About me

I'm just a believer that is recovering from my experience at Teen Mania's Honor Academy and I would like to share my journey of healing with you.

November 1, 2011

MSNBC Airs Documentary on Honor Academy Abuses

This Sunday night at 10pm/9pm Central MSNBC will air the premiere of their new show, "Mind Over Mania" which documents the lives and struggles of Honor Academy survivors. Earlier this year, cameras followed myself and several other alumni as we attended a weekend cult recovery workshop led by Doug and Wendy Duncan. The Duncans are experts in cult recovery and are former cult members themselves. I was acquainted with Doug and Wendy prior to this weekend workshop and had discussed my recovery with them in bits and pieces but they really didn't know that much about Teen Mania.

Until completing this workshop, I never felt comfortable calling Teen Mania a cult - instead preferring the term "cult-like." I couldn't bring myself to use that very explosive and loaded label. However, after going through the entire weekend and discussing every aspect of what makes a cult - I changed my mind and I think the other participants did as well. As we discussed Robert Lifton's 8 criteria for mind control, it was startling to see that Teen Mania's Honor Academy actually had every single one in spades.



I haven't been privy to any of the footage from this show, including the final edit. I can only hope that its a fair representation of what Honor Academy interns have gone through during their struggle to recover from the abuse at Teen Mania. Of course, there is no way a one hour program can cover everything but I hope its a good introduction to the dangers of the Honor Academy. I do know that Teen Mania senior leadership was also interviewed for the show and that the crew spent several hours on campus.

At this time, MSNBC does not have plans to air the show online so please set your DVRs accordingly.

120 comments:

YESS SO EXCITED

My only question- is the series itself called "The Exit"? The 10PM slot on their website has it labeled as "Mind Over Mania". Is that just the name of the episode?

EITHER WAY, this is exciting stuff. Thanks for sharing!

Just FYI - I had to search for "Mind Over Mania" on my DVR in order to find it. I couldn't find it under "The Exit". Can't wait to watch.

Awesome news. I do hope there's some plan to get the footage or at least clips online some way for those of us who don't have cable.

Awww, no cable :( But that's great news!

You guys are right - looks like they changed the name. Too bad - I liked the other name better. I've updated the post accordingly!

Awesome! I can't wait!

Do you think someone can record it and upload it? I don't think I will be able to watch it live...

RA~ I'm so proud of you. It still pains me to call TM a cult. It still pains me that I have lost friends in the process of my recovery. It still pains me that kids are still going to TM, hoping to grow closer to God and are turned into Honor Academy-zombies. No matter how MSNBC edits this show, I know that your heart in all of this has always been to love, protect, and create a safe community for alumni who have been brave enough to take on their healing.

it would be great if someone could upload it!

I also would love to see it, and don't have the option to watch it live

I have noticed this theme... a lot of us can not watch it, is there anyway that is can be taped and perhaps uploaded to youtube? I am not sure about what is legal and what isn't :(

I'm agreed on the uploading of the show to the inter-webs.
I don't have a TV, but if its online I'd watch it.

Wow you guys will belive anything the media puts on. The "cult expert" never even went to teen mania and the blogger who started this pack of lies never went through E.S.O.A.L

And to think that all this time, I thought objectivity was a valuable quality in an expert researcher. Who knew?

If you like it when people lie to the media, you'll love Dave Hasz's many lies to the media!

FYI I think most MSNBC Documentaries go up on Hulu within a week of first airing (Not 100 percent on that but I am pretty sure)

rofl

Saying "The "cult expert" never even went to teen mania", is like saying "this internationally renown doctor who can treat and diagnose cancer never went through chemo".

Also LOL ERIC

It seems as though this site offers a live stream of MSNBC.

http://www.yycast.com/bregando

IM WITH YOU ANONYMOUS.....WHAT A BUNCH OF GARBAGE!!!!!!!

To Anon @ 1:30pm

Thank you for giving me a good laugh. Brightened up my afternoon! Please, I'm curious, what parts of this web site in particular are part of this "pack of lies"?


To Anon @ 3:34pm

Please continue to use all caps and excessive exclamation marks so that you will be taken seriously. As we all know, the louder you type, the more correct you are.

lies lies lies yeah...they're gonna get you!!

Anon 3:55's comment has awoken a song within my spirit...

HIDE YO DAVES HIDE YO RONS
HIDE YO DAVES HIDE YO RONS

AND HIDE YO ANONS, CAUSE THEY EXPOSIN ERRY CULT OUT THERE

when will ya'll just stop?....this can all just be so damaging...not just to the ministry that is going on but to the kingdom as a whole....i would not want to be held accountable for the kind of damage that you are creating....

you will know them by there fruits...is that quiet enough for you. b.t.w there is more than one anonymous on here

rofl

Saying "The "cult expert" never even went to teen mania", is like saying "this internationally renown doctor who can treat and diagnose cancer never went through chemo".

Also LOL ERIC

That is the stupidest logic i have ever heard. Someone making a judgment ( and proclaiming it to the world) without doing unbiased research is a fraud. Plane and simple. To call yourself an expert and to such a thing is an assault on the standard of truth on which we should make and hold our beliefs.

people on this blog get mad that some of us use "anonymous"...nobody else is using their real name...who is RA?....if you are so proud of your stand in this situation then make it known...what is your real name?

Hold up.

"The "cult expert" never even went to teen mania and the blogger who started this pack of lies never went through E.S.O.A.L"

AND THEN

"That is the stupidest logic i have ever heard. Someone making a judgment ( and proclaiming it to the world) without doing unbiased research is a fraud."

That aside, do you even know who the Duncans are? I'd research a bit more before crying wolf at anything that doesn't suck Teen Mania's dick.

Just sayin'.

awesome!

I hope that any exposure of TMM will evoke skepticism in those who would have participated in or supported their "ministry". So excited to see this.

I don't think anyone cares whether you use your real name or not. Rather, we'd prefer you simply choose a name (real or fake) to make discussion easier. It's a lot more complicated to carry a conversation with five different people all posting as "Anonymous" because it's hard to know who is who, and hard to specify between different Anons. Even if you gave yourself a name like "banana" or "4" or "Sir Brigadier General Arthur C. Cunningham III, Esq." that would make things much better.

Also (at the risk of invoking Muphry's Law), do yourselves a favor and use proper grammar, punctuation, and capitalization. You'll be taken a lot more seriously that way.

Finally, RA's name is publicly available. She revealed herself a long time ago. Her picture is in this very post.

So that is her at the top. Please direct me where to find her name

My name is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkHLxNiSP1U

Anon: "i would not want to be held accountable for the kind of damage that you are creating...."

Would you prefer to be held accountable for this kind of damage?

A wise person once said, "That which can be destroyed by the truth should be." I oppose the teachings of cults like Teen Mania because I want to see more people believe in the truth of the Gospel, which the false teachings of legalism and works-based righteousness marginalize. I've talked to some HA alumni to whom I've had to explain the Gospel for the very first time. That's not good fruit.

If we really should "make and hold our beliefs on a standard of truth," (or was that the other anon?) then we should support people who tell the truth about what they experienced at Honor Academy. As howcultswork.com puts it, "Legitimate groups have nothing to fear from their members reading critical information about them."

Maurice: Darn that Muphry's Law! :-D

Suddenly everybody is an expert. Well, I'm an expert at letting GOD be the judge and I'm at expert at saying "Ron, you gonna answer for this" and I'm an expert at saying "run and tell that, HOMEBOY"

Everybody on this site (and yes, that technically includes ME) needs to look for bigger and better things to do with their lives. Arguing on the internet gets nobody anywhere.

Anonymous(es), please do as Maurice Moss says. PICK A NAME! It's impossible to keep you all straight, especially because many of you tend to blend into one blurry ball of Teen Mania supporters.

The good news is that we can then just imagine that there is one really angry Teen Mania supporter out there, and he or she is the one who comes on here all the time blasting judgment and anger all over the place. Seriously, you're not doing Teen Mania a favor. In a few days, this blog is going to get a TON of traffic, and they will quickly get a picture of the types of commenters here. It won't be hard to see who the jerks are.

yeah, because jerks don't say things like "suck teenmania's dick"

no, not at all.

