Everything we know about the “cult” of the twelve tribes living on the land where the Colorado fires are said to have started

As investigators continued to investigate the cause of the devastating fires last week that razed more than 1,000 structures northwest of Denver and burned 6,200 acres, they focused on one specific site – which is home to members of the a fundamentalist fringe group called The Twelve Tribes.

Who are the twelve tribes?

The Twelve Tribes describe themselves on the group’s website as “an emerging spiritual nation”.

“We are a confederation of twelve autonomous tribes, made up of autonomous communities,” proclaims the website. “Through community, we mean families and singles who live together in homes and farms. We are disciples of the Son of God, whom we call by his Hebrew name Yahshua.

“We follow the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments and live like the first disciples of Acts 2 and 4. With all of our hearts we want to do our Father’s will, which is to love one another and to love one another and to do it. to be a light to the nations; so that they can see our life of love and know how much their Creator loves them.

The organization was founded in the early 1970s in Tennessee during the burgeoning Jesus Movements and is known by a variety of names including the Church of the Christian Vine Community, the Messianic Communities, the Yellow Deli people and the community apostolic order.

Where are its members?

Since its founding, the Twelve Tribes have spread to communities across the United States, South America, Europe and Asia.

In Boulder, Colorado – where the community has gained considerable attention in recent days due to its alleged association with the most devastating fires in state history – a few dozen members are estimated to run a business called Yellow Deli. , named after a Tennessee restaurant founded by the organization’s founder over 40 years ago.

Many communities focus on agriculture, with the group’s website indicating that members “live together as an extended family, sharing all things in common, just as Yahshua’s followers did in the first century … For the most part, our farms are small scale operations.

“We mainly grow food for ourselves, but sometimes sell our produce on our own farm stalls or at farmers’ markets. All the income from our various activities goes into a common purse, from which all our needs are met. We have no independent income or debts to bear on our own, except for the debt of love we owe our Savior, which we repay by loving and caring for one another.

“Our farms are sanctuaries… a haven of peace… a peaceful refuge… an anchor for the soul in the midst of a society that is drifting dangerously off its course.


The Twelve Tribes has been criticized for its teachings on race and homosexuality in addition to its treatment of children.

According to a 2018 article in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report, the organization is “a Christian fundamentalist sect … little known in much of the country.”

He continues: “Beneath the surface lurks a tangle of doctrines which teaches its followers that slavery was ‘a wonderful opportunity’ for blacks, who are considered by the Bible to be servants of whites, and which homosexuals do not deserve. nothing less than death.

While homosexuals are rejected by the Twelve Tribes (although ex-members say the group brags about anonymous members who are ‘formerly’ homosexual), the group actively proselytizes African Americans, but the one of its black leaders glorifies the first Ku Klux Klan.

“The Twelve Tribes try to keep their extremist teachings about the race from novice members and outsiders, but former members and experts of fringe religious movements who helped their followers escape paint a grim picture of life in monastic communities of the group – especially for black members, who must balance the appalling teachings about the race with their own heritage and skin color. ”

On top of that, the group has been investigated in the United States for child labor violations; No charges were filed, but the organization lost various contracts after questions were raised about its use of underage limbs in the workplace. In Germany, the Twelve Tribes have clashed with authorities over their practices and home schooling, which is illegal in the country except in rare circumstances.

What is the connection between the Twelve Tribes and the Colorado wildfires?

Members of the Boulder-area community of the Twelve Tribes live on land that was investigated last Thursday for the most devastating wildfires in Colorado history.

Despite early reports that downed power lines had started the fires – which swept the region thanks to hurricane-force winds and dry conditions – Colorado officials said over the weekend that telecommunications lines, and no power lines, had been found.

Instead, video footage of a burning hangar – combined with eyewitness testimony – raised the question of whether the fire started on the lands of the Twelve Tribes.

Neighbor Mike Zoltoswki said Colorado Information Line that he saw a fire and went to the cult property, meeting two men and seeing about seven children and five women, “where he estimated that an average of 20 to 25 people live at any given time.”

“When I went there to help them, their whole field was on fire,” Zoltowski said.

Given the conditions of the powder magazine, the authorities had banned any burning of any kind.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said Sunday: “We have a video of this shed on fire.”

“But was it primary, was it secondary? What was the sequence of events? These are all questions to be answered, ”he said.

He added: “We don’t want to point the finger anywhere because the stakes are high. The risk to anyone of the anger of the community, the financial aspects, is enormous. So we’re going to go very slowly and be very careful and get the right people to help us with the expertise. “

A woman who answered the Twelve Tribes number listed on the website on Monday declined to give her name to The independent but said the organization had no statement as it was awaiting the results of the investigation.

Comments are closed.