These letters were written in response to an accusing letter sent to the management of a chain of health food stores that sells products made by the Twelve Tribes communities. The writer of that letter wanted to “inform” the store management that we are racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic bigots who oppress women, and that by selling our products they were endorsing our beliefs.
In answer to the charge that the members of the Twelve Tribes are anti-Semitic, I would like to offer my facts.
As the father of a young man who has been a member of the one of the Twelve Tribes for over ten years, I have come to know the organization intimately. It is easy to make suppositions when you see a group that does not fit in to the status quo, but it takes work to get the facts.
I, myself, was also immediately offended that my son chose this new path for his life, considering his Jewish upbringing. But I also realized that his life had taken a radical turn into rebellion and searching for the deep meaning of life. It had gotten to the point where I had to ban him from coming around our household because of his negative influence on his younger brother. Many could relegate this time in his teenage years to youthful bad judgments, but his radical ideas were beyond my ability to subdue.
Then, all of a sudden, I find him in what seemed to be a “strange cult” way up in New England. He called me, speaking in a very civil manner for the first time in years, and invited me to visit him. I finally got past my initial offence and made a trip to see what he had gotten himself into. I was met with a lifestyle and a genuineness that I did not expect. The leaders took time with me to make sure all my questions were answered, and there was open hospitality offered. I did not sense dark corners where I would not be allowed to look.
Since then I have spent many an enjoyable weekend with my son in the different communities where he has lived. I have found the sincerity universal. Not without their faults, they are a people who seek God and adhere to the scriptures of both the Old and New Testament. They actually believe both the Old and New Testament. That leaves them being more faithful to the Jewish laws than I am, and also they are convinced that at some point most of the Jews did not follow their Jewish Messiah and thus went off course, as the story in the New Testament clearly states. Though I do not agree with this statement, a major portion of this world claims to be “Christian” and believe the New Testament. Thus, it should be hard for any of them who really believe to not say that Jewish people went off course.
The Messiah that my son follows was Jewish, and all the leaders of the movement he started 2000 years ago were Jewish. Even after the one they believed to be Messiah was killed, his disciples continued attending synagogues and proclaiming there that the Messiah had come and that only a small percentage of their Jewish brothers had listened to his message. The name of that Jewish Messiah they call Yahshua, which is a Jewish name, but was later changed by anti-Semitic Christians to a Greek name, Jesus.
Of course, I do not believe that Yahshua was the Jewish Messiah. But I do recognize that the same “cult mania” that goes around today, enflaming people to go so far as kill people that they do not agree with, was probably at work back then in my Jewish kindred. So, I can see that probably, when one who claimed to be their Messiah came on the scene, if they did not like his message they could easily have called for violence to get that movement stopped. This is what the Jewish leaders apparently did during that time, if you can believe what it says in the New Testament.
Now, since all Christians supposedly believe it, then it goes without saying that they must all believe that their Messiah’s own people caused his death. Historically, the Christians who believed these things did a very “unchristian” thing when they gained the upper hand by connecting themselves with the government of the Roman Empire. They used that same evil principle of violence against those Jews who had formerly persecuted them. But strangely it was their own Messiah who had clearly said to love those who treat you badly, pray for them, be kind to them.
My son and the teaching of the Twelve Tribes believes that the Jews went off course by not accepting the one called Yahshua as their Messiah, but they also believe that they should love all people (even those they do not agree with) and be kind, as the New Testament teaches. They are not one bit “anti-Semitic,” as they actually call themselves “Semites,” and many of them actually come from Jewish families. They strongly stress the good Jewish roots upon which their whole religion is based, and are very proud of the Jewish-ness of their leader Yahshua. They speak more Hebrew than I do, as they say that is the chosen language. And they say they are working hard to gain the Holy Land back for the Jews the right way (which will mean no conflict with the Palestinians and no bloodshed), by being a people who are obedient to the commandments and follow the Messiah.
All-in-all, they appear proud of the genuine Jewish heritage of their people, while at the same time proclaiming those Jews to be wrong who refused their Messiah. But, I can verify, that neither I nor any Jewish person who visits them is harassed or in any way treated unkindly.
On the other hand, it appears that now those same Christians who have historically treated Jews badly are now jumping on the bandwagon calling the Twelve Tribes anti-Semitic. Though they supposedly believe the New Testament, they now seem to be saying that they do not hold the Jewish people responsible for not receiving their Messiah and having him put to death. I have little knowledge of the New Testament which the Christians use, but I do know that it talks about what the Jews did to Jesus and his followers. This is also in our own history books. We never said we did not have him executed. Our history clearly shows that we have many times taken actions like that. The Torah has many cases where people were killed, stoned to death, etc., for saying things that were not received. Several of the prophets were stoned to death by people whose children ended up honoring them as prophets.
So to criticize the Twelve Tribes as being anti-Jewish is wrong. Though they clearly do not believe we did the right thing in rejecting the one they herald as the Messiah, they continue to maintain an attitude of love and kindness.
~ From a caring Jewish father
I live near one of the communities of the Twelve Tribes. My partner and I speak often with them and have been invited to their homes many times.
