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The Twelve Tribes in The News

Yoneq and the Twelve Tribes News - Updated 6/20/08 Videos Added

How do you know if a group is a cult?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Truth in Advertising

Do you want some hips and thighs with that burger?

Fast food restaurants don’t advertise the number of calories, fat or cholesterol that is in their food. They don’t tell you if you “Have it your way” you may gain ten pounds and not fit in your bathing suit come summer. Instead, they attempt to sell you on an experience and they take advantage of your hunger and desires to draw you into their establishment.

Another and possibly better example is the endless adds for Credit Cards that give you 0% interest for some period of time and tell you that you deserve to buy anything your heart desires and when you charge up a high balance start to charge you 20-30% interest. Then you are trapped because you gave into the advertisement, and now you are in debt and the debt is growing because of the compounding interest. Sure you did this of your own free will, but if consumers were given the whole truth up front, do you think as many would fall into the trap?

This is how it is with falling prey to a dangerous coercive control group (or cult). They entice you with a false outward appearance (1). They are selling an experience. This is why they will say, “Come visit us” or “Stay with us” verses talking to you about their beliefs and practices. Sure they will offer a superficial belief statement such as “We believe God is waiting for a people with one heart and one way who live together and love each other and have everything in common. Come visit us and you will see”. So what makes them different from any communal group that says the same thing? They won’t tell you up front. You won’t know until you visit them, and stay with them a while.
. And that is when they start the process of what is known as cognitive dissonance by those who study Coercive and Controlling Groups such as the TT. This is where a person is purposely manipulated starting with controlling their environment. This is why they want you to “come”. While you are “there” they start playing with your emotions and controlling the information you can access that may provide an alternate perspective. There is a reason the TT brings a bus to deadhead concerts, it is a “mini-utopia” a place where prospective recruits can “experience” a taste of how they live. But even if you do decide to live with them for a couple weeks or a month, they don’t share their inner doctrines with you. They also don’t lock you in a room and keep you prisoner. You are free to go at anytime. This will cause you to believe that all the stories of “bondage” and “mind-control” are false. Their goal is to get followers who are willing to give up everything and make a commitment to submit to their authority. They really don’t want forced prisoners who want to break away any chance they get.

How can they convince you to want to submit to their authority and give up your free will? They start by telling you that everything you have learned and heard outside is from the “evil one” and you need to “clear your mind”. Simultaneously, they “love-bomb” you and give you a taste of utopia to get you in the right state of mind so you can “receive” their message. You start to think, “How can such sincere loving people be wrong”? They seem so happy and satisfied and all their needs are met. But unfortunately, you are only given the veneer of the real truth. In reality, most of the followers are dog-tired and struggle to stay faithful. They are worked 80-90 hours a week and don’t really have the time to live this utopian life and love-on their kids the way they say they do. In fact many of the accusations and condemnations they make of the outside “world” and “Christianity” specifically, are true of them. (see the comparison of fruit in the Parable of the Twig article). So it is not until you come to a point where you are willing to “die to yourself” and “give everything” to follow “Yahshuah” do you start to get a glimpse of the truth. And like the poor credit card holder, it is only after you have quit your job or dropped out of college, left your family and sometimes that means husbands/wives and children, told them they are all going to hell unless they follow you, turned over your vehicle and bank accounts and have no means of providing for yourself that you are given access to the “pearls” or inner teachings. Of course this is after you are baptized where you are required to denounce your former beliefs (Christianity or other religion/philosophies) and make a vow to “never leave” the body.

This is when you hear that Yoneq is the “anointed” and has a direct line to God and his teachings and words are equivalent to God speaking (2) and therefore are to be followed without question. You learn that he is the Elijah that has come back to earth to call people out of the world (3). That Christianity, (which is their main target for recruitment) was an apostate church that has not had the Holy Spirit (Ruach Ha Kodesh) for over 1900 years (4). That you are not allowed to think or “reason” for yourself about anything outside of the teachings and direction of Yoneq and his band of elders (5). And unless you beat your children until their wounds are blue, you are not being a loving father or mother in fact you hate your children. (6) And if you are a good little follower and submit all your loyalty to Yoneq’s teaching, you will one day be a God of your own Universe or Galaxy (7). And these are just a sample of the bizarre teachings that you will be expected to believe and submit to without question.

And what if you choose not to submit? And what if you want to ask a question? Then you are free to leave. In fact you are encouraged to leave and sometimes just plain asked to get out. The only problem is, you have already alienated your family and friends, you have no money and you own no vehicle and even the clothes on your back are not yours they belong to the community. If they are feeling generous, they will give you $200 to “get by”, but ultimately you are “cut-off”. (8)

So I ask you, if the Twelve Tribes put a poster up in front of the Mate Factor stating these beliefs, do you think people would want to give them their money? How about bring their kids and stay for a couple weeks? So what would constitute honest full disclosure/advertising and recruiting for the Twelve Tribes?

