The Inner Structure of the Group

Little is known about the internal organization of the group. According to the group, it has no organizational structure and no leader. However, the founder Gottfried Holic, as well as longtime members Josef Aufreiter, Gottfried P., and Franz K., along with the “older siblings” in each location seem to have a certain leadership role. Obedience toward these “older siblings” makes a person a “committed Christian,” because the Holy Spirit is thought to speak through them. The group clarifies that the older siblings are, by nature of their greater experience, advisory – but not controlling. After the expulsion of Gottfried Holic, Josef Aufreiter seems to have taken over a leading role in the group.

According to the group, there are no rules and no mandates. If differences of opinion occur, then the group will discuss them until everyone is of the same mind. Even small doubts [about the group’s views] are addressed in detailed individual or group conversations. Whoever doesn’t acquiesce afterwards must reckon with serious consequences, up to and including expulsion for insubordination. In this way, significant social pressure is created by means of the group. Truly individual decisions become ever rarer during the course of membership. An attitude of “let’s agree to disagree” is not possible. A former member was told that “if you don’t accept what we say, but rather oppose us, then you are committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Especially for new members, the current practices of the group are defended in discussions using Biblical ‘arguments.’ A learning process leading to a change in the group’s practices is very rare, and it is only expected in nonessential matters (e.g., types of food, as more emphasis has been placed on obtaining organic groceries).

Subjectively, the member experiences many other things as voluntary. It is very possible, e.g., that each member continues to retain his own bank account, into which his paycheck is deposited. However, he does not see it as his private property, which he can dispose of as he sees fit, but rather he naturally deploys it for the group. One member may pay for the shopping today, and tomorrow another member. In the case of large acquisitions (vehicles), the money is pooled. Here, too, one detects efforts to prevent any lasting organization from emerging (each should carry responsibility, and nobody should manage the money for the entire group).