It thrills me that you all want to control us anons by demanding that we take names.

nah. we dont' play your games.

we just like making you mad.

I really enjoy it personally. has very little to do with TM, actually.

Oh no way, I own that I'm an asshole.

And it's not a matter of control- it's a matter of giving you an individual identity, so people don't give a stereotype to everyone who leaves an anonymous comment lol

And if there's an anon that actually has an engaging point and somebody wants to reply- it's a lot easier to carry on a conversation with "[insert name here]" than "anon at [blah blah blah time] when there are like ten anons.

WE DON'T CARE IF YOU STAY ANONYMOUS. That is not the issue. It's just that we can't keep you straight if you all use the same name. Seriously, are you one person who just posted all of those comments? Or multiple people?

We need a like button for the site, Eric. :)

that's cool, I look forward to watching it! I wonder what is going on over there in tm land. I think they might be worried, why else are all these anons firing at you guys like this?

BUT JEREMY

IT'S A SIN TO READ THE RECOVERING ALUMNI BLOG!!!!

IF THEY WERE TRULY HONORING GOD THEY WOULDN'T KNOW yeah I can't type like this anymore

Side note- love the captcha function (:

Actually, we did meet with Heath and Dave. Afterwards, Heath gave us a tour.

I will be taping it and hopefully getting it uploaded to youtube. I may even edit some highlights. I may not be able to make the video public for youtube searches - due to copyright for long term viewing - but we can possibly get it up for a week or so for those of you that can't watch it. I'll see what I can do and be in touch with RA. Can't wait to see it.

it simply amazes me how you all get away with putting hurtful lies like this out there. you should all repent! just because you did not want to follow the rules or even if you just simply dont agree with what they teach does NOT make them a cult!! the teens are free to leave any time they want from the beginning of their internship till the end of it! they are free to make phone calls anytime they want and have internet available. they are also allowed to have guests n parents are always welcome anytime they want.you all need to leave them alone n find something better to do with your time!! oh n i was gonna put a name but chose not to just because you are all trying to demand us give one. n i am not the other anon's that have posted. actually this is my first post. i have been hear n read this junk many times and have kept quiet but i am just sick of it!!! oh n to the person who said TM is worried i seriously doubt that because the have the Lord on their side...why would they ever fear lies?? i would think not! us anon's are here on our own n are just sick of you's posting lies out here like this!!!

To anon above ( and the other anon's)...your bad spelling and misuse of proper English makes it hard to read your comments...Dave Hasz would be so disappointed in your lack of excellence.

Also, it cuts both ways...Ron, Dave and Heath will also stand before the Lord someday and answer for their actions. I also echo/agree with what Eric said above.

I will definitely be recording this. It certainly grieves me that so many people have felt so wronged by Teen Mania, and they feel it deserves the title of "cult" (I by no means agree with this title). I do have friends (even roommates) who truly felt wronged at TM and I walked through some tough stuff with them as a result. I personally did not have a negative experience there overall, and neither did most of my friends who attended the Honor Academy. Of course there were things I disagreed with, and leadership I disagreed with, and even some personal hurt that I endured, but that happens in every place and every season of life. While I was there, I just learned how to deal with it like an adult. I also learned how to depend on God and not to idolize a person or a place. Through what some people called "legalism" at Teen Mania (and yes, there definitely was some), I saw the heart behind it was discipline, and that's what I took away from it. I could go on and on, as could probably anyone of you posting here. I by no means mean to diminish anyone else's sincere pain. I just want to offer that there is another side - one that actually shows that the HA made a positive impact on a lot of people, including myself.

I hope this documentary, before it offers a conclusion that Teen Mania is a "cult", fairly explores both sides, as there are always 2 sides to every story.

Marie the mere fact that you sit there n pick apart someone "proper english or spelling" proves that your heart is not right. you could understand completely what i was saying even with the typos. that was a very juvenile comment. and i could care less who likes it or who doesnt what i care about is the truth and the mess you all are putting on here simply is just not true!! i will certainly be praying for all of you cause you are all going down a very dangerous road with satan. lies are of the devil just saying. HA is not a cult n to call it one is a lie!!!

You people do need all the help you can get you all are a cult in it self. Sick and sorry..what a shame.
.

Almost anything in life has potential to be scarring or damaging - middle school, military, sports, or a karaoke contest. People exist that need therapy for involvement in all of the above. I went through the HA for 1.5 years and got ejected with my tail between my legs. Tough...yeah. Unfair...incredibly so at the time. I reevaluated my approach to this narrow path less traveled and came back a second time using the HA as a hammer to bang out my personal goals and issues instead of as an engine to push me through to the promised land. I wasn't a model intern, and I probably skirted the fine line more often than not. In the end, you make the bed that you sleep in, and I picked my own path that saw me through the HA. Anytime you totally throw your trust and devotion on to another person or program, you will be hurt and crushed. At no point did I feel REQUIRED to do that while in the HA. Maybe it was intimated at by shortsighted 'minor' leaders (ie. not Hasz or above), but I flat out never gave it and experienced no real repercussions as a result.

I guarantee the HA isn't perfect, but it has undeniably ‘worked’ for myself and many others. All the pain and resentment expressed here is rather new to me, but I am not surprised. Until TMM only hires perfect people and only accepts perfect interns, there will continue to be disappointment and hurt. I truly am sorry for those who have experienced hurt - perhaps some of it by my actions since I was at one point somewhere in the leadership chain. For myself none of it was intentional, but all of it was human. Pain is real, and it can come from unexpected places. Hurt, grieve, heal… that’s your birthright as a human – natural as the rain and as sure as the sun. Since my time at the HA I've also seen incredible human mismanagement while being involved in both the educational and banking systems. There are teachers who ruin student's learning potential while trying to teach, and there are bankers who ruin client's lives while trying to help manage. Let’s not get started on how many well-meaning, well-trained parents end up committing atrocious parenting errors and turn out crummy kids. Programs are not machines; humans are not machines. Expecting everyone to come out of the HA with flying colors is as ridiculous as claiming that all who leave are scarred. I’m not excusing; I’m just saying. ;)

Having personally experienced a true ‘cult,’ the attempts to compare TMM with twisted societies like that are... flimsy. Ron Luce never demanded unquestioning loyalty and devotion from me, and I never volunteered it. Anyone who has a serious conversation with David Hasz from a position of humility will be met in kind and see that he is about as far as you can get from a diabolical sociopath bent on twisting lives. Isolation in a true cult is on a different level than at the HA. They require you to get out and join a local church! If they’re striving to maintain a stranglehold on your spiritual pipeline as any decent cult would, allowing a massive influx of ‘foreign’ spirituality from an off-campus source would be counter productive at the least. Some mind control techniques and cultish criteria can be attributed to the HA in particular, churches in general, and Christianity as a whole – ‘saved’, inside language, charismatic leadership, etc. If you set out determined to see demons, you’ll see one in every shadow and mask the true evils that lurk about.

Maybe I’m still blinded, although I am 7 years removed from the HA. Or maybe I’m just biased because I ended up scoring a hot wife out of the whole deal which balances out all the other trials (re: Jacob vs. Laban). Perhaps things have changed so much since my time there and a bit of Kool Aid drinking is now going on. I highly doubt that, though, as these grievances seem to date back from the inception of TMM. Either way, I’ve blown all my hot air on this subject and shall be moving myself and my chattels back off to oblivion.
I’m not anonymous; I can be found – alumni search Hawai’i.

D, you hit it right on brother. I'm pretty sure the given criteria of a 'cult' could have been applied to the stomp group I was a part of in 11th grade. Man we rocked. And I'm certain that the 'church' I became a part of after leaving Teen Mania was a full-blown cult. Like... it really was. And TM set me up for that. For sure. But that's the thing... I went to that church. ME. MY decision. Getting out of it once the shit started smelling... also me. Never once have I tried to say that it was their fault for my discomfort. Cuz, that's just where I was for a while. And then I left. And then I went to counseling. And then I moved on.
Did Teen Mania create some ripple effects that I can trace back and pin on them. Duh. Was I in an place to be more affected by that because of the life that was lived PREVIOUS to attending the HA? Of course. Am I going to DVR a documentary on the bullies that made me yearn for the safety of a Christian family who told me I was going to rule the world? Sure... if one was on. And I really hope that someone gets this doc. online somehow. Because I'm really interested in what is said. But I have the feeling I'm going to feel greasier after watching it than I do when I think back on my time in Garden Valley. All three years of it.
Looking back, TM was a blip on the radar of my life. It's laughable the things I was so adamant about back then compared to the person I am now. And I would imagine that ten years from now, I'll have another good chuckle at the man I think I am today. WE WERE 18 YEARS OLD YOU GUYS! Of course we're scarred. Who isn't? But that's the shit you stand on, no matter where you come from.
Ultimately though, I LOVE the people that I know to this day because of my time there. A decade later. And that is worth all the cult-dealings that I had to power through to find them. Meat from the bones my friends.
Plus, I got to dance on stage a lot. So that was cool.

