Best of The 1992 KIT Newsletter

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 / (415) 282-2369
KIT Staff U.S.: Ramon Sender, Charles Lamar, Christina Bernard, Vince Lagano, Dave Ostrom;
U.K. : Joy Johnson MacDonald, Ben Cavanna, Leonard Pavitt, Joanie Pavitt Taylor, Brother Witless (in an advisory capacity)
The KIT Newsletter is an open forum for fact and opinion. It encourages the expression of all views, both from within and from outside the Bruderhof. The opinions expressed in the letters we publish are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflects those of KIT editors or staff.

-------------- "Keep In Touch" --------------

------------KIT Newsletter, January 1992 Vol. IV #1------------

ITEM: KIT has heard that the Hutterian Brethren paid $1,000,000 CASH for the New York City police summer camp that now has become the Catskill Bruderhof.
Paul Allain 12/19/91: All of our family and especially my mother and I are VERY GRATEFUL TO KITFOLKS for all your support and loving care, for your concern about Papa's health and well-being. I know that the letters and telephone calls you gave us were a precious gift which Papa and all of us were were receiving and which helped him a lot go through all the pain of his illness. We are also very thankful for the telephone calls of Jacob Gneiting and the letters from several members of the community, which I do not recall in detail as I only stay at my parents' home for one or two days twice a year.
Papa's burial was a very important experience for me, as I had prepared myself for this occasion in order to follow his wish that the burial be simple and with no pomp. We played the Adagio by Albinoni, and my youngest brother Daniel Felipe accompanied it with his flute while the coffin was taken to the grave. Then I said some words about Papa's life commitment to justice, non-violence and the need for peace and solidarity among people.
Now it is exactly this point which I would so much like to stress and put forward to all of us, and especially to those in position of leadership, in or outside the bruderhof. The point is that our recent bruderhof history has shown beyond any shade of doubt that we failed, as a society and as a group, and as parents and mature adults, to put the very words and promises which we so solemnly made to each other, to put into practice those great commandments of Jesus, that is to LOVE EACH OTHER AS HE (JESUS) DID. I am not a religious fanatic, but I recognize that this commandment is of a universal validity. Love is so essential to man's health and development and his whole being, that it does not matter which specific religion or philosophical belief one is engage in, one has to recognize, LOVE is essential.
Now, coming back to our years in Primavera, why didn't we manage to apply this essential element of love to the rules and ways of dealing with children and other members of the community when something 'wrong' had been done (or supposedly done)? Why did we exclude members when they most needed communication? Why didn't we discuss the pro's and con's of dissident opinions to see if there were some useful arguments to be thought about? Why did we throw away all this effort, all this time, all these opportunities? IT'S MADNESS. COLLECTIVE BRAIN-WASHING. We were so short-sighted that (most of us) couldn't think an inch beyond the community horizon or its history. We were a group of people cunningly manipulated thru a war crisis, and when this crisis faded away after 1945/46, we went on thinking in the same way as before. During a crisis you need strong and instant leadership and decision-making. Those who are not yearning for a position in or next to leadership are easily brought to accept apparently reasonable arguments for things like: let's give up the hospital. It is a great burden and does not contribute to "the message." Let us give up Primavera because the "spirit" isn't OK here and if we move to the U.S., we will all be much more united. BULL___! The Bible says that the spirit has no fixed place. It hovers where it pleases to go. And that was what I was taught in Primavera. And we did just the opposite.
Who decided to give up the EL ARADO COMMUNITY? I was a brotherhood member and was not consulted. Who decided to send away members just because of some imaginary "spirit?" IT'S CRAZINESS! All of us know perfectly well that to the extent to which we took part in these decision or were too cowardly to voice our opposition, we will have to present our accounts to divine justice. So if any of us is in a position or has the opportunity to forward the appropriate attitudes and actions to those who have been (or might have been hurt) so as to reach a state of forgiveness, let us grab this PRECIOUS OPPORTUNITY and show our fellow man or woman that the door on our side is open.
This means, as far as I understand it, in the case of Bette Bohlken-Zumpe and her mother, for instance, that every possible opportunity for a meeting and clearing of her father's letters is A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY for everybody involved. By moving Bette's mother around the globe to keep her from meeting her daughter, the community leaders show an incredible lack of love and even of downright solid intelligence. This is STUPIDITY in a repugnant manner. Those of you, members of the community who, even though not personally involved with the family affairs of Bette Zumpe, but in a position to disapprove of this kind of policy, would do better just to give those leaders who insist on such hiding a great "kick in their 'leadership' ass." Pull out of such a miserable Mafia company. This kind of policy does not fit into a single one of Jesus' commandments. There is just no excuse. It is plain and dirty politicking and treating human feelings worse than a lost dog.
I have all of you, in or outside the b'hof, very much in my thoughts and I believe we should all try and broaden our Weltanshaung so that we can start to tackle some of the many urgent problems which affect the larger part of humanity. I think of this cruel economic war between the richer and poorer nations, of the millions of starving and fatherless children, of the spreading of AIDS and other diseases, of the preservation of our environment.
Each of us can try to find even a small way of contributing toward a better world, a better family, and last but not least, a happier relationship with all of our KITFOLK! A Happy Xmas and a REALLY NEW YEAR in 1992 to all of you.
Loy McWhirter 11/22/91: Again there is a lot in KIT about how anger gets us nowhere and we should be all peace and love and forgiveness toward the people who have abused us as children (SOB + our families) and toward those who are "out" who want to defend and excuse away the perpetrators of such violence and brutality against us. "Forgive and forget..." "Live and let live," etc. And some suggest that we who have come of that SOB experience are some sort of amorphous group forming as a benevolent aid to bring the SOB to better ways & greater understanding. I am as tired of hearing that line of "thinking" as the people who entertain it probably are of my equally endless wrath. I am sick to death of some particularly brainy but mindless people who keep up this insidious double-speak in the guise of deep gratitudes for the SOB life. This pedantic and pompous evangelizing under the veneer of reason serves to deepen the wounds and scars some of us have from our time in the SOB, in the name of "healing the rift" between them and us. It is an attempt at minimizing or shoving under the rug the particular responsibility of the SOB -- collective AND individual -- in causing these wounds. It completely ignores or denies the purposeful and methodical mind control the SOB instituted and made us victims of. And it is plain to me that such a line of defense of the SOB, no matter what else you want to call it, is part and parcel of the SOB mind control itself.
When I am angry, or ENRAGED, I feel real for the first time in my life. I begin to feel life in my body for the first time. I will not let the whining rationales of the brainy, mindless ones insinuate themselves, like the clandestine rapists of my childhood, back into my life now that I'm finally learning to recognize its cover action and weed it out. You all who speak these mindless platitudes and post-hypnotic maxims against the ritious anger of abused children speaking thru the adult self do not understand it. You qualify for no more than that you can ASK how you may help, offer undisguised information, photos, or other ASKED-FOR help. Otherwise you can keep you uninformed opinions to yourselves.
P.S. I don't want to hear horseshit about how the SOB meant well and maybe if WE talk 'til we're blue in the face (the nebulous 'WE') they'll become the excellent creatures they're meant to be. Or any more prattling on about how if WE just say it NICELY then they will take us seriously and acknowledge that WE may crawl three paces behind them to the kingdom of their (cramped due to lack of space) heaven. What tired malarky, and if I have to keep hearing THAT loathsome rhetoric, then I reckon you-all will keep getting, if not heeding, my raving FURY on whatever subject sets it off. With LOVE from Loy FOR ALL
P.P.S. What is this sick & silly notion that to be reasonable is to be without blemish. You can still have the quickness of a "lawyer's" mind without stooping to put it out for hire to any idiotic religious semblance that offers you sanction or sanctity. YAG!!!
---------Food For Thought--------
"The Bruderhof demands the whole man. To show what
we mean, we quote the satanic words of Adolf Hitler:
'In this one thing we are like the early Christians:
we demand the whole personality.'
"Those who refused to become part of the Nazi state were
shot. Now that is a satanic caricature of something we
want in a divine way. We want to love all men. We want
to love you all. But we do not want to delude or fool you
into thinking that you will find a secure, comfortable nest
to live in here. This life demands sacrifice, more sacrifice
than in ordinary society."
p. 26, Living in Community
Plough Publishing, 1974
by Heini & Annemarie Arnold
"Early religions were like muddy ponds with lots of foliage. Concealed there, the fish of the soul could splash and feed. Eventually, however, religions became aquariums. Then, hatcheries. From farm fingerlings to frozen fishsticks is a short swim... Of course, religion's omnipresent defenders are swift to point out the comfort it provides the sick, the weary and the disappointed. Yes, true enough. But the deity does not dawdle in the comfort zone! If one yearns to see the face of the divine, one must break out of the aquarium, escape the fish farm, to go swim up wild cataracts, dive in deep fjords. One must explore the labyrinth of the reef, the shadows of the lily pads. How limiting, how insulting to think of God as a benevolent warden, an absentee hatchery manager who imprisons us in the 'comfort' of artificial pools, where intermediaries sprinkle our restrictive waters with sanitized flakes of processed nutriment."
Tom Robbins in Skinny Legs and All .

-------KIT Newsletter, February 1992 Vol. IV #2-------

Status/addresses needed: Mary Worth, Jack Melancon. Also (via chats with Mike Caine) the following: Harry Little (Koinonia in '50s), Ken Meister, Walter Bennet, M. Boning, Necki Boning, Toby Kadish, Hans Herbert Blocher, Maureen Burn's boys, Howard Cheney, Fred Kemp, David Caynes, Jonathan Phillip Cavanna, Oliver Christoph Dyroff, Ernie Dyroff, Fred Wild, Felicitas Dreher (in Oregon) Maya Dreher (married in Berlin), Don Dreher (laser surgeon) Roy Dorrell (in Paraguay) Francis 'Potto' Rhoda Dorrell (in Australia) Bernhard Dyroff (near Sydney, Australia), Donna Ford, Benjamin Emil Fontes (Curotiba, Brazil) Regula Fontes (husband Anton), Dorothy Ellison (Hereford), other Ellisons (Shrewsbury), Carla Hall, (actress in London), Ruth Janney, Phil Janney, Daniel Habbakuk, Eddie Halliwell (Cheltingham) Oren & Vera Hoffman, Sue & Virginia Housmann, Jo Housmann (joined Catholic order), Else Von Hollander (Sacramento, CA), Annaliese Ingold, Peter Keiderling, Ben Keiderling (in USA) Irmi Keiderling Ricketts (England), Ina Koopman (Holland), Ida Freiling, Dorothy Lomas (Liverpool), Hazel Johnson (Liverpool?), Marsh family, Clem Marsh (works for BBC), Olga Mercoucheff, Tanya Mercoucheff (Bristol, CT number unlisted), Lewis McCann (south of England), Dave Newton (died in Ecuador in 1988) Jeanie Newton, Jill Shapley (Wales), Michael Vigar (Newbury, England), Nickie Vigar, Peter Trapnell (Rio de Janeiro), David Trapnell (England) Johanna Vaijling, Francis Watts (Australia), Fred Wild (Habersham, England) Barbara Mitchell (Macedonia person now in her 80s) Johanna Wirtz, Ray & Betty Saban (Boston?)
Johann Christoph Arnold 1/10/92 via a phone call to KIT: "It is true that we paid one million dollars cash for the police summer camp (Catskill Bruderhof). But what your item did not say is that we had to borrow $350,000 from Riverbend Colony, $100,000 from Crystal Spring and $100,000 from Starland Colony. A total of $550,000 from three different Western communities. But it's better to borrow from brothers where you don't have to pay interest than from a bank."
Vince Lagano 1/10/92: Dear KIT, dreamtime may be in order. A process crucial to our well-being after community is our latent consciousness as revealed in normal dreaming. Almost everyone does, but few recall them in detail. Professional help borders on pathology that presumes pre- existing conditions, not the issue here. Many of us went into community fully expecting to have our public lives dedicated without compromising our personal make-up. My own dreams of Heini as watchman over my actions, and of Witness Brothers as judge and jury for relatively mild infractions (to me) were legion and repetitive until KIT reduced them to occasional flashes.
Last night's, for instance, was of a game of catch played between established members on the ground and ex-members on a very high roof. Failure to reach the roof gave us points. Missing cost us points. Needless to say, catching near the edge had its dangers, and finally one person did make such a catch and fell off. I felt great remorse for not taking a stand by refusing publicly to play. On my way down the stairs, I felt the community game was over for me, and I stopped at various levels to explore on my own, never getting all the way down to "Ground Zero." That falling brother is still vivid to me as I write.
Perhaps others may want to share dreams that reveal their inner response to community experience, regardless of who was at fault: "That we who had lived honest dreams / defined the bad against the worse." (C. Day Lewis quoted in a recent issue of "The Nation."
(Another dream, a few days later: I showed up to play baseball in my business suit and was urged by my natural brother to just put on my team shirt over it and play. I've come a long way home.)
Katherine Brookshire 1/8/92: I have been spending all my spare (and not so spare) time reading KIT. The packet was here when I returned from spending Christmas in Phoenix, AZ, with Tommy, Diana and Geoffrey (5) and Stephen (2). I returned Jan 1 and had to go to work teaching Jan 2. But like a dodo I read and read and read... I kept telling myself I was going to be zonked next day -- finally I MADE myself stop at 5 a.m. and slept till the alarm went off at 6 a.m.! I did get thru the day -- a bit groggy at the end -- so -- it brought back a lot of memories and in some ways explained things I never understood before.
Before I left New Meadow Run, I was out of the brotherhood for some reason -- for the life of me, I've never been able to recall why. Maybe there was no 'why' -- probably I just wasn't 'holding my mouth right' or some such. I think I was beginning to THINK. Being pretty intimidated, I didn't have much to say. But I did feel that it was very important for me to spend some time with Paul, my older son, who was with his father, before he finished high school and went out into the world. The 'brothers' did not think this was good. Apparently this young boy had the potential of causing a lot of harm, in their view. My feeling was that love was stronger than evil, and that love would win over and influence to the good whatever negative Paul would bring. But I did not have the courage to speak up. I did have the very strong feeling it was very important for me to spend a longer time with Paul. So Tommy and I went to Georgia to meet Paul at my parents' house. This was '64 or '65. I had intended to return to the Community. However I had only a one-way ticket. As I remember, at the end of the summer no one wrote or called to ask if I wanted to come back, or if I needed money or anything. I did not want to go back really -- I think somewhere inside I knew the next stage of my spiritual growth needed a different environment. The B'hof was good for me at a certain stage. Then I needed to move into a more adult, independent stage. Actually, even though I was disappointed that no one asked me if I wanted to return or if I had any needs, I really did not expect any help from them. My parents have helped me out over the years whenever I had rough spots. They have a wonderful witness to a Christian spirit of love and compassion (even though my Dad was not at that time a Christian). They have also helped others, too. (My Dad died last year at 87. He had had a stroke several years ago and slowly went downhill.)
My feeling about the Bruderhof is that they were glad I was gone, that I had not, and did not, matter. I did get Christmas gifts and cards. Then that stopped after a while -- or became less frequent. But enough of that.
My Dad encouraged me to go to college and offered to help me financially. Tommy was in boarding school (his choice), so with fear and trembling I took the SAT and applied for admission at a nearby college. I was accepted! It was 20 years after high school, and I was scared stiff I couldn't make it. But I worked so hard that I made the Dean's list. I enjoyed those 2 years and learned that the young people were not so bad after all. It was 1967-69, and hippies were 'in.' I planned to transfer to the Univ. of Georgia, but during the summer of '69 I met a man named Ronie and fell in love. Then in a very traumatic event, Ronie was shot and killed by his brother. I was there. Afterward, I wanted more than anything else to die too. I drove to Washington D.C. to see some friends (to get away). Every bridge I drove under on the interstate, I contemplated just running into as fast as I could hit. Something said inside that with my luck, I'd just get horribly mangled and hurt, but still be alive! The will to live is a very strong instinct. So I lived and slowly recovered. It took about two years. I had help from friends at the local Episcopal church, especially the priest and his wife, but also from a group of people who met together for prayer and discussion of what community means and what God wants us to do.
I visited my sister in Phoenix (at that time) but decided I did not want to live there. I came back to GA. I had some interesting times driving back and forth across the country. I picked up hitchhikers, especially young folks. Their stories were interesting and often sad. It was part of my education. I moved to Athens to go back to school, but instead got a job at the university library. I worked there for about 8 or 9 years, then began to feel if I were ever going to finish my degree, I'd better get with it. I was rapidly approaching 50! So, with my savings and some more help from my parents, I quit my job and returned to college full-time. By this time there were more older people there and we developed a 'non-traditional' student support group, which was great. This was 1979-80. I got my bachelor's degree in Home Economics, majoring in family development. Then I got a job teaching severely emotionally disturbed adolescents at a psychoeducation center. So I had to do more schooling to get certified, and went on for a Master's degree in Special Education (I just finished my Specialist Degree in Sp. Ed. This is a six-year certification and is between a Master's and a Ph.D. Seems I also got certified to work with physically handicapped children). I now teach in elementary school, and I've taught in several schools, including a year in Laredo, Texas (the end of the world!). ...
In reading the KIT letters I often felt like crying -- or being angry -- so much hurt comes through. How could a group which professes to be Christian cause so much pain? What went wrong? Apparently some children of the Community are still there and quite happy to be there. But if even one person is hurt, wounded, then somehow something is not right. I felt the pain of Loy McWhirter and John Arnold (neither of whom I knew). I think much of my time in W'crest and New M'dow Run I must have been in a fog and didn't know what was going on. Or else the years have dimmed the memory. I tend to remember good things rather than bad (and this has sometimes caused me to repeat mistakes).
Something I learned from a Charismatic Episcopal Priest after Ronie died may be helpful. God is the God of all time -- past, present, future. He is not bound into time as we are. He can reach into the past and heal the hurts of the past. He can also heal our memories of the past. We have to be willing to give him those hurts to heal -- and not take them back to hug to ourselves. I experienced this healing in a special prayer with this intention. I had an almost physical sensation as if something were flowing out of my body through my fingers. It was truly giving the hurtful memories to God. Later (several days), I had the temptation to take my hurt back again but managed to remind myself that I had given that painful memory to God. My sense of peace about the situation remained and still remains....
Leonard Pavitt: I thought something like the following would be useful to send to new readers.
It could be said that the beginning of KIT was due entirely to the Bruderhof. Ramon Sender had stayed at Woodcrest in 1957-59, the latter part in the company of his separated wife and baby daughter Xaverie. He did not feel able to become a member, but his wife stayed, together with their child. During the ensuing years, Ramon attempted in vain to gain permission to see his daughter, but only managed to meet her for an hour when she was 18 and some time later when he and his sister, an Episcopal nun, visited Woodcrest unannounced and had a ten- minute meeting with her. Later Ramon's daughter married, had two children and eventually died of cancer when the children were very young. Ramon was not told of his daughter's illness. In fact, he was not told of her death until more than a month had passed. He conceived the idea of writing about the life of the daughter he had never really known from whatever details those who knew her on the Bruderhof could tell him. When he contacted the bruderhof to ask permission to visit and talk with those who had known Xavie, he was refused permission. He knew that some people had later left the Bruderhof, and he had the idea to get in touch with as many as possible to find out what they knew about her. He only had one person's phone number, but this led to his being given other addresses, and to his great surprise, it snowballed.
Each person he contacted was glad to hear of the others and expressed the wish that they could get in touch with more old friends. At first the intention was simply to enable people to contact one another and exchange news. Now, two years later, it has a readership of some 700, and is in the process of putting together an anthology of ex-members' experiences. It is also in the final stage of becoming a charitable organization to be known as the Peregrine Foundation, with the hope that amongst other things, we can attract funds in order to give practical help to those leaving the Bruderhof in the future as well as those already 'outside.' It has organized two long weekend conferences in '90 and '91 in the U.S., and there are plans to hold one in England in '92 as well as a third in the States.
The effects of KIT could be divided up into the known, the surmised and the possible future. It is clear from many letters, that being brought into contact with past companions has meant a great deal to KITfolk. Owing to the deliberate Bruderhof policy of forbidding contact between ex-members, many were unaware of how many had eventually left or been put out, their whereabouts or even existence. Many have also written that, since leaving, they had suffered under the impression that they were the only ones to have "sinned" and had suffered pangs of conscience. Now they realized that they were not alone, that their dreadful experiences had been the lot of many, many more, and they felt immense relief. For many others, to be able at long last to share their hurtful experiences with the only people able to deeply understand, because they had shared similar happenings, means a great deal to them. There had simply been nobody to whom they could talk who would understand what they had gone through. Another tangible result has been that young Bruderhof people leaving have known that 'outside' there is now a number of understanding, sympathetic folk who knew from experience what their situation is like, with all its difficulties, and are prepared to help them adjust to 'life outside,' and they have contacted us. We have also been able to make representations on behalf of ex-members needing financial help and, in one or two cases, help has been forthcoming. For many people,after having to watch the Bruderhof publish their account of the past, KIT has given them their first opportunity to publish their side of the story.
As far as the 'surmised' effects, I feel reasonably sure that nowadays the Bruderhof has realized that they can no longer reckon that what they do to members or children on the Bruderhof will only be known to the unfortunate ones "put out," and perhaps just one or two more. Now it will be known to anybody who reads KIT. I think this can only have a beneficial effect. one must also mention that KIT is not only read by ex-members, but by a number of people interested in the whole question of freedom of the individual, people's rights, and the whole vexed question of how these are infringed by such sects and cults as the Bruderhof. It is also being sent to libraries where it will be available to any writers, researchers, etc. interested in the history and activities of such groups. In other words, it has already become historical source material (and a very interesting one, I'm sure, to many a present and future historian)/
As to the future, my main hope is that we shall be able to be of more help to any people, young or old, wishing to leave the Bruderhof, and that anything we can publish about our experiences of attempting to live a "communal life" will be of help to other seekers of a different and better way of living, thereby showing the reverse side of what appears to be at first sight to be worthy aims -- complete unity -- the "giving up of self" -- putting the group before marital or any family ties -- communal property, etc.
---------Food For Thought----------
Cults: What Parents Should Know by Joan C. Ross and Michael D. Langone, Ph. D. American Family Foundation (excerpts):
Common Tactics used by Groups to Effect Conversion:
Discouraging rational thought. For example, many cults dismiss members' doubts, criticisms or questions with statements like "Everything will become clear in time," or with threats, 'Satan is at the root of all doubt,' or with exhortations like, 'If you want to know God, you must reach beyond rationality.'
Effects: Prospects feel guilty for doubting, questioning, or using their intellectual abilities to evaluate the cult. Many even come to regard their minds as troublemakers, generators of poisonous doubts, tools of Satan and the like.
Confession Sessions , during which members are pressured to reveal extremely personal information about past and present transgressions and sins, whether real or imagined.
Effects: Prospects who reveal such information may feel an initial sense of guilt and shame, and then a sense of relief at having confessed. However, those who want to leave the cult are fearful that the cult may use the information they have revealed to blackmail or slander them.
Group Pressure , that is offering positive reinforcements such as approval, affection or raised status when members agree with group goals, and withholding such reinforcements or punishing those who speak or act against cult prescriptions.
Effect: Prospects may succumb to group pressure despite strongly held convictions that conflict with cult beliefs and practices.
Repeated threats of sanctions for leaving, such as: "If you leave, your life will fall apart;" or "Your soul will rot;" or "You will go to hell;" or "Your relatives will suffer;" or "Your life will be in danger."
Effect: Converts become afraid to leave sect.
The promise of imminent fulfillment,peace, salvation, for example telling converts that if they "just try a little harder, give a little more" of themselves, they will attain whatever reward the cult has promised.
Effects: Converts are continually striving to attain utopian ideals, and blame themselves for not trying hard enough.
Limited or no access to outside information.
Effect: No contrasting views to stimulate critical thinking about the cult. Reinforcement of notion that doubts about the group reflects defects in the doubter, not the group.
Absence of non-cult relationships and emotional support.
Effects: Converts become dependent on the cult of friendship, intimacy and emotional support; feelings of alienation, hostility and paranoia towards the non-cult world are further reinforced.
Control of sexuality and intimacy within the cult; for example, the leader may dictate whether, when and whom to marry, whether and when to have sexual relations, children, sterilization, abortion.
Effects: Converts may develop a distorted, impersonal view of sexuality and intimacy. The leadership is protected from the possibility of intimates sharing and reinforcing doubts about the group.
Ongoing confession and self-denigration.
Effects: Converts feel ashamed, then relieved, then indebted to the cult for saving them from their "evil nature."
Excessive financial obligations, often requiring the signing over of inheritances, bank accounts and other material assets to the cult.
Effect: Members are left virtually penniless and financially dependent on the group. Also, if a lot of money has been donated, converts may justify their investment by blinding themselves to the destructive aspects of the group.

