Messianic Communities, Sociologists, and the Law

Published in Communities Magazine, Fall 1995

Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes, nor figs thistles…A good tree cannot produce bad fruit…. So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20)

In our Messianic Communities we focus on obeying the Gospel. We live together as did the first-century church in Jerusalem; we believe that the true church must be as it was in the beginning, when it was pure.1

Ezekiel foretold that birds of every feather from all races and all nations will flock together to find shelter in God’s mighty tree. Since our Master Yahshua (His Hebrew name) said that the world would know that the Father sent Him because His followers would be perfected in unity and in love, we have devoted ourselves to being those followers, every day.

We marry and raise our children to be respectful and obedient, educating them at home and spanking them when necessary. We strive to love God and to be good neighbors, working with our hands to earn an honest living. We love all that God has created and want to see the Earth and all of mankind restored to the life we were created for.

When Jesus Christ walked the Earth some 2,000 years ago he was accused of being a cult leader and of proclaiming himself a false messiah. He said that many false prophets would arise in the last years of this age and warned his disciples not to be misled by them.2

We believe we are living in those times of which our Master spoke. So we can expect that there will be His disciples – loving as He loved, being in unity as He was in unity with His Father, and being treated as He was treated. There will also be disciples of false prophets and false messialhs, some of whom will be in the mainstream and others on the fringes.

How are we to tell them apart? By looking at their fruits. But despite our continual invitations, only one such person has ever visited us to check us out, and he changed his mind when he did.

The anti-cult movement has a vested interest in deciding who has the light and who doesn’t. Our Messianic communities are on the anti-cult activist’s lists and these organizations have been lying about us for about 20 years now, falsely accusing us of child abuse. When we tell them the truth, they ignore it and continue to disseminate lies. Why does it seem like the anti-cult movement primarily targets those groups which actively claim to pursue God?

In 1982, one of our members, whose wife accused him of pedophilia, left our Community in Island Pond, Vermont. When his wife would not leave with him or give him custody of their five children, he vowed to “destroy” the community. He sought advice from anti-cult activists, who apparently suggested that he spread lies in the media and among local government officials.

The media predictably fell in line; his accusations made "good copy." Vermont social service agencies readily believed tales of child abuse and other atrocities of astounding proportions. Because 1984 was an election year, many public officials, apparently wanting to advance their careers, cooperated with the anti-cult activists. One nearby resident also vociferously – and effectively – screamed "Abuse!" to the press.

On June 22, 1984, a squadron of 90 Vermont state troopers and 50 social workers seized 112 of our children from their homes at the Island Pond Community. Down the road at a local ski resort, a battalion of psychologists waited to give a battery of tests and a professional assessment to these “victims.” The state of Vermont claimed that all 112 children were in a high-risk situation justifying immediate action.

Thanks to the U.S. Constitution and a conscientious local judge who believed in it enough to obey it, by nightfall over 40 individual detention hearings had been held. When the state could produce no evidence of abuse, the judge observed the children, then ordered all of them returned to their parents at Island Pond. He later commented that Vermont had committed “the worst state-sanctioned violation of children since Herod the Great.”

The deprogrammer who instigated the above actions against Island Pond in 1984 had been ordered by the court in 1993 to stop his anti-cult activities, and in fact was serving a federal prison term for kidnapping (on unrelated charges). Not many know the role this deprogrammer played, yet the aftermath of his accusations lives on.

Many innocent people have been, and continue to be, damaged by the widespread fear of “cults.” Parents have had unjustified fears raised and have wasted tens of thousands of dollars trying to “save” their children, creating irreconcilable family breakdowns and wounds that don’t heal. Judges, law-enforcement personnel, social workers, and citizens have been duped by the hundreds into taking action on behalf of taxpayers – at great expense to them – action not warranted by the truth.

Ask the five families of our new Messianic Community in Hyannis, Massachusetts. In 1994, 10 parents spent six months in and out of court defending themselves and their infant children against the same old lies. When the story of what happened in Vermont was described to Massachusetts social workers, their response was, “This is different. They blew it in Vermont; we’ll do it right.” This theme recurs among government bureaucrats and law enforcement personnel who, deceived by lies, continue to fear “cultic” and abusive activity, having been convinced by the press that it exists. The chief Family Court judge in Massachusetts dismissed all the Hyannis cases for lack of evidence.

Also in 1994, four little girls were hijacked from their mother, who had custody, after she joined the Messianic Community in Rutland, Vermont. Their father, who did not have custody, feared abuse by community members and refused to return the girls after a visit. In order to conduct an assessment – and without cause or evidence – the court permitted the girls to be isolated from their mother’s home for six months. The psychologist’s finding: there had been no harm to the girls in the Rutland Community; it was a safe place for children. The parents agreed to joint custody, but within a few months, the three oldest girls returned to their mother in the community of their own choosing and with the father’s consent.

In the early 1980s three mothers in our communities lost, by court order, 11 children to their husbands, who had previously left those communities. Today, 10 out of those 11 children are back in their communities by their own choice and without the objection of their fathers. There are other similar stories: unfortunately some cases remain unresolved. (See “My Son Michael”, p. 34.)

Our response is to be who we are and to continue to grow in love, establishing Messianic communities wherever people respond to God’s Word. We want to be like the Messiah and demonstrate His life to the world.

We constantly invite people to visit our communities to see for themselves what we are all about. We have nothing to hide. We want everyone, everywhere to experience a taste of the new social order that Yahshua, the Messiah, is raising up in these confusing and alienating times. Every Friday night we gather to celebrate and welcome guests into our homes. We contact public officials, go to neighborhood meetings, and publish literature telling the truth about ourselves. We have a list of friends, neighbors, and business associates willing to testify on our behalf.

We live an open and accessible life, just as our Master Yahshua did. He also lived with the label of being a cult leader, as well as a false messiah.. We know that we, too, will never be accepted by everyone. There will always be those who revile us for what we do not do and what we do not believe.

The fact that some tell lies does not change the reality of the Word that, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”3 That is where we take our stand, by the grace of our God. Come visit us and see for yourself.

  • 1. Acts 2:37-47; 4:32-36
  • 2. Matthew 24:4-5, 11
  • 3. John 8:31-32

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.