The Ethics of Required Fundraising

HowMuchDoestheHonorAcademyCost

In order to be an intern at the Honor Academy, all participants are required to fundraise for Teen Mania. To complete their year, first year interns must raise a total of $8,400. According to Teen Mania, this required “donation” is 100% non-refundable and non-transferable since you are actually giving the money to the Teen Mania general fund. Even though it covers your food and housing, according to Teen Mania, it is a fully tax-deductible charitable gift and not money provided for a good or service.

If you leave or get dismissed, you will not get your money back.

Leaving aside the legal questions this inspires, do you think it is ethical and moral for Teen Mania to kick interns out of the program when they fail to raise enough money? Why or why not? If not, under what circumstances would it be ethical for them to do so?

390 Comments on "The Ethics of Required Fundraising"

  1. Hmmmm…I am going to go with unethical and immoral. Do I win anything?

  2. This makes me twitch in the biggest amount. It gets worse when you have kids who don't have their year payed off or even payed to that point past where they are currently and they ship them overseas and after the fact tell them they own several thousand more dollars. The number of fund raising ethical nightmares here is just grotesque.

  3. I have serious doubts about the tax implications since those are not in line with other IRA regulations- a "dontaion" where services or goods is received is only deductible for the portion above the value of the goods or services- sounds like they are using a loophole where the donation is required and then they report the internship as free to participants.

  4. TEEN Mania is audited yearly and is in good standing with a widely recognized and trusted third party financial accountability group. Sometimes it's just you vs the world sweetheart.

  5. Anonymous – Ethical and legal are not always the same thing, as stated in the post.

  6. but at least they called you Sweetheart this time ….

  7. Sir Hmmmmpphs A-lot | February 6, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Reply

    Uh, maybe I am just dense. Aren't interns providing a 'good or service' by working for this ministry?

  8. Wow. I want to really ponder this.
    The internship is free.
    Yet the money is required to get the internship?
    You're required to leave the internship if you can't pay for it.
    Except it's free, because then it's tax deductible.
    And Teen Mania probably doesn't have to pay taxes or something that they normally would if they had to go through the regulations of having a legit internship.
    "I scratch your back (sorta) if you scratch mine," is what it sounds like.
    "You get tax deductible money, we get all kinds of breaks and don't actually 'HAVE' to pay for all your necessities." (at least my year, we had to buy our own soap (hand soap.) and we didn't have toilet paper for at least a month and a half…)

    I don't know a thing about ethics, but my thought is that, if you aren't paying for an internship, then how can they lay down rules like you are?
    it seem like they can do whatever they want in this scenario because they aren't playing by any rules.
    I can't say it'd be wrong for them to send you home if you don't pay, because it's not really defined in any way. and it's well known that if you benefit the ministry they make quite a few oversights to your account. Just your average intern will get hounded though with zero sympathy.
    all that to say- I can't see a good thing about the way Teen Mania is run or the message preached.

  9. "Sometimes it's just you vs the world sweetheart."

    Condescending much? Further, and maybe I'm just being dense, but I don't understand what this stock-comment is in reference to. It sounds catchy (in a sort of Tarantino/Rodriguez kinda way), but makes no sense in the context the of the rest of the comment.

    Ohhh, why do I care. This is off-topic, sorry guys.

    But, ya know, it's just me vs the world (see, it doesnt make sense!!).

  10. Sir Hmmps a lot – the goods and services go both ways, so its very confusing.

  11. No one really explains the process to interns either. I thought that what they were doing was standard. I didn't even really question it or desire to know where the money was going.

  12. This is an interesting post, RA. I, like Shiloh, want to ponder this.

    Especially I want to consider the ethics in light of TM's stance on"being honorable".

  13. Who is the " widely recognized and trusted third party financial accountability group" they're in good standing with?

    Charity Navigator only lists them as a 2 star rating.
    http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4518

    Also interesting (and I'm sure this has been blogged before) is that they are not accredited through the BBB. According to BBB:
    "
    Despite written BBB Wise Giving Alliance requests in the past year, this organization either has not responded to Alliance requests for information or has declined to be evaluated in relation to the Alliance’s Standards for Charity Accountability. While participation in the Alliance’s charity review efforts is voluntary, the Alliance believes that failure to participate may demonstrate a lack of commitment to transparency. Without the requested information, the Alliance cannot determine if this charity adheres to the Standards for Charity Accountability. A charity's willing disclosure of information beyond that typically included in its financial statements and government filings is, in the Alliance's view, an expression of openness that strengthens public trust in the charitable sector.
    The BBB Wise Giving Alliance reports on national charities and determines if they meet 20 voluntary standards on matters such as charity finances, appeals, and governance. The Alliance does not evaluate the worthiness of the charitable program."
    http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/teen-mania-ministries-in-garden-valley-tx-13051

  14. I suspect that the "recognized and trusted third party financial accountability group" anon 11:14 is referring to is the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). One of the board members, Paul Nelson, is a past President of that organization. He is somebody with whom I would love to have a conversation.

  15. Hmm. I looked it up and the EFCA website says that TMM is a member but doesn't give any type of ratings or anything.

    I have to wonder, if they're transparent enough to be a member of the EFCA, why do they not provide the necessary documents to BBB to be accredited?

  16. David Hasz made $47,455 in 2010? I seriously doubt that. Wasn't this refuted in a much earlier post? If he makes $47K how is it that he can live in that castle with grass moat?

    mouse

  17. Mouse – TM changed the way they reported income during that tax year…The $47k was his "reportable compensation" but he got an additional $49,026 in "estimated amount of other compensation from organization and related organization."

    Hmmm…I wonder why they changed they way they report that on their IRS return?

  18. Ron also made an additional $63,159 beyond what is shown in Charity Navigator under the same interesting accounting…

  19. I'd love to have my lawyer take a look at this and request a copy of the "recognized and trusted third party financial accountability group." Would anon post those online for me if I call him sweetheart or does my lawyer need to call him sweetheart?

  20. If you pay for an internship, it is not, in fact, an internship. Additionally, Teen Mania violates the Federal Labor Laws with regards to internships.

  21. The reason checks to TM cant have the intern name on them is due to the IRS regulations that make those "donations" to the organization rather than supprt for a specific person. It really goes back to the legal vs ethical question, volunteer interns who have a forced fundraising amount to stay a volunteer, interns cant be paid or receive a stipend or they cross into being an employee or contractor and then all kinds of labor laws would be violated……. just because you can doesnt mean you should- and especially in Christian organizations, when we see the pattern of trying to "get away" with things, it just leads to a poor reputation. I am a former staffer and there were other business dealings that were done "behind the curtain" with the idea that if TM doesnt get caught, it will make it ok.

  22. "If the world goes against Truth, then Athanasius goes against the world."

