts in my mind so that I couldn’t commit, I knew I needed to step back and really reconsider before I got swept up in the fantasy of it all. How can you be the true church if you claim you are the true church, the only way to God? It’s like boasting about how humble you are. How could I promise never to leave? I would have to believe that they would never turn away to something else. I still think of the group and wish it was as perfect as it first seemed. When I think of the good parts I wonder why I have to be so doubtful and selfish and not just accept what I don’t agree with. After all, nobody is perfect. The world is a mixture of good and evil. To submit to the will of a group and join would be to renounce my free will and discerning mind that God gave me. I would be putting myself under another human to dictate how to live for God. God wants us to seek Him. To let Him guide our every step. He’s our Father.

    As for the original question: I think all religion is a cult. It comes down to one person trying to control others’ relationship and perceptions of God. It’s just a negative word. For those that truly believe they are doing God’s will and seeking Him, it’s great to see them act on their beliefs.

    The best things about 12 Tribes is that they are very loving and make people feel wanted and needed, giving purpose to lives that don’t seem to have direction. It also creates discipline, takes away the distractions of the world, and is a good test of service. I wasn’t there long enough to make any real negative observations. I had little warning lights that would come on in my head. I was worried about what a young age the kids were disciplined at, it seemed a bit extreme. I wondered if I would be viewed as a “brood mare”. I didn’t like how play was enforced, that a dress code was enforced, that unity was more important than seeking truth. It was sort of odd the various discussions I had with people. Sometimes it was like talking to a recording, like they all had the same memorized message but for smaller details everyone had a really different answer. Sometimes it made me feel like it was a sales pitch. Why does someone need to be sold on this way of life if this is of God? Wouldn’t it speak for itself? Those were my doubts. Is this where God wants you? You have to ask Him.

  • Marc

    March 12, 2007, 9:46 am

    I was once a member of the twelve tribes and I tell you now, they are a high-control cult that twists scripture to suit their own needs. As far as you must accept Jesus, they consider him a demon. Further, when I left the cult they told me I would be dead in two years because the holy spirit cannot live outside of their community. That was three years ago. Stay away from this group and if you can organize prayer groups to disband them I recommend it. The world will be a much better place without them…for one.

  • Nahmen Nielsen

    May 3, 2007, 5:52 pm

    I have cast out many demons in the name of Jesus. He is Lord and King. If you are looking for a closer walk with Him come and visit.
    Demons know His name and treble.

  • Vicki Stringer

    November 14, 2007, 9:29 pm

    John Stringer of the Twelve Tribes was a child predator even before he joined the community. He fled the states in the 70s after impregnating a 10 yr old girl. Today he has fled Europe after killing a small child.

  • observer

    December 1, 2007, 12:36 pm

    I am a seventeen year old male from Plymouth Ma. Yesterday i visited the twelve tribes for the first time and thought it may be helpful for people to look at the tt through the eyes as a first time observer with no prior knowledge about this group. I had heard rumors that they were a “cult” and such, but wanted to find out what it was really like. I spent some time with the tribes in the form of a Friday feast. me and some of my buddies had heard about their lifestyle and the celebrations that they have. We attended because we were interested about what goes on, and because some people we know thought it was a nice place- they go to “hang out” . We arrived with some of our friends, and were greeted with much warmth and appreciation for being there. They were very happy that people had come to visit, and were more than happy to have new people visiting. We went to a large gathering room where they were praying. Many people were gathered in a circle, with the newcomers on the outside observing. From what i saw they all gathered and prayed to god. No more, no less. Then we all gathered in the kitchen for a meal. They served us great food, and were more than happy to anwser questions about their lifestyle. I talked for a while with Elijahou, (or something of that sort) and he told us everything we wanted to know. I was a little uncorfortable when he asked about our religion- myself not really knowing what i believe in, that sort of deal. But that was brief and i asked some pretty good questions. They were all wonderful, the children appeared happy, and the food delicous. Then we left. I do not plan on joining this group, however they are great people and i suggest going and finding out what they are really about. I may go back to find out more with the same people, simply because it seems they live a simple, yet fufilling lifestyle. I am aware that they may “mask” other details of their life to visitors, but this account is from a first time visitor as I observed.

