World Magazine Minimizes the Twelve Tribes’ Abuse

I grew up on World Magazine. It’s evangelical and conservative, but it really was fairly moderate compared to much of the other things I was exposed to. When the video of brutal caning of children came out and even Michael Farris admitted that what was going on in the Twelve Tribes sect in Germany was abuse, I fully expected World Magazine to jump solidly on the “we don’t condone this, this is abuse” bandwagon. And then . . . they didn’t.

Let’s first review what we have on video, what we know about the Twelve Tribes’ beliefs about child discipline, and a bit of testimony from former members, all helpfully laid out in the Independent article:

The little blonde-haired boy is about four years old. He simpers as a middle aged woman drags him downstairs into a dimly-lit cellar and orders the child to bend over and touch the stone floor with his hands. Another little boy watches as the woman pulls down the first boy’s pants and then draws out a willow cane.

“Say you are tired!” commands the woman in an emotionless voice. The swoosh of the willow cane is audible as it strikes the screaming child’s bottom three times. The little boy refuses to say he is tired so he is hit again and again – a total of ten times – until, in floods of tears, he finally says “I am tired.”

Within the space of a few hours, six adults are filmed in the cellar and in an underground school central heating room beating six children with a total of 83 strokes of the cane. The graphic and disturbing scenes were shown on Germany’s RTL television channel last night.

They were filmed by Wolfram Kuhnigk, an RTL journalist equipped with hidden video cameras and microphones, who infiltrated a 100-strong religious community run by the fundamentalist “Twelve Tribes” sect in Bavaria earlier this year. Kuhnigk claimed to be a lost soul to gain entry. “Seeing this systematic beatings made me want to weep, it made me think of my own two children,” he said. He collected 50 beating scenes on camera.

. . .

Its members consider the Old and New Testaments to be God’s direct word. The sect says it openly believes in “spanking” disobedient children to “drive out the Devil”. Its website insists: “We know that some people consider this aspect of our life controversial, but we have seen from experience that discipline keeps a child from becoming mean-spirited and disrespectful of authority.”

. . .

Sven, a 19-year-old former Twelve Tribes members who ran away at the age of 14 recalls how he was beaten for imitating an aeroplane. In the hands of one of the sect’s “educators”, he was beaten for days at 2 o’clock in the morning because he kept wetting his bed. “They said I had lost control of myself”, he says in an interview.

“I was told I would die if I tried to escape,” he tells Kuhnigk, “I was a child who was not allowed to be a child,” he added.

Interviews with former members are highly instructive as to the extent of the child abuse that took place in the Twelve Tribes commune in Germany and that has long taken place in Twelve Tribes communes across the world. This abuse stems from both the authoritarian structure of the group and their strict and unrelenting adherence to severe corporal punishment stemming from their belief in beating the devil out of children, which they hold as central to their identity. This isn’t the first time the Twelve Tribes has been caught abusing children. Since its founding in the 1970s, Twelve Tribes communes have been stormed in places as far apart as Vermont and California on charges of child abuse, kidnapping, child labor violations, and suspicious infant deaths. All of this has been common knowledge for years. All of it.

So how did World Magazine respond to the Independent article and the release of the video? Did they admit that this is a sect with endemic child abuse problems that has had multiple run-ins with the law, or that the beatings caught on video clearly crossed the line into horrific child abuse? No. Instead, they responded like this:

Twelve Tribes Raid Sparked by Secret Video

An undercover video recording prompted police to stage last week’s raid of The Twelve Tribes sect in Germany, in which they took custody of 40 children, including a girl who was just visiting. Earlier this year, an investigative journalist from RTL infiltrated the Christian communal group by pretending to be spiritually lost, then secretly recorded 50 spanking episodes, according to The Independent.

In one video, a middle-aged woman leads a boy about 4 years old into a cellar and demands, “Say you are tired!” When he refuses, she proceeds to spank him 10 times with a willow cane, until he says, through tears, “I am tired.” Within a few hours, five other children are also spanked.

One German official described the punishment in the recordings as “cold and systematic.” Germany outlawed corporal punishment of children in 2000. After viewing the secret recordings, officials decided to launch an investigation and take custody of the children.

The RTL journalist interviewed a 19-year-old former Twelve Tribes member named Sven who ran away from the community at 14. Sven said he was spanked for imitating an airplane and for wetting the bed: “They said I had lost control of myself. I was told I would die if I tried to escape. … I was a child who was not allowed to be a child.”

The picture of an abusive and repressive community contrasts with statements The Twelve Tribes has posted to its website, including one from woman who was a childhood friend of a community member.

“The children and young people in the community were quiet and balanced, no restless TV children,” she wrote. “They live very close to nature with their own garden, own animals, they play musical instruments, handcrafts, weaving, pottery, carpentry, home theater and so on. … The parents respond to their children calmly and deliberately, never [have I] seen them in anger. … There is a stable relationship between parents and children, which is marked by the affection, kindness, and caresses of the younger children.”

A neighbor to the community said the children seemed friendly, happy, and healthy. She sometimes saw the children taking walks or heard them playing volleyball. “You can see that the children are playing, they are happy and free, and nobody who has his senses together would have the idea to call this an isolated ‘cult.’ There is not even a fence.”

The Twelve Tribes also posted two eyewitness accounts of the raids.

World calls these brutal beatings “spankings” and leaves out the children’s screams and sobs. What the Independent makes clear were brutal beatings are reduced in World’s telling to mere “spankings.” Then World proceeds to quote from neighbors who said the kids seemed happy. What is this? Look, we have the beatings on video. We know they happened. Children dragged into a basement, held down, and, screaming, brutally beaten with rods. Whether the kids “seemed” happy is irrelevant to whether or not they were being beaten. We know they were being beaten.

This article is nothing short of a blatant minimization of child abuse. The author describes the beatings as merely “spankings” and then quotes neighbors saying they saw the kids all the time and they always “seemed” healthy and happy—the implication, of course, is: Was what was going on really all that bad? Personally, I’m feeling really, really done with the entire evangelical world right now. They claim that they are compassionate and care about the weak and defenseless, but when the rubber hits the road they sure don’t show it.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Beutelratti

    Another rather horrifying piece of information from the RTL-documentary: One of the rooms, in which the children were beaten, was in the basement and was only accessible through a rather long and dark, tunnel-like hallway.
    So the children were taken underground, through a pitch-black tunnel, and into a room where they were beaten systematically and without a glimpse of compassion. I don’t know how anyone could not consider that abuse and torture.

