Jury gets Hana Williams case * MOVE Bombing Doc * Twelve Tribes raided

Religion News Blog — The fate of a religious couple accused of abusing their adopted daughter to death is now in the hands of a jury.

Prosecutors allege the couple tortured Hana Williams and her brother Emanuel under the guise of discipline. They refer to the Williams home as a “house of horrors”.

They accuse Larry and Carri Williams of beating and starving the girl, locking her in a closet, and feeding her frozen food or sandwiches soaked in water.

The prosecution also says Hana was often forced to sleep in a barn, and was frequently locked outside — naked or inadequately dressed — where she eventually died from exposure.

Though prosecutors says religion played no role in the case, once again the controversial book “To Train Up A Child,” by Michael and Debi Pearl of €˜No Greater Joy Ministries’ featured in a murder investigation.

On the stand the parents blamed each other, and Carri said she believed her daugther “unintentionally killed herself.”

The Williamses are charged with homicide by abuse, manslaughter and assault — each of which could result in a sentence of life in prison.

But jurors are also allowed to consider lesser degrees of those charges.

Documentary tells story of MOVE, radical group bombed by Philadelphia police

On the evening of May 13, 1985, Philadelphia police dropped explosives onto the headquarters of the radical group MOVE. The explosion started a fire that city officials allowed to burn in the believe that MOVE members would flee the spreading fire.

When the blaze was out, 61 homes were gone and 11 people, five of them children, were dead inside MOVE headquarters.

In ‘Let The Fire Burn’ director Jason Osder describes the event using only archival footage.

Let The Fire Burn opens October 2 in New York City at the Film Forum, and on October 18 in Los Angeles at the Landmark Nuart Theater. A national film release will follow.

German police remove children from Twelve Tribes communities

Note: some of the links in this item lead to German-language reports. Use the To English bookmarklet to easily translate those articles.

Police in the German state of Bavaria have raided two communities of the Twelve Tribes religious sect, and have removed 40 children.

According to reports in the German media, authorities accuse the group of beating and abusing the children.

German newsweekly Der Spiegel quotes local officials as saying a family court and youth office had received “credible, concrete and actionable information” that the “physical and emotional welfare of the children could be permanently compromised”.

The Augsburger Allgemeine says the testimony of seven witnesses leaves no doubt about a 'horror scenario' within the group.

The Augsburger Allgemeine says the testimony of seven witnesses leaves no doubt about a ‘horror scenario’ within the group.

The Augsburger Allgemeine says the testimony of seven witnesses leaves no doubt about a ‘horror scenario’ within the group.

Started in 1973, Twelve Tribes is one of several communal groups formed during the Jesus People Movement. It has evolved into a high-demand, racist group whose teachings mark it as, theologically, a cult of Christianity.

The sect does not allow children to attend public schools, educating them within the community instead. But last July the Bavarian state withdrew its education license from the Twelve Tribes school due to a lack of suitable teachers.

However, a spokesman for the state’s education ministry told the Augsburger Allgemeine that “The operation today did not have anything to do with topic of school attendance.”

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This post was last updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 at 10:58 PM, Central European Time (CET)