“Welcome, please spend as much money as you can with us because we need to ensure our Prophet has enough money to expand our real estate holdings and fly around the world starting other communities where people like me can nearly starve and raise our children and beat them until they are black and blue. You are welcome to move in with us as long as you denounce all other religious loyalties and promise you will never leave, and be willing to submit unquestionably to our elders and supreme leader who is in fact the only conduit to God. Please leave your brain outside as you are no longer allowed to think for yourself because our elders will think for you. But please bring your money, real estate, stocks and bonds and everything else with you so we can liquidate these and give the proceeds to our Apostle to spend as he sees fit. And we want you to have it your way so if your wife or husband does not want to join you/us, that’s ok. Abandon them because our Prophet Elijah says they are going to burn in the Lake of Fire anyway. Oh, and we have a no-money back guarantee. If you do choose to leave us, or we decide with little or no notice to kick you out, you will not get your money or any of your belongings back and you will drop dead because God will kill you. Have a nice day”


Please send any questions or comments to

(1) TT (Yoneq/Spriggs) Teachings concerning being “perfect” for outsiders and withholding the truth or outright lying in order to “make a stand”:

“The only thing we have to be perfect in now is confessing our sins and speaking to people on the outside. Or your conscience will haunt you night and day.” September 2 1990 Apostolic Workers Meeting Minutes.

“There is a difference between bearing false witness and concealing a matter (not telling the truth) that others have forfeited their right to know because of their hostile and evil attitude toward God.” November 29 1988 Phase 2 Teaching – Yoneq page 1

“Sometimes we make a stand with the truth by not revealing the truth or by our answers that are or are not true.” Nov 29 1988 Phase 2 Teaching – Yoneq page 1

(2) Teachings that demonstrate Yoneq/Spriggs speaks for God. In the quote below, understand the only one who the TT considers to have “delegated authority” from God is Yoneq/Spriggs so what he in fact is saying is to obey himself without argument as you would obey God.

"All who know God and know authority will obey his word, will obey Him, will obey His delegated authority without argument." Acts 3:23 - If we do not obey every word he speaks to us we will be cut off. November 18, 1990 Reasoning – Page 4

(3) Quotes concerning Yoneq/Spriggs being in fact the Elijah and having God’s authority.

Note, the following quote is regarding a woman who died of cancer who was a long time member of the TT. They could not explain her untimely death without finding some fault in her life or un-confessed sin. She was accused of speaking ill of Yoneq once years before and therefore rejecting God’s authority and not “receiving” Elijah.

“No way if Mary disrespected God's authority could faith come to heal her - Numbers 12 No way her children could be saved Malachi 4:5 If (you)don't receive Elijah (you)don't receive(the) anointing (your)children will be accursed - no hope.” September 2, 1990 Apostolic Workers Meeting – Page 5

Here is another quote concerning Elijah being in the midst of the TT. They are referring to Yoneq and the spirit that he has brought to the TT.

“Keli told us we can know the spirit of Elijah is in our midst because of how we are continually brought back to the necessity of turning our heart to our children.” August 6, 1996 Apostolic Workers Meeting – Page 3

(4) Quotes concerning there being no true church for the last 1900 years:

“Everything has been in abeyance for at least 1900 years — put off for a future generation to fulfill. Abeyance — put off, it’s no longer in existence. 1 Pet 2:9 is no longer in existence. There is no people of God; there is no holy nation; there is no twelve-tribed nation; there has been no one keeping the way of YHWH for 1900 years — it has been in abeyance.” April 9, 1995 The Fall of the First Church – Page 3

“Therefore the evil one been a ruler for 1900 years. They crucified the very Son of God — YHWH in the flesh. They killed Him! It proves who is in control of the world — Satan rules the whole world.” April 9, 1995 The Fall of the First Church – Page

(5) TT Teaching concerning peoples right to “reason” or think for themselves vs submitting to authority

“Many people are enslaved by a spirit of reason. They will only come when they are called and go where they are sent when it seems right to them. They always want to know a reason. If they are under this bondage of reasoning, sooner or later slanderous words will come out of their mouth against authority and there will be no possibility of escape from death.” November 18, 1990 Reasoning

(6) TT Teachings concerning beating children until they bleed:

“Underdiscipline accomplishes nothing. It is better not to discipline our children at all — “The blueness of the wound drives away all evil.”” October 1980 Child Training -Notes from Teachers Meeting - Page 5

“Unless your son has blue wounds, by this standard, you know what kind of a
standard is in you — it is the spirit that hates your son. If one is overly concerned about his son receiving blue marks you know that he hates his son and hates the word of God.” No date – Execution of Justice – Page 1

(7) TT Quotes concerning being “cut-off” due to not submitting to authority or the teachings of Yoneq. A member can be “”cut-off” within the community and not allowed to participate in social activity or be asked to leave.

