COMPLETELY HALT AND STOP ALL DONATIONS(monetary or non-monetary), AND SUPPORT (resources, strike-employment/unionize, whatever it takes <within ethics, reason, and legal limits of course!>
We call for this boycott of all Teen Challenge support, in order to make our message against such child abuses clear to the world. We have provisionally assembled an outline of our prerequisites for which we will end our call to BOYCOTT the Teen Challenge program. We call it the "Teen Challenge Recipe for Success"
And it will be publicly available shortly...
The following article is not only an outline of what motivates us to speak out, but also an explanation of why this boycott is so important along with our protests. I hope the information here is helpful. Find more information on our other posts(blogs) which are linked within this article.
Why We Speak Out Against Teen Challenge
A Legacy of Abuse in the Name of GOD
by Thomas Kinder
Nahum 1:3 - The LORD [is] slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked : the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.
As you sit down for church today you notice things are a bit different than usual. Up front is a slide projector with a white screen next to the pulpit. As the pastor gets up to speak, he tells the congregation that today they have some special guests, a group from a touring Teen Challenge program. The group presents an emotional slideshow telling about the wonderful things they are doing in the deprived areas of the world, and how they have helped many find God, who had once been strung out on drugs. They tell of the incredible success rates which are unmatched by any secular (<adj. adv.>unrelated to the church or any faith) program of it's kind. After a testimony or two, usually former addicts who found their way , attributing their success to the 12-18 month Teen Challenge program, and now they even work with the program as staff. Shortly after the emotional tales and some singing, a collection plate or bucket is passed around the congregation for donations to the Teen Challenge program. After church, the TC group wanes social in the front lobby making conversation with the more interested members of the congregation. On the drive home your Grandfather and Grandmother, who had also contributed to the Teen Challenge collection, discuss how proud they are to have been able to donate to such an upstanding organization, noting that "God truly works through that Teen Challenge."
I wonder exactly what my Grandparents would have been saying if the presentation had gone differently. What if instead of clean and well dressed choirboy, we saw the sloppy heroin addict, sick from withdrawals, shaking fridgidly in a grey jumpsuit, given nothing to ease his suffering (which he would receive in most medical settings ) BUT it would go against Teen Challenge protocol. What if HE told his story of his experience at Teen Challenge, the real story of the young man who was held down and water-boarded by staff, with a garden hose until he nearly drowned; all as punishment for "acting out of line".
What if that same congregation heard rather the story of the many young men and women who steadily attempt to escape these programs, to get away from harassing verbal abuse, physical abuse, and negligence, even if it means going to jail? What if while speaking, the group leader publicly acknowledged that the success rates promoted by the Teen Challenge program were falsified and based on unethically distorted data? I wonder, if such had been the case, would the church membership STILL be so eager to grab for their wallets as the offering plate came upon their row?
Unfortunately, this is just a small sample of the tragic reality that good Christian patrons are NOT shown and so many Christians and non-Christians alike are simply unaware that such things are taking place, due to the massive control that Teen Challenge has maintained over it's public image and information distributed about the TC program. In fact, because of the direct marketing to churches in order to gain funding, many outside of the church have never even heard of Teen Challenge or know anything about it. It was when we first started spreading the word about Teen Challenge abuses and ethics violations, we realized that the only people we were reaching who even knew what Teen Challenge was were church members or those brought up in the church, mostly Assembly of God denomination.
This is sadly ironic, considering that Teen Challenge boasts it's primary goal to be "reaching the lost". Considering Jesus' own words, "It is not the well, who need a doctor.", it would seem more appropriate to say that Teen Challenge's mission is rather, "reaching the Church's pocketbook".
This might seem a bold statement to those who have only been exposed to Teen Challenge's filtered self-portrayal in presentations and distributed materials, and many seem to be unaware that this organization's real legacy consists of sex abuse, abuse, even negligent homicide. Most have not been told that Teen Challenge meets most of the criteria to be legitimately considered a dangerous cult, structured to quiet and control opposition, from within to without the organization, going as far as to prevent minor children from contacting their parents or immediate family as standard protocol.
< We have reports in our archives where this practice has led to death. For example, the story of the unnecessary death of a bright young man, who was wrongly left in the street without the emergency medical care he needed to survive>
To this day Teen Challenge refuses to accept public responsibility for the crimes of which it stands accused. These kinds of reports are far too common in abusive residential programs like Teen Challenge.
