The KIT Newsletter, an Activity of the KIT Information Service, a Project of The Peregrine Foundation

· P.O. Box 460141 · San Francisco, CA 94146-0141 · telephone: (415) 821-2090 · FAX (415) 282-2369 · http://www.matisse.net/~peregrin/

KIT Staff U.S.: Ramón Sender, Charles Lamar, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity)

EuroKIT: Joy Johnson MacDonald, Susan Johnson Suleski, Carol Beels Beck, Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, Ben Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt, Joan Pavitt Taylor

The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from inside and from outside the Bruderhof. We reserve the right to edit submissions according to guidelines discussed at numerous KIT conferences. Obviously, it's seldom easy to know exactly how best to carry out KIT's mission of allowing many voices and various points of view to be heard. We do not, and cannot, vouch for the validity of any opinion or assertion appearing in the KIT Newsletter. The opinions expressed in the letters that we publish must remain those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect those of KIT editors or staff.

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KIT staff would like to extend Best Wishes to all for a healthy and happy Winter Holiday Season.

T h e W h o l e K i t A n d C a b o o d l e

Toll-Free Phone for former Bruderhofers in need of advice and referrals: 1 888 6 KINDER

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The Times Herald Record
The Lakeville Journal
Wayne Chesley
Joseph Keiderling
J. Christoph Arnold
WTNH (ABC) New Haven
Heidi (Kleiner) Strickland
Barnabas Johnson
Name Withheld
Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe
Peoria Journal Star
Hannah Goodwin Johnson
Katherine Brookshire
Melchior Fros
Dave Ostrom
Charlie Lamar
Pauline (Ellison) Davies
Mike LeBlanc
Sam Arnold
Renatus Kluver
Nadina Marie DuBac, August and Nadine Pleil's newest granddaughter, was born Sept. 3, 1997. August and Nadine are very proud grandparents of this new little girl. She was born to their daughter Andrea and husband Kerry DuBac. Welcome, Nadina!
Pete Holland had his own cells transfused back into his system on November 18th as a bone marrow re-grafting. He will likely remain in hospital for about six weeks. He and the Holland clan can use all the support and good wishes we can give them. This is a very crucial time for Pete and for all who love him.
Belinda Manley: A VERY HAPPY 89th on 12/10! And dearest Buddug Evans, an AMAZING 94th!!
Ben Cavanna & Joanie Pavitt Taylor, 11/30/97: As many of you will know, we will be getting married on the 1st of August, 1998. We have decided to take up Matt and Andrea Holland's offer of the use of Lower Shaw Farm for our Alternative Wedding Weekend Festival. This will run from Friday evening, 31st July, through to Sunday afternoon, 2nd August. So put the date in your diaries -- you will be receiving invitations. They have about 25 beds on a bed-and-breakfast basis and room to camp, plus other accommodation locally with family and in other types, up to posh hotels. More on these plans as we firm them up.
Miriam Arnold Holmesis posting her annual offer to create for anyone hand-knit, colorful one-(two?)-of-a-kind sox for $12. Tell her your color preference and size! Xmas socks -- for anyone needing presents for others or warm toes for self.
CORRECTION In the November KIT issue , page 8, line 19 (of the printed copy) in Stanley Vowles letter to Christian Domer, the sentence should read:

"While I do not agree with all I read in KIT -- how could it be otherwise? -- there is enough confirmation in it from diverse sources as to there being a considerable modicum of truth contained therein in some assertions concerning certain aspects of the Communities' activities meted out to some individuals that comes within Amnesty International's mandate of combating "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," be it physical or mental, in conformity with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "

We regret the error.

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The Times Herald Record, 11/8/97:

"Bruderhof Head Finds Forgiveness Divine"

by Paul Brooks

Bruderhof leader J. Christoph Arnold reluctantly set aside his fears in Ulster County Court yesterday and took a page out of his own book on forgiveness. Arnold did not look at David Maendel, who sat at the defense table awaiting sentencing on a conviction for trying to extort $15,000 out of Arnold and the Bruderhof. Maendel was convicted on Sept 10 on one set of extortion-related counts, but cleared of similar counts involving $3.5 million threatening bodily harm.

Arnold, his short gray hair tousled, padded across the courtroom in white running shoes to stand in front of Judge Dan Lamont. Arnold spoke in a loud voice as he read from a statement about Maendel's "frightening actions and threats." He said he believed Maendel once tried to murder Arnold's father and since shifted that hatred to Arnold and his family.

"David's supporters have accused me of insincerity," said Arnold, the author of Seventy Times Seven: The Power of Forgiveness.

"How, they argue, can I urge others to practice forgiveness and not apply it in this situation? I am prepared to accept that challenge," he said. "Accordingly, I wish to state to the court my deep desire for leniency when sentencing David Maendel," he said.

Don't put Maendel in jail, Arnold asked Lamont, provided the judge also ordered Maendel to stay away from the Bruderhof.

This is what Lamont did. After listening to Arnold and Bruderhof member, Joseph Keiderling, Lamont sentenced Maendel to 90 days in jail and five years probation. As it turns out, Maendel has already spent nearly three months in jail. Lamont also prohibited Maendel from harassing, intimidating or interfering with the Bruderhof for five years.

Maendel said he was deeply sorry for having broken the state law. "I broke God's law too, and I will have to be judged for that," he said. Maendel's lawyer Thomas Petro said his client apologized to the Bruderhof if they were caused any pain. Maendel spoke on his own, saying he wanted to see his family members in the Bruderhof.

"Since 1978 I have been barred from visiting the Bruderhof. I don't know if my mother is alive or dead," he said. "I ask Christoph Arnold if he had been barred from seeing his family, to what lengths would he go?"

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The Lakeville Journal, 11/13/97:

"Extortion Case In New York Revives Issues Surrounding Life In Bruderhof Communities"

by Karen Bartomioli

Norfolk - The conviction of a former Bruderhof member on charges of attempted extortion against the group's Woodcrest Community in Rifton, NY, drew fresh attention this week to questions surrounding these Christian communities, including the Deer Spring Bruderhof here in Norfolk. It follows the announcement two weeks ago that the Bruderhof plans to leave its Connecticut home of 40 years.

On a Connecticut television station's news broadcast covering the trial verdict that aired last week, other former members, including a former member of Norfolk's Deer Spring Community, came forward to talk about their lives as children in the communities, where they said they were emotionally abused and punished by being isolated, sometimes for weeks at a time.

David Maendel was found guilty by a judge in Ulster County, NY, Supreme Court on two felony counts of attempted grand larceny. He was sentenced Nov. 7 to two jail terms: 90 days for the first count and 60 days for the second. The 60 days he served pretrial however, will satisfy his sentences.

Mr. Maendel, now a resident of Ohio, will remain under probation for five years and has been ordered to avoid contact with community members, particularly three individuals at the Woodcrest Community where he grew up. He was acquitted of more serious charges in the case, including an attempt to extort $3.5 million from the Bruderhof with the threat to publish a book revealing alleged atrocities against Bruderhof children and extortion by threat of physical violence.

At some point, $15,000 was given to Maendel by the Bruderhof in a transaction that attorneys for both sides of the case called "a negotiation." In an interview with The Lakeville Journal, Maendel's cousin Michael Boller, a former resident of Deer Spring in Norfolk who now owns a business in Canton, CT, called the $15,000 "bait" in a scheme by the Bruderhof to trap Maendel in extortion charges. Mr. Boller said he believes his cousin was attempting to put an end to the emotional pain he claims to have suffered in the years since he broke from the community.

"Dave wanted the Bruderhof to admit they have a systemic problem," Boller said. "I don't necessarily agree with the way he went about getting their attention, but he needed some kind of closure."

Closure is something Boller said he managed to gain for himself about two years ago, more than a decade and a half after he left the Norfolk commune where he was born and raised. Boller described a childhood that was "heaven on earth" until his teen years when he became aware that there were lifestyles beyond the Bruderhof where his individuality of thought would not get him into trouble.

Boller, now 37, said he was not physically abused as a child, and that he has come to see that much of his upbringing was very good. But little infractions, such as making fun of a song -- "spoiling a song" as they called it -- could mean hours of interrogation and a period of house arrest, he said.

At that time, he said, he didn't think of the severe discipline as abuse because he knew of nothing else. But the Bruderhof communities are held together by a measure of control that is aimed even at members' thoughts, Boller said, making it "hell on earth for a thinking person."

His last contact with Deer Spring was about two years ago when he was arrested for trespassing after he rollerbladed onto the Deer Spring property during its annual open house. Boller admitted his actions were motivated by a need to see how the Bruderhof would react. Months earlier he had been asked to stay away, the result, he said, of his making several unscheduled visits to family there.

Deer Spring declined to comment for this story.

During the Nov. 6 WTNH broadcast, a letter from the Bruderhof attorney was quoted as saying, "What was accepted as acts of normal child rearing 40 years ago would be considered politically incorrect acts of near child abuse today."

But another interview during the TV report points to allegations of abuse during recent years.

Clara Arnold, granddaughter of Bruderhof leader Christoph Arnold [sic], is only about 20 years old but claims to have attempted suicide twice because of emotional abuse. She has left the Bruderhof.

During interviews with The Journal this week, lawyers in the extortion trial that followed charges brought in October, 1996 by the state of New York on behalf of the Bruderhof paint differing pictures of the Bruderhof and what happened in Maendel's case. Defense attorney Tom Petro said his client was simply trying to seek restitution for the abuse he had suffered as a child, and the 20 years he was barred from contact with his family.

According to Mr. Petro, Maendel meant to use the money from the Bruderhof to allow remaining family members to leave the community and start a new life. Petro said Bruderhof members called to testify repeatedly answered questions with deceptive answers.

Assistant District Attorney Emmanuel Nneji said that Maendel's only motivation was money for himself. Mr. Nneji said that although the court found Maendel not guilty of a charge of physical threatening, witnesses testified that Maendel appeared several times at the Woodcrest property with a high-powered rifle and scope, with the intent to harm a specific individual. Nneji added that evidence of this and other threats, including the $3.5 million request, were heard in tapes made by Bruderhof members of conversations between themselves and Maendel, and that Maendel made no attempt to dispute these tapes.

As to the allegations of abuse, Nneji said, "We called witnesses to testify and there was not one shred of evidence given to support claims of abuse."

He believes Maendel was used as a weapon against the Bruderhof by a group of former members called KIT (Keep In Touch). Nneji claims their admitted mission is to destroy the Bruderhof.

Boller said KIT is a group of several people who publish a newsletter that serves as a form of support and communication between former members who have left family behind and as a means to vent frustrations and anger by some.

Nneji's office has sent a request to Connecticut asking the state to revoke the pistol permit Maendel holds here. Petro says his client intends to appeal the case.

In Norfolk, the Bruderhof announced recently it plans to leave the town this spring. The Bruderhof's only comment on leaving Norfolk has been a brief statement that it is doing so "in order to consolidate its business and communal way of life with other existing Bruderhof in the United States and England."

Deer Spring has already begun moving members to other communities and has set a spring deadline for closing the 50-plus acre compound which will be put up for sale.

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Wayne Chesley (alt.support.bruderhof) 11/9/97: I am happy to hear that Christoph Arnold felt to live up to the Bruderhof book on forgiveness by asking for mercy for Dave Maendel. I commend this Christian act. Perhaps if the Bruderhof, from the start, would love their enemies, the type of situation Dave found himself in might never have happened. Maybe if Dave had just been allowed to visit his relatives in the communities...

Now, will the Bruderhof continue in this start of turning back to Christ? Will the Bruderhof stop the appeal of the lawsuit and drop the second lawsuit against Ramon? Will the Bruderhof allow family contact again? Will they accept the offer for experienced Christian mediation through the Mennonite Conciliation Service?