“What do we have that' s greater than our attachment (staying connected) to our Master, Yahshua, and His people? Do we think that we can put aside our life for awhile and leave the Community and go out and do other things and then come back?” May 19 1994 The Seriousness of Being Cut-Off from Messiah – Page 5

“In the nations if you join the army and go to battle and desert the battle you could be imprisoned or even killed. (A deserter is worthy of death - if he falls into the hands of the enemy he will betray you.) It's a serious thing to be in a battle and desert your troop. You have to see that we're in a war here. This is our Father's army and you can't so easily come back. We made a pledge at baptism not to leave.” May 19 1994 The Seriousness of Being Cut-Off from Messiah – Page 3

(8) TT (Yoneq/Spriggs) Quotes concerning followers becoming gods of their own galaxy:

"We are going to be holy people. Holy, set apart by the Holy Spirit to accomplish His will. The day will come when each one of you has a galaxy to rule over." [source: "The Three Eternal Destinies #74 - Three Categories of Man 5" November 19, 1996. Morning Minchah, Reuben. Teaching identifier: 961119A]

"Rev 1:6; 5:10 — He has made us to be kings and priests — that’s who we are! We will rule over galaxies. When people of the nations see us, it will be just like seeing the Father (Jn 14:9). We will bear His name, His character, His image, His authority." [source: "Salvation is a Free Gift (But Who Does He Give It To?)" December 1997. Coxsackie, NY. Teaching identifier: 9712T08]

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The Parable of the Twig

The Twelve Tribes leader and self proclaimed apostle and prophet (who also considers himself the return of the Biblical Elijah) goes by the name "Yoneq". His birth name was Elbert Eugene Spriggs. Spriggs has gone on record as defining his new name as meaning "a Twig". The word "Yoneqet" is used in this manner in Ezekial 17 speaking of an eagle that breaks off the top most "twig" of a cedar (1). Anyone familiar with the history of the Twelve Tribes knows that Spriggs broke away from a Christian based church due to differences of opinion and ultimately started his own "church" which at first accepted other Christians and Christianity as a whole. Later, he condemned Christianity as an Apostate church and his teachings state there has not been a valid Spirit filled church for over 1900 years (2). The Twelve Tribes like to use parables in their "Free Papers", so I wrote this parable just for Yoneq.


There was a tree that grew alone in a field and was cared for by a very loving farmer. The tree had both strong and weak branches. The weak branches bore bad fruit. The strong branches bore good fruit. One day a twig started to grow on one of the strong branches. It was a humble twig that enjoyed being a part of a strong branch that grew good fruit. It flourished on the branch and started to grow beautiful healthy leaves. Then it started to flower and later the beginnings of one of the most beautiful fruits started to grow from the twig. At first the twig was happy to be contributing to the production of the branch and the tree overall. The tree produced healthy delicious fruit that made the farmer very happy.

However, overtime, the twig started comparing its fruit to those grown by the weaker branches on the tree. At first it felt sad that the other branches could not grow healthy fruit and wished that it could help them grow stronger. The farmer chose to prune some of these branches. And the twig started to think, “The farmer loves my fruit. He is happy with me and the branch that I belong to.” Then the twig started to compare it’s fruit to the fruit of other strong branches and it started to become judgmental of those branches for not having the “best” fruit. The twig started to question why the tree even bothered to grow weak branches at all? The twig started to become more and more proud and was becoming unhappy to be a part of the tree.

The twig shared its thoughts with the branch that it grew on but the branch would not listen. Therefore the twig started to compare its fruit with the fruit grown by other twigs on the branch. In its view, their fruit did not even compare to what it produced. So finally, the twig decided, “I need to break away from the branch and the tree and flourish on my own. Maybe by not being constrained by the tree I can become my own tree and make the farmer happier.”

When the twig broke away from the tree it fell to the ground. From the ground, the twig was able to see the results of the weaker branches face to face. Over time, all the twig could see was the rotten fruit surrounding it. It could no longer see any good fruit on the tree from its position on the ground. Therefore it determined in its heart the entire tree was “rotten” and unable to grow good fruit. Pride had completely taken root in the twig and it truly believed that the farmer only loved it and its fruit. The tree from which it grew was no longer loved by the farmer. It judged the tree by the dead fruit it saw and there was plenty to judge.

But something slowly started to happen that the twig’s pride prevented it from seeing. Due to being disconnected from the tree, the twig was no longer being fed by the tree. The twig had to produce food for its fruit entirely off of what it had inside it. Slowly the twig’s fruit began to shrivel. The twig was too proud to admit that it had made a mistake by disconnecting from the branch and the tree. The fruit on the twig increasingly started to look like the fruit it was surrounded by on the ground. The twig was growing old and as a twig with rotting fruit, it did not have the ability to grow additional branches and twigs to grow good fruit. Now it’s fruit is withered and as rotten as anything ever produced by the weak branches on the tree. And still the twig’s pride declares, “I am the only true tree!”.