I danced on that stage once WITHOUT a shirt on. Adore me now.

... and as long as we're all here putting it on the table, shouldn't there be SOMETHING said about the God that apparently 'called' us all to this place? Like, shouldn't SOME accountability be required from the entity that 'led' us to Garden Valley to begin with?
Because either you heard the voice of God wrong, or there was a reason for what you endured.
Whether we were 'misled' by our HA Mobilizers (of which I was one) or whether ya fell for the BS once you were there, you can only put so much blame on the leadership of the institution when your heavenly Father duped you into signing on in the first place.

I think somebody needs a refresher on this site's comment policy....

The line of thinking above is an unmistakable symptom of Teen Mania's cultic and abusive behavior. "Sure, we were scarred and hurt and traumatized and injured at Teen Mania, but c'mon, who wasn't?" Don't you see? They've got you thinking that it was OK for them to hurt you. That is what cults do. These comments prove, as clearly as any documentary, that Honor Academy is destructive, abusive, and cultic. If TM was really so great, no one would have to take that line of defense for it.

Would this line of reasoning be seen as valid in any other context? "Sure, my husband may have knocked me around a bit, but how dare you say he's a wife-beater? He's not as bad as Henry VIII! No man is perfect..." It would be time to intervene and have a serious talk about domestic abuse to anyone who said that. In the same way, all Teen Mania alumni need a wake-up call to the fact that they have been spiritually abused-- a fact that the above comments prove.

Your attempts to justify this kind of abusive behavior in the name of God are no doubt a big part of the reason that many former HA alumni are now atheists. Why believe in a God who approves of abuse? Read Matthew 23 to see what Jesus really says about harmful religious leaders.

THANK YOU, Lindsay W, DfromHawai'i, and bjAm, for your thoughtful comments and respectful tone. :) Welcome to the RA site. I think you've made some good points (though I disagree with most of them), and you've definitely caused me to think. The pro-TM anons could learn something from you guys about presenting their message in a way that is much more likely to be heard and received by their audience...and, you know what, probably some of us could, too. :)

"That which can be destroyed by the truth should be." I think this says it perfectly Eric.

Like many of the people here I also have very fond memories of my time at the HA. As the years have gone by there are some memories that at the time, never wanting to speak ill of TM, I counted as a "learning opportunity." I have come to realize many of these opportunities were at best graceless and at worst cruel, all done in the name of Jesus, self-improvement, leadership skil building, etc.

How's this for fruit of the spirit? I know/know of more atheists and agnostics out of a few hundred people that I attended the HA with than the thousands of people I have known in all other social circles combined (high school, work, community.)Many, if not most of these alumni, rejecting their faith directly because of the things they experienced and were taught at TM. That is more than human mismanagement. That is a mismanagement of the gospel.

Please spare me your "Satan attacks the things he is most afraid of" defense, it's the christian equivalent of saying people don't like me because they're just jealous. It's a cop out to avoid having to do any real self-examination.

I just want T.M. to get called out for the terrible terrible things they are doing and to get shut down in a year.
(crosses fingers, here's hopin.)

P.S. Nizzel Honorablus... love it. lol.

Teen Mania participants will never portray or allow TMM to be portrayed in a negative light.

This was a CORE tenant to TMM. It is pure thought control. Its a huge red flag to cult behavior. Remember the commitment ceremony? Remember how we were guilted into the thought that we couldn't leave because we made the commitment no matter what? I certainly do. I remember being terrified of not finishing. Maybe some people didn't take it that way and would have been happy walking out the door at any time - I wish I could have had that attitude - then maybe I would have had more fun - but ultimately there is more going on in the "cult" realm that I think people are willing to admit. Its hard to see something you love in exposed for what it really is. Its sort of like finding out at your parents 25th wedding anniversary party that they have been cheating on each other and a divorce is imminent.

Eric, just a thought on your point: "The line of thinking above is an unmistakable symptom of Teen Mania's cultic and abusive behavior. 'Sure, we were scarred and hurt and traumatized and injured at Teen Mania, but c'mon, who wasn't?' Don't you see? They've got you thinking that it was OK for them to hurt you. That is what cults do."

Of course BjAm said this, and I can't speak for him, but I may have said something similar. I by no means think that TM would expect me (or anyone) to be OK with having been sincerely injured there. I don't think that was ever their intention (to hurt you or me), and I also don't think it's OK that they did.

My point in saying this is I think you may have misinterpreted what was being said there, using it to make your point about TM being a cult. I certainly know that I'm not brainwashed into thinking that TM's missteps were excusable simply because "nobody's perfect".

Eric said above, "That which can be destroyed by the truth should be."

I agree.

whether you feel you were hurt or not still doesnt make them a cult.

Well i think its safe to say that they will probably be showing this on campus to all the interns, GIs & staff.

Everyday after the KLTV stories on ESOAL, they would gather us in the auditorium and they made sure that we were well aware of what had been going on. The thing in 'Hannah's' story a while back where she was made to stand in front of the entire TM body happened after one of the gatherings.

I see no reason why they wouldn't show it.

I went to Teen Mania's Honor Academy in the year 2003 as an August Intern. I was unable to finish the internship for a few reasons, mainly finances, but I want to share that my experience was not that of a cult. The HA and TM are NOT PERFECT. I can't tell you how many times I would call home and complain about this that and the other thing. In any way that things have changed since I left that may appear as cult-ish, I pray that this is a documentary to help fix the situation and not just tear down. I did leave the HA much closer to God, feeling in AWE of His presence and so happy that He could use any experience that any human goes through for His glory and to bring His children closer to Himself. I had issues with the way the organization ran and I still think there are probably things that need fixing, but to tear down rather than build up, as we have found in many personal experiences of our own is not the way it should happen. Media will use you to get the story across that they want. Please be wise with your words to honor God.

Is TM a cult because of Theology or Methodology or both?

Theology: TM shares basically the same theology as most main-steam, evangelical, spirit-filled churches... does this make these churches cults too? In my opinion, no. As far as TM being too focused on "works", so are most humans. When you lose sight of the true gospel (Christ's finished work on the cross) you slip up and use good works to make you feel good. I can see that this was a problem with individuals at TM, but TM never "preached" a work-based salvation. So this can't be grounds for a "cult" title.

Methodology: Just because it's a para-church ministry with a campus doesn't make it a cult. I spent roughly 3 years at TM and have known Ron since I was a little girl. My only negative experiences at TM were with how individuals wrongly handled things, not the ministry as a whole. When people are hurt by other people, it's usually because they are forgetting the point of the ministry and trying to be a people-pleaser. The thing that makes TM so not a cult is the fact that they value accountability so much. If you bring it up and challenge it, it will be reconsidered and changed. They won't force you to believe what they believe. Again, methodology is not grounds for a "cult" title.

TM= not a cult.

I'd just like to reiterate what I'm sure other people have said in much more elegant ways.

Good or bad, your personal experience does not directly make the HA a cult. You can still have a great, life-changing, impactful experience at a cult. Similarly, if I had a terrible experience in high school, that doesn't make it a cult.

The methods are whack- I think we can all agree with THAT, to some extent.

You can't call a swimming pool filled with windex safe because some people come out of it fine.

you cant break what the lord has put... the honor academy was a blessing to me now im a marine and you think that the honor academy pushed you??? thats nothing. God bless you guys.

I'm a little bit confused as to the intent of the TM supporters on this site. Are you here to defend the practices of the ministry, deny that the damaging stories ever happened,or diminish their impact on the people of this community because you were able to suck it up and take the hard knocks?

