HRWF (09.09.2013) – On 5 September at 6 am, more than 100 armed officers were involved in one of the biggest police operations of the recent German history to remove children from their parents living in a religious community (the German branch of the Twelve Tribes) and place them temporarily with foster families. They were taken from two locations run by the group – 28 from a monastery and farm of Klosterzimmern near Deiningen town and 12 from a communal house in the village of Wornitz. At this stage, the reason for such an impressive crackdown seems to be the suspicion that the parents discipline their children by spanking them or using a “small reed-like rod” if disobedient.

The judicial procedure will clarify the charges and confirm if they are founded or not.

See below the links to several websites presenting the issue from various angles: BBC – Analysis of Dr Massimo Introvigne (Cesnur) – Viewpoint of the accused party – Info about the Twelve Tribes

The Twelve Tribes in France

In 2011, Susan Palmer, a researcher, sociologist and writer in the area of New Religious Movements in Canada, published a book entitled “The New Heretics in France” (Oxford University Press) in which she devotes a whole chapter to the French branch of the Twelve Tribes. Here is an excerpt of it:

“The Tribes first came to Europe from the United States in the early 1980s. Twenty-four German youth, friends since high school, set up a small community. After being evicted from their home and encountering strict regulations concerning home schooling, they left Germany and traveled around France, Spain and Portugal in 1982. In 1983, they were invited by a woman named Teresa to come and live in the stately eighteenth-century chateau she had inherited in foothills of the Pyrenees. They dubbed it “Tabitha’s Place” after the first French woman joined their company. They renovated the chateau, preserving its eighteenth century style, and reside there today. (…)

The way of life at Tabitha’s Place is based on a millenarian theology, for the members are preparing for the return of Jesus – whom they call by his Hebrew name, “Yahshua”. To this end, they engage in Bible study and communal living and cultivate the gift of prophecy. Each person must confess all sins and strive to “increase in unselfishness” so as to build a loving community modeled on the primitive Church in the Book of Acts. The so-called “pure and spotless bride”, mentioned in Revelation, is understood to be their church. Through missionary outreach, procreation, and “swarming”, the Twelve Tribes have established communities globally. Their aim is “to raise up people” so that their “bridegroom,” whom they call Yahshua, will return to claim His bride, the restored church made up of obedient disciples.

Founded in the early 1970s in Chattanooga, Tennessee, by Eugene Elbert Spriggs and his wife, Marsha, the group shares all things in common as described in the book of Acts. Over the years, the movement has adopted various names: the Vine, the Apostolic Order, the Northeast Kingdom Community Church, the Messianic Communities – and most recently the Twelve Tribes. Each local tribe has its own Hebrew name, and in France it is called the Tribe of Reuben.

By 1995 the community at Sus had attracted around 200 members from all over Europe. Their daily meetings, called minhas,  combined testimonials, singing, dancing, and impromptu sermons, and were conducted with assistance from simultaneous translators in French, Spanish, German and English. At this time they were a thriving community, supported by hard work in cottage industries. The men fashioned furniture and leather shoes and sandals. The women sexed cotton and linen clothing, and used the ancient oven in the chateau to bake whole grain bread and croissants. These goods were sold at local market places, at fairs, and in boutiques in Paris. The brothers and sisters would encounter prospective converts, strike up conversations and invite them to attend their weddings or Saturday evening shabbaths. Cordial relations with their neighbours and local authorities were cultivated.

The first troubles started once ADFI became aware of the presence of a new secte in France.”

The book “The New Heretics in France” by Susan Palmer can be purchased on

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