Before it even gets started, here is what I'm expecting:
- Numerous former Honor Academy interns recounting personal stories of abuse, neglect, and general mistreatment.
- Internationally-renowned experts stating that Teen Mania is absolutely a cult or a high-control group that should be avoided.
- "Celebrities" from the ultra-conservative Christian movement stating that Teen Mania is a fabulous group to be involved with.
- Teen Mania leadership admitting there "may" have been problems in the past, but that was years ago and they are "fixed" now.
- Suggestions by Teen Mania that former interns who are now speaking out have some sort of a grudge or vendetta against them.
- No definite conclusion either way, since MSNBC doesn't want to get sued.
We'll see what happens! Start refreshing this post at 10:00PM Eastern Time for the latest. Also, be sure you are following @TeenManiaWatch on Twitter.
10:00 PM - The "Mind Over Mania" special on MSNBC is starting. Showing the same trailer that was posted on the MSNBC website earlier this week.
10:01 PM - A young woman named Raven is telling her story about how she got involved with Teen Mania. Seems similar to my own story....talks about having mystical experiences at live Teen Mania events.
10:02 PM - Dave Hasz gives a brief description of the Honor Academy and then ESOAL footage is shown.
10:03 PM - Former intern Raven recounts her experience of her mother visiting her 10 months after joining the Honor Academy and realizing that something was seriously wrong.
10:04 PM - Dave Hasz compares the Honor Academy LTEs ("Life Transforming Events") with "real life." Footage is then shown of Dave Hasz verbally tormenting an intern to the point of tears.
10:05 PM - Raven is describing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of her Honor Academy experience. A licensed-counselor talks about how experiences like Raven's can lead to severe anxiety disorders.
10:07 PM - Raven will be attending a weekend-long retreat to discuss her Teen Mania experience.
10:10 PM - The show is back from commercial break. Raven arrives in Texas, and Mica is introduced, the Recovering Alumni blogger. Mica talks about her journey after Teen Mania and her need to work through the experience in therapy...sounds a lot like mine.
10:12 PM - Battle Cry footage is being shown and Ron Luce is screaming like CRAZY! If "whoever speaks up loudest shapes the culture" like Ron Luce says, Teen Mania better watch out!
10:13 PM - Ron Luce and current interns are talking about how Acquire the Fire brings teens to God--aka "the party line." All of this footage has been seen on the GodTV network and the "ATFtv" television show which airs on networks around the country.
10:14 PM - Raven described live Teen Mania events as "fake" and "planned." She says the events lost their sense of honesty once she became an Honor Academy intern. Teen Mania's annual income in 2010 was revealed to be over $18 million.
10:16 PM - Wendy & Doug Duncan, internationally-renowned cult experts are introduced, and 5 former Honor Academy interns agree to participate in a discussion about their experiences with mind-control.
10:17 PM - One intern talks about how the Honor Academy was pitched as a way to find out God's calling for her life. Unfortunately, this is how it is pitched to everyone. How can Teen Mania telemarketers know God's plans?
10:18 PM - Mica brings up the fact that interns are frequently mislead as to what to expect at the Teen Mania Honor Academy.
10:21 PM - More verbal abuse of teens by Teen Mania leadership. Dave Hasz explains the ESOAL acronym, and Raven calls ESOAL the "beginning of the end" in her experience. Another intern recounts physical and verbal abuse at the hands of Teen Mania leaders, including Dave Hasz.
10:22 PM - According to Raven, Dave Hasz said "Stop shivering. You sound disgusting." REALLY?!? What an awful thing to say to someone.
10:23 PM - Teens are shown rolling down a hill covered with other people's vomit. Life transforming indeed. Ron says ESOAL brings about "eternal change" in the lives of participants.
10:24 PM - A former intern talks about how Heath Stoner, the director of the Teen Mania Honor Academy, told her to ignore a physical ailment and do ESOAL and "trust God to heal her." Numerous interns discuss the pressure not to ring out of ESOAL.
10:25 PM - Ron Luce shows Teen Mania's MASSIVE telemarketing operation. Without a steady flow of interns to work the phones, Teen Mania would go bankrupt. Numerous interns express the heavy pressure they felt to meet quotas on the phone...without any consideration for who God may or may not be calling to participate in Teen Mania.