Yoneq said, “Judge me by my fruit, if I am an apostle or not”

Criticism of Christianity: Fathers and mothers being too busy working to spend time with their Children.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Fathers too busy working in “Industries” and mothers too busy working in communities to spend time with their children. Young singles and other families raising their children. Families separated within and outside the communities.

Criticism of Christianity: Christians focused on “the love of money.”

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Communities and elders so focused on Industries and making money they don’t have time to Shepard the followers or raise their children properly. These facts are documented in their own teachings and minutes from the Apostolic Meetings.

Criticism of Christianity: Christians having the same divorce rate as non-Christians.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Community members are encouraged to divorce non-believing spouses. Members who have spouses leave the TT, are encouraged to remarry.

Criticism of Christianity: Critical of Christian Leaders that fall (Baker, Swaggert, etc) and judging all Christianity based on the sins of these few.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Multiple leaders accused and at least one arrested for molesting children. Jeff Leonard was arrested in Brunswick, Ga for child molestation and extradited to Desoto County, Fl (Arcadia) were he was later convicted and placed in jail. Stories of multiple others accused of child molestation and disciplined but then forgiven by the TT leadership.

Criticism of Christianity: Christian Denominations divided and divisions within churches therefore they are accused of not having the “Holy Spirit” and Christianity as a whole being an apostate church.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Many of the original TT elders (“the nucleus”) have left the communities because of differences with Yoneq. Those who were credited with having “The Holy Spirit” now accused of never having it because they disagreed with Yoneq. Examples are Michael Painter and James Howell who have given video testimonies (copies available from NEIRR website).

Criticism of Christianity: Christian churches leading people away from God instead of towards Him. Yoneq repeatedly states Christians and anyone who openly disagrees with him or his teachings should have a millstone tied around their neck and they should be thrown in the sea or sent to the Lake of Fire.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: Yoneq requires new members to denounce their Christianity before baptizing them. Many former members have not only abandoned the TT but also their belief in God altogether due to Yoneq and his controlling practices. Yoneq is personally responsible for leading thousands away from their faith in Christ and God.

Criticism of Christianity: Christian children don’t have their hearts turned towards their father. The Spirit of the Eliyah will turn the hearts of the children towards their father and the hearts of the father towards God.

Twelve Tribes Fruit: It is estimated by many ex-TT members that between 50-70% of male teens leave the TT between the ages of 14-19. Many of these teens have gone on record as “despising” their fathers and mothers for the abuse they had to endure in the TT. These teens are rejected and abandoned by their parents once the leave the TT.

(1) Origin of the name Yoneq:

(2) Quotes concerning Yoneq/Spriggs being in fact the Elijah and having God’s authority.Note, the following quote is regarding a woman who died of cancer who was a long time member of the TT. They could not explain her untimely death without finding some fault in her life or un-confessed sin. She was accused of speaking ill of Yoneq once years before and therefore rejecting God’s authority and not “receiving” Elijah.

“No way if Mary disrespected God's authority could faith come to heal her - Numbers 12 No way her children could be saved Malachi 4:5 If (you) don't receive Elijah (you) don't receive (the) anointing (your) children will be accursed - no hope.” September 2, 1990 Apostolic Workers Meeting – Page 5

Here is another quote concerning Elijah being in the midst of the TT. They are referring to Yoneq and the spirit that he has brought to the TT.

“Keli told us we can know the spirit of Elijah is in our midst because ofhow we are continually brought back to the necessity of turning our heart to ourchildren.” August 6, 1996 Apostolic Workers Meeting – Page 3

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Monday, February 25, 2008

New Page - Yoneq and the Twelve Tribes Litmus Test

I created a separate page dedicated to help people research and determine if a group, such as the Twelve Tribes, can be considered a cult as defined below by Janja Lalich:

"A cult can be either a sharply-bounded social group or a diffusely-bounded social movement held together through shared commitment to a charismatic leader. It upholds a transcendent belief system (often but not always religious in nature) that includes a call for a personal transformation. It also requires a high level of personal commitment from its members in words and deeds.

This definition is not meant to be evaluative in the sense of implying that a group is good, bad, benign, or harmful. Rather it is meant to convey a systemic view of such a group, which is comprised of a charismatic relationship, a promise of fulfillment, and a methodology by which to achieve it."

Additional information is provided on how destructive cults utilize thought reform techniques to attract, recruit and entrap individuals within the cult. I have provided polls for current, prospective and ex-members to compare practices within the Twelve Tribes with those tactics outlined in research performed by Steven Hassan, Janja Lilich, Lifton, and Margaret Thaler Singer.

