The last time I spoke with the Board of Directors, they assured me that, based on our letters, a panel would be convened to investigate several key areas of the Honor Academy. They would seek out members of the panel from the fields of medicine, psychology and theology. As part of their investigation, the panel would interview both current and former members of the Honor Academy. The Board also stated that once the panel was assembled, they would publicly disclose the names of all its members.
Instead, I have learned that the “investigation” is now over. They did not disclose who was on the panel, what their credentials were or what their possible conflicts of interest were.
The Board’s response to our complaints of physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse can be found here: www.recoveringalumniresponse.com. The first thing you may notice is the profound lack of any form of apology.
Their letter is so obviously riddled with inaccuracies and whitewashing that I hardly feel the need to write up a rebuttal. Suprisingly, they didn’t even try to make this look like a legitimate investigation. If you have any questions about my response on any particular point, please feel free to ask in the comments. The gist of their argument is that the majority of these complaints are old and have already been “fixed.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything, things have gotten worse over time and this website includes many stories and comments from the last 2-3 years that illustrate that.
In addition to the letter written by the Board, they have included a letter from psychologist Douglas Neal who states that the Honor Academy is a wonderful program whose graduates are “psychologically and emotionally sound.” Dr. Neal has two children that have attended the Honor Academy and it also appears that his brother, David Neal, is actually a current staff member in the Honor Academy. Obviously, this is a conflict of interest.
Pastor Jack Hayford’s letter was perhaps the most dissapointing of all. Jack Hayford is someone I’ve respected since I was a child. I listened to his radio broadcast growing up and thought that he was at least one person on the Board who would truly listen to the cries of the broken. I found his mischaracterizations of the blog and its participants very hurtful. I’m not sure if he actually took the time to read the packet I sent him or if he was just regurgitating what Ron Luce has told him.
To the many of you that are feeling hurt and betrayed over the Board’s incredibly dismissive attitude, let me encourage you with this thought from an intern from the Tulsa years and an active member of our forums:
Anyway, I wanted to comment here to encourage everyone to take heart. Rather than comment on what I view as spiritual principles, I’d like to comment on a very American principle. Whether TM blows us off or not. Whether nobody ever reads these stories or not. Whether anyone even cares, something very, very powerful has happened over at the RA blog: Freedom of the Press.
Everyone here, despite TM’s ridiculous and Orwellian vow that you keep your mouths shut, has exercised your right and your responsibility to tell your story. That’s a beautiful thing. If even one person is discouraged from participating, or even one current intern is encouraged…it’s worth it. All of this is worth it and it matters. Don’t think that because a bully (TM and their board of directors…and I’m looking at you, Bully Jack Hayford…shame on you all) dismisses you as a nobody that what you’re talking about doesn’t matter. It absolutely matters.
Christian subculture is due for an overhaul. I for one am tired of it. It’s bigger than Teen Mania, and yet Teen Mania represents so much of what makes me sick about “ministries” and other para-church organizations.
Thank you, RA, for starting this discussion in our community. And thank you everyone else who has been brave enough to participate in the discussion, whether by sharing your story or otherwise immersing yourselves in the discussions here in the forums. Whether Christian or pagan or atheist, you’re a part of something that I personally believe is valuable beyond comprehension, and that is our right to speak out. The right of the few to stand up to the many.