CBC News, “Twelve Tribes Defends Use of Sticks to Discipline Children”. CBC News. Retrieved March 17, 2015: http://goo.gl/s1XoXX
A religion that is said to be of Christian teachings called Twelve Tribes is defending the physical discipline of their children. This group has been around for about fifty years and has seventy members, twenty of whom are children. The community lives in two homes in Armstrong’s point, Winnipeg. Their leader Maurice Welch believes that physical discipline is based following the word of God. The group’s form of punishment is spanking with a thin rod, which can be considered assault in Canada due to the fact that it with the use of an object rather than a hand. Maurice Welch believes that “the law interferes with parental authority” due to the restrictions that it may cause when disciplining their children.
One community member who was concerned about the allegations of the treatment of the children in this religious group decided to join for six weeks in order to rely any information about child abuse. Michael Welch believed that this task would help those in the group as well as those considering joining this “child-abusing cult”. The first evening that he had been welcomed into their community, Welch had found multiple sticks that matched the same description as ex-members had depicted. Throughout the six weeks he had been welcomed, he had found a total of twenty rods throughout their home. He had never actually observed any abuse or discipline but believed that it was happening during his stay. When talking to some of the members of the community, they had admitted that physical punishment does take place. Because it is such a closed off community, if there is physical abuse against children, there would be no way for the wider world to help unless there are members who are willing to speak out for the children.
I believe that the discipline of children is the responsibility of the parents or guardians. This religious group is said to carry out child abuse that could have been due to the high tension and established religious traditions that Rodney Starks describes on cults (Hexham: 2015). Because the community is closed off from the rest of the world and members live all together in a secluded space, it is easy to manipulate the members as they are kept away from loved ones (Hexham: 2015). Some of the followers join this group because of their loss of hope and believe that the outside world has failed them. These people need somewhere where they are able to belong to a community due to their brokenness whether it is addiction or loss of a loved one. This is exactly how cults are able to lure these people in, through their weaknesses (Hexham: 2015). Through this, cult leaders are able to control their members and make them believe that physically abusing their children is not considered abuse at all. Although physical punishment is acceptable to an extent, there is a fine line between discipline and abuse.
Michael Welch further explains his experience working undercover in the Twelve Tribe community: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/my-six-weeks-with-winnipeg-s-twelve-tribes-community-1.2809431