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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Live-Blogging the MSNBC "Mind Over Mania" Documentary

As many of you know, MSNBC is airing a 1 hour documentary about Teen Mania Ministries called "Mind Over Mania" this evening (November 6, 2011) at 10:00 PM Eastern Time. I'll be watching this with many of you as it airs, and have decided to live-blog my initial thoughts and reactions.

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.

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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."




51 comments:

  1. Who would want to join a ministry that make you prove your love torwards God?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nobody who has any understanding of Christianity.

      Delete
  2. Be careful about trusting the word of a "news" organization without doing any research yourself. The broadscast reeks of an anti-religious agenda. For instance, Teen Mania has millions of dollars passing through their hands, but none of it stays there. You could, by the same criteria, call UNICEF a multi-million dollar organization. Go visit Teen mania. If they let MSNBC in, they'll let you in.

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  3. I have been a part of Teen Mania for the last 5 years. I am not, and never was, an intern at the Honor Academy, but I have been in and out of most activities on campus. I have many MANY friends that were, are, and are going to be in the HA, and never once has anyone ever told me that the Honor Academy is for everyone. I have heard the exact opposite actually, I can walk up and down the aisles of the call center and talk to any intern there, and not once will I hear that everyone is called to be in the HA. I have also never heard anyone at Teen Mania say that THEY know God's will for your life, and the only way to find it is to do what they say. Some of the activities involved with the HA, like ESOL and LTEs, are used to push people out of their comfort zone, and give them the opportunity to FULLY rely on God's strength. Many of the young adults participating may not have ever had to fully rely on God before, thus giving them the chance to take their relationship that much farther. Teen Mania has done so many good things, and should not be condemned because of the narrow-mindedness of some people. The bits of video clips that are actually shown in the "documentary" are not the whole story. This all just makes me so sad.

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  4. Hello - I missed the documentary because I put down the wrong time - any idea if they plan to release it on Hulu? Or do another online viewing option? (I don't have cable, which is part of why I missed it).
    Thanks!

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  5. Something people should know: MSNBC went to Teen Mania under false pretenses. So they lied to Ron Luce from the beginning. So I'm more inclined to agree with the above statement that you need to check some facts before believing it. I personally know many interns and have asked them about those experiences as they showed. Are they intense, yes. But watch the news any night, or just watch regular tv and you see our world is sick with no morals. If you have a problem with 'Faith' or religion, you'll be bound to believe everything they said.

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  6. I have known several people who have gone through the Honor Academy and my daughter is there now. She is considering staying for anoter year after this. All of the people I know have loved the place. It is def. nor a cult. You are free to opt out of any part and you can leave at any time.
    The focus is on building Godly character and submitting to authority. If you can not submit to authority over you how can you submit to God's authority.
    The pressure they put on you is to cause you to stretch yourself beyond what you thought you could do, physically, spiritually and emotionally.
    I have seen a change in my own daughter in the time she has been there.a GOOD change. She is held accountable for being late and having a bad attitude. I have seen personal growth in her. I have seen confidence in her own abilities grow. I have seen a greater respect for authority.
    People complain about lazy, shiftless kids with no skills or direction in life. These kids are working on those very things and people are complaining that it is too tough. Anything worth having is worth working for...I would say character, direction in life, honesty, personal integrity and perserverance are all woth a little hardship.
    I thank God for men like Ron Luce and Dave Hasz and the vision they have for the youth of America.
    A GODLY vision. Every business or ministry or school that is dealing with the public has people who are not happy. Sometimes its just someone who has never been told no by their parents. These people will have to function in the real world where they WILL be told what to do and will get fired if they do not comply.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I see a lot of content here from Raven, the "cult experts" and ESOAL.

    With that out of the way, this what I see left:

    - Teen Mania believing that Acquire the Fire events bring teens to God

    - Ron Luce believing that Christian teens should shape the culture

    - Teen Mania believing that the Honor Academy helps teens hear God's plan for their lives

    - Ron Luce encouraging teens to "reject pop culture"

    - Teen Mania encouraging teens to have high standards of purity

    - Teen Mania encouraging teens to pray and fast


    Regardless of whether you agree with Teen Mania, this all seems pretty normal to me.

