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“You could try joining,” David said.

“Nah, I’m what these people call ‘filthy and unjust’ because I don’t like being told how to think and feel,” I said. “Not to mention the whole communal living thing.”

“Right,” David said. “You can’t even share a room with your sister in Vegas.”

I nodded and smiled for Jen’s benefit to show that David was not exaggerating. “I’m no good at sharing, which means I’m going to burn in the Eternal Lake of Fire. At least, according to these guys I am. But then again, they also think Christianity is akin to atheism and that Jay-Z is in the same sinning category as Hitler. So, let’s just say I’m not too worried.”

I tore off a chunk of bread and used it to sop up some soup. “Don’t get me wrong, Jen, this is awesome. But next time I come up, maybe we can try the Sonic Drive-In down the street. I think I’d feel less judged at a place where all the servers are on roller skates.”

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Comments

Ed Bedford Sept. 12, 2012 @ 3:53 p.m.

Great piece, Ms. B. I've eaten there myself and very healthy and nutritious, and reasonably priced. I knew the cultish side was there, but guess I should've researched it better. Now it makes me think of Loving Hut, the vegan eatery on El Cajon Boulevard. Great vegan food, great messages promoting kinder ways to live on Mother Earth, but, turns out, part of a worldwide network of restaurants run by someone who calls herself "Supreme Master" Ching Hai. The real price for eating there? You've got to watch Supreme Master TV showing the Supreme Master herself speaking Words of Wisdom to her adoring masses on how to live. How long before she tells them how to vote? I'm sure the people running both joints are reaching out to us with love, but you can't help believing their Masters have figured (rightly) that the best way to get to people is through their stomachs.

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Siobhan Braun Sept. 12, 2012 @ 4:39 p.m.

I spent the day at the Twelve Tribes commune a few months back for a farmers market article I wrote. It was a crazy experience. I wore a tank top and felt like a massive whore.

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Ruth Newell Sept. 16, 2012 @ 2:16 p.m.

I'm a fan of yours, B, but stand opposed to you (and the Reader) on this one. Regardless of what my own personal beliefs may be, this IS a free country that legally supports freedom of speech AND religion. For that reason, our legal system struggles with cultism, i.e. psychological and sometimes physical shunning/disciplining of dissident noncomplying/assimilating members of a legally recognized church. But, that's not what your article is about.

The conscious spiritual choices those in homespun baggy pants and kerchiefs make include some practiced by the Dali Lama. Wouldn't slam him, though, would you? Did you know, for instance, that when they join, they are given new names meant to serve as reminders of what they feel is their biggest lesson/challenge in life? No, because you didn't ask. They work aggressively on improving themselves in everything they do each and every day. They've chosen simple lives of servitude close to and in harmony with the land without many modern conveniences which they--and others not of their community-- see as distractions. They, like some of those closest to me, are believers in God who are not believers in The Church. But, that's not what this article's about either.

It's not about the people or their choices. It's not even about the excellent wholesome food they grow/make/serve--their contributions to the communities in which they live. It's about judgement, as your title so aptly states.

I understand that this article is in no way representative of investigative reporting, and that regrettably, the Tribes is only too accustomed to receiving negative press coverage such as this. Yet, in 30 years, it has never been my experience that any member of the Tribes judges or preaches to patrons (at any of their businesses) unless invited/asked to do so.

Twelve Tribes is hardly the only corporation with such controversial views. It is our choice as consumers to support such enterprises or not to. To their credit, theses people do not vote, as other corporate leaders with similar views do.

Sadly, you haven't written anything I haven't read before.

PS--Question: If you know that the deli's are run by a religious sect in favor of modesty, then it is your conscious decision, is it not, to dress in a manner that they might consider immodest? Not that I have ever seen or experienced any kind of judgement from any of them based on how their patrons look. I mean, they are conscious of how THEY look, after all. Would you (B and Siobhan) go to --oh say--Saudi Arabia in a tank top and hoochi mama shorts without head cover knowing full well that if you did any man would be within his legal rights to slap you silly?

PSS-- You do know, don't you, that there are happy and thriving minorities within the community who are not, by the way, enslaved?

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