Response to Ron Luce’s Email: Part 2

As several commenters have pointed out, Ron Luce’s email is actually a classic case of spiritual abuse for those with eyes to see it. Instead of actually addressing the issues, he casts suspicion and blame on any who would dare question him. Once again, we see the classic “blame the victim” attitude which saturates Teen Mania. His tone is patronizing and the entire email is an attempt to get the focus off of his leadership, Teen Mania, and the Honor Academy and onto me.

Not once does he address the issues specifically or take responsibility for any pain or hurt caused by the Honor Academy.

Instead – he threw the focus back on me, and for many of you – it worked. Instead of looking at the wealth of documented abuses at the Honor Academy, now you are questioning my honesty, my motives, my methods, etc. As I mentioned yesterday, you don’t have to agree with me to recognize the FACTS of the abuse. You can point out my flaws all day long – but I am not the one administering the spiritual growth (or destruction) of hundreds of teenagers.

Ron said, “Please note that many of the challenges from this person’s blog and letter are challenges that we’ve long since improved upon since he/she was an intern.”

If that is the case, then why do the ‘true stories’ on this blog span a length of time from the Tulsa years all the way to 2009? ALL of the teachings I’ve critiqued are from the last 3 years. Follow the links and view the source material yourself. A generic “changes were made” is not good enough. What specific changes have been made with regards to the spiritual abuse, neglect of health and safety issues, and the shame/guilt/fear driven environment as outlined on this blog? If there are changes, we deserve to know exactly what they are and why. And further, if they did actually bring change to some areas based on feedback – why don’t they apologize for the pain they’ve caused?

The only thing that Ron is sorry about in this email is the fact that the alumni were emailed without his permission and notified of a place of grace and healing. In fact, he says, “we feel that this was definitely a breech of privacy and for that, we are very sorry. Yet, he did not say he is “very sorry” that the abuse occurred. He did not say he is “very sorry” that people were hurt. But he sure is sorry you found out about this blog.

It is not a breach of privacy to contact fellow members of “the line” in a one time effort to reach out to them. I’m not continually spamming or signing people up for newsletters. Focusing on this issue is a red herring that distracts from the real problems. Which is more important to you – an unwanted email or abuse done in Jesus’ name?

Am I demanding a perfect ministry and perfect leadership? No. We all make mistakes. We all act like jerks sometimes. We all hurt and offend people.

But mature, Jesus-loving people are called to admit their wrongdoing and ask forgiveness. A sign of true humility is the ability to own up to your failures and weaknesses instead of hiding them or blaming them on somebody else.

That is what is missing here.

208 Comments on "Response to Ron Luce’s Email: Part 2"

  1. You have got to be kidding me!!!!! Look I have been here reading these post for some time and can't sit back quitly any longer. As I keep reading I do not see a site leading people to healing but rather a site that is happy pouring salt into wounds people have to keep them stirred up. As for Ron's email everyone can read it for themself and pull what they want. The same thing is true for discussing issues you may have with TM or anyone else. It dosn't matter if you just graduated the HA in Jan. 10 or if you are from the first class to all in between we are all adults here and need to be handeling our issues as such. You have a prob with Ron call or email Ron. You have an issue with Dave then get up with Dave or anyone else for that. But to stir up a lench mob it seems like the same way tha Salem witch trials got started we will get a bunch of people together and feed off each other so we all feel justified for our bitterness and our holding on to things. Again i'm not dissing your individual feelings cause you are entitled to those. However you should be dealing with the people directly!!!!! And i can hear the complaintes already……..you don't know me & I tried that….ect, ect, ect. None on us have been put in charge of the ministry so it's not on you. If you have issues with them then you need to be dealing with them directly. If the "don't want to listen or change" that's not on you. At that point you did what you were supossed to do. But to use it as an excuss for gathering a gossip and grip site is plain wrong Baccording to God's word. I'm not saying this is how the site was started. I don't know the heart in which it was started so I will give the benifit of the doubt, but regardless of how it was started it is very evident what it has become now. I love you all, but can't sit back any longer without sharing the dangers that are clear here.

  2. Isn't it great when a rant ends with "I love you all, but…"

    I don't buy that kind of love, and don't want to. I've heard all that.

    Personally, I am so glad that RA's site exists. I'm a parent whose kids went on 12-13 trips, and sent one to the HA, so I have enough experience to reference most of the things that have been reported on here. What AMAZES me is the stuff that keeps coming out/being revealed.

    Back when I left a damage-ridden cult (in 1975, and it was called Faith Assembly/Hobart Freeman/Glory Barn), it was at first a fearful thing to talk about all that had been overlooked while we were IN it. We were all damaged by being fully involved in spiritual zealousness and blinding faith, and yes, legalism. So, I left, and for years it was spiritually scary to voice the damage caused by the leaders. Then gradually, I (and others) started to find others willing to talk about it, and the stories emerged.

    This is what is happening here on RA's blog. Hopefully, TM people and HAs will come through this time THINKING it all through, and becoming better for it all.

    Whether or not TM/HA changes for the better, well, I believe this blog will have impact on that outcome. There's nothing at all wrong with the facts coming forward. There's nothing at all wrong with everyone talking about it.

    RA – You are a brave soul, and I commend all your work on this blog. I am praying for you.

