Teen survivors of American religious brainwashing camps speak


265 Responses to “Teen survivors of American religious brainwashing camps speak”

  1. nixiebunny says:

    Boiling point reached. Mission accomplished. 

  2. ethanwc says:

    Shameful that many will base all of Christianity on these crazy camps.

    • Mantissa128 says:

      Naw, man – it’ll be the conservatives. Because basically, this is what they want to do to everyone who disagrees with them.

      • bcsizemo says:

        Interestingly enough I don’t know any conservatives who thinks like that.  Including myself, friends, family, and extended family…and I’m more agnostic than anything.

        Not all conservatives get our talking points from right wing talk radio and Fox News, just like not all Christians are ultra religious.

        • Mantissa128 says:

          Granted, it’s an over-generalization. But I’d like to point out there are no atheist liberal camps forcing religious conservative youth to smoke dope and chill out.

          • Tchoutoye says:

            Actually that sounds like a great idea. ;)

          • Marja Erwin says:

             It’s an authoritarian thing, isn’t it?

            Maybe it’s just because American tradition gets tied into the most authoritarian and tribal-racist-nationalistic elements of American society that the conservatives tend to be more authoritarian and more jingoistic.

            As far as religion goes, a lot of groups in Christianity emphasize personal conscience. Not this kill your conscience, obey, forced conversion crap.

          • kid sampson says:

            Obvious troll is obvious.
            If we put our thinking hats on no one can conjure to mind an example of such a thing, of course the smoking dope and chilling out was replaced in a large degree to hard labor and starvation in the examples that spring to my mind?

            Of course these are all manifestations of evil that spring from base human flaws.  To act as if any ideology is above this is to make it all the more possible to continue in the future. 

          • wysinwyg says:

             @boingboing-c019cee62b207329e8c35b1780f1fce6:disqus :
            Atheist like Bertrand Russell, not atheist like Stalin.  The conflation of Soviet ideology with skepticism/naturalism/free thought has really got to stop.  Hint: in the U.S.S.R. you were legally atheist whether or not you actually believed in God.  Note that the Russian Orthodox church had a huge boom in membership right around the late eighties, early nineties.

        • lecti says:

          I know some that are practically caricatures of the right, and they all go to churches, so at least they do exist irl. :)

        • SomeGuyNamedMark says:

           Unfortunately you have become marginalized within the Republican party as it marches further and further to the extreme right.  You are practically a godless commie pinko to them now.

      • donovan acree says:

        You sir, are a partisan. Breaking this down to conservative and liberal is so outside reality it’s absurd. This is about fundamentalists. Whether they be conservative, christian, liberal, or athiest, fundamentalists are dangerous.

        • R A says:

           What is an atheist fundamentalist? “Hey you! You are going to sit in this room and not leave until you figure out what is truth/reality using critical thinking and empirical evidence!”

    • Ipo says:

       Shameful that there are Christians that read about these horror stories and their first concern is not with the victims, but of the opinions that other people might/could have about unrelated Christians that have nothing to do with this form of child abuse. 
      This story was not about you. 
      You feel this story is about you and your fellow Christians? 
      In that case, now it is. 

      Fix your religious issues, religious weirdos, instead of whinging about non-religious folks wanting to do it for you. 

      You people just ain’t right. 

    • Tess says:

      Even more shameful that that’s your first response…

      • snagglepuss says:

        The blind, knee-jerk instinct to protect the herd is one of the most important facets of religious membership, possibly as bedrock important as the drive to ruin a potential member’s ability to use their own abilities for critical thought and self-confidence.

        • Marja Erwin says:

          What? :confused:

          P.S. Some major religions are, in theory, supposed to be anti-tribalistic. I think Buddhism and Islam are supposed to, and I know Christianity is supposed to. Of course, in America, Christianity has been attached to tribalism, flag-worship, warfare, oaths, usury, slavery, and so on. But religion is still used to condemn these things as much as to defend these things. I think the situation says more about tribalism, authoritarianism, and the tendency to subordinate absolutely everything even contrary things to the tribe than it says about religion.

          • Tess says:

            Beautifully said, Marja, better than I would have managed.

            I understand why some people are so anti-religious, and I’ve certainly been tempted in the past – my own experiences with religious people have not always been very pleasant.  But religion per se is not an evil.  

            When I get annoyed with the Christian apologists in threads like this, it’s not because I think all Christians are bad.  It’s because I think the appropriate response to “a Christian group did an awful thing” isn’t – ever – “we’re not all like that.”  There are a ton of ways to respond, but automatically distancing yourself from people who do things in the name of your own religion isn’t a compassionate response.

            (It’s like when a man rapes a woman and a bunch of men tell her “not all men are rapists!”  Yes, thanks, that’s totally the appropriate response to that situation.)

            The Christians who really Aren’t Like That can generally find a way to show that by responding with compassion and condemnation.  They blame the people doing the bad thing for ruining their good name, not the people who are watching from the outside.

            But I wouldn’t go so far as to paint all religious membership with the same broad brush.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I miss the lions. At least butthurt Christians used to have something to be butthurt about.

        • Tess says:

          You mean way back when they actually WERE a minority facing discrimination?  A lion now and then might be a good reminder.  :D

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Christians run the developed world and yet, some of them never stop talking about how oppressed they are.

          • Tess says:

            Yep.  I would laugh, but.

            If queers ever run the developed world, I solemnly swear I will stop talking about how oppressed we are.  :)

        • awjt says:

          Hear hear!  Bring back the lions.  I grew up Christian, and it took many years of unwinding myself to see the weird victimology that was instilled in me from a very young age. Bonus: I swear you are targeting my posts for deletion, Antinous whatever your real name is.  “Anthony.”

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            If you would stop commenting about hawtness in posts about women scientists, your comments would remain unmolested.

        • rsk says:

           I must disagree, Tess, with your statement that religion per se is not an evil.

          It is THE evil.  It is the most hideous, hateful, repressive, viciously evil thing that our species has ever invented.  Mere transient horrors like the atomic bomb pale by comparison.  It is responsible not for years, not for centuries, but for millennia of ignorance, bigotry, torture, execution, war and slaughter.  From the sanctioned, institutionalized child rape fully supported by the Catholic church, to the misogyny of Islam, to the fanaticism of Judaism, to the human sacrifice of the Mayans, to the…the list goes on and on.  No political movement, no nationalistic fervor, no empire-building, nothing, has even come remotely close to accumulating the track record of hate and murder that religion has.

          I had hoped to live long enough to see Bertrand Russell’s prediction come true. (“Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence.  It will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.”)  But I don’t think that’ll happen.  I think it’s rather more likely that I’ll live long enough to see open warfare against those of us who’ve rejected all religion in all its forms, as anyone who wants to claim the label “home sapiens” must.  Certainly there are any number of people in the US who would exterminate me and and everyone like me if they could; there are even politicians standing for high office who encourage them and egg them on.

          I’ll fight, of course.  I’ll probably die.  But I won’t die easily, and I won’t die alone.

          (Far-fetched?  Exaggerate?  Over-the-top?  Maybe.  Read any of Rick Santorum’s speeches lately?)

          • Tess says:

            You are entirely welcome to believe this, but stating it as fact is ridiculous.  Religion can be a force for good things in people’s lives.  There are many religions, after all.

            Also, I think it’s reasonable to point out that many “religious” wars are actually economic wars with a thin veneer of religion.  Capitalism has killed a lot of people.  Economic interests, pre-capitalism, killed a lot of people.  


            You can disagree all you like, and I’m not going to make you or anyone join a religion.  Believe what you will.  But some people – including people I love and respect – find solace, meaning, and belonging in religion.  I can’t point fingers at them and call them all ridiculous.

            Many people do not believe that scientific and religious thinking are truly dichotomous.  I am one of them.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I’m not an atheist, but I view organized religion as a product for people who don’t have the wherewithal to develop their own philosophy. It could be used for good, but it’s always going to be a second-rate example of human potential.