    Prayer, fasting, God has a plan for your life, bringing all things under the lordship of Christ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's all works-based "righteousness" that won't get anyone an inch closer to eternal life.

      Delete
  8. If you are questioning the 'Honor Academy', visit this blog: http://kellyschwalbert.blogspot.com/2011/11/mind-over-mania-alumni-response.html
    This is from someone who actually went there. She
    blogs just like this blog, but gives some very good insight. Be careful when anti-God people try to label what they call a 'cult'.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think this is baloney ....you have one person....Raven...who you do the whole show about! This could be an unstable girl for all we know - and most likely is! The person who put this together has a vendetti against Teen Mania - shame on you! Teen Mania is a wonderful organization run by people that love the Lord!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. The carefully chosen video clips, supposedly NOT showing the whole picture (as claimed by defenders of Teen Mania), are so horrific, that even if they are short, MSNBC chosen clips, they don't lie. God would never condone such torture in his name!
    How could anyone in his or her right mind think that this is the "way to God?" This treatment is mind-altering--nothing more--and frankly, reminds me of what happened in Germany in WWII. Frightening.

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  11. As a parent of a teen who attended Honor Academy, I can say that I am very pleased with Teen Mania's ministry to teens. Honor Academy is a challenging program. The stories about Mr. Haas being abusive are out of context. Interns VOLUNTARILY sign up for the Life Transforming Events(LTEs) one of which is modeled after a standard Marine training which is intended to ultimately build up the intern rather than tear them down. All of the interns I spoke with on campus indicated that they gained insight about themselves via these LTE events. Interns are free to leave the program at any time and parents are always welcome to visit the campus. I sat through some of my teen's classes and thoroughly enjoyed the teaching. Parents are even welcome to participate in the LTEs themselves. I would recommend Teen Mania and the Honor Academy program to any young person who wants to be challenged to go farther in their walk with the Lord and enjoy a real sense of community/accountability. Due to the fact that people in general are not perfect, there will certainly be occasions where you will find fault with any organization. In this case, identifying Teen Mania as a cult-like organization is way out of line. I know young people who have been dismissed from HA but still love the ministry and stay in contact with the current leadership. That sure doesn't sound like a cult to me.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Teen Mania Ministries has been a huge influence in my life for as long as I can remember. I have been to numerous Acquire the Fire events and 5 Mission Trips with GE to Mexico, Jamaica, Peru, Washington DC and South Africa and I am only 20 years old. All of these trips and events have pushed me to rely on God in a way that I never thought possible and I wouldn't change a thing about my experiences. I know 10+ Honor Academy grads and they all loved the experience they had and encourage others to go and to see those 4 women talking about HA as if it was a cult is so sad. They make is clear that the HA isn't for everyone and clearly it wasn't for those women. It hurts to see people attacking an organization that has changed my life for the better. Thank you to Ron Luce and everyone else involved with Teen Mania Ministries, the things you do everyday are changing lives.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for sharing. I linked back to you. It's good to have both sides...I think this kind of dialogue is important. There are real pains for people. But it's not a cult. I think that's what has most of us bothered. At least for me.

    ReplyDelete
  14. My daughter attended the HA and the Graduate Program 3 years ago. It has changed her life and our family's for the good. She wasn't a troubled teen but wanted a more solid foundation before she went to college. She is now strong black woman that loves Jesus more than ever. My husband and I were skeptical at first but seeing her transformed made us support this ministry. There were quite a few things about the ministry that I didn't and still don't agree with and we spent most of our savings sending her there for 2 years, but it was well worth the investment.

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  15. Some points worth considering for various commenters:

    - Just because not everybody thinks a group is a cult doesn't prove it isn't a cult. That's why they call it false teaching, after all. None of Jim Jones' followers thought he was a cult leader either.

    - Well of course if we took the assessment of the cult experts and the ESOAL abuses out of the documentary, the picture would be rosy. And if I took the arsenic out of my Kool-Aid it would be tasty and wonderful for you to drink. Your point?