  3. You have an incorrect understanding of Matthew 18 and the concept of going to those who have hurt you. Jesus, Paul, the prophets, etc all critiqued TEACHINGS and CULTURE. There is no requirement to stay quiet and only go to the individual in authority. However, that is exactly what authoritarian leaders want you to do because it keeps them in control.

    http://teenmaniahonoracademy.blogspot.com/2009/11/myth-of-matthew-18-confrontation.html

    Before commenting again, please read the comment policy.

  4. Ok Anon #1. The biggest danger is that you're a complete idiot and don't get it. The blog owner had an issue with Dave and took it to TM and did not get resolution. This person is not the only one. I would suggest you go to your Bible study instead of reading this blog. It's not for you.

  5. Liz (Engskow) Davila | March 19, 2010 at 1:06 pm | Reply

    RA – I have to agree with this post.

    Anon – I can assure you that RA is not stirring up a lynch mob. I don't understand why anyone would feel that way. Who are we trying to lynch?? We don't want to see anyone hurt – Dave & Ron included (I love both of them). There should, however, be a place of safety where there can be discussion without judgment.

    From what I can see, the blog was not personally attacking anyone at the Honor Academy when RA started this. Ron, Dave, and Heath have all entered the conversation and they have eventually become accusatory and defensive. To be fair, I think RA has done the same thing at times, but I give them ALL grace because no one is perfect and this is a very sensitive issue. This discussion was never going to be pretty. The only difference is RA is facilitating a discussion, not profiting from volunteers who pay to make their business run. 🙂

    When it comes down to it, the way TM is structured is completely flawed. The ministry is intentionally set up like a Fortune 500 Company, but the majority of individuals who make the machine run (interns) are not compensated monetarily. When you have people who pay to work for you, and whose work help pays your salary (not the tuition, but the actual work), you create an opening there for manipulation and abuse. I don't think it was intentionally done, I think that it just evolved and the focus has become more on the nameless, faceless kids at the ATF, or in foreign countries, instead of the interns they look at and speak to every single day.

    As I've said before, I was there for 4 years and I really did not see what I am talking about until a couple years after I left (which is why I can only imagine how hard it is for Dave & Ron to hear this). I first became involved with TM 15 years ago and I would love nothing more than to see them succeed.

  6. I see so clearly now………thank you for opening my eyes. The truth is there really is no place for honest dicussion here. Those welcome here are only those who agree whole heartly with what is going on here. hhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmm sounds exactly like the very same thing that is being used as the main bashing tool against TM. And as for the statement that I don't get it……..thanks i'll be the idiot. I do understand I had my own issues with TM and the leaders. However rather then looking for a larger pity party to gather around me so I would feel justified for acting the way i was I went to them and resolved the issues directly with them. So that's how I know that people will actually listen!!!! RA i commend you on you saying that you want to help hurt interns. However, if that is really how you feel send them to those they hay porblems with V/s what seems to have become a place for everyone to feed on one-others pains and just hold on to things.

  7. Liz (Engskow) Davila | March 19, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Reply

    Anon – There are always going to be bitter, angry people on both sides. That does not negate the truth.

    I would encourage you to have more grace. I had grace for you when you accused me of of being part of a lynch mob. It's how you feel and I don't feel threatened by that. 🙂

    You do, however, have to realize that you can't say things like that and expect everyone to be "nice" in their comments. 🙂

    This is an emotionally charged discussion. I think for the most part, everyone needs to take it down a notch. Calling people idiots and mudslinging doesn't really help anyone.

    There are legitimate concerns about TM that people have had for years. That's what this is about.

  8. Wow Anon @ 7:58,
    resorting to name-calling…
    That is REALLY helping out this cause of healing. lol. …no bitterness there!

  9. As to the first anonymous comments. The seven year anniversary of when I left Teen Mania is Saturday. For seven years I haven't been to church, haven't been able to look at someone in Christian authority and have respect for them, and honestly I haven't cared for organized religion because of the abuses and things that happened in this blog at Teen Mania. For seven years I've felt like something was wrong with me and that I was a god awful person, because god forbid – when I stayed my third year – I didn't do it to be a slave – I wanted something out of it. When I was getting taken advantage of, and realized it, and spoke up for Teen Mania keeping their end of the agreement – they failed to do so. I left in tears – literally. Something in me died that day that I have never gotten back. I gave three hard years of my life to this organization that at one time I truly loved.

    I guarantee you – with everything within me that after having read this blog for a few weeks it has helped me. I promise you that I won't be reading it forever. I do not wish to wallow in this, and be upset forever. Every time I read another story – I think I get healing – because the little spirit in me whispers to me and goes it's not your fault – you didn't do anything wrong. You didn't deserve what happened.

    So again – I assure you that this blog has helped me – and it's helping others. Ron Lucifer's email in my opinion is spot on with RA's analysis. Maybe just maybe Teen Mania could have sent out something like this:

    Dear World Changer,

    It has come to our attention that a former Honor Academy intern has sent out an email informing you of an internet site that has various discussions, mostly negative, about Honor Academy experiences. At this time we are unsure of how this person was able to email most of you, although we do understand an alumni site does exist, however this was not sent out with our knowledge.

    We believe this author of the blog was in touch with various leaders before and we apologize for not having had successful restitution with this person. We have looked at the blog and are troubled with the contents. We had no idea that such mass pains and sufferings were put to our interns over the years and frankly this is shocking.

    Our first priority as a ministry is to touch people's lives with the love of Christ and in some areas we have failed. It is our hope that a blog such as this would not need to exist, so as a leadership team at Teen Mania we want to get down to the bottom of this.

