So, one may ask what is God’s will?

If you are a member of the Twelve Tribes you ask this question every morning to your governing guru-in-residence or household head, and you get your marching orders for the day.

Obviously, if you are not of this strict religious cult you will get many different answers depending on who you ask.. What might you expect though, if you were to ask, “What is God’s will concerning slavery…?”

Well, let me ask you this first. What do you think God would have to say about one Human Being kept in forced obligation (even enforced by violence or death) to remain enslaved to another?

According to the Twelve Tribes Church, Slavery, that is, in the old testament or modern times was a good thing. The old testament Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptians, because of God’s desire to punish them for their obstinacy.  Likewise, in the frontier days of America the blacks were slaves to the whites [according to the Twelve Tribes] because of Gods desire to punish them for something that happened thousands of years previous for something that occurred just after the great flood with Noah and his arc involving Ham, Shem and Yapheth.

The Twelve Tribes use their teachings to justify all the hatred and human atrocities which occurred during the slavery period in America and attribute it to God’s will to keep the black people in subordination to their white counterparts.

Eugene Spriggs (founder of the Twelve Tribes Messianic Church aka Common Ground, Yellow Deli cafes) was no special prophet. In fact, he got much of his material from Jewish manuscripts and extra-biblical commentary. His views on slavery are no exception. Although they may be embellished with his own perverted twist on history essentially they originated from the internet or unsubstantiated historical commentary.

Any past member of the Twelve Tribes (myself included) will attest to the fact that during baptism you are required to “take off your head” (your own authority) and put on messiah’s head. This is a metaphor for relinquishing all self-direction, self-concern, self-governing or anything that may come between you and the Twelve Tribe Community Government Manifesto. In effect, this is the first step in the psychological “cleansing” that enslaves you mentally and (eventually) physically to the Twelve Tribe Hierarchy.

In essence, Eugene Spriggs thinks his devotees in the Twelve Tribes are given to him as slaves to his “god-given” organization as the blacks were to their white captors during the slavery period in America and as a result they can be treated as such. Of course, physical abuse is not condoned anymore,  but just as damaging is the psychological and verbal abuse which cuts just as deep.

Members are made to feel like they are the “dregs” of society, good for nothing having made a mess of their lives in the world and worthy for nothing more than the lake of fire.

Just, pause for a moment. How would you feel – if you really BELIEVED that you were nothing but a filthy rag, fit only for the lake of fire…?

Well, having been in that place in the Twelve Tribes, I’ll tell you. It causes you to respond to authority like an un-questioning zombie.  After all, being on par with dog shit gives you no rights whatsoever and further more if you did happen to have an issue with authority  within the Twelve Tribes get ready – since it is considered heresy and paramount with having a problem with God Himself: be prepared for the inquisition and a fiery ordeal !!!

I won’t go into all the issues of people being overworked through forced religious obligation in Common Ground Cafes around the United States and indeed around the globe because they believe God requires this of them. They have no recourse but to pull their head in and shut up. I won’t go into all  the young girls aged 13 to 21 who are required to pull 16 hour cafe days on their aching legs, getting varicose veins before their time (along with other associated issues) just because there aren’t enough people in the community to do all the work. Next time you go to a Common Ground in the morning just make a note of who is working the food bars and then if you get a chance to come back in the evening just see if those same people aren’t working still, long after your day is finished.

So in closing, the Twelve Tribes view on slavery is quite consistent with how they view their own members; Slaves, like their own members are – nothing more than poor, thankful workers who need to spend the rest of their life paying off their debt to God by working 16 hours a day  in a Common Ground Cafes in response to their undeserved salvation from the loving God of Eugene Spriggs.

-S

The twelve tribes communities in different countries displayed various degrees of tolerance to independence, free will and self autonomy of the individual.

Bottleneck-style government is typical in many communities, where all decisions must go through just one person. Everything from borrowing a car to go shopping to asking if it’s a good idea to have your children’s tooth ache looked at by a dentist or even just to go for a walk with your family in some cases!

If you went to someone with a question they would simply pass the buck telling you to go and ask someone else. This was indicative of fear being used as a formative factor. Nobody wanted to make a decision and be liable for it. Everything would default back to the Household-Head and other “elder” who hated responsibility like anyone else, and to be safe would just say “NO”.

So, on one hand you have those who just loved the position of responsibility and did it well, and nothing happened without their approval (and woe to him who did something out of coordination of his all-knowing eye) and then you have those were all too scared to actually make any decisions at all for fear of retribution from the almighty Elders or Community leaders.

Free initiative was discouraged, not openly, but through the lengthy process of chain-of-command style decision making. It just took too much effort wading through red-tape to get something approved for it to be worth pursuing. And more often than not, after you got a preliminary green light to go ahead with a directive you may just get a crushing appeal from a rank and file concerned citizen who considers it their duty to call to attention the fact that God spoke a word of reservation to them about your initiatives. Or even more typical; having something approved by one elder, only to receive a cease and desist call a week later from the higher ranking elders when they finally catch wind of it.

So, at the end of the day it was easier to just have no initiative at all, and simply do what you’re told rather than try and do something original which god evidently doesn’t approve of.

