Kidnapped for Christ – a little perspective

The Calgary Herald ran an article recently about a documentary entitled “Kidnapped for Christ.” The documentary exposes the horrors that occurred at an allegedly Christian school for troubled American teens, called Escuela Caribe, located in the mountain village of Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic. Through harsh treatment and isolation from the rest of the world – and supposedly within the paradigm of a “Christian” milieu – these teens take up life in this remote compound. Life involves school, chores and fairly frequent servings of physical and emotional abuse.

I felt driven to share some thoughts because I actually have some inside knowledge about the situation. For six months my wife and I lived in the same town in the Dominican Republic that Escuela Caribe is situated near, and a childhood friend of mine – I’ll call him Leonard – actually worked at the school for a year and a half. Let me be clear from the outset; Leonard is by no means a staunch defender of the school who pines to return. He openly confirms, and condemns, the horrors that are reportedly described in the film. However, given this first- and second-hand knowledge about the school I have some questions about how the film, and the school it exposes, are being presented to the public.

Because there are so many hot-button issues surrounding this film it would be foolish of me to not clear the air on a few points before diving in.

  • I do not support the harsh discipline that was typical at Escuela Caribe.
  • I emphatically support the general purpose behind the film; exposing corruption and immorality wherever it is found (in Christian circles or otherwise).
  • I am not in any way attacking Kate Logan, the filmmaker, or anybody else associated with the film. I don’t know them from a hole in the ground so I have nothing kind or unkind to say about them.
  • I have not seen the film, so this is not a response to it. I initially read about the documentary at the Calgary Herald and I investigated further at the film’s website (http://www.kidnappedforchrist.com/). My comments about the film are based solely on what I read from those two sources. I am not trying to “disprove” what’s in the film, rather I want to raise what I consider to be some very relevant questions and perspectives that I hope people will consider as they watch it.

With these disclaimers in mind, here are a few questions that the viewer of the film ought to consider when watching it.

Are the teens really “kidnapped?”

Well, that would depend on who you ask. For the teenagers who end up there I am certain the process of their arrival sure seems like a kidnapping. Leonard tells me the teens were usually taken at night, from their homes, with absolutely no warning. There was often a struggle.

But from the parents’ perspective the teens were most certainly not kidnapped. The parents sought out the school. They signed a contract. They knew when the school representatives were coming and they knew where their teens were going. They paid their monthly dues to keep their teens “enrolled” in the school.

The “kidnapping” of the teens that ended up at Escuela Caribe was perfectly legal. It would have been similar to a teen who might have been forcibly apprehended by police and taken into custody. In fact, many of the teens at the school probably had that experience too; run-ins with the law were common for those at Escuela Caribe. It’s hardly a kidnapping when seen in those terms.

To call it “kidnapped” for Christ is strongly misleading. Does the film clarify the title, or just run with it?

Was the school really that bad?

Yes. Unquestionably yes. It was horrible. It was the subject of lawsuits that were almost certainly deserved. It was traumatic for both the students and non-administrative staff. And that’s just the stuff that was officially sanctioned by the administration. There were also accusations of sexual abuse and other immoral activities that were not part of the “program.” The list goes on, and I am certainly not going to try to downplay all of that horror.

But there is more to the story. As awful as the worst of the worst was – and what follows is not to be confused as a justification for that – there was a best of the best. Discipline was doled out in response to inappropriate behavior. Appropriate behavior, on the other hand, was rewarded. The school worked with a “levels” paradigm and students could work their way up to higher levels. With the higher levels came less discipline, greater freedom, more earned trust and greater rewards. Many of the teens “got it” and cleaned up their act accordingly. In fact, Leonard described camping trips, sleeping in tents on the beach and enjoying lobster, freshly caught from the waters off the coast of the Dominican Republic. They got to tour the beautiful island (and trust me, it is astonishing), taste local cuisine (not quite as astonishing, trust me…) and generally “getting away from it all” for even a week at a time. Yes, they had vacations! Well, the ones in the higher “levels” did anyway.

As Leonard pointed out to me, such a system is not unlike the real world. When I start at a job I get minimal pay, minimal vacation and my every decision is monitored. The longer I’m there, and if I work hard and ethically, I am subjected to less supervision, I get pay raises and increased vacation. If I mess up, I can be reprimanded or even fired. In extreme cases I could be sued.

I wonder if the film highlights the reality that many of the teens do, in fact, clean up their act and endure far less harsh discipline and enjoy far greater rewards for earned trust. One can hardly complain about fresh lobster, camping on the beach of a Caribbean Island.

What about the staff at Escuela Caribe?

I ask about the staff not because it’s a natural question that one would ask, but because Leonard’s experience as a staff-member has made it clear that it is a question that ought to be asked. According to Leonard’s description of the school it bore a lot of the characteristics of an authoritarian, manipulative, cult. Communication with the outside world was heavily censored. The staff were not exactly “on board” with the whole thing, but their views were not open for discussion. Leonard’s initial interest in working there rested on a false representation of what they were up to, and during his stay there he was almost as much a prisoner as were the teens he worked with.

For years after he left, Leonard was still dealing with the trauma of having been treated as he was, and having been forced to treat other human beings in the manner he was forced to treat them. I wonder if Kidnapped for Christ highlights the struggle of the staff; torn between what the authorities are insisting they do and what Christ – and common moral decency – tells them they ought to do.

What about the whole “gay” thing?

The article in the Herald describes how that documentary follows the lives of three of the teens, one of whom was gay and was apparently sent to Escuela Caribe for the purpose of “correcting” his homosexuality. The article goes on to quote Logan as saying that the reason she chose those three students was, “because they represented overall the type of kids that were sent to this school” implying that homosexuality was a common motivating factor for sending a teen to Escuela Caribe. Furthermore, screenings for the film that were listed at the website when I checked (they disappear after the screening dates have passed) were, for the most part, at gay film festivals like the Fairy Tales film festival the Herald article describes. The homosexual theme, it would seem, is no peripheral issue to the film and the promotional efforts behind it.

I asked Leonard about the whole “gay” theme in the film and he sincerely wasn’t sure what to make of it. He didn’t recall that any of the teens during his year and a half stint at Escuela Caribe were gay. If they were, it certainly was not a focus of attention, nor a motivating factor for their stay. And it’s not like the administration at Escuela Caribe were even remotely concerned with discretion; there would be no reason to tippy-toe around the issue if one of the teens were gay.

I investigated further. There is a website of alumni from this “ministry” who share their experiences, including why their parents sent them there in the first place (http://nhym-alumni.org/alumni/). I was unable to find a single person claiming they were sent there because they were gay. It is not a stretch of the imagination to suppose that a handful of gay teens may have been sent there over the years because their parents wanted to set them straight, but it is a massive stretch of the imagination to suppose that one or two gay teens were “representative” of the whole.

