Spiritual elitism is the second characteristic of a spiritually abusive environment.
Unlike some of the other traits we will explore, Teen Mania does not attempt to hide their elitism. In fact, they seem to revel in it, celebrate it and use it as a recruiting tool.
The home page of the True North leadership seminars even says “Join an elite group of leaders who are changing the world for Christ.”
It is hammered into interns that they are “above” regular Christians. (Taken from the “Aura of a Statesmen” lecture)
You are called to a higher standard. You are an intern now, people will be watching you.
Called to a higher standard than regular believers? Dave almost acts like the fact that they represent the internship is more important than the fact that they represent Christ.
So, interns and people who live like them are more spiritual than “regular” believers. But even within the internship, there is a “caste” system. Before there were any formal levels of the internship, this attitude still existed in the leadership’s interaction with the interns. The ones that were popular with the leadership were called “the untouchables.” Others that the leadership deemed not as spiritual were looked down on, sometimes with subtle disgust. Of course, judgment of your spirituality rested on how well you fulfilled their programs and followed their rules. All things that could easily be done without Christ.
The emphasis on Navy Seal like training also stems from their elitism. The people who complete ESOAL are deemed “better” quality leaders than those who don’t. I’m not sure how surviving any sort of physical event – torturous or not – makes people more spiritual or more qualified to shepherd others. It just means they are more physically fit, not as prone to injury, and probably the most submissive and willing to take abuse (which is ultimately what the HA is looking for in its “leaders”). Check out the video at this link:
“You are the kind of people we are hoping will stay on as GIs (2nd year interns) in the ministry of Teen Mania. There’s just something a little different about a person who is still standing here on Sunday morning.”
So basically, Dave just told them they are better than the interns who didn’t finish. What more evidence do you need that he is judging people’s spirituality based on their performance?
Blog Excerpt: We have a new way for interns to grow as leaders. It is called the IET (Intensive Elective Training). I love this program because it is fully optional… Once though all three phases an individual is graduated from the IET and given the elite status of PUMA…They are incredible interns and will be world changing people!
Again, programs can’t make anyone into a world changer. Emphasis again here is on PERFORMANCE. It is ingrained into everything they do and it has absolutely nothing to do with the Gospel.
Other alumni have told me that Dave Hasz and HA leadership have even told them things like, “Most Baptists aren’t Christians,” and “If you don’t speak in tongues, you aren’t going to heaven.” This is spiritual elitism at its worst.
The bottom line is that no matter what, you are not better than anyone else. Everything you are, you are because of Christ. “Not of works, that any man should boast.”