    - Jesus left the 99 to go help the one. The relentless clamoring of Pro-TM interns that these hurt people's experiences don't matter because lots of other people had good experiences is disheartening, and really confirms a lot of the diagnoses in the documentary. Healthy organizations simply don't treat hurting people that way.

    - If you are less concerned with showing compassion to the hurting than with bolstering the reputation of those who hurt them, then there are plenty of words that describe you, but "follower of Jesus" is not among them.

    - If you love Teen Mania so much, don't you want to find out whether these things are true? Even if they only happened in the past, even if they only happened to a few people, shouldn't you be upset at the idea of it happening at all? The way to make Teen Mania stronger and better is not to sweep this stuff under the carpet on the grounds that you turned out OK yourself. Rather, make it more like Jesus. Show some compassion and empathy, or stop pretending you're sold out for the Lord.

    ReplyDelete
  16. There is always 2 sides to every story. So could someone tell me why not one intern that had a positive experience was interviewed by MS NBC????
    Maybe you could talk about the awesome sucess stories of how a young man left a world of drugs and alchohol and is now living a life for God. Why maybe they could interview some of the parents who can tell you how much better their child is today because of Teen Mania. Please beware if one sided stories!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  17. ...because it was MSNBC. They are never two-sided.

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  18. http://honoracademyparents.blogspot.com/

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  19. I find it really interesting 8000+ young people have graduated from Teen Mania's Honor Academy, but the accounts of 5 people are held as fact....
    I love each and every one of them, they are my sisters in Christ, a few of them I know personally, and without going in detail there is a lot more behind the scenes that was not shown in this documentary. I honestly would expect more from MSNBC to present something THIS skewed.....

    The Honor Academy changed my life, God used every challenge I faced to teach me about himself. I am a new man because of how God used that place and the unique challenges I faced.

    I went through ESOAL twice, and I learned more about myself in those 8 days than in any other life experience....

    Another thing, Thought reform. For the Christian it is mandatory....

    Rom 12:1-2 Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God's mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and acceptable to God this is your spiritual act of worship, and conform no longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is His good pleasing and perfect will...

    Fasting - once again another mandatory Christian discipline,
    Matt 9 15 "And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. "

    If the whole body of Christ actually lived the Bible WE ALL WOULD BE ACCUSED OF BEING A CULT!!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I know this this ministry first hand my daughter and I have gone to mission trips with them and to several ATF events. My sister went to the honor academy and my brother is working for them; therefore all that is said is completely false and comes directly from the pit of hell.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Well... looks like the TM supporters are out en masse, and mostly anon (I guess not surprising). Interestingly, because they are anon, many could be the same people.

    I find this whole thing disheartening. I would be very, very careful about being involved in this organization...

    ReplyDelete
  22. Just for the sake of good journalistic integrity, I would encourage all of you to check out Teen Mania's site. Since we saw last night what the "opposition" to Teen Mania has to say, I thought it would be a good idea to find out what Teen Mania has to say about itself.

    http://www.teenmania.com/staff/

    The bios about the staff, board of directors and business practices might surprise some of you (it did me). I find it hard to believe that the people connected with TM (especially the board of directors) would want to be associated with an organization that is a cult or as corrupt as MSNBC wanted us to believe.

    You can be angry or vindictive and take sides, or you can do your due diligence and learn what each side has to say. Either way, you have to know the facts in order to have an informed opinion. Just reacting for the sake of reacting won't bring about the truth.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Let me say that I am a graduate of the Honor Academy (graduated December 2002) and while the view of just a handful of people was represented on MSNBC, there are HUNDREDS more that feel they were abused, mistreated, lied to, and manipulated during their time at Teen Mania.

