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Posted by: archaeologist ()
Date: September 12, 2010 12:21PM

i see a lot of hearsay evidence in the previous posts and ownder if people are just falsely labelling teen challenge for some ulterior motive. here is a link to their home page, please point out ot me, with support/evidence, where they are cultish


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Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 26, 2012 01:47AM



Investigating Teen Challenge
Please post your experiences on the only blog that makes an attempt to prove that the Teen Challenge Program needs to be investigated! Read the first post entitled, 'Investigating the Teen Challenge Program'. The links on the right side bar offer other's reasons as well. (Claims of high success rates and high drop-out rates and accountability are what sparked this investigation.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I have decided to write a post concerning the comments that others have left about Teen Challenge because they are the voices of the people who have been directly involved in Teen Challenge.

Today I encourage everyone to take the time to 'really' read these comments and to leave your own comments about your own experience with Teen Challenge!

You can read or post comments by clicking on either of the posts below:


You can read more comments here:
Posted by Karly at 5:40 AM 1 comments
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Attention Teen Challenge: The Bill to Stop "Kiddie Gulag" Industry Passes House!
On June 25th, HR 6358--the bill that may well shut down the "kiddie gulag" industry for good--passed the House.


To read an in-depth article please visit- []
Posted by Karly at 3:36 PM 0 comments
Monday, May 05, 2008
Dogemperor at Daily Kos: An In-Depth Series on Abuse at Teen Challenge
An In-Depth Series on Abuse at Teen Challenge

Part 1: Teen Challenge: The Assemblies' Own "Kiddie Gulag"

Part 2: Teen Challenge: Coercive Groups Disguised as Rehab

Part 3: Teen Challenge: A Typical Week in the "Jesus Gulag"

Part 4: Teen Challenge: Life Within the "Jesus Gulag"

Part 5: Teen Challenge: Possible Missionary Mill?

Part 6: Teen Challenge: The Depths of Coercion at a "God Warrior" Training Camp

Part 7: Teen Challenge: Sex Abuse and Sexual Predators

Part 8: Teen Challenge: Court-Ordered Coercion and CYA Indemnity Contracts

Part 9: Teen Challenge: Your Tax Dollars, Paying For Institutionalised Abuse

Bill HR 5876--A Chance to Protect Kids from Abusive "Kiddie Boot Camps"
Join Teen Challenge Lawsuit!

Posted by Karly at 2:44 PM 6 comments
Sunday, January 13, 2008
If you have had a bad experience at Teen Challenge, I invite you to post your comments about it here. You may even be able to exchange e-mail addresses to talk with others who have had similar experiences. And, if you are a family member wanting to make contact with other family members who have questions and concerns, please read my post below regarding family members.
Posted by Karly at 2:11 PM 74 comments
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Known Front Groups for the Assemblies of God
Scroll down this page to find the list of "Known Front Groups for the Assemblies of God"-

Posted by Karly at 8:37 AM 2 comments
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Teen Challenge is a Mission of the Assemblies of God!
This post is for those of you who don't believe that Teen Challenge is a Mission of the Assemblies of God! Here is the proof:

Missions of the Assemblies of God - []

The Assemblies of God U.S. Missions is comprised of six departments, which includes TEEN CHALLENGE! - []

You can also find the link to the Teen Challenge Mission on the Assemblies of God website by going to the links on the left of their website and clicking on "Missions" and then "U.S.Missions".

And, as I've stated before- The Teen Challenge websites do not make the public aware that Teen Challenge is actually a Mission of the Assemblies of God Church!

Posted by Karly at 7:27 AM 1 comments
Monday, August 20, 2007
Teen Challenge Programs Draw Some Criticisms About Methodology, Funding
Excerpt from the Montrose Daily Press (Montrose, CO)

By Maggie Stehr
Daily Press Writer
Published on Sunday, August 19, 2007

According to the organization¡¯s Web site, Teen Challenge programs are the ¡°solution to the addiction crisis.¡± Since opening in 1958 and with more than 170 centers in the U.S., Teen Challenge officials claim to have cured thousands from drug and alcohol addictions.

But such testimonials have drawn criticisms from some former students, civil liberties experts and addiction specialists.

Some experts have argued that because some Teen Challenge centers and students receive federal funding, the programs violate the separation between religion and government. High success rates have contributed to ongoing governmental support of the faith-based drug treatment program, but not without opposition.

¡°These figures dramatically distort the truth, as they represent the successful treatment rate of only those participants who do not drop out of the program before completion, which includes less than one-fifth (18 percent) of the total number of students who actually participated,¡± argued Samantha Smoot, executive director of Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, which promotes church-state separation. In 2001, Smoot testified in Congress that funding for Teen Challenge should instead go towards secular drug rehab programs with stronger medical components.

Other opponents of Teen Challenge have labeled the evangelical groups as cults, alleging psychological abuse and manipulation by staff members.

Vicki Proffit, director of Teen Challenge House of Promise near Olathe, denies such negative claims but acknowledges the program contains a strong Christian focus.
Posted by Karly at 7:50 PM 0 comments
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Obviously Teen Challenge Didn't Work For This Teen Challenge Graduate
Hmmm, he recently graduated from Teen Challenge but now he's already on his way to prison for 3 years!

Winnipeg Theft News - Friday August 17, 2007
Posted by Karly at 12:25 AM 0 comments
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Recovery Center Plan Draws Concern From Neighbors
Looks like another neighborhood also has issues with Teen Challenge!

KVAL News- August 16, 2007- Eugene, Oregon:

Posted by Karly at 7:04 PM 0 comments
Friday, August 10, 2007
Why Does Teen Challenge Need to Be Investigated?
To learn more about why people feel that Teen Challenge needs to be thoroughly investigated, I highly recommend reading my web blog in its entirety and then paying a visit to the following websites:

The "Investigating Teen Challenge" Web Forum at- [], which is proudly hosted on Fornits Home for Wayward Web Fora Forum ( Fornits Forum covers many of the Treatment Abuse, Behavior Modification and Thought Reform facilities!
"Behind the Walls: The Teen Challenge You Won't See" by Michael Kincheloe - []
A very active thread about Teen Challenge at- []
Another thread on Teen Challenge at- []
A Thread at The Bismarck Tribune - []
Many more opinions about Teen Challenge can be found here- []
"Returning to Sanity" - []
A new thread about Teen Challenge called- 'Subsidized Religion in MA' at Aces Full of Links - []
NEW: "Exploring and Exposing Dominionist Christianity" - []
NEW: "watchpaul: Could it happen here?" - []
"The Texas Faith-Based Initiative at Five Years: Warning Signs as PresidentBush Expands Texas-style Program at National Level" - []
(Note: If you cannot open the above pdf file, you can download the "Foxit Reader", which is a free PDF document viewer and printer. [])

To learn more about the the faith-based initiative, go to Americans United for Separation of Church and State website- "The 'Faith-Based' Initiative- Churches, Social Services & Your Tax Dollars" - []
"Charitable Choice, Faith-Based Partnerships, and the Public Funding Of Religion" - []
"A Stark Truth For Policy Makers: Data Lacking to Support Claims of Faith-Based Social Program Success" - []
"Faith Without Works" - []
I am also posting the following web forum just in case someone feels it would suit them- , the "Ex-Pentecostal Forum" - []
Read more about the Ex-Pentecostal Forum at the "Association of Former Pentecostals" - []

JESUS ¡®LOVE-BOMBS' YOU - By Chris Hedges. []

Many other links are also listed over on the right-hand sidebar, along with the comments / concerns that people have about their bad experiences with Teen Challenge. Be sure to stop back as I add more info often!
Posted by Karly at 8:05 PM 1 comments
Friday, July 13, 2007
Something to Really Think About!!!
You are all aware that Teen Challenge Director Fred Lamberson III said that the Teen Challenge facilities are Christian discipleships, not drug and alcohol programs. Well, I am now wondering why the rest of the nation, including the judges in our court rooms, aren't aware of what Teen Challenge really is.

The following is from the Lebanon Daily News Jun 29, 2007:

Jesse L. Smith, 34, of 205 Strack Drive, Myerstown, was sentenced to two years probation and fined $3,000 for three drunken-driving convictions. Smith requested placement in the Teen Challenge residential drug-and-alcohol program at Rehrersburg. The judge ordered Smith to successfully complete the program or face a probation violation and a jail sentence.

I really don't believe that a judge would have imposed such a sentence if he/she was informed of the fact that Teen Challenge is not a drug and alcohol treatment center!

I would also like to point out the following court conviction that really deserves attention! Why? Because most of you already know that Teen Challenge states that they do not take in people who have prior sexual offenses or violent offenders. Obviously, that is not true!

The following is from the Lansing State Journal July 5, 2007:

David Leon Davis, 26, of Charlotte, criminal sexual conduct, fourth degree, habitual offender, fourth conviction, 365 days in jail, 173 days credit, 90 days suspended upon completion of Teen Challenge program and aftercare, $83.60 restitution, $600 supervision fee, $60 state cost, $60 to Crime Victims Rights Fund.

The following is from the Criminal Court Docket (published July 13, 2007) in Cumberland County, Tennessee:

Brian E. Elmore, in community corrections on a four-year sentence for burglary and theft more than $1,000, pleaded guilty to violation of probation and was ordered to serve 180 straight days with credit for 91 days already served with only release being directly into the Teen Challenge program. If he fails in the Teen Challenge program, he will be facing the remainder of the four-year sentence.

The above convictions/sentences prove that not only are the courts sentencing all kinds of convicted criminals to Teen Challenge but Teen Challenge obviously accepts a wide range of criminals into their program!

For proof of more types of criminals being accepted into Teen Challenge, please read my post entitled- "PROOF THAT COURTS ARE SENTENCING PEOPLE TO TEEN CHALLENGE"

I think this also proves why you should be very concerned about what
type of criminals live in the Teen Challenge near you!*
Posted by Karly at 8:45 AM 5 comments
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Understanding Why Eureka, CA Residents Have So Many Issues With Teen Challenge
To truly understand all aspects of the issues that many residents in Eureka, CA have been dealing with regarding Teen Challenge, one would have had to have been paying close attention to the newspapers in this city. When the articles are read in order, as a whole, you will begin to fully understand why so many people fought to stop Teen Challenge from operating in Eureka. You will hear much frustration as residents try to stand on their own to fight a battle that literally seems to be a no-win situation. They are left with some very important, unanswered questions, just as you will be.

From this point out, not only will the posts on my blog make much better sense to you, but you will also learn about aspects that you may not have even known about how Teen Challenge operates!

Below, I have posted the news articles from both the Times-Standard and The Eureka Reporter. Please take the time to read them before Teen Challenge comes to a city near you!

Below are the articles on the Teen Challenge Issue in Eureka, CA from the The Times-Standard:

Challenges to Teen Challenge 06/04/07 Comments(35)
Eureka Debates Proposed Recovery Center 06/06/07 Comments(48)
Council Regroups for Teen Challenge Decision 06/07/07 Comments (35)
Eureka Delays Vote on Teen Challenge 06/08/07 Comments(21)
Next Time, Go The Extra Mile 06/09/07 Comments(11)
Good News, Bad News 06/10/07 Comments(7)
Teen Challenge Back for Round Four 06/18/07 Comments(18)
Public May Get Second Chance For Comment 06/19/07 Comments(16)
Recovery Facility Approved 06/20/07 Comments(32)
Teen Challenge Debate Reveals A Neighborhood In Crisis 06/24/07 Comments(39)
Hot Eureka Issue Bubbling in State Capitol 07/05/07 Comments (14)
UPDATE: Property Buy Falls Through; Redwood Teen Challenge Back To Drawing Board 07/14/07 Comments (57)

"God works in mysterious ways preventing that "faith based" B.S. from setting up shop." - The Real Bubba Joe

Below are the articles on The Teen Challenge Issue in Eureka, CA from the The Eureka Reporter:
Commission OKs Center- Permit Planning Commission Grants Permit to Treatment Facility Over Residents' Objections 5/14/07
City Council to Review Appeal of Teen Challenge Decision 5/17/07
Housing Facility Still An Issue- Residents Gather to Discuss Concerns Over Teen Challenge Project 5/22/07
Inside Teen Challenge- Participants, Recovering Addicts Discuss Program; Lawsuit May Be On Horizon 5/25/07
Teen Challenge To Present Town Hall Meeting 5/30/07
Success Rate of Restorative Program' Speaks For Itself 5/30/07
Drugs For Sale Or Godly Recovery Program? 5/31/07
A License or Jesus? - Teen Challenge Director Says He's Not Willing to Compromise Program Philosophy 6/1/07
Redwood Teen Challenge Appeal Goes to Eureka Council 6/3/07
Meeting Gives Voice to Concerns 6/4/07
Council Should Allow Teen Challenge a Chance to Succeed 6/4/07
Writer Poses Questions For Teen Challenge to Consider 6/5/07
City Council Hears Brandenberg's Appeal- Lamberson Said License Not An Option 6/6/07

Eureka City Council to Look at Teen Challenge Appeal This Evening 6/6/07
Teen Challenge Vote Postponed- Eureka City Council Convenes Committee to Consider Revised Conditional-Use Permit 6/8/07
Newly Formed Advisory Group Meets to Discuss Teen Challenge 6/15/07
City Council to Hold Public Hearing on Teen Challenge Appeal 6/16/07
Hearing on Teen Challenge Appeal Continues 6/18/07
So Be It- Council Grants Conditional-Use Permit to Teen Challenge 6/20/07
A Law That Suits Or A Lawsuit? 6/25/07
Former (Teen Challenge) Member Talks About 'Abusive Ministry' 6/25/07
Rehab Facility Raises Ethical Questions 7/4/07
Teen Challenge May Feel the Effect of Senate Bill 992 7/5/07
UPDATE: Teen Challenge Deal is Dead! 7/16/07

Posted by Karly at 1:25 PM 2 comments
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Dallas Residents Urge Others to Sign Their Petition So They Can Stop Teen Challenge From Locating Next to Girl Scout Camp!

As of this morning, 441 people have signed a petition begging the city not to allow Teen/Life Challenge of Dallas to set up camp next to the Girl Scouts' longtime home at Camp Whispering Cedars. According to Allen Gwinn, this week the city's Planning Commission is set to take up the request of Teen/Life Challenge, which wants to buy and rezone the former Camp El-Har to accommodate up to 100 men!

