I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

09 October 2014

The Twelve Tribes in Germany - part 19

Photo by A. Stahl

If you've not been following along on my blog, you will want to read part 1, part 2 , part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, part 8, part 9, part 10,  part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14, part 15, part 16, part 17  and part 18 to be better informed on this issue.You will also find that the Wikipedia page on The Twelve Tribes Community has been updated to include basic information of what is happening here as of September 2013. There have been no current updates as no newspapers are carrying information about what is happening in English. However, the German Wikipedia page has most of the information behind what is, for all intents and purposes, an ongoing court case.

In June; the 12 Tribes began a PR campaign in June to help sway public opinion in their favor. Some of this has included inviting people to community meetings and discussing their faith and parenting methods. You can find some snippets about that from Augsburg TV, here.

A Year after the Police Raid, the Twelve Tribes go on the offensive.


I've been busy trying to catch some of the more recent news that was airing on television that I missed the following story from August 4th. RTL's program "Undercover Deutschland" covered the Twelve Tribes again, which was discussed on
There was a press conference on the first of August in Klosterzimmern held by the members of the Twelve Tribes community and their lawyer. They have begun proceedings against RTL reporter Wolfram Kuhnigk again. They are alleging that the secret camera recordings that have since been published by Herr Kuhnigk on RTL were recorded much earlier than declared and have been heavily edited...
Die Gemeinschaft '12 Stämme' zeigt den Enthüllungs-Reporter an

The Donauwörther lawyer, Michael Langhans, has issued a dispute over the veracity of the claims RTL reporter Wolfram Kuhnigk has made. He criticized a decision of the District Court in relation to the ublication of the documents [made available by RTL and Wolfram Kuhnigk]... At the end of the press release, Langhans announced that out of respect for the court, he would not independently publish the documents in question, but he believes he has the rights to do so..
Zwölf Stämme: Rechtsanwalt kritisiert das Amtsgericht

There was a press release made by the Twelve Tribes Lawyer Michael Langhans which can be found here.

The members of the Twelve Tribes do not give up easily. They announced a press conference to try and make a complaint against the reporter. However, this has not been well received...
... Many are asking, "How do parents who spank their children in the name of faith tick...?"
„Zwölf Stämme“ Die Babyschläger-Sekte!
The courts let it slip that the cost of housing the children has become quite high and they're scrambling to figure out where the funds will come from.

Depending on the type of housing, the age of the children, and additional services needed (such as therapy); the bill for the Jugendamt has risen on average to 130€ per child, per day and also include around 1,000€ for each foster family per month. Since the placement of the children into care in September 2013, the costs required by the children by end of June 2014 are around 473,798.91€ ...
Kinder der Zwölf Stämme kosten Landkreis eine halbe Million Euro and Eine halbe Million: Warum die Zwölf Stämme so hohe Kosten verursachen 

On September the 4th, The Twelve Tribes announced protests on the following dates and times;  Friday the 5th of September at 10am to 8pm, on Saturday the 6th of September at the same time frame and would be holding them at the Königsplatz in Augsburg.  These were relatively quite affairs, though some of the individuals here in Germany working against the group did manage to show up at these protests and at the town hall meetings they held in Gasthaus Krone in Öttingen, of which, they invited the whole community to.

On September 5th, the anniversary date of the raid, Bayrisches Rundfunk published a chronology of the escalation against the sect.  BR also released a 24 second video reminding people it has been one year since the raid on the 12 Tribes, and some images from the demonstration. Groups working against the Twelve Tribes also began sharing information from Sekten Info NRW.   A new Facebook page was also formed, sharing information in English and German about last year's raid.   This page has also been visited by some supporters of the Twelve Tribes, arguing that no abuse has taken place and that beating your children is absolutely commanded by Scripture and must be obeyed, despite the protest of the page owners.

In the same week, several articles were released on Deutsche Welle discussing UNICEF's "Hidden in Plain Sight" paper about child abuse:

In its "Hidden in Plain Sight" report, UNICEF reveals the extent to which children the world over are suffering at the hands of adults. Often their own parents.

The most common form of abuse is violent discipline, with six out of ten children aged between two and 14 (almost a billion) regularly falling victim to physical punishment, the report said.

Under the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which 194 countries are party, every minor is guaranteed a life free of all forms of violence. Except they are not.
Global child abuse shapes the violence of tomorrow

..."Too many victims, perpetrators and bystanders see it as normal, and when violence goes unnoticed and unreported we fuel the belief among children that it is normal."..