    #1. I was told by my recruiter that I would receive college credit for my time at the HA. A LIE.
    #2. I was told I would be "stretched"...not told I would be condemned and indoctrinated. (I was actually personally confronted for my lower back showing when I bent down and was told if that kind of behavior continued, I could expect to be raped.)
    #3. My roommate was forced to have "kitchen duty" EVERY single night for months because of a bad attitude. By bad attitude, I mean she didn't agree to sit in her bathing suit with a group of girls she'd never met and tell her deepest secret as a growing exercise.
    #4. Our sleep was regularly interrupted to go outside in our pajamas with candles at 4:30 in the morning for mandatory prayer sessions. Granted, we probably could have left but we would have been confronted and told that we weren't growing spiritually because we would rather have slept.
    #5. I paid nearly $600/mo for a year to sleep in a 12X15 room with FOUR other girls and cubby hole for a closet. We shared a bathroom with 30+ girls - 3 toilets and 3 showers and we ALL had to be at work at the same time every day. There was ONE washer/dryer for 60+ people and you had to pay for that. All while working 30-50 hours per week (depending on your ministry placement) and going to 12 hours of class per week. We PAID FOR THAT!!

    If not for the interns to keep the ministry running, they would be completely bankrupt. The leaders push the interns to recruit more people to join and more youth pastors to come to ATF's. I've heard numerous times that it ABSOLUTELY IS God's will for the youth pastors to bring their teens to the ATF events. Who can say that? No one.

    I'm not saying all this because I'm bitter, personally. That all happened 10 years ago and I'm the most outgoing, optimistic person I know. I'm 100% an extrovert and I have zero desire to think about anyone from that year in my life. I don't communicate with anyone from that place if I can help it and in general I think the entire year was a waste of my life. Other than meeting a girl that I love dearly (and spent my entire internship defending because she wouldn't stand up for herself), I can truly say it didn't benefit me in the least.

    To those who say it's voluntary and you can leave at any time: technically, you're right. When you're there, however, you think it's what you're supposed to be doing. That it's "God's will" for your life. You also don't know the mentality of the place until you've lived in it. The condescension, the way you're confronted about EVERYTHING (including how you looked at someone), and the way you're brainwashed into believing that you're the one with the problem...it all adds up and it truly does affect whether you walk away or whether you stay. Unfortunately, I think too many people stick it out to the detriment of their well-being.

    Just my thoughts...

    P.S. ESOAL? Is a daggone joke. I refused to partake in it and was verbally degraded as a result. I was told I wasn't putting forth any effort to grow as a Christian. Because I refused to roll down a muddy hill and be screamed at like an animal. Uhh, no thanks. I have a brain and it needs no washing.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Wow, looks like this site got trolled pretty hard! Funny how none of the people who say "they didn't interview any interns who had positive experiences!" actually noticed that, well, they did.

    Oh, and it's not 5 people that had a bad experience. The show only interviewed 5. There are nearly 70 people with stories at the RA blog, and I'm guessing many more who simply haven't told theirs.

    The fact that so many TM supporters are so quick to denigrate and silence those who are hurt should say something about the fruits of TM...

    ReplyDelete
  25. So sad. Although all of this dissension breaks the heart of God, it doesn't surprise Him.
    While it is so sad that there are many who had negative experiences and walked away from the HA "scarred" by them, we can say that about many things young people experience in this culture. I'm sure the goal of the leaders at HA was NOT to harm / "brainwash" but to help lead young people to a deeper relationship with their Creator. My heart breaks for them and their families, and I pray they find the Savior and the healing that only He can bring them.
    As a parent, I have to say, we ultimately have the responsibility for our young people. Whether they were still technically minors or over 18, was there no one to help these young people leave the HA if that's what they felt was in their best interest. When my 17 yr old called home crying because she had to get up early, I encouraged her that this was a discipline all adults needed to learn. When she complained of living in small quarters with girls she didn't know - or even like - I encouraged her that not everyone in the world was like her and that to be more like Christ, she needed to get to know and learn to love others. When she fussed about working the call center and not getting paid, I reminded her that she was volunteering 100's of hours of volunteer community service at home and that she was learning valuable on-the-job training, making her more marketable when she returned home. And when she shared about her being so tired at ESOAL she wanted to "ring out," I sat quietly as she finished by saying how proud she was of herself for finishing something for the first time in her life! My germaphobic princess rolled in dirt, ate strange foods, slept on the ground and worked out in the rain and was PROUD that she pushed passed her pre-conceived limits. I was proud of her too.
    Teen Mania's tireless work with churches around the country through Acquire the Fire should be commended, especially in a time when parents can't (or won't) participate in their teens journey toward spirituality, leaving it to the local church. I have attended, as well as coordinated ATF in my city for years and have seen every part of this organization from the front to the back and i am proud to stand with them in this fight.
    Christ-followers, remember what the Word says about being persecuted for Him. There is no weapon that can prosper against us. Take heart and read the back of the Book. We win.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I was an intern and have traveled to 4 countries w Teen Mania. I have a Social work degree with an emphasis in child abuse. never did i see anyone being abused or neglected. ESOAL was a 3 day voluntarily event. what about the rest of the yr? the college courses, traveling to india, hiking pikes peak? this program is hard but nothing compared to child birth or the military. the staff of teen mania were always encouraging and honorable.