Read more here: Fury Over Plan for Rehab Near Girl Scout Camp

The Petition can be found here: Petition in Opposition of Teen/Life Challenge of Dallas, Inc., Zoning Case No. Z067-191

Posted by Karly at 9:52 AM 0 comments
Thursday, May 10, 2007
"No sexual abuse allegations at Teen Challenge? Bull crap!"
This was posted by Cameron at- []

"No sexual abuse allegations at Teen Challenge? Bull crap!"


"There is no question that eliminating basic health and safety standards made operations easier for a few faith-based programs in Texas, however the lack of minimum standards has threatened the safety of those participating in the program. In 1998, a boy filed suit against Dallas Teen Challenge Boys Ranch and Assemblies of God, alleging that a counselor, who was a convicted drug trafficker, sexually molested him and two other boys. The lawsuit also claimed that the ranch¡¯s Executive Director, the church and the ranch¡¯s board knowingly hired people with criminal histories to serve as counselors." (Austin American-Statesman, 5/13/1998)

More here: []

"Texas Freedom Network, a 23,000-member non-partisan grassroots watchdog group based in Austin conducted a five-year study of the policy and found, ¡°As exempt faith-based drug treatment centers, [such] facilities are not required to have licensed chemical dependency counselors, conduct staff training or criminal background checks, protect client confidentiality rights, adhere to state health and safety standards, or report abuse, neglect, emergencies and medication errors.¡±


"And if you really want to have a look at sexual abuse cases involving the Assemblies of God Church (which runs all Teen Challenge programs) have a look at this page!" - []

Note- The original source for the above page is here: []
Posted by Karly at 7:23 PM 0 comments
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Teen Challenge's Primary Purpose
This excerpt is from the Proselytizing Report: "Teen Challenge" -

"Mr. Soemo (Phoenix Center Director for "Teen Challenge") openly admitted that the primary purpose of Teen Challenge is the promotion of a specific religious belief system. He made it clear his focus is conversion." "In conclusion, Teen Challenge represents a direct violation of the guidelines of our religious manual which preclude any "proselytizing."

An organization, which has as it's primary goal "confrontational evangelism," obviously has no place within ADOC religious programs. Unlike Christian denominations, which may contain an evangelical message within the context of their denominational liturgical service, this organization has confrontational evangelism as its stated goal and essentially its only function.

Chaplains throughout the ADOC are expected to facilitate religious programming in a neutral, non-biased manner. Teen Challenge therefore presents an obvious problem. Any chaplain who engages in facilitating a program for this organization could easily be seen as assisting in proselytizing."

Posted by Karly at 6:31 PM 0 comments
Saturday, April 28, 2007
This is a post I found tonight on the net that directly tells why someone quit Teen Challenge. Click on the title to view the original post.

Prayer for Intercession for Joe
27 April 2007
"Joe left teen challenge yesterday and is enrolling in a salvation army program instead. The teen challenge program was a little too much for him¡ªno visitation, can¡¯t communicate with family¡ªhe really wants to be able to see his son. The mandatory fasting two days a week shocked him as well. The salvation army program is a 6 month residency program that allows attendees to visit family, and even hold a job after a period of time. It is also a Christ-centered program. The other good news is that his insurance apparently will cover the new program, which means he does not need our support. I thank you all for your prayers and for your eager willingness to support Joe in this major life change. Please keep praying, but use your resources to bless another. It is our willingness to give that pleases God, not the act of giving. May He richly blessed for your generosity."

Posted by Karly at 8:01 PM 0 comments
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Using Mind Control - The BITE Model, how many and which mind control techniques do you feel that Teen Challenge uses? (I highly recommend that you ask previous Teen Challenge members or compare Teen Challenge's Daily Schedule, Overview of the Teen Challenge Program and their Student Guidelines to help you decide.)

I have compared the Teen Challenge Daily Schedule, Overview of the Teen Challenge Program and the Student Guidelines to the BITE Model and was absolutely convinced that Teen Challenge uses the majority of these mind control tactics! Print them all out! I think you will be convinced also!

Posted by Karly at 1:16 PM 0 comments
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I found this post at and it seems to depict one aspect of the very bizarre reality of what it's really like behind the doors at Teen Challenge...

"I was at Teen Challenge in Nashville, and I can honestly say that I left because I felt as if I were part of an infomercial for Teen Challenge to receive money. We were guests at many churches in and around the area and each time we were all herded to the front of the church and without choice and whether or not we were okay yet we were to tell our story of how the program had completely changed our lives, even if we had only been there for two days. I can understand the God part of it because I do know that he is the only one that can completely heal us of our addictions, but come on....once you get out of there you need to have been taught the skills to live in the real world and not the world of teen challenge where each and every move you make is monitored and punished. You cannot force someone that has no Christian background to stand up in a church and praise God and beg for money to help others like themselves if they haven't even gotten the help they need yet. It is like Bible College and Military Bootcamp all rolled into one and for someone who may not even know who they are yet it can be so overwhelming. I do know it helps some people, because I have seen it, but I also know that it can drive some people right back to the world they came from because if you feel that it is not the place for you and discuss leaving with them you are given the third degree and told by EVERYONE you come on contact with on your way out that you are making the worst mistake of your life and that you will never make it. You will die if you leave there because Satan will attack you so hard that you cannot possibly survive. That IS NOT what an addict who is really trying to get better needs to hear. You cannot scare someone into getting sober. It is a hard thing to do in the first place and to me compassion and love go a lot farther than bullying someone into becoming a "Robot " for the sake of Teen Challenges survival as a program. Let time be the proof, when many who have been helped simply let others know that Teen Challenge may be what they need, because it helped them. If you have more people dropping out of the program then staying and "Graduating" then there is obviously a problem."

Trenton, TN
Friday Mar 23, 2007

Posted by Karly at 6:45 PM 1 comments
Monday, March 26, 2007
BBB Wise Giving Alliance: Investigate Before You Donate

NATIONAL CHARITY REPORTS INDEX - This page lists the current BBB Wise Giving Alliance reports on charities and other organizations that solicit nationally.


Posted by Karly at 10:42 PM 0 comments
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Read one journalists view that may change your mind about all the Teen Challenge hoopla!

Blog article:

Newspaper article:

NOTE: This is an absolutely incredible article and I highly recommend reading it in its entirety!!!
Posted by Karly at 1:28 PM 1 comments
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Excerpt from: []

The truth, Mr. Johnson and many other social scientists say, is that there is little reliable research proving the effectiveness of religious programs. They also add that there is scant evidence showing which religious programs show the best results and how they stack up against secular programs.

"From the left to the right, everyone assumes that faith-based programs work," Mr. Johnson said. "Even the critics of DiIulio and his office haven't denied that. We hear that and just sit back and laugh. In terms of empirical evidence that they work, it's pretty much nonexistent."

"They'll hand you a three-page in-house report," Mr. Johnson said, "showing that they reached 1,300 people that year. But what does 'reach' mean? That's not going to cut it."

Social scientists have pointed out that the 86 percent success rate of Teen Challenge is misleading. It does not count the people who dropped out during the program. And like many religious and private charities, Teen Challenge picks its clients.

Before they are accepted, most of the addicts have already been through detoxification programs, said the Rev. John D. Castellani, president of Teen Challenge International U.S.A. 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.

This raises questions for David Reingold, a researcher at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. A study Mr. Reingold has just completed of social services in Indiana found that religious programs are more likely than their secular counterparts to limit the clientele they serve. As a result, Mr. Reingold said, "It's an extreme exaggeration to say that religious organizations are more effective."

Posted by Karly at 12:53 PM 0 comments
Sunday, March 11, 2007
I have received several inquiries regarding this particular quote that is on the side-bar of my blog:

"What's worse, is that I have heard that some Probation officers are CHOOSING Teen Challenge and demanding graduation OR else their "person on probation" goes to prison / jail. In other words, sign onto the "Assemblies of God" religion, walk the walk, "speak in tongues" etc.... or you'll go to jail. Doesn't this smack of civil rights violations!!!??? " posted by Cherokee lady of Fowler, CA Tuesday Jan 23

The inquiries were about whether a judge can really sentence you to go to Teen Challenge or not. The answer is yes, a judge may court order you to complete Teen Challenge. If you do not complete the program you will violate your terms of probation and then you will have to complete your full jail or prison sentence!

Here are several court files that prove this:

STATE OF OHIO v. BARTLEY S. MEADOWS (One count of felonious assault and one count of aggravated burglary.)

STATE OF FLORIDA v. KEVIN DANIEL SMITH (Willfully violated two of the conditions of his community control.)

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA v DAVID BENJAMIN TURNER (Violated the terms and conditions of his probation in all four cases- felonious larceny, larceny of a firearm and possession of stolen goods. Eight consolidated charges, including breaking and entering a motor vehicle, breaking and entering a residence, felonious larceny, and felonious financial card theft.)

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. RONALD EUGENE PURDY (Probation violation for aggravated burglary, a Class C felony.)

STATE OF MISSOURI v. RICKY LEE BEACH (First degree armed robbery.)

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. BILLY M. HIGGINS (The defendant was convicted on December 10, 2001, of one count of delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine, a Class B felony, and one count of delivery of under .5 grams of cocaine, a Class C felony.)

STATE OF TENNESSEE v. GREGORY SCOTT ALLISON (Burglary, a Class D felony, and misdemeanor theft.)
Posted by Karly at 5:53 PM 1 comments
Monday, March 05, 2007
Excerpt from page 14 of the Saint Louis Teen Challenge Application: "In consideration for the opportunity to obtain this counseling, I promise that I will not take any legal actions in the future for anything said, done, or omitted by my case manager, Teen Challenge of St. Louis, their agents, or family members during this case management program. I agree to hold Teen Challenge of St. Louis, their agents, and family members harmless for any legal claims of negligence or damage of any sort, which a person could assert, related to the Teen Challenge of St. Louis case management programs."

Excerpt from page 15 of the Saint Louis Teen Challenge Application: "8. I release Teen Challenge from all financial or legal responsibilities in case of accident, injury, illness or other misfortune."

Link location: []

Posted by Karly at 9:48 PM 0 comments
Saturday, March 03, 2007
This excerpt is taken from page 17 of this Teen Challenge Application!


"I/We, ______________________________________, parent(s), guardian(s), or conservator(s) of _____________________________, a minor child born on _______________, hereby agree that he/she can enroll in Minnesota Teen Challenge Academy (MTCA), a 12-month Christian residential rehabilitative program. I/We further agree that I/we relieve MTCA, its Staff, Employees, Students, and Board Members from any responsibility or liability for any damages to him or his property during his residence at MTCA or during any related travel and/or activities. I/We also agree to release, hold harmless, and relinquish all rights to pursue any cause of action whatsoever against MTCA, its Staff, Employees, Students, and Board Members if a student voluntarily leaves MTCA or for any damages incurred during his/her residence."

Link location: []

Why would Teen Challenge require a parent to sign this? This is absurd!!! This truly opens the door to exploitation, mistreatment, and abuse!!!

NOTE: I am adding a link that I found at Find Law to show you just how long and complicated your case can become regarding the signing of a Parental Release of Liability Agreement. []

I think you may have to register at the FindLaw website to review this case so I am posting the specifics so you can find it just in case the link I posted doesn't take you directly to it-

Cooper v. Aspen Skiing Company.


Two East 14th Avenue

Denver, Colorado 80203

Certiorari to the Colorado Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals Case No. 99CA187
Case No. 00SC885

Posted by Karly at 1:11 AM 0 comments
Friday, March 02, 2007
Here is a START Fact Sheet with warnings to parents considering Residential Placement. If you are a parent or an adult who is considering committing either your child or yourself into the Teen Challenge Program, I strongly suggest that you also read this fact sheet.

I also highly recommend that you print out and compare this fact sheet to the Teen Challenge Daily Schedule , the in-depth Overview of the Teen Challenge Program and the Student Guidelines. You will be amazed by how many of the warning signs that the START Fact Sheet points out that are happening at Teen Challenge!

Also, to get a better picture of the program, below I have included the Daily Schedule just in case Teen Challenge pulls it off of the only website they have it posted on. (It took a lot of searching through there many websites to find this schedule!)

This is the Teen Challenge Daily Schedule:

I recommend that you print this schedule so you can evaluate just how many hours per day and week that a person would be required to spend doing the religious aspect of the program. Lecture, PACE and Study Hall are all centered around the Bible. Add up those times with the amount of time a person would spend doing Devotions and Praise & Prayer and you will realize that the students pretty much 'live & breathe' religion the good part of the day, every day, for an entire year!!!

Also, check out how many hours are spent in church on Sunday! The students must attend church, not once, but twice every Sunday!!! This totals 6-1/4 hours of solid religious programing every Sunday, not to mention the 1/2 hour that is spent doing the daily Devotion forty-five minutes after waking up every Sunday morning!

This schedule reeks of total conversion to their specific religious belief system, which is the primary purpose of Teen Challenge! As I've stated before- Teen Challenge's main goal is to recruit you so they can convert you to their extremely 'hyper-religious' religion!

Link location of the Daily Schedule: []
Link location of the Overview of the Teen Challenge Program: []
Link location of Student Guidelines: []

Posted by Karly at 8:14 PM 0 comments
Monday, February 19, 2007
Teen Challenge continually boasts about their unbelievably high success rates. You've heard those success rates being told by Teen Challenge over & over again to promote their faith-based treatment program. So where do these unbelievably high success rates come from?

-The last statistically significant evaluation of the Teen Challenge program was in 1975, which was done by The National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago. They developed the survey instrument, located survey participants, conducted the personal interviews, and obtained a urine sample to test for drugs. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded the first year of the study. The evaluation came from a sample of Pennsylvania Teen Challenge graduates from 1968!

FYI: 1975 was 32 years ago! 1968 was 39 years ago!

-A total of 186 persons, divided into 3 groups, were interviewed for this project:

P1=70 people (students that entered Brooklyn Teen Challenge, but dropped out and never attended the Rehrersburg program.)
P2=52 people (students that completed the Brooklyn program who later dropped out of the Rehrersburg program.)

P3=64 people (graduates of the Rehrersburg Training Center program.)

The results claim that 67% of the graduates (P3) are drug-free as indicated by the urinalysis test, even though 86% stated they were drug-free on the questionnaire. So, that would mean that 67% of the P3 group, or 43 people remained marijuana and heroin-free 7 years after graduating from Teen Challenge.