    According to what I can find online: "Your contribution is deductible to the extent it exceeds the fair market value of the benefits or privileges you receive. In other words, if a quid pro quo exists, no matter how informal or indirect, your charitable deduction is reduced or eliminated."

    http://www.hurwitassociates.com/l_qa_charitablecontributions.php#2

    In other words, as I read it [insert standard I'm Not A Lawyer disclaimer here], if TM is providing food, housing, classes, etc. as quid pro quo for "donations" (which they are, or the donations wouldn't be required) then those donations are definitely not 100% deductible– probably not deductible at all, if the value of the goods/services received is comparable. I suspect there are some serious violations of the nonprofit tax laws in this setup.

  23. They speak with the person and sometimes offer them to come back for free depending on the person. Some,not all, my peers had this option. I graduated last august and now my parents are getting $4000 back. Praise God . Think what you what. Peace I'm out

  24. Can you tell us why your parents are getting a refund? My understanding is (and numerous reports suggest) that TM is VERY strict about their no-refund policy.

  25. And again – to bring it back around to the original question….Is this ETHICAL behavior? Why or why not? Let's leave the legal questions aside for now…

  26. that redheaded one:

    You're saying that they send interns on trips that haven't paid and then require them to back-pay that amount LATER????

  27. If you recall, all interns sign a financial agreement prior to the commitment banquet, so legally, I don't really see how that's a problem. And considering almost no one pays full up front, being dismissed is not a huge financial loss. Those financially dismissed are usually allowed back once the funds are raised again, and they're very willing to work with those who are about to be dismissed. So morally, not much wrong there either. Just saying.

  28. The Wanderer Yes there is a girl there right now that they sent to NORWAY without the funds then have been threatening to kick her out ever since. Forever, Char, if working with people looks like telling them every week they owe between 300 and 1000 dollars by weeks end or they will be sent home AFTER they made them behind, then Teen Mania sure works with people in a way that causes young people to cry on the phone to every single person they know who is praying for them.

  29. ishouldcareless | February 7, 2012 at 1:40 am | Reply

    What constitutes getting your money back once you've left? How do they determine who gets it back, and why? Why do some kids get a free pass and others are sent home when they can't pay? Teen Mania contradicts itself left and right here.

    Also, I've heard of TM demanding money after an intern leaves the internship if they have an unpaid balance on their account. This seems not right AT ALL. You can't demand donations. Right? How can you owe a non-profit a donation? This is all too slippery a slope.

  30. In the summer of 2003, being willing to work with me meant allowing me my fundraising trip home. I came back with something like 100.00, crying, because I knew I was getting dismissed. The only reason I wasn't is because I came back and discovered that unbeknownst to me, my core, sister core, and brother core had made phone calls of their own and raised the rest of the money I needed.

  31. Sweetheart, have your lawyer call me. (Insert rejection hotline number here)

  32. If a person signs a legal/financial agreement at age 18..even the becomings of 19 , depending on the judge it can be dismissed. More and more cases/agreements are being dismissed are because not all people of that age are equipped with the right knowledge to make a truly informed decision. I know of a recent highschool grad, who cannot form a proper sentence, who's legally binding financial agreement was considered null and void. Just throwing that out there…food for thought.
    I do agree that because things are legal, does not make them ethical. I can have an abortion…but that doesn't make me spotless in God's eyes. I could go on and on…but the topic is a bit of a revolving door for me.

  33. You are all hilarious! Listen to you. Your so bitter you'll nit-pic every little detail. I went to a university where I had to pay for a lunch program and housing for at least my freshman year. I'm sure the university didn't have to pay taxes for my money for either. Not only did they require me to pay prodigious prices for these "goods" but I had to pay for my tuition. The worse part is, if I were to fail too many courses, stop paying them, or do something stupid and get kicked out I wouldn't get any of my money back. I had a friend who went to college for four years and dropped out with only one class left. The university didn't give him back any money and they didn't even give him a participation degree. Like it or not, the internship is an educational program. Whether you like what people are learning or not, it is an educational program.
    Sam

  34. By the way, the internship is much, much, much cheaper than any college or university I can think of.
    Sam

  35. Anon 1) The HA is not a college it doesn't hold to college standards of safety, education for those lecturing students, or reporting of money to federal and state agencies. Beyond this the HA doesn't have credits you pay for that's the point of this article, you are giving money to a "general fund" and not as "tuition that isn't tax exempt." As for failing out of school you have two semesters to fail in order in most cases to get suspended and most of those academically suspended can get special admission for a further term after they have been suspended once. Of course AFTER the semester is over the student can't get money back for having not gone to a class that was open to him to go to, however Universities and colleges are not allowed to kick someone out. Dropping a class is a choice but not done the same way that dismissal is done at the HA so for you to compare the two shows you have a lack of knowledge about how the university system works which is sad I hope sometime when you grow up you get it till then I will pray for you!

  36. Sam says: "By the way, the internship is much, much, much cheaper than any college or university I can think of. "

    I happen to know that you can get a degree (as in, a real academically accredited degree) from my alma mater, Moody Bible Institute, for slightly less per year than the HA's internship, last time I checked.

    And if you get a job on campus, they pay you. If you worked 27 hours a week in the MBI call center, I estimate you'd come out a couple thousand dollars ahead (though painfully short on sleep– actually, they might not allow you to overwork yourself like that, come to think of it).

    Even by the standards of other ministry training programs, HA is a rip-off.

  37. Hey anon/sam – actually the Cal State system is WAY cheeper than the HA. I was able to get a 4 year degree for less than 1 year of HA tuition. No grants, no scholarships, a 4 year degree for under $8k. I was trained in my chosen field and employable from day 1. Unlike the HA where I was only qualified to answer phones and maybe grab someone coffee. To compare the HA to an educational program is laughable.

  38. If anyone honestly thinks the HA is a real institution of higher learning, I dare you to apply for a corporate job and tell them you graduated from the "Honor Academy" with a straight face.
    See how that goes.

  39. So, all of your food and housing with your tuition was less than a year at the HA? Amazing! Of course, none of the education at Cal State was funded by grants or tax money was it? And yes, the HA is an education. No, you can't apply to be the CEO for Microsoft when you leave, but many ministries will welcome you and take the experiences and training you received from the HA seriously. I know it helped in securing my job which is a secular profession requiring a 4 year degree plus. By the way Red Headed One, each university has their own academic policies and yes you can be kicked out of college or denied a degree for many reasons, and some of those reasons may seem quite petty to you. I may not know every intricate facet of how each college and university works in the Unites States, but as a professional who has been paid for teaching and research on university campuses and as a graduate from a university I can say that it is not cheap. I will also take your advice, Red Head One, and grow up. The best way I can think of to grow up is to quit wasting my precious time surrounding myself with bitterness, judgement and a group of people screaming for someone else to be perfect.
    Sam

  40. noone is required to fundraise….My son is there now and we do not fundraise….we pay his tuition….we have the same type of internship at our home church and have no qualms about it….He will fundraise for his missions trip and we decided all these details before he left….We as parents didnt want to send him there with the burden of raising money on top of being on his own for the first time…so we told him we would pay for his tuition and he would pay, or fundraise for his trip….