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  27. Wow I am so awakened to the battle we are in with the enemy!!! Keep on doing what you are doing it's making the enemy mad and he's pulling out all amo against Godly organizations trying to make a difference in teens lives!!! Proud to be a supporter of Teen Mania

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  28. myimaginaryfriendisbetterthanyourimaginaryfriendNovember 7, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    The DEVIL did this! Ooogitty Boogity! You sound like a damn fool Anon 9:32

    ReplyDelete
  29. There are 2 sides to every story. There has clearly been some hurt caused to these ladies but I can GUARANTEE you it was not intentional nor from the leaders of this organization. I actually chose a lifestyle different than one TM advocates and I was responded to with love time and time again from both Ron and Dave. So hearing this hateful documentary to me is bogus. I would love to be interviewed... this is just sad, but it will end good. REad the book.

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  30. YOU GUYS ARE FUCKED IN THE HEAD!

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  31. The thing that really pushes me farthest away from supporting the RA's side of all this is the vindictiveness of their responses. My heart breaks for those that were hurt but if you cant handle someone opposing your views maybe you shouldn't post them on a public forum. My time at the Honor Academy was one of the best years of my whole life, i still keep in close contact with my friends from there, and i learned way more from my ministry placement than i did from the classes because i was given a place to put my faith and the things i learned into action. Also, the use of profanity, picking on grammer, and caps lock does not mean you have a better argument. Love is what will win in all of this.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I was an intern in '01. It was a great experience for me, despite any run-ins I had with other people on campus. There were a few staffers I didn't really like that much, but come on! For real, get over it. Some people take themselves way too seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  33. What journalists need more than a true story is an interesting one. As an alumnus of HA I can say there is a lot of fabricated info here. It is true that some have bad experiences there. I know of at least 50 other alumni from my year who still think back fondly to their time at HA. I know of 2 people from my year who had bad experiences. One of which I know is because she was struggling with belief in God to begin with. Keep in mind that the first week of HA they offer you a chance to go home honorably without making commitment to it. As for ESOAL, not only is the event 100% voluntary, but anyone is allowed to "ring out" and go home whenever they want. Some may be encouraged to stay if the leaders feel they are trying to leave for the wrong reasons, but no one is ever stopped. Speaking from experience, I know how kind and encouraging they are the moment you do. I did learned a lot from ESOAL, and it was indeed one of the most challenging experiences I have ever endured.

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  34. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FGoAWW0BIgQ

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  35. "Get over it"? I'm sure that's what a severely injured person would like to hear when they try to tell an ER doctor what's wrong.

    It's heart-breaking to see how many people defend the HA by saying "It's only a few people who say this, and they had problems to begin with." Since when is that a Christ-like response? What happened to "a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out"? What happened to the Shepherd who will forsake the 99 sheep who are doing well to seek out the one who was lost? Or the idea that Christ came to help not those who are well, but those who are sick?

    Even if it were true that the dissenters were a tiny percentage and were having trouble before the HA (not true, but let's assume for the argument's sake), then they should have been helped and cared for, not browbeaten by the strong. If this is the HA's fruit, I smell something rotten.