So, if 43 graduates remained marijuana and heroin-free 7 years after this survey, what about the other 21 graduates and the remaining 143 people who dropped out of the program? Also, the test results do not indicate whether the graduates tested positive for other drugs such as alcohol, other narcotics or nicotine!

This study suggested that Teen Challenge had a success rate of 86%. But Bill McColl, executive director of the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, dismisses both the statistic and the study. He states that the study was done too long ago and conducted with an extraordinarily small sample group. This leads us to believe that this study has almost no statistical validity. I tend to side with his opinion.

FYI: Upon doing an internet search of this study, I am only able to find 'excerpts' of this particular study only on the Teen Challenge websites, which leads me to once again wonder, "Why?"

Posted by Karly at 11:22 AM 2 comments
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Family members who have loved ones in Teen Challenge programs across the country have many unanswered questions. Many seem to be crying out for help because they are not able to find out how their loved ones are 'really' doing! Please read the side-bar on the right to read excerpts from some of the family members comments and questions. These excerpts are linked to the original website that they were posted on, which is where you can read the full post.

Upon reading the excerpts and original posts, you will also realize that many people are complaining about many issues, including:

Teen Challenge staff are not returning phone calls to concerned family members.

Teen Challenge staff closely monitor conversations and visits so as not to allow the person who is in for treatment to be able to tell their family members exactly what is happening or has happened to them (or others) while in Teen Challenge.
Teen Challenge staff will actually disconnect telephone conversations when either party mentions something they do not think is appropriate.

Teen Challenge staff reprimands your loved one using various forms of punishment as discipline that you may not approve of.

Teen Challenge severely limits contact with the outside world during the entire one-year (or more) stay at Teen Challenge.

Teen Challenge staff have also been accused of physical, mental and spiritual abuse.
Very high drop-out rates that will completely change the publics perception of those incredibly high success rates that Teen Challenge continually boasts about.

It is also becoming quite clear to me that people are having a very hard time finding others who also have loved ones in Teen Challenge. You can only begin to imagine what they are also going through.
Posted by Karly at 11:26 AM 23 comments
Friday, February 16, 2007
The Teen Challenge Program

Teen Challenge is offered as a Drug & Alcohol Treatment Center not only for teenagers, but also for adults. The program seems to be based solely on the fact that a person can literally 'pray away' their alcoholism and drug addiction. As far as I can tell, the program is not even certified because it uses pastoral counselors instead of licensed clinical counselors. This has led me to do some research to find out what Teen Challenge is really all about and I highly recommend that you do the same before either admitting your teenager or yourself into it! (I feel sorry for the people who join while they are incarcerated. Teen Challenge does alot of their recruiting in jails and prisons! Nothing like getting you when you're already down, hey?)

Based on my findings, I feel that Teen Challenge should be classified as a brainwashing cult. Why? Well, first click here to view their Daily Schedule. (If you spend some time exploring their many websites across the U.S. and world, you will find that this schedule is rarely modified and strictly adhered to. You will also find that their Daily Schedule is quite hard to find!) Note how the schedule incorporates the daily times for the morning Devotions, Praise & Prayer and evening Devotions. From what I've heard, after you wake up and right before bedtime are when your subconscious is the most susceptible to change.

I printed out the schedule so I could evaluate just how many hours per day and week that a person would be required to spend doing the religious aspect of the program. I also realized that Lecture, PACE and Study Hall are all centered on the Bible. So, if you add up those times with the amount of time you needed for Devotions and Praise & Prayer, you realize that the students pretty much 'live & breathe' religion the good part of the day, every day, for an entire year!!!

I was also amazed at how many hours are spent in church on Sunday! The students must attend church, not once, but twice every Sunday!!! This totals 6-1/4 hours of solid religious programing every Sunday, not to mention the 1/2 hour that is spent doing the daily Devotion forty-five minutes after waking up that morning!

This is an Overview of the Teen Challenge Program. Some of their websites call it 'The Student Manual'. This site calls it Student Guidelines. (I recommend reading both of them in their entirety!) Regardless of what it is called, it is also very hard to find because most of the Teen Challenge websites do not offer it! (I wonder why? Is it because they don't want the public to know?) I also wonder if new 'recruits' are informed of these very strict rules before they are admitted. Strict dress-codes, no television, no contact with boyfriend / girlfriend / friends, no speaking to the opposite sex unless you have permission, very limited telephone usage, 5-min. showers? The list of no-no's goes on & on!

Here is their Global Teen Challenge Worldwide Directory. If you dig deep enough, you may be able to uncover a few more of their secrets that aren't disclosed on most of their websites!

Another good place to start finding out more would be to read the Proselytizing Report about Teen Challenge from the website of The Rick A. Ross Institute For The Study Of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements.

Personally, I highly recommend doing some serious investigating before either admitting your teenager or yourself into it! And if you know someone who is incarcerated that is thinking about applying to this faith-healing treatment center, let them know what your findings are!

Also, ask questions! Ask others if they agree that Teen Challenge very aggressively pushes their religious beliefs upon those who do not share them and whose main goal is to recruit you so they can convert you to their extremely 'hyper-religious' religion. And don't forget to ask others if they sometimes have to behave like Holy Rollers / Jesus Freaks who roll around on the floor and 'speak in tongues' in an uncontrolled manner.

"Is this really what I want my loved one to experience?"

Posted by Karly at 8:05 AM 1 comments
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Behind the Walls: The Teen Challenge You Won't See
Teen Challenge websites do not make the public aware that Teen Challenge is actually a Mission of the Assemblies of God Church!

Need proof? []

Need more proof that Teen Challenge is a Mission of the Assemblies of God Church?
Assemblies of God U.S. Missions has six departments, which INCLUDES Teen Challenge-

Teen Challenge Director Fred Lamberson III said his other two facilities in Arcata and Eureka operate without a state license and without medical staff and, although 80 percent of the residents are recovering from drug or alcohol abuse, the facilities are ¡°Christian discipleships,¡± not ¡°drug and alcohol programs.¡±
*NEW* - "Investigating Teen Challenge" Web Forum
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The Rick A. Ross Institute For The Study Of Destructive Cults, Controversial Groups and Movements
Bogus Success Rates?
Nationally known drug treatment program, Teen Challenge, has encouraged this notion by claiming success rates ranging from seventy to eighty-six percent. But these figures dramatically distort the truth, as they represent the successful treatment rate of only those participants who do not drop out of the program before completion, which includes less than one-fifth (18%) of the total number of students who actually participated. -Statement of Samantha Smoot
13 Counts of Abuse?
"The Teen Challenge I was in is now being taken to court on 13 accounts of abuse..." by Nikki on October 1, 2005 5:41 PM
Shelly Says:
"If I were not a TRUE CHRISTIAN I would say a lot more uglier things about the whole situation." by shelly on December 26, 2005 3:10 AM
Judy Asks:
"No information was given to us about daily schedules or even if counseling was available. If anyone has info about the induction phase could you please email? Calls to his "counselor" and director mostly go unanswered. Thank You!" by judy on June 11, 2006 8:57 PM
A Family Member Asks:
"Why does my sister look so skinny and pale in the only 2 pictures they have allowed her to send to my family?" by loving sister on January 9, 2006 1:35 AM
Laurie Asks:
"My fiance is in there and I am not allowed to have any contact including letters for a year. Is that true???" posted by Laurie of Clearwater, FL Nov 30, 2006
-Forced to Solicit-
"I had a conversation with a young man yesterday, who was in Teen Challenge in New Hampshire for six months. He told me he was cut off from all contact with family. He said that they were also "forced" (his words) to solicit money every day, with alot of it skimmed off by 'counselors'." by Rick on November 8, 2006 10:57 AM
Mom Had to Hire An Attorney:
"I had to hire an attorney to get my 24 year old son out of Teen Challenge in Riverside, Ca. They ostracized him for not "speaking in tongues", and his "counselor" told me that speaking in tongues is a gift from God, your son could have it too, but he is rebellious!" by Bren on February 11, 2007 2:07 PM
Civil Rights Violations!
What's worse, is that I have heard that some Probation officers are CHOOSING Teen Challenge and demanding graduation OR else their "person on probation" goes to prison / jail. In other words, sign onto the "Assemblies of God" religion, walk the walk, "speak in tongues" etc.... or you'll go to jail. Doesn't this smack of civil rights violations!!!??? posted by Cherokee lady of Fowler, CA Tuesday Jan 23 (NOTE: Please read my blog post entitled "Proof That Courts Are Sentencing People To Teen Challenge")
Given False Information
"I feel I was given false info which lead me to give up my flat, leave my family and job, all to return to nothing." posted by Lindsey London, UK Monday Feb 5
Multiple cases of abuse:
"The (Teen Challenge) program we were in has multiple cases of abuse being set up against them. It's about time." by Nicole on June 8, 2006 9:01 PM
Forces god down people's throats
"Teen Challenge forces God down people's throats, and puts God into their tiny box, telling everyone that they know who God is and exactly what he thinks and believes. They look down on you and treat you like an idiot if you don't believe just like them. I can't tell you how much hurt and anger has come from my stay there." by Beth on May 31, 2006 4:31 PM
Obviously- This Lady's Been Brain Washed!
Those that say that they were in it and there was brainwashing... well they just need to get a better understanding of the word brainwashing... by Samantha on May 11, 2007
Sexual Abuse Cases
And if you really want to have a look at sexual abuse cases involving the Assemblies of God Church (which runs all of the Teen Challenge programs) then you should do some research because the amount of cases and convictions is mind-boggling!!! by Cameron on May 10, 2007
They could quote hundreds of Bible verses...
I'm a pastor who has had a couple of my members go to Teen Challenge. I will not judge what happened/s there because I don't know personally. I do know though that they have not done well after coming through the program and getting out. They have relapsed and nothing that was done there has stayed with them. They could quote hundreds of Bible verses but couldn't connect them with real life or behavior in any realistic way - it's all just rote memorization. I'm not impressed. posted by rev on Apr 18, 2007
Engaged to Fiance But Not Allowed to Visit Him!
My boyfriend is there and it is true that even engaged people can't have contact. Only immediate family (mom dad bro sis) can have contact. My prayers are with you and your fiance! by Laura Monday June 18
Girlfriend Not Allowed to Visit You While In Teen Challenge
At the Riverside TC, if a guy wanted to have his girlfriend visit, she had to be a Christian ("walking with the Lord" was their term) and have a letter from her pastor, and pass an interview with the staff. I've never heard of an induction center letting girlfriends visit under any circumstances. Tuesday Jun 19 by Michael
very high drop out rate and statistics from 32 years ago!
It is also a FACT that the VERY high drop-out rate for Teen Challenge is tremendous and it is ALSO a FACT that Teen Challenge is bragging about statistics that are from 1975, which was 32 years ago! Those statistics were done on Teen Challenge graduates from 1968, which was 39 years ago!!! Out of those 186 people, a total of 143 people dropped out of the Teen Challenge program!!! Cameron May 9, 2007
have you been to teen challenge?
Why am I posting this?... well... probably for 2 reasons....
1. I want to come to grips with this disappointing experience by prompting discussion with any others who have experienced teen challenge.
2. I want to warn would-be attendees of teen challenge of what I observed and hopefully spare them the same disaster I experienced. Chaz
A Comment I Received
I received an e-mail describing one man's particular discipline in Teen Challenge. He states- "In fact, one of my worst disciplines in Teen Challenge was writing a full page essay 450 times in one week!"
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Investigating Teen Challenge
"I had to hire an attorney to get my 24 year old son out of Teen Challenge in Riverside, Ca. Our experience was a VERY negative one. My son WANTED to change his life when he entered Teen Challenge, however, we were shocked by the whole experience! They would make stuff up and punish my son at their whim. (Punishment gives you more time to serve, thus they get more money working you, so I have heard) Also, my son asked if there was counseling available, as he felt depressed. (They have no counselors, all that work there have gone through TC's one year TCMI program). He was told it was his own fault for being depressed as he didn't give himself to Jesus. They ostracized him for not "speaking in tongues", and his "counselor" told me that "speaking in tongues is a gift from God, your son could have it too, but he is rebellious!" When they overheard that he had asked me to request a program change with his probation officer (change to a secular drug rehab, NOT a RELIGIOUS program) they attacked him, told him that he needed to spend some time in PRISON to be broken down to accept Jesus, that going to other re-habs was spitting in the face of Jesus. They drove him to a bus stop, dropped him off, then LIED to me about the incident. This poor kid was hysterical. Thus the hiring of an attorney. My experience drew me to this conclusion: Teen Challenge basically pushes hyper-religiosity to replace addiction. They DO tell you that it was a calling by God to be there, and guilt you with their belief that you must come back there. They pressure you for recruitment. Their success statistics are not accurate, according to researchers. Those that lack resources for attorneys are victimized.... Yes, TC is probably better than jail for some, but the sad fact remains that TC is mentally abusive, and many of those lost souls that end up there do suffer so... My son was always sounding wound up, stressed out, confused.... He is now doing beautifully and is calm and getting the healing he needs. (He is OUT of Teen Challenge) So, for us, Teen Challenge was a nightmare! AND, many in there do not realize that it is a violation of their civil rights to push the religious dogma, IF IT IS TRUE that Teen Challenge did indeed receive faith-initiative money, which IS federal money. They crossed the line when they mentally abused my son by refusing to allow him the freedom to choose another program WITHOUT FEAR OF RETALIATION. They KNOW that these people on probation are on thin ice, and it empowers them to threaten them with "giving probation bad reports", and "I'm sending you to PRISON!" It was a terrifying experience, and I hope and pray that Karma, God, Jesus, EVERYTHING in the universe works together to expose abusive organizations that exploit broken souls!" by Bren on February 11, 2007 2:07 PM
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Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 26, 2012 01:54AM

I do not live in Pennsylvania, but noticed that in my city, Teen Challege has had a table set up soliciting donations outside of a large Safeway supermarket.

Made me wonder what was up. They have rented or perhaps purchased a large building on a street half a mile away.

Where's that donated money going?

The children, (some VERY tall) are out there at the table soliciting funds to help fight alcoholism and addiction.



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Posted by: Sparky ()
Date: May 26, 2012 04:41AM

Wow. I only followed some of the Teen Challenge posts lazily.