As an HA alumni who is still not ready to call TM a cult, I have to say, the things said in support of TM officially and unofficially have put more nails in its own coffin than this site ever could. These are serious allegations and you are going to have to do better than "Y'all quit."

Eric - sorry you misunderstood my post. hopefully i can clarify.
to use your analogy of the battered wife, my point was closer to her saying "yes my husband beat me. and he's an ass. and i divorced him. but i am no longer a battered wife. i am a woman who will never be battered again, and i'm living my life as a shining entity separate from that which once was painful.'
i certainly wouldn't support the mindset of 'so what if they hurt me.' but in all honesty, TM didn't. they were as appropriate or inappropriate as any other body of christ hawking their belief system.
please believe me when i tell you that i know religious abuse. i've been on the receiving end of horrific practices under the guise of godliness since my time at HA. when dave hasz starts manifesting himself as the incarnation of jesus and telling you that to love him physically is god's special gift to you, i'll join you on the 'cult' bandwagon.
and not to say that it would need to get to that extreme, obviously, because ALOT of what goes on there is ridiculous. I think we agree on most points there. but to say that participation in a fasting retreat, or choosing to roll down a vomit covered hill, or having to sit through some midnight knighthood ceremony qualifies as cultish victimization because you felt guilty for wanting to quit... eh. i just can't make that stretch.
would i EVER recommend attending the honor academy to ANYONE i knew? no sir. do i defend the methods they employ to instill the values they promote? certainly not. but it isn't because i think they line up with the the 'cult qualifications' outlined by the Duncans or Robert Lifton's 8 criteria for mind control... at all. (Have you guys read those links? pretty far fetched in terms of TM)
and my heart absolutely goes out to those who genuinely feel wronged by Teen Mania or any religious body convinced of their ideology. it's definitely a bizarre little campus down there in garden valley. i just hope we're able to move on after the experience and not harbor unnecessary resentment for something that doesn't deserve our angst.
cheers.

Lyndsay, fair point. I probably should have specified that the comment was directed more toward BjAm and DfromHawai'i and an Anonymous or two, not yourself. I still maintain there are cultic characteristics in those comments, but I'll freely grant that you have more sensitivity than that.

However, in my experience with TM (this site, friends' experiences, emails from the leadership, etc.), I have seen that they are actually very dismissive and callous toward anyone who has been sincerely hurt if their hurt would reflect poorly on TM in any way. See this post which documents how the TM leadership treated the hundreds of people who reported their injuries on this blog. Or check on almost all of the True Stories on this blog itself (chock full of accounts of sincere injuries) to find caustic Pro-TM commenters saying variants of, "Why can't you just get over it and move on?"

The commitment to "never speak ill of HA or allow it to be spoken ill of"-- clearly at the root of a lot of the recent comments-- could be used as a textbook illustration of cult manipulation. To quote HowCultsWork again, "Legitimate groups have nothing to fear from their members reading critical information about them." So why has HA taken such steps to suppress the stories of injured people on this blog? You can't even view this domain on the HA campus. That doesn't seem like a sign of genuine compassion or remorse on the part of the HA leaders.

BjAm-- Thanks for clarifying. It seems your objection is mostly to the term "cult." Fair enough; it's a controversial term at the best of times. My own opinion is, "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck..." Because, let's face it, you can find examples of just about every general cult criteria in the stories I've heard from alumni, up to and including Dave Hasz preaching that to disobey him is to disobey God. You don't have to be the Branch Davidians to be a cult.

To go back to the "battered wife" analogy, I don't really see any distinction between what's going on at this site and what you describe. Pointing out TM's spiritual malpractice, past and present, is no different at all from saying "My husband beat me and he's an ass and I divorced him." If somebody said "I just hope you're able to move on and not harbor unnecessary resentment" to that, the proper response would certainly be, "I have moved on, which is why I'm able to see the past with such clarity and know that it was more harmful than I thought at the time. And, even though I've healed from it, I'll continue to speak up about his domestic violence, because it will help other victims, maybe even including the poor girl he's currently dating."

People who do that are my heroes. People who try to silence their voices out of some misguided concern for "moving on," not so much.

I think its important not to get hung up on the word "cult." Whatever you want to call the Honor Academy, the important thing is to learn about and acknowledge some of the dangerous and unethical pratices that are going on there.

I think it's important to delete comments that oppose my views or call my knowledge and abilities into questions.

FLIP FLOPS.

so, now, TM isn't a cult? JOHN KERRY FOR PRESIDENT!

Hmm... Anonymity emboldens small mindedness.

That said, cult is a heavy hammer to drop. It's akin to dropping the 'nazi' or 'racist' term - definitely abhorrent, but also a useful label when accurately applied. I appreciate clarity, and misuse of loaded descriptors saps their power when you need them to help tear down the truly dabolical. Painting in broad, brash strokes is irresponsible whether you're a blind 'infidel' crusading under the banner of the holy TMM empire or a militant 'believer' lashing out from a well-preserved storehouse of pain.

I pray for healing, peace and restoration for all involved. If I have marginalized anybody's pain in any way, I apologize. That was not my intent. I tried to make my point that the pain is real and valid, and a natural response should not involve glossing over of any kind. If I seemed callous or dismissive - again, not my intent. If you want to slam me for being cultic, meh. I'm still not grabbing a pitchfork. On the other hand, I'm also not here to defend TMM. They were doing fine before I got there, and they apparently are still paying their electric bill and churning out interns in the 7 years since my final exit. Anybody who knows me personally or wishes to try to know me would see that I am no fanboy. Do I personally think some (maybe a lot of) things should change? Sure. Am I blindly slamming anybody who breathes a solitary hint of criticism for the HA? Nope. Make your stand; fight for the change you want to see. But don't automatically dismiss somebody who had no interest in silencing arguments of any kind for or against. Just because I don't see the HA as pure evil incarnate doesn't mean I'm out to justify their every deed. I've got my own personal list of injustices that I am fighting to see righted, this is just not one of them. If it's yours, then blaze on.

I realize now that I blundered tardily upon a battleground with fully entrenched and clearly delineated lines. Apparently I am also already joined with one side before finding out the rules of engagement. So, I will hastily withdraw as anything I say will most likely be a rehash of something already said before. Plus, this issue (and TMM in general) for the last 7 years has not affected one fairy's eyelash worth of my pursuit of the continued consumption of oxygen upon this planet, so I better quit before I get emotionally involved. I will say this, though. Just move to Hawai'i and do nothing but watch waves roll up on the shore with your favorite adult beverage in hand. For better or worse, big problems end up seeming pretty inconsequential. Thank you and good night.

Hmm... Anonymity emboldens small mindedness.

That said, cult is a heavy hammer to drop. It's akin to dropping the 'nazi' or 'racist' term - definitely abhorrent, but also a useful label when accurately applied. I appreciate clarity, and misuse of loaded descriptors saps their power when you need them to help tear down the truly dabolical. Painting in broad, brash strokes is irresponsible whether you're a blind 'infidel' crusading under the banner of the holy TMM empire or a militant 'believer' lashing out from a well-preserved storehouse of pain.

I pray for healing, peace and restoration for all involved. If I have marginalized anybody's pain in any way, I apologize. That was not my intent. I tried to make my point that the pain is real and valid, and a natural response should not involve glossing over of any kind. If I seemed callous or dismissive - again, not my intent. If you want to slam me for being cultic, meh. I'm still not grabbing a pitchfork. On the other hand, I'm also not here to defend TMM. They were doing fine before I got there, and they apparently are still paying their electric bill and churning out interns in the 7 years since my final exit. Anybody who knows me personally or wishes to try to know me would see that I am no fanboy. Do I personally think some (maybe a lot of) things should change? Sure. Am I blindly slamming anybody who breathes a solitary hint of criticism for the HA? Nope. Make your stand; fight for the change you want to see. But don't automatically dismiss somebody who had no interest in silencing arguments of any kind for or against. Just because I don't see the HA as pure evil incarnate doesn't mean I'm out to justify their every deed. I've got my own personal list of injustices that I am fighting to see righted, this is just not one of them. If it's yours, then blaze on.