------------KIT Newsletter, March 1992 Vol. IV #3------------

KIT: Recently a successful San Francisco commune underwent an upheaval during which their male co-founder left (all other co-founders were women). Although the commune is very different from the Bruderhof in its belief system (they practice a group marriage family structure similar in some ways to the historic Oneida Community), there are some parallels. They have been running a very successful computer business for some years, and the influx of wealth has transformed the group in many ways. Here are some excerpts from an account that they published in one of their newspapers, The RockHEAD, in the Fall/ Winter 1991 issue, reprinted with the kind permission of the author.
by Susi Bite
...The change was triggered by a split between one of the commune's co-founders and the rest of the community's 27 members. Over the past few years, many members had become increasingly uncomfortable with certain contradictions within the community. For instance, the group always preached a rap of egalitarian feminism, yet internal communal affairs were dominated by the moods and opinions of this co-founder, an extremely articulate and charismatic individual. Personal growth, excellent interpersonal communication and sensitivity development were also commune standards, yet the process (called "the gestalt process") used to achieve these goals was harshly confrontational and turned off many more people than it helped. Critical feedback was supposed to be freely given and received by anyone, yet people found the aforementioned co- founder to be the classic model of "you can dish it, but ya just can't take it."...
The commune over the years had been evolving from an intentional community with many standards defining and limiting personal behavior and preferences to one with much more left to personal choice. A number of new changes of this kind had been introduced for debate within the last six months. At the same time, the inconsistencies mentioned above were becoming increasingly apparent to members, who had for years made adjustments around them. In the midst of bringing these contradictions and a beginning list of proposed changes to refine the gestalt process up for group discussion, the co- founder decided to withdraw, first from the people in his family group, then from the whole community...
The other former members have detached themselves from the old name and are reorganizing along different lines. Their new model leaves most decisions up to individuals and individual family clusters, rather than having an extensive social contract governing an entire commune, and commune- wide approval necessary for many personal decisions. The whole group continues to operate their various nonprofit and business organizations as a team, as well as participating in many social activities together, but are transitioning out of a single economic system to one in which families manage their own economic affairs in whatever ways they find mutually desirable. The emphasis has switched from obligatory to voluntary associations at every level. Idealist projects aimed at improving the quality of life on earth in some fashion are still part of the picture, but the commune's traditional monolithic "worldplan" to solve all the world's problems is not. The ex- members have finally concluded their far-fetched scenario of global change to be impractical, megalomaniacal and disconnected from what's really happening, and are wondering why it took them so long to say so.
That questions (why it took so long... 20 years, in some cases) is one of many soul-searching questions that have occupied the minds of the folks involved in this little drama during these past weeks and months. Phrases like "revolt in the Cult," "Rebellion in the Banana Republic" and "The Revolution" have been thrown around half in jest but half in truth, because the crew is actually going through all the intense stages of "de-cultification." Despite its democratic procedures and other liberated practices and rhetoric, our pet commune was in many ways your basic cult, albeit a nonviolent and fairly benign one. The psychological dynamics of inequality are quite capable of existing within and around the formal structure of equality (i.e. one person, one vote). The politics of personality, peer pressure, confidence games and co-dependence are the meat and potatoes of human nature. Even those with the highest aspirations and a lot of intelligence are not immune...
Though social tolerance for all lifestyles as equally valid choices was part of the commune's ideology, some of the other stuff still slipped through the cracks. It was never explicitly stated that 'the co-founder' was The Leader or Guru... A master salesman, he had amazing abilities to turn an argument in his favor, often by introducing other people's personal weaknesses into the argument and other techniques that strayed far from the issues at hand. In addition, his personal operating style was the model around which many accepted principles of the gestalt process were molded. The premise was that certain types of intense confrontation were not only good for personal growth, but necessary. The double standard that exempted 'the co- founder' from the same type of confrontation emerged partly due to to confidence (his never wavered; in a direct stand-off, the other person's self-doubts always broke first), partly through doctrine and partly through fear and resignation (the consequences of having a serious difference with this person could be severe... anything from extremely painful marathon gestalt encounters to being threatened with expulsion from one's home and family).
In the past few years, some members became increasingly conscious of these problems and of the inherent flaws and limitations of the system they had constructed. Still, many forces influenced them to maintain the status quo, not the least of which were emotions of loyalty and appreciation for 'the co-founder' and the positive things he had done to create and build their scene, as well as allowances made for his advancing age and health problems. Studies of people coming out of abusive or domineering relationships repeatedly show the victims blaming themselves for their problems, in heavy denial of the true nature of the situation. in a classic display of this syndrome, most members assumed for years that if they only got it more together, 'the co-founder' would lighten up; that his intense negativity was caused by their own faults.
Time is a great teacher, and young idealists do eventually grow up. Three key dynamics developed inside the commune that ultimately led to the awareness and confidence that caused the big change to occur. The first was the success of the community's business ventures... Second was the fact that the situation was getting progressively worse... The third thing was the solidification of a deep foundation of trust, love and unity among the members, notably the other people within 'the co-founder's' own family group. This unity became so tight that those involved finally knew that no matter what 'the co- founder' or the community as a whole might do or say, they could not and would not be divided from each other. The group's gestalt process and hierarchical underpinnings had for years created a climate of divisiveness that kept people from honestly talking about their feelings and perceptions about the situation to each other. But years of living together and building trust gradually allowed some individuals to open up taboo topics (a tricky thing when "no duplicity" was a community standard, and anything critical you said about someone else was supposed to be brought to the group's attention).
In the end, these conversations led to a "we're not gonna take it anymore" attitude and a clear-cut decision to eradicate the double standard: treat 'the co-founder' just like anyone else, and deal with the consequences. The consequences, it was anticipated, would probably come down hard and fast, and they did. Within two weeks of that turning-point decision, 'the co-founder' had said "game over" and moved on... The ex- communards... are reportedly experiencing relief, liberation, ecstasy, insight, closer friendship, better communication, increased self-directedness, enhanced self-esteem and a new sense of normal American mainstream citizenship as a result of the turn of events...
One worry was that this move towards a more spread out, informal alliance of people would result in a loss of one of the better aspects of "cult" life: the sense of community, village, tribe. What has happened instead is wild and wonderfully opposite this concern. Outside of the 26 people contemplating their new fate is a circle of some 50 people who, over the years, joined and later left the commune for many of the same reasons that led to the current state of affairs. Many still live in the Bay Area. These people left singly, on their own, often finding themselves estranged and even ostracized by their former partners. The de-cultification has turned into a strong bonding experience between ex-commune people new and old; a chance to heal old wounds, gain understanding, right old wrongs and begin to rebuild a new vision of a hip, cooperative, inspirational future among a much larger group of people than ever before.
What will emerge inside the mix of families, households and individuals when the dust settles is, like the future of the former Soviet republics, somewhat unknown, but promises to be very interesting... The paradoxically amusing part of it is that the old commune trip proposed creating an organized, highly structured global movement of social change, which it was never able to carry through. The new scene or network, as it is being referred to, proposes no such thing, and yet may end up doing just that... without even trying.

------------KIT Newsletter, April 1992 Vol. IV #4------------

Miriam Arnold Holmes 3/13/92: I feel very bad for Loy, that she had absolutely no positive experiences as a child. That she had no safe haven, no one to protect her, and no one to tell her that she is a beautiful, talented and sensitive person. That must have been a very desolate childhood. I am grateful that I do have precious memories of my childhood. My parents made me feel valued as a person and as a female. I remember much love and a lot of fun. Saying that, I am not minimizing or white-washing the terrible abuses that occurred. Abuses, that have still to be admitted to and dealt with by the Bruderhof. But for me, the abuses did not wipe out the positives.
We need to acknowledge each others' experiences, even though they may be different. Only in that way can we reach out and strengthen one another. Our different perspectives put together do create the full picture. We all have some pieces of the puzzle. None of them are "wrong." With patience and understanding, they will all fit together. So let's be tolerant and listen with an accepting attitude.
It is also great to be able to disagree and express various opinions. KIT would be very boring if we all had the same opinions. So, speaking of disagreeing, I must say that it saddens me when otherwise perfectly fine, loving people discount and condemn the 10 % of the human race who have a different sexual orientation than the rest of us. Who are we to judge anyone? I feel strongly that condemnations and put-downs of homosexuals are hateful and the result of ignorance and fear. Everybody, no matter who, is part of this small earth. Let's love and support one another. I'm looking forward to seeing many of you this summer! Love,
Julius Rubin March 21, 1992: ....Field Notes in Progress on Allegations of the Sexual Molestation of Children in the Bruderhof
January 9, 1992: A number of women have come forward, independently and generally unaware of one-another, to offer biographical accounts of the experience of childhood trauma in the Bruderhof communities of Wheathill and Primavera in the 1950s. These life-histories seem to fit the following general pattern:
1. The idealized message of Christian love-agape and fellowship, promoted by the Bruderhof as the basis for life in community, acted like a magnet attracting individuals, couples, and families who hungered for such complete love. Not surprisingly, some of these people came to the community with personal histories of family violence, trauma, and sexual abuse. Some families had already begun to abuse and molest a child even before undertaking a life in the Bruderhof. Father- daughter incest and assault that have been alleged suggests that fathers considered it acceptable to use their daughters to meet the parent's sexual or dominance needs.
2. The Bruderhof appears to have done a haphazard job in gate keeping and preventing multi-problem individuals and families with ongoing pathologies and dysfunctions from joining as full-baptized members and continuing their abusive activities in the community. It appears that persons predisposed toward sexual violence, sadism, and molestation of children were not identified in the gate-keeping procedures during the novitiate period. I do not believe that any B'hof community ever knowingly and intentionally let this happen. Rather, this gate keeping failure was more the result of a 'theological' or ideological blind spot. The Bruderhof world-view posits that individuals who allow their worldly, prideful, carnal selves to die in the imitation of Christ, radically reconstruct their identities in the childlike spirit of humility and simplicity.
The Bruderhof ethos of brotherly admonition, non- violence and non-aggression, ideally, promotes loving, tender, romanticized relations between spouses, and between parent and child. If conversion was understood as something akin to the therapeutic healing of the sinful, fallen creature and the emergence of the healthy Christian person united in community as God's revolutionary, then it was unthinkable that members of the bruderschaft or gemeindestunde would be capable of violent, heinous crimes against children. If excesses did occur in interrogations, clearings or adult allegations of the sexual misbehavior of children, it was rationalized and justified as action in the service of love, of rearing Godly, pure Bruderhof children.
3. The Bruderhof failed in gate keeping and in the systematic protection of children and the prevention of sexual abuse. Again, this was not the intention of the community, but the result of another theological blind spot. The Bruderhof established a ritual whereby a child's natural parents made a public offering of the infant as a gift to the community--a pseudo Baptismal rite. This rite was tantamount to proclaiming that the child "belonged" to the united brotherhood, that every adult had free access to the child and could discipline or guide the child. In addition, many children were poorly supervised or protected by the evening night watches when their parents were called away to the brotherhood meetings. At these times, perpetrators were alleged to have gained access to the children or took them into deserted work areas or bachelor quarters for the purpose of sexual assault. Today, we know that these rights of adult access to children are tantamount to an invitation to abuse.
4. It appears that children have been victimized or made pawns of adult power struggles during times of community crisis.
5. Children have been victimized by what Alice Miller terms "poisonous pedagogy" -- toxic ideas about childrearing and child discipline. In the Bruderhof, a hierarchical, patriarchal community dominated by an ethos of sexual repression (Arnold required the sublimation of erotic love in marriage to an expression of love to God ), elders were obsessed with controlling sexuality and they projected fantasies of hyper- sexuality upon children. Elders brought charges of sexual misconduct or accused children of evil spirit and satanic possession, labeling them as "problem children." Once labeled as a problem child, evil at the core, it was but a short step to commit psychological torture, beatings, or rape upon these "fallen angels" of childhood.
6: Respondents have provided accounts or explanations of the underlying or hidden meanings and motives behind the sexual molestation of children in the Bruderhof. Several of these accounts appear implausible. Hypothetically, if a person claimed that alleged Bruderhof child molesters received distant radio-wave instructions that commanded them to injure children, I would have difficulty believing this explanation. Unless I could find independent, corroborating evidence to support these claims, I would tend to discount seemingly fantastic or outlandish explanations of Bruderhof motivations or actions. Despite the sincerity of the respondent, I would tend to view incredible and unsupported claims as symptomatic of the continuing psychological injury inflicted upon these respondents....
-----------Food For Thought----------
From "Essential Montessori" by Elizabeth Hainstock (submitted by Carol Beels Beck):
"Adults have not understood children nor adolescents, and they are, as a consequence, in continual conflict with them... The adults must find within himself the still unknown error that prevents him from SEEING THE CHILD as he is... The adult looks upon himself as the child's creator and judges the child's action as good or bad from the viewpoint of his own relations with the child. The adult makes himself the touchstone of what is good and evil in the child. He is infallible, the model on which the child must be molded. Any deviation on the child's part from adult ways is regarded as an evil which the adult hastens to correct... An adult who acts in this way... unconsciously suppresses the development of the child's own personality."