Please take some time and read this literature and participate in the polls with the goal of helping others to better understand the methods and practices of the Twelve Tribes.

Yoneq and The Twelve Tribes - Litmus Test


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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ex-Testimonies Part V - Testimony from ex-member in Australia

The following testimony was made in 2006 and was part of an ABC radio program with Rachel Kohn. No matter where they are in the world, the affect they have on an individual's life is very consistent.
See if you know anyone in the Asher Community picture to the right.

Rachael Kohn: What was the group that you decided to join?

Guest: The group’s known as the Twelve Tribes, or the Community, they’re also known as. They’re out near Picton, but they’re quite common around several festivals in Sydney going under the name of The Common Ground Café.

Rachael Kohn: Is it an international group?

Guest: Yes, it’s all around the world. It’s currently located in about eight different countries.

Rachael Kohn: And is it a Christian group?

Guest: They kind of claim that they are Christians, but when you really get into their doctrine, they certainly are not Christians. In fact they believe that Christianity is led by Satan and that anyone who truly believes in Jesus or Yashua, as they call him, will leave Christianity and join the Twelve Tribes.

Rachael Kohn: Now the Twelve Tribes obviously refers to the 12 Tribes of Israel, so do they claim to be the original descendants of the 12 Tribes?

Guest: They don’t claim to be the original descendants but they do claim that they are God’s chosen people on earth, brought here to bring about the 12 Tribes, which is what God originally intended with the Jews.

Rachael Kohn: You were Christian, an active Christian. What attracted you to this group?

Guest: What attracted me to this group was the fact that they didn’t appear to be hypocrites. They claimed that they loved one another and they showed this love by their life and the way they looked after and cared for each other, and I was really taken back by the amount of commitment that these people seemed to live their life by.

Rachael Kohn: You seem to be implying that you were disenchanted with Christianity or the church that you’d been going to.

Guest: Yes, the church I was going to, they said all the right things, but I felt there was very little outside of the church that made people who’d claimed to be Christian, any different to anyone else in the world. They were just like everyone else in society, they just put a label of ‘We’re forgiven because Jesus died for our sins’ on top of their life.

Rachael Kohn: So what were the features of the group that you joined, the Twelve Tribes, that made you think this is the real thing?

Guest: The features that really drew me was the fact that they truly seemed to live the life they proclaimed. They truly seemed to love one another, they weren’t hypocrites in what I saw before I joined.

Rachael Kohn: Did they share things communally? Live together, commune style?

Guest: Everything was shared in common, everybody worked for the community, nobody had anything that they called their own. No-one got paid.

When we went out and did jobs for the outside, it went into a communal fund, and unless you were part of the people who distributed the money, you never had money unless it was given to you. But everything was provided for you, your food, your clothing, the children’s education, which was done at the farm out at Picton, cars, everything, medical expenses.

So although you didn’t have money, you were provided for.

Rachael Kohn: You were there for what? Over two years? What prompted you to leave it?

Guest: What prompted me to leave in the end was the hypocrisy that I saw in Christianity was even more so in the Twelve Tribes, because although they would point at Christianity and say, ‘Look at them, they are not loving one another’, what I found within the community, once you really learnt what they were doing is there wasn’t a whole lot of love there, there was a whole lot of fear and there were the people with the haves and the have-nots. And to quote Animal Farm, ‘We are all equal, but some are ore equal than others’, and that’s exactly what I saw in the Twelve Tribes.

The leaders cushioned their nest, so to speak, and although they weren’t rid in money or material goods, they had all the nice jobs. They had access to the cars, they could go visit their families, they got to go on business trips, whereas the less fortunate members of the group, they were the ones who just went out there and worked really, really hard, day after day.

Rachael Kohn: Were you discouraged from having contact with your family? You parents, for example?

Guest: I was certainly controlled with my contact, and I ended up being sent over to America to try and get away from my family’s influence over me.

Rachael Kohn: So you felt they were controlling your life?

Guest: The Twelve Tribes were certainly controlling my life, in every aspect. I mean they were controlling my physical existence, they were controlling what I did day to day, they were controlling me financially, and in the end they were also controlling my wife and getting information out of her to help control me even more.

Rachael Kohn: But they didn’t seem to control your mind, altogether, you were still able to discern things like hypocrisy and that kind of thing, that prompted you to leave.

Guest: Yes, I think I was fortunate in that I joined the Twelve Tribes for all the right reasons, because I wanted to be a committed Christian, and the longer I was there, the more hypocrisy I could see, and being a fairly strong character, I wasn’t afraid of being cut off from the group. And I also knew that I had the love of my family outside the group, no matter what happened. I always had somewhere to go, I wasn’t going to be left on the streets.

Rachael Kohn: Did your parents actually help you when you were starting to have doubts? Were they an important factor for you coming out?