..."Violence against children, direct or indirect, can cause trauma, low self-esteem, bad health and poor school performance, and in some cases, it can lead to depression, alcohol and drug abuse, self-harm and even suicide," Gupta said...
UNICEF report finds 'staggering' levels of violence against children
...Between 2000 and 2010, around 8.6 percent of German children and young people were living in poverty. In 2012, child care services took in more than 40,000 children because their parents were overwhelmed.  "If a country strengthens the rights of the child, it strengthens its future," said Jürgen Heraeus, Chairman of UNICEF Germany. There's a need for better functioning help networks, he added....
UNICEF: Governments must do more to protect the rights of children

On September 20th, the Fränkische Landeszeitung and the Süddeutsches Zeitung posted stories about the Twelve Tribes in the paper. I was unable to get a copy due to a situation with our car breaking down, but someone was kind enough to scan in the newspaper articles and send it to me. If you cannot read German, don't worry too much, most of what is covered in these articles are also covered in snippets of news stories below it. I have posted these in the original size so that they are legible for our German-language readers.

Radio 8 and RT1 also had some news articles on their site, but those have somehow gone missing since. Thankfully, I had done a screen capture.

"The Twelve Tribes invite the community to another meeting in Wildbad in Wemding at 7pm..."

On last Friday, the first main proceedings against the Twelve Tribes began in Ansbach. The first hearing was about the custody of a two and a half year-old child. The court heard whether the parents custody should be withdrawn. A settlement proposal is currently on the table arguing for the return of parental custody. If this is allowed, it may set a precedence for the other cases yet to be heard.
However, the decision was that the parents were to regain some parental custody rights while the Jugendamt held others...

September 27: Zwölf Stämme: Löst ein Vergleich den Sorgerechtsstreit?
Since mid- September, the District Court in Ansbach has been deciding whether a total of three pairs of parents will have permanent withdrawal of parental custody. This case concerns five children aged two and a half to six years of age. They were removed "temporarily" from parental care about a year ago...
October 1, 2014:  Weitere Anhörungen im Sorgerechtsstreit   Sekten-Eltern vor Gericht vernommen

I was going to quote two SWR articles here, but it seems to have been removed from the archive. Thankfully I had a screen capture of it, which is posted here below with the original link below it.

40 children's fate are being decided by district courts between October and December 2014

The custody hearings about the Twelve Tribes in Klosterzimmern are to begin in October. There are 5 hearings already set that will cover two to three families at a time.  This is concerning the children who were removed from parental care in a raid last year.

On Tuesday, the principle proceedings commenced in a custody battle for the children of the Twelve Tribes...
A psychological evaluation should be heard on the opinion of whether the parents are capable of raising their children. So far, the parents have refused to participate in a family psychological assessment. The basis of the opinion to be heard will decide on whether the children are allowed back...
October 7: Sorgerechtsstreit in Nördlingen - Zwölf Stämme-Eltern vor Gericht
In the morning at 9am, two sets of parents who have two children will have their hearing along with a Guardian ad Litem and answer questions...
Today and on the following dates (14th, 21st and 22nd of October) ten families will have had their hearings. A concrete result is not expected directly after the trial as the judge is awaiting expert reports...
Eltern der Glaubensgemeinschaft werden gehört and Gericht prüft, ob Zwölf Stämme-Eltern ihre Kinder erziehen dürfen

...The parents and their attorney, Michael Langhans from Donauwörth are arguing that it is not the parenting abilities of the parents that is crucial, but the children's welfare.
The lawyer admits that hitting children is, in principle, unlawful and is considered "bodily harm", but is not an automatic justification to remove children into foster care. The lawyer and parents invoke the right of religious freedom in that punishment with the rod is prescribed in the Bible...
Zwölf Stämme-Eltern: Züchtigung mit Ruten in Bibel vorgeschrieben
In the first hearing of the custody battle for the children of the Twelve Tribes, there has been no concrete results in the District Courts...
Kein Ergebnis bei "Zwölf Stämme"-Anhörung

Also, the city of Augsburg is cleaning up the city center, much to the chagrin of the Twelve Tribes:

In order to curb excesses... A message that eminates from the Town Hall to the outside is clear: Not all wishes are going to be waved through. The city wants to take a stronger stance on what is allowed to take place in the city center...
 First, there was a large Persil truck for several days, sitting rather out of place at the Martin-Luther-Platz, while members of the controversial faith Twelve Tribes Community danced and sang at lunchtime on the Königsplatz. In both cases, permits were given by the municipality. In the meantime, members of the city have long been unhappy...
Neues Konzept: Was wird aus der Augsburger City?

As discussed in post 18, Robert Pleyer has recently published a book titled, "Der Satan schläft nie: Mein Leben bei den Zwölf Stämmen" [The Devil Never Sleeps: My life in The Twelve Tribes]. He has been present in several newspaper television interviews in the last month and a half.
Aktiv Gegen Kinderarbeit has begun promoting Mr. Pleyer's book.