There is an interesting new article on the Bruderhof's web site about the church and cults: http://www.bruderhof.org/features/cults_and_ church.htm. Quoting:

"In the end our only defense against all evil, whether it be cults or persecution, is to keep our life together firmly centered on Jesus Christ: not the invented Christ of the cults, but the Christ who speaks so plainly to us in the Gospels, and especially in the Sermon on the Mount. For the cults trade above all on ignorance of the person and works of Jesus Christ. Those who have really come to know him through a prayerful reading of the New Testament cannot possibly be deceived.

"If we keep our eyes on Jesus, the true Jesus of the New Testament, he will not allow us to be led astray."

Does The Plough staff really mean this? Will the Bruderhof really center its life on the words of Christ, especially the Sermon on the Mount, where he speaks so plainly?

I hope and pray that Christoph's actions and these words signify a new beginning at the Bruderhof. Many people are looking forward to hearing from the Bruderhof leadership and paralegals, and from their family members. Peace,

KIT: The article quoted from above was written by Dr. Paul Fox while he was living in the Bruderhof, but posted without his permission or acknowledgment of his authorship to the Bruderhof's website. After Dr. Fox e-mailed a request to have it withdrawn, it has disappeared.
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Joseph Keiderling, Statement to the Court upon the Sentencing of David Maendel, 11/7/97:

May it please the Court, I am appearing here on my own behalf and as a representative of the Bruderhof Communities here in Ulster County and elsewhere in the United States. I am also appearing on behalf of my fellow brethren, Christian Domer and Christoph Arnold, both of whom have personally felt the brunt of David Maendel's acts. As a devoted and committed member of a Christian group, it is impossible for me to pass judgment upon others; I leave that to the Court. In so doing, however, it is important for the Court to understand what impact David Maendel's conduct has had on me, personally, and my fellow brethren at the Bruderhof.

Necessarily, I must give some of the background leading up to his recent conduct in the hopes that it not only will assist the Court in sentencing but also serve to deter others who, like David Maendel, might resort to criminal activity in order to meet their goals.

David Maendel only lived at the Bruderhof for three years and left as a thirteen-year-old in 1962 -- 35 years ago. It is clear to me now that during that protracted absence from the community, his feelings of animosity, indeed rage, began to take shape and develop. I did not know David while he lived at the Bruderhof and, in fact, only first became acquainted with him when he first advanced his extortion plot. I had, by then heard stories about how he had entered our property several years earlier armed with a high-powered rifle with the intent to kill one of our ministers.

David confirmed this event to me when we first met and, surely did so in order to enhance the extortion threat he was making. I must tell the Court that David's threats were taken very seriously and were far more than alarming. I wish that the Court could have been present to observe David's demeanor while making his threats.

As a husband and a father of young children, I cannot impress upon the Court enough the impact of knowing that an emotionally unstable man -- one who had revealed his intentions to shoot one of our ministers -- could be lurking in the woods with a high-powered rifle near our remote property in Rifton unless we ceded to his extortion demands.

Based upon my conversation with David, what was even more frightening to me and my fellow brethren was the fact that, from the start, David was not acting on his own but, rather, was part of a small but well-organized group of disgruntled ex-members who, in recent years, have resorted to ever more alarming tactics in order to advance their publicly stated goal of destroying the Bruderhof.

It is against this background and hoping and praying to avoid the violence which David's threat inevitably would lead to, that I turned to the police for protection of myself and my community. I must also tell the Court that, contrary to those who would criticize the criminal justice system, the system worked the way it is supposed to work in our unique case. Even the members of a group like ours who live outside of "mainstream America" can rely on the law and its enforcers to protect it from the violent society in which we live.

I know that David's attorney, or maybe even David himself, will follow me before this Court and advance all kinds of reasons for David's conduct. Indeed, the leaders of the small group which, I believe, led David to advance his extortion plot in the first place, have already publicly begun a damage control campaign by suggesting that David's unfortunate conduct was the direct product of Bruderhof-inflicted abuse, albeit more than thirty-five years ago -- a kind of devil-made-me-do-it defense.

Firstly, I must assure the Court that these allegations are as specious as they are stale. More importantly, however, there can be no justification for either inflicting or instilling the fear of violence in others in order to advance your goals.

I respectfully request that your Honor take my statement into consideration in reaching your sentencing decision. The Bruderhof wants to stem the increasing verbal violence against us by David Maendel's supporters before it escalates any further towards physical violence -- something which, tragically, has already occurred in some measure.

In addition, we respectfully request that the Court issue a permanent Order of Protection in favor of myself, Christoph Arnold, Christian Domer and the members and properties of the Bruderhof communities, replacing the temporary Order as earlier. We thank the Court in all respects and, especially, for this opportunity to be heard,

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Johann Christoph Arnold, Statement to the Court upon the Sentencing of David Maendel, 11/7/97:

May it please the Court, I am appearing today on my own behalf and as the Senior Minister of the international Bruderhof Community movement. My colleague, Joe Keiderling, has already made a statement which describes well our concern over David Maendel's frightening actions and threats toward us as well as the actions of his supporters. I wish to add a few comments based on my personal concern for David's well-being and for the sake of his family.

Ever since the day when I first heard about how David Maendel had deliberately attempted to murder my father I have agonized over how I as a Christian should respond to this man, knowing that the same hatred leveled against my father has since shifted to me. I worried about David's state of mind and ongoing intention regarding the Bruderhof and my family in particular.

David's supporters have accused me of insincerity. I recently authored a book on the topic of forgiveness called Seventy Times Seven: The Power Of Forgiveness. How, they argue, can I urge others to practice forgiveness and apply it in this situation? I am prepared to accept their challenge. I want to use this opportunity to profess my deeply held belief in the Gospel of forgiveness and in a God of mercy. I want to apply to the Bruderhof and myself everything I have written in my book.

Accordingly, I wish to state to the Court my deep desire for leniency when sentencing David Maendel. I am fully aware that David spent several months in jail already for the crime which he has been found guilty of, and I strongly believe that further jail time will do nothing more to help David in the process of rehabilitation spiritually. Provided that your Honor issues an Order of Protection for me and for the members of the Bruderhof Communities, I plead for leniency for David Maendel in the fullest measure. I thank the Court for this opportunity to be heard,

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WTNH (ABC) Channel 8, New Haven, CT, 11/6-7/97:

a transcript of the 2 TV news segments:

Ann Nyberg: Do the Bruderhof make rules for the love of God or control of their members? A simple Christian community called the Bruderhof has lived quietly in the northwest corner of our state for more than 40 years, But two weeks ago they made headlines by announcing that they're going to leave.
Brian Brunell: Leaders say the group wants to consolidate its manufacturing operations, but others say the move is intended to tighten control over members of the group. Our undercover investigative team talked with former members who say living in the Bruderhof was 'hell on earth.' Jim Hoffer joins us.
Jim Hoffer: That's what they say. Like all groups and organizations, the Bruderhof with six communities around the country has rules that members are expected to follow. But some ex-members say the rules were too rigid, and punishment for breaking them too severe. Among their allegations, emotional abuse and interrogation.
Jim Hoffer: Imagine growing up in a place filled with song, a Christian community where families share, where children are cherished, where the spiritual holds value over the material.
Mike Boller: When I was a kid, like third grade, fourth grade, I sincerely believe that the Bruderhof was heaven on earth.
Jim Hoffer: Mike Boller, along with his seven brothers and sisters, grew up in the Deer Spring Bruderhof in Norfolk, Connecticut. Mike Boller: I had a blast. I had a blast, yeah.
Jim Hoffer: But the fun faded when the shy little boy started to spread his wings, to quench his curiosity and exert his individuality. Mike Boller: I was caught making fun of a song, "spoiling a song" was the term. And gee, looking back on it, I don't think it was -- it wasn't like I was using any dirty words, or something.
Jim Hoffer: Well, how bad was the punishment?
Mike Boller: One is basically restricted to house arrest for a couple a weeks. It can definitely hurt a child's self-esteem.
Clara Arnold: I was at the end of my rope. I tried to commit suicide twice, and...
Jim Hoffer: Clara Arnold, the great-grandchild of the Bruderhof's founder, says the emotional abuse nearly destroyed her.
Clara Arnold: Always the sweet talk, you know, and you wish it. But the next thing they are doing is having you interrogated and trying to get you to write down sins that you've committed that you haven't actually done.
Dave Maendel: They'd put us first in a closet with no lights on, the doors all shut, the windows closed.
Jim Hoffer: Dave Maendel tells a similar story, of punishment by internal exile. For disobeying one of his teachers, he says he suffered hours of interrogation and weeks of isolation.
Dave Maendel: I was twelve years old, they took me away, I was told that I had to go with him. He took me up to the fourth floor in one of their buildings, put me in the room and turned around and walked out and locked the door. There was a bunk bed, a mattress with no blankets or sheets and a pillow with no pillowcase. No light, no heat. I was in this room for a month.
Jim Hoffer: In part, as a result of years of this type of treatment, Maendel said he sought monetary compensation from the Bruderhof for his psychological injuries. But the court saw it differently, however, and recently convicted him of extortion.
Julius Rubin: These clearances and interrogations, these separations from family, being made a pawn of these adult struggles, have been terribly injurious.
Jim Hoffer: Sociology professor Julius Rubin is writing a book about the Bruderhof. He sees in these stories of abuse a community that has no tolerance for the nonconformist, for the individual thinker.
Julius Rubin: They've required people to live according a single belief system, so that if you're out of step with this belief, this leadership, these ideas, then you will suffer church discipline and exclusion.
Jim Hoffer: We made repeated attempts to try and talk to the Bruderhof about these allegations of emotional and psychological abuse, and they declined, saying through an attorney that they would rather not talk to us because of unfavorable dealings with the media. We may never know the real story of life inside this community, so we turned to the outside, to its neighbors, to see how they feel about the Bruderhof.
Norfolk's First Selectman says a town could not ask for better citizens. "[garbled on the tape] ...volunteers and they're right there." They're also industrious. Their Norfolk factory produces playground equipment and gear for the disabled. It's a multi-million-dollar business...
Jim Hoffer: And as teenagers, the Bruderhof children leave their community school for a public education and their first real test of coping with the outside world.
School Superintendent: "Well educated, happy. They seem to be well-adjusted, happy kids."
Jim Hoffer: And in a letter from their attorneys, the Bruderhof calls allegations of psychology and emotional abuse completely unfounded and ridiculous. It also states that not a single person who has ever alleged misconduct has ever filed a complaint against the Bruderhof.
But the exiled members say that beneath the Bruderhof's public image of harmony and unity there exists a mine field of punishment and pressure for any teen who sees things different from the group.
Mike Boller: They can get right inside your mind and break you, basically.
Jim Hoffer: Former members say the anguish and anxiety of those childhood years still hurts today.
Mike Boller: (looking at photo album) There was a while when I couldn't look at the book at all. Like maybe four years ago, when I looked at a lot of these pictures, it would back feelings of revulsion and feelings of pain.
Jim Hoffer: To deal with that pain, ex-members of the Bruderhof have sought each other out. For many, the exiled members serve as surrogate family for those who lost touch with their real families when they broke away from the Bruderhof. These reunions help them make peace with their past.
Mike Boller: I can look back at a picture of myself and say, "You know, he wasn't so bad after all!"
Jim Hoffer: This letter from the Bruderhof attorney says that the media have placed them on trial for their unorthodox lifestyle. The letter also says, 'That your viewers will no doubt agree that what was accepted as acts of normal child-rearing forty years ago would be considered politically incorrect acts of near child abuse today." We should also note that we made repeated attempts to try to do interviews with Bruderhof members, and tomorrow, a former Bruderhof member will... go before a Superior Court judge in the state of New York where he will be sentenced for extorting money from the Bruderhof. We'll be in that courtroom and we'll have that story tomorrow night.
Brian Brunell: And these people who have left, and left that life behind them, if they have family members inside, they're cut off now. Is that right?
Jim Hoffer: Well, that's what some of them say. They say it's been very difficult for them to reach out and to try and make contact with their family members.
Ann Nyberg: Fascinating look at a closed community, Jim. Thank You...