          • Tess says:

            I think that’s a reasonable position.  I’m not really a fan of hierarchical organized, um, anything.

            I also don’t think people are required to use their potential in first-rate ways, and there’s a huge difference between “this isn’t the best humanity could be doing” and “this is the ultimate evil.”

            I wish everyone would do the work to figure out a personal philosophy and morality that wasn’t handed to them on a stick, but they aren’t likely to do it just because I want them to, and that doesn’t make them bad people.  It’s kind of like the way I’ll fight for equal access to problematic institutions – people do go on wanting things I wish they didn’t, you know?  

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I use the word ‘wherewithal’ because I don’t really expect people with no education or exposure to ideas (or food or health or peace) to have much of a chance to assemble a philosophy. If you’re a middle-class, educated person living in a developed country, it’s just plumb lazy.

          • Tess says:

            But do you connect lazy to evil?

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            It could be. Being intellectually and morally lazy in Germany in the lead-up to WWII would definitely have qualified as evil. If you consider the current laziness of most Americans in paying attention to the Afghan and Iraq Wars compared to attention paid to the Vietnam War, then there’s a correlation between lazy and evil.

            Most horrific events are made up of 1% malice and 99% apathy.

          • zombiebob says:

             IF you want to change that statement to include only the Abrahamaic religions then I will fully agree with you.

          • Wreckrob8 says:

            You have to distinguish between the ability to develop a philosophy and the educated ability to verbalize the experience.

          • HahTse says:

             Religion is an excuse (and a bad one, at that).

            The root causes lie way, way deeper.

          • Wreckrob8 says:

            Religion as a term doesn’t seem to get us very far. There is belief, ideology and justification of evil in terms of God, philosophy, psychiatry or science. Evil people mix the same things up in different ways.

          • wysinwyg says:

             Antinous, are you sure it’s ethical for a mod to kick this much ass?

        • HahTse says:

          I have a proposal: why not use the lion as the “official atheist mascot”? That would certainly be a nice fnord…

    • Marc Mielke says:

      Yeah, because if God was real he’d work a little harder protecting the brand. If people did this shit in my name, I’d put a stop to it. 

    • We don’t and we won’t..Please care to explain…This is quite clearly an extremist example of Christianity gone wrong. However in the same month where Scientology camps were exposed…..well it’s not good timing.

      The problem is we (non-theists) know already that every religion is capable of exceptions like this.

      Anyone who has studied religion for even a day would have to be woefully dim to think that this is the norm for Christians, or any society short of a fascist state for that matter.

      Your comment is that same self-pitying apology that is heard every time anything hateful within a religion is exposed.
      “But they aren’t real Christians!”
      “now they think that’s what a Christian is”

      Correction – only the religiously indoctrinated or a closed-minded bigot will change his opinion of 30% of the planet over an isolated camp in the US. Do to otherwise would be irrational.

  3. Alan says:

    I went to Baptist Youth camp when I was younger.  I remember the preacher telling us about Richard Gere and the gerbil.  Never got locked in rooms or crazy sh!t like this though.  This was in the Colorado mountains and I remember feeling like I didn’t want to be there sometimes.  

    But “protracted solitary confinement, starvation, and physical punishment…..” even my Baptist grandpa would find this sickening and reprehensible. 

    • Tess says:

      Note that this place isn’t a summer camp.  It’s a year-round reeducation facility.  That might help you better distinguish it from the place you didn’t want to be sometimes.

      The word “camp” is used in the same vein as when paired with words like “internment,” “refugee,” “work,” and “reeducation.” Also “concentration.” So, no, not summer camp.

    • Ipo says:

       Haha!  I’ve always wondered what Richard Gere thought when not only he heard about the imaginary gerbil insertions, but that this thing was supposedly (suppositorily) linked to his person. 
      I doubt that anyone with a rodent up their ass could enjoy that much more than that rodent. 

      Reminds me of the time when Glenn Beck raped and murdered that young girl in 1990. 

  4. Alan says:

    Yes, all Christians are like this, obviously.

    • pablohoney says:

      Obviously, the question is, do you care enough to do anything about it? If all Christians are not like this I would hope they’d do something about it, but they don’t.  What’s that you hear?  The sound of crickets chirping.

      • Martijn Vos says:

        Why is it just Christians who need to do something about this? Isn’t this a matter for all of society? Isn’t this supposed to be illegal? Isn’t there a child protection service? A court that should lock these people up?

        I expect most Christians will be just as disgusted about this as anyone else. The big question is: why is this even allowed to exist? Why are the crooks not in prison?

        • Tess says:

          It’s legal.  At least probably.  Court case pending I think.

          Go pass some laws!

          • catherinecc says:

             And as soon as stuff like this is banned, we’ll see “christians” complain once more that their religious freedom is being threatened.

          • Andrew Singleton says:

            i care not what people who jump to the defense of anything like this has to say. Jason scott’s solution seems to be best for that sort no matter claimed faith or creed.They will be rounded up and turned into sandwiches for bears.

            Now then can we turn to the problem of what to do about not only the people that are trapped there, but the not-people who are SENDING these poor souls there?

        • toyg says:

          Your expectations are simply wrong. Remember Waco, and how violently the FBI was attacked in the press? 

          The crooks are not in prison because, if somebody tried to crack down on them, the almighty Voice of the Religious World would speak, and we’d never hear the end of it. 

          The problem is that the line between religion-as-a-positive-force and religion-as-asshattery is ever so thin, and this is never going to change, because religion as a whole doesn’t really value change, does it? After all, it’s built on tradition, ritualism and catechism, things that don’t really jibe with progress and change.

          • Martijn Vos says:

            It’s not so much that religion doesn’t value change. Jesus was pretty revolutionary at his time, and would still be so today. Christianity should value change for the better.

            The problem is that tradition and organized-anything are actively opposed to change, and religion got kinda buried in piles of organization and tradition.

        • Jonathan Badger says:

          If Christians really believed their dogma of immortal souls that would be damned if their children were atheists, gays, etc (all with biblical justification), then this makes perfect sense. Any amount of torture would be justified if the soul gets saved in the end. That was the whole point of the inquisition, after all. As an atheist myself, I have to at least give the Christians that put their kids through this some credit — they actually believe the stuff. The fact that some Christians are appalled by this suggests that deep down, they realize that this life is the only one we have and it’s important to make this one not suck. They are almost there; they just have to realize that in the 21st century it’s okay to admit that they know this.

          • Martijn Vos says:

            But isn’t it obvious that you’re damning your own soul by putting people through torture like this?

          • Marja Erwin says:

            But… these aren’t shared doctrines… not all Christians believe these things, or have ever believed these things.

            - Immortal souls? Borrowed from Hellenistic philosophy. It’s likely that many early Christians believed in mortal souls, which would be resurrected.

            - Damnation? Debated from the beginning. Origen, one of the leading Christian theologians of the 3rd century… and for centuries after their time… argued for universalism.

      • retepslluerb says:

        Baloney. Europe is still heavily christianised, we have countries with no hard distinction between church and state and yet all of them made it illegal to hit people in school and lots of them banned corporeal punishment even by parents. 

        • HahTse says:

          Yes, but we – in stark contrast to the USA and, wait for it, Somalia – have actually ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

        • Wreckrob8 says:

          Unfortunately you are right about the UK. Still I do not believe that parents are able to use anything short of non-deadly force. Minimal force only is permitted. Hitting kids is wrong, so is fucking with their heads, so is hitting them and fucking with their heads. Anyone who uses God, psychiatry, philosophy or science to justify violence against kids is a liar. Children in the UK do have legal status independent of their parents, which does much to limit violence against them, but not enough.

    •  Serious? Sarcasm? if your serious, well… you are of course wrong, if you are being sarcastic, nobody is claiming that ALL christians are like that, just that there exists an evil element within SOME of christianity.

    • Tess says:

      …or you could talk about how awful this is and not just how it reflects on your favorite pet group?

