A compilation of all the true stories submitted by former Honor Academy interns.
A list of helpful books and websites for your healing journey.
A summary of abuses committed by senior Teen Mania leadership.
Internationally Recognized Cult Experts Doug and Wendy Duncan weigh in on the Teen Mania controversy.
Why this controversial description fits Teen Mania.
Read a synopsis of all my interaction with Teen Mania leadership documenting the multiple lies they've told and two fake "investigations." (Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg)
May 2, 2013
March 25, 2013
"Hangman we played double dutch with a hand grenade
This is the nature of the beast. Spiritual abuse leaves a visible mark on the psyche, on the soul, and it is damned near impossible to explain this to someone who is unable or unwilling to hear it. Three years ago, Mica posted about the aftermath of spiritual abuse and post-cult trauma. Less than two years ago, I read her words and finally realized that Yes, Teen Mania Is A Cult.
|In 2005, around the height of alumni Xanga usage, I began a blog ring called "No, Teen Mania is Not a Cult."|
Sometimes (read most days), I look at all the work ahead of me for the day and I cry. No, I literally cry. I get so overwhelmed with the fact that there are nowhere near enough hours in the day to go to work, nurture relationships, get my basic chores done, get my blogs written, work on my book, exercise, do what I want to do, and eat or sleep. It's impossible and I think to myself that something has got to give because a life lived in frustration really is not living. Or maybe not worth living? I never make up my mind, but I think about it for a few hours and stress myself out some more. Or attempt to ignore the deadlines hanging above my shoulders and pretend that I think everything is fine.
The truth about my healing is that I spent my 20s with my brain steeped in religious, abusive Teen Mania jargon. To the point where I was unable to sail my own ship. I allowed guilt, obligation and fear dictate my life until I was so far away from myself that I didn't know how I would make a return. The good news is that I did return. But I know... I had to sort of pick up where I left off. In my own way I had to make up for lost time.
I touched upon this in my Filmspiration post. Regularly now, I test the boundaries of my freedom in pursuit of joy. What I didn't add was that I'm a full decade (at least) behind most of my peers. Emotionally, mentally, financially, perhaps even spiritually... I am very childish. "Child-like heart" has come up several times in my friendships and relationships--and not always in a positive way. But frankly at this point I'm resigned to this idea that I need to be a child for at least a little longer. Though I suspect I may always live with one foot in the clouds of Never Never Land.
At this point, I believe this is a natural response. When I was 18 I had very adult responsibilities for a ministry that was saving the world. Minus the paycheck and affirmation of a job well-done. I was gritting my teeth to get through the physical challenges and pain.. not to mention the terror of Gauntlet and various other retreats. In beating my body and making it my slave, I learned to disassociate my mind from my body so effectively that I am still struggling to quit living inside my head. My personal soundtrack--though immensely improved since beginning therapy--still upon occasion plays from Dave or Ron's Greatest Hits: "You can sleep when you're dead. Embrace adversity. God hates liars and those who break their commitments. This is okay sexually when you're married and this is NEVER okay even when you are married..." And I still have nightmares where I'm being confronted for doing something wrong but no one believes me that I didn't do it. Or I get hit with "fight or flight" terrors when I go to church or have to speak to new people. I had flashbacks to the internship and panic attacks when I read The Hunger Games trilogy.
If you're up to sharing with the group, let's discuss some of the triggers or symptoms of spiritual abuse that have gotten in the way of simply enjoying your life.
March 20, 2013
Here is their official annoucement:
February 24, 2013
“There has to be a better way to love God and feel free.”
February 18, 2013
Ever since I saw the Mind of Mania broadcast and found this blog, I’ve considered posting, but never did until now. I suppose it is because I am embarrassed to say I ever had anything to do with Teen Mania or even worse, that I recommended it to others. I was horrified by what I saw on the broadcast and by the stories I read here. I always felt there was something off about the Honor Academy, but really knew what went on there. I will never again participate in anything TM and will try to warn others about getting involved with them.
I first heard about TM from my husband, who was an experienced TL with them. We both felt called to full time missions (before we ever heard about TM) and thought that TM would be a good way to be involved in missions while still in college. My first trip was to El Salvador Z, 1999 as a TL. My second was trip C that was supposed to be church planting in Nepal but was changed to Thailand in 2001. As a Team Leader I had a lot more control over our trip than MA’s or missionaries. I think that kept the trips from being as terrible as some other people have shared.
Even still, I had a few issues with them that I now realized I should have taken more seriously. To me the big issues with Global Expeditions were lack of sleep, over rigidity and emphasis on rule keeping, and not enough experience &/or maturity in leaders. However, the biggest problem that I found with Teen Mania was poor doctrine/Theology. To this day Teen Mania is an example to me of just how bad things can get when your theology is not sound. During training I heard some lectures that I didn’t completely agree with. I heard one on naming and claiming that actually made me pretty mad. Still, I chalked it all up to be an interdenominational group and let it slide. I should have paid more attention. What seems like a small thing, like an unbalance view of works vs. grace, can turn a group from the heart of the gospel, which is love, forgiveness and restoration to being all about rule keeping, image maintaining, and being better than everyone else. Also the belief that if you just have enough faith you will be healed, lead to medical negligence of the part of the leadership. For example, on one trip when my husband was still an MA, he had a fever, bad cough and was delirious. It got so bad that when he would attempt to speak he couldn’t say anything that made any sense. Despite being that sick he was not taken immediately do a doctor. It wasn’t until a change in the Project Directors, weeks later, that he was taken to the doctor and told that he had a bad case of bronchitis and may have had pneumonia previously. This is just one instance where medical issues were sort of dismissed and doctors were not consulted or ever recommended. There is much more than can be said about this, but I think you get the picture.