I realize now that I blundered tardily upon a battleground with fully entrenched and clearly delineated lines. Apparently I am also already joined with one side before finding out the rules of engagement. So, I will hastily withdraw as anything I say will most likely be a rehash of something already said before. Plus, this issue (and TMM in general) for the last 7 years has not affected one fairy's eyelash worth of my pursuit of the continued consumption of oxygen upon this planet, so I better quit before I get emotionally involved. I will say this, though. Just move to Hawai'i and do nothing but watch waves roll up on the shore with your favorite adult beverage in hand. For better or worse, big problems end up seeming pretty inconsequential. Thank you and good night.

D
{most} of us know who you are. I am one of them. I like you, a lot. Keep up the good words.

New here..., Since no one on either side of this story has been privy to what the final cut will be, I think everyone should stay in their corners and what till the story airs. What if the tables ARE turned and RA is not as victorious as she thinks she will be? Since the MSNBC crew spent several hours on campus interviewing staff and interns alike, no one knows what MSNBC's findings are, until we see the story. Not here to throw stones, just saying. .. food for thought.

A few comments today were automatically redirected to the spam folder. Not sure why. If you don't see your comment, that could be why - just send an extra comment through to let me know and I'll fix it as soon as I'm near a computer.

I'm just sad that there has to be "corners" at all. Yes, the word "cult" might be polarizing for some, but whether you think TM is a cult or not, the fact remains that the Recovering Alumni community isn't out to be found "victorious" at labeling TM as a cult, but to help those who have been hurt by TM get healing and to advocate for TM to stop engaging in practices that cause the abuse we've experienced and still see going on in the ministry. Unfortunately, many supporters of Teen Mania don't seem interested in acknowledging that there is a problem or empathizing with those of us who are still trying to recover and be healed, despite the many many stories of abuse that have appeared on this blog.

I admit I've been at least a little bit antagonistic toward those who support Teen Mania's actions on this site, and I'm sorry for being that way. It's hard for me to be forgiving and understanding to those who are unforgiving and callous to me and my struggles, but that's not an excuse.

I don't want this to be an "us vs. them" thing, even if it seems that way. I don't want TM supporters to feel threatened and defensive, and I don't want other recovering alumni to belittle TM supporters, either. I'm thankful for those outside the Recovering Alumni community who have been reasonable and understanding in this comments section, even while disagreeing with us from time to time (such as Lyndsay W., DfromHawai'i, and bjAm). I just hope others from outside our community can take a moment and try to see things from our perspective.

Do I think that will happen? Past experience on this site tells me it won't. Can we make it different this time?

I cant say that i attended The HA, but i have so many dear friends who HAVE, including my cousin. Im not gonna waste my time saying TeenMania is perfect, by no means... but i CAN say they have ALWAYS seem to have made a difference in the world. Now regarding abusing the attendees, i DO have to say that so many Christians out there are a BUNCH of freakin CRY BABIES!! i mean really... grow the heck up!! If you didnt like TEEN MANIA, then WHY the heck did you spend a year or 2 there?!!? I mean SERIOUSLY?!?! ALL these people WHINING with how they grieved and all this crap is a bunch of bologna... for REAL!! DIDNT YOUR MOMS EVER TEACH YOU... IF YOU CANT SAY ANYTHING GOOD, THEN DONT SAY ANYTHING AT ALL?! I've seen so many Christians out there being the worse freakin witness and I'd dare say that... they're the reason for atheism in the world today! But not even getting into christianity... id have to just say.... GROW THE HECK UP YA BUNCH OF FREAKIN CRY BABIES>.. i mean dang... if you dont like something... go the other direction instead of whining about how horrible it was for youAT THE HONOR ACADEMY!!! YOU MADE THE CHOICE TO GO THERE STUPID IDIOTS!!!! There... that's MY 2 cent... contact me if you wish! but if you dont freakin grow up, good gosh! DO SOMETHING BETTER WITH YOUR LIFE PANSIES!!!!

That is the most amazing comment I've ever read right there. Awwweeeesssoooooommmmeeee!

Go Jmiah!!!!!!!
what so many of us have been wanting to say!! enough is enough...RAs mission is to not stop until Teen Mania is shut down. I got news for you--it won't happen. There is too much ministry going on down in Garden Valley and just because a few people got their feelings hurt doesnt mean it will stop.

haha thanks LizBR!!

I mean... it's not even me being a hater as much as it is... JUST GROW THE HECK UP PEOPLE GOOD GOSH!!! i mean WHAT GOOD will come from this?!?! I CAN understand helping people get through hard times, BUT... the line is drawn when so called "CHRISTiANS" are bad-mouthing, gossiping others!! i mean really... im doin it to your FACE PEOPLE... so get over it!! DID YOU NOT READ THE BIBLE "the 7th thing is an ABOMINATION to GOD... sowing discord among the brethren" REALLY!?! AND if you are NOT a Christian... then what the heck good do you try to accomplish in this besides acting like a STUPID MORON bad mouthing others?!?! you really think someone would wanna hire you with your IMMATURE self?!!? THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE... grow up bcuz ur making ALL YOUNG PEOPLE LOOK LIKE MORONS!!!

PS) If my comments are deleted, then the moderators are just as guilty as they are accusing TEENMANIA --> "Sorry MIND closed until further notice" Practice what you preach idiots!!! GEEZ!

PEACE!

Honey, i said it was awesome because it was basically the most ignorant, hilarious, ridiculous thing I've ever read. Not just on this blog, but ever.

You have provided me with a much needed laugh tonight.

@LizBR well stick to topic and go enjoy you other moron friends... idiot! OOo i bet your disappointed and surprised in my behavior too huh?! well... maybe it's because YOU and ur other CoHorts.. have NO LIVES bcuz ALL you can do is BASH others... yup... Has nothing to do with christianity.. it has to do with COMMON SENSE... BIG LIFE YOU HAVE THERE!!! have at it!! :)

I posted my story and experience at the HA a few years ago... and I am still dealing with the repercussions of my time with TM. It's like my soul was crushed. I dont have cable but hope to see the documentary soon.

i would love to know how come when i clicked on the link to visit forum it says i have been hacked????

@ anon
the hacking you speak of well that have been corrected now. :)

I'd bet the majority of people on both "sides" read your comments with jaws wide open JMIAH. There are no words.

The truth is, if MSNBC did their job well, both TMM and the Recovering Alumni community will probably walk away feeling fairly represented. Though, I guarantee TM will wait to see if the show has a negative impact on the ministry before they comment on it's fairness. The intent of the documentary is awareness, not vindication.
There have been outright denials by TM leadership in recent years of things I have seen with my own eyes as an intern(length of corporate, cruelty at ESOAL,work hours, sleep deprivation.)Things you KNOW we were sooo proud of at the time and have heard bragged about since.
Ironically, it was the lies that caused me to seriously question TM. If they had fed the media the same "opportunity to grow, character development, beat your body, sleep when you're dead" line of thinking, it wouldn't have raised a red flag with me. Why would they lie, unless they knew it was wrong or at least perceived as wrong by the world? And if they still felt it was what God wanted, why wouldn't they tell the truth and face their persecution?

I graduated from HA in august '03. I did two GE trips, one during my intern year and one the subsequent summer. The hardest part for me was dealing with some of my fellow interns. Honestly, from the first day on they tried to shove the bags of legalistic, religious garbage down my throat that they brought with them. But I stood my ground for most things. The most damaging experiences were doled out to me by fellow interns, not the leadership there.
The whole TM/HA experience is like a "choose your own adventure" book; it is what you make of it. I sometimes went against the grain - no one ever punished, slaughtered, beat or harmed me for it. For example, they're big on voting and really wanted everyone to get out there and vote during my intern year. During a session, Dave H asked who voted abs who didn't. I was literally the only person in that group of 400-500 interns that raised their hand. He asked me to stabs up and explain why. I said I didn't feel I had enough time to do an appropriate zmlubt of research and didn't want to just vote for whomever. I felt an uneducated vote could be worse than no vote. He responded " fair enough" or something and moved on. It wasn't about the voting; it was about knowing who we are, where we stand and why. If you didn't have that challenge there, you'll be brainwashed or challenged elsewhere.
Immediately after graduation I began attending community college back home. You could call my sociology 1 class a brainwashing experience and cult by the standards given for the TM cult decision. I watched as friends who were faith-based people quickly give way to the smooth words of our professor with a lofty degree. By the end of the semester they were reciting her beliefs and value system and some were even attending her church. If you don't know where you stand, there's always someone willing to tell you. TM offers an opportunity to make a more well-rounded decision in your belief system. I respect that people were emotionally scarred there - I was too. But it was by the people I chose to befriend early on, not those in leadership.