  5. mjfgates says:

    No boiling today, thank you. This has been going on for at least sixty years. It’ll keep going for as long as parents have the right to prevent their children from communicating with others. Considering that we’re all busy at the moment fighting over whether it’s a right for ADULTS to communicate with others, applying that to minors is… not an immediate priority. Which sucks, but there you go.

  6. Wreckrob8 says:

    The land of the free couldn’t just sign the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, could it? This sucks, end of.

    • chgoliz says:

      Only Somalia and the US have not signed, and Somalia has indicated that they will sign once they get to political stability.  We do stand out as unique in the world, that’s for sure.

      • Tess says:

        Our human rights record is kind of ridiculously bad, particularly consider our use of the rhetoric of human rights in our foreign policy.  It would almost make me laugh except for the part where it makes me want to cry.

  7. retepslluerb says:

    Land od the Free.

  8. Conor Forde says:

    “These places exists IN AMERICA” 

    Yeah I am actually not surprised one bit. Easily the most religious fanatic country in the western world.

  9. MB44 says:

    These monsters treat the world of ideas like a war. Are you doing the same to fight them? If you aren’t then you are an armchair quarterback and these zealots will only gain ground. Get pissed. Be disgusted. Use it as fuel. Do something every day to strike at ignorance and intolerance. 

  10. chgoliz says:

    Of course, the teen brought it on himself: if he learned nothing else from his parents’ indoctrination instruction, he should have learned how to lie through his teeth and then go on believing and doing whatever the hell he wanted to.

    • Gene Poole says:

       Look, man, clearly if she hadn’t chosen to be an atheist, there would have been any need for reeducation. I blame the parents for letting her think clearly enough to come to such a conclusion. They’re the ones who need to be reeducated; they’re not very good christians if their kid can resist their dogma.

  11. d3matt says:

    I realize that there are bad “reeducation” camps, but there are also good ones that try to take broken teens and turn them into functioning members of society.  The sheer number of kids out there with absent parents is amazing.  These kids need a loving environment, not torture.

    • Tess says:

      Let’s not go straight to “they’re not all like that,” eh?  

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      there are also good ones that try to take broken teens and turn them into functioning members of society.

      Did you attend one? Please give us the name.

      • jackbird says:

         Outward Bound?  No kidnapping, though…

        • Tess says:

          That’s not a year-round re-education facility that kids are fake-kidnapped by.  It is in fact a short-term voluntary program.  It doesn’t try to impose discipline, either – doesn’t serve the same purpose as the schools we’re talking about.

          • jackbird says:

             I have no direct experience with it, but my understanding is that at some of their activities are directed squarely at “trying to take broken teens and turn them into functioning members of society.”

            That fake-kidnapping and year-round isolation are not actually productive methodologies in accomplishing this goal is not in the least bit surprising, as the great-grandparent comment pointed out.

            This tangent is not “can we justify the existence of these horrors?” but rather “what workable alternatives are there for parents who feel they have reached the end of their ability to set their teens on a productive path in life?”

          • Tess says:

            It’s definitely not the same thing!  Outward Bound is a  short-term, voluntary program that empowers kids, including at-risk kids, to take some initiative in theor own lives and develop leadership skills.  They focus on helping kids set themselves achievable goals; kids need to want to change or the program doesn’t work (and doesn’t claim to).  Kids have to consent freely or they aren’t accepted.  They have different programs tailored to different needs, most of them two to four weeks long.  It *isn’t* an institution that kids can be sent to against their will.  It’s not a facility at all.  Look at the origin of this thread and you’ll hopefully see why I’m trying to make this point.

            Saying Outward Bound is in the same category as Horizon Academy is analogous to saying that voluntarily skipping breakfast is in the same category as a week’s forced starvation…  or that joining a boxing league is in the same category as being regularly beaten by your parents.  

            As for what workable alternatives exist: there are plenty of programs out there that work with at-risk youth and do great stuff.  I’ve assisted with one, actually, and found it very rewarding.  The kids weren’t locked in, there were comparatively few rules, and in general it’s just not the same concept.  You can do *lots* of things to help kids who need it.  Mentoring, after-school programs, neighborhood organizations, community centers, late-night basketball, alternative high school, public art, teen empowerment and advocacy, really, the list is a long one.  None of these are anything I would call a “reeducation camp,” and in particular they aren’t year-round facilities vaguely like the one we’re discussing.

    • AnthonyC says:

       Even if there is such a thing as a “good” “reeducation” camp, atheists are not in need of reeducation.

      • Wreckrob8 says:

        Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler? Stalin? Not in need of re-education?

        • Tess says:

          Seriously?  You’re going to seriously claim that because some bad people were atheists, atheists are bad people?  Please tell me you don’t mean to actually make that claim.  Please.

          • Wreckrob8 says:

            No. I don’t believe I said that. I was pointing out that there are some bad atheists not that all atheists are bad. The ‘not in need of re-education?’ refers back to Mao, etc.(and atheists of their ilk), not all atheists. I see the ambiguity, now. (I sneakily have to do this on my phone at work – it’s the only non-restricted internet access I have during the day – things don’t always come out as I intend they should.)

        • wysinwyg says:

           Hitler was not an atheist.  I’m really sick of people equating the weird Soviet officially “atheist” quasi-religion with contemporary atheism, but at least Mao, Pol Pot, and Stalin actually claimed to be atheist.  Hitler was a practicing Catholic — not a very good one because he also bought into Goebbels’ Aryan race nonsense, but that mythology is itself religious so there’s really no sense in which one can honestly call Hitler an atheist.  Please stop it.

  12. talby0 says:

     I don’t understand the legality of places like this- doesn’t this count as some sort of false imprisonment? Particularly the part about denial of food or solitary confinement? I would imagine that any parent who refuses to feed or locks their child in a closet for the day as a method of punishment would warrant a visit from CPS, so how do other institutions get away with the same behaviors?

    • blueelm says:

      Laws really vary from state to state. 

      From my state:

      Abuse does not include reasonable discipline by a parent/guardian/managing or possessory conservator if child not exposed to substantial risk of harm. Family Code Sec. 261.001.[Ci.] Parent/stepparent/person standing in loco parentis to child is justified to use non-deadly force against a child under 18 when and to degree the actor reasonably believes necessary to discipline, or safeguard or promote child’s welfare. 

      You can imagine this means there is a LOT of leeway in what you can get away with doing.  By the way I actually got that from a site that shares that information so that people know what they *can* get away with doing to children “until the newagers realize” that abusing children is Gods only carnal pleasure that isn’t a sin.

      • Wreckrob8 says:

        Non-deadly force???

        • Tess says:

          Yeah, you can beat children you own parent in lots of places perfectly legally so long as you don’t do permanent harm.

          Of course, a lot of people aren’t good at judging that sort of thing, or think kids are faking distress, or become enraged and forget they’re not supposed to be damaging the kid, and kids die.

          • Wreckrob8 says:

            As a Brit I don’t know what the fuck to say to that.

          • Tess says:

            …yeah.  I know.  Maybe I shouldn’t have said “a lot,” because kids don’t actually die of parental abuse that often, but there have been some high-profile cases lately connected to ideas of discipline that come from a particular Christian organization.  And, um, I guess any kids being killed because they forgot how to spell a word is kind of too many, to my mind.

            The American ideology of individual freedom extends, in many cases, to a parent’s freedom to discipline as that parent sees fit, but not to a child’s freedom to live without fear of being beaten with, say, rubber hoses.  (Link is to an ABC story, nothing graphic, but it’s still pretty awful.)

          • Marja Erwin says:

            Of course, lifelong ptsd, depression, and sometimes suicide doesn’t count as ‘permanent harm,’ does it?

            Kicking lgbt kids out of the house and out of homeless shelters so they face police harassment and may have to turn to sex work to survive doesn’t count as ‘permanent harm,’ does it?

            Depriving trans kids of necessary medicine doesn’t count as ‘permanent harm,’ does it?

            All this shit is way too common in America.