------------KIT Newsletter, May 1992 Vol. IV #5------------

The Fifth Biannual Report on The State of KIT
As mentioned previously, The Peregrine Foundation is now in operation. KIT staff continues to function as a Board of Directors, but this must eventually change as we widen the Board to include new individuals who can assist in defining new projects and with fund-raising. A 501(c)(3) organization cannot be devoted exclusively to the interests of one small part of the population such as the former associates of a particular group or cult. But KIT and KIT staff will always serve the specific needs for which the project came into being. Everyone still volunteers their time and there are no salaries paid. KIT is now mailed to approximately 410 addresses, if we include the European and South American distributions. Donations continue to cover printing and mailing costs, but that is all.
Possible new Peregrine projects: a newsletter network for the scattered survivors of two 1960s communal ranches known as Morningstar and The Ahimsa Church. However KIT donations will be kept separate and only applied to KIT projects (XRoads Fund, conference scholarships, etc.) Also, we are founding the Carrier Pigeon Press that will start to publish books, beginning with Roger Allain's "The Community That Failed" [see below].
Editorially, KIT continues to adhere to its policy of allowing all voices to be heard. There are the 'far right' and the 'far left,' the conservatives and activists, the 'New Agers' and the New Testament believers. Those who have followed KIT from the beginning will remember that at first the newsletter was circulated only among EX-bruderhofers. But early on, when someone on the mailing list forwarded his copies to Woodcrest, we put all the hofs and many Bruderhof individuals on the mailing list, Editorially we were inclined to make KIT as open a forum as possible, for both ex-bruderhof and bruderhof points of view. And indeed, we printed many letters from the hofs, mostly asking us to stop printing "lies."
We always were aware that KIT was not widely read in the communities. Most of the time when anyone asked a bruderhofer whose letter appeared in KIT if he had actually read the issues, the answer was a cheerful and ingenuous "No, Christoph read us parts of it aloud in the brotherhood." However, since the collapse of the April meeting at Woodcrest, most of the American bruderhofs have requested not to receive further issues [see letters on p. 1]. But so far, Woodcrest has not made the same request. This puts us in a difficult position. Self-censorship is one thing, but institutional censorship is another. Shall the leaders at Woodcrest interpret KIT to all the members on the other hofs? Should we take ALL bruderhofs off the mailing list? Should we print Bruderhof letters if the correspondents are wholly unable to read KIT? Unfortunately the potential for dialogue between the Bruderhof and other KITfolk has never been realized. In our opinion, the reasons for this are all too clear. The Bruderhof leaders really do not want their members to hear and comprehend what KIT correspondents have to tell them. Some people in the Bruderhof actually are sincere, and when faced with the question of loyalty to real religious values, as opposed to protecting a growing material estate, might indeed choose loyalty to the truth. This possibility presents a problem for their hierarchy, some of whom clearly perceive the situation in just this light. So, dear KITfolk, where do we go from here? Most of all, we need YOUR help and input!
Paul Winter for the New Meadow Run Brotherhood 3/23/92: Enclosed with this letter are all our back issues of the KIT newsletters which we are returning back to you. I'd like to ask you to take the New Meadow Run Community off your mailing list as well as Doug and Ruby Moody. We in the Brotherhood don't want to have anything more to do with the spirit of antagonism, enmity and murder. If anyone really wants to seek reconciliation and repentance with us, they are welcome to come any time. I hope you can honor our request.
Nathan Warren, Ulster Park Bruderhof, 3/26/92: Please remove us from your mailing list.
Cristoval Wright, Spring Valley Bruderhof, 3/23/92: We are returning your magazines and ask to be taken off your mailing list.
John Fransham Deer Spring Bruderhof 4/6/92: We have now been receiving the issues of KIT for some time, and I have consistently tried to read through each issue as it came. I now ask that we be removed from your mailing list.
Janet Stevens 3/31/92: How did our family, country folk from northwestern Ohio, get to Woodcrest in New York State? The daughter of Aleck Dodd, my marriage counselor in Toledo, heard Paul and Mary Pappas in Chicago. She went to Woodcrest. The Dodds visited her, and then moved there. I visited Woodcrest the summer of 1956 for a few days, returned to Ohio to wind up things there. My sons David, Daniel, Paul, Timothy, Jonathan, and I came to Woodcrest in June 1957. We pulled a trailer packed with household goods, which we turned in or used there.
The younger boys were in the school program, the older ones worked in the shop. I was assigned to work mornings in the kitchen, afternoons in the sewing room, and somewhere along the line I cleaned apartments. Evenings I was on house watch and visited each apartment on schedule to check on the children. We lived in Orchard House, a two-story building. Upstairs I remember with affection, Tom and Florrie Potts, for Florrie took care of Tim when he was sick. Billie and Claude Nelson and children lived above us, and Bertha, an elderly woman, also. Dave and Anna Maendel lived down the hall from us, with their fine family. Mel and Margaret Butler and family came about the time we did and left when we did. Margaret and I enjoyed the sewing with Margit Hirschenhauser. Has anyone the pattern of the boats that Paul Willis helped the young boys make?
When I read of what others went through, my difficulties seem much less. I realize now that much went on that I knew nothing of. And I believe many believing members did not. I was allowed to Gemeindestunde and felt the fellowship. My next letter will deal with difficulties.
4/4/92: An important decision for a KIT-Bruderhof meeting would be concerning those who the Bruderhof sends away. That will be difficult because I feel that those being sent away are intended to be hurt, to be desolate, to be found unworthy. If a shelter is known to be available, this would not take place and the purpose of the action thwarted.
After spending 18 months (June '57 - Nov '58) as a long- term guest, turning in my household equipment and valuables, I was sent away at a "clearing" meeting. The remembrance of Heini on a "throne" with semi-circles of chairs around him and heads nodding in agreement that Benny and Esther Bargen, Mel and Margaret Butler and children, and I with five children, should be sent away, sickens me. Fortunately I had recourse to family in Michigan and found refuge at Pendle Hill for several days. While I was phoning to find a shelter, Heini gathered the group into a great roaring of laughter and fun.
That is past. We set out to build a new section of our lives, not trying to rebuild the past but dealing with what was given to us to do. It has worked out well. I was fortunate in finding teaching work, the boys went to Friends' schools: Argenta, John Woolman, Celo and some years at High Marving, the Rudolf Steiner school. I've retired some years from teaching, have traveled extensively, and now am sponsoring a pre-med student at Hillsdale College. At Saginaw in the '60s, active in Civil Rights and Peace work, member of Ann Arbor Friends Meeting, and attend Salem Mennonite Church, of the liberal, active people, Central Mennonite Conference affiliation.
It has been a temptation to write of numerous instances of needless hurts, griefs and pain that I saw and experienced. But we pick up and go on. Those I remember with affection: Florrie & Tom Potts, Bertha Mills, Billie & Claude Nelson, Dave & Anna Maendel, Margit Hirschenhauser, Thelma Chatham, Nellie Stevenson and others.
Pedro Gneiting 4/2/92: I just received and read the latest KIT. Firstly, the run-around concerning the proposed KIT/ Woodcrest summit is nothing new. What did everyone expect? From the letters, it is clearly evident they are nervous about the whole idea and are grasping at any reason (real or imagined) to cancel the event. You can bet that's why You- know-who made sure he wouldn't be around! All of us out here are a threat to them (imagined!). We are living examples that it IS possible to live good, productive (even Christian) lives outside the Bruderhof. For the most part, we do NOT typify the "evil world" they have left, and as such, we render the belief that theirs is the best way to live obsolete!
I have gotten over my anger for the most part. I never had a problem with the concept of community. I just realized it was not for me. The difficulties I had were with a few individuals who happened to be members, and I don't believe that constitutes anger against the whole community. Well, I know now that "what goes around comes around," and in the end justice will be served. In conclusion, I would love to see KIT stop wasting resources/energy/ink/stamps/ time etc. trying to communicate with the B'hof. If people want to, let them do it on their own. We all have far better and more important things to do than bother with what they think. Stop mailing KIT to them and let's channel our energy into supporting each other out here. I'd be interested in hearing about what everone is doing NOW -- family/travels/etc.
As far as I go, I'm two months away from graduating from Nursing School! And since my dream of assisting Dr. Milton "step-on-our-land-and-I'll-call-the-cops" Zimmerman in the medical office is out of the question, I'll be looing for work here in Connecticut! Greetings to all! And thanks to Hilarion Braun and Miriam Holmes for their "enlightened" letters!!
Joy Johnson MacDonald 4/20/92: There has been some concern expressed about the part of Michael Caine's letter which deals with sexual abuse towards children in the bruderhof. I personally feel very uncomfortable with naming individuals, especially as in one case Mike himself had no personal experience, and in the other, the named individual died some time ago. However, the central issue is that there WAS sexual, physical and psychological abuse experienced by children and young people, which most first-generation members, both in and out of the Bruderhof, find just too difficult to accept. It is well documented that many instances of child abuse, which may continue for many years and towards many children, are perpetrated by men in positions of responsibility and trust who other adults perceive as most caring and compassionate towards children. It is often just because they are considered to be such trustworthy and "good" people that children "know" that their experience will not be believed. And the few children who do attempt to alert adults find themselves disbelieved and their suffering compounded, thus reinforcing in other children the message that it is unacceptable to make any allegations against this man. It would take a quantum leap for the Bruderhof to hear and believe that their most trusted and venerated brothers were frail human beings with feet of clay. The Bruderhof has placed not only "special brothers" but their whole lifestyle and belief system on a pedestal. Not for them theft, greed, violence, divorce, adultery, etc. etc. So the very concept that sexual or physical or psychological abuse could have occurred in the Bruderhof is extremely threatening. But that is their problem. The ugly experiences etched into the memories of those of us who were abused will not disappear.
From a forthcoming book by Madeleine Tobias, tentatively titled Spiritual Rape .
On Anger
Ex-members are entitled to their rage. Anger may be hard for family, therapists and friends to accept. You may be urged to "forget and forgive." Ex-members who have been brought up to hide or deny negative feelings may not have the tools or experience to know how to express this potentially healing emotion. The Courage to Heal (Bass and Davis, 1988) and The Courage To Heal-Workbook (Davis, 1990) are two books written for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Survivors of cults and childhood abuse share many things in common. Both have been victimized by those they have trusted and depended upon. Many cult members have been victimized sexually and have been physically abused. All have been emotionally and/or spiritually vandalized. The Courage To Heal calls anger "the backbone of healing," because it provides the energy and will to proceed through the difficult task of getting lives back together. "Anger is the most effective antidote to helplessness and depression. It can inspire you to make deep and lasting changes in your life." Anger can also be a two-edged sword. Anger can motivate to heal or be turned inside, against the self. Blaming yourself may be easier than using anger to make the necessary changes in your life. Anger can be suppressed, resulting in addictions, physical illness, emotional disorders including depression, suicidal thought and behavior, or be directed at innocent others. Anger can further our isolation from others when it is expressed inappropriately, or when you are unaware of it. Anger, to be used effectively, must be focused on its source -- the cult leadership.