I had no idea they were associated with F.A.G. (First Assemblies of God). F.A.G. is a strange organization to say the least. Jim Jones was a F.A.G. pastor if I am correct.

Teen Challenge is active near me and yes, while I am not in PA, I was surprised by the old "teens".

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Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 26, 2012 08:14AM


Sun Apr 27, 2008 at 02:19 PM PDT.

Teen Challenge: Coercive groups disguised as rehabby dogemperorFollow .
Share74 permalink 37 Comments

I've written quite a lot on the subject of coercive "behaviour modification" facilities in past--including legislative efforts to stop the industry in its tracks as well as exposes of their heavy usage as a dominionist "parallel economy" alternative to legit mental health and info on gross abuses in these facilities.

Over the next few days, we are going to focus on a specific chain of these facilities (which have been compared to Abu Ghraib)--Teen Challenge, a chain of Assemblies-run "faith based rehabs" that was the target of a "get out of jail free" deregulation of the "kiddie gulag" industry in Texas by none other than George W. Bush.

In a continuation of the series we began yesterday, we focus on an aspect Teen Challenge shares with its parent denomination--a history of rampant coercive tactics and spiritual abuse.

As if the beatings weren't bad enough...

There are a number of disturbing signs that, much like the Assemblies (of which Teen Challenge is one of six "US missions"), Teen Challenge is prone to use of spiritual abuse and coercive tactics--and there are multiple reports to back this up, sadly.

In yesterday's post, it was noted that a requirement of Teen Challenge was that parents agree to (among other things) this note:

Parents must agree "that God desires that they resolve their dispute with one another within the church and that they be reconciled in their relationships in accordance with the principles stated in I Corinthians 6:1-8, Matthew 5:23-24, and Matthew 18:15-20."

Of note, there is some interesting scripture-twisting Teen Challenge uses to shut down debate that matches similar scripture-twisting in its Assemblies parent. 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 describes a process of refusing to take church matters before "ungodly" authorities but to have them handled internally by the church--used frequently in the Assemblies to shut down debate, especially since in the Assemblies there effectively is no way to disagree with persons in a position of authority above you. (In context, it's actually part of a longer narrative in 1 Corinthians 6 decrying general immorality in the church.) Matthew 5:23-24 is an interesting bit of scripture-twisting of the chapter that includes the Beatitudes--stating that disputes between persons should be resolved before worship, and in context meant as a message by Jesus essentially promoting total pacifism including avoiding speaking unkind words to others. Matthew 18:15-18 describes a process of in-church correction to be followed by public accusation in church and finally formal shunning; this has also been used in Assemblies churches (especially those using a "cell church" model) to almost completely shut down dissent even among pastors.

In fact, Teen Challenge is considered potentially coercive by exit counselors (being a member of what amounts to an entire family of "Bible-based coercive groups" that turn out to be Assemblies churches or frontgroups--other members of the "Assemblies complex" independently regarded as coercive include Youth With A Mission; most "Messianic Jew" groups operated by the Assemblies; the Hillsong Assemblies of God complex in Sydney, Australia; the "Pensacola Revival" at Brownsville Assembly of God and the "Third Wave" Joel's Army/Joshua Generation movement; and Paul Yonggi Cho's Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea--a pattern of abuses so consistent, especially when reports of abuse at other Assemblies churches and fronts are added in, that an increasing number of exit counselors consider the Assemblies of God in toto a coercive religious group).

Notably, a report to the Arizona Department of Corrections by exit counselor Rick Ross (who is one of the notable experts on religious abuse within "Bible-based" groups and within neopentecostal dominionist orgs in particular) notes that the primary goal of Teen Challenge's program was religious recruitment and that it had characteristics in common with many coercive groups (including Assemblies-linked "conjoined twin" Campus Crusade as well as Scientology and the Moonies); we'll focus more on that report in an upcoming article on practices within the group.

Reports from survivors also confirm probable coercion--not just reports to exit counselors, but reports in media. Here are examples from reports sent to Ross by survivors of Teen Challenge:

"I was at Teen Challenge in Pensacola, Florida for two months, and it was very much like a cult. A lot of brainwashing there. It made my problems worse, rather than better. I don't recommend Teen Challenge for anyone. One leader threw bibles at the residents and carried around a baseball bat to scare us. Not good. And a lot of other bad things too."

"I am a mother of a 24-year-old son that I had to rescue out of the Teen Challenge...We were misled, told it was a drug rehab. I had to hire an attorney, as once Teen Challenge found out that my son was requesting a program change (as he could not sign onto their hyper-religiosity) they began mentally abusing him more and even told him he was 'spitting in the face of Jesus' and said 'pack your bags. I'm sending you to prison.' So much mental abuse. I have heard from others that Teen Challenge has no qualms about submitting a 'bad report' to probation to have you thrown into prison/ jail for 'non-compliance' if they even suspect that you are not 'part of God's army.' They ostracized my son for not 'speaking-in-tongues.' When I informed his 'counselor' that my son was struggling with being ostracized for not 'speaking-in-tongues,' the counselor personally told me that 'speaking-in-tongues is a gift from God! Anyone can have it, if they want it. Your son just doesn't want it because he is rebellious against the holy spirit.' I feel that anyone who is court ordered to Teen Challenge becomes a target for being 'broken for Christ.' I am completely flabbergasted by the whole nightmarish experience, the lies I personally was told, the attempts to sabotage my son's program switch request, the mental abuse, to name a few. Teen Challenge has more info from a man who went through the same program my son was is in. I snatched my son out of there and put him in a secular program. My heart swells for those left behind. I want organizations like this exposed, as I feel that the majority of the public does not know the real story. Had I known, we could have avoided it."

"Teen Challenge (in MANY people's opinion) is a cult! Beware! The residents are only hyped up on hyper-religiosity to replace drug addiction. Teen Challenge does NOT believe in ANY other rehabs.(i.e. 12-step programs) They make up rules as they go along. And punish you at their whim for 'breaking' them. They put residents on 'Behavior Modification' which adds more time you must do to complete the program. The longer you are there, the more money they make off of you.(as you work long hours at various jobs) When they "overheard" my desperate son (24 years old) pleading with me to request a program change with his probation officer, they attacked him the next day, told him 'there were no bars on the windows', told him to pack up his stuff and then they DROVE him to a bus station and abandoned him there. With no money. It would have only been 24 hours that a warrant would have been issued for my son 'failing' the program. Then the counselor LIED to me, saying 'your son ran away to score drugs. He told me so'. I had to hire an attorney. Those that are court-ordered to be there are abused and the staff is empowered by the fact that they can ultimately put that person in prison!!!! My son's roommate was bi-polar, and they took away his meds because they said 'Jesus heals'."

(The last two reports were from a mother of a survivor of a Teen Challenge facility in California--the same facility that the author of the watchdog site "Teen Challenge Exposed" is also an escapee from.)

The same commenter has also noted explicit promotion of extremely concerning and abusive tactics which are a part of core Assemblies theology--notably, the promotion of not only Scientology-esque "deliverance ministry" (up to and including abusive involuntary "exorcisms") but also explicit promotion of Joel's Army/Joshua Generation "God Warrior" theology of the same sort as promoted not only by Assemblies of God leadership but also the neopente dominionist anti-LGBT hate group "Watchmen On The Walls" (which also has known Assemblies support):

Yes Rebeca you are right about the speaking in tongues. My son did not "receive the gift of speaking in tongues". His counselor told him AND ME that "anyone can have the gift, but your son is REBELLIOUS and refuses the gift!"... They would circle around him at their private church meetings (not the "water-downed" ones on Sunday for public to attend) and he said they would rub oil on his head and scream and call out demons to try to get him to speak in tongues.(like the Jesus Camp you referred to.) They began to ostracize him when he did not speak, and even put him in in "behavior modification" where he was not allowed to speak to others. Also, the time (weeks) he was in behavior mod was added to the time he had to serve to "complete the program". You are also right about the recruitment pressure. They told him that they were building the "true army of god" and god would show them which ones to weed out.And they tell everyone that god called them to do another 1 year training called TCMI for Teen Challenge after they do their 1 year 4 months (more time usually due to behavior modification time-outs). AND they don't believe in other secular rehabs, so if you indicate that you would like to be referred to another program, they believe that it's better to be in prison (to be broken for "Jesus") than lovingly work with referring you to another program. All they have to do is LIE to probation and say you were "non-compliant" and fail you. It IS SCARY how they mis-use their power.

As noted, Teen Challenge does not advertise openly that it is an Assemblies of God ministry--however, multiple analyses have shown its primary purpose is recruitment, and in fact recruitment into Assemblies ministries in particular. (In fact, there is a very good argument to be made that Teen Challenge may in part act as a "missionary mill" for the Assemblies--more on this in a future segment.) This is in general regarded as a danger sign by both exit counselors and watchdog groups monitoring abusive "behaviour modification" facilities, and in particular hits almost all of the warning signs of an abusive facility by International Survivor's Action Committee.

Some examples of the sorts of pressure people are put under with the Teen Challenge program are detailed by a survivor and critic and reported by other walkaways and survivors:

"Teen Challenge is just like a "cult" operation, training its participants to perform tasks mindlessly without question for the staff authority. I had a bunk mate next to me that was pscytsophrenic and was constantly under pressure to be "prayed over" to be healed so he would not have to take his medication that helped to stop the voices."
. . .
"My 24 year old son was just granted a program change from Teen Challenge. I had to hire an attorney, as they do NOT believe in any other rehabs. (NOR do they believe in 12 step programs) Once they got wind that he had requested me to ask probation for a change, they told him "Pack your bags, I'm sending you to prison". How Christian of them, huh?

They primarily teach healing by Jesus Christ, pressure you to speak in tongues, pressure to recruit you to be "trained" by THEIR religious program (TCMI) to be a staff member. It is NOT a drug/alcohol rehab, as all they offer is hyper-religiosity to replace drug addiction. The residents and interns work and make them money. My observation from my son's ordeal is that if you don't succumb to the brain-washing, you will be ostracized and mentally tormented. Those that have a prison/jail sentence looming, (if you "fail" your program) empowers them. It is IMMORAL how they give probation "bad reports" for those that don't sign up for the "speaking in tongues", and these poor souls who suffer from addiction end up in prison. Residents are told that they need to be "broken" some more in jail, and that they will return."

As noted above, the pressure to enter the TCMI program--essentially to be trained as an Assemblies youth pastor--included literally asking people to sign over their paychecks if they didn't join TCMI:

On graduation day in November 2006, the speaker told the graduates who didn't sign up for TCMI that to show their appreciation for what Teen Challenge "had done for them," they were to sign over their very first paychecks to Teen Challenge. Students were told that once they enter Teen Challenge, they should not even consider leaving, because seven times the demons of addiction would come back and get them, and, after they do their prison time - if they live - God will call them back to Teen Challenge. They were left with the caveat that one "can never run from Teen Challenge." There is a simple solution: Don't ever go there in the first place.

It is not just with recruitment that Teen Challenge tends to be deceptive. Teen Challenge has apparently attempted to use exemptions meant for "halfway houses" for people with mental disabilities to set up "kiddie gulags" (though, notably, not without communities fighting it in some cases).

There is evidence besides exit counselor testimony to the Arizona DOC that Teen Challenge primarily exists as an Assemblies recruitment front. One particularly telling bit of info is the fact that the director outright bragged to Congress about converting Jews to essentially "kosher neopentecostals":

During the hearing, Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) asked Castellani if Teen Challenge hires non-Christians as employees. Castellani said, "No." During later questioning, Castellani was asked if the group takes non-Christians as clients. He said yes, and then boasted that some Jews who finish his Teen Challenge program become "completed Jews."

("Completed Jews" is a euphemistic term used in Assemblies circles for "messianic Jews"--aka Jewish people who have converted to neopentecostal dominionism but who still keep the High Holidays and Jewish cultural traditions and identity. Legitimate Jewish groups do not consider these people to be Jews; it should also be noted that the Assemblies of God may well have the most aggressive "missions outreach" of any denomination designed specifically to convert Jewish people to another religion.)

There also appears to be concern re its transparency--not news to those who've read this article so far, but apparently the Better Business Bureau has some concerns on this. (Sadly, these are probably minor compared to the other major concerns re Teen Challenge.)

And sadly--much as has been the case with the very facilities at the target of the Congressional hearings on HR 5876--Teen Challenge is among those programs that have literally turned out to be fatal due to abuse and neglect. The step-parent of a man who died as a result of abuse and neglect at Teen Challenge's Florida facility speaks out in a story that sounds frighteningly similar to the very testimony given yesterday by other parents of kids who died in other programs:

My stepson Vincent Sarli was a heroin addict and we sent him to teen challenge in pensacola fl - he had just gotten out of the hospital from peritonitis and had a wound in his side. Mike Barfield the intake director in pensacola kept saying get him down here and we will take care of him - My stepson was 41 yrs old and had two children - He wanted to come stay with us in jacksonville florida but Barfield insisted on getting hm to pensacola.
We got him a flight from NY to pensacola on Friday Jul 14 06 and after he arrived he was left in the airport for two hours - finally one on the other residents was sent to pick him up and no intake or evaluation was done - Barfield went home and he was thrown in a room. His roomate couldnt even find a piece of gauze to change the bandage on his side.
On sunday am at 11:00 the director Pastor Van Horn passed his room and asked why he was in bed obviously the intake director told no one about his medical problems - he told the pastor he was sick and the pastor didnt even ask what was wrong he just contined to church. What a concerned Christian!!! So much for caring for the sick.

Shortly after this Vincent asked to call us and was told he couldnt use the phone until 4:00 pm those were the rules.

Some time after this his roomate returned to the room and found Vincent hanging from a belt in the closet.
This situation can be documented by reading the pensacola police dept file #06-018290 dtd 7-16-06.

Tomorrow--we look at a typical week inside Teen Challenge, and on how people are literally forced to sign over almost all rights to them when joining--or, as we'll get into later this week, when forced by the courts to join.

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Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 26, 2012 08:15AM


Thu May 01, 2008 at 01:44 PM PDT.

Teen Challenge: The depths of coercion at a "God Warrior" training campby dogemperorFollow .
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I've written quite a lot on the subject of coercive "behaviour modification" facilities in past--including legislative efforts to stop the industry in its tracks as well as exposes of their heavy usage as a dominionist "parallel economy" alternative to legit mental health and info on gross abuses in these facilities.