Guest: The most important factor for me coming out with my parents, was firstly they went to a lot of trouble to understand cults, so when I did come out, they understood what I’d been through. They were working hard to try and get me out, but I managed to do that myself.

But the biggest thing was, I knew that I had unconditional love from them. Now the Twelve Tribes claim that they’re the only ones who truly know how to love, but when I asked my parents for help, they were there. When I asked my brother for help, he came over and got me, and I knew I had that, I always had that to stand on.

So the Twelve Tribes couldn’t scare me like that and make me capitulate to what they wanted me to do, because I knew that at the end of the day, I had my family support on the outside.

Rachael Kohn: What did they say would be the consequences for you if you left the group?

Guest: They didn’t tell me anything directly, because the leaders weren’t that good at making any arguments with me, because I’d call them on their bluffs. But there were plenty of stories going round about people who left who turned gay.

There was a couple of boys who left who grew up in the cult, they had a car accident and their mother was actually told that that was God’s mercy on the boys to kill them before they got into more sin. So it certainly wasn’t encouraged for people to leave, and if you did leave, firstly you were going to Hell and secondly that you’d probably go there a lot quicker than everyone else. That God would punish you for leaving.

Rachael Kohn: You had a wife and children. What happened to them?

Guest: My 3-1/2 year old son came with me when we got kicked out, and that was over in Winnipeg.

Rachael Kohn: In Canada?

Guest: In Canada, Winnipeg in Canada. So we were a fair way from home, and the group who told me they would always look after me and care for me, kicked me out on the street with $100, which doesn’t get you too far when you’re trying to get back to Australia.

So my wife and my other two children came back to Australia about two weeks after I got back here. I arranged to meet my wife to discuss why I’d left and to encourage her to leave with me because my family unit was very, very important to me, and she dropped the kids off to me, listened to me for half an hour, didn’t say a word, and then left. And that was almost the last time we ever saw her.

Rachael Kohn: How do you explain her staying there so long, giving up her husband and her three children?

Guest: I believe that she’s been coerced into believing that if she leaves, then her children will go to Hell, and that if she truly loves her children, the only hope they have is if she stays, and God will reward her obedience and bring her children back to her. But if she leaves, then she’s condemning her children to Hell. So she’s scared to leave for her children’s sake.

Rachael Kohn: Did she ever communicate that to you, or is that your surmise?

Guest: That’s my surmise, based on things that I heard in the community. But I’ve tried to speak to her many times, but she couldn’t open up to me. She was scared to talk to me, but I think she was scared to listen too much to me because I had so many good arguments as to why she shouldn’t be there, that it may cause her to stumble and leave as well. So she felt it was better to cut off all contact rather than continue to contact me, in case she did end up leaving.

Rachael Kohn: Well you had the help of your parents and their concern. Did she have help from hers?

Guest: Unfortunately her parents didn’t go to the extent that my parents went to educate themselves about the group that we were in, and how cults actually work. So when we got out, they were quite happy that I’d left with the children, but saying that she’s an adult, she’s smart enough to think for herself, she seems very happy there, and as such, she’s still there four years later.

Rachael Kohn: What do you think made you vulnerable to a group that exercised such control over your life?

Guest: I think what made me vulnerable was wanting to be a better Christian and not be a hypocrite, but I also had a lot of pressure from my wife, knowing that if I didn’t join, she was going to leave me, and I wanted more than anything to keep our family together. So I was willing at that stage to give anything a go.

But having said that, I believe that everyone at some stage in their life is vulnerable to these sorts of groups, and they’re not necessarily religious groups, they can be self-help or business groups, or meditation groups or whatever. It’s we at one stage, we’re all vulnerable to the right message.

Rachael Kohn: You’ve used the word ‘cult’ a few times. What do you think is the distinguishing factor that makes you use that term with respect to the 12 Tribes?

Guest: I use that term for the Twelve Tribes because they truly do try to control your emotions, they try to control your spirituality, they control you financially, they control you physically, and they certainly manipulate you into staying through fear and coercion, and so I’m quite comfortable calling the Twelve Tribes a cult. Also if you meet these people, they are really nice, they are really lovely and genuine because they do truly believe in what they are saying to you.

So I know many people who are listening to this will say, ‘I’ve met the Twelve Tribes at their Common Ground Café at the Woodford Folk Festival, and they’re not like that at all.’ But until you live with them and leave and be able to analyse your experience, you’re not in a position to be able to say ‘These are just nice happy people’. It’s taken me many years to be able to determine what this group was really about.

Rachael Kohn: Isn’t it just the case that some people really like a tightly organised style of life, and others jack up against it?

Guest: No, it’s not that simple. For example, take my ex-wife. Before she joined the group, she would do anything for her children. Now she’s in the group, she hasn’t seen them for over three years, because they have changed her mind into thinking that it is best that she doesn’t see her children that she has nothing to do with them.