    • Highlander

      You can almost hear the euphemisms for the torture room. “Be good or you’ll go down the tunnel,” or “God says you need to go to the furnace room,” or “It’s the basement for you me bucko”.

    • Alix

      It’s like they’re literally trying to recreate hell.

      • Beutelratti

        Yes, apparently it was not enough to threaten them with an eternity of pain and torture. No, they thought it was a good idea to torture them in this life as well.
        I wouldn’t even be surprised if some of them thought that they’d rather go to hell, than suffer through one more day of their reality.

  • AAAtheist

    Who and what are you gonna believe, Libby, World Magazine and Twelve Tribes or the lying, ungodly video of the actual child abuse? (/beyond sarcasm)

    As to Sven, I guess that Twelve Tribes doesn’t or wouldn’t care that stress can reignite bedwetting.

    Physician, … hand in your medical license.”

  • smrnda

    this quote

    ‘“The children and young people in the community were quiet and balanced, no restless TV children,”’

    Even in the midst of proof that a cult is abusing kids, they have to drag out the tired trope that their home-cult-schooled kid are ‘quiet and balanced’ unlike the ‘TV children’ of secular people from the outside world, and that on top of that, they are better connected to nature.

    I note that, among normal people, if they become aware of child abuse they realize that it’s possible for a family (or a group of people) to look nice and happy on the outside but that it’s just a facade. These groups tend to believe that a positive outward imagine *proves* that nothing bad can be going on hidden from view.

  • Jan Kafka

    Canning children doesn’t have to be brutal. It can be done humanely…

    • Oswald Carnes

      Perhaps you’d be willing to demonstrate this? Bend over and touch the floor.

      • Jan Kafka

        I typed ‘canning’ not ‘caning’.

      • Richter_DL

        Oh, so this wasn’t just a troll unable to write? It’s not like this never happens. No offense meant. ;)

    • Sally

      Huh? I don’t know if you’re being sarcastic, sarcastic and making a funny by saying “canning” rather than “caning,” or if you’re being serious. If you’re being serious, do we really want to get into a discussion about using implements to spank with Vs beating children with objects debate? Because this article isn’t about that debate, this article is about something that was brutal any way you read it.

      • Jan Kafka

        When I read the piece, it said ‘canning’. I’m surprised no other reader caught it. I see the typo has since been corrected.

    • Highlander

      Does the humane version involve candy canes? ‘Cause if it involves a really big person hitting a really little person with a stick, it’s brutal. Let’s put some things into scale shall we? Let’s say you have a 800 pound 15 foot tall giant who speaks a language you just started to understand telling you what to do and when you fail to do everything it tells you exactly as it wants, it hits you with a hockey stick. That is what it is like for a 4 year old to be hit by an adult with a quarter inch cane. There is nothing humane about it, it would be terrifying, traumatic and painful. That is brutality especially because it is so completely unnecessary. Children are motivated by so many things, most of which are in the control of the adults around them and any one of which could be used to promote the desired behavior. Fear and pain does not need to be the only motivator.

    • Richter_DL

      I’m pretty sure you can also humanely waterboard somebody. Do you volunteer for trials?

  • Angela

    Hmm. Can you imagine the outrage if the police had treated the adults in a similar manner during the raid? Would they still describe that as “spankings”? And why link to that disgusting “eyewitness account” that whines about being treated just like jews being sent to concentration camps?

  • Sally

    No matter how many good things the Tribe did, not matter what they got “right,” the issue is they abused children and even systematically. It’s almost as if The World Magazine thinks if the children are dirty, playing in the mud with sticks and rocks with holes in their shoes, yelling and fighting with each other, and adults screaming out the window, “You, lazy, good-for-nothin’ kids, get out back and clean up that dog mess.,” that they’d believe those people abuse their children… maybe chasing them around hitting them with sticks when the mood strikes. And they expect the children to look all shallow-eyed and sad and scared all the time. But if the sect uses a basement and canes the children calmly and according to the teachings of their group, and they have clean children who play together nicely, and run and play and laugh, and they have big gardens, and adults use nice voices when they talk to their children, then the same pain inflicted by the stick is OK.
    Short answer: Big gardens and peaceful children do not excuse systematic, secret caning in the basement. Abused children can look and act very normal- it’s called survival.

    • Monika Jankun-Kelly

      Isn’t part of such cults’ child rearing practices beating kids for NOT looking happy all the time? “Joy” and a “positive attitude” are mandatory.

      • Sally

        Good point. Whether the kids look happy because they’re burying the truth of what they’re going through or because they have to look happy in order to avoid more abuse, clearly outsiders have no business spouting opinions about what went on in the basement based on what went on in the garden.

  • brbr2424

    If there are a total of 40 kids, and in the span of a few hours (3?), five children are taken to the tunnel, the math is pretty scary. That means probably each child is probably beaten at least once a day.

    • Beutelratti

      One of the siblings that were interviewed was asked if he was beaten more than once per day. His reply: “Of course! More than once in four hours!”

      • Lizzie

        It’s like they were looking for reasons to hit.

      • Beutelratti

        Yes. Sven (another interviewed survivor) claimed he was beaten for imitating the sound of an airplane. So basically they were beaten just for being kids.

  • Aisling

    The Twelve Tribes used to have a compound here in Vermont when I was a girl. They made big news when one father beat his son to death in the name of discipline. That anyone has forgotten so soon is a tragedy. It’s always Savage Messiah, all over again.

  • Jenna Ali

    This is the same vile nonsense advocated by the sadistic Pearl family. Someone please explain to me why if I hit an adult with a cane it is battery, but if I hit a child it’s not? If we can’t protect the most helpless among us, we’re lost.

    • Caroline Moreschi

      Yeah, funny how that works, isn’t it? You’d think children would warrant more protection than adults, since they’re smaller and weaker….

  • Christine

    Given what World Magazine is willing to write while they are minimizing the abuse, I’m not surprised that they defend it. They are willing to include the fact that the child is being punished because the adult thinks that he needs to say that he’s tired, as if that’s not horrifying in and of itself, entirely apart from the means used to get him to say it.

    • Sally

      Right. What kid doesn’t tell his parent he’s not tired at some point? Maybe he’s not tired because he’s outgrown the need to nap or needs a later bedtime. Or maybe he is tired and he doesn’t want to admit it because he doesn’t want to go to bed. If it’s probably the latter, then you say, “That’s OK, sweetie, it’s still bedtime. Just rest your eyes and think of pleasant thoughts while you have some quiet rest time.” Even if you think the kid is being outrageously defiant, you just de-escalate by not getting into an argument in the first place- especially with a 4 year old if it’s really time for bed. Why turn something which really means, “I like being awake” (which could be considered a compliment) into a battle for his soul against the Devil. Sheesh!