Over the next few days, we are going to focus on a specific chain of these facilities (which have been compared to Abu Ghraib)--Teen Challenge, a chain of Assemblies-run "faith based rehabs" that was the target of a "get out of jail free" deregulation of the "kiddie gulag" industry in Texas by none other than George W. Bush.

In a continuation of the series, we uncover disturbing revelations at the Florida Teen Challenge boy's camps--which include literal "God Warrior" imagery, right down to the camo and drill patrols.

The "Bible-based boot camp" Teen Challenge doesn't want you to know about

Possibly the deepest revelations regarding the extent that abusiveness--and "God Warrior" imagery--make their home at Teen Challenge (and within the Assemblies) is brought home at the one facility that is confirmed abusive by a watchdog group--the West Florida Boy's Ranch run by Teen Challenge.

Teen Challenge Florida promotes the Boy's Ranch on its website--which happily notes they admit boys "from 12 to 17 years of age" as a "tough love" program. Kids not even yet into puberty can be subjected to a literal form of holy hell for such horridly anti-social behaviours as:

skipping school, resulting in failing grades
abnormal lack of ambition and depression
outbursts of anger and destruction of home property
absence from the home for extended periods of time
stealing from family members
poor choice of friends and suspected drug use

I should note that in Assemblies households, "poor choice of friends" can consist merely of having friends who are not fellow Assemblies of God members, and "abnormal lack of ambition and depression" and "outbursts of anger" can well be the result of fun with complex PTSD as you realise that pretty much your entire life has been a lie and you grew up in what amounted to a "Bible-based" coercive religious group--or that something is seriously wrong at home, compared with your friends. (Of course, I wouldn't know anything about that, would I? It's not like this particular style of home life has been known to drive people off the edge of insanity with the gas to the floor and the brake lines cut or anything. :P)

Anyways. Off to the "ranch"...or, more properly, "boot camp".

In the adverts on the "Boys Ranch" website, apparently in fine Bob Larson-esque fashion, the mere fact your kid likes the metal is a sign he needs to be sent away:

Dramatic changes in style of clothes, hair, music
These outward signs of rebellion should be obvious to a parent. Has your child started listening to radically-different music such as heavy metal or punk rock? Is your kid coloring their hair some weird color just to fit in? Is your child dressing down to fit in with friends at school? All of these are outward signs that your child is succumbing to peer pressure and all these should serve as warning signs to you that your child is in danger of falling into the same kind of peer pressure when it comes to drugs.

(Of course, it's not entirely surprising that Teen Challenge claims metal and punk = druggie; the Assemblies of God is one of the very, very, very few places post-World War II where book and record burning is not only considered socially acceptable but rather a bit of a group-bonding activity.)

Of course (speaking of rock music), the signs of normal adolescence are confused with signs of being a possible druggie, in a scene reminiscent of the conversation between Mike and his mother in the Suicidal Tendencies song "Institutionalized":

Isolating from family
Does your child act distant? When you ask your child what he/she has been up to, does your child give some vague reply? Does you child want to eat in their room all the time instead of with the family? Children are smart - they know that the easiest lie to tell is the one they can avoid having to tell. If you child doesn't tell you what he/she has been up to, there's a good chance your child is hiding something.

Changes in attitude and personality
Does it seem like your child is suddenly a completely different person with a new personality which you don't like one bit? Has your child suddenly developed a tough guy/girl attitude? If your child is experimenting with drugs, there's a good chance you'll be seeing these kinds of attitude changes. Often parents just see this as normal teenage behavior and write it off. Don't make this mistake . . . otherwise you might overlook one of the most obvious signs of your child's drug problem.
. . .
Sudden bursts of anger
Has your child developed a violent side? Is he or she prone to sudden, uncontrollable fits of anger? This doesn't have to mean physically violent (though that is often the case) but can also be a teen who is always yelling or threatening people. Any of these things should be a warning sign to you that your child could be experimenting with drugs.

So pretty much being a normal teen in any household--and especially a dominionist one--can be a one-way ticket to being sent to the Jesus Gulag.

The visit to the website for the teen program is rather a bit of a shock--and disturbing as hell to those of us who have researched the highly militarised Joel's Army theology that has become core theology in the Assemblies.

For one, one does not expect rehab facilities to include, on the same page, the happy announcement that they take in boys as young as twelve for being "out of control" and see literal "God Warrior" imagery on the same page:

No, I couldn't make that up if I tried. We have guys in full camo, doing drills, with the Assemblies-preferred version of the "Christian Flag" (which has its own little pledge, too, popular in Assemblies circles).

Of note, it's actually somewhat honest in describing itself as a "Bible-based boot camp" (though considerably less so when noting availability of extracurricular activities).

And it's via the admissions form that we get into the real intrusiveness of Teen Challenge.

Starting out, we have a mandatory "bio-sketch" that asks parents to give the complete history of the kid and his "behaviour". Of note, this section includes some very personal questioning of the kid's sexual history:

To the best of your knowledge, what is your son’s sexual lifestyle?:
____ Heterosexual ____ Homosexual ____ Bi-sexual
____ Pornography ____ Child Pornography ____ Incest

Yes, there's a reason they ask if kids are gay or bi. I am afraid it's not in the interest of LGBT sensitivity.

One particularly dirty secret in regards to coercive "behaviour modification" centers in general is that they promote "reparative" therapy--essentially claiming to "de-gay" kids. This is something that is not recognised as effective or as a Good Thing by any legitimate mental health org--in fact, they consider it an ethics violation--so quite the "parallel economy" of both doctors and dominionist alternatives to legit mental health facilities--of which Teen Challenge is but one chain of these--have sprung up.

In the case of Teen Challenge, the anti-LGBT attitude is especially apparent. As I've noted, Teen Challenge is a division of a denomination known for having spawned an anti-gay hategroup--and the attitude in "Watchmen At The Walls" is pretty much the unofficial stance of members in regards to LGBT people who won't stay in the closet and be "ex-gays". This is a denomination where involuntary outing, "exorcism", and shipping to places like Teen Challenge of LGBT youth who are unfortunate enough to be discovered is not uncommon. Even officially, the Assemblies of God is probably one of the worst denominations to even have people know you are gay; not only is there a very official policy statement in that being an uncloseted LGBT person is incompatible with the group, but the Assemblies of God is a co-signer of a letter to the American Psychological Association protesting the fact that "reparative therapy" is now seen as a formal ethics violation and not only ineffective but harmful.

And it's no wonder that the Assemblies protests this--it turns out promotes it even as the very supposed "ex-gay" staff members at Teen Challenge promoting "degaying" have stated its likely ineffectiveness. In fact, it appears Teen Challenge may well have been one of the earliest groups in the US promoting "de-gaying"--literature from Teen Challenge promotes its services as a "reparative therapy" center dating back from the 70's. The explicit promotion of "degaying" continues even today--Teen Challenge works closely with Exodus International, one of two primary groups (the other being NARTH, a dominionist "parallel economy" alternative to legit psychiatric/psychological/social-work groups that includes laypersons) that still promote the "reparative therapy" bogosity that has ruined lives.

Needless to say, any LGBT or remotely genderqueer kid is going to be at some substantial risk at a Teen Challenge facility...and, sadly, one of the more common reasons kids are sent to these facilities by their parents is in a futile effort to "de-gay" them.

Teen Challenge admits kids will be sent to a completely unaccredited school (though it does not admit the kid's "diploma" likely will not be worth the paper it is written on):

Although Gateway Academy is not regionally accredited, the school is registered with the Florida Department of Education as a Florida Nonpublic School. While the State of Florida does not require
Gateway Academy to obtain any state or regional accreditation in order to operate or grant diplomas, individual public school districts, colleges, and universities establish their own admission policies. To date, students having received transcripts or diplomas from Gateway Academy have experienced little if any difficulty transferring to another public educational institution. Our self-imposed high standards enable us to maintain a course of instruction relevant to the public secondary schools throughout our state.

(Read: We're going to use a dominionist curricula, but because the state of Florida pretty much has no regulations regarding private schools, we can still issue a diploma. Just don't try to enter any schools with it that might require rigorous educational standards, and don't be too shocked if they require makeup work.)

In addition to the standard "our child is withdrawing from your school" agreement on all Teen Challenge teen admission forms, and including the standard Teen Challenge "please do not send your child with anything save a Bible and the clothes on his back and changes of plain clothing for the next few days" requirements, people are required to agree to the Assemblies of God's statement of faith:

As a Christian organization, we regard the following statements as our sound doctrine of faith, based upon the holy and inspired word of God, the Bible. All students enrolled at West Florida Teen Challenge are required to attend chapel services, Sunday worship services, and participate in the Teen Challenge International Christian character building curriculum.
�� We believe that the scriptures are inspired by God and declare His design and plan for mankind. II Timothy 3:15-17
�� We believe there is only one true God, revealed in three persons...Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Matthew 28:19 / Isaiah 43:10-11
�� We believe in the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, that as God’s Son, he was both human and divine. Matthew 1:23 / Philippians 2:9-11
�� We believe that man willingly fell into sin, ushering evil and death, both physical and spiritual into the world. Romans 5:12-19
�� We believe that every person can have a restored fellowship with God through salvation, by accepting Christ’s offer of forgiveness for sin. Acts 10:37 / Romans 10:13-15 / Ephesians 2:8-9
�� We believe in water baptism by immersion after repenting of one’s sins and receiving Christ’s gift of salvation, and in the Holy Communion, (the Lord’s Supper) as a symbolic remembrance of Christ’s
suffering and death for our salvation. Matthew 28:19 / I Corinthians 11:26
�� We believe the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a special experience following salvation. Acts 1:4, 8 / Mark 16:20
�� We believe that the physical evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is "speaking in tongues" as experienced in the book of Acts. Acts 2:4 / I Corinthians 12:4-10
�� We believe that sanctification initially occurs at salvation and is a progressive lifelong process of separation from evil. Romans 12:1-2
�� We believe that the "Church" is the body of Christ and consists of those people, throughout time, who have accepted God’s plan of redemption (regardless of religious denomination) through the sacrificial death of His son Jesus Christ. I believe this Church has received the Great Commission to go into all the world to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:22-23 / Hebrews 12:23
�� We believe in a divinely called and scripturally ordained leadership ministry that serves the Church, i.e. apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists). Mark 16:15-20
�� We believe that divine healing of the sick was provided for in Christ’s atonement. James 5:14-16
�� We believe in the "blessed hope" – when Christ raptures His church prior to His return to earth (the Second Coming). I Thessalonians 4"16-17
�� We believe in the millennial reign of Christ when He returns with His saints at His second coming. And at that time the nation of Israel will accept Him as Messiah. Matthew 14:27, 30 / Revelation 1:7
�� We believe that a final judgment will take place for those who have rejected Christ. They will be judged for their sin and consigned to eternal punishment in a lake of fire, a literal place called hell.
Matthew 25:46 / Revelation 19:20
�� We believe in and look forward to a perfect New Heavens and a New Earth that Christ is preparing for all people, of all time, who have accepted Him as their personal Lord and Savior. We will live and dwell with Him there forever following His millennial reign on earth. II Peter 3:13 & Revelation 21:22

(Yes, this is actually--almost verbatim--a version of the Sixteen Fundamental Truths, which is the official statement of faith of the Assemblies of God. Literally the only difference is that the Teen Challenge version doesn't include the footnotes in the "official" Assemblies version, and the Teen Challenge version explicitly references "Joel's Army"/"Joshua Generation" theology in promoting the idea of the "fivefold ministry". And yes, both the official Assemblies "Sixteen Fundamental Truths" and the Teen Challenge version both explicitly call for the mass conversion of Jewish people to "Messianic Jew" kosher neopentecostals as an essential part of their end-times theology.)

In the obligatory legal agreement (in which practically all legal rights are waived, including the right to sue the bastards if necessary), Teen Challenge gives an indication of something not revealed in the shiny lit (and something universally considered a warning sign of a dangerous group by orgs like ISAC)--namely, parents legally give Teen Challenge custody of their kids, and not only that, are required to waive all rights to file abuse charges against the group or even the right to remove their kids from the facility or criticise Teen Challenge:

2.Second Party voluntarily and unconditionally, without coercion or force, relinquishes and conveys the care and custody of said minor to West Florida Teen Challenge, expressly appointing West Florida Teen Challenge as lawful attorney for said Second Party and in Second Party’s name, place, and stead for and to serve on loco parentis (in place of Second Party) of said child for his care, custody, safety, education, and training (both secular and religious) and for all other responsibilities, real or legal, including all necessities which West Florida Teen Challenge deems essential for the said child. This grant of custody and control shall commence upon the signing of this agreement by the last party hereto, and shall terminate as hereinafter provided.
3.West Florida Teen Challenge agrees to accept the care and control of said minor child while he is on the said property of West Florida Teen Challenge for the period and under the terms and conditions herein provided. Second Party agrees not to interfere with the custody or management of said minor in any way and shall not encourage anyone else to do so. Second Party also agrees to support West Florida Teen Challenge positively at all times.
In fact, for parents to even see their kids, they are essentially required to sign a joint custody agreement, complete with visitation rights granted by Teen Challenge:

I (we) agree that it is vital to the restoration of our family for my child to be visited on the prescheduled and designated visitation days, referred to hereafter as Parent Visit Weekend. I
further agree to abide by the entire West Florida Teen Challenge visitation policies:

1.Students are eligible for visits during the fourth month of residence or at the next prescheduled Parent Visit Weekend following the fourth month. Parents are notified by e-mail or letter.
2.It is mandatory that all Parents/Legal Guardians attend every Parent Visit Weekend. Failure to attend scheduled visits and parenting classes could result in your child’s dismissal.
3.Split families must work out an acceptable agreement between the parents and notify West Florida Teen Challenge of the agreement.
4.The Parent Visit Weekends are for the Parent/Legal Guardian only. Siblings and grandparents may visit only during the graduation from Drill Academy’s Basic Platoon or First Phase and the final graduation of the West Florida Teen Challenge program.
5.Students are permitted a Saturday 8-hour pass off campus and a Sunday six-hour pass off campus once they have successfully completed their 6th month in the Drill Academy program, or as personal evaluations permit. Passes off-campus are a privilege and not a right. They can be taken away at any time for disciplinary reasons.
6.Parents/Legal Guardians are expected to strictly adhere to the Leave Agreement directives, a signed document outlining the rules to be enforced while off-campus.
7.All items brought back to the ranch, as well as the student, will be thoroughly searched upon return from the off-campus pass.
The purpose of the off-campus pass is not primarily for entertainment, but for the opportunity to grow together as a family unit.