We had a fairly good marriage I believe before we joined, but she was willing to dob on me. These groups will change your mind in the way you think, and they will change your value system, and they will exploit you for everything they can, and then when you’ve got nothing left to give, they’ll spit you out on the streets, and say it’s your fault.

Rachael Kohn: And do you reckon that’s what happened to you?

Guest: Fortunately I do. I’ve done a lot of reading and study and been quite introspective, for a number of years. I’m still going through things of course, but I’m certainly well on my way to understanding my experience and being able to understand how these groups operate, and understand why other people get caught up in the same trap.

Rachael Kohn: Has CIFS, the Cult Information and Family Support group, been of help to you?

Guest: They were a great help to my family as a starting point, as to what’s going on, why did my son just give up his business and leave and join this group without telling us much. And it gave them a starting point to get the information they needed to understand what I was going through so they knew what they needed to do to help me.

Rachael Kohn: Do you have a sense now that you want to help others?

Guest: Yes, I do have that sense, and if anyone needs any help or even someone to talk to, I’m always open to doing that.

Rachael Kohn: It’s been great talking to you.

Guest: Thank you.

Rachael Kohn: The name of my guest has been suppressed to ensure the anonymity of his children

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Monday, February 18, 2008

The Twelve Tribes' Money Machine - Updated 2/19

The life of the typical Twelve Tribes member is very simple. Women's dresses and "Sus" pants are hand made and most other clothes are bought at thrift stores. Much of the communities organic food is self grown. Members have given up all their possessions and do not have worldly treasures such as TV's, radios, jewelry, expensive cars etc. Ex-leaders and members often talk about the frugality of the life within the Twelve Tribe communities where every penny is pinched and members work long hours for no pay. The Twelve Tribes leaders do not deny this. They are actually very proud of this fact because they are working to build the kingdom of God on earth and preparing the Messiah's bride for His return.

The TT leaders adamantly deny that Gene Spriggs lives a "jet-setting" life or any different than the average member in good standing. However, Michael Painter and James Howell, former high level leaders (3rd and 4th in command under Spriggs and Eddie Wiseman) have gone on record as stating that Spriggs has a wallet full of credit cards and travels where he wants when he wants and also enjoys luxuries the average member does not have access to. As the only apostle for the Twelve Tribes it is his role and duty to plant new communities wherever he feels God is leading. So it is necessary for him to travel around the world to do this. Gene always had an inclination towards world travel. In his own biography published by the TT they state he gave up an executive job to take a job as a tour director for a large travel company so that he could see the world.

The Twelve Tribes has never had difficulty purchasing buildings, businesses and property to expand their kingdom on earth. They have claimed in the past that although a number of people come into the communities willing to give up wealth and possessions, just as many come in with little or nothing or even bring a load of debt that requires the community to pay-off. So how can they enter a town and drop millions of dollars to buy one or multiple buildings? How did they afford to host a large Cultural Event on the National Mall in Washington DC June 26-July 6th 2004 (Take a tour at Rekindling the Fire)? How can they afford to produce high quality films denouncing Christianity (see my article to Keli in the TT Parchment Press)?

The Twelve Tribes can do this because they own over 24 substantial businesses around the world. Many of these are high-end construction companies that list no affiliation to the Twelve Tribes on their websites or advertisements. Below, I have provided a consolidated list of direct links to these Twelve Tribes businesses. These are all businesses that you could stumble across on the various sites hosted by the communities, but as far as I have found, there is no one single list as I have provided below. I believe this is because the Twelve Tribes does not want the public or for that matter their own members to comprehend the vast amount of wealth that is generated by these businesses.

The TT leaders will tell you that many of their restaurants are operated at a loss. Most of these restaurants are not even listed below. Many ex-members have confirmed they often run at a loss but are necessary to recruit new members. However, these are far offset by the other lucrative construction companies as well as the furniture and other products that are made with "free" labor. The most recent defectors from the Twelve Tribes (especially those in leadership positions) complain the Twelve Tribes has become more of a business than a Messianic community.

Many people were amazed to find out a few years back that this obscure group actually had a large contract with Estee Lauder to provide their Origins products. In fact the group had been providing these products from 1995 through 2001 until Estee Lauder found they were using child labor to produce, package and distribute the products. Likewise, the Twelve Tribes provided products to Robert Redford's Sundance company until he cut-off dealings with them for child labor issues.

The following links are for those Twelve Twelves business that have/had a website. In addition to these businesses, there are a number of "cottage industries" the Twelve Tribes owns and operates with free labor from their members and their children. I will add to the list below as I become aware of more businesses.