JMIAH - Your name-calling and derogatory remarks are verbally abusive. Until you can learn to dialogue respectfully, your comments will be deleted.

I also concur with those addressing the "wolves in sheep's clothing" issue; leaders and followers both in and out of faith-based systems will present that way. I was harassed and had a sexual assault attempted on me by a college-aged leader in my high school youth group. That doesn't mean I attended the church of pedophiles. It means he was a damaged young man that needed serious help. It's the same way at the Honor Academy, churches worldwide, etc. ...power often attratcts/brings out the bad in us.
I am incredibly sad for those that were emotionally or physically harmed during their experience. I can relate to feeling trapped by the legalistic fools surrounding you; I had plenty of those as well. However, I don't think those experiences make TM a cult; it makes those people damaged and wrong for doing what they did and choosing to harm another. It is even more damaging because they dared to assert themselves in the name of God. They will answer to Him for that and have to live with the knowledge and weight of their wrongdoings every single day of their lives until then. I sincerely hope that all those hurt found a way to get help. If not, I would be happy to assist you in finding a way to do so. Seriously. Because no one ever deserves some of the experiences I read about-under ANY circumstances. EVER.
I am grateful for my TM and HA experiences; they've made me a stronger, more honest woman. They helped me understand who I am and where I stand. I learned open-mindedness, honesty, generosity, how to live simply and how to love greatly...no matter what.
Sincerely,
Brandi Lee (now Mrs. Pulido...& I didn't marry an intern!)
August class 2002-2003.

I apologize. Autocorrect on the iPhone got the best of me.
Abs= and
Stabs= stand
Zmbult= amount.
And I respect all those that stand firm in what they believe. That takes strength.

Regarding JMIAHs comments in general, normally trolls who violate the comment policy this spectacularly get automatically deleted, but since LizBR assures me she wasn't offended at all, I'm leaving them up so others can see the kind of fruit that Teen Mania often produces. Going forward, follow the comment policy or you'll be deleted, no exceptions.

@speakingoflittle:

I'm very sorry you were sexually harassed by someone in a leadership position in the church. That's a terrible thing to have to go through, especially when it's someone in a leadership position over you. I do have to say though, what did your church do about it when they found out? Did they fire him? Offer to let you bring charges against him? Ban him from ever working in children's ministry again? Apologize to you? Or did they defend him? Did they allow him to keep his position? Did they tell you they would "make changes," and maybe moved him to a different position in the children's ministry but allowed him to remain in some type of leadership position over kids?

A ministry sometime employs bad people unknowingly, for sure. Sometimes bad things happen a ministry didn't plan for or expect. But their response is everything. If your church fired him and didn't stand in your way if you wanted to press charges, then they acted the only way that could be considered Christian--they stood with you, the weak and oppressed. But that's not what Teen Mania is doing. They know about us. They know our hurts and the abuses we went through because we told them. Now that they don't have the "we didn't know" excuse, they still have done nothing. They tell current interns we're liars. They tell the media things we witnessed never happened. And they say "things have changed" without being able to point to any real change in the ministry. That's why we're upset. If Teen Mania had listened to RA when she went to them with concerns this blog never would have started. If Teen Mania had listened when they received over a hundred emails from hurt alumni after the blog gained some attention we wouldn't have to expose their lies. But they responded by protecting those who caused us hurt instead of humbly acknowledging what we went through was real and changing how they operate to better serve future interns.

Also, thank you for presenting your opinion in a thoughtful and non-condemning manner.

Whoops, that last comment was directed at speakingoflife--I misread your handle. Sorry!

Teen Mania suffers from false principles (or the lack thereof at times) as all Christians and all people do in general, but it did not originate any of its issues, nor are they unique to Christianity or Teen Mania. One inherited is an irrational, sensationalized belief in "destiny" and/or morality (and our ability to comprehend let alone master either). This leads to an inability to choose and/or to respond to issues freely and without fear. And so the damage already inflicted by religion within individuals becomes compounded by an institution which seeks to be the pinnacle of that religion.

TM's programs could (still, perhaps?) be drastically improved, but changing (or opening) the mindsets of such an isolated institution is as difficult as convincing certain recovering alumni that TM is not some ultimate evil, nor is it ultimately the cause of their life's grief.

Untruth is. And as clever as some at TM may be, they are none of them the inventors of untruth.

I am on neither side of all the self-justifying. There has been so much reason and lack of reason on both sides and so much hurt and confusion caused and received by both that we should all just say we're truly sorry to each other and move on in our lives.

To some extent, people who are upset with TM are actually upset and/or hurting because they were never equipped to truly confront injustice (let alone the aspects of religion). Also to some extent, TM has developed a reputation of doing things their own way regardless of many sensible people and staff members' attempts to bring reality into the spotlight.

And so for either side to point a finger at the other, or for any person to say "you are the problem..." both are not the truth. Neither is the problem. Neither originated the problems or the pain which stemmed from them. Everyone has problems. We all need the truth. And we're all affected by untruth and negativity that stem far before and beyond any one season or person or organization in our lives.

And for neither to be able to admit any of this, both hold fast to one passage found in their Scriptures: that "every person's way is right in that person's own eyes."

And this will never fix, solve, nor redeem anything, no matter what news coverage or the lack thereof ensues.

...

I'd also like to add that I don't think any person's pain should ever be mocked or overlooked. We cannot eliminate all causes of pain--this is true. But especially those who profess Christianity should never overlook or judge another person's suffering. Christ himself did not.

We have all fallen victim to judging peoples' violent response to suffering without realizing that their violence is not meant against us, but is a response to something else behind the scenes.

And sometimes, we have a choice to make between taking offense at others or sharing with them that we would also like to defend them from the suffering they are experiencing. Unfortunately, this is not always so easy; it is not an animal response, but what makes us human--able to sense a Divine Law of Life versus only observing the laws of nature.

Until we seek to understand each other (and sometimes, simply to understand the other side even if the other side won't hear us), we lose. Because we become bitter, judgmental people, and sometimes, even forgo our own healing process.

I know I'm not saying anything new... I'm not even saying things I haven't said before.

I'm just saying this because all the hate hurts to read... from both sides. But if this is what some of you want--a judgmental, self-righteously indignant attitude towards either side--this is what you can have.

Reading everyone's comments proves, if nothing else, how divisive TM is... Pitting people against one another... It did that in campus too. We had to turn one another in for anything we found the other did that was improper or against the rules... It kind of reminded me of the hitler youth... And we were told it was "holding one another accountable". Yes, because god needs tattletales? The truth will be known, the truth will set us free. What set me free was the realization that I was abused by a cult and needed to find myself and who I was made to be... This has (thus far) taken over 7 years. If there was not an issue, so many would not be so damaged and this would not even be airing... And you're all probably thinking it is persecution... Jesus was never accused of abuse or manipulation... You will know them by their fruits.

Excited for the truth to come out and set more people free! May the "blinders" be lifted from their eyes and may the children in darkness see a new light!


-Sonshine

After my book was published, my cult went on a negative campaign trying to discredit me by saying I was mentally ill. They also try to portray me as some woman who was all about finding a husband.

The mentally ill label was really painful. The husband hunter comment was too ridiculous. The single men at Trinity Foundation were mostly losers and the man who recruited me (who I eventually married) had three children from a previous marriage, made $80 a week working for the cult, and had no possessions except for some hand-me-down clothes and some books.

