Monday, November 7, 2011

Mind Over Mania: The Day After

Well, things have certainly been eventful since MSNBC aired their "Mind Over Mania" documentary last night. The program, which chronicled the stories of many current and former Honor Academy interns, definitely didn't paint Teen Mania Ministries in the best light.  In fact, the program raised such serious questions that it will probably dissuade many parents & teens from participating in Teen Mania activities.

Just before "Mind Over Mania" aired last night, Ron Luce sent an e-mail to Teen Mania's massive mailing list claiming that he and other senior leaders had been duped into participating in the documentary.  He declared the program "negative" and "inflammatory" before he had even seen it.  Not surprisingly, Teen Mania supporters are not happy about the information that was broadcast, and they are out in full force today.  If you want some idea of what that looks like, check out the comments here and here.

Ron Luce included a link to the trailer of the MSNBC program in his mass e-mail, and current Honor Academy interns were shown a recording of the show this morning.  This should not surprise anyone--MSNBC has a direct pipeline into 78 million homes, so this story was just too big for them to ignore.  I expect Teen Mania to offer an official rebuttal to the program sometime in the near future, although I do not know of any specific plans or what form that rebuttal might take.

To those who were dismayed by what they saw in "Mind Over Mania" and want to do something about it: I think this is a key moment in time for our community, and the airing of this documentary presents some unique opportunities.  For the first time, the plight of those hurt by Teen Mania has been covered by a well-respected, national news organization.  That is HUGE!

Here are some ways we can use the airing of "Mind Over Mania" to help get the word out that Teen Mania is a dangerous place for young people:

  • Show the documentary to your friends and family!  While the program only just started to scratch the surface of the many problems at Teen Mania, the presentation was compelling and succinct.  Many times, I have found it difficult to really explain to people the nature or extent of the problems with Teen Mania.  I personally feel like I can use "Mind Over Mania" as a tool to help people understand why I was hurt and why I want to take action.
  • Write about "Mind Over Mania" on the internet.  Looking at my blog traffic, I can tell that lots and lots of people are searching for information regarding this documentary.  A quick Google search will reveal that lots of people are buzzing about the show.  If you can, take some time to write about your personal reaction to the show.  Was your experience similar to those of the women who shared their stories on the show?  Do you think Teen Mania is a good place for teens?  Write about it and post it to your Facebook, Twitter, tumblr....whatever!  If you want to remain anonymous, it only takes a few seconds to sign up for a new account.  RIGHT NOW people are searching for information on Teen Mania, and we want to make sure that our voices are heard clearly among all the Teen Mania "party line" chatter.
  • Use "Mind Over Mania" to help reach out to the local and regional media in your area.  The fact of the matter is, this IS a huge news story, and Teen Mania continues to hold live events all around the country almost every weekend.  Chances are, at least one media outlet in your area would be willing to run a story about a Texas-based cult coming into town to recruit teenagers.  So, if a live Teen Mania event is happening near you, call your local newspapers and television stations....ESPECIALLY the local NBC affiliate.  Tell them about your concerns regarding Teen Mania, and let them know that MSNBC has already run a major story about the organization.  Get a copy of "Mind Over Mania" into the hands of any reporter, editor, or producer that expresses even the slightest bit of interest.  You'll save them some research, and they'll know it is a "safe" story to run from a legal standpoint--two things that will make it much more likely for them to run with your story idea!

Those are some of my initial thoughts....I'm sure I'll have more over time.  If you need a copy of the documentary and are having trouble finding it online, please send me a private message at the e-mail address in the sidebar, and I will try to help you find it.  And to my fellow former "manics"--please continue to speak up about your experiences and get the truth out there!  That is what is going to make all the difference in the world.


  1. All this criticism of Teen Mania reminds me how much I love the organization.

    I remember the first time I visited the campus, a girl was working in the flower beds in front of one of the dorm buildings. It was very hot out ... I felt miserable ... but she looked up, and smiled a huge beaming smile, and wished me a great day. The experience shook me, because the fact that she seemed so genuinely joyful shocked me.

    "They will know we are Christians by our love" ... all criticism and bad experiences aside, I have experienced a tremendous amount of love from Teen Mania leadership. No one is perfect, but I don't know where I would be without their influence.