          • Tess says:

            Preachin’ to the queer choir!

          • retepslluerb says:

            @Wreckrob8 Unless I’m mistaken, parents may hit their children in the United Kingdom.  

        • Wreckrob8 says:

          I know what to say now. There are two minor historical problems and one theological/philosophical problem . One function of colonies is a place to send your religious nutters, and then keep moving them westwards. (Hopefully to the middle of the Pacific eventually.) Freedom as envisaged in the eighteenth century would not have been applied to blacks, women, children or the poor in the way it is now – is the constitution the beginning or the culmination of a discourse on freedom? This applies to many texts. It does not apply to the New Testament and free will. We are all subject to ideological, psychological and neurological motivation – which we may or may not be conscious of – but we all have a sense of individuality which makes us more than the sum of our parts and which actually gives us free will. Anyone who attempts to deny that using God, philosophy, psychiatry or science to minimise the function of free will can only lie and be conscious of that fact, excepting only those who are genuinely ill. Belief in God can never be used to justify actions – that is not the function of faith. Compassion, forgiveness of sins and redemption are all essential to escaping but remembering the past.

    • Tess says:

      CPS varies from state to state, and the rights that parents have over their children are pretty close to absolute in practice in some places. 

    • Gene Poole says:

       I believe the internet equivalent of the concept is “pics or it didn’t happen”

  13. tsa says:

    Amazing. I don’t have any words for it.

  14. Snarf says:

    Frank Zappa talked about it in 1987 in the interview posted here recently : http://boingboing.net/2012/02/19/frank-zappa-explains-the-decli.html

    (that post lacks the ‘frank-zappa’ tag)

  15. Teller says:

    This kind of forced attempt to re-educate is awful, likely illegal and, obviously from the writer’s article, worthless. The best form of brainwashing is more subtle – like magazines, blogs, editorials, TV shows, judicial fiat, college reading lists and peer pressure. Those work more cleanly because the targets believe they’ve arrived at their own conclusions.

  16. satn says:

    There’s the same problem at cheap summer boarding camps.

    I was sent to one as a kid, boys buildings were I think converted horse/animal stables (not converted enough that I couldn’t notice). There was minimal or no supervision in them and it was mixed age (so highschool age down to 6-8 year olds…yeah).

    The bathrooms/showers were…indescribable…they -were- white, I could tell through some gaps in the black mold, and those were the showers. The toilets were, I can’t remember actually, I may have blocked that part out of my memory. 

    There was an overcrowded medium sized swimming pool, with two appathetic and probably uncertified lifeguards looking after I’m guessing 60 kids. I actually nearly had my leg broken because the lifeguards let kids push/shove eachother into the pool (willingly or not) and I got pushed near the ladder and my leg got caught. At least they didn’t let me drown while my leg was stuck in there.

    Here’s how to avoid this kind of nightmare for your kids/young relatives; Never send them to a camp that only buses kids in and out, that is often used to cover for false advertising of conditions. Drop them off, check out the facilities, etc. Don’t trust any advertising or promises without seeing the camp first-hand.

    • Tess says:

      I’m sorry you had that experience, and there are certainly awful summer camps out there, but how is this the same problem?

      • satn says:

        It’s spawned from the same conditions, ie, a camp run to extract maximum profit with minimum work/expense. The religious camps are just easier to run badly because the parents are actually hostile to the kids and would be unlikely to believe any reports of abuse, bad conditions and/or more likely to tolerate them as the camp is a type of punishment.

        The foundation and end-goals of both camps are the same, make as much money as quickly as possible.

        • Tess says:

          While I don’t think profiting off kids’ misery is a good thing, I’m quite sure you weren’t kidnapped from your bedroom in the middle of the night and taken to summer camp…  right?

          I said this elsewhere:  don’t let the word “camp” confuse you with thinking this is anything like a summer camp experience.  Think camp as in “internment,” “refugee,” “work,” or “reeducation.”

          It’s a year-round reeducation facility that isolates children from everyone they know and forces them to comply with arbitrary rules.  It employs psychological conditioning techniques, including some that are defined as torture if we do them to enemy prisoners (or at least “enhanced interrogation,” hooray).  The hygiene of the facility is not particularly in question.  The sanctioned abuse of children sent there against their will is. 

          So really rather different.

          • satn says:

            But they aren’t advertised as work or internment camps, they are still advertised as healthy/wholesome controlled environments where your unruly gay athiest children will gladly become good god-fearing zealots through reading the bible and nature walks!

            Again, the magnitude of the problem is much greater, the root cause is the same. False advertising, very remote location (for the cheapest land), reduced or prohibited parental interaction, cut-rate staff, etc. 

          • Tess says:

            Okay, if you’re determined to see your unpleasant religious summer camp experience on the same spectrum as this sort of facility, go for it.  

            I would argue that they exist for different purposes, do different things, have different effects, and happen to share some qualities that are common to profit-driven institutions.  

            But if you’re really determined to believe this, there’s no point in trying to convince you otherwise.  You might want to consider whether what you’re doing is actually minimizing the unpleasant experiences of others by comparing them to your own.  If that’s not your intent, consider making that clear in the future.  Then people like me will probably let you go on saying your summer camp was a lot like a re-education facility because the bathrooms were disgusting.

  17. RJ says:

    It’s not a form of persecution unless “Arbeit Mach Frei” is written on the gate, right?

  18. Henrix Gudmundsson says:

     [sarcasm, mostly] 

    Ideological reeducation camps are nothing new. We have seen them in many parts of the worlds where repressive totalitarian ideologies trump human rights.

    Good to see the US took something home from the Vietnam war!

     [/sarcasm, mostly] 

  19. Chuck says:

    This is obviously a liberal plot to make people believe that some Christians use reeducation camps.  And the parents are in on the conspiracy.  These liberal parents will spend the whole time they’re raising their kids pretending to live by a dangerous satire of Christian-conservative beliefs, then drive their secret campaign home by sending their kids to one of these reeducation camps.  It’s a sure-fire way to turn their kids into atheists, gays, etc.  (Yeah, I know, not the most feasible conspiracy theory.)

    • Tess says:

      That’s it!  I have allies I didn’t realize I had – all the evil homophobes are really just trying to turn their kids gay!  :D

  20. winnipegimpulse says:

    In 2006, on Webwire it is said that a group of teens and parents launched a lawsuit against these types of schools, ”

    25 Plaintiffs Join in Lawsuit Against WWASPS”.  I’ve also found a disturbing EHOW entry on ‘Teen Behaviour Modification Schools.”

    • HahTse says:

      If the shut down a “school”, another one will pop right up.

      What makes you think it will be any different with parent organization?
      Some people are making a lot of money with these…I would love to see a list. Maybe anonymus and Wikileaks could help here?

  21. Tchoutoye says:

    The Horizon Academy has the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote “The secret in education is to respect the student” on their website. Beyond Orwellian chutzpah.

    Someone should point out to them that the word “horizon” comes form the pagan god Horus.

  22. technosean says:

    It seems to me that any child should have the right to talk to civil authorities, i.e. police and/or child protective services, and that no adult should have the right to prevent this.

    I’d like to see a law requiring any “camp” like this to be required to immediately inform children of this right, and should be required to submit to frequent inspection and review.

    • HahTse says:

      That’s in the third optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Open for signing in 2012. (Source: wikipedia)

  23. While it’s terrible that this is happening in a country as big as  America, does similar stuff happen in the developed world?

  24. The Archaeologist says:

    Hokay, I’m gonna jot down “liberate child inmates of religious brainwashing facilities” on the to-do list of my imaginary atheist liberal guerrilla army.

  25. wetdog2 says:

    BBC did a documentary about a similar style of tough-love school called “Locked in Paradise,” about a school in Jamaica where kids are locked and and mistreated.  It’s not specifically Christian but they, too, adopt a unilateral, abusive educational method without any regards to the dignity of the students.

    I appreciate that the kids are minors but that does not mean that they don’t deserve respect.