I love my husband dearly, but when he was in the cult, he was not what one would consider a "good catch." I certainly did not date him for seven years because of any material reason!

of the biggest things for me about the HA is the youth factor. there is a reason why the HA doesn't accept people over a certain age. it's because they think like adults! the HA wants young, impressionable, vulnerable, naive kids who have not yet learned to think on their own and how to protect themselves. after i graduated i told one of my friends back home she should go to the HA, but she was 27. I asked someone at the HA if she could go, and they bluntly told me no way! at 27, someone has already learned to think for themselves. they want kids who are just out of high school who are used to being told what to do by authority figures. they said a 27 yr old would not benefit from the honor academy because they wouldn't appreciate the program. they had problems in the past with older interns. what they meant was, older interns knew better! they said they weren't going to corporate exercise because it's not healthy to get 3 hours of sleep and then exercise at 4am and then pull a long 8-9 hr work day. adults knew better than to put themselves through half the crap they put kids through at the HA. they didn't want to do their silly "retreats" because they found all the legitimate flaws in the system and complained and refused to participate. basically, adults knew better! and the HA said adults couldn't benefit from the HA, but what they really meant was the HA couldn't benefit from adults! they couldn't trick them into working endless hours under horrible conditions for them, and make them do whatever they wanted by manipulation. adults knew better! if you tried to put your parents through the HA program, there is no way it would ever work, because our parents were old enough to know better. the HA only functions because they only take very young vulnerable kids who have not yet learned how to defend themselves and determine right from wrong treatment. it's sickening. and yes, i'm sure there have been some older people who have been first yr interns, but not many! they have to "approve" them on special condition. ie, make sure they're pansies who will do whatever they're told and are highly able to be manipulated.

the reason why it takes people so many years (sometimes 10 or more!) to realize how bad the HA was, is because they are still learning to think like an adult. it's not until you think like an adult that you begin to realize what all went on at the HA and how messed up it really is! once you get your critical thinking skills established, you begin to sense something was off. then you grow older and get more experience knowing right from wrong and protecting yourself, and you begin to really feel you were wronged at the HA. and then it can take years of trying to rationalize it away or pretend it wasn't as bad as it was. but the older you get, the more wrong you realize it really was. that's why it takes alumni years to actually get to the place of being ready to deal with the abuse and share their stories. people who come on here and say "it's been 8 yrs get over it!" assume someone has realized from day 1 what happened to them was wrong. WRONG! it takes people years to actually realize the depth of the wrongs of the HA. they are really JUST beginning to fully understand and deal with it many years later because they are still growing and maturing into an adult.

No Teen Mania staff would take to the doctor when I was ill in my internship year.

When I requested to go to my home ATF convention and volunteer, I was told I could not. Be a volunteer. They allowed me to go to MN that weekend on my own, however, which meant I had to buy my own plane tickets and find rides to and from the DFW airport. I didn't have a car and had to beg for a ride ro the airport from other interns. I was unable to find anyone to pick me up and take me back to campus. None of the staff I asked would help me--I was told that finding a rise was my responsibility. My mom and grandmother called other local ministries and asked for their help. One of the ministries told my grandmother that they had nothing but complaints about TM and would see what they could do. I was stranded at the airport for several hours, when I finally reached someone on campus who said I could walk over to another gate and wait for a group of interns returning from a missions trip and take a bus back with them.

I reached out to my DI to talk about the growing depression I was falling into, that I was really miserable with the way some of my peers were treating me, and that I thought I wanted to go home. She told me that it was a bad idea because I had no support at home, and then went on to explain that my feelings of sadness were normal, that I needed to repent of any sins. My repeat attempts for help were answered by telling me my feelings were wrong.

I was not allowed to express any negative feelings to my CA, ACAs, or DI. It earned me further confrontations. When I expressed frustration about things my peers had done, I was confronted for speaking badly of others.

I was confronted for having feelings for boys I had absolutely no interest in. I had confrontations for wearing jnco jeans (because they were wide-legged and not feminine enough). I was confronted for being so vain I dared to pluck my eyebrows. I was confronted for having an awkward personality. So I lived in fear of doing something wrong and deserving yet another confrontation.

After all this and more, towards the end of the year, yes, I broke the Honor Code. And yes, it was wrong. The guilt was horrible. Yet I confessed to Dave and the boy's parents. And when I confessed Dave promised me I had the option for restoration, to become in good standing with TM. That's why I sent him back my ring and reiterated that I wanted to make it right. Dave never answered me after that.

Cult. At the very least, cult-like. It doesn't mean you can't learn any good lessons.... But it does make it hard.

(please excuse any typos etc. as I'm on my android.)

Do you really think you're making a difference, or that any one who matters is going to carry about your pathetic little pity party/olympics of pissing and moaning? It would be funny if it weren't so sad. I try to check your blog every so often, mostly when I'm feeling tired or bored, because your amazingly self-righteous hypocrisy is strangely entertaining. @RA: Don't you realize that you have become the very thing you constantly preach against? You can make all the excuses you want, but in the end, you're just another self-promoting guru trying to lead the broken masses out of someone else's prison and into your own. You are arrogantly basking in the praise of fellow ex-interns as they laud you for your efforts and feed your ego. You want to feel like you matter. You want to feel like you're making a difference. But the truth is, in the end, your just another failure who couldn't take the heat but didn't have the good sense to get out of the kitchen. You haven't accomplished anything. I wonder: How long after you're tossed onto the garbage heap of old ideas and would-be revolutionaries will you finally come to the conclusion that your critics were right all along?

i have noticed that anytime someone posts anything positive about HA u delete it. but if they r bashing them it is all cool no matter what they say. the only comments you all seem to wanna leave from anyone who supports what the HA is doing are the ones who are leaving really mean comments. i wonder y that is?? hmm maybe that is just your way to manipulate readers into thinking the only people who support HA are mean or ungodly. whatever! that is soo untrue!! futhermore...anyone can feel hurt anywhere that does not make that place a cult!!! ughhh...

Anonymous@12: 41
What angers you so much? If you are so all-knowing (to be able to declare RA's own hidden intention and heart behind this site) why are you lowering yourself to read our pathetic whining? Surely you must have better things to do. I might ask what YOU intend to accomplish here.

Anonymous@1:06
Your questions have been answered repeatedly on this site. No one is claiming that hurt=cult. Likewise there is a clear comments policy, and HA sites routinely delete/refuse comments which are critical of TM.

None of these arguments/questions/accusations against RA and the individuals taking refuge here glorify God or exhibit Christ's love. I'm very sorry that our experiences appear to be "bashing TM" for you, but that logic is supporting abuses of authority. If you sincerely believe we are mistaken, that is certainly your right(s). I pray however, that you will at the very least cultivate forgiveness in your heart for your perceived enemies. You may then be able to extend some of God's Grace that has been given to you.

Matthew 23:3-4 Therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

Dear Anonymous @12:41
people have kept saying how this will fizzle and die, yet it doesn't.
In fact it has grown to the point of being a 1 hour documentary on MSNBC, a national news Chanel.
I can name one HUGE difference, she has never begged me for money and made me feel like a worthless little worm and then held me to standards that are not truly held by themselves. That in and of itself is a pretty huge difference IMHO.

I also do not believe we are failures. Many of us are quite successful in both the church world (few of us I admit but not completely non-existent) and many of us are quite successful in our chosen field. For myself it is IT dept for the largest hospital in a several hour drive. Nobody I know considers me a failure who cannot handle the heat of the kitchen. :)

Most of you young people have probably never heard of Keith Green. His music and ministry had a tremendous influence on me during my early years as a baby Christian.

The reason I am posting this is because Teen Mania bought the property they are on from Keith's widow, Melody Green. Keith was an amazing musician and radical Christian.

I hope it's not too triggering, but this song is directed toward those hard-hearted "Christians," and some of the alumni who have posted on this blog.

You'll have to cut and paste into your browser cuz I don't know how to do a hyperlink:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=Jd9MaBu3gAg

Darn, I posted the wrong link. Forget that other one.
Here is one:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=em5gL0Rw4Aw&feature=related

I attended the honor academy and it was tough but this is ridiculous. Its a place that is mentioned to stretch you to new lengths and produce fruit in your lives and though things are heard it was the discipline and the love that was given to me that made me someone that can be the servant and person that I am today. You pride yourselves on the take down of this place and I want to know about what is truely your heart in this. Its not a cult and its not prison it does step on our nations pathetic rules about offending people. It takes courage to open awould we see place that removes the blinders of society and the brain washing that goes on. If we only took cameras into your personal lives u what would we see. Adultery. Stealing. Lazyness. Carelessness. Lack of discipline. Drug addictions. I could go on. This place isn't a dirty secret its not a place that hurts you. Its a place that offers so many good things that people to cling to it and that's not its purpose. It is there to guide u to success.

lol funny. who gives a crap about TM anymore really guys. I went there LONG AGO and im totally over it. The past is the past, cant change it. Just trying to make good use of the future. :) - Kate

Has anyone been able to find an airing of the documentary online? I missed it and really am interested in watching it.