      • ako

        When I was a kid, there were a lot of times where I’d get cranky or goofy or restless or something because I needed to sleep, but I wouldn’t feel obviously tired. (I’ve always been slow to fall asleep, and rarely napped.) So “I’m not tired” can mean “I’m still learning to recognize what my body is telling me”, and once again, kids are having the worst possible motives attributed to them, and being beaten for being kids.

      • brbr2424

        I agree. you don’t tell a cranky tired child that they are cranky and tired and need a nap. That is just like telling a screaming adult that they are out of control. I guess these adult have no exposure to even the most basic information in child development books because they refuse to read them.

      • Lyric

        Yeah, but you have to wonder if none of them have any younger siblings. (They probably cut themselves off from parents’ advice.) I mean, don’t any of them remember hearing, “No, of course you’re not tired, let’s lie down for a little while anyway?”

        (Which, as a kindergartener, bugged the hell out of me, because I couldn’t take naps. Seriously; I stopped taking naps when I was one. And I knew when I was being patronized.)

      • Leigha7

        I stopped taking naps when I was one, also. Fortunately, we never had to take naps in preschool or kindergarten (my kindergarten was half day, anyway), because I would not have done well with that. I might’ve done fine if they let me read instead, but as I remember it, they did just about everything in their power to KEEP kids from reading then (not even kidding, we were totally forbidden in kindergarten to so much as set foot in other parts of the library besides the easy readers).

      • Lyric

        Lucky! We had to lie down on not-very-comfortable mats, close our eyes, and (at age five, this was the bit that really got to me) not hum.

        Ooh, I hate that book thing! Although I honestly don’t know what my kindergarten’s policy was; I couldn’t read back then. My family’s pattern is to remain completely incapable of reading until sometime around age six, when we learn to read in a week. And when I say “learn to read,” I really do mean learn to read. A month into first grade, when it clicked for me, I declared that I was going to read the longest book I knew of: Watership Down. It took me until Christmas, but by god I did it.

        And that was when library restrictions started to drive me completely around the bend. Not only because I knew I could read the stuff in the fifth grade section, but because, after Watership Down, I doubted that there was anything that could really rattle me. (And nobody bothered to explain that they were actually trying to keep me out of the Judy Bloom.)

      • NeaDods

        Heh. I was allowed to go anywhere I wanted in the public library, and at the age of eight or nine, glommed onto Adam’s book after Watership with glee, I’d loved those rabbits so much.

        I was HORRIFIED by it as it was handling issues far above my head at the time.

      • The_L1985

        Plague Dogs? I read that one as an adult and it freaked me out.

      • NeaDods

        Yup. I didn’t get far; at that age, I was mortally offended that he’d used the word “penis” in the first few pages.

      • Lyric

        I’m with The_L; Plague Dogs is disturbing at any age.

        Most of those restrictions were for the school library. I was allowed to wander more or less where I wanted in the public one, so I lodged myself in the YA section and read, among other things, all the Nancy Drew and all the Walter Farleigh before discovering Anne McCaffrey and science fiction, whereupon I started making regular forays into the adult section to get books by authors who wrote both YA and adult, and god only knows how spectacularly Mom would have flipped her lid if she’d read That Scene in Dragonquest—which I skipped over utterly since it was humans and not awesome aerial combat stuff.

      • NeaDods

        *giggle*snort* I read The White Dragon in high school and was *bored* by all the sex whatshisface had. I was all, “AGAIN? Some of us are reading for the plot!”

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Lol yeah, I remember doing that in 6-8th grades a lot. I did that with Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey and Katherine Kurtz (Deryni series) all.

      • The_L1985

        You too, eh?

      • The_L1985

        That is really awesome. :) I tended to avoid books for adults unless they were history or biology books with lots of pictures. I couldn’t stand the idea of a book without illustrations at that age.

      • Caroline Moreschi

        Wow, I didn’t read that book until 6th, and it still wigged me out. Great book though. Have you ever seen the cartoon? Talk about disturbing.

      • Christine

        I had to get special premission to take out books from other parts of the school library, but once they saw I could read they granted it. When I was in kindergarten, however, I mostly read books that were aimed at people my age, to be read by parents. Since my school library had books for us to take home for our parents to read, I was ok until higher grades.

        And this sort of lack of napping problems is why, even though I call it naptime, my daughter doesn’t get told that she needs a nap. She’ll get told that it’s nap time, and that she is acting like she needs a rest. I explicitly say that she doesn’t need to sleep, but she does need to rest, and I leave her a book. (I can’t nap either, but we call it a nap when I go and lie down in bed until I’m more fully awake again).

      • The_L1985

        Yikes! By age 5, I was reading at a middle-school level at least. I would have had a FIT after the first week, because I would have finished off the easy-readers and would want to try something else now.

      • The_L1985

        You too, huh? I got sent to the first-grade class during nap time because I couldn’t stay still or quiet enough and was keeping the other kids up.

      • Lyric

        My kindergarten wasn’t half so flexible. I just got told that I would be quiet.

        I had a difficult kindergarten year because of a mixture of the teachers’ inflexibility and my own. I remember once, during our section on American Indians, the teacher tried to tell us that you had to have someone paddling on both sides of a canoe or else it would go in circles. I protested that my Mom knew how to paddle so that the canoe went straight while I shipped my paddle and looked at birds through the binoculars.

        The teacher told me that was physically impossible and it hadn’t happened that way. So I dug in my heels, probably quite rudely, because I knew I was right—and a five-year-old who is already easily upset by that sort of thing due to psychological abuse is not going to be at her most diplomatic when challenging the teacher on a fact. For all I know, the teacher was fairly diplomatic in telling me (quite wrongly, incidentally)* that I was remembering wrong, but I knew perfectly well that if a child’s memory contradicts someone in charge, that means the child is a filthy little liar, so I would have been fairly desperate to prove my point. Besides, unlike all the times my father reinterpreted my actions (you were bouncing the ball against the wall specifically because you knew I had a headache, and you knew the noise would make it worse), this wasn’t some fuzzy, unprovable matter of how I was feeling, it was physical reality.

        As you can tell, I stressed way too much about this. I hope my kids don’t have bad kindergarten teachers; I think five years old is too young to have really mastered the social skill of not contradicting authority figures when it isn’t important. Of course, I hadn’t mastered that skill even by fifth grade, when I got into a debate with the school principal about how the First Amendment applied to a school setting . . .