For all of its horrors – and the filmmakers were right to expose those horrors – Escuela Caribe had little or nothing to do with homosexuality or any kind of sexual reorientation. I fully support exposing the truth about these kinds of institutions, but I do not support exaggerating the truth to make it out to be worse than it actually was.

Is Escuela Caribe representative of Christian ministries in the Dominican Republic?

My wife and I spent six months living in the Dominican Republic, doing ministry with the locals. The town of Jarabacoa is teeming with Christian ministries. We worked with an organization called ANIJA (operated through Kids Alive) that ran a small school for local kids whose parents could not afford a decent education. I can assure you that there was no abuse going on at that school, except for the abuse of the English language at the hands of a teacher from the Southern States (Perhaps Arkansas?) who insisted that the only way to pronounce the English language was with a deep southern drawl. We also dabbled a bit in working with a local orphanage; again an upstanding ministry from all that we could tell. We spent two months living with a couple who were involved with Medical Missions International. We still keep in touch with them. Their organization provides health care resources to locals who have little access to it, including doctors and dentists from North America who fly down at their own expense to provide free services to the locals.

In fact, in order to physically reach Escuela Caribe, one has to literally drive right past some of these other Christian ministries that are operating ethically and doing a remarkable work down there. I wonder if Kidnapped for Christ mentions these other ministries? Does it share stories of the innumerable Christian volunteers working in reputable organizations, making a significant improvement in the lives of those they minister to, and helping folks in a developing nation enjoy some of the privileges of life in a first-world nation? From personal experience I can assure you that Escuela Caribe is just as representative of Christian ministries in Jarabacoa as the gay teen in the film is “representative” of the teens that get sent there. It was a very anomalous ministry among the Christian ministries in Jarabacoa.

Is there anything good that came out of Escuela Caribe?

Leonard filled me in on some of the local service projects that the school participated in. These outreach projects served a few excellent purposes. First, they were able to make a difference in the lives of those in the community by helping out. Second, they taught the teens many life skills they may not otherwise have acquired; cooking, cleaning, yard work and so on. Lastly, these opportunities to help others gave the teens a sense of pride at making a difference in the lives of others. They were truly bonding experiences and character growth opportunities for the teens who started thinking outside of themselves in order to understand their duties toward their fellow humans.

The film describes some of the punishment that got doled out at the school, but it should be known that there were times when Leonard and the other staff chose to accept the punishment on behalf of the teens. And the magnitude of punishment that the staff received was by no means a watered down version of what the teens would have received. Some days Leonard had trouble even walking because he was in so much pain; undeserved pain. Leonard’s choice to accept the punishment that he most certainly did not deserve, just to offer some mercy to the teens (who in many cases did deserve at least some kind of disciple), is an act of selfless heroism that was relatively common at the school. This drive to extend mercy, to accept unwarranted punishment, has an inherently Christian flavour to it, and the act of mercy on the part of Leonard was rooted squarely in his deep commitment to, and understanding of, the Christian Faith. Even in the midst of such horror, falsely perpetuated in the name of Christ, true Christian charity shone through.

And if you poke around at the alumni website I mentioned earlier you will find some of them admitting that it was not all bad. Some of them admit that their time at the school was a factor in them turning their lives around. Now I’ll be clear again; a handful of success stories by no means justifies the abhorrent practices that brought about those success stories. The school was still a horror show that deserved to be shut down, but it should be pointed out that, even in the midst of such dehumanizing horror, the best of humanity did shine through. There was some good; a few diamonds in the rough. And those diamonds, by and large, reflected the glory of Christ.

I cannot help but wonder if the documentary spends some time showing the selflessness of the staff at the school. They were troubled and perplexed by what they saw, and by what they were asked to do, but they did their best to put their Christian Faith into action in that horrible situation. As a result, some days they could hardly walk. Does the film document this? Does it describe their service projects in the community? Does it describe the character growth experienced by some of the teens?

Is what happened at Escuela Caribe grounds for a crisis of faith?

The Herald article reports that the process of making the film shook the filmmaker, Kate Logan’s, Faith. She now identifies as an Agnostic. It is a good and reasonable question to ask whether the horrors perpetuated at Escuela Caribe in the name of God are good grounds for questioning, or even rejecting, God.

From Logan’s perspective, the atrocities are clear grounds to seriously undermine faith in God. But Logan merely watched the horror; she did not live it out. Leonard went through a significantly more troubling experience than Logan, the creator of the documentary. Logan filmed the horror, Leonard received the horror. Sometimes Leonard was forced to dish it out. Which raises an interesting question, why did Logan abandon her faith but Leonard maintained his? Why would a witness to the abuse suddenly become unsure of whether God exists or not while somebody who received the very abuse Logan witnessed did not lose his faith?

If the horrors that took place at Escuela Caribe make you uneasy, as they should, before you come to any conclusions on the matter please make sure you have considered all that data. It is true that many atrocities took place “in the name of Christ” but please recognize that the overwhelming majority of Christians reject and renounce what took place there in the strongest possible terms. And we are fairly confident that God rejects it too! Escuela Caribe is by no means representative of Christianity.

Please also consider the good that was done in the name of Christ. The teens were involved in service projects aimed at improving the lives of locals. Leonard and his colleagues volunteered to accept punishment they did not deserve in order to extend grace to the teens. Such actions were motivated by their Christian Faith. Somehow I don’t think most people would reject a Christianity that looked like that.

Lastly, please consider the many Christian ministries that do some amazing work in the little town of Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic. Providing education to local kids whose parents could not otherwise afford it. Providing shelter for orphans. Providing medical and dental care, free of charge to the poor. Building homes, building relationships and building a nation.

In other words, when considering the actions of the so-called Christians at Escuela Caribe, please remember that “one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl”

(Because we could all use a little more disco in our lives)

 http://youtu.be/1wunv9U4IWk

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About Paul Buller

Just some guy with a variety of eccentric interests.
This entry was posted in Christian Church, Current Events, General Apologetics, Objections. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Kidnapped for Christ – a little perspective

  1. Meg O says:

    I was a student there in the 90s – the DR, Canada and Indiana. From the age of 14-17. I haven’t been able to see the movie yet but I hope the film DOES NOT highlight the “struggle of the staff”. I experienced and saw child abuse every day there – kids being punched in the face and extreme psychological abuse, for example. The abusers ran rampant at the school and those who sat by and let it happen are just as guilty. ALL staff participated in one way or another. I hope they are wrestling with their own demons and I hope they try to make it up to the world for the rest of their lives. I have friends and former survivors from there who have committed suicide because of that place or died due to becoming drug or alcohol abusers in an attempt to dull the pain that place created. I understand where you’re trying to come from, but I think you’re taking a lot of liberties here in describing the staff’s roles.