    As the site claims The Board of Directors is involved – and we do wish to hear from you. We would like to hear from you on your hurts, pains, traumas that you feel and would like to know how we can help. Please submit stories to the email address example@blahblah.com. In your email let us know how the problem you experience could be solved and how we can help at this present time. We would like to collect as many emails by May 15th and begin the process of truly making Teen Mania a weapon of God for Christ.

    END FAKE EMAIL

    Had TM sent out something accepting a bit more responsibility – I think that would have been more appropriate. In the end we may have an agree to disagree stand off between many alumni and TM – and if that is the case – it will be a very sad day.

    Rest assured anonymous #1 – most of us can't wait for the day that if Teen Mania comes up in our mind – that the thoughts we have will bring us a smile and not tears. This site is the beginning to that for many people. Your perspective is respected – although I just personally feel that if the content here bothers you – don't read it.

    God Bless.

    hitchcockhill

  10. Carla, I agree with you. The "I love you, but" statements are conditional statements and therefore do not reflect the kind of love that Jesus portrayed in the Bible.

    Anon- I can't understand what you are writing and therefore will not respond to your rantings. If you want to be taken seriously, please at least correct your grammar and spelling. Thanks!

  11. Eric,

    I agree completely with you! I am glad to see people I know and graduated with feeling the same way! 🙂 Thanks for sharing birthday buddy!

  12. One other thing I'd like to point out. This site would never have needed to exist in the first place if the Alumni Association site did have the fascist type censorship it has always had. Go look on there. No one uses it – what a waste. If free speech had always prevailed on the alumni site – maybe people could have used that private forum – instead of this very public blog. In a way I think this very public blog will be more effective since it endangers Teen Mania's profit margin.

  13. Ex-Intern Aug 07 | March 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Reply

    First Anon who later posted again at 8:10 – I have personally tried to talk to Mr Hasz AND Ron Luce (amongst others) about the abuse and false teaching, amongst many other things because of this "Matthew 18" misuse, to play the game on their side, and they STILL don't want to know. I was never aggressive or patronising, but they blatantly don't want to know. Ignorance is bliss to them. Well, guess what? It's the rain is falling and it's TOO LATE to remain ignorant.

  14. Eric, again I agree. I have been so disappointed with the alumni site for so many years. I thought it was going to be a place where we could talk about our struggles with those that could relate and work through them. But, with the rules you have to sign over your first born child in order to post anything.

    I think a lot of people have felt that way and that is why the alumni forums are a ghost town now.

  15. Sooner or later the Honor Academy is going to have to face the unavoidable question this blog raises either way you read it. Grant (I don't at all, but grant theoretically for the sake of argument) the view that everyone here is "bitter and resentful" toward the treatment they received at HA. Even the first Anonymous acknowledged that all you have "wounds," in their phrase (to rub salt into). So the question: Why, Honor Academy people, has your organization has produced so many people who–as you acknowledge–feel "bitter" and wounded?

    By way of comparison, I went to a well-known Bible college that (like most things) had its good points and some areas where improvement was needed. The student body was 1,500, and I'd say I know maybe 2 or 3 people who are bitter and vindictive about their time there. Teen Mania has (I believe) about 600 people and scores on this blog alone who, as the "TM Party Line" admits, are "bitter, resentful, and wounded." What is it about HA that incites all this "bitterness"? It doesn't come from nowhere.

    Even in blaming the victims, you're conceding that there are victims. Why does a Christian ministry produce so many people who feel hurt and see themselves as victims? Why is there such a strong and consistent pattern?

    Where is the grace and compassion of Jesus toward the wounded? Where is the sweetness of Jesus toward the bitter? Where is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance? Where is the fruit of the Spirit by which we can tell the tree?

    Also, Messrs Hasz and Luce, are the comments of Anonymous above the kind of results you delight to see from your training? Look on it well. Funny thing about elite warriors: they tend to be a bit merciless.

  16. DEAR POOPY HEAD RA

    I HAD AN AMAZING JESUSAHOLIC SUPER ELITE WARRRIOR CULTURE EXPERIENCE AT HA AND THAT MEANS EVERYONE EVER THAT WENT THERE HAD THE EXACT SAME EXPERIENCE

    THEY ARE JUST TOO NAMBY PAMBY TO REALIZE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AWESOME AND SUCK. IF YOU CALL PEOPLE NAMES YOU'RE AUTOMATICALLY GOING TO HELL.

    Matthew 3:7
    But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

    THIS SCRIPTURE CLEARLY STATES THAT THE REASON JESUS HAD TO GO TO HELL FOR THREE DAYS WHEN HE WAS DEAD, WAS BECAUSE HE CALLED THE PHARASIEES A BROOD OF VIPERS

    GEEZE GUYS

    EVEN JESUS HAD TO PONY UP FOR RESORTING TO NAME CALLING

    AND STOP GOSSIPING. JESUS TOLD YOU GUYS TO JUST SUCK UP ABUSE AND SUFFER IN SILENCE, GAH, WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU

    NAMBY PAMBY WIMPS

    CRUD NOW I GOTTA SPEND THREE DAYS IN HELL

  17. Philip Estigoy | March 19, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Reply

    I agree that I would have much rather seen an email like hitchcockhill's fake email. I think that would have been far more beneficial for TM, and all others as well.

    That said, I can see no way that anyone can honestly say that this letter is spiritual abuse(and in truth, after reading the comments, I didn't see any commenter say that the letter itself was).

    I believe that this letter from Ron has come about largely because of miscommunication. I believe that Ron feels that TM and the staff have legitimately reached out to the author of the blog and been shot down.