        *It’s called a J-stroke. You sort of turn your paddle at the end of the stroke and make it a temporary rudder, angling the canoe in the direction you want it to head.

      • Anat

        Or you tell the kid that they need to stay in their room and be quiet because other members of the household are tired.

    • Leigha7

      Yeah, I can’t make any sense of that one. I’ve been trying to figure out some sort of context in which I could understand why someone would try to force their kid to say they’re tired, and I really can’t. If they were going to write an article explaining how this is totally not abuse, they probably should’ve left that part out, because it sounds pretty abusive in and of itself.

      • kecks

        possible context for that one: little one is asked to go to bed or lie down for a nap. many kids hate going to bed (they fear to be left out of whatever magical is going to happen when they sleep). so little one says: “but i am not tired.” crazy christian sect adult thinks: “little one is disobedient.” and there the caning goes untill little one gives in to the pain and says “i am tired” while crying and not being tired at all.

  • anon 101

    Hi Libby, I’m really happy that you brought this child abuse by the twelve tribes in Germany to the attention of a greater audience (American). I’m from Germany. I think it is really important that we realize that these sects are not a local phenomenon. All the best

  • Melody Jones

    People who punish others “calmly and deliberately” are intensely terrifying. While being punished in a blind rage is a horrifying awful thing, there’s something deeply unsettling about parents who offer hugs and ice cream with the same demeanor as they dish out “discipline”. As a child especially, it is very hard to gauge situations if your parents are always one way, but you know they’re capable of doing things like that. How can you ever trust their calm and gentle nature if that’s what their cruelty is bound up in? Ugh. These poor children. :/

    • Sally

      I know. I mean, we do want to encourage parents to be calm if they do give out a consequence, or otherwise correct a child. It’s not like we want to encourage yelling or escalating. But I think we all have this picture of this parenting style of this group where the combination of something brutal done in a cold manner is messing with the kids’ heads.

    • Monika Jankun-Kelly

      I think being hugged at the end is the creepiest. Mandatory hugs. Refuse the hug, don’t hug back, get beaten again. Being told they’re loved and it’s for their own good, right after a brutal beating, that’s got to mess the kids up. So sad. :(

      [edit: Don't know if Twelve Tribes did the sick mandatory hugs, but it's something I've read repeatedly in survivor accounts from those in other authoritarian sects.]

      • Leigha7

        When I was a kid, the first thing I did after being punished was ask for a hug. I’m pretty sure a lot of “experts” (in quotes because I don’t know if anyone is really an expert at how to raise/discipline kids) recommend showing your child affection after punishing them, to reassure them.

        But mandatory hugging, under ANY circumstances, is pretty awful. It reminds me of Annie, how any time they complained, they were forced to chant, “We love you, Miss Hannigan.” I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: if your parenting (or relationship) tactics make you resemble an over-the-top movie villain, you’re probably doing something wrong.

  • Richter_DL

    “Children held down” – tied up occasionally, according to Yael, a cult runaway interviewed in the piece. Tied up. With rope. Which, under German law, is illegal restraint and comes with rather heavy punishment.

    Also, the official says “systematic and cold” in explaining how, under law, this is torture. I get that conservative America thinks torture sometimes is a-okay, but on children? Seriously?

  • The_L1985

    This is so disgusting.

  • Holly Houston

    Well of course these poor babies were “quiet” and “seemed happy”. They were probably too terrified to do otherwise.

  • Beutelratti

    Not sure where to post this, but it’s interesting that both the German and the American Twelve Tribes websites have been suspended.
    http://www.zwoelfstaemme.de/
    http://www.twelvetribes.com/

  • Stev84

    Anyone would pretend to be happy when any deviation results in more beatings.

  • Conuly

    The worst thing, I think, is the arbitrariness of the punishments we know happened.

    I can see hitting your kid for doing something dangerous or wrong. I might not agree with it, I might think it is probably ineffective, but I can *understand* hitting your child because they hit another child or ran into the street.

    And I can see snapping at your kid and hitting them for being a kid. Again, I don’t have to agree with it to understand how somebody might end up screaming at their kid and hitting them because they just refuse to shut up and keep getting in the way and you’re trying to get dinner on the table and you don’t have money to buy pizza if dinner is flubbed and you think you already burned the rice and….

    These might not be good things to do, but I can understand how they happen. It’s a little less understandable when you start hitting your kids with objects, but still, I can bend my mind around the concept.

    But calmly bringing a kid into another room to beat him for not admitting he is tired? If you think your kid needs a nap, and they disagree, put them in their room with a book and close the door! They sleep, or they don’t. I can see frustration, but by the time you’ve dragged the kid down the tunnel, shouldn’t you be calmed down?

    Beating a kid for pretending to be an airplane? What the…? Kids make annoying noises. If its during class time or church or bedtime, send them to where they aren’t disrupting the others. If not, you move! How hard is it?

    I just really don’t understand it, calmly hitting the kid for such non-offensive “offenses”.

    • Alix

      It makes perfect sense to an authoritarian, though (though it’s important to note that not all authoritarians actually believe in corporal punishment).

      They’re not “being kids,” to an authoritarian. They’re defying authority, and that’s the unforgivable sin. So if you’ve told them to go down for a nap and they refuse, or you’ve told them to stop the annoying airplane noise and they won’t, to an authoritarian, they’ve just gone from “annoying” to “defiant,” and need to be punished. For not knowing their place, basically.


      I want to make it expressly clear: I think this is full of crap. I understand the mindset, though, much as I wish I didn’t.

  • Mike Lee

    PART1: “The upside-down
    world rewards in reverse: it scorns honesty, punishes work, prizes lack of
    scruples, and feeds cannibalism. Its professors slander nature: injustice, they
    say, is a law of nature.” Eduardo Galeano in “Upside Down: A Primer for
    the Looking Glass World…” http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/books/books.php?id=2490

    A cannibalistic lack of
    scruples is just about right to aptly describe this parasitic journalist called
    Wolfram Kuhnigk.

    As the author of this
    unashamedly biased piece of misleading garbage, why do you not include the many
    testimonies of the people who REALLY know this community; who have lived beside
    and amongst these good folk, and have shared their lives for many YEARS – not merely the handful
    of weeks it took Kuhnigk, skulking around with his hidden cameras, to fulfil his
    agenda of filming only that which suited his purpose?

    ‘Fifty episodes’ caught on
    film of spanking children on the bottom with a willow cane does not constitute “child
    abuse”; nor is it a “beating”: Highly emotionally charged and misleading words
    and phraseology, which this article wantonly abuses to melodramatic effect.