  26. If a parent has a huge issue with his or her kid, wouldn’t it make more sense for that parent to, you know, actually be a parent and deal with the issue personally, rather than send the kid off to a camp where the parent has no real control over what happens?

    I’d venture to say that any parent who truly cares about the state of their child’s beliefs would not do something like this, and that this reflects a whole mess of issues stemming, most likely, from the parent’s failings throughout the life of the child.That said, the tone of this article is one of “Oh, look how bad religion is!” The title, if it were to say something like “Teen survivors of American brainwashing camps speak” would be far less emotionally charged, and the issue would be conveyed in as much depth as needed. The fact that something like this exists in America is dismaying, indeed–on the other hand, there are surely cases like this in which religion is a complete non-factor.

    • chgoliz says:

      “there are surely cases like this in which religion is a complete non-factor.”

      Could you find some examples for us?  It might take you a while…..

      • Teller says:

        Mr Birch is correct. There are several intervention outfits for teens with drug or arrest issues. They take them to places way out in the wilderness and keep them there to dry them out or to try and “re-prioritize” their lives. Not religious at all. Fairly common. And quite expensive.

      • HahTse says:

        Non-religious institutions were quite common in the 1970s and onward…at least, that’s what I gathered from the reddit-entry.

        Seems that they have adopted a more “religious-friendly”-attitude in the last couple of years.

  27. causticagnostic says:

    I did a weekend stint in one of these prisons in the mid 90’s http://www.jumonville.org/ and I still remember it as the some of the worst days of my life. -Isolation, forced prayer, the whole shebang.   I can’t fathom two years.

    • Petzl says:

       If you go to the jumonville.org site, you wouldn’t know it was that way.  It looks like any “normal” religion-inflected summer camp.

  28. I wonder when it happened because it occurs to me that it has happened, that I am now more scared to visit the USA  than Russia.

    • Tess says:

      Don’t worry – if you’re a light-skinned English-speaking straight cis male, the US is pretty safe.  :D

      (I actually wouldn’t know how to compare visitor safety in the US to in Russia.  Take above sentence with a sizable helping of snark.)

  29. Cory also posted about this subject last May from another Reddit thread:

    Let’s not forget that Mitt Romney is balls deep involved in the teen torture industry.  Required reading: http://reason.com/archives/2007/06/27/romney-torture-and-teens

    There’s your 2012 GOP frontrunner!

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      Now wondering if Romney’s “business partner” whose daughter escaped to NYC actually had his daughter escape from one of these WWASP reeducation facilities.

      Share the Reason link with as many people as you can. 

  30. PinkWithIndignation says:

    If only brainwashing worked. But it doesn’t. So all of that torment is truly meaningless to everyone. Just a giant waste of time.

    • millie fink says:

      I kinda think the thing to be indignant about here is not the fact that these brainwashing efforts don’t work . . .

    • toyg says:

      It works when done competently — see Scientology, the Nazi Party, right-wing talk radio.
      This sort of crude physical abuse is just amateur hour.

  31. Early says:

    Are there places (ministries?) kids or young adults who have been victims of these psychopaths can go to to get healed? The appropriate response from true followers of Christ is to do what we can to help these folks become whole again.

    • No I think you’ve done enough to “help” these kids.

      • trogdorian1 says:

        Early’s tone clearly shows how much they wish to help mend these poor kids. why go on the warpath?

        • Because what these kids need is what they needed in the first place, to be left alone, how do you think they would feel if when they are let out of these camps the first thing their parents do is send them to be helped by a religious ministry, you’re presuming here that they want religious anything.

          • Tess says:

            I think you were a bit too harsh – I’m pretty sure Early is trying to accept some measure of responsibility for the actions of other Christians, which is a good thing.

            However, a “ministry” for kids who are atheists is unlikely to be a good choice.  Just cover legal fees and access to a decent secular counselor.  Oh, and if the kid is still underage, oversee and pay for the emancipation process.  Provide religious counseling to the parents in hopes that they’ll learn there’s more than one way to be Christian.
            The right response to “Christians hurt you for not being Christian” isn’t “come to our ministry, we’re the good kind.”  

    • talby0 says:

       I’d wager that kids who are subjected to these conditions need legitimate psychiatric care from neutral caregivers whose sole interest is to help the child, not further religious indoctrination- even if it is from the “good cop.”

  32. Lonorising says:

    I for one am very pleased that such places exist – and that a light has come to shine on these practices.   Horrible people behaving horribly, all in the name of religious extremism.  A “New Covanent” for the modern world is long overdue.  And this time let’s reject the false god that is so small and petty as to meddle with nationalism, politics, and sporting events.  Let’s shoot for something bigger, more inclusive.

    • James says:

       Agreed. I propose a new covanent of not assuming everyone wants in on said new covenant and the birth of an era where prosletyzing is met with a hammer to the face.

    • Baanrit says:

      That is quite true, Conservative Christians do believe in a small and very petty God who is entirely defined by a narrow vision of American Civil Religion. 

      • Jonathan Badger says:

        Although with the Tea Party one might think that American “civil religion” is right wing and Christian, the fact is that the two greatest figures in the American pantheon, Jefferson and Lincoln, were not practicing Christians and did not belong to any church as adults. Imagine a modern president (of either party!) not belonging to a church.

  33. MrEricSir says:

    After reading some of these parenting horror stories, I’m starting to think there should be a license before you can have kids.  People should be screened to separate out those who are fundamentally horrible human beings and given mandatory sterilization.

    • Tess says:

      Not that it isn’t tempting, but who precisely makes the decisions about which people get to have children?  And how do we prevent corruption in that decision-making body?  


      Mandatory sterilization is something that has historically been used (and is currently used) to make sure minorities stay that way.  So its history isn’t exactly reassuring.

    • The only problem is that before that happens you need a society that considers society, the family and children as more important than Commerce Almighty.

    • jandrese says:

       You know who would run such a program in the US?  Religious Conservatives.

      Heck, such a thing does exist for adoptive parents.  My wife and I were looking into it, but were put off by requirements like “The parents must display impeccable moral character at all times”.  We’re not Satanists or anything, but that line made me imagine the sort of person who would write it, and who would have final say over the adoption.  It’s a long and expensive process, and we wouldn’t want to be turned down because we didn’t have any crucifixes on display or something. 

  34. Phoenix Lomax says:

    I mean, yeah, angry up the blood all you can, I suppose (I’m not a Christian, so I’m not defending this), but… hasn’t this already been on BB? Pretty sure I saw this in, what, November or December of last year. Way to (attempt to) slip a duplicate past the radar to foment some fresh outrage, I guess.

    • blueelm says:

      Same thing, different person it happened to. But hey… look at this banana. 

      • Phoenix Lomax says:

        Don’t really need to look at a banana; but, to be honest, after the umpteenth “religious people are all intolerant, superstitious, stupid assholes who are all stupider than me and hate your freedom to boot” post… it palls just the tiniest bit.

        Not saying that these camps are right, but I would submit that there are plenty of Christians who see this as a massive, abominable aberration rather than the norm. Which BB either forgets or purposely ignores much of the time- on account of mocking “idiots who don’t believe in the cleansing fire of science” or some other such solipsistic smuggery.

        But, then again, posts like this seem mostly designed to bolster people’s already dearly-held beliefs about viewpoints they don’t personally subscribe to (or have much first-hand experience with, oftentimes), so- mission accomplished, I suppose.

        • millie fink says:

          Why do you care more about people knowing that there are plenty of better Christians than these out there, than about the victims of these particular and particularly horrific ones?

        • Tess says:

          I think maybe one or two people total have said Christian-blaming things.  Christian apologists have started threads and some of us have argued with them there, mostly about their screwy priorities.  One or two people have said really anti-religious things.  Some of us, including myself, have argued against them.