(end of segment)

11/7/97: (Continuing the investigative report)
Dave Maendel: I'm still very much afraid of what's going to happen to this group, especially my family.
Jim Hoffer: The Bruderhof was his home, and then he tried to extort from the religious community. Find out why this former member is concerned about those living inside.
Announcer: You're watching News Channel 8 at 11, with Ann Nyberg, Brian Brunell.
Brian Brunell: Extorting money from a religious community here in Connecticut, one of the former members did that. The Connecticut man was sentenced today for trying to extort money from the Bruderhof religious group.
Ann Nyberg: As we reported to you last night, the extortionist said that he wanted compensation for abuses he suffered as a child. Jim Hoffer was in the courtroom today for the sentencing.
Jim Hoffer: Dave Maendel arrived at a New York courthouse today to find out if he would go back to jail for trying to extort $15,000 from the Bruderhof.
Dave Maendel: I think I did what I had to do.
Jim Hoffer: This former Bruderhof member from Torrington threatened to publish a tell-all book about the religious community if it failed to pay him big bucks.
Dave Maendel: For that I'm deeply sorry. I regret doing that, but I think that I'm still very much afraid of what's going to happen to this group, especially my family.
Jim Hoffer: Maendel admits he stepped over the line here, but he says he broke the law to gain attention, to focus the spotlight on what he calls troubling problems inside the Bruderhof community.
Joe Keiderling: I don't want to comment on this.
Jim Hoffer: This is one of the Bruderhof members Maendel tried to extort. He refused to talk to us, but in a statement read to the judge, he said he was worried for his safety because he believes that Maendel is emotionally unstable and said he had threatened to kill one of the Bruderhof ministers.
Jim Hoffer: (to Joe Keiderling) Do you really think that Mr. Maendel is a threat?
Joe Keiderling: Everything has been said in this statement and that's all I really care to talk about.
Jim Hoffer: But Maendel says he's never harmed any Bruderhof members, and he was the one emotionally abused as a child, growing up in one of the religious group's six communes.
Dave Maendel: I was twelve years old. He said I had to go with him. He took me up to the fourth floor in one of their buildings, put me in the room and turned around and walked out and locked the door. There was a bunk bed, a mattress with no blankets or sheets, and a pillow with no pillowcase. No light, no heat. I was in this room for a month.
Jim Hoffer: (to Christoph Arnold exiting the courthouse) Got a second?
Jim Hoffer: The Bruderhof leader sped away when we tried to talk to him.
Jim Hoffer: (to Christoph Arnold exiting the courthouse) Why did you argue for leniency?
(Christoph drives away.)
Jim Hoffer: This is the letter that Christoph Arnold, the head of the Bruderhof, handed to us through the pickup truck window. In it he tells the judge that he's worried about Maendel's state of mind and he urges the judge to place a Protective Order against him. But he also asks the judge to be lenient in sentencing Maendel. The judge was. He gave Maendel 90 days in prison, which he has already served, plus five years probation. But he also told Maendel that he must stay away from all Bruderhof communities and its members. Ann and Brian, back to you.

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Heidi (Kleiner) Strickland, 11/6/97: (This letter was written last May and got lost on my desk). I've just digested three months of the KIT newsletter during my visit to Albuquerque, NM, where we were celebrating our middle daughter Haidee's graduation from the University of New Mexico. I find that these days I avoid and escape giving thought to the Bruderhof. The tragedy of what they have become is too great and appears irreversible.

I think of Joe Keiderling, whose diapers I used to change when he was an innocent little baby in Bulstrode. I had had the good fortune of being placed in the Ullu/Ellen Keiderling family during a time when I had once again been abandoned by my parents. I was 16, Bulstrode was in the process of another 'Great Crisis.' People were thrown out left and right. There were no opportunities to say good-bye -- besides, who would say 'good-bye' to someone who was 'evil' enough to be thrown out? I found this time very confusing and emotionally disturbing.

Ellen was the kindest, most understanding, nurturing individual I had met on the hof. I could not get enough of her! Here was a person who listened to me, cared about what I had to say and responded with unconditional love. This unique experience ended too soon, because it was decided to ship me to Oak Lake to be reunited with my parents.

It is difficult for me to imagine that Ellen could produce a son like Joe -- a power-hungry, arrogant, egomaniac. I suppose power corrupts all. It must hurt her to see what her son has become.

Most of the time these days I give the Bruderhof no thought. When I do, the pain can be excruciating. The person that I miss the most and want in my life is my sister Susanna. Once a year I get a note from her saying she loves me and I should cut myself off from KIT. She manages to slip in a statement such as.... 'You know what your father Fritz stood for." That surely is a dig. Yes, I know what my father Fritz stood for -- I consider myself to stand for the same principals he did. No -- I do not think he was a saint as the Bruderhof has led people to believe. I know my sister Susanna does not really believe what she writes. She was always a rebel. Sometimes I wonder, though, how does one digest a daily diet of "KIT -- Evil -- Enemy -- Out to destroy us," especially in a place like the Bruderhof where there is no room for individual thought and opinion.

Susanna has two choices -- to spout the garbage or leave the only life she has known for about 64 years. I would welcome her with open arms if she chose to leave. On several occasions in my early life, she was a substitute parent to me for long periods of time. She was an energetic, enthusiastic, loving, creative women and mother. I miss her terribly and am beginning to be resigned to never seeing her again. Greetings to all,

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Barnabas Johnson (from alt.support.bruderhof) 11/5/97: I am relieved that the $15-million defamation suit was dismissed yesterday. Even so, I rather wish it had proceeded to the "merits stage" (rather than being dismissed due to statute of limitations problems) because the case was, in my opinion, without merit -- and, if only for the sake of dear friends in the Bruderhof, the allegations needed a full airing and an authoritative judicial determination that the defendants had not engaged in actionable conduct and, specifically, were legally entitled to say what they said about the Bruderhof.

What they said was, I believe, "fair comment" -- expressions of responsible opinions, without malice, without reckless disregard for their truth or falsity, entirely appropriate under the circumstances. Indeed, as near as I can tell (I was not "there" to witness the facts on some points, etc.), what the defendants said about the Bruderhof was probably true and definitely not deliberately false; I know the defendants, and I know them to be honorable, responsible, thoughtful, decent, kind. Much worse could have been said, in my view, and would nonetheless have been entirely within legal bounds. I could say much more to explain what I mean here, but -- frankly -- I am scared to do so. I am a 54-year-old graduate of Harvard Law School and I am scared of the Bruderhof.

The Bruderhof needs the kinds of criticism the defendants engaged in. Our society needs citizens who have the courage of their convictions and will "speak truth to power" whenever and wherever needed. The Bruderhof has a long history of engaging in bullying tactics, especially with regard to members and ex-members. Its leaders have too long operated without the "disinfectant of sunlight" -- without anything close to public scrutiny. The members are kept in the dark on far too much, and are expected to "swallow the party line" and conform or be expelled, essentially penniless.

This is very unhealthy. Honesty is the first casualty of authoritarian societies. That is why America guarantees freedom of expression, and that is why the current leaders so adamantly assert that "democracy is not God's way" (I think these precise words were used on television by J. C. Arnold, the Elder) and why they have sought to silence their critics. And they have succeeded better than they perhaps realize.

Lots of my friends are scared to speak or write candidly about the Bruderhof, fearing a lawsuit. And, as I said, I'm scared too. It is one thing to have a legal right to say something, but it is quite another to face ruinous litigation in order to defend that right. The Bruderhof's current leaders jet around in their deluxe Gulfstream, oblivious to the costs of the suits they have instituted; those costs do not burden them personally; but we, on the outside, face utter ruination by such suits. So we pull our punches, we don't publicize the full extent of what we know has gone on or is going on, and most of us don't publish anything, don't say a word, keep quiet as mice. We are frightened.

I'm glad this suit was dismissed. But I'm no less scared to speak up and share my true thoughts and feelings about the present Bruderhof leadership. Readers of alt.support.bruderhof should be aware that most people who truly know about the Bruderhof are silent about what they know because they are frightened of Bruderhof retaliation against them, their loved ones, their friends. This is the reality we face.

I hope I will not be sued for writing this. But I think that at this time this has to be said: "winning" this lawsuit is not the end of the matter; the Bruderhof has gone to war against its critics, and we need all the support that this newsgroup and other "friends of truth" can give,

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Name Withheld, 11/11/97: Dear Susie, you have brought some very important points to our attention in your letter in the November KIT [p. 8]. Dr. Cyril Davies was a very good doctor. With the little medicine he had on hand, he managed to save many lives. He not only dedicated his whole life to helping the Commune people, but worked day and night to help the Mennonites and Paraguayans. Cyril was not an arrogant man or doctor. He had compassion and love in his heart! I am not one bit surprised that he did not want to agree to the giving up of the Primavera hospital -- not one bit surprised! Had he not sacrificed a great deal in order to dedicate his life to the Commune? That kind of dedication did not warrant being called 'arrogant' and 'insubordinate!'

The lawsuits! Ben Zumpe apparently misled you, his daughter, in telling you that the Comissar was called at all times when the Paraguayan workers stole from us in Primavera. That is absolutely not true. Even when Bob Peck was shot at in Ibate by one of the robbers who came to steal things, we were all taught to turn the other cheek. We were taught not to call the police and the young men who were of Military Service age and not born in Primavera were sent to other countries in order to get around doing military service. If I remember correctly, Carlos Pleil, Erwin Weiss and others were sent to Uruguay so that they would not be called up.

Ben Zumpe states that the lawsuits are not instigated in order to get money! Then, I humbly ask, why were Ramon, Julius and Blair and the Peregrine Foundation being sued for $15.5 million dollars?!! Ben Zumpe's statement definitely does not coincide with the papers served on the three men mentioned above.

We were always told how Eberhard Arnold pleaded for non-violence. No lawsuits and no police! Ben Zumpe is a grandson of Eberhard Arnold, who used Peter Ridemann's Confession of Faith to confirm his doctrine of no lawsuits, etc. Here I would like to ask, "Are the tenets of Anabaptism being 'redefined' by the Bruderhof?" Are the tenets of Peter Ridemann being redefined, or is the New Testament being redefined?

We were often told in Primavera to take Mahatma Gandhi as an example of what it means to be non-violent. The Servants of the Word often read to us about Mahatma Gandhi.

We used to ask Bob Clement and Peter Cavanna for legal advice, but never ever was anyone asked to take up the study of law. It is inconceivable that Marianne Zumpe should plead with you, her daughter, to study law "because we are being sued by so many people!" How, I ask you? Who is doing the suing? The Bruderhof has initiated three lawsuits against people who read and write in KIT.

I was shocked to see on Jim Hoffer's recent TV show that "Nobody has launched a complaint about how they have been treated!" First of all, that is not true. So many people have dialogued and have tried to dialogue with the Bruderhof about how they were mistreated, but we have not launched lawsuits against the Bruderhof! So I ask, where is Marianne Zumpe coming from? All this dishonesty bothers me! Why, when we have something to say are we the ones who are dishonest, when we are only acting on what we have been taught, to tell the truth and to clear up misunderstandings? Now it is more than misunderstandings; now it is lawsuits! Now it is, "If you don't comply, then you get sued!"

In German one says, "Willst Du nicht mein Bruder sein dann hau ich dir den SchŠdel ein?" Translated, "If you do not want to be my brother, then I break you skull!" That is the thanks we get because we dedicated our life to the "Brothers," we were loyal to the "Brothers." We complied, we did as we were told, and then as a reward for all this loyalty we were sent away to repent!