Twelve Tribes Businesses in the US

  • BOJ Construction - General Contracting (trim carpentry, cabinets, etc) and New Home Construction
  • Common Wealth Construction - This is a high end construction company located in Savannah GA
  • Anything Builders - The name says it all.
  • Common Ground Cafe - This is the TT Cafe in Cambridge, NY
  • Common Sense Farm - This is the TT Soap Shop in Cambridge, NY
  • Mate Factor - This is the TT company that imports and packages Yerba Mate which they also produce in Brazil (again with free labor). This company sells Yeba Mate through many non-TT distributors as well
  • Mate Factor Cafe - Direct sales of Mate Factor Products. This company makes no direct reference to being a Twelve Tribes owned organization. - New
  • Common Sense Market - This is the TT whole-foods store in Plymouth, Ma
  • The Parchment Press - This is the TT Print Shop in Coxsackie, NY (my dear friend Keli works there)
  • Elad Products - High quality children's clothing
  • Ozark Rustic Hickory Furniture - Quality rustic hickory lodge furnishings from Lake of the Ozarks, MO
  • Simon The Tanner - Cobbler Shop and Shoe Store. Outfitter stores along the Appalachian trail and throughout the Northeast

Twelve Tribes International Businesses

Mate Factor and Common Grounds Locations- New

  • Manitou Springs, Colorado - 966 Manitou Ave- New
  • Ithaca NY - 143 E State St- New
  • Asheville NC -2002 Riverside Dr Suite 42-E - New
  • Winnipeg, Canada - 79 Sherbrook St. - New
  • Hamburg NY - 327 Buffalo St - New
  • Dorchester Ma - 2243 Dorchester Ave - New
  • Nelsen BC Canada - 202 Vernon St. - New
  • Oak Hill NY - 7771 State Rt. 81 - New
  • Hyannis Ma - 420 Main Street - New
  • Rutland VT - 23 Center Street - New
  • Lancaster NH - 55 Main St. - New

Business that have closed or who’s websites are down:

Request for assistance: The Twelve Tribes is considered a unique kind of tax exempt business the IRS classifies as a "501(d)," under a small subparagraph of the tax code created for "religious and apostolic organizations." Only a handful of organizations qualify and are categorized as a 501(d). I would like to find out what information is available to the public or to the members of the Twelve Tribes organization concerning the reported income and tax liability of the Twelve Tribes. If you are a tax accountant or know someone who can answer this question please send the information to If you are a current leader in the Twelve Tribes and would like to be up-front and volunteer this information, that would be appreciated (although not anticipated).


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Friday, February 15, 2008

Twelve Tribes News - New YATTT Page

I have created a collection of news reports starting around 1977 and going through 2008 and have provided links to these documents in a separate page (click on link below). I plan to add any new news I discover or you report to this page going forward. Heed the warning label. I have reported both positive and critical news reports. Engage your thinking caps and discern the truth from the sensationalism that often permeates media reports concerning religious organizations/sects/cults. Unlike the Twelve Tribes leaders, I trust you to think for yourselves concerning what is true and what is not.

Please feel free to submit links to any news articles you feel are relevant (positive or critical) and I will add these to the site.

Go to the Twelve Tribes News Page

Thank you,


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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Michael Painter and James Howell - Missing Videos 7, 10, 24

I will add the following video clips to the appropriate past postings for new viewers. But for those of you who have been following my posts, attached below are the final videos I had not previously included. These video's had some off-air conversations that needed to be edited out before they could be published and it took me some time to educate myself on how to do that. Enjoy.

Video #7 - Discussion on the "Damaging affects of living in the Twelve Tribes" and Gene Spriggs and Eddie Wiseman have TV's in their closets.

Video #10 - Discussion on Gene Spriggs and the Island Pond Raid

Video #24

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For my German Speaking Visitors

Follow this link to review a presentation made by Leipzig student Florian Böhnhardt.

Boehnhardt Zwoelf Staemme 2007

For my French Speaking Visitors

Interesting news article concerning the Sus House (castle) and controversy in France with the Twelve Tribes.

Entre bric à brac et vie de château, les drôles d'apôtres de l'Ordre Apostolique... (Tabitha's Place)

Click on the following link to get a wealth of information from an Anti-Cult Site in France

News Reel-1 on Tabitha's Place

News Reel-2 on Tabitha's Place

Place a checkmark beside all items that characterize the group in question. If you check many of these items, and particularly if you check most of them, you might consider examining the group more closely.

The above check list comes from Dr. Michael Langone, editor of Cultic Studies Journal, and often characterize manipulative groups. Dr. Langone suggest prospective recruits and family members compare these statements to the group. If one or more of these apply to your group you may have a cause for concern. I say, if all apply as in the case of the Twelve Tribes, you should repent (turn 180 degrees) and run.

Please Leave a Review

Yoneq 2004

I dedicate this song to Yoneq and the elders of the TT

Elbert Eugene Spriggs

Ok - This one is a little angry, but therapeutic just the same

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