    To be honest, the first time I read many of the comments made toward TM staff when they commented on this blog, many of the comments seemed to be ridiculing and attacking them rather than actually asking them questions.

    After rereading the comments, they do not seem to be so to me. However, it is very difficult to see how our words look to others(especially in this media).

    For instance, many of the questions posed to Ron and Heath when they commented looked like attacks rather than legitimate attempts to draw them into conversation.

    As I said, upon rereading those comments, it appears that most are actual attempts to open dialogue.

    However, if at first glance, I thought they were attacks, isn't it possible that those that it addressed also viewed them as such?

    In fact, in the case of the first email response to Heath, I have a hard time seeing how anyone would take that email as anything other than just insulting me, even though I don't think that was the intent.

    I suppose my main point is if you are addressing someone and wanting them to change, please, please, think of how your words are going to sound to them, not just what the intent of your words are.

    Of course, the same can be said to Ron as well, as I don't think his letter reads the way it is intended to be read.

    I am also most certainly NOT saying that TM does not need to address many of the things that this blog addresses, and that the many of the issues that have been brought up are all results of misunderstandings. I am not saying that the miscommunication is solely the part of those posting here.

    My point behind the point is that perhaps if we watched our words and the way that they were communicated, the actual issues that are important to this site would be being addressed rather than discussion over a letter in response to a letter.

    I think both TM and the people involved in this blog are both responsible for making this an "us vs. them" fight, and it doesn't have to be so.

    PS. After saying all that, I'm still not sure that my words don't sound like I'm trivializing the issues on the site, but my intent is to try to clear up non issues so that the real issues can be addressed.

  18. To be perfectly honest, I am still on the fence regarding the hypothesis of spiritual abuse and human resource mismanagement at HA. I find RL's and RA's letters revealing and point me more towards the position that RA takes. Please keep continuing this site and your investigations RA, I am collecting some very useful data that are helping me reach my own conclusion.

    However, I have a quick question RA. Could you devise a possible current scenario at HA that would show significant progress? In other words, what tangible "facts" at TM would disprove your claims of current spiritual abuse and human resource mismanagement?

  19. OK, I thought this site might help me. I'll start out by saying I'm a writer for a prominant media outlet (I will not disclose the name) and I'd like to do a story on this organization. I'm looking for some real cases of abuse (sexual abuse or harassment, physical abuse, forcing people to mary others against their will, even verbal abuse or name calling). I haven't found any on this site, but maybe you're too ashamed to talk about it. You can do something about this place if you really hate it enough. The media can be a powerful tool. Post something I can use and I'll contact you.

  20. Philip– You say, "That said, I can see no way that anyone can honestly say that this letter is spiritual abuse…"

    Speaking as an outside third-party observer, it's not the most blatant case I've seen, but it is glaringly obvious in the subtext. This site lists a lot of the characteristics associated with spiritual abuse. A comparison and contrast might be enlightening. A couple of example quotes:

    – Is reading any literature critical of the group discouraged? Many cults will warn members not to read anything critical of the group, especially if written by an ex-member (who are called names by the cult such as “apostate”, “hardened”, or “of the devil” etc.). This is a well known information control technique to stop the member from discovering the clear and documented errors of the cult….

    – [Abusive pastors] see themselves as victims rather than those they hurt.

    – [Abusive pastors say:] I am quick to perceive attacks on my character or reputation that are not apparent to others and react angrily or counterattack.

    And so on. None of that was written in reference to this email debacle, but generically describing characteristics of a typical religious abuser. Hopefully this helps you see why someone could honestly interpret it that way!

  21. Last Anon- I am not sure that you are going to find any sexual or physical abuse stories here. I could be wrong, though. We are discussing more along the lines of SPIRITUAL abuse.

  22. Eric P.- Thank you for the link. Something I found interesting were the questions about Mind Control-

    # Do you feel that no matter how hard you try, the ‘good deeds’ you perform for your group or pastor are never quite enough? As a result of this do you often feel plagued with feelings of guilt?

    – I would say a resounding YES for this at the HA.

    # What are you motivated by? Is it genuine love for God and the group etc., or is it fear of not meeting the desired standards.

    – I would say that the fear motivated me more than anything.

    # Is questioning the group, or the group leaders, discouraged or frowned upon? Does the group you belong to believe that it is an elite and exclusive organisation which alone has ‘the truth’ and answers to life’s questions?

    – A definite YES!

    # Does the pastor pour scorn upon, attack, and mock other Christian churches and their interpretation of the Bible?

    – Could be a yes or not.

    The list of questions is much longer, but it is interesting nonetheless

  23. Anonymous @11:00 — You're looking for a real, documented case of "harassment, verbal abuse or name-calling"? Well, I've got a scoop for you!

    Somebody just posted an anonymous comment (above at 11:00) falsely posing as being with a conveniently unnamed "prominent media outlet." Obviously a lie– no real reporter would ever talk that way; I work in media. They belittled the stories on here, impugned people's motives ("maybe you're ashamed"), and tried to incite them to "really hate it enough."

    If you're looking for a real live abuser, I'd recommend you contact that person. I think you may have their number.

    In other late-breaking news, you're a liar. Now scram.

  24. Shannon, you're welcome. If you really want a head-trip, try comparing the techniques of brainwashing with what goes on at ESOAL.

  25. Liz (Engskow) Davila | March 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Reply

    Anonymous media outlet writer …

    You didn't even spell prominent correctly! 🙂

    Please, people … let's be honest here.