Using their position of power and influence of the Christian Church, Teen Challenge often finds unquestioning support from congregations and their spiritual leaders. Though Assemblies of God claims Teen Challenge as one of their primary ministries, Teen Challenge maintains a non-denominational status so as to cultivate and retain interdenominational support. Along with "fleecing the flock", the organization has also received millions in federal support funds more every year, which has stirred up a substantial amount of controversy over the organization's "faith-based" status, regarding certain regulatory exceptions and privileges that such categorization entails.
That leads us to another reason why we feel it is so important to speak out. For years these abuses have gone unheard and silenced. Until now the victims of Teen Challenge oppression have had little voice, nothing more than whispers here and there, desolate and unseen by the main stream media/press. We have come together to create what will soon be the largest archive of information regarding Teen Challenge abuses, negligence, and ethics violations. We thank you for your support and are always seeking new ways to improve and increase our reach. If you are interested in supporting our protests with resources or donations, please email email@example.com.
The false claims and shirking of responsibility that defines the history of Teen Challenge really speaks for itself, but great efforts have been made to hide these stories from the eye of the public. Teen Challenge has rallied a great amount of support from big names in the Christian-Right, ranging from political leadership to church leadership, nationally and internationally, but again, very few of it's supporters have heard any information about the organization from any outside sources. Unfortunately, the reports and ethical violations that have been occurring have gotten very little press attention, and the little it has gotten, has been quickly dismissed by talking heads or spokespersons, seeking to discredit the victims, or playing the "victim" card themselves, for example in the case of Rich Scherber, who said he simply was shocked (to paraphrase), as they were unable to filter an article prior to publication. Coincidentally the article happened to be about large financial fraud related to his Minnesota Teen Challenge. As I respond to Rich's dismay, I address that it is not typically warranted for a journalistic article to be "proofed" by involved parties prior to publication, which would be a drastic violation of journalistic integrity. The fact that I had to explain such a principle to someone in such a position of leadership, is somewhat disconcerting, and disappointing.
It is quite easy to find websites online of churches, and special interest groups reporting the self-proclaimed "success rate" of the Teen Challenge program. Unfortunately at times, religious and faith-based information is not held to the same social or psychological standards of most journalism or educational writings so these churches and religious organizations quote the awe-inspiring success rates that Teen Challenge claims, often without knowing they are spreading false information. I briefly touched on this already when I mentioned the "unquestioning" support of congregations and their spiritual leaders.
We could probably all agree that this pales in importance however, when we face the hundreds of lives that have been damaged or ruined by the ruthless tactics used to control "students" of this program. If that sounds like overkill then consider this: Teen Challenge meets almost every criteria of a "cultic group" as described by Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D., in their checklist formatted, "Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - Revised"(COMING SOON!). While we already have a "cult litmus test", which Teen Challenge fails miserably, this article is a much more technical exploration of the dangerous elements within any organization that can be categorized as a "cult". As described in this article by Dr.'s Lalich and Langone,
Many of the victims of Teen Challenge abuses ( not all and I am very thankful for that) that I have spoken to, say that they have a hard time believing that God could be a loving, compassionate God and allow these things to happen to children and women. Even those who have been brought up in Christian homes, begin to question their faith. This is a very common state of quandary, experienced by those who have been victims of abuse, especially abuse by those who claim to be doing God's work. I wonder myself, especially those who have NOT come from Christian homes, how they could ever imagine a loving and caring God, when all they have seen and felt is insecurity, humiliation, and forceful expedition of "God's Laws", or more accurately Teen Challenge laws. I really don't have an answer for them. I try to explain that they have been mistreated by imperfect people, who are sinners just like the rest of us. How many more have to suffer, because we all God's children, believers or not, lay lifeless on the sidelines unwilling to SPEAK OUT for their protection?! We all share the same responsibility for our youth and future generations. If we don't stand up for them NOW who will?
Coercive / Persuasion
Over 15% of the Teen Challenge residential population is there by court mandate or due to a legal infraction. This is the sector of the Teen Challenge that especially concerns us. It should be stated that when a "student" is court ordered to attend Teen Challenge he/she is given a choice of either jail or Teen Challenge. They are also informed of the "biblical" nature of the program, so students cannot claim they didn't know what they were getting into, but in reality they still usually don't. They do not tell you that once you are in, you WILL be forced to partake in religious ceremonies, rituals, and practices. We have received and heard countless stories of forced religious practice. I can't think of a better way to turn someone "off", or away from God than forcing them to worship in any way. The feeling of violation and degradation they describe would easily merit lawsuits, if TC hadn't already required them to sign away their rights completely.
Those who respectfully decline to participate in even just the religious ceremonies are released from the program with prejudice, citing "uncooperative behavior" and are referred back to the court system in cases where admission was "involuntary", to quote law enforcement documents related to such cases.