  • Vicki Stringer

    December 17, 2007, 11:17 pm

    Observer you don’t need intention. Because you don’t know what you believe you are ripe for the picking. Brainwashing is not so far off.

    God sent His son to die for the sins of a lost world. He(Christ) died as a one time payment for all sin. All we have to do to be covered under His sacrifice is to believe He died for us and accept His gift to us. We then receive the Holy Spirit who guides us in how to live in obedience to Him.
    And the best thing is that He didn’t stay dead. He rose again from the dead just as His Father God said that he would and he ascended into heaven to reign. The news just gets better. He promised to come back for us and receive us unto himself so that where He is there we shall also be. Somebody ought to get excited!!!!!

    God’s gift is free to each of us as individuals. They believe that they are exclusive and that joining with them is the only way to God

  • Yaweh Yea-rite

    January 11, 2008, 3:05 pm

    unfortunately, my brother has been a member of twelve tribes, for twenty years. i have seen him give up everything, work like a slave, preach on the street, even lose a finger, all the while professing his happiness living in this fools’ paradise. twelve tribes is nothing more than a religious cult that draws its ideologies from a handful of established religions–as long as these ideologies are convenient to spriggs’ dogmatic needs in manipulating his slaves and furthering his empire. and though they think they are novel and annointed, they are, instead, simply another rehashing of the same old story. after all, a cult is a cult is a cult. fear dominates their members in an insipid way –i.e., they are the last to know they are afraid. sadly, they will die old and broke with no legacy but the furtherance of sprigg’s estate. twelve tribes is a true horror show. and, as usual, the innocent children are the ones who will suffer for years to come.

  • Visitor

    February 2, 2008, 8:07 am

    I visited the group and must admit there were some very friendly individuals. Do they follow YHVH (Yahweh) God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? (I saw no evidence)Do they believe in the Two House Teaching of Efrayim and Judah being re-united into one branch? (They believe they are spiritual Israel, and that the actual land and the Jews are cursed because of Matt: 21:43, which I must say has been taken way out of proportion)Is there abuse of authority in the leadership at the local communities? (Only visited one, and must say that was certainly enough to witness the evilness in one member in particular).

    I would recommend questioning any group that claims they know the way, while condemning all other outsiders. If you open a bible from beginning to end, divide the section where it says old testament and new testament, and realize that the new testament is approximately 1/3 of the entire bible, then a reasonable person would consider that the Torah and Prophets (the first 2/3). The majority of scripture quoted in their free papers list new testament verses primarily. They acted kind at first when I arrived, yet when I questioned any activities I was accused of being a spy, and that I knew they only had the truth. Furthermore, everyone else is living in darkness.

    Despite the negative encounter I had with this group, I still truly believe that there are some great people living in the communities. Unfortunately, the scriptures have been twisted to fit their theology. They do refer to the messiah as Yahshua, which I do agree is his name (spelling can be different since the name is Hebrew). I must also add that if you disagree with anything they believe in while in their home, just be prepared for a mind attack like you have never seen before. It might be different in other communities, nevertheless, my experience can only conclude that as a whole that this group is to be conidered extremely dangerous.

    Forgiving them for the way they acted towards me was a difficult, however, I managed to forgive them over time. Don’t let bittnerness with this group ruin you, just remember that they are human with the same amount of mistakes as others who strive to serve Yahweh with all of their heart, soul, and strength.

  • david

    April 29, 2008, 3:53 pm

    Is it the Twelve Tribes Cult? Or is Christianity the “cult”? If you wonder if the Twelve Tribes is a Cult, you should make sure to read the autobiography of Kirsten Nielsen, twice kidnapped from the Twelve Tribes.

    She has been with us for 30 years…her two kidnappings and “deprogrammings” were unsuccessful and she is married with 6 children. Her story can be read at

  • hana

    May 12, 2008, 9:58 pm

    quit talking about the community.You have no idea what it is like all you hear are a bunch of offended people who just need to mind there own business.If they don’t want to be apart of it then leave it behind and quit tearing it to peiceces.It is america people can do what ever they want remember.