    • Paul Buller says:

      I’ve known Leonard almost my entire life and I have no reason to doubt him. I have not taken any liberties with his testimony; I reliably passed on the information he gave me. Leonard worked there later than when you attended, and the school had been subjected to pressure and lawsuits over the years, so perhaps the difference in your respective memories might stem from them toning things down a bit due to all the pressure they were under. I’m speculating here, that’s all.

      But I can assure you that Leonard had more than his share of demons to deal with. For years he bore the emotional scars of his experience in ways I chose not to share out of respect for his privacy. Your hope was fulfilled.

  2. Lithp says:

    I’ve never been to one of these places, but always hated the idea & jumped at the chance to donate to the documentary, partly due to the knowledge that, were I born in a different place or time, this could have easily happened to me. I will try to sound neutral, but can make no promises:
    First up, the introduction:
    “I do not support the harsh discipline that was typical at Escuela Caribe.
    I emphatically support the general purpose behind the film; exposing corruption and immorality wherever it is found (in Christian circles or otherwise).
    I am not in any way attacking Kate Logan, the filmmaker, or anybody else associated with the film. I don’t know them from a hole in the ground so I have nothing kind or unkind to say about them.”
    Think you should have ended here, honestly. It’s kind of like somebody saying, “I’m not racist, but….” No good can come of that “but.” At best, it’s going to be a really awkward conversation.
    “I have not seen the film, so this is not a response to it. I initially read about the documentary at the Calgary Herald and I investigated further at the film’s website (http://www.kidnappedforchrist.com/). My comments about the film are based solely on what I read from those two sources. I am not trying to “disprove” what’s in the film, rather I want to raise what I consider to be some very relevant questions and perspectives that I hope people will consider as they watch it.”
    This doesn’t even make sense. How do you know that your points are relevant if you haven’t watched it? To be clear, I haven’t watched it either, but that’s because I haven’t had the chance yet. I couldn’t afford to donate enough for a DVD copy, nor was I anywhere where the screenings took place. I look forward to seeing it whenever I can, & will have more insight on whether or not it lived up to my expectations then.
    ARE THE TEENS REALLY “KIDNAPPED”?
    Yes, you are correct that this is not legally considered kidnapping, but that’s part of the problem. So, no, I do not agree that it’s “misleading.” I would say that it’s misleading to have a service to abduct kids against their will & take them where any laws protecting them can’t reach or even see, yet NOT call it a kidnapping service. One of the most insidious things about these programs is that they ARE LEGAL. The law is not equipped to handle these situations, & it needs to change.
    WAS THE SCHOOL REALLY THAT BAD?
    “Yes. Unquestionably yes. It was horrible. It was the subject of lawsuits that were almost certainly deserved. It was traumatic for both the students and non-administrative staff. And that’s just the stuff that was officially sanctioned by the administration. There were also accusations of sexual abuse and other immoral activities that were not part of the “program.” The list goes on, and I am certainly not going to try to downplay all of that horror.”
    Again, really think you should have ended there. So what if some kids got lobster for what was considered “good behavior”? If that’s not a “justification,” then what’s the point? Especially to phrase it like this:
    “One can hardly complain about fresh lobster, camping on the beach of a Caribbean Island.”
    “Oh, sure, I’ll beat you & maybe molest you a bit on my downtime, but if you respond to that by doing what I tell you, we’ll hit the beach & get some lobster. Can’t hardly complain about that, can you?”
    Uh, actually, I can. That’s still in the territory of behavior modification/Stockholm syndrome. And yes, I’m sure some of the kids managed to make the best out of a bad situation, find the silver lining, & whatever other cliche that I want to use here. Their prospects would be rather bleak if they couldn’t find some kind of hope.
    WHAT ABOUT THE STAFF?
    Well, not to say that I feel no sympathy, especially if they do the right thing by coming forward, but if this happened in the US, I highly doubt that the staff would get much leeway. The facts are that they are adults & therefore considered responsible for what happens under their watch.
    WHAT ABOUT THE WHOLE “GAY” THING?
    I am actually well aware that homosexuality is just “one of the reasons” that you can get sent to one of these places, but nearly every source I’ve seen says that it’s a major one. You say that you were unable to find anyone on that website claiming that they were sent there for being gay. Well, do keep in mind, there are only about 40 testimonies on that site. So if suspicions of homosexuality are, say, 10% of the reason why kids get sent there, we would expect to see about 4 of them on that site. Very easy to miss 4 kids. That said, the testimony of “Tim S” does mention it:
    “There was a lot of discrimination and psychological abuse…I heard threats and derogatory comments made to students who may have been gay or lesbian”
    Other sites corroborate this:
    http://mikegetsreal.com/post/52805587766/kidnapped-for-christ-doc
    http://www.heal-online.org/nhym2.htm
    And I was specifically focusing on this 1 organization. There are others with similar methods, which also mention “the gay thing.”
    I can no more speculate about Leonard’s experiences than you could about any of these other sources.
    There’s nothing really wrong with the film focusing on a specific subset of the population, if that is indeed the route that the film goes. Even if they say something like, “The school is primarily for gay conversion,” I will agree that is inaccurate, but it doesn’t really detract from the point. I don’t want everyone else to be forgotten, but (A) I’m hoping this will help everyone & (B) there are going to be problems no matter which “strategy” you go with. Focusing too broadly can dilute the message, focusing on kids with behavior problems or addictions could leave the audience feeling that they somehow “deserved it,” etc.
    IS IT REPRESENTATIVE OF CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES?
    Yes & no. It’s clearly a Christian organization & takes great pains to let everyone know that. Can’t take the good press & ignore the bad. But no, it is not like every ministry, probably not even the majority. Nobody is claiming otherwise, & frankly, the documentary does not have an obligation to reassure a country of 3/4 Christians that they’ve made the right decision.
    WAS THERE ANY GOOD THAT CAME OF IT?
    From the way you describe him, I like Leonard, he’s a cool guy, but again, the focus is not about affirming the values of 3/4 of the country.
    IS THIS A GROUNDS FOR A CRISIS OF FAITH?
    Depends on whom you ask. Also depending on whom you ask, it might not be the only reason. Other than that, I don’t really want to address this point. I do not consider it relevant.

    • Paul Buller says:

      I haven’t the time or interest to respond to every single point you raised. Here are a few thoughts.

      More than once you say that I “should have ended it there.” Most of the readers of this blog specifically enjoy wrestling through the nuances of complex issues instead of seeing life in one-dimensional, simplistic terms. To “end it there” would have been to caricature a complex situation by pretending it was simple, straight-forward and black and white. If you are not interested in considering such complexities there are plenty of other blogs out there to read but we are not going to alter the target demographics for this particular blog.