  41. Anon…. So basically he did fund raise…. From you.

  42. my point is is that the HA is not forcing anyone to do anything….these young people go into it knowing the costs…and they should be having family discussions about how to pay for it…if not dont go….we discussed the money at length and God provided and he is there..there is no doubt in my mind that we trusted and He provided but to say the HA is forcing them to fundraise…just not true…what other institution can you stay at for free?…any other place you would be released as well if you cant pay..I dont get why this is a problem.

  43. The reason this matters is because bitterness blinds you to reality. These people are so absorbed in their own bitterness and complaining, they can't see straight.
    A different anonymous

  44. Anonymous Parent – Its nice of you to pay for your child. I'm sure that takes a big burden off of them.

    I will disagree with you on one point – they absolutely are "forced to fundraise." Some are lucky enough to get that money from parents – but others have to resort to more desperate measures.

    In your view, what should the donation that you've paid for cover?

  45. I like brownies | February 7, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Reply

    To Anonymous Parent, I think that it's wonderful that you were able to pay the entire tuition for your student. Unfortunately, not everyone is in the financial situation you are in. Numerous interns are required to fund-raise from people other than family members. Maybe I am misunderstanding you, but it sounds as if you expect all interns to have the same family support that you have given your son. I hope that you will give him that same support if, heaven forbid, anything negative happens during his time at the HA. Either way, fund-raising is a major reality and heavy burden for many of these teens/young adults.

  46. I think it was pointed out upthread somewhere, but I just wanted to reiterate again that the words REQUIRED and DONATION don't go together. Its an oxymoron. How can you OWE a DONATION?

  47. Sam and other Anonymous Friends,
    Schools are a different kind of non-prof than churches or parachurch organizations or even straight charities. Schools are academic in nature, and follow totally separate guidelines and regulations than religious organizations. Teen Mania is NOT an academic institution, and it's ludicrous and delusional to imply that it is. They might call themselves an academy, but according to the IRS, they are still classified as a religious non-profit. At a school, you pay tuition. Their specific non-profit status allows them to collect and reimburse these tuition costs. They also qualify for government subsidies and assistance from the state. It is illegal for the government to subsidize or grant special funds to any religious organization that has a religious doctrinal statement. And according to TM, it is illegal for them to return a "donation", even if the intern did not complete the program.

    This is where the separation between church and state comes in. Even a religiously-themed university is still considered an academic institution, as long as it is nationally accredited. But an academically-themed ministry is still just a ministry.

    I've set up three non-profits, all of them completely different than the one before. SO let me reiterate: Teen Mania is a religious institution. They might claim to be academic, and they might even have a private christian university that they are affiliated with that will give the interns a few credits towards elective courses if interns decide to attend. But this is NOT the same as an academic institution. Just…let's be clear about this. Religious and academic institutions do NOT follow the same guidelines and are set up very differently under IRS code. It's like comparing baseball to cricket.

  48. So- I've been thinking about this a lot over the last day and a half. (yay for an over analytical mind! 🙂

    The fundamentally frustrating thing is, knowing what I know about Teen Mania – it's NOT a non-profit.
    Nothing is 'non-profitable.' it's a BUSINESS. Everything is about making money and NOTHING about GIVING money.

    From what I looked up about Ethics (Which wasn't a whole lot. but some.) It looks like 'ethics' is about a code of operations, based off of morality and keeping everything 'legit.'

    It's fairly obvious Teen Mania does NOT run with a good core group of ethics. but non the less to answer the question:

    do you think it is ethical and moral for Teen Mania to kick interns out of the program when they fail to raise enough money? Why or why not? If not, under what circumstances would it be ethical for them to do so?

    #1- It would be "ethical" if Teen Mania themselves followed their own rules. (feeling the frustration that there are really no rules when it comes to the way the Honor Academy is run…)
    Say – Teen Mania showed the interns where and how THEIR money was being spent on THEM.
    But the money just goes into a huge melting pot.
    Why can't that money some intern over paid, or donated to Teen Mania go to help keep another intern there? (with zero regard to how 'important' the intern is to the ministry.)
    also, isn't it 'honorable' to DO what you PREACH? Are they trying to teach the Interns to look like Christ? (I cringe writing that because its so far from what they are doing… but they promise it non the less) they teach that God wants us to give till it hurts. wouldn't it then be only ethical for Teen Mania to give till it hurts? it hurts to take on the burden of a teen that moved across the country and does not have the money to make the last three months of an internship… especially when they have VOLUNTEERED (thus saving the ministry money) for 9 months.
    well, and then there is the fact that Teen Mania is breaking so many rules by this little loop hole.
    I find it highly un-ethical to make an intern leave just because they do not have the money.

    Again- the thing is SO FISHY because they're are NO ethics at all. There are some cases where interns are aloud to stay. there are cases where the intern has to leave and never gets their money refunded. all based situation to situation and with no real ground rules.

    it's so impossible to answer the question because the knot is so twisted and tangled. how do even argue ethics with a person who doesn't have any rules in the first place?

  49. The ability to recognize a bad deal when you see one is not necessarily a sign of "bitterness." I'd class it under wisdom, good judgment, and sound financial stewardship, myself.

    As for ethics, Jesus said this: "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8).

    So if the funding for the internship comes charitable donations, i.e. HA "freely received" it, then they ought to provide the internship for free.

  50. That is a great idea Eric! You should start your own free internship. Where do you live, I'm coming over for some "free" meals.

  51. RA:
    This is anonymous parent. I think that my tuition payments are paying for my sons room, board, food, and classes. We didnt go into the HA with the view of it being counted as college. We do understand that classes can be transferred however for my son it is not viewed as such. It is viewed by him and us as a year of taking time away from his "normal" life to pursue God and learn in the process. We believe that the classes he is taking at the HA will be useful to him in his life…not necessarily in his career. He will probably do traditional college when he comes home from the HA. Yes, it is expensive but it was our choice to send him and pay for it and for our family it has been an amazing time of growth. I cant put a price tag on that. so…I hope that answers…thats what i think it pays for and how we view the classes…still thinking about the other questions you raised about ethics…I see students being dismissed because of money but I feel like people are aware of that when they sign up so I dont think I feel it is unethical to then release them if they cannot pay…although it breaks my heart for the young people every time I see it..

  52. Anon Parent – Thanks for your answer. Please check back tomorrow to see where your money is going. It may not change your mind, but at least you will understand what you are paying for.