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Elizabeth Bohlken-Zumpe, 11/14/97: How wonderful for all of you that this lawsuit is out of the way. I am so sorry that I was out of commission for a while, but hope to be on top of the world again soon. My extreme headaches returned and I started the high temps again (104-105) When you feel low and in such pain, the wish for life becomes low as well. I do my utmost to count all the streams of love and life that come my way. I have received many letters and do enjoy all the contacts I can get! I must go to bed as I am very tired and my head starts thumping again. Much Love to all, 11/26/97: The November KIT was fabulous and I really enjoyed reading all the very different letters from different friends. The newspaper articles are very good indeed and I think it is good that all this news comes from the media also and not only from us. I thought the show of JCA at the trial of Dave Maendel was really pitiful, and then to drive off with his nice red pickup truck and dog does not give the impression of a really loving and dedicated spiritual leader for the community, and the world as such.

This time the contributions were especially good! I like the memorandum of Maria Eckroyd from Michael Caine and the letter the Johnson family wrote to Christoph as well as all the other good letters. I also feel that the "Looking Back - Nostalgic Tidbits" is a good addition to the letter, as they show so clearly how we have been trying for years now to reach our families and friends on the inside without aggression, but rather to try to point out to them why we can no longer accept their ways and actions, because they are against all humane law! To keep us away from our families and not even allow Andrew Bazeley to visit the grave of his mother -- this is something incomprehensible! I also have not heard from anyone in the Community since, I think, 1991 when I went to the KIT Conference in the States except for the letter from JCA when I was so sick in May.

This will not be a long letter, but I want to try and answer a few points my niece Susanna Zumpe put in her letter. First of all, Susanna, it was brave of you to write as openly as you did, but it sounds like a very different Bruderhof you write about than the one I experienced as a child. You must have heard often that the Bruderhof has changed and turned into a sect after 1960. I no longer believe that any community of men can be "the Kingdom of God on earth," as was often suggested. No, it is always a group of well-meaning, faithful people who want to see a change in modern society. That is how the Bruderhof started. Eberhard and Emmy Arnold really believed that "wheresoever two or three are gathered together in my name, I will be amongst them!" They believed in community as an expression of faith and love towards all men.

Although everything in those days was not perfect, the will, the faith and the love was there and that is what people felt when they visited the poverty-stricken Bruderhof in the Rhoen! That is what helped them to keep their faith during the persecution time through Liechtenstein, Holland and England. That is what made them start courageously in the back woods of Paraguay. Those years were difficult -- financially, the heat, the sickness, everything. Why do we remember only the good things? Because we felt safe and loved, even though strange things might have happened.

When I speak of Primavera, it is the time from 1940 until 1953 when we left for Wheathill. As I remember the leadership, it was not like a ruling power but rather just that certain members were elected to do a certain job. The wife of a Servant was not automatically a Housemother; that only started with Annemarie, Heini's wife, and maybe in the beginning Oma was Opa's right hand. A Housemother was chosen for her qualities of love and righteousness. Also a Servant was chosen only after many difficult meetings to try and find the most suitable person to help guide a Bruderhof. All the Servants also had different tasks, like my father Hans Zumpe, and the second Servant in Loma Hoby, had to go to the hospital each day and help Cyril and the other doctors make the right decision about difficult cases.

The Servant Balz Trumpi always had a special task to see to all the three Bruderhof schools and advise them. Hans Meier had the special task to buy the machinery we needed, like the first lorry we had and the first tractor. It was not like today, when a married couple have the main influence on a community. Also we did not have an Elder. My father did not want the task. He always said, "The whole Brotherhood is responsible and is our Elder! We are only in the service of the Brotherhood!" Seen from this point of view, you will realize that the Servants' children were not special. I even had the feeling that we were worse off. My mother was always sick and we were in the care of Lotti Ahrend and later Ria.

But even then our schoolfriends would say, "At the Zumpe's house, even the cat gets whipped cream!" We didn't even know what that was. So as a child I often prayed that I would wake up in the Dreher or Zimmermann family where I felt the parents had time for their children. Now after everything you must have read, Susanna, it must be clear to you that throughout all the years in Paraguay, Heini held a grudge against the Servants of that time and he hated working in the school. He wanted to be the modern Eberhard Arnold and lead the Community from a democracy to a dictatorship saying, "We are not a democracy because we are under the guidance of the Holy Spirit." But he alone interpreted the Holy Spirit, so he alone became the power of the new community, and everyone who disagreed or just had questions, or had hurt him personally in the past, had to leave!

That is how 623 people found themselves on the street penniless and forsaken! He was schizoid, on the one hand showing great love at Woodcrest that tied people to his person, and a hard, resentful and wicked person that did not mind separating families like Anne and Constantin, and others like Margot and Cyril who had given so much love to all the community and to the Paraguayans and Mennonites, who were just dumped when they arrived at Bulstrode and could not understand what had happened.

Everything you write about the Bruderhof today has to be seen in that light -- the corrupt power of one man destroyed the 40 years of communal life together. Of course things were not perfect in Primavera, but we knew that and always tried to find a foundation in true faith and the strong belief that God was with us at all times. We never used the law -- even during the Paraguayan revolution when the Paraguayans drove away most of our cattle, stole the clothing in the laundry, entered our houses and stripped the beds of blankets, went into the children's departments and took all the toddlers' potties. We still believed in showing them love and did not defend ourselves. The Mennonites used shotguns to keep the Paraguayans away, but we never even considered this. We also experienced that hospital patients brought back stolen materials after being helped by Cyril.

So today, in a country much less explosive and with better houses and finances, the Bruderhof feels that they need guns to protect themselves, lawyers to defend themselves, and put expensive lawsuits on their former brothers and sisters, then it is obvious that they have lost their very foundation and the people are caught up in a system that will destroy them eventually.

That is all for today! I want to wish each and every one a happy Christmas/family time, and a good and healthy 1998! Much love,

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Peoria Journal Star, 10/18/97: by Michael Miller

Peoria - Two old antagonists, the Catholic Church and the Anabaptist tradition, may be -- in halting steps -- putting the past behind them with forgiveness, said the author of a new book on forgiveness. Johann Christoph Arnold, spiritual elder of the northeastern U.S. Bruderhof communities and author of the recently published Seventy Times Seven: The Power of Forgiveness, was in Peoria to speak at a Catholic Diocesan Teachers Institute this week at Bradley University.

Arnold talked to the educators about teaching sexual purity to youth. The Catholic Diocese of Peoria is one of several Catholic dioceses in the nations whose schools use Arnold's A Plea for Purity: Sex, Marriage and God in their schools. He also spoke on "What Children Need to Help Them Learn Best." But just the fact that Arnold was speaking to a gathering of Catholics is a sign that old hatreds and animosities are being forgiven and put away, he said.

Other signs Arnold pointed to was that the late Mother Teresa wrote the foreword for his Plea For Purity and that he was able to personally present a copy to Pope John Paul II. As part of the Anabaptist tradition, Bruderhof members are spiritual descendants of Anabaptists who were persecuted in Europe by the Catholic Church following the Reformation -- for which the Catholic Church recently apologized.

The 57-year-old lanky Bruderhof leader acknowledged that serious doctrinal differences remain between Protestants and Catholics. But, he said, "You have to start somewhere."

Arnold has chosen to start with the common ground of sexual purity. "This writing has brought me into Catholic circles like never before," he said. "On ethics, on life, we feel strongly that God is a God of life, not of death. I feel that relationship with each and every human being, whether Moslem or Jew, whether Catholic of Protestant, is of such crucial importance," Arnold said.

This is the second Catholic educators conference he's been asked to speak at, he said. "There's a lot which divides us, but if you start with things that divide, you only create differences," Arnold said. "When God is at word, it also has to be recognized."

Arnold said he decided to write a book on forgiveness because lack of it "separates people, religions and builds barriers." Life could be and should be so different if we learn to forgive," Arnold said. "The stories in there (in the book) are remarkable stories of people of all faiths who had all reason to hate, but they chose forgiveness," he said.

Some of the types of forgiveness covered in the book include forgiveness in daily life, in marriage, when reconciliation is impossible, overcoming hatred with love, in the face of bigotry, and forgiving God, ourselves and the church. In the book, Arnold tells the stories of many different people who have faced the need to forgive. Forgiveness extends to convicted killers slated for execution, Arnold said. The Bruderhof have frequently spoken out and demonstrated against capital punishment.

On Tuesday, Arnold said that even Timothy McVeigh, the man convicted of bombing the federal building in Oklahoma City, can and should be forgiven.

"There must be something of God under all the ashes," Arnold said. "Forgiveness is never condoning, but forgiveness sets us free," he said. "Let's say if you hurt me very deeply and I don't forgive you. You are actually controlling my life."

Arnold's other books are A Little Child Shall Lead Them: Hopeful Parenting In A Confused World and I Tell You A Mystery: Life, Death And Eternity.

"These really are themes from womb to tomb, and life issues about which we in the Bruderhof and the Catholic Church have in common," Arnold said.

10/18/97: "Struggle Between Community, Detractors Persists: Bruderhof Group Sues Ex-members, Other Critics" by Michael Miller

Though forgiveness is the subject of the new book by the spiritual leader of the Bruderhof communities, a lawsuit shows there are still bad feelings between the Bruderhof and some ex-members. According to a story in The Times Herald-Record in Kingston, N.Y., the Bruderhof communities in September filed a $15.5 million lawsuit against Ramon Sender, an ex-member now living in San Francisco, and his Peregrine Foundation. Sender, whose ex-wife and grandchildren still live in the New York Bruderhof community, publishes a newsletter for former Bruderhof community members.

Others connected with the Keep In Touch newsletter, which is sent to about 600 people and also is available on the Internet, also are named in the lawsuit. The Times Herald-Record quotes Christian Domer, a leader of the religious community, as saying that the lawsuit is about "efforts to discredit us and paint us a cult."

Critics have accused the Bruderhof of doing such things as keeping ex-members from contacting family members still in the community and intimidation of members.

"I consider the Bruderhof a closed community," Sender said Thursday in a phone interview from his San Francisco home.

Johann Christoph Arnold, spiritual elder for the Bruderhof communities, said the suit was filed for "legal protection and not for the money. "One thing I can assure you, it is not for the sake of the money that it is done," Arnold said Tuesday while at a Catholic educators conference at Bradley University's Robertson Memorial Field House. "What the brothers are trying to do is get legal protection. If they (critics) don't want to live with us, then fine. We wish them the best. But let us live."

Arnold said that people who have left a Bruderhof community "definitely" can stay in contact with those who remain -- "with the exception" of people who are antagonistic toward the Bruderhof, such as Ramon Sender, Arnold added.

"Ramon has said as long as we believe in Jesus, he is going to persecute us," Arnold said.

Sender denied ever saying that. "I have requested that the Bruderhofs announce to their membership that this is a complete fabrication or a complete misunderstanding," Sender said. "I just have never said anything like that."

The Bruderhof also claim that Sender and others have harassed the communities.

"Whatever we do, they are out to destroy it," Arnold said.

Sender said that his foundation has publicly challenged the Bruderhof when the community has gotten involved in public issues, such as the death penalty. But Sender said that, rather than wanting "to destroy" the Bruderhof, he wants "to see them live up to their best dream. Whatever Christoph comes out with in public, we do challenge him to live up to the words of his books that he keeps publishing," Sender said. "We're not out to destroy the Bruderhof. We really are not."

On Tuesday, Arnold said he wanted peace. "If there is a chance for reconciliation with any of them, I'll be the first," Arnold said. "I sure don't want to slander them now," Arnold said of his critics, "But we are really in a bind and trying to seek God's will there."

Sender said attempts at such reconciliation have been frustrated. Arnold also said that, thanks to accusations made against the Bruderhof, "No media person can write something objectively about us."

According to Arnold, that was a problem CBS News ran into when it did a profile on the community and its detractors earlier this year. He said the piece was completely unfair. Though the network was planning to run the piece later in the spring, CBS decided to rush it onto the '48 Hours' news magazine program when the Heaven's Gate cult suicides occurred.

The story ran on Holy Thursday, the day before Good Friday.

"It made us convinced that we were doing something right," Arnold said. "So in that sense CBS did us a favor. When it was time to be crucified, it was a good time to do it."