    P.S. I haven't heard one person say that they hate TM.

  26. Philip Estigoy | March 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Reply

    Eric,
    The thing is, Ron doesn't say in that letter not to read the blog. Ron is simply giving his side of the story.

    It should also be noted that Ron didn't send out an email until AFTER the blog sent out a spam message to all the alumni it could reach.

    Don't you think that after that happened, enough alumni emailed Ron and Dave that they had to release an email giving their side?

  27. Eric, I tend to agree. Most writers know how to spell the word "marry" and "prominent." But, if I'm wrong, I'd love to hear from you, mystery person…

  28. Philip – they are free to give their side. My point is that their side of the story is: "We're not sorry for abuse, pain or hurt caused by our leadership."

  29. Liz (Engskow) Davila | March 19, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Reply

    Phil,

    I have received countless "SPAM" emails from GI's asking for money to support their 2nd year at TMM. Ron has never said anything about that, so his intent is in question because it is not consistent with his previous actions.

  30. Philip- Compare this quote where HA students are cautioned not to read anything by insufficiently "mature" Christians. Ron's portrayal of RA is clearly trying to paint him/her with this characterization (e.g., "but he/she does not seem to really want to dialog in a personal manner to resolve conflict as outlined in Matt 18…").

    To those indoctrinated by TM, the "logic" will be unavoidable: RA is "immature"; you shouldn't read from "immature" people; you shouldn't read RA's blog. It's an insidious and subtle line of thought, but once you've been exposed to it, you can't mistake it for anything else.

    RA- A real reporter from a "prominent news outlet" would have no reason not to tell us which outlet it was or to provide a way to contact him or her directly (rather than trolling for comments on some blog). However, if "Anonymous" would care to provide some real identification, I'd willingly retract my comment above and apologize. If not, I call "Don't Feed the Trolls."

  31. Philip Estigoy | March 19, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Reply

    RA,
    When you say that their side of the story is "We're not sorry for abuse, pain, or hurt caused by our leadership" You are misrepresenting them.

    Their side of the story is that they don't think that you actually want to dialogue and bring positive change to the Internship.

    Liz,
    I think that the difference is that I doubt that very many alumni have emailed Dave and Ron about a specific GI that they didn't know sending them spam, whereas I'm sure they got bombarded by emails after the one from this site.

  32. Nunquam Honorablus | March 19, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Reply

    "Prominent media outlet"? They're probably a CCMer.

    Because, honestly, I can't see any intern out-and-out lying, because of what we were taught. Portraying the truth in a completely different way, so that it's just enough to where you're not lying? Absolutely. But not straight-up lying.

  33. Philip,

    So, it is okay for a GI who is looking for money to gather the emails and send them to us. It is NOT okay for an alumni looking to reconnect and possibly help other alumni to send an email out?

    If it is abusive of RA to send the email, then it is abusive of the GIs to send me an email begging for money.

  34. Phillip, that is exactly how they handle problems though. Repeatedly. Read the stories on this blog. You may learn something.

  35. *Philip

    Sorry, mah bad.

  36. Philip,

    Even if that were the case, which is worse – an anonymous blogger who doesn't want to be friends with Dave and Ron? Or the heads of a major ministry allowing abuse to occur to the thousands of people under their authority? They are hardly equal in terms of consequences…

  37. Philip Estigoy | March 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Reply

    Shannon,
    I am not saying it's ok for a GI to send us support emails(unless, of course, we know said GI).
    I also never said it was abusive that RA sent the email.

    I'm simply saying that I seriously doubt that there has been a huge number of emails to TM complaining about unsolicited support letters from GIs, while I think there was a huge number of emails in regard to RA's letter.

    Does that make sense?

    Eric,
    I am an alumnus, I've heard their teaching. I don't think it's "unavoidable" that we'd make the connection you say they intended us to make, as I certainly didn't see that connection.

    If we expect our comments to be read with grace, shouldn't we read other comments with grace instead of making tentative connections with other statements and saying it's clear?

    As an aside, that post on Dave's blog is a question to get dialogue about the issue going. In the very next post, Dave thanks everyone for commenting, and stating that he thinks some of the opinions are wrong, but that is the beauty of friendship.
    It is not a teaching. It is his opinion given on his blog.

  38. Philip Estigoy | March 19, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Reply

    RA,
    Perhaps I haven't been clear as to why I haven't liked these last few posts. My point is that calling this letter spiritual abuse looks absolutely silly.
    It is TM presenting their side of the story, that is all.
    If these last few posts were all that I saw about the complaints about TM, I would say that your complaints were baseless and nonsensical.

    It is not the case. There are legitimate grievances that need to be addressed. I think that going on and on and dissecting a letter that was made in response to something that you instigated in order to show clear evidence does, in fact, look more like trying to form a lynch mob than really trying to bring healing.

  39. Phillip,

    I have been following your comments for a few days now, and I must say that I really admire your tenacity in standing up (and intelligently so) for TM.

    I do have a couple of (very honest and curious) questions:

    1)Why do you feel the need to continue to defend TM on this particular site when you know that 90% of us will not jump on board with you?

    2) Why do you take offense and, consequently, a defensive stance, when people share their stories? It seems very personal on your part and I would like to better understand, without defensiveness or offense, why this is so?

