Roger Griffin, former leader and 20 year member of “Twelve Tribes” Authoritarian Cult

Ever hear of the Messianic Communities? or the Twelve Tribes? or the Yellow Deli? Well, this is a group I have known about and worked on for over thirty years. In fact, I wrote in Combating Cult Mind Control about an intervention I did with a young woman taken in. Reverend Robert Pardon and his wife Judy assisted. I reached out to Roger Griffin and he was able to do an interview with me about this group. Of particular importance is he filled out the BITE Model of Authoritarian Control for the group below. This was a communal cult that demanded total surrender- give over your money, possessions, and especially your mind to the “prophet” Eugene Spriggs. Spriggs reportedly died from Covid in 2020. This group shuns modern medicine so naturally, they are anti-vaccination (not just covid life-saving vaccines). The group gives members a new name, men wear beards and long hair, women- long hair and skirts to the floor. Children are corporally punished and are not allowed to use their imaginations- something all child psychologists say is vital for healthy development.

The Colorado wildfire which spread due to 100+ mile per hour winds may have originated on their compound, although there is not yet official word on this. I thought it wise to share some information for people to learn about this international cult. If it turns out the first originated on their compound, Griffin wonders if they had a candle-making operation or blacksmithing operation going on. Griffin says since the group thought they were “God’s chosen people” they did not pay much attention to the laws of the country or state. This is common in destructive cults. Roger’s wife Joellen nearly died from being instructed to not take her medication for her serious thyroid condition. The cult leader said if she and Roger really had faith, they would be healed. This led to their defection eventually along with their six children. After exiting, Roger went to nursing school and was a psychiatric nurse. He recently retired and wishes to help all those still trapped in this cult as well as others.

I encourage people to watch the video interview below.

Below are the main points of the BITE model. Using ex-Mormon John Dehlin’s idea, former Elder Roger Griffin colored the bullet points in the following ways:

  • Green means does not apply
  • Orange means it partially applies (in other words, elders, but not rank and file members)
  • Red means it absolutely applies

Behavior Control

  • Regulate an individual’s physical reality
  • Dictate where, how and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates
  • Dictate when, how, and with whom the member has sex
  • Control types of clothing and hairstyles
  • Regulate diet -food and drink, hunger and/or fasting
  • Manipulation and deprivation of sleep
  • Financial exploitation, manipulation, or dependence
  • Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time
  • Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self-indoctrination, including the Internet
  • Permission required for major decisions
  • Thoughts, feelings, and activities (of self and others) reported to superiors
  • Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative
  • Discourage individualism, encourage group-think
  • Impose rigid rules and regulations
  • Encourage and engage in corporal punishment
  • Punish disobedience by beating, torture, burning, cutting, rape, or tattooing/branding
  • Threaten harm to family or friends (by cutting off family/friends)
  • Force individual to rape or be raped
  • Instill dependency and obedience

Information Control

  • Deception
    • Deliberately withhold information
    • Distort information to make it more acceptable
    • Systematically lie to the cult member
  • Minimize or discourage access to non-cult sources of information, including:
    • Internet, tv, radio, books, articles, newspapers, magazines, other media
    • Critical information
    • Former members
    • Keep members busy so they don’t have time to think and investigate
    • Control through a cell phone with texting, calls, and internet tracking
  • Compartmentalize information into Outsider vs Insider doctrines
    • Ensure that information is not easily accessible
    • Control information at different levels and missions within the group
    • Allow only leadership to decide who needs to know what and when
  • Encourage spying on other members
    • Impose a buddy system to monitor and control member (as needed)
    • Report deviant thoughts, feelings, and actions to leadership
    • Ensure that individual behavior is monitored by the group
  • Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda, including:
    • Newsletters, magazines, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, YouTube, movies, and other media
    • Misquoting statements or using them out of context from non-cult sources
  • Unethical use of confession
    • Information about sins used to disrupt and/or dissolve identity boundaries
    • Withholding forgiveness or absolution
    • Manipulation of memory, possibly false memories

Thought Control

  • Require members to internalize the group’s doctrine as truth
    • Adopting the group’s ‘map of reality’ as reality
    • Instill black and white thinking
    • Decide between good vs. evil
    • Organize people into us vs. them (insiders vs. outsiders)
  • Change a person’s name and identity
  • Use of loaded language and cliches which constrict knowledge, stop critical thoughts and reduce complexities into platitudinous buzzwords
  • Encourage only ‘good and proper’ thoughts
  • Hypnotic techniques are used to alter mental states, undermine critical thinking, and even to age regress the member
  • Memories are manipulated and false memories are created (e.g. “1975”)
  • Teaching thought-stopping techniques which shut down reality testing by stopping negative thoughts and allowing only positive thoughts, including:
  • Denial, rationalization, justification, wishful thinking
  • Chanting
  • Meditating
  • Praying
  • Speaking in tongues
  • Singing or humming
  • Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking, constructive criticism
  • Forbid critical questions about leader, doctrine or policy allowed
  • Labeling alternative belief systems as illegitimate, evil or not useful
  • Instill new ‘map of reality’

Emotional Control

  • Manipulate and narrow the range of feelings – some emotions and/or needs are deemed as evil, wrong, or selfish
  • Teach emotion-stopping techniques to block feelings of hopelessness, anger, or doubt
  • Make the person feel that problems are always their own fault, never the leader’s or the group’s fault
  • Promote feelings of guilt or unworthiness, such as:
    • Identity guilt
    • You are not living up to your potential
    • Your family is deficient
    • Your past is suspect
    • Your affiliations are unwise
    • Your thoughts, feelings, actions are irrelevant or selfish
    • Social guilt
    • Historical guilt
  • Instill fear, such as fear of:
    • Thinking independently
    • The outside world
    • Enemies
    • Losing one’s salvation
    • Leaving or being
  • Extremes of emotional highs and lows – love bombing and praise one moment, and then declaring you are a horrible sinner
  • Ritualistic and sometimes public confession of sins
  • Phobia indoctrination: inculcating irrational fears about leaving the group or questioning the leader’s authority
    • No happiness or fulfillment possible outside the group
    • Terrible consequences if you leave: hell, demon possession, incurable diseases, accidents, suicide, insanity, 10,000 reincarnations, etc
    • Shunning of those who leave; fear of being rejected by friends and family
    • Never a legitimate reason to leave; those who leave are weak, undisciplined, unspiritual, worldly brainwashed by family or counselor, or seduced by money, sex, or rock-and-roll
  • Threats of harm to ex-member and family (threats of cutting off friends/family)

Resource Links:

The Twelve Tribes — Freedom of Mind