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Hannah Goodwin Johnson, 11/5/97: For me, most of the old hofnicks are quite forgettable. Dad was one of them and that I can't forget. After he saw to the selling of Wheathill, we came to these cruel USA. May Day! Abandon ship! Why!? Was "The Hill of Wheat" sinking into the Clee Hills? Damn, how I loved those hills. Oh, when will we ever learn? I loved those hills and I love them still. Shipped out,
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Katherine Brookshire, 11/12/97: I keep starting letters and not getting them finished and mailed, but this time I'll really try. I've moved into my new house and that is what has kept me occupied. I'm still not totally organized (not that I'll ever be!). I'm having bookcases built to replace some built-ins that I had before. I think I need to get rid of some books too!

The fall colors have been beautiful this year. My back yard was lovely. If anyone is traveling this way, or otherwise needs a place to stay, I'd love to have visitors! I'm just off US 441 between Atlanta and the Smoky Mountains, about 90 miles north of Atlanta, also not far (40 miles) off I-85 between Atlanta and Greenville, S.C. I'm easy to find, and have lots of room!

It was really great to have Tim Johnson and Rosie Sumner come by a few weeks ago. We all drove up thru the Smoky Mountains to see Duffy and Susie Black. It was delightful to meet their family and see their homestead. They have some wonderful plants in their nursery, and I hope to order some for my place.

The October KIT was quite interesting. If I didn't know better, I'd think someone was making up all that stuff about the Bruderhof lawsuit -- someone with a really wild and far-out imagination. No Christian group would really behave that way! It seems vindictive and just plain mean. Bad fiction! If it weren't for the hurt that it causes people with family in the Bruderhof, I'd just laugh because it's so stupid.

I talked to Belinda Manley yesterday and she reported that the judge threw it out, but that the Bruderhof planned to appeal. The fact that the judge threw it out makes sense, but if they really appeal, what on earth are they trying to accomplish? Have they taken total leave of their senses?

Are they trying to bring down the Bruderhof totally? Is that the best thing they can think of to do with their extra money? I can tell them of a lot of good causes they could spend money on, not least some of their parents and/or children they have put out with no resources. My new address is on the new address list. As we say down South, "Y'all come!" Love to all,

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Melchior Fros, 11/7/97: In regards to Christian Domer's inquiry as to why the defamation lawsuit should not be heard on its merits alone rather than being defeated on a technicality [See Domer/Keiderling letter in Nov KIT p. 1], I would suggest that if he removes all requests for punitive damages, and if he is willing to pay the lawyer's fees for the defense, then by all means the suit should be heard (assuming the case on appeal does not get dismissed yet again). There I go... but then, does such a proposal not achieve the same results as a mediated settlement?

Perhaps the Bruderhof leadership has a way to go and a costly ($$$) lesson yet to learn, but let us also be mindful that ours is not a battle between "them" and "us"; rather it is a struggle between what is right and what is wrong. We don't often acknowledge how easily we, the "outside" folks, could have been one of "them". And let us not forget the many sincere, kind and decent brothers and sisters who at this moment are yearning inwardly for a new beginning with us. Some tried, and were expelled!

I know I may face criticism from some of you for my "soft" stand, but let me say that I am sincerely trying to help solve this "crisis" using the best means I have. Also, I am mindful that many of you have horror stories of suffering and loneliness to tell, and I sincerely hurt for you.

Before you close your eyes tonight, may I encourage you all to think one loving thought about Christoph, Joe, Christian, Dick, John... and "beam" it to them. Thanks for allowing me to share these thoughts. With love to you all,

P.S. I include my letter to Christoph Arnold:

Christoph: I commend you for the words you spoke at Dave's sentencing in which you felt challenged by your own writings and asked the judge to be lenient toward him. I long to see more of this kind of Grosszuegigkeit and compassion for the "enemy" coming from you. Your words at the trial are an important reconciliatory step in the direction of living and modeling the words of Christ. I sincerely hope that Joe Keiderling will be challenged to re- examine his closing words to the judge. I do not condone what Dave did, but I feel it is important for you, Christoph, to lead in genuine peace-making efforts.

Perhaps you will also come to see that security cameras and fences need to come down as part of your attempt at peace-making. Equally, I would kindly suggest that you remove hunting rifles and security dogs from your premises. While none of these are illegal, and while you have every right to their ownership, yet for the sake of the Greater Good I would suggest that you remove them. There should be no confusion about the vision you are trying to live.

Let us continue to find small and meaningful ways to further the goal of reconciliation until at last we can once more extend each other the hand of forgiveness and of peace,

11/20/97: It is apparent that for many of us, our past experiences shape our present vision. For some the past and the present remain unresolved and the wounds fester. My own experiences with the Bruderhof have been those of true joy, intense pain, and of great loneliness. I have seen psychological suffering within my own family. Along with these, I have also seen signs of hope for new beginnings. After all, Mark Kurtz did write me a heart-felt and kind apology for past mishandling. And, in one way or another, others have indicated a deep regret for some of what my family went through. So, while the past is ever with me, I am also encouraged by what the future may hold.

I tend to be an optimist, nurturing and encouraging what good I see in others. Please do me one favor and do not confuse my optimism with a sense of my not adequately caring about the legitimate anger, confusion and withholding of forgiveness by others. I see the pain. I want to be a part of it, for "no man is an island, no man (woman) stands alone, each man's joy is joy to me, each man's tears are my own.." My optimism, my hope in a brighter tomorrow is not dependent on how the Bruderhof happens to respond to me/us. Rather, my hope is grounded in faith: faith means you believe in something that as yet is unseen; an almost-impossible thing to do in light of the confusing signals, the warped "Christian witness" and the wicked conduct of some within the Bruderhof leadership. My optimism in a healing future does not mean I forgo the unpleasant task of exploring the sinful present with the Bruderhof. I do all of these things with one important consideration.

That consideration is this: Am I, and are we, willing to meet the "enemy" and actively work toward a lasting peace, or are we going to hold onto old grudges and forgo any hope for a peaceful future? Each one of us will have to cultivate a heart of forgiveness so that when the opportunity arrives, we will seize it and take it from there. This is hard, yes very hard to do. I can only pray that God will grant each of us the humility to meet our adversaries with compassion when the right time comes.

I empathize with your concern for the "plain folk" at "home". I know that for some the present situation is a great burden. I would not go so far as to say that many of them are on medication. Rather, I would say that many of them are chafing under the duress of "obedience" to their vows and to the ever-present influence of the leadership. As Lee Kleiss points out, there surely is many a painful "baaaaa" being said in brotherhood meetings, where a "naaaaaah" might have been the inner, heart-felt response. Keep one thing in mind: the novice vows are considered so "sacred" and so all-consuming that there is no possibility for reconsidering how they are being lived faithfully in the present B'hof structure. There is no distinction between faithfulness to Christ and faithfulness to the Brotherhood. Both are seen as one and the same thing. In a recent telephone conversation, XX emphatically stated that everyone who takes the vows knows what is expected: no distinction is made between faithfulness to Christ and to the hof.

In the Nov. KIT issue I explore this dilemma and offer a simple solution. However, I am aware that until the Bruderhof recognizes that it has contributed toward the "unfaithfulness" of it's ex-members in the "breaking" of the vows, and until they can see that at least some "ex- members" have made an effort to remain faithful to Christ on the "outside", no progress in our present standoff can be expected. I encourage the Bruderhof to embrace an attitude of unconditional forgiveness. By this I mean that they seek reconciliation entirely based on the merits of each case and that they not in any way use the "broken" vow as a condition for full forgiveness. God needs to be the judge of our vows. Only He can judge our sincerity.

You are correct in noting that we all have to tread extremely carefully, and be protective of what we do know. I appreciate Lee's advice but I will not cloak my association with KIT in secrecy. If they cannot see my good intentions, then I have somehow failed them or they are completely blind. In the end, it will be neither you or I who brings the conviction of wrongdoing upon them. We merely serve as a "voice in the wilderness". It is God who convicts the heart of sin. However, our efforts can be used by God. So let us work with integrity and responsibility to aid in bringing about much-needed change at "home"... Do keep in mind though, that almost all of what we say to them is critical. Somewhere a word of hope is also needed... My fondest hope is that Christoph will summon the courage and humility to take a moment's pause from his many engagements and carefully examine all that he is permitting to transpire under his leadership. Ultimate responsibility for leadership rests with him, as he stated on "48 Hours." When that leadership is lacking at the helm, the ship is indeed in a state of confusion. Confusion breeds more of the same. Their belief that it does not matter if what they do is right or wrong as long as they do it together, is a sorry reflection on the current state of affairs at "home".

I end this long letter with the hope that we can all contribute in our own way to the breaking down of the "Bruderhof Wall". A wall has fallen before. It can happen again. In God's time. Peace to you, dear friends,

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Dave Ostrom, 11/18/97: It is interesting to speak and correspond with many of the old-timers: Leslie and Gertie Holland, Leonard Pavitt, Belinda Manley, Bruce Sumner, Jim Bernard, the Owens, the Dunlops and the Trumpis all represent a wide range of backgrounds and religious beliefs. The one common factor appears to be a real care and concern for people, a concept of 'the brotherhood of man'. My parents fell into this category.

Many people post on the Hummer and write to KIT expressing a feeling of injustice: they worked so hard for something (Primavera/Wheathill) and then the goal was erased, removed from their grasp. What many fail to appreciate is that many of us here in the U.S. -- we or our parents -- also worked hard to bring to reality the dream as espoused by the Society of Brothers/Bruderhof here in our own home areas. Just as many people worked, experiencing hardship and need, to establish Macedonia and Koinonia, my Dad started with nothing. He homesteaded 25 acres of 'the worst plot of land in Stanislaus County' and, after twenty five years of blood, sweat and tears, we were beginning to enjoy the fruits of the family's endeavors. I have heard and read very similar presentations by B'hof sabra. The point is we had a lot in common even though we were in rich America while the sabra were in Paraguay. We were all effectively misled, conned into giving all this up for a 'pie-in-the-sky' dream by the Bruderhof leadership. What is so insidious about what happened is that it was all done in the name of Christianity under the guise of loving, brotherly concern for the individual while destroying said individual for personal power and glory!

I see five factors influencing the relations and intercourse between the present B'hof leadership and the people 'outside'. If one reads Torches Rekindled correctly, there was:

1) The conflict in the Arnold family regarding who was to assume Eberhard's holy mantle. This conflict led to the alignment of people in different political, religious and social sub-groups. This had nothing to do with listening to God's will. It was a ploy set up by a few in order to control the many without appearing to do so.

2) Heini's letter to Christoph, as published at the conclusion of Torches' second edition indicates that Heini carried a lot of anger and un-dissipated hatred for us 'common folk' (such as me, my buddies Oakie and Yosam and all us other ignorant red-necks).

3) This undiluted bile led to a sense of need for revenge and the establishment of a position of superiority on Heini/Domer's part.

4) This need was the beginning of greed. The perceived need to establish and maintain a position of superiority blinds one to the needs and feelings of others.

5) Once on the Highway of Lust for the results of others' labor, it is difficult if not impossible for the individual or cadre to alter course.

I can understand my father's dream and that of many sincere people presently at the hofs. It has become clear over the past thirty-plus years that the people associated with the 'dream' are a cross-section of all the people of the world. All have their strengths and weaknesses.

As Dad related to me, there are basically two types of people in the world, Builders and Takers. The Builders are those people who had a vision and put forth effort, their blood sweat and tears to make it a reality. Then there are the Takers, no names necessary, who saw the idea and the value of it, took it for their own use, and in the process corrupted the very idea or concept.

I have found in all of life: family, commercial, community (both intentional and natural) as well as professional, that there are always these builders and takers. The builders are often so busy working to make the dream possible that they fail to notice takeover by the takers. Herein lies the conundrum: is it possible for builders and takers to work and live harmoniously together? Is it possible for a sincere, devout Christian to be a politician?

