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The Spirit of the Age

Recently we quoted a pagan Roman emperor named Trajan who directed one of his governors to accept no anonymous testimony, as they “set a bad precedent” and “are not in the spirit of our age.” It seems that German courts and social services view anonymous reports as setting a good precedent and in keeping with the spirit of this age.1

Anonymous reports could be written by anyone; their authorship can not be scrutinized for malice and prejudice.

Are such fundamentally flawed reports now acceptable? Where the truth is no issue, anonymous reports are acceptable. This is the case with these cult expects and painfully, it seems, with the courts who receive them as “expert witnesses.” They know nothing about the Twelve Tribes, but they are “credible” witnesses about them. Why is that?

When we have referred to lies about us by anti-cult experts, and their reports which are received by the courts as “evidence” about the Twelve Tribes, we mean statements such as these by Klaudia Hartmann from the Augsburg Catholic Diocese (who testified against the parents of Wörnitz at the September 13, 2013 court hearing). Her manifold errors were chronicled by Professor Susan Palmer in her affidavit to the courts.


(1) “Klaudia Hartmann writes that her expert opinion is based on internet research, writings and interviews with ex-members who remain anonymous. But her portrait of the Twelve Tribes is full of errors. First, she gets their theology/eschatology totally wrong when she writes the Tribes have a “dualistic” view of the world and that everyone who does not join them will be consigned to the Lake of Fire. She obviously has not bothered to read the article “The Three Eternal Destinies” posted on the Twelve Tribes website that shows they believe in three fates for humanity. Thus, the “righteous servants” etc., who are not members but are well-intentioned people, will go to a third place called the “nations” (rather like the Mormon’s “three degrees of glory” in which the “righteous” are relegated to the “terrestrial” kingdom, as opposed to the “filthy and unjust” who will end up in the “telestial” kingdom). Any ex-member could have told Klaudia Hartmann that. So, in this respect, the Twelve Tribes are less “black and white” or “dualistic” than many Protestant denominations, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses—or even the Catholic Church with its policy of extra ecclesiam nulla salus (outside the church no salvation).

(2) “Second, Hartmann speaks of the Tribes’ sectarian nature; she claims that no outsiders are permitted to visit their community, except for potential converts. She has obviously never visited their communities, where it is very common to see relatives or friends of members at supper times or at the gatherings (minchas). For example, I recently met the mother of the man in the Czech Republic who had joined and contributed his farm to the community. His mother has no intention of joining, but visits every weekend to see her son and grandchildren. The Tribes also invite their clients from their solar panel “industry” or customers at the marketplace, or clients they deal with as building/carpentry contractors to come and see their way of life. Many of my colleagues, professors in the U.S., have visited the Tribes and taken their classes on field trips to their communities in California and New England.

(3) “Third, Klaudia Hartmann declares that the members of the Twelve Tribes do not go to doctors or give their children medical treatments, and mentions the cross-eyed twins. (Pingen case) Again, she has not done her research properly. It is true that while some of the Tribes members have health insurance, most do not (they are in the process of forming their own insurance company) but from this she infers that they also reject modern medicine. This is not true. The Tribes have always made a policy of consulting local doctors, and taking members to hospital if necessary. Marc Pingen submitted a stack of medical bills to the court to prove that he had frequently consulted doctors. His cross-eyed daughters have been wearing the alternating patch over the eye, which is the standard treatment for their condition. Despite these facts, and plenty of evidence, there is a pervasive myth in anti-cult circles that parents refuse medical treatment for their children. Many have had necessary operations.

(4) “Another example is that of the eight-year-old boy who has diabetes and was taken from his parents at the second raid on December 9, 2013. (Hennigfeld) The social workers, in their haste to remove the child, refused to accept the mother’s detailed instructions regarding his care. As a result, his blood sugar fluctuated in a dangerous manner and he was admitted to hospital. His father complains that at the institution where his son resides he is fed a poor diet; canned or micro-waved instant food, in contrast to the healthy bio-organic food he was fed in the community, and that his blood sugar is deliberately kept slightly high so as to avoid the dangers of low blood sugar, and his caretakers ignore the long-term debilitating effects (blindness, kidney failure, amputations, etc.) of ongoing high blood sugar for diabetic patients.2 His mother was able to monitor his blood sugar in a sensitive, caring way, and to administer his insulin and prepare his food so as to protect her son’s health and well-being at an intimate level that is not possible in a state institution.”

(5) “The Tribes do contribute to society and have cooperative relationships with their local communities. They offer charity to homeless and sick people who are not prospective members. To give an example, Professor Timothy Miller from University of Kansas told me how he was visiting the Tribes in the early Spring of 1995, when the police arrived in the middle of their evening gathering and asked them if they could take care of a homeless man for the night. He had arrived at the police station and begged for accommodation, but they did not have the facilities. The Tribes agreed, and the man spent a comfortable night and left after breakfast. This indicates that often local authorities recognize the Twelve Tribes as providing services and charity to their local secular societies. I met the father of a member in Klosterzimmern who was fatally ill from cancer and had no one else to care for him, so he had been taken in by the Tribes. Many communal groups refuse to allow unproductive people, the sick or elderly, to visit or to join, such as the famous Twin Oaks community that will not accept anyone over 60. The Tribes, however, has permitted elderly relatives of members to move in, as well as people with disabilitie. For example, I met a one-eyed man with slurred speech from a stroke, complicated by unsuccessful surgery, who blows the shofar at the Klosterzimmern community. These facts contradict the stereotypical portrait of the manipulative “sekte” that preys on and manipulates gullible members.”

In sum:

“As a social scientist and experienced researcher who teaches courses on research methods, I find it quite astonishing and a wholly insufficient basis to warrant judicial reliance that the very serious decision on whether to award the custody of the children of the Twelve Tribes to the state or to the biological parents should be based on the writings of “sekte experts” like Klaudia Hartmann of the Catholic Diocese, Sabine Riede of Sekten-Info Nordrhein-Westfalen, and Reverend Dr. Wolfgang Behnk of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria.

“Having read their writings on the Twelve Tribes I can say with confidence that they reveal their ignorance, sloppy, irresponsible approach to social scientific research, and a value-laden, biased, stereotypical “anti-cult” view of so-called “sektes”.

“In my expert opinion I find their claimed knowledge of the Twelve Tribes to be unreliable because it is inaccurate and not based upon first-hand knowledge and study, which is required to be qualified as an expert in a given field. I have been qualified as an expert in religious studies before, and specifically as a scholar of the Twelve Tribes’ Communities.”

  1. Yes, the age that is coming on the earth—the age of Isaiah 5:20 where good is called evil and evil is called good.
  2. This is abuse of the worst kind!