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  36. I myself almost went to the Honor Academy....deposit sent and everything and it never worked out. I don't know if that was a blessing or a curse. I can see there is a lot of hurt and anger on both sides of this but I think that the important thing to remember that those of us still calling ourselves "Christians" need to conduct ourselves like Christ would. That's it, simple but important to remember. Even if you are a Christian standing against the HA have compassion on these kids who wrong or not believe what they are doing is for Jesus.

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  37. If Teen Mania is "brainwashing" people... then what do you call it when kids watch hours of television and listen to degrading music and are desensitized to murder, rape, violence, vulgarity, etc? Kids are being brainwashed every single day by the society we live in.

    90% of people who go through Teen Mania have a positive experience and grow closer to God because of it.

    100% of kids who are exposed to our society grow up damaged and hurt.

    You should be up in arms about the lack of moral fiber of our country, not Teen Mania.

    - Jeremy, 22 years old

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  38. yall are a bunch of negative scared little children. this coming generation has to be warriors to face people like you guys and the media. are they are doing is trying to train God's people to trust Him in EVERY SINGLE aspect of their lives and rely on God for all 5 senses. Everythuing those girl's talked about that "scarred" them was optional. which means they didnt have to do it. so stop trying to put God's Kingdom down and find something else to do with your day.

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  39. Just for the record, as a current intern at the Honor Academy when the documentary aired:

    We watched the whole thing, uncut, from beginning to end, as a ministry. Everyone. Staff, undergraduates, graduate interns, management associates.. Everyone. Dave Hasz came up afterwards with very clear distress in his voice and began to pray for the girls in the video. He recognizes that they are really and truly hurting. He says that he has personally many times made efforts to reconnect, mend relationships, and learn from these experiences. The HA has learned from past experiences at ESOAL - that's why it is different now. That's why we had the PEARL this year.

    Dave Hasz and leadership at the Honor Academy have certainly made efforts to reach out to those who they clearly recognize are hurting girls. They asked us repeatedly to not be bitter towards them, malign them, or do anything negative towards them - only asked us to pray fervantly that God would heal their hurts and draw them closer to Himself. Unfortunately, at least one of those girls has personally asked HA leadership to never contact her again.

    Dave Hasz, Ron Luce, Randy Olsson, Heath Stoner, and other management team members went on to answer any question asked of them by the entire ministry and opened themselves up to make appointments with any intern or GI who wanted to ask more about anything brought up in the documentary. Mr. Hasz, Mr. Luce and everyone else have nothing to hide.

    (On the PEARL, by the way: I went through it and completed it and never had one person scream anything at me or say anything remotely derogatory. At one point, early in the morning my clothes were wet and I was shivering so badly that Doug Neal approached me very kindly and gently and said that because he had sympathy for my shivering, he asked me to do sit ups until I was warmer. He said it not to shame me or make me work harder, but to help me. And it did help! I was exhorted and challenged to push my limits, but to make wise decisions as to continue or not. I learned so much from the PEARL and found it to be an extremely positive and even fun experience, though physically, emotionally, and relationally challenging.)

    Also, addressing the $18 million that Teen Mania made in revenue: I don't recall which year the documentary stated that that figure was from, but in the last fiscal year Teen Mania made $15 million dollars in revenue. They also spent MORE THAN THEY EARNED this past year to put on Acquire the Fire events, send thousands of teenagers on mission trips with Global Expeditions, and to operate the campus here at the Honor Academy. Dave Hasz pointed out that (not only is that a problem that the Finance department is working on to make sure Teen Mania is actually able to continue running) they are actively pouring out MORE than they take in in order to do ministry all around the world.

    Anyone have any questions for a current intern who has actual experience on campus, as opposed to those who don't?

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    1. Sounds like you're rather a boot-licker. Where is Teen Mania in the New Testament?

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  40. I am so disappointed by a number of the posts here. This entire situations is disappointing, actually. It's sad that these "Christian" young women who had a bad experience with Teen Mania felt the need to go to the media about it. It's disappointing that so many Christians who had GOOD experiences with Teen Mania are condemning these women or dismissing their experiences. And it's absolutely disgusting that MSNBC did not have enough journalistic integrity to make sure their story was just and fair and relatively neutral. It's just as bad as HLN - it's not news, it's gossip TV!