    Let us place such
    terminology in its real context: it would not be out of place when describing
    the perverse and filthy paedophilic abuse to which Holly Greig and many other very
    vulnerable children have been prey to – and at the hands of the ‘elite’; ‘powerful’
    people in the British politico-legal establishment and their accomplices.

    Yet even with the
    voluminous REAL evidence and testimony against these ‘powerful’ people they yet
    remain at liberty and at large. And they do so while ‘their media’, the
    establishment or ‘mainstream’ media stay alarmingly silent about such REAL
    child abuse.

    Yet this same media jump
    at the chance to pick on the good folk of Klosterzimmern on the flimsiest of
    pretexts. Any child being raised within a Twelve Tribes community need never
    fear REAL abuse, as any unbiased observer would know.

    So something is
    fundamentally wrong here: The ‘elite’ turn the world on its head, and expect us
    all to dance to their tune – well it doesn’t ring true to me, and I’m not
    dancing.

    This is deliberate
    persecution of a community which dares to be different, and there is plenty of
    evidence:

    http://twelvetribes.org/articles/my-greatest-desire-child

    Is there anyone who can hear my voice who has respect for their
    fellow man and regards human life?

    You
    would think that one would think to himself, “How would I feel if someone took
    my children away? How would I feel if I was taken away from my parents and
    given to people I didn’t know, having no idea, when and how, my nightmare would
    end?”

    I
    grew up in the Community in France. I was trained to respect authority
    including police men, judges, and civil servants. I was taught these people
    were there to protect those that do good and to punish criminals.

    Throughout
    my childhood we faced a lot of trouble from the government in France. The
    authorities questioned my parents in the areas of schooling, vaccinations,
    discipline, and why we were not allowed to watch T.V. It was obvious they
    didn’t agree with the way my parents had chosen to raise my siblings and I.
    More than once we were surprised by dozens of policemen coming to our house,
    sometimes to our private bedrooms early in the morning. Doctors performed
    ‘check-ups’ looking for evidence of abuse, and psychiatrists questioned us to
    examine our state of minds. My dad was taken to jail a few times and went to
    court regularly. I remember my greatest desire as a child; “I just wish they
    would leave us alone!” I remember asking so many times, “If they are suppose to
    protect those who do good why do they harass us?” I knew for a fact that my
    parents loved us and we were not mistreated.

    In
    fact, my Dad grew up an orphan and had heart-wrenching stories to tell us of
    his upbringing. His dream, he told us often, was that he would grow up and have
    a big family who were together and loved each other. This came true. My
    brothers and sisters loved our family and our parents. Yes, my parents
    disciplined us, but I never once doubted they loved us. I knew that they wanted
    me to grow up and be respectful and responsible. My Dad did not tolerate
    disrespect, especially towards my mother. When he disciplined me for it he
    always told me, “You don’t know how privileged you are to have a mother who
    loves you and cares for you. When I was your age, I wished I had a mother…” His
    mother died when he was only eight. We knew that we were fulfilling his dream
    of not only having a family who loved and cared for each other, but in being
    obedient to God and living a life to care for others. We respected our father
    and we wanted to be his pride and joy.

    Now
    years later, I have a family of my own. I’ve chosen to raise my children in the
    way I was raised. I knew that if I love and discipline them it would bear the
    fruit of righteous (Hebrews 12:11). If I believed that my upbringing was wrong
    and abusive, I certainly would not want the same for my children. That is not
    the case.

    I
    do appreciate the fact that there are freedoms in America (where I now live
    with my American husband), that also allows us to train our children according
    to our convictions. Thankfully my children have not had to experience some of
    the things I did growing up in Europe. But, what about my relatives in Europe?
    What about my classmates in Germany, who had all their children taken away from
    them. Will anyone stand up for them?

    Looking at these “bottom-spankings”
    in Klosterzimmern with a cool head, and from the perspective of a large
    community with many adults and children sharing the same living space, it is
    commendable that the Klosterzimmern parents have an obvious and deliberate
    method of administering the discipline that they feel is appropriate to their
    children, which works for both the children and their parents.

    It is of great credit to
    the Klosterzimmern parents that these bottom-spankings are all that the
    skulking Kuhnigk was able to capture with his hidden cameras.

    Yet the bottom-spankings
    per se do not appear to be the issue:

    http://twelvetribes.org/blog/a-law-against-love

    The Nördlingen district court issued a preliminary order for the
    temporary withdrawal of custody based on its perception of a very high
    immediate risk to the mental well-being of the children. The only legal facts
    in this decision, however, are that the parents of the children are part of the
    faith of the Twelve Tribes. What is the legal basis in this? People cannot be
    found guilty based on their association with a religious faith. Will we be
    treated differently from any other citizen simply because of our beliefs? No
    specific evidence was produced against any individual affected. Obviously, the
    court considered it irrelevant to first get an accurate picture of the children
    and their well-being. The court’s decision came without any warning. The police
    and the youth welfare office presented us with afait accompli, with all their “facts”
    pre-arranged. A previous visit by the judge never took place.

    “The mental well-being of
    the children”! Well, well!

    That is a very ambiguous
    statement.

    It must be stated
    unequivocally that the Klosterzimmern children are bright, physically healthy,
    psychologically healthy, thriving and very happy kids: the parents are getting
    their parenting just right.

    The Twelve Tribes children
    are justly proud of their parents and the parenting they are given.

    The following statement
    from a nurse who has known the community for YEARS, from the inside, and other statements just like it
    from the neighbours of the community who have also lived amongst the
    Klosterzimmern folk for YEARS,
    paint a very different picture than the one described by these journalists, and
    it goes to show what a gross injustice is being visited upon this community.

    “The
    Twelve Tribes community was living in Oberbronnen in Baden-Württemberg, and my
    mum and I and a girlfriend went there because we thought it was interesting. So
    we became pen pals and then close friends for life.

    The
    family of her parents was marked by a lot of understanding and affection. At
    the time, being a child and young teenager, this appeared to me as normal, but
    today I am a trained family nurse, and have worked 2 ½ years in this
    profession. Now, studying social work, I know that a loving family environment
    is not at all something to be taken for granted. In Mo-Aydah’s family and also
    in the other families in Klosterzimmern with whom I came in contact, I have had
    the privilege to experience such a loving togetherness among them.

    The kids were fearless and as Pre-pubescent and Pubescent (children), tested the limits, the way children and
    teenagers just do it. When I hear now that the Twelve Tribes Community is
    accused of military drill of children that is absolute nonsense and contradicts
    everything I have seen and experienced.

