Social Networking: Letters and Other Responses to Past Stories

Join the conversation by writing If you would like us to consider your letter—which will be edited—for publication, please include your name, city, and state.


I am most struck by the fact that the people who support the abuse of children are so often the same folks who trumpet the rights of the unborn child. How is it that a child can have more rights before birth than afterwards?
—Mary Scherf, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania

I lived in the Twelve Tribes communities from 1976 to 1994. I am still trying to come to terms with everything that happened to me and my children during those years. I left the group with my husband and five of my eight children.

My oldest child still lives in the community with her husband and their children. At present, I’m not sure which community she lives in, as she cut off communication with me several years back. My five older children each suffer greatly from the scars of their childhood, both in and out of the community.


In retrospect, I know there were things I could have done differently, better choices I could have made, to spare them a lot of their sufferings. And every day I am plagued by that fact, trying to figure out a way to make it up to them, and maybe to spare others from similar experiences. I was particularly struck by the realization that children deserve the same protections and rights as adults, and that it is the parents’ responsibility to provide that protection. I should have protected my children, but instead took part in robbing them of their childhood, going against my gut feelings and instincts as a mother to do so, all in the name of being right, being righteous, being zealous for a cause, pleasing authority. I appreciate your article and the compassion you showed for these wounded people.
—Cindy Reid, Location Withheld

My family and I are former members of the Twelve Tribes and were good friends with David and Patricia Jones for many years. It saddens me to see families separated like this, when parts of the family leave the commune and some remain.

We were fortunate that we as parents left with our children and have been able to maintain a very close bond, but we have many sisters, cousins, nephews, and nieces still in the commune and regret that we have very little contact with them.

I sympathize, as it is very difficult to leave a lifestyle that you invested so much in and start over with no money, home, job, etc. We had to wander from place to place, find work, go back to college in our 40s, get degrees and careers, all while raising five children. I understand the difficulty and culture shock for anyone leaving the commune to go out on their own. The main issue I have with the Twelve Tribes at this time is that they teach that those who leave are hell-bound. Children who were born in the commune should have a choice to leave without guilt. Not every child wants to follow their parents’ footsteps, and all should have the freedom to make their own choices.
—Bon Benoit, Folsom, California

Weird how the article states even more mainstream Christians are against children rights.

A Bostonian post-graduate on Twitter, username @FierceAndLittle, echoed many readers on social media in threatening a boycott of Twelve Tribes-owned businesses:

I really want to get coffee from Common Grounds, but after reading this I can’t justify it.

On Facebook, “Children of the Tribes” prompted a discussion that one of the article’s main subjects felt the need to weigh in on:

Steven Jf Scannell wrote: [T]hese kids [the Jones’] are good kids, raised right. I know them.

Shuah Jones-Perez replied: We are who we are because of and despite how we were raised. But every single one of us who’ve escaped and raised our own families can tell you that we would never raise our children the same.... None of us chose this life for ourselves. We’ve done the best with what we have. It doesn’t mean we had a choice.


A disconnect between people and jobs will not make for a happy future, but conversations like this may help us avoid that chaotic outcome. In the introduction, you ask whether we should be worried or excited about the future of work and workers. I think the answer is “yes.”
—Lori Fantanes, Rye, New York


I also thought the IUD was the wave of the future in birth-control terms. They are comfortable, effective, and I was satisfied with mine until it became embedded in the wall of my uterus and had to be surgically removed—an outcome my physician says is all too common.
—Sharon Scholl, Atlantic Beach, Florida

For the prevention of transmission of STDs including AIDS, only a barrier method will do. Using IUDs in teenagers may appear to be an invitation to infection. Caplan-Bricker might do more homework and a second article.
—Anthony Saidy, M.D., M.P.H., Location Withheld


The consensus response on social media to Brooke Jarvisfeature? Tears:

This article about the psychological effects of understanding how we’re destroying nature is making me cry a ton.

If you read one thing today, let this be it: “The Messengers,” by Brooke Jarvis in Pacific Standard.

Gorgeous, thought-provoking writing on how to get people to care about the environment.


Safe-haven law activist Mike Morrissey of New England’s Baby Safe Haven wrote on Facebook:

I wrote and helped pass a half dozen of the best safe haven laws in the hardest states to get them passed, due to the opposition of people like Oaks. Then in my home state of MA, we put in place the most successful Baby Safe Haven law awareness group that has lowered the number of newborn abandonments by 90-plus percent, and we’ve seen a steady decline of the usage of the Baby Safe Haven law.


For more from Pacific Standard, and to support our work, sign up for our free email newsletter and subscribe to our print magazine, where this piece originally appeared. Digital editions are available in the App Store and on Zinio and other platforms.