  • hana

    May 12, 2008, 10:12 pm

    Don’t you all have anything better to do then make up lies about the religion.The only thing you should be doing now is thinking of how you were the one that made the mistake in the first place for joining and think of what you should do with your life now.Why don’t you leave them alone?????????????????????????????????

  • hana

    June 13, 2008, 9:13 pm

    do you all have a response

  • Sheila

    July 13, 2008, 1:11 pm

    there are a couple of things I’d like to respond to, as someone who has been visiting with and learning about the twelve tribes quite a lot recently.

    They don’t believe everyone who is not in the community is going to hell.

    They love their life, and they want to find others who would also love it. They are not out to convert everyone they meet.

    They do not force people to stay. If you don’t want to be there, they don’t want you there.

    When people give things up for them, they are doing it because they WANT TO, not because the community is making them.

    They are human, and make mistakes, and you can’t paint an entire community of individuals all with the same brush.

  • anon

    July 22, 2008, 1:04 pm

    Why Yadutan and Emunah left the Twelve Tribes

    I have some information that for conscience sake I need to let others know about. As some may have heard by now, I have been working with Yadutan since he has moved to Florida close to where I live. When I first left the community, I heard that Yadutan had left the community as well, only about 3 months before I did. I was curious to hear why. At some point soon after, we spoke to one another and the reasons he gave me were much along the same lines as to why I left. Recently, he moved down to Florida near me and we began working together in a home office situation. One day I was working from his computer and I found myself staring at an email that speaks of the main reason why he and his wife left. Naturally, I confronted him about it and he told me everything. His response was shocking to say the least. Those of us who know Yadutan, know that he would not have left lightly or on a whim, or just because he “loved the world”. I was quite disturbed to hear his reasons and after much deliberation I have decided that I want my friends to have the opportunity to know the truth about what happened, and decide for themselves whether or not they want to continue to give their lives to something that is not true.
    Also…. before they actually left the community, Yadutan and his wife went to Yoneq and Haemeq to resolve this issue and were unable to get it resolved to their satisfaction.
    This is it in a nutshell:
    14 or so years ago …. Yadutan was approached somewhat aggressively by Haemeq when he was a very young disciple in the church. Haemeq made sexual advances towards him. He was in a very uncomfortable position, being “hit on” by the leaders wife. This was happening during the time when the morning and evening sacrifices were being established and taught about on daily basis. For those of you who remember or have heard those teachings since then, you can appreciate the enormity of what went on between Yadutan and Ha-emeq. There were times when she would grab him by the belt loop or hold his hand while they were walking. There were times when they were traveling on their bus that she would slip her hands under his bed covers and hold his hand at night. One night she approached himfrom behind on the beach and wrapped her arms around him in an embrace. Eventually he gave in to the temptation and BECAME INVOLVED IN A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HAEMEQ.. No, the did not have intercourse, or oral sex, but they did everything else. They would passionately kiss, they would be stripped down to their underwear, lying on top of one another. The would masturbate one another. They would go to the newly established gatherings unclean, minutes after being together. She would hold his hand during breaking of bread. They would have had intercourse but at one point or another one of them would stop the other. I understand that this is not pleasant or even dignified to have to read these things, but I don’t know any other way of getting my point across. I have sat in many meetings judging people for doing much less than what these two people participated in. I have seen families torn apart because of judgments that have come from Yoneq over youth who have held hands or kissed. I have heard and taught on the utter wickedness of going to breaking of bread and minchot over and over again with unconfessed sin much less serious in nature than what I speak of today. Yadutan is not “blaming” haemeq as being the only guilty one for what occurred, but he was terribly confused and upset in his conscience about what they had fallen into. He encouraged her to stop on several occasions but she did not want to, and so they continued in their weakness. THIS CONTINUED FOR A YEAR OR SO until Yoneq and Haemeq left brazil. At this point Yadutan was able to clear his head and wrote Haemeq telling her that they must confess and repent and get forgiven no matter the cost. He told her she must expose it to Yoneq or he would have to do it! .Haemeq wrote back saying it was ok, all was forgiven. Yadutan continued under the impression Haemeq had exposed herself.