Physical restraint is used, despite the fact that the West Florida Boy's Ranch is not a licensed mental health facility and even psychiatric hospitals and police departments must follow specific legal requirements for use of restraints:

I. The first phase of West Florida Teen Challenge is a military structured program that instills discipline
and enforces correct behavior. All Standards and Procedures are issued to each cadet and family member. They are explained and demonstrated to staff members to ensure safety, equality, and the knowledge of how to safely handle combative, aggressive cadets, or cadets that demonstrate by their actions that they are a threat to themselves or property.
II. General information is outlined regarding possible violations or actions that can lead to the applying of hands-on techniques to restrain a cadet in order to protect, or prevent harm to himself, others, or property, or to press him into obedience.
III. When and how will use of force be applied? When a cadet becomes combative, either vocally or by threatening actions, after being told to "stand down", a term they have been taught to mean STOP.
The staff member on duty will call for back-up assistance. If time will not permit, he will proceed to physically bring the combative cadet under control by using approved arm bars or escort procedures, which will restrain the cadet without causing injury. Hands-on procedures are designed to gain control, prevent harm and
protect property.
A. Step one: The staff member always tries to talk a cadet into submission first.
B. Step two: The staff member will always explain what the cadet did wrong, and why corrective actions were taken.
C. Step three: After combative conflicts, the staff member has the right to take pictures of the scene and the cadet to use as articles in his incident report that will be forwarded up the Chain of
D. Step four: The staff member will file a report of date, time, location, situation, and parties involved. If necessary he will gather additional information in writing from eyewitnesses.

I understand and comply with the Rules, Regulation and Procedures of the West Florida Teen Challenge Drill Academy.

(Legally, police departments are only allowed to use "necessary force"; in legit mental health facilities, only psychiatrists are allowed to permit the use of restraints and only for limited periods of time.)

Children trying to escape the abuse--even to go to somewhere like a "Safe Place"-type affair--are subject to being returned involuntarily and are subject to retribution:

2.Second Party recognizes that West Florida Teen Challenge accepts children who may have a history of running away and this is one of the rebellion issues that are addressed in the program.
3.The Second Party agrees that West Florida Teen Challenge will not be held responsible for the safety of any minor child that runs away from the facility.
4.West Florida Teen Challenge will report a runaway child to the local authorities to facilitate their return. West Florida Teen Challenge will not be held responsible for finding a runaway child.
5.West Florida Teen Challenge is not responsible to involve itself in any court proceedings resulting from any criminal activity.
6.Students are not necessarily dismissed from the program for running away. We will continue to work with a student and their family to facilitate change as long as progress continues to be made.
7.Running away will result in the student’s program being started over. If a student has been enrolled for less than two months, two months will be added to their program
This makes it rather more difficult for kids to escape (and now you know why most people reporting abuse tend to do so as adults--if you can't contact CPS, and you can't even really leave the facility without the risk that the cops will turn you back in, it makes it rather more difficult to report abuse). In these situations, about the only way for someone to escape from the facility before the age of 18 is to successfully run away and file an emancipation proceeding, and hope your parents or Teen Challenge-friendly law enforcement don't find you in the meantime.

No, this is not an exaggeration, I'm afraid. The last person under the age of 18 who was held at the Love In Action/Refuge facility in Memphis--a "de-gaying" facility that had former Straight, Inc. employees running the place--had to do exactly this--not once but twice--to finally escape. D.J. Butler not only had to run away from Love In Action/Refuge to file his initial emancipation proceeding but--in the midst of the proceeding--was kidnapped by his parents and hauled back in handcuffs to the Love In Action facility, where he was threatened with being sent to juvenile hall if he left again. Butler was successful in escaping a second time to complete his emancipation proceeding (and had a number of people giving amicus curae briefs in the emancipation proceeding showing the coercive nature of Love In Action's tactics).

In addition, parents are forced to agree to a standard "Christian Conciliation Agreement" (in part 8, we will discuss how this is part of a standard indemnification waiver used in almost all Teen Challenge facilities that not only includes waiving of the right to sue for injuries but requires parties to enter a mediation agreement heavily weighted in favour of Teen Challenge). Effectively, this prevents parents from suing--and makes it difficult for even survivors to sue.

And--as we will see--there may well be a reason for this. In our next part, we'll explore some extremely disturbing revelations on how sexual abuse has occured at Teen Challenge facilities, how sexual offenders targeting youth are employed at Teen Challenge, and how this may be a systemic issue throughout the Assemblies.

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Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 26, 2012 08:16AM

Sat Apr 26, 2008 at 02:02 PM PDT.

Teen Challenge: The Assemblies' own "kiddie gulag"by dogemperorFollow .
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I've written quite a lot on the subject of coercive "behaviour modification" facilities in past--including legislative efforts to stop the industry in its tracks as well as exposes of their heavy usage as a dominionist "parallel economy" alternative to legit mental health and info on gross abuses in these facilities.

Over the next few days, we are going to focus on a specific chain of these facilities (which have been compared to Abu Ghraib)--Teen Challenge, a chain of Assemblies-run "faith based rehabs" that was the target of a "get out of jail free" deregulation of the "kiddie gulag" industry in Texas by none other than George W. Bush.

We begin with a history of how Teen Challenge was deregulated, and some of the reports of gross mistreatment at the facility--including just about every form of abuse that could have been done to those kids.

Teen Challenge--an Assemblies of God-run "kiddie boot camp" chain

It is almost impossible to understate just how much of a "get out of jail free" card Teen Challenge was provided by George W. Bush.

Teen Challenge is notable for several reasons. Firstly, it is one of the few groups promoting abusive "kiddie boot camps" that is clearly linkable to a known religious group with documented coercive tactics (to the level that Narconon was linked to the Church of Scientology); secondly, it is a known recipient of federal funds under the "Faith Based Initiatives" program (one of the few abusive facilities of this type to get such funding); thirdly, Teen Challenge acts as a wonderful example of the bad things that can happen when "faith-based" kiddie gulags go completely unregulated.

One reason Teen Challenge has likely gotten preferential treatment from Bush is because it is actually an Assemblies of God frontgroup (and a very closely connected one at that--namely, it's technically a division of its youth ministries program focusing on "troubled youth"). The group operates a chain of facilities (including not only ranches but other inpatient facilities similar to the now-closed "Love In Action/Refuge" "degaying" center) across the US and in several other countries.

Of note (and in a sign that the Assemblies does operate Scientology or Moonie-style fronts), it does not openly advertise its Assemblies links or the fact it is technically an Assemblies youth ministry but this information is easy enough to find, including on the Assemblies' own website.

Teen Challenge has also been the subject of multiple reports of abusive activity--not only spiritual abuse, but physical and mental as well. There are also in fact two expose groups on Teen Challenge--not only a site operated by a Teen Challenge survivor, but a second page detailing additional reports of abuse (and further documentation of the Assemblies linkages).

In addition to unlicensed counselors hired at the Texas ranch (an occurence common across Teen Challenge facilities and one which has led to a known child molester being manager of a Teen Challenge facility in Maine), there was evidence of educational neglect (educationally insufficient material) and reports of physical, mental, sexual, and emotional abuse. And such reports are not isolated; Teen Challenge (which is an Assemblies of God frontgroup managed by their youth ministries division which focuses on "troubled youth") has had many reports of abuse at their various facilities including forced missionary activity, possible violation of child labour laws, forcing people to sign over paychecks to Teen Challenge for not joining additional programs, and the abusive use of "discipling and shepherding", and physical abuse and medical neglect including at least inmate suffering a miscarriage who was not referred to appropriate medical care.

Teen Challenge has also been listed on one group's listing of abusive "faith based" centers--the same site notes that Teen Challenge's present program has close links to Mel Sembler of Straight, Inc, (via his Drug Free America Foundation).

Texas' experience with Teen Challenge's "get out of jail free" card did not go unnoticed--or unchallenged.. Texas Freedom Network, a group fighting dominionism in the Lone Star State, had a specific example of the efforts that eventually led to partial re-regulation:

Teen Challenge is a national faith-based residential drug treatment program that had nine branches in Texas in 2004. The programs have no medical component and center instead of around prayer, Bible study and religious conversion.

Teen Challenge currently operates five drug treatment centers in Texas – none of which have a state license, but only two of which have formally registered their status as a faith-based facility exempt from state licensing. As exempt faith-based drug treatment centers, Teen Challenge facilities are not required to have licensed chemical dependency counselors, conduct staff training or criminal background checks, protect client confidentiality rights, adhere to state health and safety standards, or report abuse, neglect, emergencies and medication errors.

Even prior to seeking an exemption from state licensing, a 1995 state inspection revealed that Teen Challenge was not compliant with numerous state health, safety and quality of care standards.

Rather than force Teen Challenge to meet the basic health and safety standards to which their secular counterparts must adhere, then-Governor George Bush pushed through legislation that would exempt Teen Challenge and other faith-based drug treatment centers from state licensing – and the health, safety and quality of care standards that accompany that licensure. "Teen Challenge should view itself as a pioneer in how Texas approaches faith-based programs, I’ll call together people, ask them to make recommendations. I’d like to make recommendations to the legislature...But Teen Challenge is going to exist...and licensing standards have to be different from what they are today," then-Governor Bush said. (World Magazine, 7/29-8/5/1995)

A repeating pattern around the country

Texas is also, sadly, not the only state that Teen Challenge was given a carte blanche in. Florida has a nearly identical scheme to the one Texas had until recently, in that centers can be completely exempted from regulation by joining the Florida Association of Christian Child Caring Agencies--and Teen Challenge happens to be a member of FACCCA. Not surprisingly, evidence of extensive abuse has turned up with the Florida facility of almost an identical manner to what was documented in Texas before Dubya shut the investigation down:

West Florida Teen Challenge Boys’ Ranch—in Bonifay, Florida is a confirmedly abusive teen program. The contract parents must sign with Teen Challenge does not indicate that the school meets standards that might be roughly equivalent to state requirements. The contract states that the Florida Association of Christian Child-Caring Agencies’ (FACCCA) "intent" is to "insure the physical and spiritual health, safety, and well being" of the children and therefore that thee boy’s ranch must meet FACCCA’s "minimum standards," but the only one described in the contract is allowing access to public officials who inspect for fire, health, safety, and sanitation codes. Parents have to agree to hold the ranch and its employees harmless from "any and all liability" for injury to the child "even injury resulting in death." Parents must agree "that God desires that they resolve their dispute with one another within the church and that they be reconciled in their relationships in accordance with the principles stated in I Corinthians 6:1-8, Matthew 5:23-24, and Matthew 18:15-20." If they cannot resolve their disagreement privately within the church, parents must accept resolution through "biblically based mediation" by rules of the Association of Christian Conciliation Services. There is no refund of tuition or deposits if the boy leaves the ranch before 15 months even if the ranch has expelled him. Several former students say that staff, "use physical punishment, ridicule intimidate and/or verbally abuse children; use chemical restraints; employ cruel or humiliating treatment or other emotionally abusive behavior; assign excessive exercise or work duties, deny food, clothing, shelter, medical car, and/or prescribed therapeutic activities, or contacts with family, counselors, or legal representatives as a form of punishment." Please do not send your child to any Teen Challenge program. Detailed report provided by Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, Inc. Nov. 4th, 2004 newsletter.

(CHILD, Inc. is a group working to stop religiously motivated child abuse and neglect, in particular working towards removing "religious loopholes" to providing children lifesaving treatment.)

There have also been similar reports focusing not only on Texas and Florida but also with a facility in California, and reports have been made by walkaways of similar abuses not only in the US but with Teen Challenge facilities overseas as well.

Tomorrow, we focus specifically on spiritual abuse and coercive tactics within the org.
.Originally posted to dogemperor on Sat Apr 26, 2008 at 02:02 PM PDT.

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Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 26, 2012 08:17AM


Sun May 04, 2008 at 01:44 PM PDT.

Teen Challenge: Your tax dollars, paying for institutionalised abuseby dogemperorFollow .
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I've written quite a lot on the subject of coercive "behaviour modification" facilities in past--including legislative efforts to stop the industry in its tracks as well as exposes of their heavy usage as a dominionist "parallel economy" alternative to legit mental health and info on gross abuses in these facilities.

Over the past few days, we have focused on a specific chain of these facilities (which have been compared to Abu Ghraib)--Teen Challenge, a chain of Assemblies-run "faith based rehabs" that was the target of a "get out of jail free" deregulation of the "kiddie gulag" industry in Texas by none other than George W. Bush.

In our final installment, we note how Abu Ghraib and Gitmo aren't the only abusive facilities getting tax dollars--both by direct funding and by welfare fraud, Teen Challenge gets quite a bit of your tax money for institutionalised abuse...and Dubya is still to this day bailing them out when they're caught doing something wrong.

...And your tax dollars are paying for it

Teen Challenge is the recipient of US funds via the Faith-Based Initiatives program (that's right--some of your tax dollars are going directly to fund an Assemblies of God frontgroup that abuses kids). Not only this, but Teen Challenge has actually had VIP access to the Oval Office:

Bush has repeatedly singled out and praised faith-based organisations whose core philosophy is conversion while dispensing social services. During last year's State of the Union speech his invited guests were Tonja Myles of the 'Set Free Indeed Program' at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Henry Lozano of Teen Challenge, California. Both programmes use religious conversion as treatment.

Teen Challenge is one of the very few Assemblies frontgroups not to use the "church loophole" to avoid filing a form 990--in fact, their form 990 blatantly lies about their affiliation with other nonprofits (again hiding the fact they're an Assemblies frontgroup).

There is also an indication that Teen Challenge may receive indirect government funding through another source--namely, actively having members sign up for government benefits and then forcing their inmates to turn over all money to Teen Challenge as "rent":

After the application to join is completed,the member is then given the paperwork to receive food stamps,disability,and other social service needs.The rent for a member is $1400 a month.ALL OF THIS IS GIVEN TO THE CHURCH.If a member refuses to do so,THEY ARE DISMISSED FROM THE PROGRAM.

Security National and other companies have been hiring these people to do work for them.Brian Morrisey pays them $10 an hour,to work off of their rent,and again ALL OF THIS IS GIVEN TO THE CHURCH.