    For perspective: McDonald's. *smiles*
    McDonald's is a multi-million dollar corporation. They have locations all over the world. There are hundreds of millions of people who love McDonald's, eat there every day, think the food is fantastic, etc. But there are also hundreds of people who hate McDonald's, have had horrible experiences there, think the food is disgusting, thinks no one should eat there ever and even want the toys taken out of Happy Meals as to discourage parents from buying the food for their kids.

    Point: Everyone views things differently. Everyone experiences things differently. My experience with Teen Mania was awesome. I went on a two week mission trip with them to inner city Dallas. I got to work with a great group of girls. I was a team leader. We led Vacation Bible Schools for kids who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to experience the love of God. I was going through my own very serious problems during this time. And the leaders that I worked with were compassionate, understanding and helpful and I experienced a level of healing in it.

    I'm not saying these girls were right or wrong in how they viewed their experiences. I am saying they were wrong in going to the media. I am saying MSNBC was wrong for airing something that is so blatantly biased. And I'm also saying that many people who are speaking out against MSNBC and the women who shared their experiences are wrong in how they are reacting.

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  41. This whole idea that we should "work for God's" love" is ridiculous. Wake up people, call it God, Buddah, the Misah or whatever you please, it is all the same. "I am that I am",sound familar? Get out of your ignorant ego people and wake up! God's love comes from within, it is not something you can gain in the external. I feel sorry for those who seek external things to fill their inner void. Teen Mania is exactly what MSNBC portrayed it to be, spiritual abuse and brainwashing. Those poor ignorant kids...

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  42. I was an intern at teen mania and also went to the aquire the fire events as well. Teen Mania and Ron Luce do have a heart for young people. This documentary was bogus and it is very clear that the people in this documentary are weak individuals. ESOAL was an awesome event and it is designed to make you a stronger individual. Once it was over they did not condemn anyone for ringing out (which I did) they lifted you up and encouraged you. This is the problem with society people are weak minded and don't want to fight for anything. Such a shame!

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  43. I don't agree with a lot of TM's financial dealings, false advertising for the HA, and the interns working conditions, and as far as Ron Luce is concerned, I think he is a crook. However, I've known people who have gone through the HA, and ESOAL, and I have seen and read a lot of first hand accounts and I have got to say that if you needed therapy after what I would consider mild hardship, then you must be a very weak, sheltered person. I mean, Cmon,,, crying and going on and on about how bad it was is a spit in the face to people who actually have had to go through real hard times. If it is so bad,, stand up for yourself and quit! y'all need to get on with your lives, chalk this up to a learning experience, and learn to get through tough times without needing therapy.

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  44. I attended ATF several times, and this is the problem I have. The services are very emotionally hyped. It's all about who can scream the loudest, jump the highest, and make the biggest commitment to Jesus. The teachings were all about how we weren't passionate enough for Christ, how we were failing God as a generation, etc. We were told if we didn't shout loud enough, it meant we didnt' love Jesus. It was all a giant guilt trip. Instead of returning from the event feeling encouraged and nurtured, I returned feeling exhausted and anxious.

    Unfortunately, the hype didn't stay at ATF. My youth pastor returned from the event and tried to recreate it in our youth services. We put up colored stage lights, got some hard-rocking Christian music, and had the youth band playing all the latest contemporary songs. If enough youth didn't raise their hands in worship or jump up and down, we got lectured. Every sermon was about how we should win our schools for Christ or get rid of junk in our lives. Not saying such sermons weren't needed once in a while, but every Wednesday? Where was the discipleship? Where were the teachings on compassion and integrity? All the love, encouragement and fellowship seemed to have vanished. As a result, several of the core members fell away.

    I personally struggled the most during this time. I was dealing with a chronic sin, but my youth pastor's response to that was simply to watch me like a hawk. There was accountability, but no mentorship. And that's what I really needed. Finally after enduring one guilt-ridden service after another, having my emotions continually yanked back and forth, God spoke to me in a quiet voice and told me to get off the roller coaster and JUST FOLLOW HIM. I did, and I finally got free. I no longer have any patience for engineered emotional experiences. God is not in that.

