Cult Moves Into Ithaca

The Cornell Daily Sun, May 2, 2003

Cornell students won’t be the only ones shepherded into acting uniformly on the Slope today. The Twelve Tribes religious organization recently purchased a building across from the Ithaca Commons, expanding their holdings in Ithaca significantly since their arrival several months ago.

The Twelve Tribes Commonwealth of Israel is a religious organization founded in 1970 and led by Elbert Sprigg, a strong advocate of both slavery and capital punishment for children. The organization’s website describes how members live together in 28 communities where they “Show their love for Yeshua, (the Hebrew name for Jesus) through their love and care for each other.”

No official of the Twelve Tribes returned inquiries from The Sun.

“We’re already going to have 10,000 mindless people on the Slope tomorrow,” said Sebastian Collela ’05. “What difference will a few more make?”

The Twelve Tribes’ website also speaks out against such controversial issues as multiculturalism.

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“Let’s face it. It is just not reasonable to expect people to live contentedly alongside of others who are culturally and racially different. This is unnatural, and sometimes forces people to go against what they instinctively know in their conscience. They are told, ‘You can’t discriminate.'”

Students expressed their distaste at the views of the organization.

“They hate black people?” asked Sasha Holley ’05 when informed of the group’s political views. “How can anyone hate black people in this day and age?”

Sprigg has received much publicity for his personal views, including his public distaste for homosexuals. Other activities advocated by the Twelve Tribes include the beating of children with rods, “just like grandpa and the woodshed.”

The appearance of Twelve Tribes in the area has elicited concern from some members of the community, while others feel the group poses no threat.

“They are probably just some hippies who want to sell on the Commons,” said Alex Weisbrod ’07.

Also according to the website, the Ithaca Community of the Twelve Tribes based at 413 S. Albany St., is currently attempting to turn a building across from the Commons into a strip of cafes and restaurants to be known as the Common Grounds Cafe. Currently the building serves as a meeting place where people can “join them on Thursday nights for a cup of tea an discussion on today’s hot topics.”

“I definitely plan on heading down to their building to hear their views. I agree that parents should be allowed to hit their kids if they get out of line,” said Justin Krieger ’03.

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