I want to answer the charge that the people of the Twelve Tribes are anti-gay. I respect the people of the community because they respect me. I know that they have a literal belief in the Bible. Even though I consider myself a Christian, there are passages in the Bible that tend to make it look like the way I have chosen to live my life is wrong. My pastor and I have found ways to reconcile those Bible verses to accommodate my lifestyle. It does seem, though, to those who want to take the Bible literally, that they may have a hard time doing that.
But I can understand the Tribes people because they take everything written in the Book at face value. Unlike other Christians who pick the nice things out of the scripture about heaven and blessings, those people really try to live by what is said. They keep Saturday, not Sunday, as their Sabbath, they don’t claim any possessions, they love their neighbor as themselves (literally)… and on and on.
I consider those commandments interesting, but like the mandate against homosexuality, I do not think we are expected to literally keep them. Thus I go to church and sing and pray, but do not consider the commandments in a way that they would dictate my lifestyle.
So, is there any space for those who actually believe literally what it says, so much so that they give up their whole life for it? They dress modestly, have strict laws against any promiscuity, etc.
I think they would equally condemn a man that is unfaithful to his wife as they would me, in my choice of lifestyle. Yet, though I know that they do not consider my way of life proper, they are the first to jump to help my partner and me when we need it. No one else is like that in our neighborhood, not even the other lesbian couples. So, can I say that they are bad people? I guess I could just say they appear to really believe what the Bible says and live by it. And since a big part of what the Bible says is about loving others, I think that is the biggest part of their life.
If they disapprove of me, I do not see it in their eyes or hear it in their words. But if I look into what their doctrine allows in their communities, I am sure I would be directed to those same troubling Bible verses that my pastor and I have had to work through. So, I can understand why they might find themselves at variance with us. But I am sure I would have to bring up the subject with them, as they are not confrontational with me.
They are good neighbors and I would choose them over most anyone else in this society.
~ From a concerned neighbor of homosexual persuasion
I am a member of the Twelve Tribes community. I was born and raised here, and am now an adult. I am also a black woman. I wanted to express my defense for the beliefs of our community regarding the people of my race.
IT IS OBVIOUS that there is a problem with the way African Americans are treated and treat others. There is a problem. So, what do you do about a problem? Try to solve it. But pushing people together and trying to force them to get along is not solving the problem. Forced desegregation is a total disaster. Human beings are all different and like to be free to be different.
In the Twelve Tribes we like people of every different race. We are not trying to make them into one big “light-chocolate-colored” race. We like Latinos to remain Latino. We like their customs, language, and culture. We like blacks. We like to see blacks be free to be who they are. We do not want them to become white people, or vise-versa. So, we in the Twelve Tribes would like for the beautiful cultures of all the races to remain intact. Yet, we ourselves want to be one new culture. Our culture is made up of three races and we would like to preserve those races, if possible. We try to avoid interracial marriages because we like the races of man the way God made them. We think they are all special.
My race, according to the Bible stories, would probably have become the dominant one because of our strength and abilities. But, along with those things came a pride and disrespect that has long caused us problems. The solution to this is to take on a humble stance. That is impossible without the salvation that has come through Yahshua, the Jewish Messiah spoken of in the Bible. Now, in His salvation, we blacks can actually become the servants that our Master commanded His followers to be. He said, “The greatest among you will be the servant of all.” Thus, if we now take on the humble stance we can be all that is in God’s heart for us to be. That sounds like the best situation of all for my race.
I prefer to be a black in the Twelve Tribes where we love one another and are not forced to integrate, but do so because of the salvation that we have found. We have found the way to solve the problem, and finally to have true harmony among the races, without mixing away their own particular beauty.
~ From a redeemed black woman of the Twelve Tribes
I am a woman, born and raised. I wanted woman’s liberation when I was a rebellious teenager in the sixties. I am now a senior citizen and have lived long enough to see the fruit of the woman’s liberation movement as it has run its course over those five decades.
Liberation is a very subjective concept. As a woman, and a free thinker, I find the role of women as presented in the Bible to be the most profitable in the long run. It dictates a submissive role for womankind. That can be misrepresented as oppressive restriction, or it can be seen as the freedom to function as the manager in a corporation where the owner is smart enough to realize that his manager is much better at the “hands-on” business that he is. The owner, of course, has the final say, but the manager knows a lot more about the business and is more gifted in knowing what should be done. Thus, if the owner is not crazy (or short-sighted), he will let the manager have free reign to run the business.
A woman is cognitive and intuitive and can do many things when given the reigns. But, not being the owner, she can also look for guidance, submit her thoughts, and be led. Left to herself, woman can be deceived. If you believe the Bible you must agree with that.
At this point, in America at least, one is free to live by the dictates of the Bible. Thus the Twelve Tribes should be allowed to live as they see fit. Even Moslems are allowed to live in America. They cannot be discriminated against if their women decide to wear a birka and be submissive. They have their reasons for believing what they do. Maybe some people feel that they should not patronize a Moslem’s business because they believe in women being modest and submissive. But most people let people believe and live as they choose in America. You will never get a Moslem to say a woman should be immodest, nor could you get a good Jew to promote ham sandwiches, nor could you get a literal Bible-believer to say that women should be the head over men. It goes contrary to their religion. So, how can you ask the Twelve Tribes to forsake their religion or lose the right to sell their products in your stores?
~ From a fulfilled women who has seen true liberation