My sense of justice wants to believe that it is possible. But fifty-seven years of getting hit in the chops, seeing the best of intentions ruined by greed and laziness, make me think that mankind does not have either the will, the determination or the fortitude to pull it off. This is where religion enters in. It is God's will for this to happen. Man cannot 'make it happen'. Christoph, the Domers and the Keiderlings are just fallible, weak humans like the rest of us. The mistake anyone makes is the following of other men rather than God's will. Sincerely, 11/21/97: Now comes the question of forgiveness. In my frame of reference, forgiveness is primarily a Christian concept. I recently heard a definition of forgiveness as 'condoning' someone's action or conduct. I cannot partake of this definition. I cannot and will not condone the Bruderhof leadership's conduct and actions. I have forgiven, and will continue to forgive individuals for events of the past. I am learning that things I said and did while at the Bruderhof had a very negative impact on some others, just as others have, in all ignorance, had severe negative impact on me and my family. For me, this is all past history, forgiven and, in all honesty, in many cases forgotten.

What I find difficult to forgive is the systematic, planned campaign to harass, intimidate and ruin people's lives and families! This sadism I see in the B'hofs actions results from the leadership's callous disregard for the 'common man's' basic honesty and hard work. This idea of nonproductive people corrupting other's ideals and intentions under the guise of Christianity is where I tend to become incoherent and somewhat violent in my reactions.

As I had indicated in the previous posting, some people have raised the question, can one be a good Christian and a politician at the same time? Without another wordy dissertation I would make this qualified statement: One can in the context of the wider society in which we all live. The qualification being that the individual must maintain a sense of humility and proportion. In short: Don't let the pants get too tight or the head too big!

The problem in the Bruderhof is, and you sabras correct me if I am wrong, that the Bruderhof leadership maintains that for the Community to exist, it must exist outside of, and exclusive of, the larger society in which it finds itself. In short, the Bruderhof claims a superior moral Christianity. (Several good 'Brothers' have stated they would not allow their families to associate with me and my family, as we are sinners!) They have to live in isolation to maintain their purity. This emphasis on Christian life and principles is what is so deceitful about the Bruderhof leadership. Money and power are the only things that, in my opinion, they recognize and respect. Here is a major difference between the Hutterites and the Bruderhof Inc. One can find the Minister at a Hutterite colony shoveling pig manure in the barn. At a Bruderhof community, if one can locate a Servant, it will most likely to be in an impressive office, complete with all the trappings of a successful corporate executive.

The Christian perspective is that forgiveness comes from the heart, it is a "Godly" act to forgive. My question is, at what point does one stop forgiving? The Bible states "... seventy times seven...," the implication being that one always and continuously forgives. However, the Bible also indicates that by one's actions, one can place oneself outside of God's protection. Does this also mean that there is a point at which one says, "Cease, halt, enough already!" Does one forgive an act to oneself or can one forgive acts committed against others? I have to wonder: does forgiveness include forgiving those who rely upon being forgiven by others in order to realize personal profit and gain? Would forgiving the Bruderhof leadership cause them to alter their course of action? Greetings to all,

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Charlie Lamar 11/22/97: I was talking with Ben Cavanna last night to calm the insomnia of my temporarily overheated life. We were talking about forgiveness. Early in KIT the topic of forgiveness came up when I visited with Dick and Lois Ann, Sibyl, the Wisers and my mother at Pleasant View. I said that I believed forgiveness to be a matter of "size," spiritual size.

Obviously it's very easy for a normal adult to forgive a three-year-old child, for instance. Everything a normal adult does in reaction to a child's less-than-perfect actions is done with constructive, long-range goals in mind. The failings of the child are small matters to the adult, and always in perspective. The adult never has to make a conscious moral decision to forgive the child because the adult's "forgiveness" is not even a conscious process at all, but simply an inherent attitude on the part of the adult in view of the facts of the case.

For an infinite being, forgiveness of the most horrible human deeds would also no doubt be automatic and inherent. Moreover the reactions of an infinite being to even the most terrible human actions would likewise be conditioned by infinitely long-range goals. So it makes no sense to ask the Jews, for example, to forgive the Nazis as a moral obligation. At such time, perhaps only on the other side of the grave, as the individual Jew spontaneously comes to regard the events of the Holocaust in a sufficiently long-range, cosmic perspective, an attitude of forgiveness will naturally develop. 'To forgive' may be a transitive verb in English, but real forgiveness is a natural spiritual reaction, not a moral action or a conscious decision at all. Love,

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Pauline (Ellison) Davies, Via Svevo 10,
Caselli di Selvazzano, 35030 Padova,

I have written many letters in response to KIT, but never get round to copying them out neatly and sending them. The last letter I wrote to send with this Earthquake report is enclosed, Please make sure that my Italian address [note new address on p.1] is included as my English address I left 4 years ago and my post is not being forwarded by the new occupants. Sorry it has taken so long to write! I would love to hear from some of you who used to write in KIT. So that's why I am trying to make a start. I must say it is the personal letters by friends expressing their feelings that I really like to read. I always read KIT. I must admit to skipping over some of the boring stuff, but as I haven't written myself, I can't complain about others not writing.

I'd like to say to all those who, like me, find it very hard to getting round to putting their thoughts on paper, take courage! Don't try to write too much. Just write a bit to keep in touch. I miss you all. Warmest greetings,

10/14/97, Earthquake Report: Today is the 19th day after the first earthquake struck the towns of Perugia, Umbria and Assisi in the central region of Italy north of Rome. The shock waves were felt over a large area including Rome and even Naples.

Each day there have been further earthquakes of varying strengths, causing further damage. Today another quake registering 7 on the Richter Scale hit the town of Filigno. As a TV film crew were filming the difficult task of trying to save the spire of an old, historic church, the quake struck. The workmen on the top of a crane only just escaped with their lives as it collapsed in ruins and a cloud of dust. That was just one quake, but you can imagine the damage being done each time. One day there were 10 quakes!

The injuries and death rate have been comparatively low because most of the people in the affected areas have been evacuated and are living in tents, caravans and mobile homes. They are all emotionally exhausted and very frightened. Many have lost everything, 2500 are homeless and now the weather is getting very cold and wet, to add to their misery. The continuing earthquakes make it impossible to make a start on repairs, although some of the dangerously damaged buildings are being demolished for reasons of safety, but the rest of the structures continue to crumble with each shake.

Many of the buildings are very old, but the biggest preoccupation on the news seems to be how to save the historic buildings, in particular the Church of St. Francis in Assisi. They were filming its dome after the first quake when another caused part of the dome to collapse onto some of the reporters, and four more people were killed. So the people's fear is not without cause.

By the time you read this, things will have changed again. Hopefully the quakes will have stopped, but the scripture in Matthew 24:7, which says "there will be earthquakes in one place after another" is having a frightening fulfillment for the people in central Italy. As I am living in Padova in northern Italy, we have not been affected, even though there was one isolated quake further north in the mountain area of Crotina. Padova is near Venice and parallel to Milan for those who want to know.

10/30/97: The weather is worsening, the tent dwellers are now contending with snow, rain and very strong winds that have blown over some of the tents including the schools being conducted there. Italy is very slow to get things done. They have dozens of container buildings, or mobile homes, but still haven't finished connecting them up to water and sewer lines. So the people continue to freeze in tents. Undated: Dear All, it's a long time since I wrote. Life here in Padova is hectic and has its joys and sorrows. The missionary work is very rewarding and helps to compensate for the harshness of life in general, trying to scrape enough work together to support oneself in a country without any social benefits and high costs. I have been here in Italy for 4 years now, and at last I can speak enough Italian to work for a nursing agency. The pay is very poor, but it is useful because they find the work for me. My last job was working in a hotel looking after a 94-year-old German gentleman. They were a very nice couple and have asked me to work for them privately next time they come to Italy in April. I was surprised at how much German I still know after so many years, even though I kept on saying "si" instead of "ja."

I've missed hearing from all of you who have stopped writing. I preferred reading KIT when people I know (or didn't know) wrote about their personal stuff. It helped me to sort out my own thoughts about the past, and validated my feelings. I still enjoy reading KIT and appreciate all the faithful regular writers, but all this stuff about the Bruderhof makes me so angry. Really, though, the direction that the Bruderhof has gone should be of no surprise to anyone who lived through the 1961 Crisis. Those American impostors caused unbelievable suffering and destroyed something good forever.

People who can do such cruel things without a twinge of conscience are not going to suddenly repent after so many years and change for the better. To quote 2 Timothy 3:13, "But wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled." According to verse 1, this will happen in "the last days, critical times hard to deal with will be here." So we can only expect the relationship between the Bruderhof impostors and those outside to get worse.

While many ex-Bruderhofers on the outside cling desperately to the high, rather unrealistic moral principals and standards of the pre-1961 Bruderhof, those inside rejected these standards long ago and replaced them with a code of action that is totally unacceptable to even hardened non-Christian people of the world.

The Bruderhof today seems to be made up of three groups of people:

1. The ordinary people who may have returned after experiencing expulsion in 1961 or at other times and are now much too afraid to say or do (or think) anything in case they will get expelled again. For them, anything "inside" the Bruderhof is more acceptable than the alternative: expulsion into a cold, lonely existence "outside."
2. The "brainwashed" children who know nothing different because they are so successfully kept in ignorance of reality, just as we were for so many years.
3. The Leaders: these are made up of that criminal element, American businessmen who took over in 1961 and quite cold-bloodedly expelled all the good, simple people whose biggest crime was to try and live an honest Christian life, showing love for one another and to those on the outside while trusting implicitly in their leaders. That was, and still is, the good, simple people's biggest mistake.

Surely we know all this, so why on earth does anyone hope that things will change? The Bruderhof asks to be left alone, but why don't they leave KIT alone? Why do they so wickedly persecute and sue those involved with KIT?

It's true, no one likes to be criticized, but anyone who claims to be something that they so obviously are not lays themselves wide open to criticism. If the criticism is untrue, they they've got nothing to worry about and need say nothing in defense as the truth always becomes evident in the end. But if on the other hand it is true, fear of exposure is likely to panic some into this scared and unreasonable reaction. It's the reaction of a trapped rat!

It's interesting that when Jesus criticised the Pharisees for their ungodly ways, they became so angry that they tried to kill Jesus. In fact they did have him killed, although they got the Romans to do the dirty work for them. I'm in no way comparing KIT to Jesus (although it's the voice of truth) but I am comparing the Bruderhof leaders to the Pharisees. Their reaction to criticism is the same as the Pharisees was. They were furious and eventually silenced Jesus by having him killed. The Bruderhof has the power to kill off KIT, and they probably will succeed because they have too much to lose by letting KIT continue to expose them. Rather than letting the truth be known to their faithful followers and outside admirers, they must silence those speaking out against them. A healthy society can take criticism on the chin and let the evidence prove them true or false. What were the Pharisees afraid of? What is the Bruderhof afraid of? The "Truth!"

I feel very sorry for those who still have folks inside, but things won't change for the better. Why don't we try leaving them alone, print nothing about the Bruderhof, give them the silent treatment. Alternatively, why not sue them? Maybe it's time to document all the information and evidence there is on abuse of various types that went on in the Bruderhof. I, for one, would be happy to cooperate by giving a statement of my abuse. Put all together, the evidence against them makes a very strong case. Greetings,

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Mike LeBlanc (from alt.support.bruderhof) 11/5/97: I would be happy to see the Bruderhof(tm) drop all planned and existing lawsuits, allow "reasonable" visitation, and do everything within its power to make up for past hurt it has caused. When that is done, I will consider the Bruderhof(tm) living up to its stated beliefs.

On another note, I have found I must forgive the Bruderhof(tm), not because they have shown themselves worthy, but because I can no longer allow them to control me, even through the anger or other emotions their current actions emote in me. So I am forgiving them, embracing their actions and negative energy, so they can no longer have any hold over me. By "embracing" and forgiving, I take the power they may have over me, reclaiming my self-identity.

