Christian Sect, Burning Shed Focus of Colorado Deadly Fire Investigation

Authorities investigating a devastating Colorado fire are centered on a burning warehouse on property owned by an orthodox religious sect known as The Twelve Tribes.

Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle revealed during a news conference Monday that investigators had narrowed down the source of the fire to land owned by the sect, but he warned that investigators “will be careful” caution” before drawing any conclusions.

“We’re going to sort it out. It’s a positive, open deal and the outcome of that investigation is very important, there’s a lot at stake,” he told reporters.

Two people are missing and presumed dead because of the fire that started December 30 and burned between Colorado State Highway 93 and Marshall Road near Boulder.

The now-monitored religious group, which idolizes sons, requires community contributions before people can cope and describes itself as an “emerging spiritual nation”. It dates back to the 1970s when it first opened in coffee shops in Tennessee. There are also branches in Europe, Australia and South America. Each “tribe” is self-governing but adheres to similar tenets consistent with conservative ideology. Men wear long hair and beards and women’s clothing is closely guarded. Of the two tribes in Colorado, one runs the famous Yellow Deli in Boulder – named after the original cafe where the cult began – and the other is home to a burning warehouse.

“We are an alliance of twelve self-governing tribes, made up of self-governing communities,” the group’s website states. “By community, we mean families and single people living together in houses and farms. We are disciples of the Son of God, whom we call by His Hebrew name Yahshua. ”

The sect has historical roots in racism and homophobia, and has been investigated for its treatment of children, according to local news reports. Members are not allowed to work independently but must work on community farms, which provide food for families living together.

In 2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report warned that the sect had many potential dangers. “Beneath the surface lies a tangle of doctrines that teach its followers that slavery is ‘a marvelous opportunity’ for Negroes, who are seen by the Bible as servants of whites, and homosexuals deserve death as much as death”, this group wrote in a report. “While homosexuals are shunned by the Twelve Tribes (although former members say the group brags about its unnamed “formerly” gay members), the group actively supports Americans. of African descent, but one of the Black leaders honored the original Ku Klux Klan. ”

The report also said the sect tried to “keep its radical teachings on race to novice members and outsiders,” although interviews with former members who escaped say. that these teachings are annoying “especially to Black members, who have to reconcile appalling teachings about race with their own heritage and color. ”

Police did not rule out arson caused the deadly blaze, but they did execute a search warrant believed to be tied to Twelve Tribe land. It is not clear whether the burning barn is believed to be where the fire started, as some eyewitnesses have recounted, or was consumed as the fire tore through the tribal lands. Investigators have ruled out a downed electrical conductor as the cause of the fire. Heavy snowfall now covering much of the burned area has hampered the investigation.

Pelle explains the images on social media of the burning warehouse. “The fire started somewhere in that neighborhood,” he said at Monday’s news conference. “There is a viral video that has been posted of a warehouse on fire. We don’t know if that shack started the fire or if it was just secondary.”

Colorado Governor Jared Polis said it could take months to determine the true cause of the widespread fires. “The most important thing is to do it right,” Polis said Monday. “So whether it takes a week, a month or two months, doing the right thing is most important.” Christian Sect, Burning Shed Focus of Colorado Deadly Fire Investigation


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