Virtually everyone who observes or interacts with the children of the Twelve Tribes in Germany is amazed at their alertness, good manners, spontaneity, relationships with their parents, their ability to engage with adults in a conversation, and their good personal hygiene. From grandparents and neighbors not in the community in Klosterzimmern to documentation of school officials for ten years, the reports are the same. Our children are happy, healthy, well-adjusted, and secure in the care of their parents in the Community in Klosterzimmern. This is the overwhelmingly positive fruit in the children of the childrearing practices of the parents of the Twelve Tribes in Germany.
Even after the raid on September 5, 2013, when the parents of the communities were caught totally by surprise and their children were snatched away from their parents in tears, the state officials had them examined by doctors that day and even then none of them were found to have any signs of abuse. In the face of these facts the looming question is:
Why does the state not give the children back to the parents, since they found no evidence of abuse in any of them?
If you ask state officials this question, they will say it is because the children are spanked and spanking children is against the law and it alone, regardless of any other factor, automatically constitutes abuse. Does this make any sense to you? How can the state justify removal for abuse when there is no evidence of abuse? The parents continue to ask this question but no one is listening…not the Jugendamt, not the courts, not the press, no one. But if you ask the people who know the communities and who know our children, they will tell you that the children are amazing. Even the school officials who interacted with our children for ten years gave the positive report. They even documented it in their school files. Yet they are afraid to speak publicly about this.
Why is there so much fear of the truth?
Are they afraid that maybe the Jugendamt will come and get their children, too or that they will lose their jobs? Court appointed lawyers for the parents and children of the community who have recommended the children be given back to their parents have been removed. Psychologists who have found that the children are psychologically sound are not consulted nor listened to by the courts.
Is there anyone in Germany willing to confront the fact that there are children in Germany who are spanked and are not abused? Surely, we know there are many, many parents in Germany who are in this category. The law in Germany is against spanking, but nowhere does the law say, “if someone spanks their child, take the child from their parents.” Yet this is what is happening to twenty-six young children who have been deprived of their parents for over ten months now. Nowhere is this mandated by German law!1
No one is really stopping to think about what is best for each child. No one is weighing the grave harm to the child of being separated from their parents for ten months! This is not a psychological mystery requiring testing. It is common sense.
One official even said, ‘We know you love your children. That is not the question!’
Why is that not the question if we are concerned about the best interest of each child? A German scholar who studies “sekten” even notes that members of the Twelve Tribes “lovingly discipline” their children! (Gerald Willms, The Wonderful World of Sects, 2012, p. 84)2
Other aspects of child protection law that are NOT being followed regarding the parents of Twelve Tribes children unlawfully taken by the state:
By law parents and children have a right not to participate in psychological testing and not to have that fact used against them. Twelve Tribes parents are being penalized for not using these tests and the Jugendamt is seeking to violate the child’s right not to use them either.
It seems that what the Jugendamt wants is control and they are not willing to consider the proof is the children themselves and how they simply are. The court and the Jugendamt are basing the removal of the children based on theory and not based on evidence of actual harm.
A basic tenet of child protection law requires that the social workers work toward unification of the parents and child. With Twelve Tribes parents it is often spoken “You will never get your children back!” As for the children, they are being programmed against their parents’ faith deliberately and tricked by psychological pressure to conform to the will of the Jugendamt! This is child abuse, the blatant manipulation of children against their chosen culture. What happened to their supposed rights of the child?
The older children who were able escaped the clutches of the Jugendamt to make their way back home. Who says they do not have their own will? They have plenty of will to want to be home with their parents and the little ones are the same. They are just helpless to exercise their own will at the hands of the all-powerful Jugendamt who abuses their power. They are supposed to help, not control.
A good tree bears good fruit!
A great teacher once said, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” So is there room in the German law to look at this wise measure of judgment? Or is there no way to see the good fruit for what it is? The rationale of the law as applied to the Twelve Tribes, by the Jugendamt, and by the courts is that all children who are spanked are abused, regardless of the fruit which is the good condition of the children.
This rationale goes against the conscience, the clear instruction in the old and new testaments of the Bible and against the God-given natural instincts and God-given rights of parents to exercise authority over their children to raise them up with good character to be good citizens. German law refers to this right as a “pre-determined” right of parents and it is being ignored. If this right is taken away, either by the law itself or its application by the court, it gives the state, rather than the parent, unlimited authority and control over the children. Unmitigated state power is a dangerous tool to destroy families. It is not the purpose of government.
Governments were not created to parent children, it is not their predetermined right. German law is clear that parents and children have a right to family autonomy. It cannot be taken away simply because of what a parent believes. Supposedly children have rights also, but there is no provision for them to exercise them unless they agree with the Jugendamt. So does this not make the Jugendamt all powerful over the parents and the children, based on their theories alone? Who is it that says that the Jugendamt has more authority over the child than the parent absent evidence of actual abuse? Nowhere in the law does it say spanking mandates the removal of children.
We do not believe that we are “above the law” as many have alleged. We believe that if there is actual evidence of a Twelve Tribes parent being abusive, take that parent to court for a fair trial. There must be individual treatment, not the illegal practice of “guilt by association.”
The law requires, even when there is proof of actual abuse, that the least restrictive state intrusion be used, not the most extreme step of removing the children. All the court’s actions have been based on generalized theories, not on evidence as to what is in the best interest of each child taken. Twelve Tribes’ members have been lumped together as a group, completely denying the individual treatment as required by law. Article 3 of the German Constitution says that any German citizen should not be at “any advantage or disadvantage because of their faith or religious opinions.” Does this provision not apply to members of the Twelve Tribes?
A penitent German pastor, Martin Niemoeller, spoke in 1946:
“In Germany, they came first for the Communists,And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then…they came for me…And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”
1 Numerous cases in the law books prove this to be true. Even the judge handling most of the cases ruled otherwise in a case where a non-Twelve Tribes’ parent spanked.
2 Religious scholars throughout the world know that the testimony of apostates and those who leave groups is notoriously unreliable. Far more credible and trustworthy are the works of scholars who objectively research and study these groups.