------------KIT Newsletter, June 1992 Vol. IV #6------------

Faith Tsukroff 4/27/92: I don't have much time to read KIT, but I do manage to read a bit of every issue. I would like to comment on some of what I have been reading, since I feel more points of view are useful. I fully support Loy McWhirter in her feelings and writings that I have read in KIT. She has very good reasons to be angry, and far from her anger eating her alive, I think her anger is energizing and life- giving. Keeping anger suppressed leads to things like depression and many psychosomatic illnesses. When anger comes out it can be released, and, also, it can be enormously energizing in terms of getting things done in your life and dealing with the causes of the anger.
I understand why Loy is so angry. The abuses suffered by children in the Bruderhof were enormous and horrible. And while, yes, I agree with some correspondents that adults did suffer, children suffered far more than adults did. I know, because I also was very, very abused in the Bruderhof -- physically, verbally, sexually and spiritually.
What I think adults do not understand is that they, as adults, no matter how hurt or damaged they may have been psychologically, had a psychic structure from which to operate and in some ways protect themselves psychologically. Children, when they are severely abused or brought into cult situations at an early age, simply do not have any psychic defenses to protect them. They have not been able to develop any kind of personality structure, which adults do have, from which they can operate and psychically defend themselves against their experiences. So that children, unlike the adults, had absolutely no inner refuge to help them get through the trauma and terror and abuse.
This is something that cannot be reiterated too often -- adults did have some kind of choice. Whether it was conscious or not, even if they were terrified or brain-washed into staying in the B'hof, they did have some choice. CHILDREN DO NOT HAVE A CHOICE. Children cannot survive on their own without someone to care for them, and children do not have the physical, emotional, or monetary resources to survive on their own. Also, and I think this is very important, because of their very limited experience of life, children do not know that it can be any different or that it might be possible to get out of the situations they are in. All they know is what they have experienced thus far in their lives, and if all they have experienced is abuse, that's all they know. They do have not choices.
Some KIT readers have written about how helpful the twelve-step groups can be. I agree -- they can be enormously helpful and healing and supportive. However, I have also found that the language of the twelve-step groups can be used by individuals to mask their own sick agendas and to manipulate and hide, rather than genuinely help and heal. Unfortunately, there are plenty of screwed-up people who use their involvement in twelve-step groups to cover and maintain their psychic illness. In dealing with anyone who espouses a twelve-step approach to healing and life in general, I think it is important to evaluate what that person says and where they may be coming from. Sincerely,
Joel Clement Excerpts from several months of computer mail: 3/10/92: I received the March KIT. What can one say that wouldn't trivialize the basic revelation or allegation that child abuse did exist on the community? I always wondered what it was that was simply referred to as "(allegation of sexual abuse)" in an earlier writing of Mike Caine. God help us all.
I called my parents on Saturday since I hadn't heard anything from them in about two months. My experiences with these long pause in communication is that something is brewing on their end. I was right. Dad said he wanted to talk to me about something. He started out, 'How is it with you and KIT?..." Even though I could feel his heart wasn't in it, he came up just short of an ultimatum to disassociate myself from KIT. I am upset about this even though I knew eventually it would come. He seemed particularly concerned that I had attended the last KIT conference. I took the opportunity to share a lot about KIT since I feel that they are not given a balanced view. I told him I had met Barnabas Johnson whom Dad had helped get into a Quaker boarding school. Dad said, "Oh yes, that was the school at which your grandfather taught for years." I told him that Barnabas for one represents a general call to reason. Mostly I told him that insofar as KIT was not started as a direct attempt to harass the B'hof, that it has no agenda along these lines, but acts as a forum. I don't recall everything that was said, but I got the distinct feeling that I would have to choose between these widely divided camps: KIT and the B'hof. I'm not going to second-guess whether the community is encouraging parents to put pressure on their KIT-active kids. Although I hate the basic idea of being a "moderate," I told Dad that I thought I represented a more stable side of KIT. Sometimes I feel like I'm being an "enabler" in this regard. What a strange world!
I see that the open meeting isn't so open any more because writers, sociologists, lawyers et al. are not welcome. The implication being that these professions hinder renewal of hearts and reconciliation. What are you KIT staffers going to do since you are writers? 3/13/92: I tried to write some more about this new attitude of 'divide and conquer' of the B'hof, but got bogged down. I feel a little like I am being backed into a corner and don't like it. I am tempted to play hardball with them, but that would be sinking to their level. I can relate to my grandfather Tyson who never set foot on the B'hof in the 10 remaining years of his life after my mother joined. I am really tempted to do the same. I think it is in some ways dangerous to make deals with them. It was so weird to be talking to Dad the day after the March KIT came knowing that he will never read the testimony regarding Heini, etc. I talk tough, but why didn't I mention this to him?
I am interested in the April meeting. Jonathan asked about it and even talked about possibly attending. I wonder if they will let social workers into their 'open' meeting. I really have to smile when they keep on harping on wanting to "sit down with us in the spirit of Jesus," etc. Jesus never got mad at sinners, soldiers, tax collectors and generally disinherited and downtrodden folk, but got really teed off at the self-righteous, rigid, religious people of the day, calling them "vipers," "hypocrites," "white-washed tombs filled with dead men's bones." And he went out of his way to hold OPEN meetings with anyone who cared to listen. But if the B'hof is all freaked out, we should try to be understanding.
3/21/92: I am considering breaking off all relationship with the community and thus my parents (the two are inseparable). I'm serious as a heart attack. It is part of my basic fabric not to compromise. I have had my chain yanked so many times in the last 14 years that I am about ready to cut the chain loose. The community defies reason and is a study in contradiction, so is there any sense in being reasonable? I think not. We become part of the problem, but I see through the strange and dysfunctional behavior of the community-parent 'object' to which I must relate a basic cry for help. So how do we help them? 4/26/92: I always find it interesting when the B'hof reaches for the Bible when it is in their interests. Dad was doing that to me to try to persuade me from associating with KIT, saying things like "You can't serve two masters," and "Is KIT Christian and in harmony with scriptures," etc. I could counter-argue 'til I was blue in the face, and have done so in the past to some extent, but I have come to realize the hard way that it's quite hopeless. It's kinda scary to think that the B'hof is a law unto itself, and a "truth" unto itself, but then also I can relax a little bit knowing there ain't a snowball's chance they would listen to me anyway. 4/28/92: Why are men less vocal in KIT? We were taught to be more stoic than the women, and for some reason we choose to be more analytical about our past. Men seem to be better able to survive, or at least escape the emotional and psychological trauma of the B'hof. The key word here may be 'escape.' More boys leave than women. The girls often-times stay and stay, the end result being a nervous breakdown. They seem less able to leave and start life over again.
Religion is supposed to liberate and not enslave. One should do good works because you care about people and not to try and earn your salvation. Salvation is a free gift, and to try and earn it by keeping a set of rules or living a certain outward lifestyle will lead to trouble, in my opinion. I think the B'hof and other religions put the cart before the horse in this regard. A person's primary concern should be himself and his family, which might seem to go against standard teaching, but really if one is living in a state of self-hatred, you aren't going to be much good to anybody anyway. I went through a time when I thought about mission work, and one reason I got an A&P mechanic's license was that I entertained the thought of getting involved in something like the Mission Aviation Fellowship. But I don't feel guilty about it now. Neither do I feel guilty for having left the B'hof. My only concern is upsetting my parents.
Bette Bohlken-Zumpe (Excerpted from her memoir): July 22, 1991:
My brothers and sisters (in the communities) feel that I should not continue to write my childhood memories because they will be too upsetting for my mother. I do not write against the Bruderhof, nor do I wish to hurt anybody at all. But I do wish to set the record straight where it concerns Bruderhof history as well as my own family. Throughout the past 30 years the B'hof history became more and more twisted. It placed the blame on my father for everything that went wrong in the past. Writers of the B'hof's official history start with the small beginning in Sannerz, my grandfather and grandmother, and go into great detail about the poverty and the spiritual vitality of the small circle that founded the B'hof. This is all correct and I fully agree that a special way of love for all mankind was given to my grandparents in those post-war years of the 1920s and 1930s. But the official history seems to stop with the death of my grandfather Eberhard Arnold on the 22nd of November, 1935, and then to start again with the building-up of the Woodcrest b'hof in 1954. The 20 years that lie in between have been put off as "the DARK years when Hans Zumpe reigned with a hard hand and turned the Bruderhof into a small, dictatorial state -- love seems to have been lost. It was Heini who emerges out of the darkness, and a new light was given to him personally to lead the communities back into the light."
Here I protest most strongly! The twenty years of being 'World Refugees' had a special blessing. The travels from Germany through Holland to England, and from there to Paraguay, had a protection from God and a clear guidance in them. For me, they were my childhood years and I will not write them off as "the bad years" like the Jewish nation that spent 40 years in the desert before they were led to the Promised Land. I believe that the B'hof is not different from the world as a whole. There always will be weak people and strong people, leaders and followers. But there should be one difference, and that should be LOVE. Love can make the smallest vessel shine. Love should find a way to cope with the sins of mankind. Love should find new ways daily to cope with the problems of that day! Love was there in Paraguay, even though we had to combat hunger, thirst, sickness and poverty. Love was there to give a brother or sister a hand when he or she fell into sin or grief. Love was there to show us children how to cope with life and life's problems.
But here again, we were children of our time! Sex was not talked about. Old-fashioned methods were applied to keep "the children's community PURE." But then, all over the world it was not so very different in those years. Sex play among children was not tolerated, and those children who indulged in it were set apart as if contaminated by a sickness. E.G. if there was an outbreak of measles or chicken pox on one 'hof, that 'hof was isolated so as not to infect the others. There was a quarantine for three or four weeks, and we children were not allowed to meet with our friends. The same was true for any sexual play or interest. That child or those children were set apart -- put away -- excluded -- from the children's community until there was "repentance." I know of children who were taken out of their families and placed in the special care of an old unmarried sister or brother for months, sometimes for years. They were not allowed to go to school with us or play or talk with us. What it was that they had done I did not know, but we all assumed that it was something sexual that made them to be set apart. I know of little boys whose hands were tied to their bedsteads at night to prevent them from fondling their bodies before they went to sleep. I know of a little girl who was placed into special care with an old lady. That lady would smell the child's hands when she was sleeping and slap them hard if they smelled of her having played with her genitals. Although I knew all that, it did not really bother me at all. It was a part of life as I thought it should be. I hear the same stories of children who grew up in strict church communities or were raised by nuns or monks of a religious order. Religion seems to forbid all sexual interest in children. It is put off as dirty, sinful and bad. Then when you marry, suddenly sex seems to be holy, so holy that you cannot even talk about it or ask questions. Everyone expects you to make the step from 'dirty and sinful' to 'holy' without difficulty!
Report on the Recovery Conference, "After The Cult," March 21-22, 1992, at Stony Point, NY. Sponsored by the American Family Foundation (AFF), the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) and FOCUS (a recovery network for ex-cultists).
by Judy Tsukroff
I found these two days a helpful, enlightening experience. Hour after hour we listened to therapists and scholars, and shared with each other about how to recover from the abusive control of cults and learn to live healthy, normal lives. What struck me was the way the ex-members had been seduced into all those different cults by attractive rhetoric, specifically tailored to hook the people that cults want to join them. And then how people were led deeper and deeper into commitment, more and more work and self-denial. They were all manipulated into giving up everything of themselves: their personalities, feelings and thoughts, money and possessions. The cults used everything from the person to benefit the cult while convincing the member that all their work and sacrifice was spiritual growth and development. This is religious/cult abuse. All of us, from whatever cult, had experienced being used in just these ways.
We got some insight into depressions and guilt, and anxiety and the inability to make decisions -- a product of learning to follow the cult leaders with unquestioning obedience. In the process of becoming "Good" cult members, people repressed their natural personalities and took on cult- acceptable personalities in order to fit in and belong to their group. After they exited, people felt guilty about things they went along with while in the group: the way they enticed new members to join, how they treated fellow members, and how they cut themselves off from concerned family and friends outside. (Sound familiar, KIT-folk?)
We were reminded of how clever cult leaders are at luring prospective members down a deceptive path, separating them from their familiar support systems so that they can mold their thinking to serve the cult. In other words, ex-members had not set out to be unkind and unjust to those they cared about. But as cult members, they were programmed to act in cult-approved ways that resulted in such behavior. (I believe our Bruderhof leaders are fellow victims serving a sick system).
An interesting side-issue: powerful present members of the Scientology cult attended, obviously to be an intimidating influence upon ex-members. They threatened to harass the sponsoring organizations with a lawsuit if they were denied admission, so were allowed to attend. The result was that ex- members of the Scientology cult felt very threatened. Skillfully, the conference leaders turned this situation into a healing exit- counseling experience. Frightened ex-members were given moral support while the program went on as planned. Several of the ex-Scientologists spoke openly about their anger towards the intruders, and moved away from them to another part of the room. Ignored and unable to influence anyone, the Scientologists left before supper on the first day and did not return. So these ex-members experienced their power in controlling their own lives -- a freeing, healing experience for them.
Loneliness was another topic: the struggles we went through in learning to relate normally to people in the real world. Boy! Could I relate to that!
The best part of the conference was the way people supported each other by sharing their painful baggage left over from experiences in so many different cults, and their progress. Without the common background of one's particular group (as we share Bruderhof experiences at X-ways conferences) there was exactly the same loving, caring, healing atmosphere amongst us all. I am so glad I went.
AFTERTHOUGHTS: While I was writing the above report, a KIT friend phoned. We discussed how disgusted we were by the way the Bruderhof manipulated the cancellation of the April open meeting. This reminded me of how in my Family Systems classes at the university, the professor repeatedly reminds us to pay attention to the process more than the content. In other words, the reasons for the cancellation (content) were ridiculous. But the way it was done (process) is an old trick. As usual, the B'hof said nice, agreeable-sounding things about being willing to talk openly with us. But when they wanted to cop out, they convenienty pulled out old rumors, pedaled them to the membership as new, dangerous information, and created an hysterical crisis by getting everyone all worked up about the 'evil attack.' Great timing! And what a way to control the membership!
This brought us to a discussion of the way B'hof members will be so nice and friendly on visits to us, and then inexplicably change when we bring up our serious concerns to them. I recently read an explanation for this in "Combating Cult Mind Control" by Steven Hassan: In becoming members of a cult, people must replace their own personality with a new persona acceptable to the group. That is the only way they can fit in and remain with the group. But their original personality (God- given, to my mind) can never be completely destroyed, although exiting members almost invariably need help in re- establishing their normal selves after they leave. No matter how long and how deeply one is involved in a cult, this first personality never completely disappears. That is why cult members have to fight themselves so hard. At times it comes alive for a little while, reminding the person of normal thought, feelings and behavior.
This explains why we sometimes have such warm visits from present B'hof members. For a little while they may act (or be allowed to act) out of their true, concerned selves. But when they go back to their hof, they 'forget' the promises they made while they were with us. Or when we write, they ignore the questions they encouraged us to discuss with them. They are again acting in the best interests of the cult in the prescribed way. They are back in their cult personalities. Even when we are with them, you can often see them actually switch back and forth -- being warm and genuine for a while, and then suddenly averting their eyes, changing the subject, or totally ignoring something important that we just said. The robot-like personality automatically takes over, and often they blather on illogically in Bruderhofese. I can't discuss things meaningfully with them because the cult mind-set is completely closed to outside influences (meaning us).