I'm new to this site and I only read about the first half of these comments so I apologize if I'm reiterating what has already been said. With that out of the way, I'm genuinely saddened by this comment" your heavenly Father duped you into signing on in the first place." Are you really saying that God is in the business of deceiving people? I don't think that God deceives people, I do think that people say they have heard the voice of God when they haven't and they people misunderstand what God is telling them to do but I do not for one second believe that God is is the business of "duping" people.

I have a questions for those who were hurt by TM, do you blame God for what happened and are you still Christians? I don't mean to open a can of worms and I'm not judging anyone,but based on some of the comments I read I am honestly curious.

From a survivor of another group, thank you for telling your story. Also, THANK YOU for allowing others to tell thier stories and be healed. I have posted a review on my blog- http://religiouscultsinfo.com/?p=4752

John

Me - I think you will find the answers to your question are as unique as the individual answering. Some of us remain Christians, some not.

John - Thanks for the encouragement and review!

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

WOW, thanks for sharing and all you've been doing, RA. I've been a youth leader for a couple years and took a group to the ATF meetings. I can't deny there was a "high" of God's presence and the teaching sessions were impacting...yet I thank God with every fiber in my being that none of my youth ended up enrolling in the "Academy" or going on missions trips, after reading and watching the vids... I recall meeting and engaging in conversations with two counselors from The H.A. a few years back. The girl told me how they had been fasting for the meeting for 3 days now...I've fasted before, it's not about the fasting, just something about this girl felt wrong, zombie like...where's the Joy of the Lord? Where was His glory and presence? It's the imposed brokenness on the participants I don't agree with... what's the point? Again, so glad my youth have never gone through to actually enroll. Now I will make sure they never do!! A million thanks RA!!

@former ATF fan

Teen Mania changed my life. The videos shown were taken out of context. David Haz does not yell at the kids we're not going to show you compassion at HA. During ESOAL/PEARL the leaders assume the identity of the student's antagonizers. In this world we are bound to face challenges, but ESOAL helps prepare you emotionally for trouble by putting you in a situation where you have to rely on God's strength and not your own. I have so many friends who have made radical recoveries after going to HA. My very good friend was anorexic, and she discovered her purpose and beauty at HA. My other friend was stuck in a lifestyle of constant partying and desperate overachieving to compensate for her insecurities and need to be loved. She is now one of the wisest people I know and is full of God's joy. One friend was a completely normal kid, set to go to college or the marines, and God has changed him so much. He serves with humility and a genuine passion for God and His people.

For my story, I was a seriously insecure kid. I was searching for a place in life trying to feel like I was worth something through grades and sports. I had been abandoned by my friends several times, and I was just a bitter negative person hidden behind the walls I put up to prevent others from hurting me. On my first missions trip, I found friends. I love them like they were my own sisters. Despite my young age, they treated me with respect and loved me. Not only could I see that I was not unlovable, I saw God's love for me. I learned that no matter what I am never alone. I spread God's love too. I saw people change after finding the love, joy, and peace of God. And now four years and trips later, I have grown so incredibly in my walk with God. I have truly found who I am in Christ because of my missions trips with Teen Mania.

Please look deeper. I know the heart behind Teen Mania and it is to equip young people to face life with God as their foundation.

August Intern H.A.02-03 (Part 1 of 2)
I have read multiple statements from people on here who have never been, or completed, the internship program. your comments to me seem useless.
To those that have been to HA for the internship and you didn't like what happened,I feel sorry that your experience there was not perhaps what you expected.
My story is as follows:
I first heard of Teen Mania at an Acquire The Fire event like most do.
It was not till a year later that I felt God calling me to attend. He did that in a way that I knew it was Him telling me to go. I personally never thought I'd be attending. But as it turned out I did.
We do have to pay to be there-that money goes to many avenues of the ministry-feeding and housing us, materials to learn and grow in our own personal walk with the Lord. One such book that I love is "How now shall we live?" A great teaching book about what others will say to try to discredit God-the way they do at many colleges. It equips many students so that when they get to college they won't be tossed around like clothes in a washer or dryer. they will know more about how to defend their faith with truth.
Personally for Me, God told me to go and I kept saying that there was NO WAY Possible for me to raise the money needed to attend.To which I still heard God's small voice telling me he would take care of that. BIG STEP OF FAITH for me, cause I was used to providing for myself-i Had a job, I paid for my own things. I scrounged up $500 dollars and we were supposed to have at least $1000 to be let in. Well, guess what-when God has called you to do something and you know it deep inside He will help you to do it, be it money or other resources. While I was there my fellow interns were having to go home to do fundraisers to be able to stay there-every time I tried to do anything it fell flat on it's face. I even opted to try donating Plasma at a nearby center- till they rejected my plasma cause i had too much protein in it-which is another story for another time.
So many times I was on the edge of being sent home to do more fundraising-BUT NEVER did I have to leave because God always came through and kept His promise to me that he would help me go through the internship. I was able to stay all the way through and graduated the internship on Faith for my monetary resource-yes it was shaky ground to me but God made it happen and THAT was just 1 thing that happened while I was there that helped build my faith and Character, which is What TM has stated over and over as their goal.
The other things include, going through ESOAL- which I gladly accepted and when I felt I was done I rang the bell and chewed on the things God wanted to tell me.It does look crazy to the outsiders that don't go into it with an open perspective interest. It is a challenge not a sofa. If you don't want to challenge yourself while you are there then you don't have to, but everyone accepts the program for what it is. Challenge and Strength of Character building. Many young people don't know what it means to even build Character. Our parents or to those reading this would probly be grandparents, do know what it means to build character. Technology in abundance has weakened many things for the american teen.
Continued---

I wasn't fresh out of high school when I went to HA, I did have a few classes of College under my belt, I was one of the oldest interns of my class. Would I go back and do it again-DARN STRAIGHT I WOULD! That wasn't the attitude I first had when I arrived and learned we weren't going to sing coom-bi-ya under a tree and just have a good ol time with Jesus campin out. My first reaction was kicking and screaming( not actually in the physical sense) I was one of those that did not realize what I was supposed to actually be doing when I got there.
We even talked about that one time in a class. It happens- People don't always know what they are getting into when they go--alot DO. ,but some of us I think are better off not knowing the whole shebang cause in our ignorance we'd probably not have gone if we DID know what was going to happen.
I met a few interns that were shut off as soon as they got on campus, they weren't there to be challenged, and didn't want one. Others saw it as a big social event. I went SEEKING God and Found an AMAZING opportunity to be stretched in my Faith with him, and I learned alot from God and the Staff there.
I was in the calling center, that was a good eye opener to see that if you did take God out of the equation-even though there are tons of interns on phones, that place would fall flat on it's face. The sheer amount of work that takes place does so by faith and obedience to God and many prayers said by interns and staff alike.
I have nothing bad to say about TM or it's leadership. Sure they are not perfect and they strive to do what God is calling for THAT ministry at THAT time.
The positives outweigh the negatives, in speaking about what has taken place there and in the lives of thousands of people who have embraced the challenge that is Honor Academy.
If you go there looking for an easy retreat to play a guitar and just smell flowers, well you can still play the guitar and smell the flowers, but you're also gonna get a good size challenge that you gotta be willing to let God speak to you through. Perhaps the difference is in the participants that have went and yet were too focused on the physical aspects to settle down and look for the spiritual aspects, that only God can tell you.
Matthew Chadwick H.A. Graduate August 2002-2003 By faith that God would bring me through, and HE did.

RA I know this comment is extremely late. I watched MoM and wished of course that it was a mini-series instead of just one hour. So much to talk about. You have done a great job, RA.... obviously it was your initiative for 2 years that brought this about.
I did just have one question though.... in preparation for the interviews did you make sure you told the camera crew you wanted them to feel free to "speak into your wardrobe?" If not... you know... well... TM says you might sorta suck.
;)
Great great great work.

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