    The
    children and young people in the community were quiet and balanced, no restless
    TV children. They live very close to nature with their own garden, own animals
    they play musical instruments, handcrafts, weaving, pottery, carpentry, home
    theatre and so on. They are perhaps the most creative children I have met so
    far in my life.

    In
    the choice of musical instruments the parents were sensitive of the talents,
    interests and capabilities of each child. They had piano, violin, harp,
    trumpet, flute, guitar, drums, and so on.

    The children are obviously not under compulsion or brainwashed, their behaviour
    is spontaneous, creative, open, curious, sometimes really inappropriate – as it
    is normal for children, and never once gave me the impression of being
    distraught or abused.

    The
    children are being treated in very age-appropriate fashions.

    On Saturday/Sabbath service
    was held and the children were not required to adjust to the adults’ religious
    thinking. Instead, the children were offered a completely child-oriented
    program, including story-telling, plays and musical offerings. Thus the Bible
    stories become tangible and real, and the children feel appreciated and
    protected by participating.

    Upon
    hearing accusations such as that the children are being harshly treated, I can
    hardly believe that someone would broadcast statements like this. The parents
    respond to their children calmly and deliberately, never I have seen them in
    anger. Children and teenagers are being met with great understanding and
    empathy.

    The children don’t get lost in a chaos of differing opinions, because when they
    ask adults for this or that, they are often told to go to mum or dad so that
    the child would be led back to his own family with all his questions, to honour
    his parents’ authority and to preserve the security of his family environment.

    Yet
    the education is not anti-authoritarian, but consistent.

    There
    is a stable relationship between parents and children, which is marked by the
    affection, kindness, and caresses of the younger children, and at no time I had
    the impression that fear of penalties would have played a significant role in
    the concept of education in the family of my friend or in the community in general.

    I
    remember fondly that after the birth of her first child, my friend was taken
    care of by a network of loving relationships. Her husband Noah often took on
    the care for the baby, and also other members of the community Klosterzimmern
    were available, being helpful to prevent the young mother from being
    overloaded.

    I have not experienced the horror community, of which the media is reporting
    fervently, but rather a model community, which I enjoy visiting time and time
    again, and where I feel at home.

    If
    I had children and would have to go for the few days to hospital, I would give
    my children without hesitation into the hands of my friend and her
    husband.”

    The
    bond between parents and their children is sacred and forms a sacred
    spirituality. To unjustly take one child from its parents is a crime against
    morality. To blanket-kidnap forty children reveals a German State, drunk on
    power, which has an axe to grind.

    The
    Klosterzimmern children are not the property of the German State, however much
    the German State would like to think so; aided
    and abetted by the furore whipped-up by the German Media, they have seized this
    opportunity to use militarized force to blanket-kidnap forty children from
    their parents.

    This constitutes a gross
    abuse of common decency and basic human rights.

    We therefore must question
    the underlying motives of those who, acting on the ‘authority’ of the German
    State, are choosing to deliberately target and persecute the Twelve Tribes
    community in this manner.

    Who are the Twelve Tribes:
    far from being “closed-off”, “secretive”, “fundamentalist sects”, they are peace-loving,
    model communities who stoically reject the amoral dogma of dog-eat-dog elitism,
    consumerism and materialism so vaunted by our elites, and their media.

    This is rammed down our
    throats every day, and the only people who ‘profit’ by it are the self-styled
    ‘elites’.

    It is an elitism which
    holds nothing as sacred, apart from their ‘right’ to do what they please.

    The Twelve Tribes are a
    community which dares to resist and offer an honourable, timely and welcome alternative
    to this mindless and destructive dogma which continues to lay waste to the
    world and impoverish and divide most of humanity, while enriching and
    empowering the select few who serve it.

    The Twelve Tribes folk
    lead by example: they embrace a life of mutual devotion, love and sharing.

    Their farming communities
    strive to grow enough food to feed themselves, to make their own clothing; produce
    their own energy needs by sustainable means.

    Indeed they strive towards
    zero-waste and self-reliance.

    This anti-consumerism,
    anti-materialism is a very honourable way of life, and there is no better way
    than to lead by example.

    We would all do well to look
    at our own lives and see how we measure up to such selfless devotion.

    Far from being
    “closed-off” and “secretive”, the Twelve Tribes communities celebrate their
    faith and their lives openly. They advertise discreetly and generously welcome others
    into their midst; it is just this openness and generosity of spirit which makes
    them vulnerable to unscrupulous journalists like Kuhnigk.

    There is a clear,
    ideological clash here between a divisive and elitist State, drunk on its own
    power, and a community which dares to be different and stand up and be counted.

    In 1984, an appropriately
    Orwellian date, the same thing happened to the Twelve Tribes community of
    Island Pond: One hundred and twelve of their children were forcibly kidnapped
    by the armed State ‘authorities’ of Vermont in the USA.

    The ‘authorities’ took
    their ‘case’ before the court, and a certain Judge Mahady let it be known just
    what he thought of this blanket kidnapping.

    For those
    who have never read Judge Mahady’s Island Pond opinion, http://twelvetribes.com/controversies/judge-mahadys-decision-1984-island-pond-raid,

    I urge
    you to do so: You will learn something important about what it means to live in
    a democracy and what it takes to protect it.
    The parallels
    between the events in Vermont thirty years ago and the events in Klosterzimmern
    are striking: (Here are the first paragraphs of JM’s opinion).

    In 1984 Judge Mahady upheld his reputation as a
    jurist who took very seriously the constitutional principles that are the
    foundations of justice. In this ruling about the actions of the State of
    Vermont on June 22nd 1984 he offers a remarkable order describing the 4000-year
    legal history of search warrants, pointing out how far the state of Vermont had
    strayed from it.

    STATE OF VERMONT

    ORLEANS COUNTY, ss.

    IN RE: CERTAIN CHILDREN

    DISTRICT COURT OF VERMONT

    UNIT NO. 3, ORLEANS CIRCUIT

    [Filed - June 26, 1984]

    OPINION: DETENTION ORDER

    At dawn on June 22, 1984, 112 children were taken
    into custody by the State in Island Pond, Vermont. They were delivered to this
    Court pursuant to 33 V.S.A. §640 (2) at which time the State requested a
    blanket order of detention under 33 V.S.A. §641.

    The Court refused to
    proceed ex parte and appointed counsel for the parents as well as counsel for
    the children on its own motion pursuant to 33 V.S.A. §653. Individual,

  • Mike Lee

    PART2: contested hearings were then held with regard to
    the State’s request for Section 641 orders of detention.