------------KIT Newsletter, July 1992 Vol. IV #7------------

Loy McWhirter 3/24/92: Thank you for printing Mike Caine's letter about his abuse, and some of the others. I do not feel safe to tell these things now myself, but it makes it not so lonely to read what Michael remembers and his riteous anger about it. No one has the right of authority to treat a child in such a way. That is evil beyond anything the SOB put on me as a child to make me believe I was the evil one and they were holy. I know the SOB will try to come after what Michael has said and try to put him in the wrong in some way -- to prove to themselves and others that he is bad and has made up evil tales of such a holy person and people. I believe him, and it fits into my own experience. Their attempts to retaliate would not surprise me because that has always been one of their tactics. They think it will keep them always seeming lily-white as an institution, and as a hierarchical system with the children they have used and broken. We are not their accessible cast-offs anymore. I hope that if there are any "very good people" and "really good friends," as Michael believes, that they will now speak out for him and for all the other children who were abused in the system and by the people they have been led to believe are riteous and holy and morally superior.
I hope that whoever goes to the April meeting [since canceled - ed.] will find out exactly what the SOB means by "reconciliation," etc. I'm pretty sure it's not the same as what I would mean. I had a severe reaction to the first letter from Woodcrest SOB's in the March /92 KIT. When I got back from it, I began to translate it for myself and think it might help, or at least amuse, some other people who still get scrambled and fried by the programming as I do. (You can't unscramble eggs, but I am learning to unscramble programming). This is how the letter to KIT participants from Woodcrest SOB (2/26/92) translates to me:
"Dear KIT participants, let's pretend we are all in this together. Let's just disengage and disassociate your brains right off here by giving the 'warm greetings!' line. Anyone left coherent after that may need a larger dose of opiate of the masses and will succumb eventually. Let's pretend we knew something about empathic concern for those whose suffering we have caused but will not acknowledge or admit to. Let's pretend we are all good friends in clear and benign communication and ignore everyone whom we, as a closed system, consider outside our realm of justice because we have cast them off as evil and dispensable. Let's pretend we have not been trying covertly to undermine and sabotage all relations with such people. Let's pretend the SOB is all one unified mind of many satisfied, fulfilled people who have nothing but the best intentions toward all those we abused and tormented, whom we won't listen to and don't want to know or hear anything about. Our poor, feeble minds and collective innocent ears would be tainted by knowing of such horrors that little children had to bear alone. Let's pretend that whoever wrote this letter speaks for everyone left in the SOB's domain. Let's pretend we are in honest and clear communication with a unified, sympathetic and forgiving entity represented by the KIT newsletter in spite of the diverse notices we have received as a result of both KIT conferences and of anyone else who has attempted to comply with our shifting situational rules about how to meet our demands before we will listen and comply with anyone's grievances. Let's pretend no one has tried to comply for years with every pretense we have put forth at communication with the SOB, singular and plural, such as writing to a specific person about specific 'problems' anyone has had with SOB members, or coming to the SOB powers-that-be with a specific list of grievances that we have repeatedly promised to address because of our oft-repeated deep concert to put things right and get on the 'forgiveness and reconciliation.' and which we have repeatedly ignore, denied, made fun of, dodged, retaliated against, and otherwise weaseled out of. Let's make an equally large leap of reality denial and pretend that we have actually gotten somewhere.
"Let's pretend we are really paying attention to ANYTHING anyone has to say beyond what we will allow or wish to hear. Let's pretend we are too confused by the overwhelming and unreasonable diversity of grievances we have received to deal with any of them fairly or at all. Let's pretend that because of this feigned confusion, which must be the fault of their muddled outcast souls, we are too innocent and pure to understand any such charges; there is no way to please SOME people, let's pretend.
"Let's pretend that the SOB, in feigned ready compliance with all grievances and charges, has suddenly had a singular brilliant and original idea. This idea is that you KIT misguided folks, whom we are warning everyone we can to disassociate themselves from, will actually be induced into attending a meeting with us high and mighty (but ever humble) ones that will also be 'attended by what COULD be called a 'non-KIT and non-Bruderhof' person,' because you are still easily induced into believing anything we want you to and we still have your families. This unspecified person, by the name of Virgil Vogt, will simply be suggested by us or anyone we deem manageable by us. This person will be chosen from another cult we consider not unlike our own. We will pass them off as being 'uninvolved with any of the issues' that have so suddenly and surprisingly 'come up,' so that the 'common ground' we come to will not require us to change a thing from the same riteous ground the SOB now stands on. This is a 'suggestion of a general nature' that is as specific as we're ever likely to get.
"Repeat invitation: if there's anyone who is exactly as the SOB elders have decided (for all) we all are, then those one or two chosen people will be considered reasonable enough to be taken seriously by us and are welcome. The path is narrow and steep. If in any way those who consider attending diverge from the oppressively narrow confines within these quotes, then we have our butts covered by writing you off as insincere and, as usual, not in the spirit of jesus as WE define that, and peace and love as we define THAT. So we repeat our open (but carefully circumscribed and restricted) invitation to you, in case you have for some inexplicable reason felt excluded, shunned, thrown out, etc., in the past. We will meet in our territory, in our way, with our appointed and agreed-upon-among-ourselves 'mediators' -- approved of so glowingly and conveniently by Art Rosenblum... even though he doesn't even know them. In return for this generous offer, for a limited time only, you will be required to listen to only a few hours of SOB propaganda and dissembling and evangelizing, otherwise known as bearing witless... er, witness, reconciliation and renewal in our hearts -- since you haven't heard enough of all this since you got out of our clutches. We promise to manufacture out best pretense at sincere listening technique and concern and pity and remorse. With this invitation, we safely preclude that anyone who still does have the gall and the money to attend will give a gracious, grateful and gratifying report back to KIT.
"To continue with the disarmingly friendly and general nature of our suggestions: the meeting will be held at Woodcrest, April 10 and 11, at our convenience -- no matter what anyone else's life and circumstances might be. Suddenly we are in a stupor of gemutlichkeit at the stirring prospect of seeing you all in impatient, passionate droves, and can't talk good. What we mean to say is, since sex isn't allowed as a means of intimacy (since that would obviously make the elders and god jealous) our longing is to come closer together in some NEBULOUS way that we insist to the outside substitutes for sex and emotional intimacy. If anyone is so desperately filled with desire to meet that you can't wait, you can come earlier and we will have you all to ourselves for an orgy of purely spiritual intercourse and forgiveness, after we have broken you down again to the state we had you in when we had you last.
"Yours (we have all the money, power and lawyers -- but we're not worldly -- so we can afford to put forth the pretext that we belong to you and are at your disposal until we can get you to belong to us again or dispose of you again)
"Sincerely (If you believe this, then you did not get as far away from the SOB into another life as you thought you had)
"The Brotherhoods... etc....... (Three or four white MEN who profess to speak for all the minions under our influence, as the self-appointed Alpha males of our self-made, defined and upheld system showing the whole world how to live the one true way which we have the monopoly on {humbly though}. We have the longest title, so that proves we are somebody and you are nobody. We are the biggest and the rightest {humble, though}. Dare approach us with your silly little grievances and charges so that we can dispense with you and get on with this forgiveness.)
"P.S. We WON'T give any money to help you get here to give your 'grievances' about all the money, property, fa-mily, body, mind, heart, soul, etc. that we stole from you. We need it for ourselves to buy more estates and to expand our power for the more people we induce to hand over their money, property, chil-dren, etc. so anyone who wakes up to our swindle won't be able to touch us. The warmth we offer is hypothetical and theological agape warmth. Also, no one who might have the objectivity and cog-nition to see through our veils of illu-sion and delusion we want to call recon-ciliation and renewal of our hypothetical crocodile hearts (such as journalists, soci-ologists or anyone else who has not been previously programmed by us) may um, er, what we mean to say, (let's see how we can put this to get THEM off the tract - oh, we'll just be obscure. That'll confuse 'em) can attend. We will definitely pos-sibly think about maybe considering some day when hell freezes over in all likelihood by chance making an appoint-ment at an unspecified time and place that you might be able to pin down if you can catch us first, whereby a meeting might actually materialize, who knows. Stranger things have been known to happen. Don't hold your breath, though. We're humble, but not stupid."...
Excerpts from Bette Bohlken-Zumpe's response (unanswered) to the 90 pages of letters from the B'hof to many ex-members in 1973: 5/28/73 to The Society of Brothers:
The following letter was written in January after several phone calls I had with Darvell. It was typed for me in February and I had it back March the 9th after my father's tragic death. Although today I might word such a letter differently, my thoughts are the same and that is why I will send it off today. The last month has taught me a great deal, most of all maybe that on a big scale, it is of such little significance what you think about me. Most important is what I feel about myself. I made my choice 10 years ago when I married Hans, and we will continue on our way together. Your letters came 12 years too late. They were too late for my father as well! From whatever angle you want to look at it, fact remains fact, and that is that during all those 12 years no one ever visited Papa in Weinsberg -- no one even asked him, "How are you coping physically and spiritually? Can we help you in any way?: I wrote a letter to Milton 2 years ago about my father's poor health because he was a very sick man indeed. In my letter I said, "If a brother falls into a ditch of mud, it does not help to stand at the side analyzing why and how such a fall was possible. The only way to help him is to give him a hand and help him out, and then the questions can be asked."
All of you failed! Here was a man who had given the best years of his life to a cause he really believed in, left in utter despair and loneliness for more than 12 years! He cried for his children and cried for his wife. Even in the outside world married couples have a chance to try and solve their problems in personal talks or in court! Papa had no chance whatsoever! Most of his letters were never even answered, some were returned unopened (1965). I have all of his letters and the very few answers in my possession, and the balance of the lot saddens me deeply! in 1966 I wrote a long, long letter to Heini and Annemarie. I begged them to visit my father who was in such need. Annemarie wrote back, "In der Lage Deines Vaters fuhlen wir uns vollkommen hilflos." ("The situation of your father makes us feel helpless.") I ask you, is that the love you proclaim to live by? He was never visited, nor was I! I want nothing more to do with that kind of cold- hearted love! You preach love but act hateful and cruel to those you yourselves sent away and excluded from your life! Now I am really finished with it. After Papa's death you came, we were glad to see you. I was especially glad to see my brother Ben. It was such a sad and tragic moment for all of us. Lorna's mother had been ever so good for Papa and so was the nurse Hermiene! We had asked Hermiene to look after Papa in Mallorca as he was far too sick a man to travel with Joan alone. The death of the three of them really hit us hard! It was good to see you, but sad to feel the distance between us, even at such a time. You were unable to help us. It was the ex-members who helped us arrange the cremation and all the sad things that are legally required. They came to be with us, help and comfort us on that sad day of the 18th of March. I received many warm and loving letters from people that remember Papa as a human being and not as a sinner only. These letters touched me deeply. Now my own uncle Heini was in Darvell at the time and not a word or call from him. That really beats me! There is much more I could say, but let me leave it at that. I write this letter in English as I think your translations are lousy! e.g. the expression my father used buckelige Verwandschaft has nothing whatsoever to do with "humpbacked relatives." It is a German expression for difficult relatives, which indeed they proved to be during the last years of Papa's life. Now please erase my name from your mail list, which only existed for sending me death notices. Hans and I lead our own life and we had 7 deaths in our immediate circle of friends this last year and that is really enough. I will continue to write to my mother and ask you to give her the love she needs so much, at this time. I do wish you fulfillment of the love you believe in and long for, the same as we do! With this I greet you all!
March, 1973: [edited excerpts - ed.]
This is a letter that will have to be written if we really and truly want to face up to all that is unredeemed among the communities. It is far from my mind to accuse or excuse, but I do want the truth to be known. At long last I begin to see the experiences of the last years in their right proportions, and I must say, there is much that disgusts me deeply. Why did my grandfather start the small community at Sannerz? What did he believe in, when he wanted people to be free, happy and childlike? By what law do the communities live now? Is it the word of God as the bible taught us? Is it love? Then why are the fruits so rotten? The Ten Commandments say:
1: God said, I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have none other gods but me.
2: Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image... for I am the Lord they God... and show mercy to those that love me and keep my commandments.
3: Thou shalt not take the Name of the Lord they God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltess that taketh His name in vain. (If I think of all that happened in the name of God, it makes me really shiver!)
4: Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day.
5: Honor thy father and thy mother, that their days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
(On the Bruderhof we were taught different, more like: "Keep a watchful eye on your parents, so that all sin is revealed and dealt with.")
6: Thou shalt do no murder.
(I think the murder of faith, trust and love is as equally bad as physical murder. How many of us were murdered that way and left alone to their despair? Alone in darkness with everything taken from them?)
7: Thou shalt not commit adultery.
(This is maybe the only commandment taken seriously in the communities. People who have fallen into this sin have to accept that there is no forgiveness from men ever and no re- acceptance into a human or brotherly relationship.)
8: Thou shalt not steal.
(I think there is more stealing than material only.)
9: Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor. ( - or brother - or sister. Why is it done so much? The community grapevine tells stories that are absolutely untrue. One is i.e. about my husband, and I would like to know, what he is accused of and what he is said to have confessed to Peter Rutherford, as he himself does not know.
10: Thou shalt not want any of they neighbor's things.
And if we forget the Ten Commandments, the New Testament gives us another rule to live by: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart..." and the other equally important: "Love thy neighbor as thyself." Who is our neighbor? Are they only the convenient, non-protesting ones that share community living? Or can a neighbor be anyone, even a fallen "member?" Which bible word, rule or law separates people, families, brothers and sisters? e.g. Why do I know nothing about my family? Why do all my letters remain unanswered? (except the last one to Mark?) My small children write letters to their grandmother and never get an answer. We send photos, they are ignored. What have my small children done? Or do you believe that they are conceived and born in sin and therefore must be evil? A few years back, my daughter asked me if America and heaven were the same thing. When I asked her why, she said, "Jesus never writes to me and neither does my American Oma." Do you think that is what my grandfather wanted? His children were taught to respect opas, parents, visit them and write to them, even though they did not show much understanding for Opa's life.
I have the feeling my mother is again excluded, and I gathered this from the remarks in Ben's and Burgel's letters. That was why I had to write to Mark. Has she not gone through enough? I feel a deep sadness if I think of my mother's life. Uncle Hardy's letter about the death of my dear uncle Hans- Hermann mentions the whole family, even Monika, who has been for years a strong opponent to the life. No word, no line, no mention of my mother. She is Eberhard Arnold's oldest daughter and was much loved by her father. If there was ever an "anti-Arnold spirit" in the communities -- which as I wrote Mark, I never felt -- there most certainly is a very strong "anti- Zumpe spirit" now and has been for the last 12 years. My poor mother is both an Arnold and a Zumpe, so she cannot escape from being a victim. The "Christmas greetings" from Heidi, Ben and Burgel struck me as though a "Zumpe" has to go on and on proving to be wanting the right spirit. As if a "Zumpe" was any different from any other person. I know of people who were brought into great need because of these un-loving, disrespectful letters. I want to say at this point that we have good parents who were always there when we needed them (except for the time my mother was isolated from us because of her illness). If the last years at Wheathill were difficult, then we were all to blame.
As you know, I wrote to Mark after receiving all that mail. I longed for a positive relationship with you all. I had always believed that the intentions of the Bruderhof were honest ones and the people in them honest and faithful. My phone calls with Paul Pappas have shattered this faith, and maybe it's just as well. Now you must understand, it is not Paul I feel disgusted with. He was most loving and I felt his brotherly concern. But it is my uncle Heini, whom I have loved and trusted for years. He gave Paul a letter to read out to me over the phone. This letter is full of false accusations and even though he asked Paul to apologize for him, I rather expect a personal word or contact. If my uncle Heini has certain ideas about me, surely the last 12 years gave us time and chance enough to talk about this! 1970 I begged to visit Woodcrest for this same reason, but I was rejected. After that, brothers were in Europe, even in Holland, and I was not contacted. Why? I have always been honest and loyal to both Annemarie and Heini, and he broke my trust by turning my need and distress of 1961 into a dirty, cheap and filthy story, adding juicy bits to make it more interesting. I am sure there is no one in the community who has not heard that version of a sad part of my life.
This makes me see things in a different light. The 1941 crisis surely was a struggle of spirits, but who can take it upon himself to judge which side had the good spirit? Who dares to dig up graves and take out the rotten bones of 32 years ago, inspect and judge? Surely not people who were children at the time, or not eve present. You have just been through the experience of my uncle Hans-Hermann's death. (Let me say here that in him I always saw a man of great faith and great love. Why was he never listened to during his lifetime? He was made Servant of the Word on his deathbed. Why was he not accepted as a true servant of God's will and word when the brotherhoods could have had profit from his message?) Imagine now that through some miracle Hans-Hermann had gotten better, but that now he would not want to live and would go on and on simulating the dying man. Would the community not be absolutely exhausted? [This is a reference to Heini's illness in Primavera - ed.]
Being called together three times daily for song and prayer and that for three months is more than any human can cope with. Dr. Cyril Davies was a young NOVICE doctor at the time with no experience and no medicine available. I am absolutely convinced that he did what he could, but the illness of the mind is so much worse, and in those years there was so little knowledge about it that he could not cope with uncle Heini. That is why Heini was sent to Asuncion. You should ask Dr. Revarola and Dr. Buttner about their reports. Heini was really mentally ill at the time. And the whole community was spiritually and mentally ill through this experience. I was a little girl of six years of age, and I have distinct memories of Heini's illness. He would sit up in bed with sunglasses on and we would all pass his window. He would then say a word to each of us: "Remain joyful in life, little Bette... Don't cry, Rosemarie, it's a joy to meet Jesus..." Then he would have spells of breathlessness and we would fan wind with our aprons. This went on day after day, week after week. Even my aunt was quite exhausted. I remember her crying, "I don't know where I have to be first," she said. "Christoph is dying and so is your uncle." Many children died that year -- 1941...
---------Food For Thought--------
From No Boundary, by Ken Wilbur:
Almost everybody, at one time or another, has seen, heard, or participated in some form of a witch hunt, and as grotesque as these things can be, they nevertheless illustrate the disasters of [the psychological mechanism of] projection and the persistent blindness of people to their own foibles. At the same time, the witch hunt offers the very clearest example of the truth of projection, the truth that we loathe in others those things, and only those things, that we secretly loathe in ourselves.
The witch hunt begins when a person loses track of some trait or tendency in himself which he deems evil, satanic, demonic, or at least unworthy. Actually, this tendency or trait could be the most inconsequential thing immaginable -- a bit of human perversity, orneriness, or rascality. All of us have a dark side. But "dark side" does not mean "bad side;" it means only that we all have a little black heart ("There's a litle bit of larceny in everybody's heart"), which, if we are aware and accepting of it, actually adds much to the spice of life. According to the Hebrew tradition, God himself placed this wayward, whimsical, or perverse tendency in all people at the very beginning, presumably to prevent mankind from perishing from boredom.
But the witch hunter believes that he has no little black heart. He assumes to some degree a peculiar air of righteousness. It isn't that he lacks a little black heart, as he would like to believe and like to have you believe, but that he is extremely uncomfortable with his little black heart. He resists it in himself, tries to deny it, attempts to cast it out. But it remains, as it must, and it remains his, persistently clamoring for some attention. The more his little black heart clamors for attention, the more he resists it. The more he resists it, the more strength it acquires, and the more it demands his awareness. Finally, because he can deny it no longer, he does start to see it. But he sees it the only way he can -- as residing in other people. He knows somebody has a little black heart, but since it just can't be him, it must be someone else. All he has to do now is find this somebody else, and this becomes an extremely important task, because if he can't find someone onto whom he can project his shadow, he will be left holding it himself. It is here that we see the resistance playing its crucial role. For just as the person once hated and resisted his own shadow with unbridled passion, and sought to eradicate it by any means, he now despises, with the very same passion, those onto whom he casts his own shadow.
Sometimes this witch hunting takes on atrocious dimensions -- the Nazi persecution of the Jews, the Salem witch trials, the Ku Klux Klan scapegoating of blacks. Notice, however, that in all such cases the persecutor hates the persecuted for precisely those traits that the persecutor himself displays with a glaringly uncivilized fury. At other times, the witch hunt appears in less terrifying proportions -- the cold war fear of a "Commie under every bed," for instance. And often, it appears in comic form -- the interminable gossip about everybody else that tells you much more about the gossiper than about the object of gossip. But all of these are instances of individuals desperate to prove that their own shadows belong to other people.
Many men and women will launch into tirades about how disgusting homosexuals are. Despite how decent and rational they otherwise try to behave, they find themselves seized with a loathing of any homosexual, and in an emotional outrage will advocate such things as suspending gay civil rights (or worse). But why does such an individual hate homosexuals so passionately? Oddly, he doesn't hate the homosexual because he is homosexual; he hates him because he sees in the homosexual what he secretly fears he himself might become. He is most uncomfortable with his own natural, unavoidable, but minor homosexual tendencies, and so projects them. He thus comes to hate homosexual inclinations in other people -- but only because he first hates them in himself.
And so, in one form or another, the witch hunt goes. We hate people "because," we say, they are dirty, stupid, perverted, immoral... They might be exactly what we say they are. Or they might not. That is totally irrelevant, however, because we hate them only if we ourselves unknowingly possess the despised traits ascribed to them. We hate them because they are a constant reminder of aspects of ourselves that we are loathe to admit... As an old proverb has it:
"I looked and looked, and this I came to see:
That what I thought was you and you,
Was really me and me."