    Years later, it is uncovered that Haemeq had NEVER TOLD THE TRUTH. She has continued on in her role judging and mentoring, representing God on the earth, and whatever else you might describe her role to be, with a very very bad conscience the whole time.
    When Yadutan began to see that the tribes were “falling apart” on so many levels , he began to consider the problems , why they never get fixed and the hypocrisy that had risen to the sky.
    He called for a meeting with Yoneq. He confessed to his own wife what had happened before they had met, and they went to Hiddenite to have the big meeting. When he got there he was met with what he felt was an attempt to sweep it all under the rug . Yoneq said that he had just recently learned about the whole matter. He questioned them both concerning what had happened and then he forgave them both, and he told them that our Father forgave them! That’s it! Yadutan wondered why there was no body meeting , discipline, nothing! How could a husband judge his own wife like this with no counsel? Others had been sent away for years , forced to marry, or worse, over less! Should Yacob and qetsiayah know about this, after suffering over what their daughters went through for committing sins of a far less serious nature? Should Hur know about how haemeq was judged for 14 YEARS of deceit after seeing his boys judged for sins far less serious. The list could go on for quite some time. Should all those cooks meetings be disregarded because ha emeq was “in the flesh” when she taught and led them? THE IMPLICATIONS ARE FAR REACHING! Think about it…. And what about Yoneq’s response? How many times I have sat and waited to hear from Yoneq concerning our Father’s judgment for someone, whether they should be sent away from the body or not. And this was only after several kahals and fact finding meetings. All the while, those who committed the sins are being held in custody.
    He was asked time and again to be discreet and just forgive and “have wisdom and conceal the matter” Scriptures were sent to him encouraging him to keep the matter to himself. Yadutan was unable to obtain a good conscience this way and all his experience in the tribes was now in doubt for him and his wife. Even his own position seemed fraudulent to him as he felt “bought” so to speak. He insisted more men be brought in and so Yoneq agreed and told Nahaliel and Nun. After expressing their grave concern with the seriousness of the matter, investigating, and finding the whole story to be exactly true as Yadutan had described in lurid detail, they both began a letter writing campaign to get Yadutan to just “move on” in the tribes. Yadutan was increasingly distressed by these “elders” inability to grasp the gravity of this hypocrisy. He wrote to them about “the emperors new clothes”, and the MEN BEHIND THE EMPEROR and the foundations of the community (teachings, tribes, minchahs) being formed all by those who were living a lie while harshly judging others for their lack of purity. He does not feel innocent of all this himself, but when he tried to do the right thing , he saw that it wasn’t really in the hearts of the leaders to deal fairly with the truth but to hide it in order to continue their charade. I have had a lot to do with many people joining or remaining in the tribes. I feel for conscience sake, they are all deserving of the truth and deserve to know ALL the information that I now have and also to know why Yadutan and his wife had to leave.
    This is just a very brief version of a much deeper and more involved story. Please everyone know that Yadutan and his wife Emunah loved and gave their lives to the building of the community, as did my wife and I, but I can not stand by while my friends unwittingly go on trusting their lives, believing that they are building on something solid. My faith has been undermined by the reality of what the twelve tribes has really become! I did not easily come to these decisions. It has been very painful for everyone involved and I know for a fact that Yadutan has no joy in having to live with this. BUT NEVER THE LESS IT IS THE TRUTH. People can try and contact him if they need to know or verify anything. There are those who will say this is a lie from people who listen to liars, but there pages and pages and pages of emails and letters concerning this matter. There are those who won’t care anyways and will continue on in the community. This letter isn’t for those people. This letter is for the people who still care about the truth. For those who have been on the edge, and even for those who haven’t. It’s a wake up call to our friends in the Twelve Tribes.

    I hope this letter gives some closure to the many ex-members who left and still suffer from guilt of leaving. And also those who were sent away, cut-off or punished for things that are trifiling compared to adultery and fornication amongst the HOLY!!! Or those who after dieing in the tribes were judge unworthy of the cloud of witnesses and sentenced to the first death!