    One last thing…your comment above about Ron's intentions for the email, as opposed to how it actually reads, is a little off to me, and here's why. I don't say this in an inflammatory way at all, but it feels like you are standing in between the abuser and the victim, trying to make peace, trying to get the victim to see what is "really happening"…and your heart is good, but only TM can make any sort of amends. In short, it seems more like enabling the abuser, and less like honoring or loving anyone in the scenario, including yourself.

    Only Dave can speak for Dave, and Ron can speak for Ron. They have spoken. They have not only summarily dismissed RA and those of us who have shared our stories, but they have turned it back around on all of us as though they are blameless and we are the problem. This is classic abuse, but it's subtle. It's part of mind control, and the modern Christian movement, not JUST TM, is regrettably full of it.

  40. Carrie brings up a good point in that much of what we see on this site is stuff that is widespread in "the modern Christian movement" (I would change that phrase to "modern Evangelicalism"). It is not everywhere, to be sure, but it is not rare, either. The 24/7/365 nature of the HA only makes it more pronounced, I think.

  41. To those who are calling the REAL Honor Academy Alumni website 'fascist', I would hope that you would reread the policies there.
    The few policies that are in place are there to uphold a standard, not to keep you from healthy dialogue.
    The alumni boards will not delete your post if you disagree with the policies or teachings of the ministry. In fact, if you have grievances, that may be a good place to go to get the help that you are looking for.

  42. Philip- I see what you're saying. I think I'd agree with you that, if this letter was the only piece of documentation we had, it would be invalid to jump to a conclusion of abuse based on that alone. But in its context as an answer to a specific allegation of systematic abuse, it becomes very distasteful at best.

    For example, if a man says "My wife just likes to complain a bit," it might be a perfectly innocuous statement. But what if it was his answer to the question, "Your neighbor says he saw you beating your wife; is this true?"

    The question is why abuse occurs endemically throughout the Honor Academy as a whole and why so many people need so much healing. The answer "There are a few outspoken bitter complainers who have refused our attempts at reconciliation" is a very poor answer– the old Blame The Victim game– especially when (as RA has documented) it isn't even factually true.

    I do agree that it's better to focus on the well-documented abuse (the True Stories) than on one man's damage-control spiel. But in its context, the stench of abuse does tend to cling to the letter itself.

  43. @Anon 1:51: "the REAL Honor Academy Alumni website"

    Are you implying that this site is an impostor of the Alumni Association site? I'm confused by that statement.

  44. Also (for laughs): compare and contrast–

    http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/

  45. After reading all these comments, I am so glad I didn't end up going to the HA and get horribly brainwashed.

    I'm so grateful my ability to think critically has stayed in tact. That I can comprehend what people say that disagree with me, and still have compassion for those who are in pain. I'm so grateful for GOD'S GRACE, which is clearly lacking in many areas at the HA.

    I'm grateful for my ability to say 'fart' without having my feminity insulted. I'm glad to be able to LAUGH about farts and still be girly. That I don't have to strive for what I already have: God's approval.

    And I'm so thankful that this site, RA in particular, has helped my sister, my best friend, be herself again. Instead of a judgemental, elitist Pharasee. There are no words for how grateful I am for this blog. And I NEVER EVEN WENT to the Honor Academy.

    So, those of you who flame, troll, disagree, get butthurt, insult, accuse… that's fine. Go for it. It won't change what we who have been hurt by TM have discovered.

    And that is true honor.

    A place to heal, a place to discover God's truth for what it is; which is better than any mandoctrine shoved down our throat. Isn't that what the Honor Academy strives to do, anyway?

    So what do you people care? No one here is trying to take down TM, no matter HOW much we think the world would be better off for it.

    You know, I'm going to make my own blog. I'll title it: 'Poopy Head RA', for all of you people who can't handle this blog.

  46. Nunquam Honorablus | March 19, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Reply

    *totally didn't giggle at the word 'fart'*

    I mean, bravo, Cesna! Well put!!

  47. Nunquam Honorablus | March 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Reply

    Also, Erip P., I've been on that site for the past hour or so. Thanks for the laughs; the one with the little kids was my favorite.

    (okay I'll go back on subject now I swear)

  48. Is Ron Luce related to the Luce family that were the original publisher's of TIME magazine?

    Just curious if they are related….

  49. Thank you RA. Keep up the good work.
    I am an Alumni also. And looking back the only thing I can see what the HA and TM is doing is creating Pharisees who think that with all the good they are doing for a ministry is going to get them to heaven.
    I pray the Ron, Dave and anyone else who is involved to Repent! There is still Forgiveness If they will repent and teach and preach Christ and Him Crucified for the forgiveness of sins by grace alone, faith alone, and Christ's work alone. Amen.

  50. Philip…can I give you kudos for using the singular version, "alumnus"? 🙂

    No insult whatsoever to anyone else (including you, RA), because I know that "alumni" is kind of a colloquial use of the word. However, despite my constant butchering of the english language, using "alumni" as a singular noun has always kind of been fingernails on a chalkboard for me.

    Crap, now everyone's going to go over my comments with a fine-toothed comb and point out my terrible grammar. I'll warn you now: I end sentences with prepositions. A lot. (I also use incomplete sentences.)

  51. RA,

    Why don't you release your identity? Is there a small sliver of conviction within you that says, "what I'm doing isn't right… so I don't want people to know who it is thats doing all this…" is that what it is?

