A controversial cafe is officially open in the Ithaca Commons.
A religious sect known as the Twelve Tribes operates the cafe. Everyone that works there is a member of the Twelve Tribes, a group that believes in communal living and shared incomes.
Rumors have been swirling about the group since they settled in Ithaca approximately three years ago.
He says they’ve been setting up cafes across America for about twenty-five years to recruit new members.
Local religious leaders are worried about the impact the cafe will have on the community.
“Clearly stated by the founder is that Martin Luther King is an evil man for inspiring blacks to want an equal position with whites, that’s a statement in one of the papers made by one of their leaders printed in the Boston Herald, and you say I don’t buy that, I have a problem with that and I have a problem with that in my community,” said Steven Felker, Senior Pastor, Christ Chapel.
Members of the Twelve Tribes claim there are no ulterior motives behind the café’s opening.
“We have no intentions of imposing our religious beliefs on anyone that comes in this cafe. This cafe is a place of business, we want it to be something that’s going to add to this town we live here, I live here, I really love this town, I want it to make the Commons a better place,” said Twelve Tribes member Tom Rivera.
Rivera said there are seven families with many children in the Ithaca sect of the Twelve Tribes.
In New York, the Twelve Tribes have also settled in Coxsackie, Hamburg and Albany.