I have walked away from this experience with a firm conviction that it really is important to hold up all teaching to the light of scripture, to be willing to question all teaching, and the value in studying what you believe and why you believe it. My husband and I seek out the truth and aren’t afraid of where we find it. As a partial reaction to the teaching of Teen Mania and teachings he heard in other contexts, my husband now has PhD in New Testament. He actually wrote a book about wealth from the teachings of Paul and Jesus (let’s just say it is very different from Teen Mania’s teaching on wealth). In our search for truth we never lost our faith, but rather were strengthened in it. It is possible to really study and think and debate what you believe and still be a dedicated Christian. Our Christian walk doesn’t look much like Teen Mania’s idea of the model Christian. Thankfully we never experienced the depth of destruction that many of you faced in the HA and were still able to maintain our love for missions (we are now full time missionaries in Japan). I understand that this is not true for everyone here and I am so very sorry for those of that you had such destructive experiences. Finally, I wanted to give a heartfelt apology. If any of you were on any of my teams, please forgive me if I was too forceful in my convictions, for letting my culture shock influence my speaking, for not standing up for the truth and for any other unintentional (but no less legitimate) hurts I might have inflicted. It was never my intent to harm you in any way. I did care about each of you. I was young and inexperience and to some degree influenced by Teen Mania myself. Still I will take responsibility for my actions and say I really am sorry. If there is anything I can do, if there is something you need to say to me, I am willing to listen and do anything I can to help (whether you were on one of my teams of not). I pray that God will bring healing and hope to all of you.
February 12, 2013
January 21, 2013
I went on a mission trip with GE in 2011.
But who knew one month of my life could hurt me so much?!
Right when I think I'm over it, I can see and feel everything all over again. Its like time picks at scabs and makes them bleed again.
I used to be SO ON FIRE for the message of Christ. I wanted nothing more than to be His hands and feet. I want to BE like Jesus before talking about Him. I was so ready to just spread His LOVE. (The real kind of Love, not Teen Mania Love.) I still am, in a way...
But I am scared now.
I am scared because now, whenever I find mission organizations, I freeze up. I become suspicious. And I automatically shy away the moment I hear ANYTHING concerning "checklists." SO MANY ORGANIZATIONS require "training" in prayer and healing. Whether or not they are up to the standards of Teen Mania is beyond me, but I see TM EVERYWHERE. I see traces of it in almost every ministry and the moment I see any similarity, I freak out. I get angry, I cry, I become anxious and can't feel any peace. There are no words to describe how fearful TM made me.
For instance: The other day, I thought I saw my Project Director. My heart sped up and I almost had a panic attack. I am not kidding you. My breath quickened and I got dizzy. I HID.
And I KNEW it wasn't him! Yet him LOOKING like him was enough! He looked like the man who had no grace for me whatsoever. He looked like the man mocked Hindus to their faces. He looked like the man who, for one month, almost made me believe every single sexist lie TM teaches.
Oh those lies!
I came home, and for months all I could do was sit in a hot shower and BEG God to turn me into a boy. I had begun to believe that there was no way I could be this "perfect, Proverbs 31 woman." I had begun to believe that I had to be silent, and beautiful, and submissive, and that there was no way I could POSSIBLY be a pastor because I was born without skin hanging between my legs.
I swore to myself that I would rather cut off my breasts than be the image TM taught.
And that scares me.
Even when TM found out I was hurt, you know what happened?
They called me.
And they said, "Sorry for your experience."
Then you know what happened?
They DEFENDED all the crap that happened on my trip.
And here I am, scared out of mind, terrified of this person over the PHONE, sobbing my eyes out.
I told someone who I thought was a "friend."
And she said I was deceived and speaking the lies of Satan.
Both people offered to pray it out of me.
And all I did was CRY.
And ask myself what I did wrong.
I had NIGHTMARES for MONTHS.
And you know what?
I was a Jerk when I came back. I was legalistic beyond belief. My family was concerned. And I beat myself up over everything.
I still beat myself up.
Because somewhere, deep down, I still believe that everything was my fault.
That maybe I didn't "have enough faith."
That maybe I really was "deceived."
How can one month screw you over so badly?
How can it keep you from going to church?!
How can it strip you of all your conviction for ministry?!
How can it take your fire away?!
How can it keep you from trusting people!
And the truth is, a year and a half later, I am still scared to speak out.
I am still terrified.
And I am still hurt.
(Note from RA: This individual asked me to remove the indentifying details and specifics of her story because she does not want to be contacted by TM again. Suffice it to say that her experience is a common one on both GE mission trips and the HA internship: abusive physical conditions, inadequate rest and medical care, oppressive legalism and the lesson that everything bad that ever happens to you is your fault.)