I believe that a complaint was sent to the state labor relations board two weeks ago.According to Sue Brandenberg,TeenChallenge does not provide workers comp. insurance,a claim dismissed by Lamberson,and there was another complaint filed with that,I don't have the details behind that,something in regards to forced labor.

Not only this, but--as has been noted in part 3 of the series--Teen Challenge's own documents actually admit as such, and even require people joining (or being forced to join by the courts) to agree to turn over their entire SSI checks and do unpaid work in the admission contracts.

And that's not the only part where the dole funds Teen Challenge, either--an article in WORLD Magazine published in 2005 showed some light on a practice Teen Challenge had of having their residents sign up for food stamps--and then forcing the residents to turn over their stamps to Teen Challenge for use by the group in a "food stamp pool" for groceries:

Ten years later, tables have turned. Roy Follis, director of Teen Challenge San Antonio, was bewildered when he received a memo last August from TCADA stating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had determined that residents of Teen Challenge centers in Texas are no longer eligible to receive food stamps. The reason: The centers aren't licensed by the state.

With Teen Challenge receiving no direct government funding for its programs, and most residents unable to pay the $3,000 monthly program costs, the organization has found financial relief through the USDA's food stamp program for 30 years. Almost half of Teen Challenge residents are eligible for food stamps, and they typically turn over the stamps to Teen Challenge staff, who pool them and buy food for the program residents.

Mr. Follis says his center counted on the food stamps for nearly half its annual food budget for the 65 men at the 36-year-old center on 108 acres of rural Texas farmland. "Those stamps meant a lot to the center," he says, but they stopped coming last November: "Being cut off is breaking us."

This turned out to be so egregrious in the USDA's eyes--that an unlicensed facility was getting federal food aid largely by fraud--that Teen Challenge facilities in Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, and Oregon were cut off from the program. Teen Challenge promptly appealed (including the very facility, Teen Challenge New England, that has a registered child molester as its co-manager).

Unfortunately, the USDA doing the right thing didn't last long. Yet again, George W. Bush directly stepped in and gave Teen Challenge a carte blanche to essentially allow Teen Challenge to continue with abuse of food stamps in a way that would put the worst stereotypes the GOP put out of "ghetto welfare mothers" to shame:

The federal government has cleared the way for clients of the faith-based Teen Challenge drug and alcohol recovery program to resume receiving Food Stamps. In several states, including Massachusetts and Vermont, officials halted benefits to Teen Challenge clients because the programs were not formally recognized by state officials, and because clients were turning their Food Stamps over to administrators of the treatment program. The coupons were pooled together to buy groceries for those who live in dormitory-style housing for 18 months during their treatment.

In a joint opinion issued by the Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA), and Health and Human Services (HHS), it has now been determined that residents of such treatment programs are eligible for Food Stamps, so long as the programs are operating in compliance with provisions of the Public Health Services Act. Under the opinion, state agencies which administer Food Stamps must recognize such programs as "operating to further the purposes of Part B of Title XIX" of the act -- however it also specifies that such programs are not required to be licensed by states in order to be eligible.

"This Administration believes that to require licensure to determine residents' eligibility for the Food Stamp Program would pose an insurmountable barrier to their ability to access the recovery program of their choosing, including faith-based and community programs that are not licensed by the State," wrote U.S Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt in letters sent to the governors of all 50 states.

In fact, one of the major groups lobbying for the USDA's new policy (which amounted to "We can't be arsed to check if you're actually eligible because it's too much work") was none other than the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives--the very agency which has granted Teen Challenge money and Presidential access:

While Teen Challenge receives no direct government funding, and most residents are unable to pay the $3,000 monthly program costs, the faith-based organization has found some financial relief through the food stamp program for more than 30 years. Nearly half of Teen Challenge residents are eligible for food stamps, and residents typically give the stamps to Teen Challenge staff, who pool them to buy food for program residents.

The White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives had pressed for the change, and Jim Towey, director of the office, told WORLD he's glad that faith-based groups have been vindicated: "We're pleased that it's . . . not the policy of this administration that an addict should have to choose between treatment and food."

Let's summarise--in addition to "faith-based" money, Teen Challenge also takes the checks of people in the program (often forced into the program, at that) sent for SSI, and also takes their food stamps. And the US government says it's A-OK because they're "faith-based" and it's just too much work to investigate whether they're really eligible or not.

As if this weren't enough, states have often gone into partnerships with Teen Challenge outside of mandatory sentencing. One example is with an anti-drug partnership in Kentucky called Operation UNITE--Operation Unite being a program operated for twenty eastern Kentucky counties with particularly severe problems with methamphetamine and oxycontin abuse set up by Hal Rogers (and serving the Fifth Congressional District). Among other things, Operation UNITE promotes essentially a frontgroup of a frontgroup--a Teen Challenge Kentucky frontgroup called Lifeline of Eastern Kentucky whose solitary purpose is to recruit people into Teen Challenge--and as we've already established, Teen Challenge is a recruitment front and de facto missionary mill for the Assemblies of God (and Teen Challenge Kentucky is no exception). And disturbingly--on a page that is part of the governmental website for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, no less!--Teen Challenge and its frontgroup Lifeline are the sole resources listed not related to law enforcement and narcotics control agencies on Operation UNITE's website.

The scary thing is...Teen Challenge is probably among the less infamous of the groups within the "kiddie boot camp" industry...but the patterns of abuses are among the status quo throughout the industry.

And it is precisely because of this pattern of abuse--and an pattern of unrepentativeness by groups like Teen Challenge--why we--and the kids stuck in these facilities--need HR 5876 to pass.

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Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 26, 2012 08:18AM

(Corboy note - there are additional articles in the Daily Kos series. Check em out.)


Tue Apr 29, 2008 at 01:52 PM PDT.

Teen Challenge: Life within the "Jesus Gulag"by dogemperorFollow .
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I've written quite a lot on the subject of coercive "behaviour modification" facilities in past--including legislative efforts to stop the industry in its tracks as well as exposes of their heavy usage as a dominionist "parallel economy" alternative to legit mental health and info on gross abuses in these facilities.

Over the next few days, we are going to focus on a specific chain of these facilities (which have been compared to Abu Ghraib)--Teen Challenge, a chain of Assemblies-run "faith based rehabs" that was the target of a "get out of jail free" deregulation of the "kiddie gulag" industry in Texas by none other than George W. Bush.

In a continuation of the series, we focus on life within Teen Challenge, as revealed by their guides to members--and point out why Teen Challenge cannot be considered a legit rehab facility but rather a "Jesus Gulag". (It's a little long, but this is by necessity.)

More info re life in the gulag

Apologies for the length in advance--I'd much rather document it here and go a bit long rather than risk the material being removed from pages and archives.

There's more info than what we have mentioned previously in the series regarding coercion at Teen Challenge. One particularly revealing bit of info comes from the aforementioned application packet from Teen Challenge West Pennsylvania, which not only explicitly notes that they are NIV-only and expect to hit people up for their SSI checks, but explicitly require inmates to hit up their friends and family for "pledge money" to boot:

7.You will need a letter from your last employer stating your earnings and your dates of employment.
You will also need a letter from whoever has supported you during the past year. This must also be sent in before entrance into the program.

8.Ask friends, family, or church members to support Teen Challenge and record their pledges on the Sponsorship Form.
(Yes, it helpfully includes a sponsorship form--as if you were sponsoring people for a "Diabetes Walk" for the American Diabetes Association or a "jump-rope-a-thon" for the American Lung Association, rather than hitting them up for funds for their loved one to be inducted into an abusive group.)

Some of the restrictions (no drugs/alcohol/tobacco, etc.) are similar to conventional rehab programs--but some are most definitely not. Among other things, facial hair is prohibited as well as long hair:

• You must shave daily. Facial hair below the lip is not permitted. Any skin conditions requiring care by a dermatologist must
be taken care of prior to treatment at TCWP, so that while in treatment, you may shave daily. Your hair must be cut so that it
is off the collar.

Medical care is not only not provided but they explicitly state they will not refer people to physicians save for "emergencies" and that they further will not allow people to take necessary psychiatric medications (presumably so they don't have to be licensed as a psychiatric hospital or hire licensed doctors or nurse practitioners--this is pretty much what got "Love In Action/Refuge" in trouble with the state of Tennessee):

• If you need medical or dental care, it must be taken care of prior to admission in to the program. Only emergency treatment
for medical problems or sudden toothache pain will be addressed. We do not want anything to distract you from the treatment for which you came to Teen Challenge.
• You will not be permitted to take any type of psychiatric medications while in the program.

(Gods help anyone who is bipolar or schizophrenic--or who is still being weaned off opiates or on methadone treatment--and ends up finding themselves sentenced to Teen Challenge as part of an "alternative sentencing" program.)

Not only are piercings et al apparently prohibited, but media censorship is actively enforced:

• No radios, clock-radios, tape or CD players, musical instruments, reading materials, inappropriate photos, pornographic
materials, excessive jewelry, earrings or any other type of body piercing jewelry are to be brought to TCWP. Any student
entering the program with any of these items will have them confiscated and discarded unless you quickly provide the means
for sending them home. They will not be stored.
• Non-Christian music, easy listening, or instrumental music, that highlight values contrary to Biblical principles will not be
permitted. The playing or singing of, or listening to, music related to the drug culture is not permitted.

(You are reading this right--the only reading material allowed at all is an NIV bible to be brought with the person. Pretty much any instrument which can produce music is also banned, so as to keep non-Assemblies-friendly music out. I still have not entirely figured out how instrumental music of any sort could highlight "values contrary to Biblical principles", unless they're raising objections to the works of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani et al because they play that evil, evil guitar.)

People are explicitly held incommunicado for the first two weeks to a month, and finally after "four or five months" are transferred to a different gulag--oh, and persons involuntarily sent there by the courts are apparently not allowed to contact their lawyers or medical professionals at all:

• No visits or telephone calls are permitted during the first two weeks after entering the program. Except for emergencies,
you must have been here for at least 14 days before making or receiving telephone calls. Phone calls are only permitted to
your immediate family.
• You will not be permitted to have off-property passes during the first month of treatment. You will be permitted to have off-
property passes after the first month, but only with immediate family members and spouses. Passes with spouses require the proof of a valid marriage certificate. Leaving the premises without authorization, or with an unauthorized party, may result in your dismissal from the program. Before you leave on a pass, you will need to sign out, inform the staff of where you will be, with whom you are going, and leave a telephone number where you can be reached in the event we might need to contact you.
. . .
• After 4-5 months in the induction center (TCWP), you will transfer to the Teen Challenge Training Center (TCTC). TCTC is a 350-acre campus with approximately 270-300 students located in rural eastern Pennsylvania. The student body is approximately 43% African-American, 32% Hispanic & 25% Caucasian, and lives in a dormitory setting with 4 men assigned to a room. Each incoming class is usually between 40-45 men.

And don't even think about trying to get a job outside of the gulag, zek:

• You will not be permitted to pursue employment while you are in treatment.

Incidentially, legitimate treatment centers do not work like this. You might be inpatient for a while--you may have privileges restricted if you are on suicide watch--but you aren't sent to religious indoctrination for a sizable chunk of your day, you aren't banned from off-campus employment (in fact, it's typical that once someone gets to the stage they are able to do outpatient treatment--mostly when they get weaned off the drugs and get in a good support network--that you end up being actively assisted in helping get a job in the wider community), you actually get real training and education, and you are never, ever, ever denied necessary medical treatment including not only doctor's visits but necessary psychiatric medications. You are never cut off from family, you are never cut off from your doctors or legal personnel. The ONLY time anyone is held in conditions even close to what is described here is if one has been involuntarily committed to a secured mental ward under a suicide watch. This is an area I can speak with some authority on, having been in treatment (for depression, at a time when religiously motivated child abuse was not well recognised).

Even people within the general population of prison have more rights; the conditions described approach some of the conditions in Supermax facilities or--in a disturbing and more direct parallel that has also been made in regards to the hearings on HR 5738--some of the documented human rights abuses occuring at none other than Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib (abuses that themselves have some very interesting Assemblies connections--including "Assemblies man" William Boykin and Assemblies chaplain Steven L. Jordan being right at the heart of the torture scandals at those two detention facilities, being quite possibly some of the architects of abuse).

There is an archived, even more in-depth guide published, again, by Teen Challenge Canada (and later removed from their website) that is also highly revealing. Among other things, they start right into things with telling a number of porky-pies:

# We are not a government agency. We do not accept government funding but are privately funded. # We are not an alternative to jail. All applicants (where possible) must resolve legal issues before entering Teen Challenge.
This is...not entirely accurate.

As will be noted in future portions of this series (the final two segments, in fact), not only does Teen Challenge receive government funding (under the US Office of Faith-Based Initiatives) but in fact is frequently used as an alternative to jail--namely, an increasing number of people are literally being sentenced to what amounts to an Assemblies of God gulag as a form of "alternative sentencing".

We also get more details re the "induction" phase and the "training" phases noted in the schedule:

The Induction Program is four to six months in length, and it is characterized by a strong emphasis on counseling, structure and discipline, and teaching on the basics of Christianity. The program also includes overcoming life problems which cause men and women to become dependent upon drugs and alcohol. Once a man has satisfactorily completed the Induction Program, he may opt to return to society or he may apply to enter our Training Program for additional rehabilitation.

The Training Program is eight months in length, and it is characterized by a strong emphasis on Christian education, Christian outreach to churches and the community, and more personal responsibility with less supervision. Acceptance into this program will be based on demonstrating, in the Induction Program, the following: 1) a strong desire to grow spiritually as a Christian man; 2) maturity; and 3) the ability to handle the academic requirements of the program.

In order to successfully graduate, a student (as we prefer to call them at Teen Challenge) must complete both phases of the program at which time he will receive a certificate of graduation at a formal graduation ceremony.

It's been reported by walkaways that the Training Program is where people are explicitly pressured to essentially become lay Assemblies missionaries--and, if people don't join up, they are pressured to give their initial paychecks to the group.

In addition, this site is rather more blatant on how much to hit people up for (for the $700 US it costs to enter the program):

To help defray the cost of your time at Teen Challenge, we ask you to help raise support by providing us with a list of family or friends who may want to sponsor you from $10 to $25 per month while in the program. These can be parents, relatives, churches, friends or concerned individuals. We will provide a sponsor sheet to help you after you have been interviewed and accepted to the program.