      You criticize me for making points about a documentary I haven’t seen, yet you are willing to gladly support the very same documentary that you also have not seen. It would seem we are both working on the assumption that reports about the film are at least broadly accurate to the content of the film and therefore we are both in a position to offer some reasonably informed comments on it, or draw some reasonably accurate conclusions about it, without having seen it. I have the added advantage of personally knowing a former staff member who can confirm the conditions at Escuela Caribe.

      Your focus on my comments about the enjoyment of lobster, as though that justifies everything else that went on, reveals your unwillingness to consider the nuances of the situation. It is entirely reasonable to renounce the harsh discipline at the same time as celebrating the fact that the kids who behaved appropriately were treated to at least some remarkably positive experiences. That some kids were treated harshly is a fact. That some kids enjoyed lobster while camping on the beach on a tropical island is another fact, just as true and just as relevant to a full-pictured assessment of the situation as the first fact. If you would choose to ignore some of the facts and judge others only on the bad they have done, that’s your choice.

      You say “I am actually well aware that homosexuality is just ‘one of the reasons’ that you can get sent to one of these places, but nearly every source I’ve seen says that it’s a major one.” We are not talking about “these places” as you later make it clear that you are now lumping Escuela Caribe in with other, unnamed “Christian” ministries that do have a gay theme. There are many Christian ministries out there – and probably many of them deserve their own documentaries – but this article was about Escuela Caribe in particular. Please stick to the topic established at this blog or feel free to start your own blog.

      You say, “There’s nothing really wrong with the film focusing on a specific subset of the population” but there certainly is something wrong with picking an unrepresentative subset and claiming it is representative of the whole. If you don’t see a problem with that then I suppose you wouldn’t have any issue with me interviewing one or two members of Al Qaida and saying, “This represents Islam” or doing a documentary on Stalin and saying, “This represents Atheism.” According to the interview I read, the film maker specifically said she picked those students because they were representative.

      “Can’t take the good press & ignore the bad” Amen. But this does cause me to circle back to my previous observation that you seemed entirely eager to ignore any reference to enjoying lobster on a beach because it detracted from the point you seemed to want everybody to focus on, which was the harsh discipline and abuse. So you seem willing to dish out the bad press but reluctant to consider the good press.

      • Lithp says:

        “You criticize me for making points about a documentary I haven’t seen,”

        Yes, because you should probably watch a documentary before you start implying that it is inaccurate. You’ve got me in a Catch-22, here. I can either ignore claims that have obvious problems (like not having watched the thing being criticized), or I can try to make a premature argument with the limited information that I have.

        “Your focus on my comments about the enjoyment of lobster, as though that justifies everything else that went on, reveals your unwillingness to consider the nuances of the situation.”

        Oh, there CAN be complicated observations made, here. Such as the extent to which religion & secular government should interact, or which decisions a parent has the right to make for his or her children. But, I have to be honest with you, I think some of the things that you’re calling “nuance” are just really weak platitudes that we’re supposed to go over in circles to make us feel smarter. Like this punishment/reward system you’re referring to, its formal name is “Operant conditioning” & it’s been formally studied since BF Skinner wrote a book about it in 1938. BF Skinner & other early operant conditioning theorists called themselves “Behaviorists,” because they argued that all of psychology was behavior, & that they could “engineer” a person from any background to have any job, personality, etc. via behavior modification (Operant conditioning). Though we now know from social psychology, cognitive psychology, & so on that BF Skinner greatly exaggerated the usefulness of his theory, it remains a core model of one of the essential learning processes, along with classical conditioning (learning to associate a stimulus with a response) & social learning theory. It’s not groundbreaking. That’s why I don’t want to spend 3 hours talking about it.

        As for all of the times I told you that you should probably stop, again, that has nothing to do with “not considering nuance,” it’s because those points border on doublespeak. “One can hardly complain about fresh lobster,” those are your exact words. And that’s a theme that comes up again & again. “Will the documentary show X in a positive light?” But how will those things serve to enhance the information? Is the lobster equally important to the abuse? Why do we need to hear from other ministries when this movie is about a specific organization?

        “We are not talking about “these places” as you later make it clear that you are now lumping Escuela Caribe in with other, unnamed “Christian” ministries that do have a gay theme.”

        Whoa, I’m not going to just steamroll past that like it’s the only thing that I said. FIRST I showed you where the topic of homosexuality in Escuela Caribe comes up in 1 of YOUR sources. THEN I showed you where the theme has been covered in other sources, still for the same school. Only THIRD did I make the broader point that there are other, similar ministries. And did you forget that YOU brought other Christian ministries up first, basically to argue that “they’re not all like that”?

        Honestly, looking over your article & comparing it with mine, I don’t even know what you’re complaining about, here. They both say that only 1 of the students interviewed is gay. Where is the issue as far as “representation” goes? Do you think he should not be in the movie, or that they missed other important types of students, or what?

  3. Lithp says:

    Can’t edit my comment, since it’s awaiting moderation. I get updates from Kickstarter about the film, & they just sent me this:

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/video-lance-bass-producers-kidnapped-714158

    So it looks like the film does not focus on “the gay thing.” Perhaps David’s story really resonated with reporters, or that a lot of these stories were picked up from gay rights blogs.

  4. Lisa Brown says:

    Let’s talk about levels and freedom. If you accept what is happening to you, obey bigots and zealots, and abuse other kids, you can move up your levels and gain a very limited freedom.
    You had to accept that the abuse you endured was god’s will, that it was justified and right.
    It was clear that some of the staff was uncomfortable with their circumstances. These staff members did their best to be merciful and kind. Many, many other staff members felt our treatment was justified because we were obviously rebellious children, and god wanted us to be punished. Then there were others who seemed to get some sick pleasure out of watching us suffer. Exercises after exercises, work after work, beatings after beatings, pain after pain. They told many of us that we were there because our parents didn’t want us. They turned families against each other, and they never seemed to be satisfied. For example, you could be punished severely for having a smear on your deodorant lid. Forgive me if the rare small kindnesses afforded me by a few kind staff don’t make me pity them.
    The level system was predicated on the necessity for there to be many low-levelers and a few high-rankers. In order to move up your levels, from level two up, you had to “bring comments on”(scrutinize the actions of other students to a stupefying degree) to maintain your level. It was not unheard of for higher levelers to simply make things up. These comments effected the scores, living conditions, and ultimately the levels of other students. So, for some, it was impossible to move up the levels even if they wanted to.
    There was little real freedom afforded to anyone but the highest levelers. I only saw one person reach the highest level (5, off points, off campus) in my 2 1/2 year sojourn there. He had been there over 5 years. I saw a handful reach 4th, a couple dozen reach 3rd, maybe 50 reach 2nd, and the rest languished on 0 and 1st. The lower your level, the more severely abused you were, and the harder it was for you to move to a higher level. You talk about freedoms, but every level was still scrutinized tediously in comparison to the freedom normal teenagers have.
    Don’t look at the community service we students did as a positive Christian charity or a bonding experience. We did few useful things for the community. I can remember once painting a schoolhouse, once digging into the mountainside to barely widen a road, and once painting traffic lines on Jarabacoa’s roads (which is a joke because the only traffic law that exists is “don’t get in an accident”). We had NO contact with the locals: it was strictly forbidden
    As for poo-pooing Kate’s crisis of faith and comparing her experience to the beleaguered staff member: shame on you! You know full well that as a Christian, it is not your place to question her faith or lack thereof.
    I haven’t nearly spoken my peace, but I am tired of correcting a person whose opinions need serious information and adjustment.
    Be well,
    Yes, the same Lisa Brown that is listed at NHYM-alumni.com.