          So…  um….  **shrug**

          I have a dearly-held belief that children who do not conform to their parents’ ideas of morality should not be treated as though they have done something terribly, terribly wrong.  I hold this belief for a variety of reasons, some of them very personal, because gay kids are some of the most common victims of this kind of treatment.  

          I don’t actually need boingboing to remind me that there are some awful people out there who are Christian.  I encounter them pretty often.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Maybe we wouldn’t keep posting about it if it would FUCKING STOP HAPPENING.  Just a thought. 

          But then, I’m not too zen to be outraged at children being tortured.

        • freshacconci says:

          So where are those ” Christians who see this as a massive, abominable aberration rather than the norm”. Why are they silent on this?

          • blueelm says:

            They would say something… but only if nobody else does and it doesn’t reflect badly on them… 

            so wait for that.

          • Marja Erwin says:

            We’re silent?

            If we speak out against it without discussing religion, then I guess it flies under people’s radar. And if we speak out against it and discuss religion, I guess it sounds like we’re just trying to distance the religion from the atrocities practiced in its name.

            I wish I knew what to do here. I mean, what to do to help these kids and the other kids facing abuse on grounds of religion, or misogyny, or homophobia, or transphobia, or the cult of masculinity.

          • Tess says:

            I don’t think they’re all silent…  I know some who aren’t, personally.  It’s possible that, like many other traits, “Christian” doesn’t always show…

          • cameronhorsburgh says:

            They’re not. The problem is that most Christians who would do anything about it have nothing to do with these institutions, and thus have about as much influence as you do.

            Most of the people who perpetrate these camps don’t recognise more moderate Christians as Christians so we can’t use our family connection (as it were) to get a hearing. In fact, we’re worse than the Evil Liberals, because we’re going to tell kids that God doesn’t mind you being gay and that she probably won’t be offended if you struggle with the idea of her existence.

            The best I’ve ever been able to do is make sure my church is a safe place for people with doubts and questions. If one of these joints springs up in my town, I’ll be sure to do what I can, but in the meantime…

        • jimh says:

          Try again. Posts like this are mostly designed to spread awareness of this insanity and injustice. I think you’ll find some personal experience here, if you care to look. Massive, abominable aberration though it may be, it needs the light of day.

          I’m not condemning Christians, I’m condemning [intolerant, superstitious, stupid asshole] parents who think it’s all right to subject their kids to physical and emotional torture because they didn’t turn out to have the same world view, ideologies, and/or sexual orientation. The fact that it is done in the name of a man whose creed was “Love One Another” just adds to the irony.

          • Tess says:

            And for everyone who publicly condemns these sorts of practices there’s someone willing to defend them – who will talk about the necessity of “straightening kids out” and how a little discipline never hurt anyone.

    • Ipo says:

       Well, it still hasn’t outraged you. 

      • Phoenix Lomax says:

        Perhaps the lengthy posts about how the religious are all wrong and stupid have jaded me a little. 

        I’d like to reiterate here: I’m not a Christian. After two childhood exorcisms (yeah, those), my own stint in a “school” (nowhere near this level, however), and the “spare the rod and spoil the child” philosophy espoused by my parents, I took a bit of a left turn (for what I imagine are understandable reasons). So, while I might appear to be a “Christian apologist”, nothing could be further from the truth. Nor am I defending re-education camps, either, whatever conclusion one might draw.

        HOWEVER, I am a fan of the two-sided argument- I don’t think *all* Christians are “butthurt”, nor do all of them complain of oppression, any more than all of them subscribe to sending their kids to re-education camps. I think that’s worth noting, even if that doesn’t necessarily bolster one’s own conclusions about the underlying philosophy. I don’t think I’d be as prone to saying anything if heard much about any religion (ANY religion, not just Christianity) doing some good for people, rather than how they’re all venal bastards giving the finger to logic or whatever.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          I don’t think *all* Christians are “butthurt”, nor do all of them complain of oppression

          But as in any creed or philosophy, it’s the crazy ones who are most likely to make the most noise. And we can’t very well respond to the silent majority if they never say anything.

  35. “The secret in education, lies is in respecting the student” -Ralph Waldo Emerson 

    Emerson would lose his shit if he knew his words were being used by a corrupt christian organization like this. I wonder if these people actually READ what Emerson had to say, if they did.. I doubt they’d be so willing to use his words 

    • AnthonyC says:

       If people actually read the books that the quotes they used came from, they might know what they meant. Sadly, they usually don’t.

  36. vagabond2 says:

    Shit… you folks hit too close to home lately. Coming from a large, extended Southern family means that, inevitably, you are going to have family members who buy this shite. Such is the case with my nephew.
    He was sent to one such facility in Missouri a few months back at the behest of friends and church members. It was a nightmare, and finally ended when some sort of assault occurred. Rather than coming home, though, they turned around and sent him off to another one. And no point in arguing with them. The boy needs help, but not this kind.
    I mean, shit.

    • Tess says:

      Ick, so sorry to hear this.  Is your nephew getting up toward legal majority?  And are you in a position to be able to offer him a place to stay safely once he can legally get away from his folks?  Sounds like whatever else is true he needs that.

      • vagabond2 says:

        I’m the blacksheep of the family; they are mostly arch-conservatives, whereas myself (and medical profession baby sister) are progressives. This sister, his mother, tends to “tut tut” whatever I say to her, as clearly they are doing a much better job. The boy has a drug dependency problem that stems from his efforts to treat his depression and not “fitting in”. There is really nothing that wrong with the boy except that. I get a feeling that they are deep in denial about the true causes here.
        As for legal status, he is now eighteen, but yields to his parents. 
        I admit, I have a freight train full of my own personal luggage, but to see this happening to him sickens and aggravates me. It’s like reading a novel and screaming at the protagonists, when in fact all you can do is yell at them. I worry for him, but no one takes the old hippy seriously.

        • Baanrit says:

          When dealing with religious families, I would swear that for all of the talk of “family,” they are among some of the worst examples of families that you will see. Massive dysfunction and, having grown up in the South, I have seen religious families eject one member after another. 

        • Tess says:

          Well, at least he has potential allies, once he’s in a place where he wants to reach out.  You do what you can, and that’s better than nothing.  Best of luck.

          My own family runs the gamut but they’re mostly not religiously conservative, or at least not the way most people mean that.  I am incredibly grateful for that every time I hear a story like yours.  It gets a bit frustrating being the only gay one in the whole family, but the worst thing I face at this point is their discomfort.  They wouldn’t dream of mistreating me or a partner.  I’m lucky.  :)

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          I’ve had interchanges like this:

          Friend: Well my parents beat me with a belt and locked me in the closet and I turned out just fine.
          Me: You’re waiting for a liver transplant because you’re an ex-junkie and ex-”anus for hire” on Santa Monica Boulevard.

        • AnthonyC says:

           I hope that you and your younger sister are close with him, and supportive. Good luck.

  37. foobar says:

    Halp, I need kittehs stat.

  38. Baanrit says:

    As Christianity continues its decline in Western society, I would expect to see this sort of thing become more and more common. The liberals, moderates and the youth are leaving the faith in droves and Conservative Christians are, in particular, going to increasingly latch onto authoritarianism as a way to try to maintain their grip on their people and whatever institutions they think they own. 

    • HahTse says:

      Have any of you played Democracy (the computer game)?

      I always get assassinated by religious minorities roughly at the end of my third term, after driving them down to 0.05 percent of the population…

      So yeah – if you “convert” the liberal ones, the fanatics will get stronger.

      • donovan acree says:

         Really? Your reasoning is based on what you learned from a video game? Really?

        • HahTse says:

           Well, it IS pretty good.

          So, yeah, sure, why not? It’s not *entirely* based on video games, or literature, or movies, or things people told me, or things I have observed…some of it is my own :)

  39. Jon_Wake says:

    How about instead of feeling all apologetic and defensive, we get a nice long list of places and names and put enough legal pressure on them to force a legal conversation  into the mainstream?

  40. nathanroberts says:

    Paging the Occupy Movement. Your presence is needed at Horizon Academy.