    Each such request was denied by the Court from the
    bench, and the Court indicated that this opinion regarding those Orders would
    subsequently be filed.

    (A.)

    One purpose of Vermont’s Juvenile Procedures is
    “to provide for the care, protection and wholesome moral, mental and
    physical development of children.” 33 V.S.A. §631 (a) (1).

    However, it is the unequivocal goal of the Vermont
    legislature “to achieve [this] purpose, whenever possible, in a family
    environment, separating the child from his parents only when necessary for his
    welfare.” 33 V.S.A. §631 (a) (3). (emphasis applied).

    This clause recognizes the fact that “the
    freedom of children and parents to relate to one another in the context of the
    family, free of governmental interference, is a basic liberty long established
    in our constitutional law.” In re N.H., 135 Vt. 230, 236 (1977) [Hill,
    J.]; see, Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645 (1972); Prince v. Massachusetts,
    321 U.S. 158 (1944); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923). The legislature,
    in Section 631 (a) (3), has expressly provided that a child be separated from
    his parents only when necessary precisely in order to ensure that this
    fundamental liberty will not be unduly tampered with. In re N.H., op. Cit.; In
    re J.M., 131 Vt. 604, 609 (1972).

    (B.)

    When the Court applies these clear and unambiguous
    constitutional and legislative mandates, regard must be had for compelling
    parental rights. In re N.H., op. Cit. At 237. Therefore, Vermont’s Courts
    “have proceeded with great caution, and continue to do so in light of the
    awesome power involved” with the removal of children from their parents.
    In re G.V. and R.P., 136 Vt. 499, 503 (1978); In re D.R., 136 Vt. 478 (1978);
    In re J. & J.W., 134 Vt. 480 (1976).

    Of course, the best interests of the child involved
    is the principal concern in juvenile proceedings. However, as Mr. Justice
    Larrow has pointed out, “the ‘best interest of the child’ is a useful
    maximum, but it comes into play only when there is a legal jurisdiction.”
    In re J. & J.W., op. Cit. At 485, 486 (Larrow, J., concurring).

    (C.)

    It is in this context that Mr. Justice Hill,
    writing for a unanimous Court, explicitly set out the controlling rule of law:
    “Accordingly, any time the State seeks to interfere with the rights of
    parents on the generalized assumption that the children are in need of care and
    supervision, it must first produce sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the
    statutory directives allowing such intervention are fully satisfied.” In
    re N.H., op. Cit. At 235; In re J.M., op. Cit. At 607.

    Therefore, it is the burden and heavy
    responsibility of the State to demonstrate by sufficient evidence, not
    generalized assumption, that it is necessary to separate each of these 112
    children from his or her parents. 33 V.S.A. §631 (a) (3).

    (D.)

    The State virtually admits that it cannot meet this
    burden. It’s Petition, on its face, does not even allege that the children are,
    indeed, in need of care and supervision. The allegation is merely a blatantly
    generalized assumption that “all children under the age of 18 residing in
    the Community of the Northeast Kingdom Community Church (NEKCC) in Island Pond
    … may be in need of care and supervision …” (emphasis supplied).

    Moreover, the State admits that there is not a
    single piece of evidence in the material submitted that documents a single act
    of abuse or neglect with regard to any of the 112 children.

    The theory is that there is some evidence of some
    abuse at some time in the past of some other children in the community. The
    same, of course, may be shown of Middlebury, Burlington, Rutland, Newport or
    any other community. Such generalized assumptions do not warrant mass raids by
    the police removing the children of Middlebury, Burlington, Rutland, Newport or
    any other community (even a small, unpopular one).

    Adlai Stevenson once quoted that “guilt is
    personal”, and I might add “not communal”. Our Court has held
    many times that mere presence at a particular place is not sufficient to
    establish participation in a particular act. See, e.g., State v. Wood, 143 Vt.
    408, 411 (1983); State v. Carter, 138 Vt. 264, 269 (1980); State v. Orlandi,
    106 Vt. 165, 171 (1934).

    Therefore, “when the court seeks to take the
    child out of [the] parental home, it may do so only upon convincing
    proof.” In re Y.B., 143 Vt. 344, 347 (1983) [Billings, C.J.]. Here, the
    State lacks any proof whatsoever as to these children and these parents, much
    less “convincing proof”. “The right of children and parents to
    relate to each other free from government interference is a basic liberty … and
    will only be interfered with upon requisite proof of parental unfitness.”
    In re Y.B., op. Cit. At 348. One’s right to the care, custody and control of
    one’s children is a fundamental liberty interest protected as well by the due
    process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
    In re C.L., 143 Vt. 554, 557-58 (1983); Santosky v. Kramer, 455 U.S. 745, 753
    (1982).

    These concerns apply at the detention stage of
    juvenile proceedings. “In cases of juvenile detention it is important ..
    to minimize the possible intrusion upon the parents’ constitutional right to
    family integrity.” In re R.S., 143 Vt. 565, 569 (1983) [Gibson, J.].

    For these reasons this Court refused the State’s
    rather incredible request that the Court issue a blanket detention order for
    112 children ex parte and without even holding hearings. The same reasons
    compelled denial of that request after holding the adversary hearings.

    (E.)

    Indeed, it is all too clear that the State’s
    request for the protective detention permitted by the statute upon an
    appropriate showing was entirely pretextual. What the State really sought was
    investigative detention.

    In effect, each of the children was viewed as a
    piece of potential evidence. It was the State’s admitted purpose to transport
    each of the 112 children to a special clinic where they were to be examined by
    a team of doctors and psychologists for evidence of abuse. If no signs of abuse
    were found, a child would be returned to its parents provided the parents “cooperated”,
    that is, gave certain information to the police.

    Thus, not only were the children to be treated as
    mere pieces of evidence, they were also to be held hostage to the ransom demand
    of information from the parents.

    This stated plan of the State lends credence to the
    complaint of a number of the parents during the course of the hearings to the
    effect that they had been told by law enforcement personnel at the time of the
    raid that they would not be reunified with their children unless they gave certain
    information. During the course of the hearings the State did indicate that, if
    custody were awarded, children would be returned to “cooperative
    parents”.

    Had the Court issued the detention orders requested
    by the State it would have made itself a party to this grossly unlawful scheme.