------------KIT Newsletter, September 1992 Vol. IV #8------------

A Draft Statement of KIT's Editorial Guidelines
KIT was established to serve the information needs of former Bruderhof members and children by publishing whatever materials KIT deems relevant to their relationship with one another and with the Bruderhof. Although the staff embraces the journalistic privileges of a free press, we note that KIT has become an important vehicle for, among other things, healing, networking, reconnecting, informing, honoring and supporting those in need. As a free press, we remain committed to the individual and to the free expression of ideas and feelings. However we would request that our correspondents show a common courtesy towards each other and refrain from making ad hominem attacks. Because we wish KIT to reach its widest possible readership, we will limit the language to what is commonly regarded as the that of 'decent' public discourse. In cases where allegations are being made against individuals, we request that the accuser first make a serious effort to contact the individual or individuals involved, if they are still living. If a satisfactory response is not received, then KIT may act as a public forum for these allegations to be aired. KIT does not accept anonymous submissions, but will withhold the name of a correspondent upon his or her request. Finally, although KIT is a project of The Peregrine Foundation, editorially it remains completely independent of the parent organization. And last but not least, if you disagree with the tone or direction that KIT's correspondents express, the best way to change this is to write in from your own unique point of view.
The opinions expressed in the letters that KIT publishes are solely those of their authors. Although we welcome all correspondence, we reserve the right to reject letters that we deem unsuitable and to edit all letters in line with the guidelines expressed above as well as because of space limitations.
-----------From the Archives---------
In the early 1960s, Lee Kleiss started a Round-Robin newsletter that continued for a number of issues. Since they are of historical interest, KIT will be reprinting some of them.
I will try to give as impartial a report of my two visits to Evergreen on Thursday, April 26th, and at Oaklake, May 1st, as is possible. Art Wiser promised to make a report to the other communities, but we both had to agree that he could not really properly present my position any more than I can present the position of the present Society of Brothers. It must have been just the end of vesper time when I arrived at Evergreen, everything seemed so quiet. Some youth spotted me first and, on my request to speak to someone, she fetched Art Wiser. He then asked Ivan and Alma Kneeland if I could join them for vespers. We had quite a friendly chat. At three I was fetched by Art to the office. Others in the meeting were Margaret M, John Winter (at my request) and a young American, sorry I forgot his name. My first shock was to see John Winter again after two years, for he looked at least ten years older. As soon as Art realized I had not come to make confessions, but was raising questions, he asked Margaret if she wished to go, but she decided to stay. This, of course, did not make it easy for either for us.
First I raised the question of "judgment," by mentioning the circumstances around Gunther Homann's death that had been bothering me for the past four years, and concerning which none of my letters had been answered (Gunther's case was a special case where I had been informed that the Brotherhood "decided' that his illness was one of self-pity and lack of will to fight. Two days later he was dead. Suddenly there was a shift in the attitude of people. There had also been other situations of near "judgment" about an individual's lack of health being caused by his or her spiritual state which had bothered me, but I only mentioned my situation here.) There was a very free atmosphere about these questions. I was immediately told that there had been a clearance about the circumstances around Gunther's death. The discussion was so free and open that I did not want to press for details. What was past and settled was past and settled.
Next I believe I raised the question of actions that are carried out contrary to Brotherhood decision. I told what I knew of the circumstances of a family sent from Primavera to Woodcrest, met at the airport in New York and asked to go to his parents in California to "think things over." The Brotherhood was only told afterwards "that they were not coming." Here I met with the first example of evasiveness. As long as we were speaking in large generalities, there was free admission of coldness and lack of love. But as soon as I pressed details, there was immediate evasion. Art said, "I was not there, BUT I AM SURE THE BROTHERS WHO MET THE AIRPLANE DID RIGHT." Also it was pointed out how the husband had written recently and admitted how he had hurt his wife. Well, I'm sure we all have hurt each other -- but is this the answer to the specific question I raised? Why did someone act completely contrary to Brotherhood decision? Why was the Brotherhood never informed that these brothers had acted contrary to the earlier decision of the Brotherhood? This is quite apart from whether the action was right or wrong. Can anyone take it upon themselves to act contrary to Brotherhood decision without informing the Brotherhood of the why's and wherefore's and without asking for further advice?
Now I recall the order in which these problems arose. I had raised the issue of longing for unity, and thus in eagerness having desired and produced a uniformity. At this level we were all very much in agreement, because this too was a recognition the whole group had felt. We were very close and very much in agreement here. So I brought out some examples of what appeared a desire not to question, not to disturb the outer appearance of agreement and uniformity. In this connection I brought out the circumstances of the arrival of this same family in the States. On the whole I tried to avoid names, but Art kept supplying them.
I kept underlining the need at least for concern about the material well-being of former brothers and sisters. Art used as example the circumstances of the W. family. "They caused this difficulty themselves, because they did not ask for help. They were too proud for help." I was too speechless to be able to press this. Is there love when children are left sitting on the sidewalk without a roof over their heads? It was also safer for me to point to details of circumstances where I was better informed. Why were families left bedless when the belongings of the Society were "given away?" Why was I informed that my sewing machine was just given away, when I know that expelled sisters have asked and not received. All details were simply covered with "They did not ask." Where I did know enough to be able to point out that it had been asked for, John got quite touchy and I quickly retracted to "Perhaps it was not asked of the right person?" in order to keep the meeting friendly. (I know that there was a lot of chaos and real difficulty in Paraguay connected with the closing, but if all had really been done in love, how different it would all have been.) Strange that it never occurred to me to mention the many SOS's I wrote to Asuncion from M. M., and how they had been ignored. Since then, I have seen many letters of another situation where REQUESTS WERE MADE, and they were simply interpreted as the symptom of emotional instability. I found this whole evasion on details as soon as details were pressed terribly depressing, but generally was pleased to be able to have as open and as equal an exchange as we had.
I raised the question especially about the older people who have been left homeless and penniless after their life-work with the Society. here we mentioned quite a few people, and thus I heard that G.W. was now again at Bulstrode, brought there by his relatives... And the many others who are still outside and alone. Repeatedly I had to press my conviction that we have pledged to each other before God, WHICH NO MAN HAS A RIGHT TO BREAK, and emphasized our mutual responsibility for each other, at least each others' material necessities. (In spite of Margaret's presence, I could not help repeating this several times). I was asked when I had been in Primavera. Consequently Art repeated that "We are now again experiencing the TRUE BROTHERHOOD AS IT EXISTED BEFORE 1935, and that in-between there was not really a TRUE BROTHERHOOD." Every time he said this, he turned to Margaret for confirmation. Discussing further what was meant by this, and please, Art, if this is wrong clarify it for me and others. "We are simply not responsible for any decisions made by the Brotherhood during the years 1935-1960. It was not a true brotherhood. Many were falsely brought into the community. They are therefore not true sisters and brothers, and we have absolutely no obligation to them."
Art gave as an example how a brother recently had stood up and confessed that L.S. had been deceived into the Novitiate. I tried to press the general problem of what responsibility does the present brotherhood have to UNdeceive these people. Does it not have a real responsibility to release us of our vows? Here I was only given an example of a family who wished to return to the present Society. I made several attempts to press this point, how to release people of a vow. In a sense it is not possible, as the present Society claims to have no connection or responsibility to any decisions made by partially the same group of people living under the same name and association. For some time now, some of us have been making this clear distinction between what we had known and the present group. It was good to have this directly from them, but I wish there was a way in which they could HONESTLY be made to make this clear to everyone who is outside and still under the illusion of having an obligation to God and to the Bruderhof to seek to return to -- what? From here on, we were unable to understand each other. I simply will not accept that you can wipe out 25 years of existence of a living organization, that you can do this and dismiss all obligations. I do not understand their position well enough to even want to attempt to phrase it. It puzzles me that some of those who are outside did experience this time before 1935, and a very small number of those inside have actually experienced it. The majority must simply mouth it. Please, Art, help us to understand your side of this.
After this impasse, our talk was no longer so easy. I raised the question of the material welfare of some people. I was asked if such questions did not come from a lack of trust. Sure they do. Similarly when I was told I could not stay longer because "we cannot tolerate such a spirit," I asked too if that did not show a lack of trust in the individual and a lack of trust in the power of God. I cannot recall any response to that. At one point Art asked me if that was what I meant by the "Broad Way" in my statement of November. At first this almost struck me as a real trap, a really twisted interpretation given to my statement. But when I enlarged on it, the explanation seemed to be accepted in the right spirit. I somehow just want to portray to you the change in atmosphere that had taken place. YET, never was it said that I came with an accusing, judging attitude, that I was putting myself above them, or many similar phrases. I felt very much that we were equals talking it out.
At the end, Margaret made arrangements for me to see Hildegard F. and Oma W., a request I had made much earlier. Mandred saw me in the yard and just beamed and greeted me joyfully... Art and Margaret then escorted me to my car... We parted in a very friendly way. At this point I told Art that I had originally intended to visit Woodcrest the next day, but I felt this unnecessary. I asked him to make a report. Here we agreed that he would really be unable to present my view and concern adequately. (I felt it would have been sort of dishonest to visit Woodcrest immediately after, as I had never had any contact with Woodcrest, nor would I have the strength to. I did not at this point intend to visit Oaklake at all. I intended to meet the Dunlops, take Ed back to Detroit with me and see what we could do to help them find work. Three of the Dunlops' boxes had remained at Oaklake, as they contained some personal family treasures such as a family Bible, Ed just mentioned he might drop by to inquire about them on Tuesday. This seemed too good an opportunity, I decided I should take advantage of this and visit and present my concern there too. I did not have time to think about and prepare for this visit for months, as with the other one. Also, I had far less hope or faith that much could be accomplished.)
Visit at Oaklake
I arrived just a little before 11 a.m., and when discovered and asked what I wanted, I asked to have a chance to speak to as many people as possible. Very quickly they arranged a meeting of, altogether, six people, Mark and Peggy Kurtz, Bob Clement, Howard Johnson, another woman and John Hinde, the latter at my request. Actually he was the only one who had known me as a sister. The others knew me only as an expellee... This meeting was altogether different. They had read my latest statement in the Brotherhood the night before. This was the statement I had prepared to leave at Evergreen in case I had not found any audience. In a way it made it more difficult to know where to start. I was not made easier by the response of silence, except that I was told almost from the beginning that I came with an accusing, judging spirit. There was a barrier almost from the very first moment, and it was never broken. At one point I was asked, almost hostilely, "I just can't understand WHY YOU ARE HERE?" This gave me a very good opportunity to express again that we had made a vow to each other before God WHICH NO MAN CAN BREAK and which obligates us to warn or admonish each other. We all know something is wrong, or why would we be so split? etc. I was really glad that the question had been put, and what I answered I thought would break the barrier between us a little. There was really no response, until a half-hour of silence later the same question was repeated.
When I asked about Art's statement that now they had returned to true Brotherhood of pre-1935, there was also no response. Actually none present had been with the community before 1935. Though this was a much longer meeting, about 3 hours, very little was said, and was to me at least very depressing. I was asked to speak only about myself and my problems. Some things I had said earlier were repeated with a meaning very different from what I had intended, and my clarification was completely differently interpreted, i.e. there was and remained a barrier. For part of this I was no doubt at fault, as I had so little hope of being able to achieve anything. Somehow it should be possible to break through the barrier and make the present Society face their responsibility to those outside, either as brothers and sisters or as people who have been deceived by the so-called interim Society between 1935- 1960. With so little hope that this could be accomplished, I did sort of come with the spirit and attitude -- here is what you are doing wrong. I'm still convinced that had we altogether wanted to search for a real solution about the split, the meaning of the vow and obligation to each other, etc., the outcome could have been so entirely different. We parted, with handshakes, to the now-empty dining room for lunch.
From "Cults and Children: The Role of the Psychotherapist," by David Halperin, MD, published in the Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1989, p. 76:
Why do loving and caring cultic parents sometimes inflict bizarre and drastic discipline on their children? Some cult groups regard children born within the group as symbolic of the group's aspirations towards a spiritual perfectionism or as an effort towards the creation of an ubermensch (cf., the efforts at the creation of a "Homo Sovieticus;" Halberstadt and Mandel, 1989) Hence, any deviation by the child from group norms or goals is seen in particularly harsh terms. Additionally, parents may project onto their children ideas and desires which are unacceptable to them as cult members. Thus, the normative play of children is subject to criticism and they may be subject to harsh and unrelenting punishment as the parents attempt to exorcize their own unacceptable fantasies from the child (Markowitz & Halperin, 1988).
-------- KIT Newsletter October 1992 IV #9 --------
Dear KITfolk: It has come to our attention that some Bruderhof members are telling KIT people that "KIT leadership has told us that they are out to destroy the Bruderhof." This is totally and absolutely untrue. In fact, although there is no "KIT leadership" as such, Ramon and other staff members have gone to special lengths, both in letters and in conversations, to insist on just the opposite. It bears repetition here, once again, that we wish the Bruderhof no harm. We also do wish that the Bruderhof would fulfill its legitimate destiny. It so happens that the KIT staff, because of what even the Bruderhof themselves would admit to as past failures, would encourage them not to fall into the same pitfalls of leader-worship, of blind faith in their 'system,' and to a 'them-and-us' state of mind that can only lead to a closing down and hardening of hearts. But that is just our opinion.
From The Woodcrest Brotherhood, 8/22/92:
Please Help To Circulate This Letter
Dear Servant of the Word: Today's preachers' meeting in South Dakota where apparently there were about 43 ministers present is a disgrace to the Hutterite Church and will be punished by God. If I have my information right, 40 ministers sided with Joseph Vetter from Plainview. You all know that Monday a week ago, Sam Vetter from Glenway took our beloved Jake (Kleinsasser) Vetter from Crystal Spring to South Dakota. They, together with David Vetter from Starland, visited Joseph Vetter from Plainview. This is the report I received of the meetings.
The first meeting with Joseph Vetter was pathetic and difficult. We are really in a crisis. Jake Vetter from Crystal Spring, Sam Vetter from Glenway, David Becker Vetter from Starland had two very serious meetings with Joseph Vetter. No results. Joseph Vetter from Plain View has very, very strong feelings against Jake Vetter going back years, even to 1971. He is filled to the hilt with feelings. Some things which he holds against Jake Vetter are the Rosedale situation, Donald Gibb, the Oak Bluff renegades and Aspenheim. The brothers just did not get through with Joseph Vetter from Plainview. They told him that they would be back in one week. They came back in one week, and Jake Vetter from Spring Creek was there. This meeting was even worse. It was like running into a brick wall. Jake Vetter from Spring Creek supported Joseph Vetter 100% -- so much so that Joseph Vetter said he would not accept any clarification from Jake (Kleinsasser) Vetter whatsoever, even if there were a big servants' meeting. He said that no majority would persuade him to change his opinion. Because Jake Vetter from Spring Creek was there, Joseph Vetter from Plainview felt very brave. There is also great hatred in these brothers towards Mike Vetter from Millbrook, so strong that it cannot be put into words. This is a much bigger uprising or rebellion than the Daniel Hofer case, even though that went to court. If ever God has to step in, it is now.
Dear brothers, as an Elder I plead for you to help. Now is the time to stand up for our Jake Kleinsasser Vetter. Please write, phone other brothers, and preach in your meetings that we have only one Elder, and that is Jake Vetter from Crystal Spring. Anyone who doesn't accept this should be excluded and should leave the Hutterian Church. It is our duty as Co- Servants to stand by our Elder and to see that Joseph Vetter from Plainview and Jake Vetter from Spring Creek are removed from their service. We have to go on the offensive before it is too late. Of course we all desperately need to pray.
Longing to stand by you all,
P.S. Joseph Vetter of Plain View accuses Jake (Kleinsasser) Vetter of separating the Lehrerleut and Dariusleut from the Schmiedeleut. We all know that this is a big lie. Remember, a few years ago, the Lehrer and Dariusleut removed Jake Kleinsasser Vetter as President of the Three-Leut conference and put in their own president.
Miriam Arnold Holmes 9/12/92: I much enjoyed the last issue and want to echo the reports about the Ridgeway conference. What a thrill to see so many friends, old and middle-aged, after so many years! It was wonderful to see the Hasen-bergs, Erich with his Berlin humor, as my brother John told him. When we were kids we were taught Goethe and Brecht, but from Erich we learned the really important literature, namely humor. Humor can sustain you throughout your life. Thank you, Erich, for still being funny despite the many hardships you endure!
Just a week or so later we got together at Friendly Crossways again. Besides those mentioned already, I was so glad to see Carl Durgin and his wife. It was very sad to hear about his sister Laurel's death. Laurel was one of my happy, cuddly toddlers in Oak Lake. I hope sometime the Durgins will be able to share her story with KIT. After the conference, I spent a great afternoon with Joy Johnson and Lee Kleiss. I hope Lee made it home with all those books!
I was appalled to hear Ramon and Judy's report about their unsuccessful attempt to see their grandchildren, and the unwillingness of the Bruderhof to let them come to Woodcrest to discuss the denial -- or even meet with them! I find it outrageous that this kind of action, which has already caused so much pain to Ramon, is being repeated. It is downright criminal! I was witness to the Senders' attempt to discuss the issue with various people at Woodcrest over the phone. Ramon and Judy were patient and conciliatory in their attempt, all to no avail. What can be done?
I want to thank Dan Stevens for sharing his story in KIT. I never knew you, Dan, but I admire your courage and all the important causes you have fought for, in spite of persecution and harassment. It is sad that at this time, homophobia is raising its ugly head all over the country. It is a very dangerous trend which is a threat to all of us. I hope it will soon pass.
Lastly, since Thomas Cromwell is hoping that others will join the debate with Hilarion, let me put in my two cents' worth. What is this propaganda about "secularism of the mass media" being against religion you are expounding? What is wrong with the importance of personal choice? And what are Family Values? Are they love and support among a group of people, or are they mom and dad and 2.3 kids, regardless of how they treat each other? And what, in heaven's name, does the AIDS virus have to do with "broken homes?" What is a 'broken home' anyway! I am a single parent with two children. My home is not broken. As a matter of fact, it is beautifully whole compared to many two-parent families which are broken by incest, battering and other abuses. What's wrong with teaching children the absurdity of homophobia? Thank God some schools have the courage to do so! Some of your so-called "God-centered" families I have heard of (especially in prison) are the most viciously abusive ones. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, alcoholism and countless other ills are not rooted in secularism. They are rooted in prejudice, injustice, intolerance and the cycle of child abuse that follows. As we know only too well, the more "deeply" or fanatically religious, the more cruel the abuse. I pride myself in teaching my children tolerance, acceptance, appreciation of diversity, and love for all creatures, great and small. That does not give people AIDS. Viruses do. Dear Tom, you do not have to answer my questions. They are rhetorical. Love to all,