  2. I am a Teen Maniac from Jamaica. God bless you and indeed all things work together for good to them that love the Lord to them that are the called to his purpose.

    1. Kingdomaffiliate- Please consider being smart.

  3. i love how you keep blogging and posting about TM and exposing them and all thats here are about 80% in support of TM and 20 agreeing with you - funny.

  4. @ Anon... ya that doesn't SCREAM mind controlled cult. Put down your koolaid hun.

  5. uh yes I realize...November 7, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    bleep bleep bloop bee beep boop boooooooooo

    kingdomaffiliate, I'm sorry to hear of your Manic diagnosis. I hope you have a better healthcare system in Jamaica than we do here. I appreciate your blessing, but, I don't nee your Lord to tell me this piece aired by MSNBC will bring good. Truth remains and exsists outside of any one belief system.


  6. Anon 10:47 Thankfully truth doesn't need majority rule. What's funny is your logic.

    don't you think your Jesus would keep blogging for that 1% of his flock he done talked about in the bible book?

  7. I have personally experienced His awesome presence during TM events and I believe that airing was a case of persuasive editing to accomplish a bias opinion. The truth remains...there IS only one way to Heaven and that's through Jesus Christ!

  8. I actually knew a few of these ppl in the video from when I was at TM. Most of these sources they used were from ppl who deal much w rejection and a victim mentality and they dealt w it way before their time at TM. Not one did I see from the clips were of a credible source ... before they even came to TM they were emotionally unstable - and most ppl who spend a ton of their time bashing a ministry is a clear sign that they have major security issues... Get someone stable to give a testimony of TM and it may be more convincing.. The sources are from jaded ppl who had poor relationships w their parents and are now hashing out on an authority Most of them are insecure and just wanna prove a point w their life.

  9. god hates mushroomsNovember 8, 2011 at 2:54 AM

    Wow, friend. You sound almost exactly like Jesus! ....You ignorant ass.

    1. @godhatesmushrooms, this is the best comment so far. Pretty much sums up reaction to all similar comments.

  10. Can you post a link to documentary? I didn't see it but would like too...

  11. You know its not some conspiracy or cult. Get Real. People go through first semesters at college and end up more hurt due to bad experiences than any of these girls did. YOU CAN GET HURT ANYWHERE. Because people arent perfect, and sometimes they will sin, and it will hurt you. No ministry, or organization is beyond improval or perfect, But you will find THE BIGGEST group of loving, honest, Integral, and mature young people that you have ever seen in ONE SPOT on the Teen Mania Campus. Thats not an exaggeration. They strive for purity and truth. And with todays generation, you know how RARE that is. So on behalf of the thousands of us who Teen Mania has been a Godsend for, we are sorry about the 5-10 that may have left embittered, but majority rules. So dont seek to screw over the other multitudes of us who needed that internship and benefitted immensely from it, over a few that just didnt. -----NOT TO SAY those girls arent cared about. I know they have good support systems that have come around them, and I have no hard feelings against them. Mostly just sad for them and pray for them. But you guys couldnt have been more off. Its okay, God will have something to say about it when you stand before Him.

  12. > "Its okay, God will have something to say about it when you stand before Him."

    Yes. He will say, "In as much as you did it unto 'the 5-10 who may have been embittered,' you did it unto me."

  13. To be honest, Teen Mania has done some good, but there is also a lot of false teaching that goes on there. ATF is pretty great, but behind the scenes is very superficial. The blogger even said that. She still believes in God and she still loves Jesus. She is still happy when people come to Jesus, whether it be at ATF or not. Still, she is hurt, and a lot of people are hurt. I myself have been hurt, so I know where she is coming from. I think all sides need to be evaluated because both sides show some truth. Teen Mania means well by the Honor Academy, but some things seriously need to be changed.
    Anyhow, those are my two cents.
    God bless!

  14. ^ oops, I mean he! Sorry. This is my GE experience.

  15. You encourage people to reach out to the media about to Teen Mania but what about reaching out to people who have been hurt and becoming a real friend to them. If you really cared about the people who have had a bad experience my guess is that one of the best ways to do that is to help them to process in a way that leads them not only to acknowledge that they were offended but to FORGIVE.