  53. Dear Anonymous parent. I think you are making a very wise choice. Over 75% of kids walk away from their faith after entering a secular college or university. This seems like a much higher percentage than the Honor Academy has. I know for myself and for all of the friends I made in the Honor Academy, the year I spent in the internship was worth 100 years of the university I attended. I still believe I would probably not be walking with God if I had not taken that year of my life and allowed God to mold me and strengthen me through the character development offered by God through the Honor Academy. It has been 10 years and I still draw from the lessons I learned there.

  54. Anonymous @1:54: Great idea! Thanks for your interest. Let me know when you're in town and we'll gladly set a place at the table for you.

    You don't specify what kind of instruction you're looking for, but I'd be happy to teach you in any of my areas of expertise (Bible, writing, music, theology, etc). I think our one-on-one lessons would be termed "mentorship" rather than internship, but if you're interested in a formal internship I could easily connect you to my church's intern program, which of course is also free of charge for all participants, since it's funded by a nonprofit foundation (to which interns to not have to donate).

    Or were you being sarcastic? Nah, that couldn't be it. No ethical person would see the very concepts of charity and hospitality as inherently worthy of ridicule. Anyway, my offer stands. Dinner's on me. Hope to see you soon.

    I'm totally serious.

  55. Future Cult Leader | February 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Reply

    Anonymous parent – I went to the HA 10 years ago. Have the classes actually helped me in my life? Id say for the most part they screwed up my ability to function in the real world. When I was in college I was unable to truly blend in with my peers and have a good time because I was an elitist HA graduate and was so much "better" than them. Are there kernels of wisdom in HA classes? Sure – but guess what – they are pulling them all from books that are available at libraries. One thing I remember from Leadership Lab is Dave Hasz saying that during a crisis the first thing we should do is have someone get us a glass of water – that this shows that we are in control. I guarantee that if I asked for a glass of water during a medical emergency on an airplane – my supervisor would be recommending my firing from my job for doing something stupid and not going first to get a doctor involved. Sure – not everything said at the HA is BS – but you can access a lot of the "Good" stuff for free at a library or with a budget of $500 on amazon.com – and throw in a book club with some peers and you're all set. The product of classes of the Honor Academy do more harm than good.

  56. Anonymous parent – Unfortunately, Anon's statistics are off. According to Teen Mania's own 2010 Annual Report, only 70% of TM alumni say they "spend time with God" more than once a week. By contrast, over 78% of evangelical Christians say they pray at least once every day, according to the Pew Forum. I'm afraid the "pursuing God" rhetoric is a bit overrated.

    (Strangely, TM pulled that particular report from circulation online shortly after I pointed out that fact….)

  57. This is like comparing apples and oranges. Kids falling completely away from God after going to college is very different than people who are going to an evangelical church. Also different is the wording of "spending time with God" and "praying at least once a day". Yes praying is spending time with God, but to an intern spending time with God is reading your Bible and having serious prayer time (not just a "Please, bless this food to my body. Amen" prayer). Recent polls show that only 35% of people claiming to be "born again Christians" do not read their Bibles at all and a vast majority of the born again Christians only read their Bibles at church on Sundays. What's even more shocking is that 25% of the Christians who claimed to be "born again" did not believe Jesus rose from the dead. When TM says 70% of their alumni are "spending time with God" (in TM terms) that is awesome! Go Honor Academy. Keep putting up those numbers!

  58. I have to laugh at the fact of one comment that stated HA prepared one for a life in ministry- Ummm….ministries today are one reason why our churches are in the mess they are in. Ministries are businesses today. Ministries are SUPPOSE to be there to SERVE, not get paid.
    I read in an article the other day that one of the best JOBS for income was in the ministry. I certainly see it and I do not think that this is pleasing to the Lord at all. I stopped going to church because the pastors are not shepherds, but hirelings and false teachers. Rare to find one that is solid.

  59. I like brownies | February 7, 2012 at 11:36 pm | Reply

    I am an HA Alumni and I was never asked to participate in any poll. I know they have my email address because I still get newsletters and requests for both my time and money on occasion. Where did they get their info about Alumni from? My guess would be that they ask the interns who show up at the Alumni Reunions every year… Which is probably like 2% of the total number of alumni.

  60. ishouldcareless | February 7, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Reply

    You know what's funny? I never had a problem reading my bible before the internship.

    After the internship? For the first year, not once. After the first year, it was sporadic at best, and now, not at all. And every alumni that I am still in regular contact with (25+) are in the same boat.

    Teen Mania lies.

    Also, everyone should stop comparing TM to a school. It's not.

  61. You Should Care Less, when you stand before God you're going to be like, "I couldn't follow you, it was all Teen Mania's fault!"

  62. ishouldcareless | February 8, 2012 at 12:39 am | Reply

    Oh, Anon.

    I do follow God. In fact, I have more love and connection to Him than I ever had before. But I don't read the bible anymore. I'm grateful that the two are not mutually exclusive.

    Also, your comment was pretty harsh. Wonder what God's going to say to you when you stand before Him? His judgment will be mercy, and his justice will be forgiveness. You will probably be floored by how much He just LOVES you and doesn't hold your iniquity before you because it no longer exists. Thank you for helping me connect to that truth today.

  63. Anon @ 2:17 —

    What about those of us that walked away from our faith after our time at TM, BEFORE entering a secular university?

  64. ishouldcareless…

    Just in Christs love, I would read Gods Word. It is there to give us comfort, guide us in the truth. I could not grow if it were not for His truth. But you are right that if we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and hold to Him- He forgives us of our iniquities and we are forever His.
    Just wanted to encourage to continue to read the Word that comes from Gods own breath.

  65. Good point Truth68, but I also want to add, Ishouldcareless…. I can identify with what you're talking about. For me, reading the Bible was too close to one of those "shoulds" that I would get beaten over the head with for a long time. So…. I hear you.

  66. Anon Parent, last I knew, the colleges who would accept HA "credits" were pretty limited.

  67. If it is so awesome, then why did TM stop publishing that report? Specifically, why did they do it after we pointed out their numbers were (a) given with no evidence at all and (b) below average anyway?

    Anyway, who cares? TM interns who "spend time with God" do it out of a legalistic obligation hoping to please God with their own works, according to Dave Hasz's own teachings. So even if 100% of them did it, it wouldn't be in accordance with Christian doctrines.

  68. I understand that Wanderer and ishouldcareless- really do. It is sad to me that those who call themselves Christians use the Bible as a tool to get what they want, other then using the Bible to give the truth and lovingly show how we need to live for Christ. But I still would encourage to start reading with an open heart, because the Holy Spirit does the amazing work of transforming our very lives through it.
    The Lord bless you guys and my prayers are with you.

  69. The bible says that you should bring your child up in the way they should go and when they are older they won't depart from it. I was brought up in church, knowing scripture, and here at a secular university, I have not departed from any of it. Last night in a church service they put on on campus, the preacher said "We're never going to make it about money here. When ministries start making things about money, things get weird." The HA immediately popped into my head.