  5. Lisa Brown says:

    One more thing- the fresh fish, lobster, beachfront camping: not quite what I would call restitution for the harm done. And on these vacations you speak of we were still subject to all the restrictions, scrutiny, and punishments as we were when at the school. So what you call a vacation was simply same suffering, different setting.
    Saying one can hardly complain about these things is akin to saying , “it’s okay that they abused you because they fed you a lobster dinner.” Ugh!

    • Paul Buller says:

      So I have to ask a question that I had bouncing around my head for the other commenters but for some reason I never actually asked.

      Why, exactly, did you comment? What, exactly, are you trying to accomplish? Why are you here? What is your goal?

      Do you want me to pull the article? Do you support internet censorship? Are you opposed to free speech? I highly doubt that, considering you are enjoying freedom of speech when you comment here, and when you post your story at the alumni site. No, that is probably not your goal.

      Do you want me to condemn Escuela Caribe? I already did, in several places and with all kinds of unambiguous language in the original article. No, I don’t think that’s why you’re here because you seem to have a clear understanding of just how much I disapprove of it.

      Are you correcting some factual error? Which error? I claimed Escuela Caribe was a horrible place to be, that fact seems correct. I claimed Escuela Caribe represented an institutionalized propagation of all kinds of anti-Christian behavior in the name of Christ. You didn’t correct that. I claimed that some of the staff were very uneasy about what was going on. You offered your own perspective, but you did not correct that claim (and it would be hard to refute it as I was quoting a former staff member).

      I claimed that some kids could earn their way toward less harsh treatment and greater freedom. You offered some clarifications, but the general truth claim appears to be factually accurate. I claimed that some kids ate lobster on a beach in the Dominican Republic; again, you clarified but you did not refute. I claimed some kids got to leave the compound to do labour projects in Jarabacoa; another factual claim you offered clarification on, but did not refute.

      Have I made a false claim about Escuela Caribe that needs correcting? I did not see any such correction from you. In fact, I need to correct something you wrote!

      “Saying one can hardly complain about these things is akin to saying , “it’s okay that they abused you because they fed you a lobster dinner.” Ugh!”

      But what I actually said in the original article (oh, this harkens back to the previous commenter…) was, “As awful as the worst of the worst was – and what follows is not to be confused as a justification for that …”

      Perhaps you are just here to pass along some more information about the school. After all, you did say, “I’m tired of correcting a person whose opinions need serious information and adjustment.” What “serious information” have you provided that was not already either explicitly mentioned, or consistent with the picture I already painted of Escuela Caribe? Are you just here for the simple exchange of information without any particular agenda? That does not seem to be the case because the entire tone of your comment was anything but neutral; you clearly seemed to be on a mission.

      Perhaps you think my interpretation of the facts is wrong. You did, after all, say that you were tired of correcting the “opinions” of others. Perhaps you are here to persuade me to accept a different interpretation of the facts. Well that cannot possibly be the case because you condemned, in absolutely no uncertain terms, what you understand to be me “questioning” the filmmakers “faith or lack thereof.” If it would be horrible of me to question somebody else’s faith (i.e. their interpretation of the facts; their “opinion”) then I trust that you will be self-consistent and never, ever, question anybody else’s faith, even mine. So I somehow seriously doubt that you are here to judge me and my personal interpretation of the facts of this matter. I doubt you are here to tell me that your “opinion” is the right one; I doubt that you are here to impose your beliefs on others.

      [Quick clarification: beliefs and opinions are widely different categories but I am lumping them together here for the sake of simplicity. That’s a whole other conversation.]

      In summary, I doubt you are here to enforce internet censorship; hoping that I will pull the article. I doubt you are here to correct some factual error because you seemed to explicitly or implicitly affirm every fact I mentioned. I doubt you are here to simply fill in some details about life at Escuela Caribe (though additional details are welcome) because your tone made it very clear you are on a mission of some kind. I doubt you are here to question my faith considering how vehemently you renounced what you perceived to be my questioning of somebody else’s faith.

      In all sincerity I really don’t know why you are here. Don’t get me wrong, you are entirely welcome to be here and share your views but what, exactly, are you trying to accomplish? What is your goal? You definitely seemed to be on some kind of mission, based on your tone. Once I know your goal – understand your mission – then perhaps we can have a reasoned conversation about what you are trying to accomplish. Until then I’m not really sure where to start.

      By the way, I have a full day at work today, and I’m getting ready for a trip next week, so any further replies from me will almost certainly be slow in coming.

      • Lithp says:

        Since you say that you were thinking of asking this of other comments, I will assume that it is an open question. Obviously, I can’t speak for Lisa–who should feel free to correct anything that I said or say in the future, by the way–but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say she finds the implications of your post offensive.

        This is 1 of the things that I tried to explain to you. If you really condemn the program, why does there need to be a “but”? The staff, alright, I can potentially see that being a point of consideration. Because it’s all too easy to dehumanize people who fall in with a bad crowd & all of that jazz. But some of these points, I just don’t see how they can be read any other way than, “It’s not actually that bad.” But when someone asks you HOW ELSE they should be taken, you don’t explain, you just kind of bring up something else. Maybe you quote something else that you said, or you call it “nuance,” or you ask a question, but you never explain what those specific points are meant to say.

        Well, it goes both ways, if we don’t know what those points are supposed to be saying, then we’re forced to assume that they’re either irrelevant or defenses. You insist that they’re not irrelevant, but also that they’re not defenses, leaving a great big question mark as to why we’re even talking about them.

        On the subject of what, overall, -I- was trying to accomplish in my responses, that would be the same thing that I was trying to accomplish by donating to the project in the first place: Raising awareness of the problem. Are you aware that I’ve encountered several people quoting this article to support the argument that the film is anti-Christian propaganda that they shouldn’t watch? Whether you want them to or not, that is the message that people who come here are getting, refining, & spreading. So I finally see this issue getting a little press, & it’s already being denounced based on hearsay.

