UPDATE JUNE 2011: For the first 2 years of this blog, I was not willing to call Teen Mania a cult. I instead referred to it as “cult-like” or a “spiritually abusive group.” However, after reading literature about cults and attending a cult recovery workshop, I now see that Teen Mania is a cult. Internationally recognized cult experts Doug and Wendy Duncan stunned me by saying that Teen Mania is one of the most cruelly abusive cults they’ve encountered.
Unfortunately, the word “cult” carries a lot of baggage that may or may not actually be correct about Teen Mania – so identifying Teen Mania as a cult may not always be helpful in understanding what is going on there.
Instead of getting hung up on the word “cult,” I encourage you to read about WHY so many alumni of Teen Mania think of it as a very dangerous place that had a severe negative effect on their lives and their faith.
Read the Series Here:
So, do I think the Teen Mania Honor Academy is a cult? Based on the criteria, I would say that Teen Mania falls a bit shy of being an actual full blown cult. However, their cult-like culture is definitely a spiritually abusive environment. For many, it takes years to recover. Sadly, some never recover.
To read specific allegations made by former interns you can peruse the “True Stories” category or read the summary here.
The nature of the Acquire the Fire conferences are very different from the Honor Academy. I did meet the Lord at an Acquire the Fire conference, as I know many do, so I am hesitant to say anything profoundly negative about it. Like anything else, it has its issues. The main problem with ATF events is that they are the main gateway to the Honor Academy. A single weekend cannot have the same profound effect that a year long program like the Honor Academy. I will limit this blog solely to the discussion of the Honor Academy.
If you are thinking about attending the Honor Academy, or if your child is thinking about attending, this blog is for you. I am not writing this because I am bitter, but because I want to spare others the pain of spiritual abuse that I and many, many others have experienced.
So, who am I and why would you want to listen to me? (AKA – how do I know this isn’t just a nut job with a grudge?)
I grew up in a Christian household. I attend an evangelical church. I am a believer. I support missionaries. I sponsor children in foreign countries. I attend small groups. I am well traveled, well read and well educated. I am a professional. I have continued to walk with the Lord in spite of my devastating experience at the Honor Academy, though it has not been easy.
It is my hope that someone out there will be able to avoid the shipwreck that is the Honor Academy by learning both from my story and others.