News was released that Robert Pleyer was to be interviewed on October 1st at 6pm on BR: Abendshau and on Monday the 6th of October at 5:30 on Sat1: Frühstücksfernsehen.

You can find video from the interviews here, here and here.

The former Twelve Tribes member, Robert Pleyer, spoke with FOCUS about his time in the sect, specifically the punishment of the children that he regrets very much.
"Der Satan schläft nie"Zwölf-Stämme-Aussteiger schildert das harte Sektenleben der Kinder

In the book, it says "The foundation of the Twelve Tribes is its children. In the hierarchy, they are at the very bottom of the totem pole. Their feelings, opinions and desires are suppressed by adults until their will is broken. The children have no rights to physical and mental integrity in the cult. "In order to break their will, they are beaten regularly and long with willow branches. They do this to make them mentally and emotionally unfit to decide what happens in their own lives. This begins at very tender ages..."
Sekten-Aussteiger: Die Kinder mussten in einer Schlange auf ihre Prügel warten

..."The opposite is the case," Plyer says in an interview with the news magazine Focus. "Currently, they feel persecuted by the evil state. This persecution complex holds the group together." Every day life was difficult for the Twelve Tribes because some members have been asking awkward questions. Now they have enemies again -- the government, journalists and me..."
Sekten: Zwölf-Stämme-Aussteiger schildert hartes Leben der Kinder - "Der Satan schläft nie" 

...The book is likely to show the faith community in a new light. Robert Pleyer joined in his early twenties. He abandoned his studies and jumped in with both feet. First, he worked in the fields and in the bakeries; later he was appointed as a teacher. He married the daughter of a tribe elder and the couple had four children...
Robert Pleyer veröffentlicht Buch über sein Leben bei den Zwölf Stämmen 
..."The discipline of children is a very important issue to the Twelve Tribes," he says. "Early in the morning, during lectures, the parents are informed by the elders that punishment is good for the children. The spankings are not aggressively administers but are simply a part of the system." Robert Pleyer describes it this way; "A child does not simply put a cup away. The parents will ask 'Have you been obedient?' if the child says 'no', he or she is to bend over and be spanked. It hurts terribly bad to be hit with the rod. The child then apologizes, is hugged and all is well again..."
Er konnte keine Kinder mehr schlagen

I've just been informed that Robert Pleyer will appear again on RTL's "Guten Morgen Deutschland!" this Friday at 6:20 and 7:20AM. I will attempt to record it and also link it up here if I find it on the internet.

Of interest to the public is the following article from 2013 about the Swiss gentleman who is helping the Twelve Tribes. There is nothing Mr. Rovetto would like more than for this to disappear. Sorry bud, this is being shared again.

...Agrippino Rovetto (46) from Rafz ZH, himself a father of four sons, defended the controversial sect - and the spankings they give their children in the name of God. At a vigil for the children of the Twelve Tribes in Nördlingen, he cried out "A child has a right to a loving chastisment!" and "He who loves his child, chastens him!" and the police had to intervene...  Not only in the internet does Mr. Rovetto offer support to the cult members, he has also housed a family of the Twelve Tribes with him in Rafz. A transport that is used by one of their companies has been parked for extended periods outside of his house...
Dieser Schweizer hilft Kinderquäl-Sekte

Also of interest, a new German-language blog has begun to combat the influence of Agrippino Rovetto here.

I did want to re-share information that Green Party in the Bavarian Parliament is pushing for. I'm uncertain if I have shared this information before, but it is just as pertinent now as proceedings have begun as it was when these were presented in the Bavarian Parliament last year and again this Spring.  [PDF]

Meanwhile, the Donau-Ries Aktuell has published texts on the internet that are various important beliefs of the Twelve Tribes. The editorial staff, as reported by Ronau-Ries-Media GmbH, has published several hundred pages of the English-language texts. They received the texts from a former sect member. The texts are from the founder Elbert Eugene Spriggs, founder of the Twelve Tribes.
Found in the documents are several clearly racist, anti-semitic and homophobic remarks. Yesterday, the editors also submitted a summory of a conversation with three cult members from Klosterzimmern who are described as "Open and friendly men" who explicitly warn against misinterpreting the texts...
Originally published December 2013,  „Staatsregierung blind für eigene Fehler“

If you are visiting my site from Germany, there is a German-language site available to learn what you can do to support child protection and learn how to better raise your children. Also of interest to my German-language readers is the review of the documentary film „Wer seine Kinder liebt, der züchtigt sie“ by Erika Fehse which was aired on Monday, 7.4.2014 on ARD; and this site that questions you whether or not you know the signs of being in a cult. 

You can also find information on the Twelve Tribes from the English-language Site YATT

*  DoNotLink allows one to view a website without actually driving traffic there or allow the bloggers to gain readership or revenue.

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