  16. Is there any link to the full video?

  17. Once again I see nothing but hate coming from one side of this issue - from name calling to bullying, and from the other side, love and compassion. Notice I didn't say which side was which BUT with that said it's not hard to figure out who is who.

    God bless Teenmania and Ron Luce. Though I was never an Intern at the Honor Academy I have taken many youth to A.T.F. events and was AMAZED at how great these events were. I have also had teens attend the H.A. and have never heard ANYTHING negative from them.

    Also, if you want to know what Ron Luce is teaching Christian youth - read his books. I have and honestly he is my favorite author.

    Sorry to all the people spewing hate out there. I'll (like so many others) will be praying for you.

    Rev. David "Hogan" VanSchoick

  18. "Teen Mania welcomes any question of our motives and our methods in communicating the gospel of Jesus Christ and are dedicated to using feedback to create a better experience for the young people we serve, but MSNBC’s Mind Over Mania segment ultimately takes issue with the fact that many of the Biblical tenets celebrated in Christianity are at odds with our current culture. We understand that the Gospel, taken upon faith, is an unusual concept in our modern world. As a result, the themes of Acquire the Fire and Honor Academy will never be popular for the mass media."
    This is WHY we are standing. Our current culture doesn't accept this. We already knew that. That doesn't make it bad or wrong. Has anyone noticed the media just produces a lot of garbage and never tells the positive things? No wonder they're shining a negative light on TMM. TMM is for alot of things this world are against.

  19. You people who love teen mania so much are the ones that need prayer. You are in "IT" so deep that you cannot admit you are WRONG! Thanks MSNBC for putting it out there.

  20. I would NEVER send my teens there. We love the lord and want the truth. Looks like a business to me. Teen Mania takes in 18 Million dollars a year!
    Then they tell you to go home and raise money if you don't have enough for that month.
    I would suggest teen mania for troubled bad kids; they could use Navy Seals boot camp. I love my teens too much to go there.
    Why is this Honor Academy NOT accredited?? RED LIGHT to me.
    Great Documentary, everyone should watch.

  21. Does anyone know where an online link to the full video can be found?

  22. To Rev. David "Hogan" VanShoik.
    It is with sincere honesty that I can say it is doubtful you have ever read anything in the RecoveringAlumni, blog.
    It is not, and was never intended to be a "Rag on T.M. or the H.A."
    It is now, and always has been a place where people who have been hurt and suffered genuinely needed a place to discuss their experiences.
    I myself have posted on the site, from a parents point of view, and as a Youth Minister.
    Nothing I have said then or now is full of hate toward this ministry. Simply stating what happened to our family.
    I have spoken to the leadership of H.A. about this MSNBC report.
    I do not believe it was presented in a "bad" or "hate filled" light. It just told the story of a very small number of people who have had problems later in life because of what happened to them while attending the Honor Academy. There are many more who have never shared their personal stories.
    I can honestly say I don't think Ron Luces' intentions are bad. In fact, In many respects I feel the same about our worlds youth. But I don't worship the man, nor do I agree with everything he has said or done. He is very much a fallible human.
    Yes, I have attended many A.T.F.s, and yes, I have personal experience with the Honor Academy as my son did attend. He is one of the few who suffered, and not because he broke any rules while there. Dave Hazs can confirm this, and we have spoken about it previously, in phone calls and emails.
    No Christian organization is perfect, not even T.M. or H.A..
    Instead of putting down those who have been hurt, perhaps you can ask yourself how Christ would really respond to them. I can surely say it wouldn't be with pity, or a blank statement such as "get over it." I know He would respond with genuine love and concern for even one who was hurt. (I remind you of the 99 sheep being left so that the shepherd would search for the one.)
    If one is hurt this deeply, should we not be concerned?
    Instead of

  23. I watched the documentary. And I was appalled at Teen Mania. As a Christian, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I was reminded of Nazi Germany, brainwashing techniques that I've studied, and New Age movements that use out-of-body experience to gain mind control. At least, I felt that way until I read the facts. The footage MSNBC used is outdated and out of context. The four girls all had attitudes that were characterized by passion and victimization. Basically, they seemed to exaggerate things that didn't make much sense because they felt like Teen Mania had wronged them in some way. While TM may have made mistakes, the support for the program is overwhelming. The statements issued by TM and Acquire the Fire have answered any questions that I had. Time for MSNBC to step up with some answers too.