  70. ishouldcareless | February 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply

    God works in other ways besides the Bible. I've read it cover to cover several times throughout my life. I'm clear about what it says. At this time in my life, it actually takes me farther away from God, so I'm good. I know your intentions are really great, Truth68, but I'm confident that God doesn't need me to read the Bible right now in order for Him to "work in my life". In fact, much of my real transformation began after I quit reading entirely and just started concentrating on love.

    Back to the topic, if there is something that is good that can be grossly distorted, TM will find a way to manipulate and abuse it. People, money, IRS tax code, labels, etc. They should be above reproach. They aren't.

  71. Do you honestly think the HA exists to make money for Dave Hasz? This is too weird. $700 a month is not a lot to live on (food, lodging, electricity, internet, water, land-line phone, teachers incomes, intramural sports, access to sports facilities, a swimming pool, etc.). I'm sorry, but this price is not exaggerated. They know they are going there to work, not lay by a pool and go to classes now and then. Many of them are keeping campus going and/or recruiting people to Christian teen events presenting the gospel and/or getting teens and adult leaders on the mission field. When I went nearly 10 years ago, I raised all my money before hand by saving it (all paid for by myself). I was never "forced" to fund-raise to pay off the leaders so I could be part of a "cult". I'm guessing most of you think all ministries are after money and no church can be trusted.

  72. "Yes praying is spending time with God, but to an intern spending time with God is reading your Bible and having serious prayer time (not just a "Please, bless this food to my body. Amen" prayer)."

    Clearly, TM Interns are the best christians ever! They have serious prayer time, not that less-than kind of prayer time that other so-called-christians have.

    Gold stars for all your legalism and "good" works. I'm sure Jesus is so proud of you.

  73. Anonymous: "Do you honestly think the HA exists to make money for Dave Hasz?"

    Yes, actually. You should read the follow-up post which explains how much all those facilities actually cost, according to TM leadership.

    If it's just for bare expenses, why do they admit they are overcharging? Where does the surplus go?

    "Follow the money."

  74. littlegraygirl | February 8, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Reply

    You guys are missing the point!!

    The issue here–completely aside from whether or not you get what you pay for at the HA–is the fact that, for tax purposes, Teen Mania files intern tuition payments under "donations", which makes them deductible and non-refundable. This is highly unethical and probably illegal, according to the facts that Eric pointed out earlier. Donations can't be deductible if you are GETTING SOMETHING IN RETURN. With your donation, of course, you're getting an internship. We know this fact is true, because if you don't make your "donations" in time, you get kicked out of the program. Teen Mania either needs to report that income to IRS for what it actually is, or stop requiring interns to raise a certain amount of money in order to stay at the Honor Academy. Donations that are required are NOT donations.

  75. Eric, it has nothing to do with legalism, it has to do with definitions. The TM definition for "spending time with God" is different than the evangelic church's definition of "praying". This doesn't mean every "legalistic" intern does it or has to, but it does mean you are making a comparison that doesn't fit. This also means, unless you simply made a mistake, that you are not being completely forthright in your information in trying to make your point.

  76. I used to work for a non-profit, one that paid me to work for them. We had an employee campaign in which you could donate a % of your check to the organization. In return, we would get prizes…. A day off, a calendar, etc. The the end of the yer, they would send us a tax statement. It indicated how much we had donated throughout the year MINUS the cost of the gifts we hit. That was what we could claim on our taxes.

    I would love to talk to a tax lawyer about tm

  77. First of all, a little background on myself. 🙂 I was an intern August 02-03 and was on the January Ministry Team 2004. So what qualifies me to speak about Teen Mania's fundraising policy? Well, for one I have been through it. I came from a church, family and town in backwoods Pennsylvania and nobody I knew had any money tho they loved the idea of my attending the Honor Academy. My church at the time was in financial trouble themselves because of the local economy and struggling so they couldn't support me and my family – well, my family just didn't have it. A couple hundred dollars was months of saving for us if we even could. We were more worried about food on the table. In truth, I grew up feeling a great deal of anxiety over finances.

    Going to the HA knowing about the fundraising requirements was a huge step for me. I was very nervous but my grandmother, an awesome woman of God, encouraged me, telling me God could do anything He wanted and not to worry. So I went, largely on my grandmother's faith.

    My undergraduate year I saw the inside of the dean's office 9 times. I was consistently months behind on my fundraising. Truthfully, I didn't know what to do. I had no contacts to reach out to. I remember selling cookies and doing car washes on saturday's that my HA friends would jump right in and help me with. Yet I would be behind until nearly the last moment and God would miraculously provide. Every time. Towards the end of my undergraduate year I had a conversation about faith with a staff member. We talked about how money truly was bigger than God in my mind at that time. It became clear to me that God has proved himself stronger than money. My second year was a lot easier for me. I had learned to trust the Lord. While I had to do a fundraising trip both years, my second year I had more of a peace. God had already come through for me. He would again. I can't tell you how many times I've looked back at that lesson and remembered God's faithfulness during different trials in my life the last 8 years or so.

    As far as the specific ethics of fundraising, I am honestly surprised that it is a controversy. I had to raise funds when I went overseas for a year as a missionary with Jesus Revolution. My friend Nathan had to raise money to go with YWAM. Friends of mine who have worked with OMF International, the Caleb Project, the Denver Street School, World Vision and so on and so on have all had to raise money at different points. It is not a new concept. It's not even a uniquely evangelical concept. For instance, missionaries for the LDS church also have to raise a monthly amount to continue their missionary work.

    Teen Mania is in no way unique to require fund raising. They'd actually be unique if they didn't.

  78. (a separate post because it's a separate issue) Also, did you know that the Ministry Team pays drastically less than a lot of other programs and even gets a monthly allotment to buy needed things while on the road from Teen Mania? Why? B/C Ministry Teamers spend much of the time they are on tour in host homes and it requires less money to house them. If TM is just about money, why not charge them the same amount? They could find people who wanted to be on MT that would find a way to raise it and make more money for themselves….Seems like it's not all about profit as some are hinting at.

  79. > "The TM definition for "spending time with God" is different than the evangelic church's definition of "praying".

    And you don't see this as a problem?

    I'm sorry, but reassuring me that TM has their own idiosyncratic redefinitions of common evangelical terms is not a good way to persuade me that their doctrine is OK. If anything, that makes it even worse; that's one of the hallmarks of a cult, in fact.

    Walter Martin's Kingdom of the Cults says "On encountering a cultist, then, always remember that you are dealing with a person who is familiar with Christian terminology, and who has carefully redefined it to fit the system of thought he or she now embraces."

    Also, note that TM themselves were the ones who compared their "spending time with God" with the supposed 48% of "American Adults" who do (unspecified demographic, no data given)– hardly fair of them if they have their own special definition of the term that even other evangelicals wouldn't understand.