  52. Anon 6:11 (and all other Anon's of the same opinion. I want to point something out to you.
    You're offended R.A. doesn't reveal himself. Because your offended you think it's wrong. That doesn't actually make it wrong.
    I like that no one knows their identity. Why would I want to know?! The only thing it would change is people's judgments. It doesn't take away from any post's not knowing who they are.
    Besides I've email R.A. a bunch of times and He/She's really NICE! if that blows you away. I've never not gotten an email responded to. And my concerns/views are always validated.
    And I just wonder why Anon's such as yourself don't take the Matthew 18 approach hmmm?

    I'm going to start referring to such statements as : "Not fully thought out statements."

  53. Philip Estigoy | March 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Reply

    Carrie,
    To your first question, I didn't realize I was defending TM. Does pointing out errors in an argument mean you're "for" the other side? I've stated several times that I am all for TM to recognize that there is a serious problem in the culture on their campus.

    To your second question, I haven't taken offense to any actual stories that were shared. I haven't said that any stories shouldn't be shared. I haven't actually taken offense to anything on this site.

    As to the letter that Ron wrote, my intention is not to put words in his mouth. My intention is to show the letter at face value.
    Look at what the letter said.

    There was a former intern who mass emailed interns, multiple staff members attempted dialogue, RA doesn't seem to want to bring about positive change, the board is looking into the allegations, , many of the issues have been changed and TM is constantly trying to improve the internship, pray for this individual, we appreciate you.

    Can you find anything there that isn't accurate? It's not the letter that I would hope to get, but it's not exactly Mein Kampf either.

    Eric,
    By saying that it isn't the letter itself that is the issue, you are attacking the letter based on the author rather than the content. Ron could have written nearly anything and I'm confident it would have been spun to sound horrible by some here.

    My thought on any topic is this, if someone is going to spend time developing an argument based on weak evidence, they probably don't have strong evidence.

    Cessna,
    When reading your post, I read too fast and read the bold part as "that is true humor" and didn't get what was funny. Then I reread it. I really have nothing to add to your post, I just thought it was funny, and felt like typing it out.

  54. So…umm… when does the healing start?

  55. Cesna,

    Your comment about farts brought back to mind the story Mr. Hasz once proudly told us in class about a road trip he took with several interns. a few girls were in the car and one said "fart" in a conversation with another intern. Immediately he whipped around and said,"Would you mind toning down your language? There are ladies present." At the time I thought, "Go, Dave!" but lately I've been thinking about it more and more…and I'd like to know how Mr. Hasz can possibly be proud of this moment. How is it constructive or loving towards interns to publicly shame them? How is this proper and loving confrontation? I am sad that he would think publicly and rudely calling a young girl's femininity into question is what Jesus would have done.

    I am posting this because it was a story he told us in class, in public. If it were an isolated incident I had witnessed I would chalk it up to human weakness…but I would be willing to bet he still tells this story every year.

  56. Sigh, what a mess. Truth be told if what Teen Mania did is abusive (which is a possibility) then you need to alert the authorities about this fiasco.

    While you are right about the Matthew 18 confrontation (which in my honest opinion is meant more for personal disputes NOT leadership-follower disputes), it is hard to take someone hiding in the shadows (read: anonymous Recovering Alumni) seriously.

    Jesus, Paul, Peter, etc. all publicly rebuked leaders at fault without wearing the mask of Zorro, and if you want to be taken seriously then you need to do the same (as right now this whole thing is turning into one person's angry rant against "the machine").

    Until authorities are involved or there are some real faces to serious accusations, I'm treating this whole thing as a frivolous fiasco.

    No offense to whoever you are. 😉

  57. Anon at 6:11pm – That is a good question and one I get quite a bit. I have several reasons for remaining anonymous. As Shiloh said, my identity really has nothing to do with the arguments I've put forth or the stories I've published. The arguments stand or fall on their own merits. Secondly, I'm in an industry where my name is often googled and I would prefer my colleagues and clients to only see my professional information. And third, I already get so many rude emails, why would I want to give out my name so that I could be personally harassed? And as for conviction, the only conviction I have about this blog is that I need to write it.

    Philip – While I can respect where you are coming from, I'm just not sure we are going to be able to come to consensus on this issue. Its hard for me to separate the Ron Luce I know and the Ron Luce I've heard about from the email he sent. Our history with the author does matter in our reading of his words. Perhaps my words could have been better chosen – instead of saying this is a "classic case of spiritual abuse" a better term might have been indication, red flag, or characterstic of spiritual abuse.

    Anon – I'm not sure if that is a sincere or sarcastic question, so I'll answer it both ways.

    If its sarcastic, please read the most recent comment on
    this post
    .

    If its a sincere question, healing starts when we acknowledge the truth of our situation – including all the feelings and thoughts we have about it. And then we acknowledge that we are powerless to do anything about it. Its the first step in any recovery program.

    Last anon – Yes, indeed he does tell that every year. How horrible for that poor girl. I've actually blogged on it here.

  58. Darnell – I'm not about to feel bad about remaining anonymous to my abusers. Sorry if that doesn't work for you. (shoulder shrug)

  59. @Recovering Alumni: Shoulder shrug back. 😉

    As far as the email response goes (from Ron), I am not sure if a template was used when he responded or if it was written from scratch (I use to work in IT and Development at TM so I've been exposed to similar writings).

    But like I said before, I've seen rantings like this against other organizations (religious/political/scientific/etc.) and they are usually ignored by the public as they lack weight/substance.

    As far as I see on this site, it's a mysterious "he said, she said" person against public faces.

    In fact, how do you know that I have not sent you a few of these myself? (note: I haven't for your information, but my point is these "testimonies" lack authenticity).