  • Anon

    July 25, 2008, 3:15 am

    When you said: “and so they continued in their weakness. THIS CONTINUED FOR A YEAR OR SO until Yoneq and Haemeq left brazil”…
    What do you mean continue? What happened at the beach, or to hold hands sometimes?
    Please, speak from what you know for sure, not from what you “guess”

  • anon

    July 25, 2008, 3:12 pm

    Anon (btw, I like your choice of names):

    I think “They would passionately kiss, they would be stripped down to their underwear, lying on top of one another. The would masturbate one another.” says it all, don’t you?

  • Jack

    July 26, 2008, 11:53 am

    anon, I was wondering about the reason why you and your wife have left the community.

  • hana

    July 27, 2008, 3:11 pm

    this is hana martin greg martin’s wife do i know you anon?

  • European Seeker

    July 28, 2008, 2:43 pm

    I have read most of the comments about the Twelve Tribes here, mainly because I am planning to visit one of their homes in Europe soon. The only thing that really bothers me is what seems to be their outlook on child dicipline. I have a son who is a few months old and I have decided that he is not going to be diciplined with violence. I believe that is how animals bring up their kids, and that we as human beings are above the animals, and shall do everything in a more humble and humane way. If I decided that I wanted to stay with the Twelve Tribes, do you think they would try and make me hit my son if he was disobedient, and do you think they would hit him if I wasn’t there?
    I want to give him the best start in life that I can find. As I see it, this society just isn’t clean enough. He is still too young to be affected, but often when I go out with him and we pass by kids who are out playing they swear, they call eachother names, they talk in a repulsive way. Sometimes talking about older people in terms such as “that fucking bitch” and so on. They eat enormous amounts of colourful candy with all kinds of chemicals in and they watch television or play computer games a lot every day and already during their early teens they are encouraged both by society and media to practice sex. I think that as long as we are “out here in the world” there is no way that I can keep him from getting affected by those things because I can’t keep him from having friends. Do you think the Twelve Tribes wouldn’t have us if I didn’t agree to dicipline my son as they would have done?

  • anon

    July 29, 2008, 4:21 am

    For sure they will not force you to discipline your child, and for sure they will not do it themselves. They will not tell you about how they displine their children, except if you are really interested.

  • European Seeker

    July 29, 2008, 6:12 am

    Thank you for replying anon! It seems you may be a trustworthy sorce of information, and I feel better about my plans to see them now. I have seen a lot of critical information about the community, about corruption and so on, but I am reasoning that even if that exists within the community I doubt it is in such enormous extent as out here. All fruit needs time to ripe. If what they say about abuse is even true, it seems to be limited to single cases, and the whole community cannot be held responsible for that.

    I saw you were asked about why you and your wife left the community, and I too am interested in knowing the reasons.

  • anonymous

    July 30, 2008, 9:57 am

    I can see by your writting that you are very wise. It is very true what you say.

    I mean anonymous by anon, but it is not me who is being asked why left the community.

    I have choose to be anonymous in this forum

  • European Seeker

    July 30, 2008, 1:15 pm

    I see, anonymous, but did you as well leave the community? Ofcourse you need not answer to this, but you know that already.

    I have so many questions, but I am not going to make you tired by asking them all here. My son and I will be able to visit one of the communities soon.

  • European Seeker

    August 1, 2008, 1:30 pm

    I shouldn’t really say anything about child dicipline since I have no experience of it. I can neither speak against it nor for it. I was not diciplined and I have to regret a lot of wrong doings now. If those doings had anything to do with a lack of dicipline I cannot say. But inflicting pain on your child must be the most difficult thing for a parent to do.

  • Anonympus

    August 1, 2008, 2:43 pm

    Not, if you save him from a greater pain.
    Iit is not pain, it more itching.

  • Kelly

    August 18, 2008, 10:04 pm

    I just encountered a large group of the “Twelve Tribes”on the road in DC. These people are one of the most demonically possessed groups I have ever seen! There eyes are glazed over and they mock others. Most of the members seemed to be outcasts of society, they must pick on the weakest ones in society….I heard they show up at Rainbow gatherings and spit out misrepresentations at all costs. PLEASE anyone looking into this group….flee at all costs. Your soul is at stake!!!