------------KIT Newsletter, November 1992 Vol. IV #10

ITEM:The Woodcrest Brotherhood's round-robin letter of 8/22/92 to the Hutterite colonies (see KIT IV #9 p. 2) received a response signed by several ministers. They identified themselves as concerned and perturbed by Christoph's attitude, which they see as a "total violation of the fundamental Christian principles of the Hutterian Church."
"Reading your letters and faxes, one would think you come from a different planet. Your concept of unquestionable and even blind obedience to elders is totally foreign to us."
They go on to point out that their founder Jacob Hutter challenged an Elder and head servants. After a thorough investigation, these individuals were removed as corrupt. Christoph's call to blind obedience of the Elder they see as a return to Mosaic law of the Old Testament. They quote scripture, and point out how the tearing of the curtain hiding the Ark of the Covenant at the moment of Jesus' death opened that holy room to the public, where before only a cleansed High Priest was allowed access. From then on, the era of Priests, Popes and Elders was replaced by the "one true and holy one, Jesus Christ... the only one that the true Hutterite will call Holy and infallible. The only one that we dare not question, criticize or judge."
They ask Christoph why it is that he feel that he and Jake Kleinsasser are "not getting enough reverence?" An elder who lives in humility and shows compassion, love and tolerance to his flock, will not have to demand reverence. They challenge all Hutterite servants to ask themselves: are they true Leaders in their communities or are they Rulers? "Why do so many of you have to walk behind them (your flock) with whip and discipline to make them heed?" They also urge parents to examine their behavior with their children. In closing they quote Matt 23: 7-8: "You must not call any man Rabbi, or Teacher, you must not call anybody Father, for you have one father in heaven. You must not call anybody Leader, for your one and only Leader is the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant."
Also they describe how quickly the early church became corrupted by placing people on pedestals, creating ordinances, involving themselves in affairs of state, buying and selling large businesses. Inevitably corruption set in since "there is no limit to how corrupt you become to fulfill your own desires, to hoard money, and worse yet, to gain power."
This fear of worshipping a leader, creating "Our Moses," is deeply ingrained in the Hutterite way of thought. It is for this reason that some Schmiedeleut ministers are standing firm against Jake Kleinsasser. Christoph is also questioned as to why he is so eager to "throw the first stone" against these brothers and condemning them to excommunication "on a FAX machine" without a proper trial and hearing.
"If this is how problems get solved in the East, then your servants, brothers, and sisters and young people have our greatest sympathy, and will need our fervent prayers for endurance. Under that kind of justice, there will be a lot of suffering and agony... unless they are always prepared to say 'yes, yes' and raise no serious questions."
Jake Kleinsasser has called a meeting of forty ministers to reply to many questions that threaten to split the Schmiedeleut into two factions.
Ben Cavanna, 9/17/92: Journal excerpts reporting on the EuroKIT Meeting: The Saturday morning meeting was chaired by Ruth Baer, and she was stretched to keep order! It seemed that most of us did not want to have the agenda too formal, but everyone agreed to only speak when recognized by "the chair." The whole meeting was a very powerful experience for me, hearing so many speak of difficult experiences in their lives and KNOWING exactly exactly how they felt. It was a mind-blowing feeling that here were so many people that shared an understanding of that huge part of my life that was Bruderhof and also the painful separation. Each may have had a different story to tell, but there was so much in common. It was such a great relief to find so many people who had experienced so much that I had thought only I had experienced; the loneliness and feeling of being a "stranger in a strange land." Also that other people had many of the same guilt feelings, even though one had developed one's own system of living.
Many of the things that were said were VERY painful and said to hear, but it was such a relief to share feelings that were so deep, and for me, in owning up to many of the feelings, I felt a great weight lift. So many were very careful of others' feelings, and when someone was in distress over something that they were sharing, often someone else would reply to them and say something that was really supportive and helpful.
Thoughts of what I experienced:
I feel empowered by finding so many fellow travellers.
It is possible for people to love each other.
You can only change yourself, not others.
Ignore the words and LISTEN to what the person is SAYING.
Forgiveness is something to be freely given, not begged for; if you are truly sorry, say so.
If the other party feels your sorrow, they will offer forgiveness.
We are all at different stages along the path and cannot be hurried.
The things we agree about are more important than the things we disagree about.
Life is a wonderful thing.
Hilarion Braun 7/14/92: Impressions - Summer 1992: The KIT meeting near Boston on July 10-12 began for me on the afternoon of July 10. I arrived around 3 p.m. and was met by a small group of early arrivers some of whom had attended the meeting near London where they had seen picture of me from Primavera days and hence recognized me right away. It was much more overwhelming to see so many old friends than I had anticipated. Conversations were lively and laughter contagious. What impressed me the most was the diversity, intelligence and energy of all the attendees! I looked for signs of "leaders" or "controllers" and found none. There seemed to be a reluctance by all to take the role of "organizer" or "leader," and it was reassuring that the lessons of the SOB hysteria had sunk in so well.
The music-making was NOT a sentimental return to SOB- type singing, but rather a merry-making -- a folk music festival that was spontaneous and without a sign of compulsion. Clearly, art can never be better than when uninhibited, and the incredible intensity of most attendees and the diversity of their Weltanschauung showed how repressive the pietistic, purity- obsessed SOB had been to have sheltered us all under the same roof of conformity and docility such that these high-spirited, gifted characters had seemed like-minded, docile and almost boring while on the SOB campus.
The subject that has occupied my mind for quite some time came up in a number of different ways: why did adults, who joined as adults, accept the B'hof requirement to subordinate their marital vows to the communal loyalty vow AND their parental authority to B'hof tyranny? The obvious obscenity of this could only have been missed through a brainwashing process. For us, who were born in the commune, these two points became clear much later in life, and our lack of other reference points was obvious, especially in Primavera. The reaction to my question on this point was postponed by the arrival of an invited quest who had recently escaped a cult and who briefly described her experiences. Later, in private conversations, I had the impression that the enormity of these two points had not been obvious to all, and that my characterization of it as obscene provoked some rethinking.
At a personal level, it would be like this: I meet a utopian- like group that demands of me two basic symbols of loyalty in the form of a solemn vow: Be more loyal to the group than to your wife and children. In other words, break the vows you have already made and make new ones that are provincial while your old ones were universal and natural, and, mistrust your own thinking while accepting the non-thinking myths of the commune. If you argue about any of this, it should be a sign to you and others that you are still too impure to be part of us.
The fact that this is totally absurd and destructive -- and yes, obscene, makes it hard to understand why anyone would fall for it. It was argued that in the early days, with the advent of World War II, the idealism and radicalism of the B'hof appealed so powerfully that the loyalty vows did not seem inappropriate. This might make sense, but many people joined in better days and are still joining today, and my guess is that those who joined as adults all had one thing in common -- namely, a penchant for absolutes, an intolerance for imperfection. It took enormous hardships and the rebellion of their children before most of these ex-members freed themselves from their romantic attachment to a cult that impoverished them spiritually and intellectually, and stole their own offspring in the name of "Jesus" and "brotherly love."
This is not meant as a challenge, but rather as an observation and an attempt to answer other questions I have about principles or fundamental beliefs. I suppose that the concept of community that is fundamentally anti- individualistic instead of anti-egotistical is the beginning of the end. To equate individualism with egotism is as stupid as equating sex with rape, and yet we accepted it, albeit with reluctance, and did not see that the constant stress it created was a sign of sickness and not a "battle between light and darkness." The absurdity of the inherent message: "What feels good is bad and what feels bad is good" was concealed or veiled by occasional brief moments of real fun, only to be used later as the assumed occasion of sin. The word 'purity' was never defined, and in that lay its power.
The contrast between how we interacted as SOB's and now as XSOB's was striking. There was no barrier between old and young, nor between men and women. Nor was it taken as an affront to be told "I totally disagree with you," for example, and lively discussions with much laughter would often ensue. I'm sure that if I could cook as well as those who did the cooking -- mostly Ramon, I'd gain too much weight! And so, for once, incompetence is my blessing.
In Roger's "The Community That Failed," he points to the vagueness of Bruderhof language, and it is this vagueness that gave the leaders tremendous power. The word "purity," for example, was used frequently and never defined. Everyone was supposed to know what it meant unless, of course, you were "impure." Most of us were plagued by impure thoughts, and yet our songs were lusty German folksongs full of yearnings, etc. Clearly, once the sexual side of man is controlled, the rest of him is an easy catch. There ought to be a Bill of Rights dealing specifically with sex and its importance in a free society. During one of the school clearances when I was about 9 or 10 years old, I confessed some of the "impure" jokes we had been telling each other. Later on, after the crisis had subsided, I could not understand what had been impure in those jokes. One of those jokes revolved around a Xmas song in which the text included the word "throne," which had often been used to describe an outhouse seat. This simple, totally harmless reference was taken to be impure. In retrospect, it now surprises me that we all did not end up in a mental hospital!
One of the observations made frequently at the KIT meeting was how unusually gifted and energetic the group was. What intrigued me also was the bond between most of us. Most still held on to the fundamental ideal, namely the brotherhood of man, the sanctity of life and the responsibility of each individual to do his or her share in making this small planet a better place in the future. That ideal is far more universal than couching it in terms of the "Kingdom of God" from which all the distortion and perversions stem. Precisely, the confusion of claiming that the Bible is full of paradoxes instead of admitting that it is full of contradictions is what leads to lies and cultisms. Whenever man cannot admit that he has no answer to a question, and he instead invents a myth and does not recognize that the myth is a poor substitute for admission of uncertainty, he has invented a religion. In a strange way, the admission of uncertainty about the fundamental question of life -- namely "why??" instead of "how??" is the most humbling, because it admits the limits of our ability to know. The famous aria of Haendel's "Messiah:" "I know that my redeemer liveth" would have to read: "I hope that my redeemer liveth" for me to be able to accept it as an honest statement. Not that I mean to imply that those who "believe" are liars, but I would be one if I were to say: "I believe."
Carol Beels Beck: Please run the following in KIT if no response. [no reply as of 10/20 - ed]
/3/92 Dear John Rhodes: I was saddened and appalled to have heard from Ramon and Judy at the Euro-KIT Conference that you are only allowing them access once a year to their grandchildren. It's hard for me to believe that you can be happy in yourself with this. Won't it be a repeat of history? First Xavie, and now the grandchildren? It is this kind of behavior that makes me deeply relieved inside that I am not under control of the Br. anymore. I just cannot understand what it has to do with Christ's teaching of love that I learned quite a bit about in the Br. I love a lot of what the Br. tries to stand for, but this seems cold, calculated to hurt, and revengeful to hit Ramon the only place you as a group know where to hurt him, to pressure him into stopping to help keep KIT going?
Why does he present a physical danger to his grandchildren? If he and Judy have this deep longing to see their grandchildren, why would he want to harm them? Is it because you, like the Br., have labeled him as serving evil and is dangerous, like the Br. has done with others in the past? What gives you or the group the right to prevent a person deliberately from showing his/her love to others? It completely baffles me that Woodcrest could do this in the name of Christ, when it seems only one or two years ago that you were as a group asking Ramon's forgiveness for depriving him access to Xavie for most of her life. What gives any group or individual the right to misuse power in this way? I can't think what else to feel, it seems so far removed from trust, love and "going the extra mile." You may feel I'm interfering in a family matter. This I'm sure has been done with backing from others, as all such things are.
Ramon is being scape-goated as No. 1 enemy at present, out to destroy the Br. In what way is he doing this? The Br seems to be thriving. The editors of KIT have repeatedly said they wish KIT to be an open forum. This was re-emphasized at the KIT Conference, that each one takes personal responsibility for what they write to KIT. Having said that, many including myself expressed a need for a more positive present and forward-looking approach. I am sad to be having to write this kind of letter. But I must protest for the sake of love and fairness.
I only knew one of my grandmothers for about a month, when I was 14 years old, when we came from Paraguay. Although I was with her only about three times that month, it was such a lovely experience to have a grandmother, and to feel special when with her. Although I loved particularly deeply one old person in Paraguay (Nona Mathis) that so short contact with my own grandmother was very special. I've always felt a sadness that we never knew our grandparents when we were growing up, and had them around then. From the amount of efforts the Br. now makes to keep families together, where they are members, why as a group do you not value what outside extended family members can contribute to a child's development, and having a wider view of life? Growing up in the Br. (I'm deeply grateful for that in spite of its pitfalls), I only knew one side of every story or question -- the Br. side. One cannot make objective choices in life like that. One can only make genuine choices and evaluations when one knows various sides of a question or issue (or of a person). By allowing Ramon and Judy one visit a year, how can your children really get to know them and value them as people who have a special connection with them? Are you really wanting your children to grow up suspicious of their grandfather -- to believe as you seem to, that his is a dangerous, evil man? It's the Quakers, not the Br.,, who taught me that "There is that of God in every man (and woman)." If Ramon's motives are really mixed -- why he helps put together KIT -- is anyone else really in a position to judge his motives and accuse him of being mainly responsible? KIT wouldn't exist if it wasn't for all the people writing in and wanting KIT to continue (But in a more positive way, with each one taking personal responsibility for what they write).
Ramon and Judy shared their pain at the conference but were not seeking revenge. I sensed no hatred, just a wearying sadness that the Br. was seeming to repeat history, only this time grandchildren. By writing in defense of Ramon and Judy, I will be judged by Woodcrest, I believe, as having taken sides against the Br. I simply feel I need to have the courage to speak out, especially with the Br. when something totally seems to contradict basic loving relationships between families in and outside the Br. I feel I've done what I could so that history (unnecessary human suffering) does not repeat itself, by writing to you. I think often of Xavie. I found her especially outgoing, warm and free towards me, regardless of the fact that I was not seeming to "grow closer." It was during the most difficult latter years in the Br. for me that Xavie, much younger than myself, was so unconditionally loving and free towards me. Thinking of you and Marguerite and your children. Loving Greetings.
P.S. If Ramon is such a dangerous influence, how come his son Sol, from my meeting him at the conference, seems to be such a caring, listening, sensitive young man? When I was his age, the "fruit" of Bruderhof upbringing and parents who were so loyal to the "cause" that they lost touch with their own inner sense of discrimination, I was totally lacking in confidence, very unhappy, very self-centered and unable to put myself in other people's shoes, especially my parents; deeply concerned about making the right impressions, especially towards people in the Bruderhof.
Teresa Hsu P.T.O. 9/20/92: I was pleasantly surprised to see Ramon's brief note to me about photos Constantine took in the hospital in Primavera. Thank you for writing, and also for all the KIT issue which I always read eagerly with great interest, even though I do not know most of the contributors. But I do recognize the family names, and have met the parents. It is good to know who is where and doing what, but some of the stories of what some children went through are quite appalling and incredible.
I have not responded sooner for two reasons: (1) as mentioned above, most KIT readers where children when I was in Primavera, so would not know me or take interest in what I am doing, nor would the people from North America whom I have not met, and (2) since I returned to the East in 1960, I have not taken a paying job but have volunteered my services wherever a pair of free hands and a warm, sincere heart are needed. So I have been mostly working with sick and destitute people. Whatever funds given to me is for my work with the sick or destitute, and I am not free to send it to KIT to pay for its great work.
As many have expressed, KIT is great in that it provides a contact point for those who wish to keep in touch and, more important, for those who wish to express the pain that is in their heart so that all of us who read about it may silently pray and send loving thoughts to them. Ingmar WingŚrd heads his firm's Singapore branch. He drops in now and again, and I pass him the KIT which he reads with great interest. He is the son of Nils and Dora WingŚrd, but now goes by a different name. My best wishes to KIT workers. God bless your worthy effort.
Winnipeg Free Press, by Paul Samyn
10/30/92: The Lakeside Colony -- Daniel Hofer bounced his granddaughter Sarah on his knee yesterday and contemplated the expanded world offered to her by a Supreme Court of Canada ruling. Sarah, 2, was born during the five-year isolation forced upon Hofer and 30 others by the rest of this Hutterite colony by a dispute over a hog-feeder. "It was the worst feeling you could ever have," Hofer said of the situation that kept him from visiting his ninety-year-old mother when she was ill. But the Supreme Court yesterday gave Hofer, 56, and the others who have been treated like lepers in the tightly-knit religious community, the vindication they had prayed for.
In a 6-1 decision that could have far-reaching impact on other churches and private clubs, the country's highest court ruled the colony near Headingley was unfair when it tried to expel Hofer and other renegade members. The judges said there had been a breach of natural justice, but Hofer believes that even a higher authority than court was involved in the decision. "It was God's battle too, and He's the one who gives the victory." The battle that exposed the closed communal society began when Hofer said 'No' to centuries of tradition. A feud over a hog feeder Hofer said he had invented but which was patented by another colony led to his excommunication. But Hofer and his followers refused to go. So the church broke tradition and turned to the 'world court' to enforce its 467-year- old right to expel disobedient members. Hofer lost in two lower courts, but the Supreme Court ruled he should have been proper notice of a meeting where the elders expelled the members.
Yesterday's landmark ruling doesn't mean the shunning will end. For now, Hofer is calling it a moral victory that will put pressure on the church to do "what is right."
KIT Comments: Although the article does not mention Elder Jake Kleinsasser, obviously this is a severe blow against Jake Vetter''s attempt to rule by 'Divine Right.' And what does it mean for those ex-Hutterites who are walking around on the street in Winnipeg? Can they go back and live off the table of the Hutterite colonies? The court's decision leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but it does seem to imply that the Hutterian Brethren have some financial responsibility towards their members, whether in or out of the church. Also the ruling comes at an especially critical time, since on November 5th forty or more Schmiedeleut 'renegade' ministers and Elder Jake Kleinsasser are meeting in an attempt to resolve their serious outstanding differences. After two weeks at the Woodcrest Bruderhof prepping for the encounter, Jake seems prepared to defend himself aggressively against the many allegations of his misconduct.