        Now I at least know that, if people read the comments, they’ll find some questions raised about these points. They may be less inclined to jump to conclusions. Hopefully, some will even do some investigation. What I want is for a lot of people to KNOW about this school & others like it, & not just have a vague awareness, but to feel like there’s a real problem that won’t just blow over. THEN we can argue about it.

        Now, the movie is supporting some kind of legislation. I haven’t had the time to look over it yet, but I do feel like there should be SOME kind of legal response. Which also means questioning the legal definition of kidnapping, as well as how much the government can do in cases relating to parenting & religion.

        • Paul Buller says:

          As I said before, I’m at work today (and kind of busy in the next couple of days) but I needed to extend a sincere and heartfelt “thank you” for the clarification. That was fairly well explained and offered some excellent basis for conversation. I will consider what you have said and respond when my schedule opens up a bit.

          But I have to quickly comment on something right now. You say that some Christians are avoiding the film because it is anti-Christian propaganda. Whether or not it is anti-Christian propaganda is a reasonable conversation to have, but whether Christians should avoid it BECAUSE that’s what it is (or may be) has only one answer: NO. It would be foolish of Christians to insulate themselves from criticism and/or limit themselves to only considering those perspectives that confirm what they already believe. Every human must be wary of “confirmation bias” and it would be foolish of us (Christian and otherwise) to deliberately impose such bias upon ourselves by refusing to consider perspectives and evidence that do not neatly fit into our own presently held worldviews.

          Hopefully we can all agree on that, at least.

        • Paul Buller says:

          So it seems the thrust of your concern is centered around the “Escuela Caribe was horrible, but…” idea. Alright, let me address that one.

          Let me start my reply by telling you one thing that absolutely drives me nuts about Christians. For the most part Christians I interact with think too shallowly. They process the world in one-dimensional, black and white, simplistic terms.

          Don’t get me wrong, some issues are very black and white. Either God (as described in the Bible) exists or he does not. There really isn’t any middle ground. Either Jesus physically, literally and historically rose from the dead and walked out of his own tomb under his own power after being fully dead or he did not. This applies not only to religion, but general life; either I am 6 feet 5 inches tall (as the tape measure claims) or I am not.

          But many other issues are not so clear. Despite the lack of black and white clarity, many Christians treat the issues as though they are simple. I hear Christians tell me that Christianity is “all about” our relationship with Jesus, and it’s not about doctrine and theology. They do not consider that part of the essence of right relationship (with anybody or anything) is right knowledge, in this case theology. Christianity is NOT “all” about our relationship with Jesus, though that is certainly central. If asked, “Is Christianity about a relationship with Jesus” the appropriate answer would be, “yes, but there’s more to it than that.”

          Or, some Christians get all gushy about how they are just so “on fire for Jesus.” If you ask me whether I’m “on fire” for Jesus, I would say, “sometimes I am, but I definitely have some days where I’m not so fond of the guy.” Or, back to normal life examples, if you ask me, “is it wonderful being so tall” I would say, “Well, it has its advantages, but I cannot fit comfortably on commercial airliners.” Or if asked, “does light act like a wave?” we should answer, “yes, but it also acts like a particle.”

          Now this problem that I have with Christians – that they tend to reduce complex issues to simple black and white answers – also applies to non-Christians I interact with. The majority of them suffer from the same problem of oversimplification. How often have I heard that “religion causes war.” Is that true? Well, yes, it kind of is. But a fuller answer would be something like, “religion has often been a contributing factor in wars, but many other factors have also contributed to wars like economics, race, geography, natural resources, politics, etc.”

          For those questions that require complex answers, the one thing that separates overly-simplistic answers from more balanced answers (that consider both the black and the white) is the word, “but.” Now the question, “Was Escuela Caribe a horrible school?” is one of those complex questions. It necessarily deserves an answer that includes the word, “but.” Any answer that does not include that qualifier – whether it supports the school or renounces it – is overly simplistic.

          And when we add the “but” to our answer, we do not nullify the essence of our answer. Is it great being tall, “yes, but it has its down sides” should not be misread to mean, “I hate my height and I wish I were a midget.” I actually do enjoy being tall. At the same time as I enjoy being tall I also recognize it comes with some problems and limitations that people lacking my height do not have to endure. I will probably always have knee problems. Even so, I still enjoy my height.

          Similarly, only those who think in overly simplistic terms would misread my answer “yes, Escuela Caribe was horrible, but there were some positive features to it” to mean, “actually it was an awesome place and people shouldn’t bash it.” It is overly simplistic to think that Christians can do no wrong, and it is overly simplistic to think that Christians can do no right. It is necessarily a mixed bad, hence the need for the word, “but.”

          You wrote, “Now I at least know that, if people read the comments, they’ll find some questions raised about these points. They may be less inclined to jump to conclusions.” Bingo. That was the point of my article. I might just as well have written, “Now I at least know that, if people read my article about Escuela Cariba, they’ll find some questions raised about the film documenting it. They may be less inclined to jump to conclusions.” You and I are pursuing the same goal; not just accepting a one-dimensional explanation of reality, but considering the bigger picture, asking bigger questions, and looking into the complexity of the situation. You and I are both trying to inspire people to consider the “yes, but…” kind of answers instead of the one-dimensional answers. That’s why the title of my article included the phrase, “… a little perspective.” I was not overturning the thrust of the film (and I stated as much, quite clearly in fact) but I wanted to explore some of the perspective that the film might not show and ask some questions that I got the sense the film was not asking.

          With respect to how other people read (or misread) what I have written, I’m not overly concerned about that. As you will have seen in my exchange with Lisa she managed to misread what I said, to mean the exact opposite of what I actually said (i.e. lobster justifies abuse). So I strive to be as clear as possible and I don’t lose any sleep over how people misread my thoughts. Our present society (Christians and non-Christians) is horrible at really basic communication skills and the only way to avoid being misunderstood is to stop communicating altogether.

          So let’s see how people will misread the entire comment I just wrote…

          • Lithp says:

            I agree with the statement that all people should be wary of confirmation bias, but I don’t think people are misreading because they’re necessarily bad at reading. To use your example, if I said, “Sure, Christian ministries do a lot of good in their communities, but Christianity also contributes to war,” if you were just encountering me for the first time, wouldn’t you assume that I’m trying to downplay the positive contributions of the religion & shift focus to the negatives? Now, if I add on something like “Any ideology can have people that do good things & bad things,” I would argue that brings my comment full-circle & makes it look less like the “but” was a refutation of the initial point & more like I’m saying something about that contrast, which is improved because there’s a valid comparison to be made. As Lisa indicated, the fact that a few people were treated slightly better isn’t very useful information, at least not on its own.