A poem I wrote embodies my thoughts at the moment...

Raw nerves,
Crying out,
of thought,
and emotion.

in search of power,
seeks to tower,
over his brothers,
finding false security,
in a reality based
on illusion,
of another's soul!

A man cries out,
but alone,
breaking the fetters
of oppression,
in elation,
in re-creation,
of self-identity!

Lastly, I offer this challenge to the Bruderhof(tm). Please live up to your "own best dream". You will find that releasing the power you hold over men's hearts will bringing a release in your own. Again, a poem I wrote some time ago expresses my thoughts....

In fear of expulsion, exclusion, ejection,
men heap memories, lies, figments of imagination,
onto hapless victim of current crisis,
manufactured by manipulative ministers.

Oh brothers,
where is thy brotherhood,
Is it current feeding frenzy, of other brothers souls?

Oh sisters,
where is thy motherhood,
in giving in to others wishes for your children,
against right, against defenseless children's minds, and hearts?

Oh leaders,
where is thy servanthood,
to be humble helper, foot washer, loving laborer,
not towering tyrant!

Creation of flawed structure,
years after, cause pain, confusion,
untold suffering.
Flawed men, flawed structure,
full of pain, fear, gnawing emptiness.

Formation of friends,
with common bond,
of communal internment,
help each other shed chains,
freedom from bondage,
free from fear,
freedom to be oneself!

A polished mirror,
held up to Bruderhof(tm) faces,
reflects truths they cannot face.
In doing so,
would have to give up current "life",
to recreate oneself,
to re-create self,
to become oneself,
to become one self,
to fend for self,
to stand for self.

Some years ago I wrote a letter to my brother in the Bruderhof. It included the following:

"Every community that tolerates spiritual laziness softens the intensity of its witness. And the first to react to such hypocrisy will be the community's own children and the uncommitted young people."

- Hans Meier, The Plough No. 16, Sept 1986

Well, I'm speaking. My own issues are the fact that due to belief systems engendered by our parents and/or the community I was left outside with little or no capability to deal with life "on the outside". After being "removed from Eden." I was left with no self identity or at least a low self image (encouraged by the community to discourage individualism). Because of the Bruderhof belief system, I became an emotional/spiritual doormat and was abused by a co-worker to the point of near-suicide (not uncommon in those excluded from the hof!). Only by the grace of God and belief in Christ was I brought back to life.

"I am a child of the Bruderhof who has spent his life in exclusion from it (great and small) so any problems I personally have with the Bruderhof have a direct, causal relationship to that exclusion!"

In closing, I cannot and will not disavow my Bruderhof(tm) heritage. I was taught to fight for the right, and given an excellent education. The Bruderhof(tm) has often asked just to be left alone, to live out life the way they see fit. Having seen and heard about the abuses having occurred and still occurring in the Bruderhof(tm), it would be morally and ethically wrong for me not to warn the world at large, and to attempt to affect change in the Bruderhof(tm) system. Whether I like it or not, you are "my people"!

I have offered and continue to offer to dialog with Bruderhof(tm) representatives, and would be glad to meet, in a forum with other ex-member delegates, with a "wider Brotherhood". Live up to Christ's example of unconditional love! Face the hurt and pain and broken lives you have caused. Then in only then can you hold your heads high knowing that you have done everything within your power to live up to your stated beliefs and follow the example set by Jesus.

-A son of current members of the Bruderhof(tm),

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Sam Arnold, 11/21/97: All three of us Arnold boys were "disqualified" in Primavera, and were given minor jobs, such as begging for the Bruderhof in Buenos Aires. Hans-Hermann was not that good at it, and hated the job. But Hardi was very good, as he loved to meet with people and talk up his father and the Bruderhof. Also, the boys were sent to the U.S. to help set up a new community to get them out of the way. Heini's big break came when he was sent to Woodcrest at the beginning as servant. At the time Woodcrest was a remote, fledgling community, so Heini was really out of the way. However, he had three trump cards:

1. He had Oma Emmy with him, the founder's wife, and therefore commanded moral power over Hardi and the other Arnolds, as well as the rest of the communities.
2. Woodcrest had Community Playthings, which they sort of stole from Macedonia when that community broke apart.
3. He also had the new American members that came from Macedonia along with Community Playthings, with whom he was able to form alliances (with himself in the saddle).

Once the money started rolling in, his power grew. Meanwhile, the rice plantation in Primavera was still in the building stage, and Hardi was still begging for money to finance that project. Heini was placed perfectly to assume control, and of course he did this in a ruthless fashion, with his American buddies.

The other thing that Heini did was to keep his brothers away from Woodcrest until he was anointed Emperor for life. He got rid of Hans Zumpe and Balz Trumpi, and made life miserable for Hardi and Hans Hermann. All the while, Emmy was at his side. Once he became Emperor, he also put his mother in her place by, ausschlossing her as well. 11/22/97 My beliefs about the Bruderhof are a result of years of observations and experiences with them, both on and off the hof. As I was never a member, or even close to it, I tended to judge them by their actions, which are real, rather than by their espoused beliefs, as they are less tangible, and even abstract. I have never felt that what the Bruderhof did meshed with what they believed, so I dismissed the whole thing as a rather odd ruse. The brotherhood has little or no control over the triumvirate, as the triumvirate controls them.

For example, last March, the brotherhood did not know that they were prosecuting Dave Maendel, or about the lawsuit against Ramon. Instead, they were told in a lie that KIT was suing the Bruderhof. The leaders tell the brotherhood what they want the brotherhood to know, so that when the time is right to get the results that they need, getting approval is easy. Yet all the brotherhood members know what the consequences of disagreement with the leaders are. Am I right?

Unfortunately people are cruel all over the world, and the Bruderhof is no exception. They do not admit to their cruelty, and instead blabber on about forgiveness and following Christ, while they rake in the dough. The brotherhood is no holy place to me. Through its controlling leaders, who are fallible humans, it wields enormous power over other people, and which makes it a very dangerous body. Nadine provided us with a clear example of this power when she recalled how some 'holy leader' frightened her atrociously by "giving her over to Satan". I believe that he did this in a callous effort to control Nadine. There need to be laws to protect individuals against this kind of abuse! And yet, because they are a Christian organization, they have a green light to do what they want with a person's mind.

To me, the name 'Bruderhof' used to mean one thing: Control. Now, in light of their accruing wealth, I might have to change the meaning to include Business & Control. The Bruderhof sand castle was built on abstract beliefs and ideologies that have shifted constantly with each leader, and which must bewilder and confuse members to their wits' end. The rules of life on the Bruderhof seem to change at the whim of the leaders, and if you cannot change along with them, you are in big trouble. While the Bruderhof has a wonderful business arrangement to get rich by, their wealth will probably also destroy their way of life, and maybe also their personal lives. More wealth can only impair their credibility even further. We all know that sand castles look beautiful, but they are vulnerable, and always wash away with the next tide.

The Bruderhof should not be able to claim ownership of their members, and definitely not of their members' souls or spirits! If we are in touch with our own spirit, I believe that we are also in touch with the big Spirit (God). I see no need for a self-serving intermediary at all.

As for forgiveness, I will probably forgive if someone asks it of me. Likewise, I will ask for forgiveness if I have hurt someone, and hope that they will feel inclined to forgive me. It really is that simple. O.K. now, did I offend anyone? I am somewhat sorry for all this negativity about the Bruderhof, and yet I feel that the Bruderhof really is far more negative than positive. Aren't we all the proof of that? 'Nuff said for now,

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Renatus Kluver, 11/24/97: The ascent of Heini to absolute power was a quirk of history. In the 1953 Interhof conference in Primavera a new American Bruderhof was one of the issues discussed, amongst other items. Hans-Hermann and Gertrud Arnold were on a begging trip in the USA as were other Primavera members who were travelling in the USA on "mission." They found such a tremendous interest in intentional community living that Primavera gave the go-ahead for establishing a Bruderhof in the USA.

Here the Bruderhof managed to absorb several smaller intentional communities as well as about half the membership of Macedonia, and with that group, it managed to take over half of Macedonia's business -- namely Community Playthings.

The estate of Woodcrest was found and bought, then comprising of a carriage house and a type of manor house as well as some other buildings with about fifty acres of land. Hans Hermann and his wife Gertrud were the first couple from the 'mother-community,' who started Woodcrest on their "mission" begging trip. They had been away from Primavera and their children for more than eight months. It was, therefore, decided that Balz and Monika should move to the States with their family and live in Woodcrest. But Monika became seriously ill so they could not travel at that moment.

It was then decided that Heini and Annemarie should travel first, to relieve Hans-Hermann and his wife. They had also been travelling in the USA to beg for Primavera and knew quite a number of people who had already moved to Woodcrest and had given glowing accounts of the spirit of God was moving amongst the Americans. This is how it came about that Heini ended up in Woodcrest as the first Primavera Servant of the Word.

Now Primavera planned another conference in December, 1956. Heini, Annemarie and family were now already in Woodcrest. Heini, with incredible forethought, sent Annemarie and Mark Kurtz to the conference, and he himself stayed in the USA. In this way he did not have to come under direct scrutiny by the other servants.

When Balz and Monika with family, and Hardi and Sekunda with their family, went to the States, the Forest River Hutterite colony had expressed an interest to have a closer tie with the SoB. This was more in the line of interest for Hardi and Balz, and they moved to Forest River. During the Forest River episode Heini managed to consolidate his position in Woodcrest, but neither Balz nor Hardi were that interested in making any claims on it. When Forest River became untenable, the whole group moved from Forest River to a rented hotel, near Woodcrest. It was empty and due to be sold, but did not quite fit the bill for a new community.

At this time, Evergreen in Connecticut was already on the market, for 75,000 dollars, but Heini insisted that it was too close to Woodcrest and another place, further afield should be found "so that more people can be reached and we don't duplicate efforts of recruitment." What he really wanted was to have his 'rivals' as far away geographically as possible. The Oak Lake hotel was offered with all the contents as well and was bought. Later, the lake was drained and the name changed to "New Meadow Run."

Meanwhile, Heini made big strides in 'conquering' the new members at Woodcrest and pushed all the new families that Primavera was sending to help build up the new communities to Oak Lake. In 1957, it was then decided, on Heini's insistence, that the brotherhood invite all the members and guests of Macedonia to come and live in Woodcrest, to see if we could not come any closer. In turn, Woodcrest and Oak Lake sent a number of families down to Macedonia to keep the place ticking over. Virtually all the Macedonia families joined the SoB except one.

This was a coup for Heini. He immediately installed Art Wiser, who as yet had not decided to join, in the office and gave him responsibility. He also put to the brotherhood that the second flush of Macedonians should be invited to take part in the Gemeindestunden and also to brotherhood meetings, even before they made a decision to join. Within half a year all of them were baptised except for one or two families, who left.

With Macedonia being so far away, Heini, with no objection by the brotherhood, decided to sell it even before Art Wiser and the other second group of Macedonians who came with him had joined. Heini told the brotherhood that under no circumstance should the Macedonian members be told of this decision. I have heard since that Heini told Art Wiser and Art's followers that it was Primavera who insisted on the sale of Macedonia. I think this is why, years later, Heini found the Woodcrest Macedonians such willing helpers to destroy both Primavera, Wheathill, Sinntal and then later close down Bulstrode.

Evergreen was still on the market a year after Oak Lake had been bought. This time the vendor wanted $120,000 and this time it was not too close for Heini because he could stock the new hof with people loyal to him. Evergreen was duly bought and other families from Primavera, which had been stockpiled elsewhere, were moved to Evergreen along with families from Woodcrest. Merrill Mow became the first Servant, with Paul Pappas as his second lieutenant.

