GERMANY: Controversy Surrounding “Twelve Tribes” – Sociologist Warns against Targeted Misinformation by Sect Experts

How a Religious Community Gets Harassed by Authorities Spurred on by FECRISDo “Sect Experts” Use Controversial Deprogramming Methods to Turn Children against their own Parents?

FOREF Reports Exclusively

forefMUNICH, 01.01.2015 (FOREF) – A good 20 years ago, a branch of the religious community “Twelve Tribes” was established in Germany. In August 2013, the community was prohibited from running a school of their own since they discipline their children corporally – although in a soft manner, as the community emphasizes. One month after that, in a controversial large-scale operation the police went and got 41 children out of the communities in Nördlingen-Klosterzimmern and Wörnitz. At this point after more than a year, 20 children are still in the custody of the Jugendamt (Youth Welfare Office). Susan J. Palmer, sociologist of religion, points out that after the police raids in September 2013, the doctors did not find any evidence of abuse. She criticizes the blind trust the German authorities put in the self-proclaimed sect experts who are running a targeted disinformation and demagoguery campaign against the community.

Note in advance: FOREF distances itself from the use of physical chastisement, even if moderate, and rejects the disproportionately harsh intervention of the authorities in this case as well, which have long term traumatizing consequences for the children. Cf. Art. 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to be protected against the use of force, abuse, and neglect (see below). 

In late October 2014, the District Court of Ansbach decided upon a petition of the Jugendamt (Youth Welfare Office) to permanently withdraw custody from three sets of parents. The decisions are not final yet. The affected parents of six children aged 1-6 years have already filed complaints. Also at the District Court of Nördlingen, 12 more custody proceedings are currently pending, the court director Helmut Beyschlag told the news magazine Spiegel. There is no end in sight to the conflict between the German authorities and the Twelve Tribes.

As early as 1984 in the USA, the “Twelve Tribes” were accused of abusing their children whereupon 112 children were taken into state custody in a first police campaign. That same day Judge Frank Mahady strongly condemned this measure as grossly unconstitutional, whereupon the children were allowed to go home that same day. Since the allegations did not solidify even after further investigations, the charge was dropped after a short while.


Author: admin

CAP Liberté de Conscience, a French NGO created in 2000 dedicated to the respect of the Right of Freedom of Religion and Belief. CAP LC is expert since now 20 years, in religious minorities’ discriminations in France and Europe. CAP Liberté de Conscience organizes events, conferences, meetings to unite minority religions to counter discrimination mainly in France but also in Europe and worldwide.

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