            It’s also worth noting that you’re talking to someone who’s more-or-less detached from the issue. I clearly have some personal investment, but unlike some of your other comments, I’ve never been to Escuela Caribe or any place like it. So it’s relatively easy for me to treat it like some kind of abstract thought experiment. If I went through something like that & someone told me to “think about the staff,” I imagine my response would be a less polite variation of “Forget the staff.” I don’t know if that would be the “right” attitude, but it’s what I would say.

            Anyhow, I don’t really like to have long arguments about semantics either. I just try to explain, from my experience, when certain phrases or arguments tend to go nowhere fast. If someone wants to change their lexicon, good for them, if not, I can’t really force them to. Other than that, I think I covered everything I can, without further information, whether that be from when I actually see the movie, or from someone posting a correction to something that I said, or wherever.

  6. NHYM is pain says:

    I lived at all 3 NHYM locations. Most of my time was in Escuela Caribe.
    Many thoughts came to mind when I read your post. I want to share two of them with you.
    1. Some of the thoughts you shared and questions you made are akin to trying to justify or find the sunny lining in a violent rape. You were not there so I think I can understand where you are coming from. But I thought that might explain some of the comments your getting.
    2. More than 50% off the students I lived with could have been classified gay or bi. It was not tolerated and when exposed it was usually met with violence from the staff. But the staff were only in control during the day. At night we were locked in a large room with bunkbeds and bars on the windows. The students ruled each other then, and straight was turned to gay.

  7. Lithp says:

    So I finally got around to watching this thing & thought I’d say whether or not I saw these points addressed. I will try to be as objective in my observations as possible, but I don’t presume to speak for what everyone would see.

    “Are the teens really “kidnapped?””

    Not directly. People in the documentary talk about what the law allows, but it’s never defined what is or is not kidnapping.

    “Was the school really that bad?”

    Well, you say, “Unquestionably yes,” so I guess we already knew this one. I can say that probably a good 40-50 minutes was just documenting interactions with little to no commentary. The point is brought up–& shown–that interviews & filming would often be interfered with by staff, so it may even be worse. One of the trips was indeed shown. The point & level system is explained in detail.

    “What about the whole “gay” thing?”

    Good question. I’m still not sure entirely where this comes from, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say:

    A. David, “the gay kid,” for want of a better description, was easily the most forthcoming with information. This was probably due to the fact that he was about to turn 18, so he was actively conspiring to get out. And there were also LGBT students or ex-students who didn’t get much attention, so I don’t think he was cherry picked. It was even said that the students weren’t allowed to ask to be interviewed, so that process was relatively randomized.

    B. At least 1 of the executive producers (Lance Bass) is gay. Producers don’t control the fine details of a film, but they have a lot of sway over the general direction.

    C. Built-in base of support in the form of LGBT groups, who are pretty critical of religiously motivated behavior modification therapy.

    With all of that said, did it make the story “all about that,” or was this a flaw in the advertising? I’d have to say the latter, mostly. Nobody ever said that was the primary reason why kids got sent there. Commentary on this was pretty much limited to whatever the students or staff happened to say about the subject.

    “Is Escuela Caribe representative of Christian ministries in the Dominican Republic?”

    Not really discussed. The end of the movie links it to other “youth behavior modification centers.” Religion is only discussed in terms of the students, the staff, & the documentarist describing their personal feelings on the subject. I suppose people could walk away with a negative view of Christian ministries considering that most of the subjects did, but they can’t really do anything about that. I suppose they could have added outside information to “balance it out,” but that strikes me as compromising neutrality, because that would no longer be documenting what was said & done as-is. The movie was generally just about this one school.

    “Is there anything good that came out of Escuela Caribe?”

    There is a student who claims that the facility “saved [her] life” & that she’s saddened when people “say negative things about it.” The other students call the facility “brainwashing.” Once again, up to the audience to make up their minds.

    “Is what happened at Escuela Caribe grounds for a crisis of faith?”

    Not really something that it tried to answer.

    “What about the staff?”

    Several staff members & 1 ex-staff member are interviewed. You can certainly see that the ex staff member is emotional about her experiences.

    Personally, the film exceeded my expectations, especially when I found out that the documentarists was just a film student. I thought it maintained an impressive degree of neutral observation while still being informative, without shying away from the issues of abuse & sexual orientation, & covered things I didn’t expect it to. It ends with a helpful explanation of just how many schools that may-or-may-not be like Escuela Caribe there are & directly mentions legislation aimed at it, the “The Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act.” Reviewing that legislation, it basically says that youth centers should be subject to federal regulation akin to what any other treatment center goes through.

    Even I have to admit that I found some of these questions surprisingly useful to keep in mind while I was watching. I was often looking for things like who was getting the most screen time or whether or not the documentarist was putting words in someone’s mouth. I really didn’t want her to blow it & I think she delivered.

    I’d be glad to see follow-ups focusing on other issues like the staff or ministries that run responsible youth centers. I don’t think this was the film for that–the ending is a bit rushed even with 85 minutes–but I do think examining the issue from multiple angles would help to solve it. Regarding the student who said that the treatment helped her, they do show the way they treated her anxiety disorder, & I’m inclined to believe that they helped her–with the caveats that she got lucky & that she views her time through rose tinted glasses. For every thing they did that seems to be proper according to my understanding of clinical psychology, like making sure she took medication, or removing anything she could use to self-harm, they did something that could potentially have made her disorder even worse, like corporal punishment or making her memorize & obey complicated lists of commands, such as requesting permission to enter a room.

    I could say more, but this post was really supposed to be about what was said & shown. My personal input is already much longer than I’d intended.