    It's fine if a ministry wants to employ physical challenges as a way to have fun or build confidence. But it's not biblical to advertise such challenges as a way to get closer to God or learn to rely on him. Jesus didn't ask his disciples to run obstacle courses to test their faith. Challenges came on their own when they simply followed him. Jesus guaranteed that we would have trials and face persecution from the world. We don't have to manufacture them and then tell those who fail that they lack faith.

    Also, to compare the media's "persecution" of TM to the persecution Jesus spoke of is disingenuous. Jesus was persecuted, but no one could find any real fault with him or his ministry because he was ABOVE REPROACH. Is TM above reproach? If it has spiritually abused interns through dubious teachings, then it is not. Pointing out the flaws of an organization and its teachings is not persecution, nor is it the devil's work. These are real concerns that need to be addressed for the good of the ministry.

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  45. They took control of my teenaged son for seven years. The outcome was not good. These business men church planters are brain washing these kids,they are solicited, manipulated and explotated. I'd like to sue the sons a bitches for hurting my son. They hide behind laws that protect their evil selfs.

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  46. They use high tech cult tatics. The LOUD "Christian Rock" is one. It stimulates them sexually,(it doesn't matter what the words are) and it doesn't allow them to think for themselves. After being exposed to it over a period of time it becomes less effective so they turn it up even LOUDER for the ones that have been there longer. I know what I'm talking about. I was forced to look into how the "OPERATE" because of the damage they did to my son. They are predators and our precious youth are the prey. Ultimately they want to groom them so eventually they can get there hands on their money. There are web sites that tell their "members" how their money should be managed. And tithing is stressed over and over. They prey on the most vulnerable. The ones who have little or nc parental guidence. They tell these kids that they have "spiritual gifts" and proceed to tell them what they should be doing for Jesus when it's their own interests they are really concerned with. Kids, GET OUT NOW! They are using you to pad their pockets with the money you will eventually be earning. They are business men. The business is spiritual RAPE!

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  47. Steve Lumbley posted an excellent teaching on the heresies of Teen Mania- check out his podcast of 11-11-2011 "Works of Righteousness"

    http://apostasywatch.com/

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  48. I don't feel like connecting this post with any of my other accounts anywhere (WordPress nor Google, don't remember if I have accounts elsewhere). I watched this show this morning and I was utterly disgusted by this cult that is pretending to be a place for teens to "stretch" themselves. What Teen Mania, and other places such as Teen Mania, really are is brainwashing camps to break the will of kids. Even if I had a teen that was horrible, I would never think of punishing them by sending them to a horrible cult such as this. Children should be allowed, in their own way, to either accept or reject God and Christ - it's not the place of any adult nor any other child to coerce other children into believing in something. The only thing we must teach our children are things like don't kill, don't steal, don't abuse others, and a few other essential things. We need to encourage children to use their brains and think for themselves - critical thinking folks. We also need to ensure our children have a solid foundation of the basics from the educational system such as reading, writing, math, history, etc. We do not need to indoctrinate children into any warped, off the wall, cult beliefs. As adults, if they so choose, then they can join cults. Most religions (especially these off the wall weird non-Christianlike cults such as Teen Mania - they're offshoots from the IBF which is not in any way connected to the real Baptist Church) have become twisted into cults of some kind. There is only one true religion - Christianity - that Christians should be following - and that is Jesus' word - not some made up crap from idiots who espouse beating kids is great and that if you don't beat your kids you don't love them (that's total BS) and not some made up crap from jerks like those who run Teen Mania and all of the other brainwashing camps for teens and younger children. Please, we need to let our children be children and not brainwash them into believing some religious cult off the wall ideals. I WAS TOTALLY DISGUSTED BY THIS TEEN MANIA CRAP AND I'D LOVE TO SEE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INTERVENE AND SHUT DOWN ALL OF THESE CULTS.

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