The second site is also considerably more frank on just how restricted people are. The conditions are akin to those at Bob Jones University or Pensacola Christian College, both of which have been considered to be "bible-based" coercive religious groups (in particular PCC). The list of verboten activities includes:

The personal rights and freedoms we ask you to lay down while at Teen Challenge include:
. . .
* No relationships with women (unless you are married). We do not have housing of any kind available for wives or children, which means you will have to make alternate arrangements if applicable. Relationships with legitimate fiancees (a woman you have had a longtime relationship with and are planning to marry) will be put on hold while you are in the Induction Program. At the end of this first phase, under the direction of your counselor, we may allow the relationship to slowly resume. All other relationships with women must be put on hold for the entire time you are in the program. Remember, you are not here to date girls, but to get your life together!
* You may have only one phone call per week in the Induction Phase and two phone calls per week in the Training Phase. This includes incoming and outgoing phone calls. The people you may communicate with during the Induction Phase are limited to your Pastor and immediate family only. During the Training Phase, your counselor may add other people to your approved phone and mail list as deemed appropriate.
* All incoming and outgoing mail will be reviewed by your counselor. If you are put on discipline your mail will be held by your counselor until your discipline has ended.
* No talking about your past life around other students. However we do encourage you to talk about your past during counseling for problems concerning your past life.
. . .
* No giving your last name or address out to anyone. (This is to protect you from well meaning people who want to befriend you, which can end up causing problems. We have found that these relationships can become detrimental to what God wants to do in your life because they can be distracting.)
* You must be with an approved partner during any group outing and you must have permission to leave the group.
. . .
* Hair must be above your collar. No earrings, no beards and no "T" shirts promoting not approved lifestyles are allowed.
* All your money will be put into a Teen Challenge bank account on-site, and you will be allowed to withdraw $10 per week in the Induction Program and $20 per week in the Training Program. If you leave the program prematurely, any outstanding bills must be settled before you leave in order to cash out your account.
* If you leave prematurely, we will hold your belongings for up to three (3) days. After this time, anything you have left behind will become Teen Challenge property, unless you make special arrangements with us.
* Your belongings and person are subject to staff inspection at anytime while you are in the program. Upon entrance your belongings will also be inspected.

(Things that weren't mentioned in the other list--incommunicado communications also extend to mail and essentially all other forms of communication, all money is taken by Teen Challenge, even people with "outside privs" are required to have a "shepherd", people are not allowed to use their last names (this is important from a potential coercion standpoint--last names do allow at least a social "wall of separation"--and, as we'll note, was also a characteristic of the extremely abusive "Straight, Inc." program which Teen Challenge shares substantial similarity with), and censorship includes clothing.

Despite not being a licensed rehab facility or mental hospital, a number of Teen Challenge facilities do dispense medication--mostly painkillers and the like. One facility (Teen Challenge Missouri, residing in a state which totally exempts "faith-based" children's homes from any regulation) does dispense psychotropic meds if the parents pay extra.

The program also lasts considerably longer than legit rehab. The "induction phase" alone lasts four to six months, and the site's literature states

There are no shortcuts to completing this program!! You will be spending a minimum of 12 months in the Teen Challenge program. In order to graduate you must successfully complete both phases of the program. As it has always been . . . the final choice is YOURS!

(Well, frequently "the choice is yours" for a limited definition of "choice" meaning "if you leave your parents will likely send you somewhere overseas" or "if you leave you will likely have to go to jail and have "violation of conditions of probation" on your record to boot". I guess it is a choice, much like choosing between hanging and firing squad for the manner of one's own execution is a "choice". But we'll get into that tomorrow.)

It should also be noted that twelve months is the low end of Teen Challenge programs' induction phases. Typically, other sites give fifteen months to two years.

Not only are people kept incommunicado, persons in the "induction" phase are essentially held prisoner--despite Teen Challenge not being a licensed mental health facility (and a completely bogus claim on one site that they are not a "lock-down" facility), people are not allowed to leave the facility and only are allowed visitors once a month:

Students in our Induction Program may receive one six hour (maximum) visit on site per month on the first Saturday of each month between 12:00 noon and 6:00 PM. All visitors must be pre-approved, up to a maximum of five persons. It should be noted that your visitors are welcome to stay for dinner, however there is a charge of $5.00 per meal for adults.

Students in the Induction Program are not allowed passes. The Program Director has final say on all requests. These privileges are dependent upon what Phase you are in, and your general progress and attitude in the program.

(In legit inpatient facilities, people are allowed visitors far more frequently than this--even people on suicide watch are allowed visitors once a week, unless the particular visitor may impact their recovery negatively. And it has to be pretty darn serious for a visitor to be considered "negative"--say, an abusive parent, or someone who is still an active drug user and part of a circle of drug users that an addict in recovery was a part of.)

The list proceeds to note that there are specific standards for bedmaking (presumably "military corners" and the like) and people who don't toe the line--even for so much as saying "darn" or stating disagreements with the program or trying to contact outside help--are subject to swift retribution:

Being put on total discipline, means you are given work assignments during your free time Monday through Saturday, and a suspension of certain privileges.

Privileges denied include:

* No phone calls - except legal or family emergencies
* No sports at all (except during recreation) including basketball, weights, ping-pong, hockey, baseball, bike-riding, all board games, etc.
* No use of student bank (except special circumstances)
* No mail - except for legal matters
* No passes/visits or applying for passes/visits
* No snacks during the evenings
* No seconds at meal time
* No snacks from the pop and candy machines
* No coffee or tea
* No desserts
* No television or recreational movies
* No music

(No mail "except for legal matters" effectively means "no mail"--all incoming and outgoing mail is matched with an approved sender's list that is typically restricted to pastors, parents, and occasionally one's parole officer, and mail coming in and leaving the facility is censored with all correspondence negatively referring to Teen Challenge destroyed and the writer subject to "total discipline".)

A facility in Minnesota operated by Teen Challenge is even more restrictive--it's finally revealed in this document that the dress code includes essentially one's "Sunday best" the majority of the time:

§ Dress requirements for students include three main dress codes: - Casual/Class dress:
Males- collared shirts (no t-shirts), casual slacks, dress jeans or shorts.
Females- shirts, blouses, casual slacks, skirts, dresses, dress jeans or shorts (tank tops may only be worn with a shirt over it). - MnTC choir:
Males- black dress trousers, white button down collared shirt, tie, dark colored shoes and socks.
Females- black skirt, white blouse, black or flesh colored nylons, black shoes. - Leisure/recreational dress:
Shorts (must cover ¾ of thigh), t-shirts, sweat suits, swim trunks and jeans. Females: one piece bathing suit for swimming.
§ Students may not wear jewelry in any body piercing, with the exception of ears for female students only.
§ Hairstyles that bring unusual attention are not allowed. Hair color must be of a normal color.

The restrictions--and the "level" system--are remarkably similar to documented abuse within Straight, Inc.--which generally has been held to be the single most abusive "behaviour modification" chain ever documented. Some of the tactics--including refusing to use last names in the program and "confrontational evangelism"--seem to be taken whole-cloth from the worst documented practices of Straight, Inc. The connections go deeper than this; Mel Sembler, former head of Straight, Inc., now operates the Drug Free America Foundation--a group which, among other things, makes referrals to Teen Challenge. Disturbingly, Teen Challenge is the only residential facility to get explicit endorsement--giving a dangerous sign indeed that it may be acting de facto as the inheritor of Straight, Inc.'s legacy of horror and torture.

Tomorrow, we get a glimpse at what goes on in the "training" phase--and it is revealed that much of the purpose of Teen Challenge's "rehab" is in fact running a de facto "missionary mill" for the Assemblies.

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Posted by: corboy ()
Date: May 26, 2012 08:21AM

A Report of Homophobia by a Former Teen Challenge Participant


My Nightmare at Teen Challenge

Posted January 6th, 2011 by Wayne Besen
By James Voss

My experience at Teen Challenge began in Aug of 2007. At the age of twenty-four, I found myself facing the county prosecutor on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol after leaving a gay bar near Troy, Michigan. This was my first time getting a ticket for anything.

I had spent most of the past three years dealing with the pressure of coming out to my friends and family while attending a private four-year bible college. North Central University is a self-proclaimed “Christ-centered Pentecostal school with a commitment to academic excellence that prepares students to fulfill biblical models of leadership and ministry throughout the world .”

I left for North Central University right after high school to become a youth pastor. The one obstacle of graduation was my sexual orientation. According to the university, homosexuals suffer a life controlling disorder that can be overcome through self-discipline, prayer, and by living a life centered in Christ and obeying the N.C.U Way. At a certain point I decided that I needed to love myself enough, and admit that I was gay and leave NCU.

At this point I admit that I had little direction in my life and started looking for what gay community I could find at the bar. As I began to come out to my family I found myself in total isolation and the support system that comes with it. You see, my family shared the same world view on homosexuality that North Central University and the Assembly of God did as whole.

My family chose to accept the official teachings of the church that include such anti-gay opinions:

“In the face of a militant homosexual movement that is pressing for legal and social acceptance of homosexuality, the church must keep its focus. First, homosexuals are sinners like everyone and need God’s grace, love, and forgiveness. Second, homosexuals can through the miracle of the new birth be set free from the power of sin and live changed moral lives. The church must reach out to all sinners with the love of Christ, no matter what the sin. And we must never let the declining moral climate of our nation pressure us into condoning what God condemns. ”

Coming out was a hard process when your family and culture is against you, so as I left the gay bar in 2007, I had very little in the way of family or friends to rescue me from the prison cell I found myself in. I sat in jail for ten days unable to reach anyone in my family to post bail.

As it ended up, I was able to obtain a lawyer and all terms of my probation would be met if I completed a court assigned program at Western Michigan Teen Challenge.

Teen Challenge by its own definition is an Assemblies of God USA evangelical Christian recovery program and a network of Christian social and evangelizing work centers. It is a 12-18 month program that serves drug addicts, alcoholics gang members, prostitutes, and people dealing with the life controlling problem of same sex attraction and addiction. Think of the program as a sanctification quick stop to redeem one in the eyes of the Assembly of God Church. I was told that once I spoke in tongues that god would work in my life and remove the gay feelings.

In the four months I lived at the teen challenge center in Muskegon Michigan, all personal decisions were left to the director of the center who was guided by a stern handbook that consisted of 111 individual rules and guidelines. A majority of these rules were designed to put program participants in submission to the program’s leaders who supposedly were anointed by God and spoke with the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. The physical evidence of their holiness the ability to speak in speak in tongues.

In the program, we were not ever allowed to look at females directly. Men and women had to sit on separate sides of the chapel and if a woman was singing or giving a testimony she did so behind an office cubical wall so that only her eyes were visible.

People that entered the center with psychological problems were often not allowed to take medications prescribed by doctors since there was a ban on any medication that had any affect on the brain. If you took medications you were told you weren’t showing enough faith and that Jesus could heal you.

Daily life consisted of chapel, bible classes, work duty, and two hours of praying on your knees. You physically had to kneel or you got in to trouble. Students were not allowed to talk about addiction or in my case homosexuality. Instead, you were only to think and talk about God and the scriptures that they had you memorize and meditate on.

One of the stated program goals was to reprogram or recondition the mind, because as they taught, human nature was evil and your mind was naturally wrong. We were all born sinners, they claimed. So, for a gay man to bring up that he was born gay was stating the obvious, because the program directors believed that we are all born into sin. “All man has fallen short of the Glory of God”, they preached, while they taught that all Christians are at war with their own flesh and blood. (I have included a link to the daily schedule so you can get an ideal of how regimented it was.)

By looking at the curriculum we can get a quick glance at what was covered in the three daily bible classes. In the first 14 weeks I was exposed to classes on attitude, growing through failure, temptation, anger and personal rights. We were told that we signed all our personal rights over to God and the pastors at the center when we entered the program.?Learning at the center was mostly done through rote memorization. Workbooks for classes had places where critical thinking could potentially take place, but students were expected to just memorize the correct answer and fill it in.

While living at the center, all conversations are monitored for ungodliness, all mail is read, and phone conversations are limited to five minutes every two weeks. No mail or phone conversations are allowed in the first four weeks that a student is attending the program. This is done largely because by the fourth week in the program, students are broken down enough that they no longer think for themselves and respond in a programmed way. Parents probably do perceive a change in their child, but is it real or simply a programmed, conditioned reaction to subverting and suppressing all individuality and critical thinking skills?

Program leaders believe the “gay problem”, as they call it, is a sin because “homosexual acts are unnatural because of their high correlation with major illnesses and terminal disease.”

In viewing Romans 1:27 we must ask what is the “due penalty” mentioned “for their perversion”, they preach. They go on to say that, “Though AIDS is not necessarily a direct judgment from God, as innocents are sometimes the victims of the sin of others, it remains a disastrous overarching consequence of sin through the fall of man.” (See Genesis 3).

They also preach:

“Contrary to the claims by homosexual public relations campaigns that claim gays and lesbians are normal, healthy, average people, the opposite is true. Former homosexuals describe a disgusting lifestyle of perversion and sexual obsession. In a study of the median age of death for heterosexuals and homosexuals, less than 2 per cent of homosexuals survived to age 65 while married and single heterosexual men and women living past 65 ranged from 57 to 80 percent.

Clearly on every front whether it is moral, spiritual, physical, or psychological, the practice of homosexuality has proven itself devoid of any individual good or social benefit. Furthermore, the historical record shows homosexuality as detrimental to the well-being of the individual participant, the extended family, and society at large.”

Is it healthy to teach a gay person and churchgoers that homosexuals are a detriment to the society at large? Is breaking a person down the best way to offer genuine help?

From my experience with Teen Challenge, I would have to say no.

In an environment where you are taught that all your personal rights belong to God and program leaders speak with the voice of god, gay students are given little choice but to believe and think how they are taught. At Teen Challenge, people do “change” because they are heavily conditioned how to respond.?Some of these adjustments were positive. For example, having every minute of the day programmed does bring order to one’s life. However, the overall program is quite harmful to those who participate, particularly LGBT people.

The LGBT Community needs to watch out for programs like Teen Challenge and remember that it a massive organization with over 223 centers in North America with the capacity to sleep over 7,536 people, according to its website.

Programs like this negatively impact a high number of gay youth. I can state from firsthand experience that Teen Challenge did some long-term damage to my self esteem.

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