  8. kewlcate says:

    So much dying to express myself about this movie. I am sorry I watched it. Extremely skewed. Strictly focusing on what was shown in the movie, I’m not understanding what the ‘horrors’ were. The kids know why they are there and the filmmaker found a few who decided they are not going to take it. You can find that at any school. The only difference is that these children are not expelled. They are restricted and it is what their parents felt was necessary. I feel this movie takes a swipe at all Christian boarding schools, quite unfairly. This vague talk of love – and all of what they are classifying as love – is part of the problem. Parents who send their children there do so because they love them, not because they hate them. And anyone saying otherwise is lying. No, your parents did not approve of your behavior. Yes, they want you to stop. That is why you are there. If the argument is that parents don’t have the right to seek to alter the behavior of their children, then your argument is made. Fortunately, most of the world does not agree. This is liberalism, anti-God propaganda as worse as I’ve ever seen it. This is persecution of Christians. The tolerance always falls short of Christians in this new ‘love’ dynamic. Guess what, if your parents don’t approve of your lifestyle, then accept it. They don’t have to accept it and further until you reach the age of accountability, your parents do have a say so. If the children were behaving properly, the parents would not have sent them away. Period. Everyone is afraid to say that. Maybe, just maybe, this program saved David’s life. It is open rebellion against parents. You don’t have to like it. It’s none of your business, actually. I saw no one being hit in that movie. I saw no one being yelled at. A good number of those kids like rolling in the mud – I’m sorry Tai didn’t. And she seemed to have avoided it. I didn’t like violin. I found ways to avoid it when I could. Big whoop. Shameful and shame on the film maker. I’m reasonably sure the 18 year old could have left when ever he felt like it. This was not slavery. The gay agenda is just ridiculous with their comparisons to slavery. Many boarding schools encourage the children to work – to help their parents pay for the tuition. Is that slavery? You have to be 16 to work legally. Go ahead – rely on the public school system, which you are required to pay for – that teaches your children that they emerged from a soupy mixture of crap. That they have no purpose and no destiny. Such a slanted piece. I’m so ashamed of it.

    • Lithp says:

      Suddenly, Socratic Method!

      “Strictly focusing on what was shown in the movie, I’m not understanding what the ‘horrors’ were.”

      So you endorse the point system & the solitary confinement thing?

      “I feel this movie takes a swipe at all Christian boarding schools, quite unfairly.”

      So what do you think would be better? And is this a standard that you, yourself, adhere to when talking about non-Christians?

      “Parents who send their children there do so because they love them, not because they hate them. And anyone saying otherwise is lying.”

      Do you think maybe the problem could be not a “lack of love,” but a lack of awareness of what goes on? Also, do you think it should raise red flags to parents if the facility says they’re going to cut off or monitor communication between them & their child?

      “If the argument is that parents don’t have the right to seek to alter the behavior of their children, then your argument is made.”

      Don’t you think there’s a middle ground between “parents have complete control of their children” & “parents have no control over their children”?

      “Guess what, if your parents don’t approve of your lifestyle, then accept it.”

      Do you think, if this movie was about an atheist institution that sought to convert children to atheism, that there would be an uproar?

      And what does “accept it” mean? Are you saying that children have to agree to all of their parents’ beliefs?

      “They don’t have to accept it and further until you reach the age of accountability, your parents do have a say so. If the children were behaving properly, the parents would not have sent them away. Period. Everyone is afraid to say that.”

      Is it really that people are afraid to say this, or is the argument just circular?

      “Maybe, just maybe, this program saved David’s life.”

      What “danger” was his life in, & how did the program avert it?

      “I saw no one being hit in that movie. I saw no one being yelled at. A good number of those kids like rolling in the mud – I’m sorry Tai didn’t. And she seemed to have avoided it. I didn’t like violin. I found ways to avoid it when I could. Big whoop. Shameful and shame on the film maker. I’m reasonably sure the 18 year old could have left when ever he felt like it.”

      It wasn’t just the kids, it was also the ex-staff that they interviewed, & the owner of this blog even corroborates the story. Are you suggesting that all of those people are lying &/or misinformed? Are you suggesting that a Christian school could not possibly be corrupt?

      And as for David, do you recall that there was a subpoena, a legal document demanding that the school turn him over? How do you explain this if he “could leave any time he wanted”?

      “This was not slavery. The gay agenda is just ridiculous with their comparisons to slavery. Many boarding schools encourage the children to work – to help their parents pay for the tuition. Is that slavery? You have to be 16 to work legally.”

      Where was this comparison made & what is the “gay agenda”?

      “Go ahead – rely on the public school system, which you are required to pay for – that teaches your children that they emerged from a soupy mixture of crap. That they have no purpose and no destiny.”

      Does the theory of abiogenesis actually refer to a “soupy mixture,” or is there more to it than that? Also, what class talks about your “destiny”? English? History? Mathematics?

      • Paul Buller says:

        Just a quick note folks; keep it civil. It appears to be so far, just keep tracking well.

        As a brief comment on the last point, one does not explicitly need to teach about destiny for people to “read between the lines.” If all life is pure chance without any “outside help” and we all die on day and the entire cosmos will also eventually die a heat death, it’s not hard to put two and two together. There is no such thing as metaphysical neutrality in the areas of education, politics, business, law, etc.

        • Lithp says:

          If by “destiny,” we mean “ultimate end result,” then current scientific understanding is about as compatible with atheism as it is with Deism, which would still allow people to believe in some kind of afterlife & maybe SOME parts of Christianity, though I don’t really agree with the notion that we should disregard information or fabricate new information just because we don’t like the implications of the information that’s currently there.

          Also, I know that Christians are generally aware of this, because I cannot get people to stop informing me that I can’t prove the nonexistence of a god that exists outside of the universe, like I don’t already know that.

          Anyway, if they DON’T explicitly teach it, then I don’t think it’s a fair comparison to equate that with an institution that DOES explicitly favor certain religious interpretations.

          • Paul Buller says:

            Nobody said anything about disregarding information or inventing new information. We don’t need straw men here, thank you.

            • Lithp says:

              So what do you think this means:

              “Go ahead – rely on the public school system, which you are required to pay for – that teaches your children that they emerged from a soupy mixture of crap”?

              It looks to me a lot like devaluing/not understanding the theory of abiogenesis.

  9. QuDizzle says:

    I don’t know how you could spend hours writing an article about a flim you havn’t even watched

  10. Truthy says:

    Rev Gordon Blossom confessed to sexually abusing impoverished children overseas in 1991. His fraudulent ministry, New Horizons Youth Ministries, was headquartered in Marion, Indiana and included the Escuela Caribe facility in Jarabacoa as well as a facility in Missanabie, Ontario. The ministry has since collapsed as details to the extent of the abuse and deception of parents entrusting their children are revealed. Parents are rightfully horrified to learn that a pedophile took legal guardianship of their children. Anija, the Jarabacoa orphanage, was originally founded by Rev Gordon C Blossom. His daughter operates her own ministry and counseling center for sexual abuse victims and wrote a book documenting his pedophilia in a book called The Whisper. One can find a copy of the book here: http://www.shirleyjopetersen.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/the-whisper-manuscript.pdf

  11. 11Bravo72Alpha says:

    My first comment is that as a parent you NEVER give up on, give out on or give over your children.
    Second, my opinion is that the so called “people” in this movie, and in places that are like the place in the movie, terrorize and abuse children for MONEY. Think about that for a second. In my opinion, they are essentially human traffickers.
    My opinion is that these places and those who support them operate in direct violation of international human rights laws, and have committed crimes against humanity.
    So a warning to any of you who are out there, working at a place like this, running a place like this, investing in a place like this, someday, the world is coming for you.

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