10:27 PM - Interns talk about paying Teen Mania for the privilege of working 10 hour days. Interns had to ask permission to use the bathroom at work. One intern says that Teen Mania kept the office at 85 degrees, but when potential interns visited, the air conditioning would be turned on. The former intern says the organization essentially lies to potential recruits during Honor Academy Preview Weekends.
10:32 PM - Back from another commercial...Teen Mania staffers gush about how wonderful the organization is.
10:33 PM - Ron Luce is giving his typical spiel about rejecting "pop culture."
10:34 PM - Doug Duncan starts to talk to former Teen Mania interns about the Lifton criteria for thought reform. Former interns immediately recognize "milieu control" as part of their Honor Academy experience.
10:35 PM - "Mystical manipulation" is also identified by former interns as being practiced by Ron Luce and Dave Hasz.
10:36 PM - Teen Mania interns describe the demand for absolute "purity" and the continual pressure to be fasting--both from food and other activities. This is recognized in many cults and high control groups.
10:37 PM - Former Honor Academy interns discuss the demand for confession to other interns and leadership, which often resulted in intense guilt and condemnation.
10:42 PM - Honor Academy participants discuss the "Cross Walk," an event that has been discontinued by Teen Mania. Seems horribly unsafe and scary. It was essentially replaced by ESOAL. Now ESOAL has been discontinued. Should we really believe PEARL is different?
10:43 PM - Recent Teen Mania interns discuss other "life transforming events," which are equally disturbing and abusive. This "Unreached People Group LTE" sounds like the farthest thing from reality that you could get.
10:45 PM - Wendy and Doug Duncan unwaveringly state that Teen Mania is abusive and that events like the ones just described should never have happened.
10:46 PM - Ron Luce states that people who got hurt because they didn't want an "in-your-face challenge." Ron says that the Honor Academy is not for everyone, even though telemarketers are told to tell potential recruits that everyone IS called to Teen Mania.
10:47 PM - Former interns talk about how Teen Mania "loads the language," another classic sign of a cult.
10:48 PM - Former interns discuss how normal human emotion is painted as "worldly," and how the Honor Academy essentially robs participants of their humanity. Wendy discusses how dissent was handled and punished by Teen Mania leadership.
10:49 PM - Raven described Teen Mania's actions towards her as "soul murder."
10:50 PM - Raven discusses her life after the Honor Academy, and how she wasn't the same person when she got home and felt like she lost her individuality.
10:53 PM - The Duncans discuss how participants of thought-reform groups end up with anxiety, depression, and even being suicidal. Mica and other interns identify strongly with a list of symptoms commonly experienced by former cult members.
10:54 PM - One former intern talks about how she avoids even thinking about Teen Mania. That's something I've definitely experienced in my own life.
10:55 PM - Doug Duncan talks about how Teen Mania meets all 8 of Lifton's criteria for thought-reform. Whether you want to call them a cult or not, Teen Mania brainwashes teens.
10:56 PM - Ron Luce states again that the Honor Academy is not for everyone, a stark contrast from what Teen Mania marketing materials state.
10:57 PM - The Duncans begin to talk to the former Teen Mania interns about how to start to move-on from their hurtful experiences at the Honor Academy.
10:58 PM - Former interns talk about intense loneliness and isolation after the Honor Academy.
10:59 PM - Mica discusses her general thoughts about her weekend with the Duncans. The other interns who participated said the experience was freeing and healing. It is revealed that Ron Luce declined a follow-up interview for the program.
Wow! That went by quick! I feel like they could have spent another whole hour talking about Teen Mania--MSNBC really did just scratch the surface. Overall, though, I am extremely pleased with how the show turned out, and I am hopeful that "Mind Over Mania" will be viewed by many parents and teens. I need to watch the documentary again and put together some more coherent thoughts to post here.
In the mean time, if you enjoyed tonight's program, use this feedback form to tell MSNBC "thank you" for doing such an awesome job reporting the truth about Teen Mania...and be sure to let them know if you would like to see more programs like "Mind Over Mania."