    To say that something much more than prayer is required to "spend time with God"– who's omnipresent, after all– seems very much like legalism to me.

  80. Robyn,
    I love that you feel your trust in God deepened so much with regard to finances.
    One quick thing though… you do realize that raising funds to be a missionary overseas and raising funds for "tuition" for a non-academic, non-acredited "academy" in Texas are 2 different things, right?

  81. "Anyway, who cares? TM interns who "spend time with God" do it out of a legalistic obligation hoping to please God with their own works, according to Dave Hasz's own teachings. So even if 100% of them did it, it wouldn't be in accordance with Christian doctrines."

    um…….No. Not all TM interns. I do it b/c I love God. I don't do it out of ANY sense of obligation. God doesn't need my legalism. He wants ME. I don't particularly think it's fair for someone to assume why I spend time with God. How would anyone but God and I know my motives?

    "I'm sorry, but reassuring me that TM has their own idiosyncratic redefinitions of common evangelical terms is not a good way to persuade me that their doctrine is OK. If anything, that makes it even worse; that's one of the hallmarks of a cult, in fact."

    Interesting. By that standard nearly every church and youth group is a cult. For instance, my youth group uTurn Littleton/HR that I lead at has some 'idiosyncranatic redefinitions of common evangelical terms'. You are actually speaking about a concept called "Loaded Language" that they discuss in that book. (yes, I'm aware of it.) The truth is that that is not a very good definitive determination of a group as even that book says as I recall. It's not that this is a qualifying factor, it just exists in all cults. Loaded language also exists in mainstream churches, political parties, and even at Chick-Fil-A. (I'm thinking of the term 'my pleasure' they use and the fact that it's used to communicate much more than just your enjoyment in serving a guest).

  82. @wanderer – I love your SN btw….That's actually the nickname my step mom gave me (she's a truck driver. I needed a truckers name lol.. Anyway, beside the point…

    No, not really. Both my time at Teen Mania and Jesus Revolution were focused on knowing God and on ministry. They were shockingly similar. I had classes, did a lot of outreaches, etc…As a matter of fact I was more directly involved in missionary work at TM than JR in many ways. I didn't go to TM simply for my own personal development or for college credit. I went there to make a difference. And I did. Last year I met someone now on MT that got saved during my tour. Still following God. That's what I call missions. What country it is has no bearing on anything.

  83. Robyn, (thanks for the shout out on my SN)….

    I do think there's a difference; when I was a missionary I raised funds for my LIVING EXPENSES…. not a mandated additional 42% for the ministry overhead.

  84. Robyn,

    I don't think the issue is that you have to raise funds. I have raise funding (donations) for various things— the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society being the most recent apart from my Honeymoon Registry.

    I think the issue is more about the fact that if you do not raise a specific amount of funds in a specific amount of time, you are kicked out of the program—- despite the fact that your fundraising is considered a "donation" rather than tuition.

    The wording is the biggest issue, I think.

    With tuition, you are paying for a product/service and if you fail to provide the amount (while you can still get the experience of the education) you don't get credit for it.

    I am no expert in tax law so I can't comment on the legality of the methods TM is using. I wish I knew a tax lawyer so that we could get a more definitive response.

  85. When I was a missionary in Norway not only did I have to raise money for living expenses but I also raised more than that would require. Also we had a 'work week' where we all got normal jobs for a week to bring some finances into the ministry that were desperately needed. I know that people think Teen Mania makes a lot of money from things like ATF but truthfully in many events Teen Mania barely breaks even or even maybe loses money. That's why they are now doing ATF scholarships, asking people to donate to bring a kid from a youth group who doesn't have the money. Wish they would have done that years ago…I sold candy bars every year to earn my ticket.

    I, for one, have no problem with some of that being ministry overhead because I had ownership. Teen Mania wasn't just the leadership team – I had a part of it.

    As far as the overhead and ethics, Teen Mania itself releases all of those figures upon request, a requirement for ECFA membership (refer to their website) and you know the exact amount you will be raising before you start the program.

  86. This is an interesting read.

    http://www.irs.gov/publications/p526/ar02.html#en_US_2010_publink1000229696

    Under "Contributions from which you benefit" it reads–

    "Tuition, or amounts you pay instead of tuition, even if you pay them for children to attend parochial schools or qualifying nonprofit daycare centers. You also cannot deduct any fixed amount you may be required to pay in addition to the tuition fee to enroll in a private school, even if it is designated as a “donation.”

    –These are considered parts of the contribution which you cannot deduct for tax purposes.

    Now, I am not clear on how that would change anything for someone who donates to TM for your internship since they do not directly benefit from the donation. That may be the loophole that allows TM to continue the "donation" line legally.

  87. Robyn – Do you think its ok that interns are forced to go without toiler paper and soap in the bathroom? What about healthy, nutritious food? Why shouldn't those necessary expenses be covered by their payments?

    If they are raising money to cover their living expenses, then it should cover their living expenses FIRST before overhead.

  88. @shannon – truthfully, it is required to be a donation in order to maintain Teen Mania's 501-C non profit accreditation. All that legally means is that Teen Mania would actually have the right to use it in any manner seen fit (for instance, the 42% overhead). Anything else, ie tution, is legally considered 'directed donations' and that causes a huge problem b/c 501-cs aren't supposed to take directed donantions. If you want to understand more about the legality, the information is out there. I might be able to point you in a few good directions. Their wording is actually what is legally required to be.

    As far as being financially dismissed if you don't, I don't get why that's a problem either. You agree to it when you go to the internship and I know I was months behind before it was really an issue.

  89. Robyn, it is wonderful to hear of your dedication to the Lord! The Lord was working ON YOU because you had the faith and your heart was for Him. But if you hear the stories of these here you have to realize that there is and was abuse in many areas and all these people here have their own journey and own story to tell.
    It would be like this: suppose you lived an abusive family and your father physically abused you continually. Now lets say you tell others about your situation, but others around you say "We can't believe that because your father has always treated us with kindness and respect" and no one reaches out to help you. This is exactly what is going on here. Just because TM has done some good for some, it has been also abusive to others. This has to be looked at and noticed. Men are not above reproach, even Christian ones. We are sinners and unfortunately today many of these Christian leaders have been put up on a pedestal where they SHOULD NOT BE. If TM was truly so Christian as they claim to be, then we should see true humility and true change. And what I mean by this is that TM should be able to sincerely reconcile with every intern that has been hurt. This is Christ and His message.

  90. So, I posted a yahoo question to find out more information. We will see.

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120208153733AARIZUT

  91. But Robyn, the ethical/legal question remains the same—

    For tax purposes, I cannot deduct any charitable contributions from which I benefited. My example above, about my work, is a perfect example.

    So, the problem is–

    I am an intern.
    I paid for my internship by myself (to make it less complicated).
    I benefited from room, board, classes, etc.
    So, based on my tuition of $8400/year, how much of that can I deduct since I benefited from part of it?