  • samie87b

    September 27, 2008, 7:35 pm

    First of all, it took me forever to read through all this non-sense. I was born and raised in the Twelve Tribes and my entire family (on my father’s side) is part of the group. I left when I was eighteen after being kidnapped back a couple of times. However, now, as a matured adult, I have learned a lot about beliefs and personal choice. Growing up in the TTs, I didn’t have any independence or individuality, but that is simply because that is the only way to maintain a community of that nature. When you go through something like that, you learn to appreciate freedom of choice and speech. Even though I have mostly lost my family due to my choice to leave the group, i have no regrets. I have come to realize that every person has a brain and they can choose to live their life anyway they like. I don’t feel bad for any one who has posted on this site saying how horrible their experience was with the TTs. It was their choice to join. Maybe next time they should think about something before they do it. As far as myself, I have nothing to say against the commune. They may affect others in a negative way but if you don’t like it…LEAVE! It may be hard to leave for those who are weak willed but if you are that unhappy with your life and can’t change it then you deserve to be unhappy. Don’t give us that bull-shit that they wouldn’t let you leave. This is America…even if you were born there, you still have a god given right to choose for yourself. Don’t blame your misery on Elbert Spriggs or anyone else in that group. I was mistreated but only losers dwell on the past. Move on for Christsake!!!! You’re free. Just let them be. Don’t go around making everyone feel sorry for you because it doesn’t work. Thats the wrong way to respond to things.

    I left three years ago and I haven’t spoken to anyone in my family since. I’m not wallowing in the mud complaining about how miserable my life is. No I’m moving on and bettering myself. I could have gripped about how I had no opportunities because of the poor education I got as a child…no! I got my GED and enrolled in one of the best Universities in Massachusetts! I moved halfway across the country so that I could get the best career opportunity that was out here. Of course it has been hard. Hell- its been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done…even more than walking away from my life, my family, everything I knew.

    This is what my entire childhood has taught me: Never let someone tell you that you can’t do something! If anything, my childhood has made me a stronger person and given me a more tenacious attitude. So, to all of you lazy ass losers who have posted those nasty complaints and lies…Get a life! You’re worse off now then you were there. I suggest you make up for all the time you lost while waisting way in your misery! Let those who are now being drawn into the TT commune do the research for themselves instead of dumping all your sissy problems on them. And leave the dumb-ass losers living in the TTs alone. Remember that you’re the only one who will have to live with the decisions you made during your lifetime and there will be no one else to blame for it when you’re on your deathbed.

  • Azariah

    October 6, 2008, 12:19 am

    You left the TT’s and did good. But it appears that you left God also according to the language you use. I’m sorry to see that. “there will be no one else to blame for it when you‚Äôre on your deathbed”.


  • Kyera

    October 7, 2008, 7:33 am

    I’m a fellow believer and have been visiting a community in VA for the past month. Your article is one of many that I’ve read and the whole situation grieves the heart of God. Jesus did live in community with his disciples and the church of Acts followed that pattern; but from what I’ve gathered thus far, the Twelve Tribes are cult-like in practice.

    I’ve been a follower of Christ for 11 years and have been a missionary in 3 countries, so I am no “newbie” to the Word or the Holy Spirit. Recently I’ve had multiple conversations with people not apart of T.T., but are Christians and there is a great thirst for more than what the church as we know it has offered. I hear your heart, bro. There are a lot of us that want to just follow God and we’re looking for the “more” that is out there. I’m just trying to find what that is. I want community and I want freedom in Christ. I hate legalism, Jesus stood up against those in His days that were. There are a lot more things to say, but I’d like to talk with you. So if you could e-mail me so we could start a dialog, I would really appreciate that.

    Love your sister in Christ,

  • hana

    October 14, 2008, 2:14 pm

    It is really sad that the twelve tribes is not going to make it. Everyone wants to know what the truth is and what the meaning of life is.I don’t think we will ever really figure that out.We just need to make the most out of what we do have.

  • D. Goodmanson

    October 14, 2008, 2:47 pm

    These comments have run on for 3 years now and at this time I’m going to close them down. Much of my post and the journey from this experience has led me to a new way of being the church, which I thank the 12 Tribes for being a part of that journey.

    The book I’d recommend, is Total Church if you are interested in how a community forms around the gospel to be the church. That book in particular has had a lasting impact.