The belief taught in the program is that once a "student" has been converted to or cleansed by the Teen Challenge program, the "demon" of drug addiction can no longer "reside" within them.
On that note, to avoid a sensitive subject, don't ask how many of the Teen Challenge staffers are addicted to coffee, because "that's different." Perhaps, part of the problem we see is the "demon possessed coffee drinkers" have corrupted the otherwise pure staffing roster. But in all seriousness, allow me to backtrack to the subject at hand.
Of course not unlike any other cult organization, logic has been discarded for a twisted interpretation of "faith". Take for example, the previously mentioned Teen Challenge policy disallowing medication as evidenced by this excerpt from the New York Teen Challenge FAQ. Their policy reflects most national Teen Challenge's protocol:
as Teen Challenge is not a medical facility.
"Enforced faith", or oppressive discrimination of those who need medication is a sin, by any standard. God gave a very urgent warning to his children to be on the look out for corruptions of HIS WORD.
He is also very clear about the fate of those who mislead and abuse children in HIS NAME.
Matthew 18:6 6 But whoso shall cause one of these little ones who believe in Me to fall, it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
"Do Take a look at this quote from the Teen Challenge FAQ page:
So we've talked about the abuses, negligence, and other topics that give us reason to Speak Out Against Teen Challenge, which are far too many to list here, but we have far more detailed information in our blogs listed above. So let's touch on this subject just once more.
Only in the sector of religion can an organization make statistical claims without any clinical or scientific data to support it. When it comes to the "success rates" of Teen Challenge programs lets take a look at how they've manipulated the game to their illusory benefit
This is the most telling element of the Teen Challenge claim to success. If a "student" is already detoxed then by definition, they are already "off drugs" and the hard part has already been done for them. This is another reason why the program disallows the use of "narcotic" medicines in their program. The drugs that they refer to almost surely categorize opiates and perhaps even Benzodiazepines. If someone is in great pain, or suffering from anxiety issues then they may be prescribed these medications, but TC doesn't want the liability of "addictive" substances messing p their ability to say that they get kids "off drugs completely", although even that isn't true. Then after 12-18 months of conditioning and control, the "student" has then adjusted to life away from the friends and environment that had influenced their decision to use drugs or alcohol. Great! It works!....BUT so could a vacation to China, with a comparable cost and results likewise, without the abuses and side-effects of primitive conditioning (bruises, damaged self-esteem, lost lives, lost innocence)
There are other reasons why Teen Challenge claims of success rates fully lack credibility. Take a look at this item from a 2001 New York Times.
It is the opinion of some social scientists that the 86 percent success rate of Teen Challenge is misleading, as it does not count the people who dropped out during the program, and that, like many voluntary NGO's, Teen Challenge picks its clients. The item quotes the Rev. John D. Castellani, then president of Teen Challenge International U.S.A., as saying that most of the addicts have already been through detoxification programs, before they are admitted. In the program's first four-month phase, Mr. Castellani said, 25 to 30 percent drop out, and in the next eight months, 10 percent more leave. In their testimony before the United States House Committee on Ways and Means, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, have similarly testified that the much quoted success rates "dramatically distort the truth", due to the lack of reference to the high drop out rate.
"Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Human Resources and Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures of the House Committee on Ways and Means". House Committee on Ways and Means. 2001-06-14. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
So what do you call it when you say something untrue? A lie? A deadly sin. But what if you are spreading those lies across the world, deceiving parents, children, and those who are TRYING to do the right thing? What does the Christian Bible say about those that lie and facilitate the abuses of children? I would refer you to the above verse from Matthew 18:6. A hint; it involves a millstone, a neck, rope, and the ocean.
BOYCOTT TEEN CHALLENGE 2014 - Acknowledgement and Change Movement
hosted by "Speak Out Against Teen Challenge"
Everybody, please JOIN USUS in our boycott to make much needed changes in the Teen Challenge program and prevent any further victims of any abuses or negligence.
As part of the SOATC 2014 Boycott, please DO NOT support Teen Challenge, monetarily, or non-monetarily, until they publicly acknowledge and accept responsiblity for the long (and ever growing) list of abuses, negligences, and ethics violations. We will boycott until they also make appropriate changes to their current level of transparency and allowed communication of minor children with their immediate family, or guardians, we also demand that Teen Challenge submit to complete Third-party monitoring and regulation, in order to guarantee beyond any doubt that as Teen Challenge continues operation that no more children will be abused or neglected.
We encourage you to use the money you "would have " donated to Teen Challenge to another well respected and charitible foundation or non-profit who care for the victims of abuse.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of Teen Challenge abuse or negligence please share your story with us at "Speak Out Against Teen Challenge". Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org
In the name of all that Good and Holy,