This wasn’t the case in all communities. Some tended to lean the other direction and had more wiggle room for the enterprising young disciple who wanted to just put their energy and talents to doing something beneficial and industrious for their community. However, ultimately these type of communities would be exposed for their relaxed approach and their leaders would eventually be brought to justice in the form of a governmental elders meeting where they were ridiculed, defamed, belittled and humiliated to the point where they too would come to fear doing anything out of co-ordination with Yoneq and his Moses-style communication with god.

All things being equal, if you zoomed out and saw the greater picture this phenomenon wasn’t exclusive only to the lower ranking disciples; I have seen this many times where even Nun himself, one of the chief of staff of the inner circle and one of Yoneq’s right hand men was given a reprimanding for taking initiative in an area which wasn’t pleasing to Yoneq and his wife Ha Emeq. The poor man would quickly be reduced to a spineless blubbering mess believing he wasn’t approved of by god.

The knee-jerk reaction would be to take immediate action at any cost to please god and Yoneq: dissolving the enterprise, destroying any evidence that could be regarded as trying to salvage or retain anything of worth from the project. Therefore money would literally be thrown away, burned and disposed of in the form of tools, materials, plants, baskets, food, paid services etc.

We can conclude that this abusive use of ridicule and humiliation is to instil fear and used to enforce the directive of Yoneq and his wife Ha Emeq. This fear is passed down through the ranks to the lowliest of disciples through the chain of command to ensure everyone has a proper fear of god and ultimately no initiative of their own.

-S

One big question I always had while being a member of the Twelve Tribes community for 16 years was:  why do I always feel like such a weirdo?

Now, in reality we didn’t look extraordinary in the true sense of the word, like say Hare Krishnas or something.  In fact, our beards, ponytails and the classic lack luster wardrobe of khaki pants and plaid shirts if anything, made us very pedestrian and uninteresting. Yet even with our modest attire we did stand out from the crowd as being unusually normal. This wasn’t so bad to be honest, although even today after having achieved some huge milestones in my re-adjustment to living outside of the community I still find myself in the mornings occasionally reaching for that plaid shirt and bland khakis in the back of my closet for lack of any better programming.  Just one of the many brainwashing scars I have to bear I guess.

But this wasn’t the real reason. The biggest part of why I felt like a weirdo was because I always felt like I was hiding something from the rest of the heathen world, like I had some scandalous story that I had to keep to myself lest it got leaked to the public and the rumors began to fly on what was really going on behind the scenes of the twelve Tribes bedroom doors…and the truth was, I did.

Classic examples of what made me squeamish in public were being asked questions like,

Oh so your wife is pregnant, has she been to her doctor yet…?  Or,

Oh, you’re going to have a home birth, so do you have a midwife…?

When faced with these types of questions I had two choices. I could just outright lie. But present it embroidered with some flowery nonsense which would leave the audience feeling satisfied that they had just received a very thoughtful and eloquent answer, although they may still be a little unsure of what was actually said, as I look at my watch, say something about milking a goat and make a dash for the door.

Or secondly, I could just fall to the floor in a fit of lip-biting convulsions screaming hoping that the quickly escalating chaos and growing crowd of onlookers would provide adequate misdirection that they may just forget the question altogether.

Both have worked successfully well and can be relied upon in a pinch without too much pre-rehearsal.

The feeling of being a keeper of some very strange secrets was something that I never really got used to, and certainly was it no more strongly present than at border crossings moving between Canada and the US or through airport customs going between countries. Somehow the presence of real gun-toting authority put the willies in me like nothing else. Almost any question you could possibly be asked in these situations would call for some degree of spontaneous fabrication with a few strands of truth weaved in for good measure while trying not to sound nervous or unsure of yourself.

Why not just tell the truth, I hear you ask? Well, because the truth was, we were a weird religious cult and telling the truth would just make things fucking worse.

I think many guests thought we were weird too although, most were just too polite to say so, and the rest were just so corrupted by the worlds all-embracing mantra of It’s all good they just didn’t even notice anything odd anyway.

Having guests visit the community unannounced would always cause a generous stir. An almost synchronized flurry of slamming doors, muffled cries, and children getting whisked away screaming by parents not wanting to expose their disciplinary measures to a jury would always accompany the smiling appearance of Mr and Mrs Smith who, on a whim, thought they might just pop in for a surprise cuppa.

But, guests are guests and most are only just passing through. The rubber met the road when you had to deal with your own family. They were the ones asking why you couldn’t leave the compound for a day and come to your brother’s wedding or make the time to be at Grandad’s funeral or Aunty’s birthday party. All of which, in the community were considered by the papacy to be fruitless gentile observances which God had no part of, and neither should you.

I have since given this generally held belief a resounding raspberry accompanied by my raised middle finger and felt rather good about it. The hearty observance of many birthdays since my departure has only strengthened my constitution that celebrating each other in life or paying respect in death is all a part of who we are as humans and repressing this can only lead to weirdness.

All thanks to the maturity of my outside family members who constantly covered for my unreasonable religious behavior and did their best not to make me feel worse by pointing out the hurt and grief I was unconsciously causing everybody on account of Yahshua Messiah and his earthly thugs.

-S