  24. CHS Gridiron - Here's the Recovering Alumni answer to Teen Mania's statements. They note that Teen Mania refused to deal with the substance of their accusations, instead resorting to ad hominem attacks (which your comment also typifies, I might add). That says a lot right there.

    MSNBC has also responded that when Ron Luce said he was approached under false pretenses, he lied. That's according to the Christian Post.

  25. Eric - There was no ad hominem attack in my comment. I was stating the attitudes that the girls on the documentary showed. If pointing out observations is categorized as ad hominem then there's not much I can do. I will say, however, that MSNBC did not present a balanced argument to base claims from. Everything they showed of TM was negative or was painted in a negative light. And, finally, MSNBC did say that he lied. Since they can say that, I'll go ahead and say MSNBC lied about saying Luce lied. See what I mean? People can say anything they want. Right now, it's their word against TM's. Just because they something doesn't mean it's true.

  26. CHS - But that's just it! You are "stating the attitudes that the girls on the documentary showed," in response to the women in the documentary who stated facts about things that happened at Teen Mania. That's the very definition of ad hominem. That they may or may not have attitude or bias X has no bearing on the validity of their factual statements. "Biased" is not the same thing as "factually inaccurate." To argue otherwise is, that's right, ad hominem.

    In the same way, I could point out that you called them "girls" when they are in fact adult women, which demonstrates that your attitude is condescending and dismissive with a dash of sexism. That wouldn't disprove the other facts of your statement-- except neither you nor Teen Mania offered any facts, disconfirming or otherwise. Why not?

    As for trustworthiness, Ron Luce is on record having lied to the media before. That's a fact.

  27. Thank you to the brave ladies who shared their experiences in Teen Mania! Obviously, not everyone's eyes will be opened to what is really going on, but this blog along with the MSNBC program are going to stop a lot of young adults (and their parents) from associating with this group.

    For the people trying to argue logic with the illogical, just stop. You're wasting your time and emotions. Try to focus on doing something positive :)

  28. Here is part 1 of 3:

    Links to parts 2 and 3 are on the right side of the page. As someone who grew up in an Evangelical church and fought my way out, this documentary struck a nerve with me. This fits the basic definition of a cult to a T.

    "I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."


  29. BREAKING NEWS! I’m a current staff member at Teen Mania Ministries. Christian businessman, Philip Anschutz met with the board and founder Ron Luce. If Ron steps down in August, he agreed to pay off Teen Mania’s debt and help the ministry moving forward. No word if Ron accepted the offer and will resign in the midst of a sex scandal that has rocked the ministry.

  30. I just watched the documentary for the first time today. As a woman I was completely overwhelmed with anger as a mom I was horrified and enraged. The God I was taught about was ALL loving at ALL times. Not once in any part of the Bible does it even elude to Jesus treating his desiples or apostles worse than animals. I hope Ron and Dave meet someone as "loving" as themselves in a dark alley. And it's no great surprise that Ron is involved in a sex scandal. I wish him well when he goes to prison. I hope he will be happy, both him and Big Bubba, who will treat Ron as "lovingly" as he has treated so many young people.

  31. I just watched Mind over Mania and read your story. I am so appalled and disgusted by Luce and the obvious corporate motives that drive him. I will be praying for those involved in his corporation will someday see it for what it is(profitable) and turn their faith away from Teen Mania, Ron Luce, and anything to do with the whole affair so as not to walk away in the future with such crippling ailments as PTSD. I myself battle with it everyday from physical abuse in my past and it has made everyday of my life a battle and I wish for no being to suffer it's side effects. I hope that you are coping with it as well as possible and are now an openly gay christian man for it is possible for you to do so and find happiness.Thank you for sharing your story and providing the information on how to help bring Teen Mania to its much needed end.