Did you know one of the Blue Mountains’ most popular cafés, Yellow Deli, is run by the 12 Tribes cult?
The cafe has thousands of mostly positive reviews, some saying they don’t care that it’s run by a cult, while it’s clear others have no idea whom they are supporting when they eat there.
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So What has happened? What is the connection between the cafe in the Blue Mountains and the 12 Tribes cult? Why are comments saying awesome food but abusive culture?
In today’s episode of THIS ARVO IN SYDNEY, host Sacha Barbour Gatt spoke with LiSTNR news journalist Loren Howarth about her interview with Matthew Klein, a former member of the 12 Tribes.
Klein left the cult over 20 years ago and has been speaking out ever since.
You don’t see the kids who are locked away. You don’t see the adults who aren’t allowed to talk to visitors. Because they’ll only give you what I call the Walt Disney version of the 12 Tribes,”he said.
The 12 Tribes was founded in America in the 1970s and have been here in Australia since the 90s. Currently, they live in the oldest guest house in the Blue Mountains while forming their community in Picton.
Klein said that, for new members to join, they must give up all their possessions, including their names. They were also encouraged to cut off all contact with the outside world.
About nine months after hearing about the group, Klein sold his business and house and joined the cult at Picton.
Members don’t have independent sources of income, so they live in this community, they also don’t normally have TVs, and kids don’t go to school or university either, so instead the 12 Tribes have actually developed their own educational curriculum,”Klein told Howarth.
In his chat with Haworth, Klein explained the parenting practices taught by 12 Tribes.
It was meant to start from 6 months onwards. You were meant to spank your baby if it was wriggling while you were changing its nappy. It talked a lot about swaddling… and if a kid isn’t sitting still, you have to hold them and gag their mouth so they can’t cry…it was just horrific,”he said.
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