---------KIT Newsletter, December 1992 Vol. IV #12---------

...News from the Bruderhof comes almost totally from third-party sources. There has been no attempt on their part to improve relations with KIT, nor has there been any visible change in what we can only interpret as a chilling in relationships with KIT contributors and readers. Despite Johann Christoph's original written guarantee that anyone was free to read or write to KIT without having their visiting privileges to the Bruderhof revoked, constant pressure to "choose between KIT and your family" has been put on many people. The Bruderhof's excuse is that these are "family matters" and not brotherhood policy, but as anyone knows who has spent time in the communities, there is no difference between 'family' and 'brotherhood' matters. It is merely convenient for the Brotherhood to shift blame for this cold-hearted attitude onto specific individuals. Recent news: as reported briefly in the November KIT, the Canadian Supreme Court sided with Daniel Hofer on his final appeal. Just exactly what all the implications will be remains to be seen.
KIT: The following computer mail is published with Dick Domer's "go ahead" to Ramon's request to print in this issue:
Dick Domer, Woodcrest B'hof, 1/30/92: Dear Ramon, As we discussed on the phone a few minutes ago, the letter was not intended for you. We must insist that any publication of it, in part or in whole, includes a statement that the letter was not intended for you. Thanks,
Richard Domer TO: Ramon Sender Bararayon / MCI ID: 413-3975:
To you dear brothers out on mission: As per our short telecon, the below is the draft letter we mentioned, which you, as baptized brothers, should read and contemplate. As noted in our all too brief discussion -- the contents are, for obvious reasons, highly delicate and confidential. You need to let us know at once if you have any questions regarding the below. Be sure to remove same from the e-file as soon as you make access and call us collect to affirm letter or raise any questions.
November 28, 1992 Dear brothers: On November 27, 1992 at 1 p.m. a meeting of all baptized brothers and sisters was called of the following communities: Woodcrest, Pleasant View, Deer Spring, Catskill, New Meadow Run, Spring Valley, Darvell, and Michaelshof. The baptized brothers and sisters of the Palmgrove Community in Nigeria were also notified. The reason for calling this meeting was to seek a response to the two letters of Joseph Wipf Vetter of September 4, 1992 and November 19, 1992. Since in both these letters the Eastern communities mentioned above, comprising about 2,000 souls, were accused together with our Elder Jake Kleinsasser Vetter of Crystal Spring, we decided unanimously on the following response:
That Joseph Wipf Vetter with all the 49 Servants of the Word (see letter of November 19) are no longer recognized as ministers in the above mentioned communities. Also that Joseph Wipf Vetter and all brothers and sisters, wherever they are, among the Lehrer-, Darius-, and Schmiedeleut, who hold to the spirit of accusation, are no longer allowed to participate in the Lehr and Gebet of the above mentioned communities. This will hold true for each of those brothers and sisters until he or she has personally reconciled with Jakob Kleinsasser Vetter of Crystal Spring and has been properly disciplined by the Church in Manitoba. The reason for this is simple: Jesus warns us not to bring our gifts to the altar when we have a grudge against any brother or sister. We should rather leave the gift, first settle our grudge, and then come together in prayer. Peter Riedemann also warns us not to pray together when we have a grudge.
We are deeply pained that our beloved Jake Kleinsasser Vetter of Crystal Spring, who has served the Church so faithfully for so many years, and has been our Elder for so many years, is now so viciously attacked. We would like to remind Joseph Vetter and all the Servants and brothers and sisters holding to the same spirit of defiance, that you will not be able to remove the brothers and sisters in the East so simply. You will not be able to remove Jake Kleinsasser Vetter from the Eldership so simply. The sin of Forest River was completely corrected and forgiven at the reuniting in Sturgeon Creek in 1974. All baptized brothers and sisters of the above mentioned communities reject the democratic spirit of Joseph Vetter's two letters which tries to be fair with everyone, and then gives the devil the benefit of the doubt.
We also reject the accusation of Joseph Wipf's letter of September 4, where he writes, "The elder causes offense by his unnecessary travel all over the world in the name of mission, but in our experience, it looks quite different. It is an empty, worldly spirit that brings about nothing good or godly and does not befit a child of God, to say nothing of an Elder." Christoph Vetter was on all these mission trips with our Jake Kleinsasser Vetter and did not experience that there was a worldly spirit. We thank God for all the fruits given through these mission trips, especially the recent one to Nigeria in which Jake Kleinsasser Vetter actually risked his life. As a result a new little Hutterian community is emerging there with already five baptized brothers and sisters and ten novices. We have to be ready to be faced with the question of interracial marriage. We are not advocating it; but it is simply biblical. In Numbers, chapter 12, we read that Moses married a Cushite (black) woman and that God had joy in this marriage. Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses and the marriage and God then punished the two of them with leprosy. Also, in [The ]Song of Songs, Chapter 1:5-6, we read that the woman was "black and comely," whereas Solomon's skin is described as "white as alabaster ivory."
With Jake Kleinsasser Vetter and all of the faithful brothers and sisters in the West, we pray for the great gifts that are described in the Beatitudes: the desperate need for God, the sorrow for the sin and injustice of the world, the gentle spirit, the hunger and thirst for right to prevail, the mercy of God, the pureness of heart, and especially the making of peace between brothers and sisters. Jesus calls us to be to be peace- makers and not destroyers. Together with our Jake Kleinsasser Vetter, we all ask for courage to be willing to rejoice in suffering and persecution for the cause of right. In the Ten Points of Jakob Hutter which should be read at every baptism in the Hutterian Church, it says quite clearly, "Therefore no one should join for the sake of good days; he who is not prepared to endure evil and good with all believers and to accept as good whatever the Lord gives and ordains, should leave it alone."
We all thank God for everything that has been given since the forgiveness spoken out in Sturgeon Creek. This includes all the Church actions done together with Jake Kleinsasser Vetter and Christoph Arnold Vetter, our two Elders. How can Joseph Wipf Vetter take back that forgiveness, when he himself was one of the elder preachers of whom Heini Arnold Vetter personally asked for forgiveness of each one individually? In the Second Sendbrief of Heini Arnold Vetter, March 1974, Joseph Wipf Vetter himself gives a full report of what God gave at that meeting. Also according to the report in the Second Sendbrief, Preacher Samuel R. Kleinsasser of Sturgeon Creek wrote the following: "Preacher Joseph Wipf Vetter admonished Heini Vetter once again, and again pronounced his forgiveness on behalf of the whole Church and told him to be seated."
In these almost nineteen years, these two brothers baptized sixty-five brothers and sisters in the East, and Christoph Vetter baptised twenty in the West; Jake Vetter confirmed twelve brothers in the service of the Word in the East, and Christoph Vetter helped to confirm Jake Waldner Vetter of Poplar Point on June 30, 1985; on February 25, 1990 at Elm River he also helped to confirm Reuben Vetter Elm River, Jake Waldner Parkview, and Zack Hofer Windy Bay. In these nearly nineteen years our Jake Vetter married sixteen couples in the East, and Christoph Arnold Vetter married seven couples in Manitoba. There have been seventeen marriages between East and West. Jake Vetter also held three burials of beloved brothers and sisters, which included Heini Arnold who was the Elder in the East at that time, and Christoph Vetter assisted in three burials in the West. No human being has the right to wipe away these Church actions which were held in the fear of God.
We also want to remind Joseph Wipf Vetter and all confirmed Servants [of the] Hutterian Church that each one answered "Yes" to the following question, "I ask you, my brother, how do you stand? Are you willing to be obedient and allow yourself to be used, inside or outside of the country, as needed, whether or not the time suits you, however God the Almighty may lead."
Because of this question, Jake Kleinsasser Vetter of Crystal Spring and Christoph Arnold Vetter of Woodcrest undertook mission journeys to Nigeria, New Zealand, Germany, and England. Let it be known that the above writing has been approved by all baptized brothers and sisters and is to remain a document for future generations. We also acknowledge Jake Kleinsasser Vetter's recent letter of November 23 to all the ministers of the Schmiedeleut, calling them to meet at the Starlight colony, Manitoba, December 9, 1992 at 1:30 p.m. With Jake Kleinsasser Vetter, we pray that God will lead and guide us in this meeting and will give us the wisdom and childlike obedience and love to find the way of Jesus in this serious hour of the Church. It looks like we are now heading into bad days. May God show us those brothers and sisters who want to be faithful to their baptism vows and those Servants of the Word who want to be faithful to the vows they took on their knees at their confirmation.
It was acknowledged that this document should not to be mailed to anyone, until coordinated with Jakob Kleinsasser Vetter, so as not to cause further confusion.
Majorie Hindley, Darvell Bruderhof, 9/25/92 to Carol Beels Beck: This is just a little postscript to John's reply... Your sentence "The freeze is on again" is a wee bit frustrating, because I thought the freezing came from the KIT organizers! We asked last year if we might attend the conference, and the answer came, "Only on the last day." Nevertheless we were providing quite a bit of food, so I asked whether they would allow us just five minutes on that first day to tell them why we had wanted to come. The answer was "No." We delivered the food, and I had in the meantime written a note which I asked if they would read. Charles Lamar said they would. I heard afterwards the note was posted, but not read in any of the meetings.
We did attend on the last day, and there were quite a number whom I was very happy to see again and speak with. There were also a few Auseinandersetzungen [arguments - ed], but we felt glad that we had gone.
This year we were offered only the first day. Why? Believe me, the gap between us lies very deeply on my heart. I was away for some years myself, and know from personal experience that the going is hard. But there IS a way through; and the answer is way beyond the Bruderhof. I enclose a copy of the note I have to KIT last year, for your interest. With greetings... I wish you peace of heart and a fruitful and joyful year,
Carol Beels Beck 10/20/92: Dear Marjorie Hindley and John Hinde: I appreciate very much that you took the time to respond in some detail to my letter, sharing your reaction to the statement made several times at KIT Conference '92 (Europe) "The big freeze is on again." I agreed to this wholeheartedly at the conference since a number of individuals were AGAIN in 1992 being treated in a manner which I had been given to believe by the Bruderhof would never happen again:
1) The Dave Ostrom affair with Dick Domer. I'm referring to what Dave shared at the conference. What has it got to do with Christian or "Brotherly" love?
2) The way in which Bette Bohlken-Zumpe was being treated supposedly by her family and not allowed to meet her very frail mother. Where is the HUMANITY and "warmth" in that? Or in all the accusations made against Bette via her family? I don't know what ex-member can be FOOLED into believing that the exchange that went between "the family" and Bette was simply a family affair and not supported by the leadership speaking for the whole brotherhood.
It is just so PAINFUL to me that a group of people who are so deeply sincere about wanting to follow Christ in every aspect of their lives could defend "In the name of Christ" what has been done to the Zumpe family for at least 30 years, regardless of where Hans Zumpe failed. Bette, I understand, is now Enemy No. One to the Bruderhof. Why? Because she is sharing so vividly the way she experienced her history in the Bruderhof and since? I BELIEVE every word she is saying! I am always amazed that Bette in my view shows no bitterness or hatred towards the B'hof or towards Heini. The October KIT version of Bette's experiences left me numb, and so grateful that I am no longer under the fearfully controlling power of the B'hof.
At present, and in the last two years or so, we are given to believe there are major changes in dealings with dissidents. But is it really so, given the above, and the following Points 3 and 4?
3) Ramon and Judy Sender SUDDENLY after Easter being told by John Rhodes, their son-in-law, that they could only visit their grandchildren once a year. Is that truly valuing the extended family? Is that love? Warmth? Or COLD and calculated to hurt Ramon in the one place where you know you can, to force him to stop his involvement with KIT?
4) Many reports at the '92 conference of the withdrawing and cooling off of the B'hof after Easter. I am very glad to read in your letter, John, that this was short-term and that there are frequent warm visits to Darvell by ex-members.
So given all the above, what term would have better described the sense of loss and deep disappointment felt by those who experienced personally, or through hearing about it, these seemingly cold, controlling tactics in 1992!?
Both your letters mention failure of KIT organizers to welcome you, Marjorie, and your children to the 1991 Conference in the U.S.A. By the way, John, I understand from Joy MacDonald that Marjorie and Amy were over in the U.S.A. for two months in 1991 to also attend another conference (Ruth Baer spoke at it) and to spend time in the U.S. communities. So it wasn't just "going to the KIT Conference!" Neither of you explain the wonderful OPPORTUNITY MISSED in not responding to the genuine love with which Darvell folks were invited to the Europe Conference by several people. Why Marjorie, when in your letters you make so much of "Only being allowed to come one day," why didn't you at least come for that [to the Europe Conference]? How often I heard in the B'hof, "Be grateful for what is given and you will receive more!" Marjorie, the thing that caused me the most pain and need in the B'hof was not even occasionally being invited to Brotherhood meetings. Not being TRUSTED, not HELPED to mature and become aware of other people's struggles and concerns. I became quite obsessed with the longing to belong, being excluded, out in the cold and in disgrace for years. Surely a way could have been found? It leaves its psychological mark, NOT being accepted by the group. When I spoke several times to the Servant about my depression, although he showed compassion often, I also heard quite a bit about "not putting pressure on." How dare I think I know when I'm ready or worthy to be in the Brotherhood? How does your attitude of wanting to be invited to the whole KIT conference differ from my need to be allowed to be in the Brotherhood? Why was my repeated and expressed longing considered "putting on pressure?" Don't your letters seem to "put a bit of pressure on?"
You want ex-members to respect the privacy of Brotherhood meetings. But because you are in total unity with God, why does that give you total free access to attend any ex- member conference whether all the conference members welcome you or not? Where, Marjorie, is your RESPECT for ex- members' rights to privacy and confidentiality? If you and your children had been allowed total access, do you think people would have honestly shared their hearts in the way that many did? Would you not have been tempted to defend or even control the situation? I believe you were told on several occasions WHY the B'hof could not have total access for various reasons, especially because of the young people who would not have felt free to attend.
Joy MacDonald answered you in Jan 1992 regarding the above. She also said, "If some of us asked to come to your Brotherhood meetings, would you let us?" You replied, "That's different." Barbara Greenyer, on another occasion, gave the same reply!! Instead of going on in your letter about limited access, why, if you as a brotherhood member feel so deeply about "crumbling walls" (I do too!!) why didn't you stand up and protest that Darvell didn't come at all to the 1991 Euro-KIT Conference? The Bruderhof had several WARM invitations. Did you protest when the planned April '92 KIT-Bruderhof conference in Woodcrest was canceled by Woodcrest, Marjorie? But you quoted in your 1991 letter Mark 11:23-26, where Jesus says, "If you say to this mountain, 'fall into the sea,' and have faith, it will do it." Where was the B'hof FAITH in April, 1992, when the Woodcrest Conference was called off?
In this letter I speak for myself, NOT for other KIT readers. I have sent on these letters to KIT as your questions and statement of unfairness about "the big freeze" are really to all KIT conference attendees and organizers. (Joy MacDonald told me that Ramon made a very clear announcement at the 1991 Conference that YOUR LETTER was hanging by the Duty List, the most prominent spot on the notice board! Joy said she saw many people reading it and discussing it. I personally would have had no problem with your speaking to the whole group for five minutes, but I understand in 1991 there were a number of people there who did not wish it to get back to their relatives that they were at the Conference. Can you ACCEPT that?
You say, "We'll share it (the joy and grace of returning) with you if you want us to." My experience during Easter 1991- 1992 was of being made VERY WELCOME at Darvell. I was allowed to raise any questions, but on most of them, especially about the attitude towards KIT, Heini, Hans, the B'hof feels "totally RIGHT and beyond question." It also became very clear, I feel, that you only want to share community life with me if I'm totally willing to take on board everything the Bruderhof believes and stands for and reject totally all I have come to value and love "outside." As the B'hof now acts and believes, I could not be my TRUE SELF. I question whether most of the "walls" between ins and outsiders aren't of your own doing. As a group you seem to have a fixed attitude and belief for everything. If I cannot accept that, up goes an invisible barrier. So is there nothing more the B'hof can do to break down these false walls? With much love,
Hannah Johnson, 11/3/92: "Why would this bruderhof want to break up your family like that?" my last family counselor asked me. And I speculate: to be trained as an intellectual and become a laborer, my dad had to be into some heavy-duty philosophy. The philosophy I was taught was active community involvement. The Bruderhof was founded by a philosopher who maintained his own private office, went on his own private walks, and was left to die by his own private doctor. Living his philosophy was not something I was permitted without studying the private thoughts that had been written in his private office.
What drives a person to spill his guts on paper. Dr. P. Tournier writes in To Understand Each Other : "A man needs to feel very deeply loved in order to share an intimate secret charged with emotion... he may tell of an inner call, a sense of mission which he is to fulfill in this world." Does a writer have an extra need for love? Is personal writing done in hope of greater understanding?
I feel very misunderstood, in that my mental capacities are superior to my manual skills and yet, as I have always been expected to perform menial tasks, my physical attributes are central and foremost in the marketplace, a fact most repulsive to me. I am a klutz of social order and slow with books, but repetitious details don't thrill anyone. I do not hate Labor, I hate the market for it, since in the market I find no understanding. I feel unloved and therefore pointless -- I am certainly no goddess with six arms, six hands and thirty smooth, aligned and rhythmically swirling fingers. "It seems your father did you wrong by joining the religious group when he had the credentials to put you through college." And I told my counselor that I had thought of that aspect of economy too, but some of the conflicts of academics and labor require resolution -- I had left the ballpark in the middle of the game simply because a footpath into the woods had grasses waving "aloha!" to me. "Can you make a living writing about such ideas?" No, No, I certainly can't -- the score just doesn't interest me. But I see these problems everywhere I turn. Why are the most necessary labors scorned? How can industry function when the laborers are breathing poison? Isn't unemployment the most stressful degradation?
Exiting the Bruderhof I became very much awake to these problems. My parents didn't want me into such philosophical angles because the family had been torn apart enough. The philosophies of the worlds avoid the class problem -- "Don't be absurd! Of course the poor man is left standing, If he had anything of value to say, it would SHOW and we could sit down and talk NICELY."
From the Supreme Court of Canada's judgment setting aside the lower courts' judgment and allowing Daniel Hofer's appeal, pps. 33 ff.
B. The Requirements of Natural Justice The content of the principles of natural justice is flexible and depends on the circumstances in which the question arises. However, the most basic requirements are that of notice, opportunity to make representations, and an unbiased tribunal.
1. Notice
A member must be given notice of the cause for which he is to be expelled. It is insufficient merely to give notice that the conduct of a member is to be considered at a meeting... ...adequate and timely notice is as important for two reasons. First, it gives the person who may be expelled an opportunity to consider his or her position and either see the error of his or her ways and seek reconciliation, or prepare to defend himself or herself. Second, adequate and timely notice allows the members of the group who are to make the decision an opportunity to ensure that they will be able to attend the meeting and contribute to the discussion, or perhaps to ask for an adjournment if they are unable to attend.
2. Opportunitv to Make Representation
The member who is to be expelled must also be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against him or her. There is some flexibility in the scope of the opportunity required, but this issue does not need to be addressed in this case.
3. An Unbiased Tribunal
As Forbes observes in "Judicial Review of the Private Decision Maker: The Domestic Tribunal" (1977), 15 U.W..O. L Rev. 123, at pp. 139-141, the requirement of an unbiased tribunal in the context of expulsion from a voluntary association raises a number of puzzling issues. There is no doubt that an unbiased tribunal is one of the central requirements of natural justice. However, given the close relationship amongst members of voluntary associations, it seems rather likely that members of the relevant tribunal will have had some previous contact with the issue in question, and given the structure of a voluntary association, it is almost inevitable that the decision makers will have at least an indirect interest in the question. Furthermore, the procedures set out in the rules of the association may often require that certain persons make certain kinds of decisions without allowing for an alternate procedure in the case of bias.
While the defendants did raise the question of bias, I would be reluctant to address the issue in any definitive manner because the appropriate standard in the context of voluntary associations was not argued by the parties before us. In light of the conclusions I reach concerning other issues, it will be unnecessary to discuss the question of bias.
A final comment from The Hon. Mme. Justice McLachlin's dissenting opinion: "I share the Court of Appeal's sensitivity to the apparent inequity that members who, together with their wives and children, have contributed to the assets of a colony, find themselves outside the colony without a share of the assets. But I agree with the majority in the Court of Appeal that the issue of property has not been placed before the court. The appellants sued to remain as residents of the Colony and as such to retain possession of their share of the assets of the colony. Had they made a claim for a division of the assets and judgment for their share, the court might have been called upon to revisit the question raised in Hofer v. Hofer [1970] S.C.R. 958, where the majority in this Court held that persons expelled were obliged to leave the colony without any share of its property. But the appellants' only claim at this juncture is for the right to remain as members of the colony. It is on that basis that we must decide the case."
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