    TM doesn't break that down for interns and simply tells interns that all "tuition" is tax deductible, which doesn't appear to be the case, since I have benefited from my contribution.

    Similarly, a mission trip is another example.

  92. @RA – I can't speak to something I personally never experienced. I always had TP and soap in all my dorms each year. If that was a problem in the past I haven't heard it being a problem currently and I have some friends that are currently there….

    As far as healthy, nutritious food – you must be talking about K-Crew! Now this I can talk about! I served on it for 8 months of my undergraduate year. I can assure you – there is nothing less than a monumental effort on behalf of the interns and staff in that kitchen to make the best food possible. At least my year. I ate healthier there than I do at my college.

    Yes, of course any kitchen could use more funding. Truthfully, tho, you can absolutely never please everyone. I know some interns who loved the food and some who hated it. Granted, more disliked it than liked it but I have yet to meet a cafeteria where that is not the case. I work at a hotel/casino here in Colorado and our team member dining room is great. Yet my fellow cage workers still often dislike it and complain LOL.

  93. @Shannon Tax deductible from what? Interns have no time/ability to have another job so what income are they deducting it from? If you are asking about their donors, Yes, all of it IS tax deductible precisely b/c it is a non-directed donation. That's why Teen Mania does it that way.

  94. It appears that the legality hinges on whether or not the donations are directed. Robyn and TM say they are not directed – they go to the general fund…and yet, when making a donation you have to put in the INTERNS ID NUMBER (hmmm….sounds directed to me?) and TM keeps a track of each intern's ACCOUNT (again…its not in the general fund – its tracked by account!

    Just because TM says the donations aren't directed doesn't mean anything – the process clearly shows that they are.

  95. @truth68 – I am hoping our discussion doesn't violate the comment policy (according to RA rules, which I read, general questions, like this continued discussion about how Teen Mania is responding) are not supposed to be addressed anywhere but the forums created for them. Since the question was addressed to me, however, I will answer.

    Interesting that you should bring up growing up in an abusive home. My step dad was extremely verbally and emotionally abusive to me. Memories still haunt me sometimes. But I let things go so if someone felt they needed to say something nice about my step father, who am I to say, "No! You're wrong!" I may not choose to be around him but it is not my place to contradict anyone who feels differently.

    Teen Mania HAS attempted to open dialogue. I've seen Dave Hasz post publically many times, as well as Heath Stoner and Ron Luce, attempting to reach out.

    As far as how 'Christian' Teen Mania is and whether or not the leadership has shown humility, the only one who knows their hearts is the Lord. It is pure presumption for anyone on either side to say they 'know' whether or not they have done their best to demonstrate humility. All I can say is that in their interactions with me I feel they have. If you feel differently, then by all means that is ok with me that you do. It is up to you to decide how to handle it. I personally have found that by letting go of my hurt from my stepfather i moved forward, not backward, and I can kind of smile now when someone says something nice about him. Perhaps he HAS changed. Perhaps I knew only part of his character. Who knows? I hope they're right and there are those he positively affects.

  96. The difference between 'directed' and 'non directed' donations is that Teen Mania doesn't HAVE to use them for what the donor says. That's all. They use the interns ID number so that they can count that towards the fundraising requirement for each intern and that only proves that they are trying to honor donors wishes. It's about what legal rights TM has to that money and it's meant to keep donors from seizing control (just like an investor did to a company my husband worked for) of the ministry. It's meant as a means of protection FOR the non profit.

  97. "The difference between 'directed' and 'non directed' donations is that Teen Mania doesn't HAVE to use them for what the donor says." Agreed. But there is a practice called 'bait and switch', which is highly unethical especially when dealing with non-profs.

    TM touts a good party line with things like "let your yes be your yes" and "swear to your own hurt" and "INTEGRITY–doing the right thing even when nobody is watching". If they say that the tuition is to cover the cost of living while the intern works, then all of that money should go to the betterment of the intern. But nearly half goes to "other stuff", which *might* be staff salaries, or *might* be profit that turns into bonuses, assets, or the betterment of other programs besides the HA. And that's not right.

  98. Robyn- let me ask you this then? Since you are one of the few posting praising TM- Are all these, who have come on here, posting lies about the ethical behavior of TM? As so you said we are not to presume anything about one of the TM leaders- are you not presuming that these here are not telling the truth?
    The thing is Robyn, that there are witnesses to unethical behavior of TM and one needs to take it seriously. I do not think many on this post or others are getting their jollies coming on here and rehashing over hurt that has been done.

    And by the way yes, it is your place (especially if you have been the one abused) to contradict anyone about an abuse that has taken place if it occurred. The Bible even tells Christians to call those out if they are abusing the church in any way. And from what we see here, there is unethical financial abuse. Robyn, if we had the attitude to let by-gones be by-gones then we would still have had slavery in this country. Stuff like this has to be called out ESPECIALLY in the church.

  99. By the way, ATTEMPTED dialogue is not the same as ACTUAL change. We see that all the time- when someone gets a little in trouble, right away you will hear the perpetrator say "Lets talk this out" or "I am sorry" but turn around and do the same thing. My son of 11 did that to me when I had to ground him the other day- (he did something to his brother) he turned to me and cried "I am sorry" but I knew he did not mean it. He just wanted me to change my mind and take away the punishment. Now when I would not budge, later he came and truly apologized and knew that he was wrong. This is no different. These men have gotten away with this for so long and KNOW how to use the system; and they KNOW how to deceive you into thinking that their motives are pure. You are giving what you know only from your own experience, whereas there are many here that have seen things quite differently.

    I am also sorry that you had to go through abuse-I can tell that the Lord has be with you through it and has protected you.

  100. Ok Robyn, here's what I don't get, when you say that Dave and Heath have tried to have dialog in the past I would argue the point that in fact they really haven't. Has there been dialog attempted yes but usually initiated by a member of the RA community to ask a question and get a genuine answer. When the answer is a circular statement that makes very little sense to anyone with a BA then the thought has to come that they aren't really trying for dialog. That aside the tax issue here is that you can't both say "this money is going to a general fund and is therefore tax deductible and then say it's going into an intern's account. The problem comes from the fact that you can't say both these are non-appropriated funds and then say but they are appropriated and mandatory in the same booklet and have it be legally tax deductible. It's nice that you want to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to TM but if you really looked into legality issues you might find that what those you trusted told you to be like is far from the quality of their actions.

  101. "But I let things go so if someone felt they needed to say something nice about my step father, who am I to say, "No! You're wrong!"

    Robyn, what if you found out that your father was abusing someone the same way he abused you? That is what many of us here are speaking out about. The abuse is still happening. It's not that someone may have had a good experience and we did not. Many of uur experiences were abuse while at TM and there are countless reports of the same type of abuse still happening.