Balz always was indisputably in charge in Oak Lake, even when Heini tried to oust him. He was not chucked out by Heini. Balz got fed up with so many members being chucked out of the SoB by Heini and his cronies and the way Heini had tried to split up Balz's family. He decided enough was enough and he left, mainly to salvage his family and to rescue the sanity of all concerned. It was Balz's decision to leave; but Heini, for the rest of his days, tried to split up the marriage between Balz and Monika, telling Monika that Papa (her father Eberhard Arnold) would be waiting in vain for her in the Obere Gemeinde (upper community or eternal community). Oh yes. According to Heini, he, Heini, had the power to loose and to bind in the Book of Life, and that which was bound here on earth would also be bound in heaven, and visa versa. In other words, according to Heini, Monika would loose her rightful inheritance to the Obere Gemeinde if she did not come back into the fold, and would be damned for all eternity.

Balz never set foot in a SoB settlement again after he left and certainly did not allow Heini to set foot into his house, accusing Heini of destroying what Eberhard had envisioned as the ideal life for an active Christian. I do not consider the present SoB set-up to be Christian, but rather that they use the mantle of Christianity to cover their operations. I also would not honour the likes of JCA, Joe and Christian by acclaiming them as leaders. No, certainly not. They are a bunch of power-hungry individuals who rightly should be called power brokers. The only leadership quality that they display is a mis-leadership, telling their 'followers' what suits them in order to further their own position and to consolidate it by sacrificing whoever might be thought of standing between them and their goal of absolute control.

Sam Arnold made the comment that his father Hardi was begging money for the rice project. This is incorrect as Primavera had taken up a loan to buy the necessary machinery and did all the irrigation system work themselves. The project paid for itself in the first year. Only 50 hectares were prepared and planted for the first trial, and yielded an enormously good crop. In all there was a potential of 200 hectares to be put eventually under cultivation and Primavera would then have been financially independent of the USA communes. I think that this was a red flag for Heini, who then would have lost the power over the finances being made available to Primavera from Woodcrest, through Community Playthings.

It was at this point that George Burleson wrote to Primavera, raising the concern that agriculture might disrupt the rhythm of the spiritual life, and would it not be better to look for alternative sources of income. In reply, one of the Primavera members wrote a rather sharp letter to George, stating that it was for the first time in the grasp of Primavera to become completely financially viable and not have to rely on handouts. When that letter was read in the Woodcrest brotherhood, together with the concern of moneys spent on travel for Oma, the Woodcrest brotherhood burst into a babble of disbelief about "how cruel the community in Primavera was," denying the founder's wife the opportunity to visit with immediate family, etc., etc. As for the rejection of advice given by George, "Well, we will have to tackle them on this so unloving an attitude" was Heini's immediate input. And then the Primavera-bashing started.

This proved to be a godsend for Heini, a reason to rouse the forces of the new brotherhood against that "monster" down there in Primavera. Then the relentless writing of letters to Primavera started, to call them back to the "first love of Sannerz" and we all know how it ended.

I enjoyed reading the e-mail Hummer and wrote this piece in response to some of the contributions, because one or two ideas that Sam Arnold wrote seemed incorrect. I was in the Woodcrest brotherhood at the time that I described above and was also in the Heini Arnold family. Many things were discussed in the family that were not even discussed in the brotherhood. I was a youngster from the backwoods of Paraguay and tremendously impressed by all that was going on in Woodcrest and also the seemingly fresh and new spirit blowing there, which made an indelible mark on me. That's why my memory of these events is still so fresh in my mind.

I have always had an analytical mind and have always been critical and wary of contradictions, especially when one brother, in the early days of Woodcrest, was excluded for daring to compare his compassion and ability to give love, with that of Heini. This was in fact the first time that I seriously questioned the validity of the Bruderhof dictum that all members were equal and that there was absolutely no qualitative distinctions between members. But over time it became increasingly evident that only the pope (read 'Heini') was infallible.

Incidentally, Oma was not in Woodcrest right at the beginning. At that time she was in England in the Wheathill Bruderhof and only later travelled to Woodcrest, if my memory serves me right, in 1958. I personally don't think that she had the great influence attributed to her by Sam (underpinning Heini's power base in Woodcrest) even though she was revered. Americans like to have history living amongst them -- it seems to be a national sport. She also lived in Oak Lake for a time.

Well, here I go on rabbiting about my observations, but ultimately my criticising Heini for his harshness towards others was my own downfall. I thank God to this day that my parents were chucked out shortly after I had been given the boot and that we were able to enjoy each other without fear of SoB retribution and able to clear up the things that the SoB had put between us by falsifying happenings, thus able to build up again a trusting relationship. Greetings to all,

10/4/97: Mike Caine and I did a kind of mini-round-trip tour of the oldest and second oldest Bruderhof here in England, last weekend. I drove to Windsor to pick Mike up, who was going to act as my guide, having lived and worked in Wheathill, when he first came to England from the USA, Woodcrest, in 1957. We started out from Windsor around ten on the morning of Saturday the 27th of September, heading for the Cotswold Bruderhof, which was sold by the Bruderhof to the Ministry of the Interior (home office) when the group went to Paraguay and has been a boys' correctional institute ever since.

The day was lovely, warm and overcast, but visibility was optimum. We found the old Cotswold Bruderhof, by looking for Ashton Keynes, where I was born in 1938. I had only been once to the Cotswold Bruderhof, in 1979, together with my father and at that time Lesli Holland was our tour guide, so I was not quite sure where exactly the place was. After slightly going in the wrong direction, we asked at a garage, for the boys' correctional institution and were soon at our destination. Here we asked if we could go and visit the cemetery, since Mike wanted to check out some dates of people who are buried there.

The cemetery is on a hill overlooking the old hof. It is well looked after, especially the grave where Annemarie and Heini's first-born lies buried. The graves had flowering plants on them and the grass had just been cut. It is a lovely quiet and calming place. I told some ex-member about this and she said that that is where she would like to be buried. In Cotswold we had a look around and found someone who seems to know a little about the history of the place. When I showed my surprise, he smiled and said that they now get a lot of visitors from the SoB and wondered if we also were members, which we had to deny.

From the Cotswold Bruderhof we made our way cross country, Mike wanting to stop off at a nearby village, the name escapes me, to visit the sister of Hilde Fischli, who had wanted to join the Bruderhof, at seventeen or eighteen, and Hardi told her to leave, since, as he put it, she had formed to close an attachment to Mike (Mike was only a boy at the time, and she used to look after him and carry him around). This story Mike told me and it sounds quite feasible, since he made contact with her when he found out where she lives, after he came back to England. Unfortunately she did not come to the door, so he wrote a note which he pushed through the door, in the hope that she will phone him. We then made our way towards Wheathill through the most beautiful countryside, taking our time stopping here and there to enjoy a particular good view, or to have a bite to eat. -- I was amazed how well Mike remembers all the little roads and lanes, shortcuts and the like, to get us first to Lower Bromdon and then to Upper Bromdon, giving me all the time a running commentary about the different fields and houses which we passed, what was purchased first, how much sweat and toil went into which field to make it viable: how all the stones were picked up and removed. What backbreaking hard work this must have been.

I was surprised by the beauty of the landscape, since I had always visualized Wheathill as a type of hilly heather, on which not much would grow. But here there were mature trees, which had grown in hedges planted centuries ago. And then all the trees the members of Wheathill planted over two decades to make windbreaks to cut down some of the cold winds blowing across the community, especially in winter time. I admired Lower Bromdon in its setting and then we went on to Upper Bromdon. Here again I was amazed by the ingenuity of how the little level land that was available was used to build the main buildings, one which was started in 1960, had only the shell of the building completed, before the American hoefe closed Wheathill down.

When one considers that Wheathill's members lived far poorer, in real terms of comfort, than the bruderhoefe in Paraguay and all the sacrifices which they took on themselves to support Primavera in the early years, from 1940 through to the fifties, when they then sent personnel to help in Primavera and sending all the cash which they often could ill afford sending, then one gets a better idea of how the spirit of such pioneers was able to overcome the tremendous obstacles of a capitalistic society, and poverty, by collectively pooling their physical and spiritual resources having only as their first priority to help and serve their brothers and sisters who were in greater financial need then themselves. In a way I found a great sorrow overcoming me that such an adventure in human relationships, where national allegiances held no sway, should have been destroyed in the way it was and that I was standing in a place where true community had been lived.

Upper Bromdon is beautifully situated, with a valley dropping away from the main buildings and the hills rising again in the distance, most of that land once belonging to the Bruderhof. The plateau, directly above the main buildings, so called because it was a level field, once had the huts which housed the school and also the playing fields. Now it is a caravan site with about 140 caravans, for holiday makers, which has been sold off by the present owner of Upper Bromdon. The main house, an ancient old farmhouse from the seventeen's century, has been unoccupied for the last thirty-seven years... a real shame. The dining room has been made into a bar and the rest of those houses have been let to the Ludlow social services and now house social outcasts, or 'problem' families. We spent the night in Ludlow's youth hostel, which was no problem, since I am a life member of the international youth hostel organisation. Mike was quite surprised how well appointed the rooms were and that we were allowed to cook our own meals. The evening we spent having a long conversation, in one of the local pubs, but had to be back in the hostel by eleven. Sunday morning we had breakfast and at the same time talked.

I was surprised how well informed Mike was and how many names of people he could still remember he had met, when living at Wheathill. Behind the youth-hostel was a very old church, dating back to the twelfth century, which Mike had visited before, so we had a look at it and the vicar, before the service, told us a little bit about it. From here we then drove back to Lower Bromdon and then to Clee Hill. Here again I was struck by the beauty of the landscape and can now well understand, why people who lived there, have such Heimatweh (homesickness). We walked from field to field and Mike told me a story about each of them, which he had gleaned from some brother or other. This would make a story in itself, but suffice it to say that I was totally awed by what had been accomplished here, of cleaning the fields all by hand and then also clearing away the most persistent weeds, like dock-weed, to get a better crop.

Wheathill was one of the first farms in that district, to achieve more than a three tonnage average, per acre, for the cereals which they grew. One has to bear in mind that Wheathill, which is, incidentally, the collective name for three distinctly different farms, which were bought by the community over the years during its existence, lies eight hundred feet above sea-level and the climate is very cold in winter.

We then drove back to Upper Bromdon and went to see the cemetery. Here some of the people who had died, like the lad James Paul, lie buried. Mike even was able to point out the hill down which James had sledded and fatally crashed into a gate-post at the bottom of this very steep hill. Again it is the location of the cemetery, which is ever so tranquil and quite. One walks through a Bromdon gate and then down an avenue of trees, which are planted ten deep on both sides of the avenue and then, after about fifty metres, one comes to a second gate, behind which the actual burial ground lies.

I just went from one grave to the next and was surprised how many of the names were familiar to me. Again, this cemetery was well looked-after, but hardly any flowers, in contrast to the Cotswold cemetery.

All in all I found it very difficult to come to terms that such a thriving community should have been ripped apart and illegally sold to the highest bidder. I think it went for the derisory amount of only £55,000, when one considers all the buildings, farm buildings, agricultural machinery, the whole outfit of housing about two hundred people, where the furniture was dumped into a quarry, which they could not sell, since it was mostly of very simple construction and design and, therefore, could not be sold. But then... Bruderhof members lived with that furniture, it often was painted and made, in this sense, personal. Sad. Sad. Sad.

That is all I can say about this violence which tore Wheathill, Primavera, Sinntal, El Dorado and later Bulstrode apart and left the founder members scattered all over the globe. Is that true Christianity? If I had any enemies I would not wish such an uprooting and violent destruction of their livelihood and childhood location on them. Something beautiful and noble has been destroyed here and to what end? Possibly that the survivors could never again, on their own, be able to come back to their roots and find a home waiting for them.

Well, I got a little carried away and my intended mere mention of the trip to the Cotswold and Wheathill Bruderhof, since the latter in particular, also brought back memories of my own parents who helped build the Cotswold community and also Primavera. But to go into greater depth of these feelings, would take too long. If any of you are interested, then I might give it a try some other time. For now all the best to you all,

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