  41. AnthonyI says:

    Like the creation museum in Kentucky,  I would think this would only hurt their cause in the long run.   I think this school may actually be an atheist factory. It’s torture and I don’t see many strong willed  students sticking around once they get emancipated from their parents.

  42. I read a great quote once, something along the lines of “The Future is already here, it’s just not very widespread”. Reading about places like this one, only serve to illuminate the truth of that line of thought. The “Future” feels like it’s here in so many ways, scattered about in pockets of Reason and Understanding and Hope, pockets of Beauty and Creativity and Life…..and then there’s places like these  brainwashing schools trying to hold people back in the Dark Ages.

    • Marja Erwin says:

      If they want to recreate the past, they probably aren’t even trying to recreate the past as it was. I think the problem is that several futures are already here, and some of those futures are dystopias.

      Also the ‘Dark Ages’ were invented by late medieval and early modern folks who loved everything Roman and hated everything unRoman. It’s the same mindset that, in Late Antiquity, led to Justinian’s bloody wars [because the Italians weren't Roman enough for the Greeks], and it’s pretty close to the mindset that in early Modern times led to the Inquisition and witch-burning [because of the same sense of having the one true world-view and having to get rid of every other world-view].

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      “But Mozingo had baby twin sons with his new wife, and Josh was a disruptive addition to the household.” tells you pretty much what you need to know. cf. Cinderella

  43. anharmyenone says:

     There are FOUR lights!

  44. Cowicide says:

    143 comments so far!  Why do these threads on this kind of topic get so huge on Boing Boing?

    • Tess says:

      Because I like these topics?  :D

      Honestly, I think it’s because the religion/anti-religion tension is one of the areas of actual contention among regular commenters.  

    • vagabond2 says:

      No easy way to hide the rage at what is supposed to be a religion of love?

  45. travtastic says:

    If I could figure out a way to properly utilize all the negative energy I’m feeling from reading this, I’d never have to put gas in my car again.

  46. Shinkuhadoken says:

    I don’t think you should rage at Christians in general over this any more than you should rage against Muslims in general over what a handful did to the World Trade Center.

    There’s fanatics in every group, but just because the KKK continues to reside in America, doesn’t mean I think every American has a seething hatred for blacks.

    The fact is, the Christian faith is incredibly fractured. That’s why I find the notion of more “faith-based” governance to be laughable. Even when Santorum, an avowed Catholic, made that exact suggestion  recently, that seperation of church and state should be relaxed, you already had every Protestant Christian group in a panic that as President, he’d make whole country pray to Mary (which is contrary to their belief they can pray to god directly).

    The point is, there’s a huge spectrum of Christians. They aren’t all out to indoctrinate others against their will in draconian fashion. It’s just a matter of shaming the ones that do.

    (And for the record, I am an atheist myself, born and raised, but one that believes in freedom of religion and tolerance between faiths and non-faith. I have friends with many religious backgrounds, and I could not imagine living under a government that would force them out of it or force me into one.)

    • Tess says:

      Who raged at Christians?
      Some of us said not-very-nice things about Christian apologists, because they’re annoying…  and we have a couple of all-religion-is-bad types running around.

      Seriously.  Did I miss an outburst of all-Christians-are-evil?  

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      We live in a Christian-dominated society. If we were in Israel or Yemen or India, we’d be screaming about Judaism/Islam/Hinduism.

      See Luke 6:42 or Matthew 7:5

      • Shinkuhadoken says:

        Bible quotes are meaningless. To both of us, I’m sure.

        For me, it’s more along the line of not liking what you have to say, but defending your right to say it (or believe it, at the very least). It’s a difficult stance, at times, because people can say pretty awful things. But it’s the bedrock of freedom that which makes things like the civil rights movement and gay rights possible. And it’s worth defending.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Did you even check to see what those passages say?

          • Wreckrob8 says:

            I also do not think exegesis is particularly helpful. You wouldn’t take one or two lines of Shakespeare out of context and construct a whole theory from them. There are the synoptic gospels and John, the word made flesh and a text cobbled together at least 50?150? years after Jesus disappeared. There is a koine Greek text about three years in the life of an Aramaic speaker referencing oral and written Hebrew and Greek texts. There are classical Greek texts and Latin texts. There is the Septuagint and the Vulgate.There are English translations from any combination of these by individuals and committee. There are problems of transcription and typesetting across two thousand years. There are allegorical, metaphorical, moral codes to name a few (I’m not going to google all this). There is the law, whether theological or secular which is always contradictory. All of which has been reduced to chapter and verse references for the chosen to communicate through the medium of bumper stickers.

      • wysinwyg says:

         Weird.  It’s almost like these guys are supporting hypocrisy just because you pointed out the Bible is against it.

  47. Andrew Singleton says:

    Faith. I’m not sure if i have it anymore.

    I used to believe that people were basically decent good and willing to pull together. I keep seeing things like this though.

  48. AnthonyC says:

    If there is a God, and He really does turn out to want us to think and act in such a way, then it is the duty of all right-thinking human beings to fiercely oppose Him.

  49. TotalForge says:

    The law holds children to be chattel – they are literally the parent’s property until the day they turn 18.  Parents may send their children to any ‘private school’ they like.   And why be a parent when you can write a check and the problem is bundled off in a van?

    This kid’s error – and it was an error – was rocking the boat at age 16, instead of waiting until their adult civil rights kicked in. Even then, smiling, nodding, and doing what you must to get by until after you move out is the safest course of action. 

    • HahTse says:

      What you and many redditors seem to forget is, that at age 16 almost none of us had the patience, the fortitude and the experience to deal with such a situation correctly.
      That’s why kids are protected in all civilised countries of the world.
      (I realise that it is a very imperialistic thing to say, but I think that how a country treats the weak is actually a very good indicator of its civilisation level.)

      • Tess says:

        Heh, some of those comments on reddit drove me nuts.  “I would have done X…  I would have done Y…”  No, seriously, you wouldn’t.  You would have been a scared 15-year-old.  

  50. GrymRpr says:

    You folks know this isn’t new.
    Been going on since the late 60′s / Early 70′s

    • Tess says:

      Yes, although I think the religious angle is relatively recent…  not sure, though.

      Should we stop talking about something that is wrong simply because it’s been wrong for half a century?  

  51. These comments should have nothing to do with defending christians nor a battle between all of you trying to defend your religions and basically force your religion on each other through comments. These comments should be about how these places are allowed to force religion on children and ABUSE them, LOCK them away, and HARM them. You don’t have to believe in a religion to know what right and wrong is, you dont have to believe in religion to know what abuse is, you dont have to believe in religion to know what inhumane is. You are all so petty making this about defending your religion. How are you ALLL overlooking this abuse that is somehow still legal, where are the petitions to stop this abuse and false imprisonment? What is wrong with you people! Parents should not have to resort to sending their children away if they had properly paid attention to their childrens lives and disciplined them correctly like NORMAL parents who seem to have no problem raising healthy successful adults.

  52. ocschwar says:

    You don’t have to be a Born Again Christian to send your kid  to one of these schools. The pioneering youth torture facility was the Elan School, a therapeutic boarding school in Maine that among other notorious things was for a while the home of Michael Skakel. 

    But it helps. It especially helps when you combine Christian doctrine with the same pop-psychology conceits that pervaded schools like the Elan School, the same emphasis on emotional exhibitionism in the guise of therapeutic progress.

  53. and yet again, you all go right back to commenting about defending your religion, debating it,  and the “he said” “she said” “i said” “i didnt say” comments.  making this all about WAAAH this is insulting to my religion and WAHHHH this article is meant to create chaos amongst religions, nooo it wasnt -it was to make you aware that kids are being abused here! its not about your stupid personal beliefs, making this about yourselves and not doing a thing to make this about the children. wow disgusting.

  54. mennonot says:

    Has anyone watched the videos on the front page of http://www.horizonacademy.us/? The one of “Zach M” looks like a terrified young man stumbling through a thinly veiled script just hoping to not screw something up. The stakes are high. It reminds me of watching videos of my Christian Peacemaker Teams colleagues who were kidnapped in Iraq.