    In our society, people are not pieces of evidence.
    Such a “contention … clashes with a fundamental written into our
    Constitution …; no human being in the United States may be [so] dealt with … by
    government officials, or by anyone else.” Blackie’s House of Beef, Inc. v.
    Castillo, 467 F.Supp. 170 (D.C. 1978). Our rules relating to the issuance of
    search warrants reflects this basic concept. Such a warrant may be issued for a
    person only if there is probable cause to arrest that person, V.R.Cr.P. 41 (b)
    (5), or for a person who has been kidnapped or unlawfully imprisoned or
    restrained. V.R.Cr.P. 41 (b) (4).

    Were it otherwise, the State could use the device
    of a search warrant or other detention to compel a traumatized rape victim to
    submit to physical and psychological examination in order to provide the State
    with evidence. Our society and laws would not for a moment countenance such an
    outrage. Yet, that is precisely how the State here proposes to treat these 112
    children.

    As for that part of the scheme that would return
    the children to “cooperative parents”, such practices are disapproved
    “because of society’s abhorrence of techniques of coercion”.
    Whitebread, Constitutional Criminal Procedure, 163. Statements may not be obtained
    by means of physical brutality, Brown v. Mississippi, 297 U.S. 278 (1936);
    Williams v. United States, 341 U.S. 97 (1951), nor by psychological pressures.
    Spano v. New York, 360 U.S. 315 (1959).

    No person may be held “in order that he may be
    at the disposal of the authorities while a case is discovered against
    him.” In re Davis, 126 Vt. 142, 143 (1966). Neither may his child.

    All the “evidence”, the
    “concrete proofs” that the German State has so far is Kuhnigk’s fatally biased
    film: where is his footage of the love and affection between the children and
    their parents that so many others who know the community well have described?
    But that was not Kuhnigk’s agenda.

    Kuhnigk’s clandestine
    footage shows “fifty episodes” of “bottom-spanking”. This means that some of
    the Klosterzimmern parents have been caught on camera spanking some of their
    children with a willow reed, which they openly admit is a way in which they
    discipline their children. They have never hidden this fact from the
    ‘authorities’, therefore the ‘authorities’ have no new evidence, apart from the
    fact that this spanking has been captured on film by a journalist, working
    undercover in a cold and methodical manner.

    The issue here is spanking
    – the German State says that if a parent spanks a child in Germany, they are
    committing a crime. To my mind, the German State does not have the moral
    authority to impose such a restrictive law and thus to deliberately interfere
    with a parents’ discretion in the upbringing and teaching of discipline to
    their children. No State has such authority – the parent’s discretion in this
    regard is paramount.

    Children need to be taught
    discipline, and spanking is a legitimate way of doing this.

    Another obvious and
    important point is, as Judge Mahady rightly opined, that guilt is personal, not
    communal: unless this film showed every single child getting bottom-spanked by
    every single parent, then how do the authorities know that every single child
    has been bottom-spanked by every single parent? They do not know; it is
    supposition. Therefore, why has the German State blanket-kidnapped all forty of
    the Twelve Tribe community’s children on the basis of supposition?

    There is clearly no
    “hard-evidence” or “concrete proofs” that any crimes of “child abuse” have been
    committed by any of the Klosterzimmern parents towards their children – yet
    there is plenty of truthful testimony to prove just the opposite; to prove that
    they are in fact devoted and dedicated parents who love and cherish their
    children deeply.

    An elitist German State,
    drunk on its own ambiguous and false sense of morality, and intent upon ramming
    it down all and everyone’s throat no matter what the consequences clearly has an agenda here – it is seeking to
    destroy and demoralize this small, yet devout community that dares to stand up
    to it.

    They have just been biding
    their time, and waiting for their chance to do so – it stinks.

    It is an obvious parallel
    to draw, yet it must be drawn; another elitist German State led by Adolf Hitler
    earmarked another community for destruction not so very long ago, and looked
    what happened there.

    Do we really want to
    return to those days? For this is what is at stake: An out-of-control, elitist and
    pompous authoritarianism is the issue here.

    Now Germany has come a
    long way since those dark days, and the Dark Forces which threaten us all come
    from many quarters; the greed and militaristic Empire building of the USA is
    notably the worst culprit.

    Yet blind authoritarianism
    by any State is also a very Dark Force.

    Children are naughty, and
    unless they are shown discipline, they will never learn to differentiate
    between right and wrong; between honest, just and honourable behaviour and
    deceit.

    It is commendable when
    parents discipline their children as it shows they love them. Many parents do
    not have the parenting skills to do that today.

    This is also the crux of
    the matter: we have “leaders” who are no leaders at all as they do not have the
    moral capacity to lead; they cannot differentiate between right and wrong.

    Indeed many of our
    so-called leaders are sociopaths.

    Some of these “leaders”
    choose to turn the world on its head, and in “Upside Down”, Eduardo Galeano
    speaks for all of us when he writes about the worst
    violators of nature and human rights never going to jail and holding the keys
    to the world economy:

    “The countries that guard the peace also make and sell the most
    weapons. The most prestigious banks launder the most drug money and harbour the
    most stolen cash. The most successful industries are the most poisonous for the
    planet. And saving the environment is the brilliant endeavour of the very
    companies that profit from annihilating it. Meanwhile, at the other end of the
    spectrum, jails and bullets are the proper therapy for the poor. The rich and
    the privileged are captives of fear and will do anything to feel more secure.
    This goes for the middle class as well. Galeano looks at the flourishing
    industries of private police and security systems for homes and offices. He
    examines many other examples of egregious injustice and madness that are part
    and parcel of the looking-glass world: malls as the cathedrals of our times,
    the growth of the world market in arms sales, the crusade against drugs as a
    cover for social war, and the mass media’s casting everything into the single
    mould of consumerism. Here is a book that reveals the important and pressing
    social and moral issues not regularly covered in the media.”

    Now as someone
    who has travelled the world with an often sad, yet optimistic heart, and has
    tried to keep his eyes open, I know full well that there are true leaders of
    humanity everywhere, who offer real solutions to sometimes seemingly impossible
    dilemmas. Teruo Higa’s pioneering work with Effective Micro-organisms is one
    shining example out of many.

    We should
    stand up for the Klosterzimmern folk too – for even if their way is not for
    everybody, it is their way and we should honour and respect that fact and when
    we see such heavy-handed State oppression, we should be swift to oppose it.

    There is so
    much spiritual immaturity among adults in our “rich” countries, and that’s what
    lets us down. Have we all really forgotten and forsaken what it means to be
    honourable people and to live honourable lives?

    I want to
    personally thank the Klosterzimmern folk for their example, and indeed all the
    members of the Twelve Tribes communities.

    God Bless You,
    and my Prayers go with you.


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