    So, Would you speak out about your Father if you found out someone was experiencing similar abuse as you did in the past?

  102. Robyn:

    > " I don't particularly think it's fair for someone to assume why I spend time with God. How would anyone but God and I know my motives?"

    My comment wasn't directed toward you; sorry if it seemed that way. Rather, I was pointing out flaws in TM's statistical reporting of their interns' spirituality, as I mentioned above. They claim (without any data, so probably this whole discussion should be moot) that 70% of alumni "spend time with God" weekly (so 30% don't?!). But according to Dave Hasz's teaching to all interns as of 2011, our relationship with God depends on our own moral excellence. Thus, to TM, "spending time with God" has a foundation of legalism. So it is disingenuous of them to tout observance of a legalistic rule as a sign that their program produces actual spiritual maturity in the sense most Christians would recognize it (i.e. increasing faith in Christ, not our works). Obviously an individual like yourself may get more out of the practice than that, but the point is that's not how TM teaches it.

    > "Loaded language also exists in mainstream churches, political parties, and even at Chick-Fil-A."

    Not the same way, though. The difference is that TM claims to be evangelical in their doctrine, but as the Anonymous commenter above pointed out, they define the same terms differently than "the evangelic church" does. That's duplicitous, and therefore deceptive. If a group of Chick-Fil-A employees revealed that by "my pleasure" they really understand it as "I enjoyed it when I spit in your sandwich," I doubt Truett Cathy would see it as a good thing. In the same way, language loading of pre-existing doctrinal terms is, at least in Walter Martin's opinion, the sign of a cult rather than an ordinary social club.

    > "It's not that this is a qualifying factor, it just exists in all cults."

    And again… you don't see this as a problem?! If TM looks like a duck…

    I'm glad you have a good experience with TM. Really, I am. However, I recommend you read this post: For Those Who Love Teen Mania. The fact is that many of the people here– and hundreds more– have experienced abuse from Teen Mania. I'm not even connected with TM directly, yet I'm convinced from the post above and the following one that TM is taking financial advantage of interns. Is this something we as Christians should turn a blind eye to?

  103. I don't think "you can't please everyone" is a valid argument for not providing nutritious meals to interns when they clearly have the money for. They could have at least sprang for real juices instead of the nasty sugar-water they served when I was an intern.

    I recall eating mostly bulk Lean Cuisine meals (they came in big aluminum trays and were heated up in the ovens) and while I truly enjoyed eating said re-heated lasagna and the like, I think my body would have preferred that I consumed fewer empty carbs. The HA might as well have served us hot pockets every day.

    If the ministry is barely scraping by or breaking even, why is this not reflected in the salaries of the top players (Ron, DH, Heath)? TM is a money-making business, and when people claim that they "break even" on events like ATF, either they are lying or they have been lied to.

  104. Ok, I haven't got time to answer everyone's responses as I have to leave for work soon so I will just post some general thoughts. I'm sorry I can't answer everyone's directly.

    First of all, I am not saying anyone is lying when they are telling their stories. How would I know??
    As far as believing I have the right to confront abuse, of COURSE I do. I'm not saying, for instance, that I shouldn't call what my step father did to me wrong. I'm saying that if he had a positive influence on someone else, in what way does it benefit me, him, or the person he positively affected? I see no reason to. It doesn't help in my healing or anything else.
    As far as the K-Crew issues, I can't speak for other years but honestly my year the food was not that unhealthy at all. It may not be what people would choose to eat but there were vegetables, different types of meat, and carbohydrates provided with every meal. Perhaps it was different other years? Was the food ideal? Of course not! But I wouldn't say it was horrible.

    As far as the idea that Teen Mania makes a lot of money on events like ATF, I'm sorry to say but I think I would have a better idea than most here as I was on the ministry team. I can't say I know the specific of the finances but knowing, for instance, the amount it costs to book a band or speaker or book an arena (my best friend used to work with those contracts in ATF ops) the profit margin is not NEARLY as high as people think.

    Now as far as Dave Hasz's willingness to dialouge, look at the email conversation posted on this site by RA. Truth is I read through every word of that conversation and I had a very different perspective than the summary RA wrote. Truly I felt that Dave did acknowledge the possibility they had been hurt and had a true attitude of humility in his writing. I didn't feel he ended the conversation prematurely at all. In fact, it was his last email that was never returned as far as the record showed.

    Now for the final idea I read as I was briefly overviewing what was said: The idea that the abuse is still happening. I am in contact with at least 10 current interns at the Honor Academy and none of them seem to be having the kind of experiences that I am reading on this site. If/When I become aware and saw evidence of any specific and current issues at the HA then my response would be different but as far as I know the stories on this site are isolated incidents. The vast majority of alumni I know had a good experience.

    Most of the current interns I have talked to have expressed variations of this: http://www.christianpost.com/news/interns-for-teen-mania-say-environment-is-nurturing-not-abusive-68375/

    Well, I have to go. Wish I had more time.

  105. Robyn – I can understand your misunderstanding about the email exchange. There were 2 separate threads. The main one (and first) is the one that he failed to respond to.

    Also, a current intern who doesn't think they are being abused means NOTHING to me. I'll bet the majority of the people on this site didn't think they were being abused until they looked back on it years later. I know thats the case for me. Generally speaking, the interns are clueless about the real world, healthy boundaries and what exploitation looks like.

  106. Robyn I have a friend at the Honor Academy too I don't mind sharing one thing about her story here that directly relates to this post, She had been current on her "account" till the Norway trip came up. They told all who signed up they were going and she understood that to mean that they were all payed up. Instead when she got back and had been back for a month she got called into the finance office and told she was 5000 dollars behind and if she didn't pay up within the next month they would send her home with NO fund raising trip. This is a sick and abusive practice. If she didn't have the money to go on a trip why would they let her go without telling her? This wasn't ethical. The way they are treating her now with weekly fundraising goals for money they clearly didn't need from her is sickening. Whats worse, they are using videos of her as recruitment videos but she's not getting any help from anywhere. So perhaps your friends aren't telling you their problems or perhaps they are very lucky but financial abuse is still very much happening at TM.

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    @redhead – I don't know about your friends story – except to say that I love Norway! That is where I was based (Oslo) when I lived there for a year). 🙂 What I do know is that at least during my year we had access through a website to view our financial report/status at any time. I always knew exactly how far behind I was.

  109. "By the way, the internship is much, much, much cheaper than any college or university I can think of."

    That has a lot to do with the fact that graduating from the internship is about as useful as a crap-flavored lollypop. I wish to God I had gone to college rather than waste any of my time with the "Honor Academy" (that misnomer never fails to piss me off). I paid for the whole thing up front, got kicked out and had NONE of my money returned…they didn't even pay for my ticket home, just left me at the airport with *no* money or way to get home to Washington DC, from freaking Dallas! For all the details read the very first entry in "True Stories" then come back and defend the internship to me.

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