  55. agreenster says:

    Im actually fine with religion, except for all the god, hell, angels, demons and supernatural crap.  Its baloney.

    If religion exists only as a set of rules on how to behave, meditate, focus, and live together peacefully and solve world problems, I’m all for it. 

    But it never is.  Its always about how my god is better than your god and we should all fight each other over it.  And send our kids away to prison to indoctrinate them.  And make it all political ala Santorum.  And valuable stem cell research is immoral because it kills a day old embryo.  And drinking a glass of wine is immoral.  And being an athiest is worse than being a satanist.  And evolution is “just a theory” and the world is actually 6 thousand years old.  And dont worry about the planet because we go to heaven when we die anyway.

    You know what, nevermind.  Im not fine with religion.

  56. HahTse says:

    “It isn’t legal.”

    Oh, it is. Since these institutions have legal guardianship over the children there, they are well within their *legal* rights to punish them, as long as they don’t do permanent bodily harm.

  57. its not legal yet there are kids being imprisoned at this very moment and probably being hit against a wall unprovoked and they will probably never see justice for it… I’m not a law book but apparently its a technicality cause these places are still up and running

  58. HahTse says:

    It’s not about hating Christians, it’s about “Where the fuck are the liberal christian rallies against this sort of thing?”

    I realise that the silent majority of Christians would never do such a thing to their children – but they are just as guilty if they stay silent and let a small group of fanatics hijack their religion for nefarious purposes.

    Don’t leave it to us Atheists (or Agnostics, or whatever). Stand up and say “I am Christian. I am not ok with this. What can I do to end this?”

  59. HahTse says:

    Even if said person is a minor, you are it’s legal guardian and you are doing it for “educational purposes”?
    There are some examples further up in the comments, I think…

    (On another note, how do you do those quotation marks?)

  60. ocschwar says:

    Clarify Christian doctrine? Might as well try to nail jello to the wall here. 

    I’m just making an observation here, that the big factor at play is pop psychology, which among other things provided the impetus for the Elan School, an all-secular youth torture facility in the 1970′s. It takes willfull blindness to avoid noticing that pop-psychology is pervasive in Born Again Christian churches. 

  61. Tess says:

    Dude, you seem to be misunderstanding something.  

    When one Christian says “the Bible says X!” and another one comes along and says “no, the Bible doesn’t say X at all, that’s a lie, no real Christian would say that!” they completely lack any evidence to convince the non-Christians in the room that their interpretation is the “right” one.

    Why they hell would you try to “clarify Christian doctrine” here?  You say it’s one thing, these other Christians say it’s something else, I believe all of you and honestly I really don’t care.  If you want to “clarify Christian doctrine” talk to Christians about it.

    It doesn’t do any good at all to tell us non-Christians that good Christians wouldn’t do whatever people who call themselves good Christians just did.  Can you possibly maybe see why?  If you squint extra hard?

  62. Tess says:

    Do you realize the “lions” comments were a snarky commentary?  And that elsewhere in this same discussion I’ve gone and defended religious people, including Christians?

    This “oh no we Christians are all under attack” attitude you have is what Antinous and I were mocking.  It’s ridiculous.  Members of your religion are in the majority and control the governments of many (most?) of the most powerful countries in the world.  Stop acting like you’re so terribly mistreated because some of the commenters on one (science-oriented) blog don’t much like you.  

    If you want to be taken seriously, I mean.

  63. Ipo says:

    Me?  No, I certainly am not.  In no way. 
    Phoenix Lomax, who I was replying to, was. 

    And you do realize that those lions weren’t hired by atheists, but by the arbiters of the official state religion of that time and place?
    Christians then where not persecuted for believing the wrong thing, but for not also believing in the mandated line-up of gods.
    Just a pitfall of monotheistic religions, the unwillingness to accept that other peoples gods are no less real than your own imaginary deity.

  64. wysinwyg says:

     Tell you what.  Next time a sitting PotUSA refuses to participate in that stupid Christian “prayer breakfast” you can whine about how persemecuted the Christians are (’cause that would count as persecution, right?  The most powerful politician in the western world not explicitly endorsing your religion counts as repression, right?).  Until then I’m going to go on assuming Christians in America are actually a privileged majority and much more likely to persecute than be persecuted.

  65. Tess says:

    If someone actually witnessed a 16-year old having their head slammed into a wall by an adult, they need to notify law enforcement and have the place shut down.

    Many of the things actually done to the kids are borderline-illegal or plain illegal, but the kids have no access to communication with the outside world so they can’t report it; and if they report it later, the facilities have many many staffmembers willing to report that the kid just made it all up.  It’s hard to win in court.

    If police could be called to the scene in the middle of an incident, that would probably help, but the locations are chosen to make that extremely difficult.

  66. Tess says:

    Let’s see…  I defended Christians at least twice.  A couple of liberal Christians identified themselves as such and were not attacked.  I think maybe you’re generalizing from a sample of You Like To Feel Persecuted.

  67. wysinwyg says:

     “Whaah, why does everyone pick on Christians?”  This shit is so tiresome.  Yeah, there’s some assholes on the internet who talk a lot of shit about Christianity.  You want a cookie?  How many assholes are there on the internet talking shit about women, colored folk, Muslims, etc.?  How many of those shit-talkers are themselves Christian?

    If you don’t like the “community” don’t post here, although I suspect you’re seeing a little more persecution of Christians than is actually occurring.  Though I understand that because I know it’s just part of the Christian disease.

  68. HahTse says:

    Stop feeding the troll.

  69. Tess says:

    Restating this as simply as I can:

    What Christian doctrine does or doesn’t say is an internal discussion for Christians to have.  

    If you think the people who do the head-slamming-into-walls aren’t doing Christianity right, go tell them.

  70. GMSilvia says:

    Absolutely right, the Christian doctrine is to stone them to death. So the fact that these children survived is testament that this is not Christian doctrine.
    Deut 21
    18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, that will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and, though they chasten him, will not hearken unto them; 19 then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; 20 and they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

  71. agreenster says:

    GMSilvia, you forgot the best part: 

    21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear

    Coffee100, I believe you’ve lost the argument here.

  72. Tess says:

    Please cite where I claimed to be persecuted. 

    I simply relate the facts as I see them in this thread and others like it.  The facts are clear in not in dispute.  See above for examples.

    Everything you just said?  You keep complaining about how Christians are mistreated here.  Did you not notice the words you were typing?

    The facts don’t speak for themselves; that’s not how facts work.  And pointing only to those facts that prove your point is known as cherry-picking.  I offered you some counterexamples – direct counters to your claim that “Anyone in this thread who identifies themselves as Christian is immediately accused of being inadequately concerned about the victims and too concerned about defending their beliefs.”  

    I’m trying very hard to treat you like a reasonable person.  I’ve been following this conversation from the beginning, and I think you…  really really haven’t. 

  73. Tess says:

    The school has a religious curriculum.  They don’t advertise the fundamentalist Christian angle on their website but it’s what they do.  Perhaps you missed that part of why the topic of religion is indeed salient.

  74. wysinwyg says:

     Right.  Would you be a dear and point us to all the articles about the secular indoctrination camps?  Otherwise I’ll have to assume that the shit talk about the “neo-atheist dot com movement” is yet another example of false equivalence between views that are harmful to human well-being and views that you personally don’t like very much.

  75. wysinwyg says:

    What’s with the star wars bullshit? I said that comparing evil shit like this indoctrination camp with a bunch of prats on the internet who walk shit about Christianity is false equivalence. People who talk shit about Christianity aren’t persecuting you. I know you’ve been brainwashed into thinking anything less than forehead scraping servility to your pet dogma should be against the law and punishable by caning but in the real world actions matter and ideas rarely do.

    Regarding the secular indoctrination camps: name ONE or you’re just talking shit.

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