    If I have a problem against an organization (like Teen Mania), or a politician, etc., I either Tweet it or blog about it under my own name!

    Why? Because people have a right to face and know their accusers (provided their lives are not in jeopardy of course), and if serious the accused either change their ways or justify their actions.

    Until then I am going to write this site off as a slander blog (which is unfortunate as there are some things TM needs to seriously change).

  60. Wow. This is my first comment and will probably be my last.

    I think a majority of the people here need to "wipe the dust off their feet" and move on.

    Most of you are spending way too much time trying to solve problems that are not yours to solve. If you would instead spend your energies providing resources for alumni to be healed rather than fighting TM, you'd have much more success and could even show your name.

  61. Liz (Engskow) Davila – I knew you at the HA. You were in leadership there. I cried in front of you on several occasions because of what was going on. Don't remember me? Probably because that was a familiar scenario (bah dum ching!). I'm more shocked that the HA could have gotten such an amazing person to work for them (to PAY to work for them). Thank you for being so encouraging to everyone during our time there as well as afterwards. It's evident than you are truly a woman after God's own heart. I am forever grateful.

    To the person who claimed they were from a "prominant" media outlet – Thanks for the good laugh.

    And to the "Anonymous" poster who wondered why RA would post anonymously – You answered your own question by doing just that.

    As for me, I will probably never give my real name. The reason is very simple. I would never want any future employer to Google my name and have a list appear with numerous comments I had made on a "cult" website. I have enough hurdles to get over in life without shooting myself in the foot first.

  62. Darnell,

    My story was posted under my real name. And the letter that I sent to the board of directors was too, with my contact information. But I understand why RA and others want to remain anonymous. I get your point about "mysterious 'he said, she said'" accusations against puble persons, but I hope you don't write off the whole blog as slander just because some choose to remain anonymous.

    Katie (Napolitano) Heck

  63. *public

    Now I understand the urge to correct typos now! I guess this site lets you preview your posts for a reason 🙂

  64. Hi Darnell,

    So far, everyone that has sent me a story has done so in their own name. It may be small comfort to you that I know their true identities, but many choose to remain anonymous for various reasons… including professional reasons. Especially for more recent alumni, the wounds are fresh and I can understand them not wanting to open themselves up to more judgment. In an case of abuse, I think the onus is on the abuser – not the victim.

    It is not impossible that a story could be fabricated. However, I think the reason for the popularity of this site is that each story resonates with so many others. They recognize the truth in that because they also lived it. If someone came up with something totally off the wall – it wouldn't pass the sniff test. So, again, I don't really think this is as serious an issue as you make it out to be.

    And again, the onus is on the ABUSER, not the abused to make the situation right.

  65. Congrats RA on finally being heard by all. I hope if anything, you can be proud of that. As for you desire to help others heal, I find it incredibly hard to think you are doing just that. Like many have already stated, I'm baffled by complaining, "telling your side of the story", or the constant debate of how you disagree with HA and leadership, is leading to ANY sort of healing at all. As I more of your blog and the comments to come from others, it seems pretty clear that much of the remarks are bitterness and honestly, undealt with anger. Your blog does everything by upset me… It makes me feel bad for you and others who reply with comes across as aggression. I'm being genuine when I say that. I commend you for being honest, but to almost gather a group and "encourage" each other with the middle school he said, she said debate, is doing more of bitterness revival than anything.

    I just want to encourage you that instead of having ppl rant about how you disagree or were hurt, do something positive with your negative experience! Maybe then, if this showed positive effects, you would see a change in ppl! It's difficult for ppl to see any good in a situation where arguments and and negativity are often.

    Just a thought.

  66. Please forgive me, because I have a feeling I am going to ramble. And I am writing this more for myself than for anyone else. I've been reading this blog for weeks but every time I go to comment, something holds me back. I have considered sending in my story, but I really just don't want to go there. I've been out of the HA for over 10 years and I really just want to put the past behind me.

    However, I do wish I could go back and apologize to every person I hurt during my time at the HA. I was an over-zealous, legalistic, baby Christian and I never should have been placed in leadership. I was harsh, judgmental, and way into the performance mentality. I am so ashamed of the way I behaved and the way I treated the interns who were under my "leadership." I have so many mixed feelings about my time there. Overall, I think it was a positive experience, but there is NO WAY I would ever consider sending my children there. EVER. I would also never send my children on a mission trip with TMM. I do believe Ron Luce and Dave Hasz have good hearts. I truly believe they love God and love young people. But that is just not enough. I don't have any suggestions or solutions really. I don't know how they could go about changing things to the degree that is necessary. But I think the HA can be a very dangerous, damaging environment, especially for people who already have legalistic tendencies. I also do not believe the HA prepares people for the real world. Quite the opposite, actually. Not only did I hurt people during the internship, but in the years following. I am so ashamed of the way I treated people in the first few years after TM. I thought I was better than other people and I surrounded myself with other alumni, because they were the only ones who truly "got it." We were the spiritual ones and it was our job to "help" our peers and show them where they were wrong.

    I also believe the teachings at the HA negatively affected my views on marriage. We are all adults here, so I feel comfortable sharing. I remember Ron Luce stating things as facts about the "marriage bed." Lingerie is wrong because "a man and a woman naked in a bed should be enough." Oral sex and any position other than the missionary position were wrong because "humans were the only creation designed to have sex face to face." I still cannot believe we were actually taught those things. I to this day wonder if Ron truly believes those are biblical principles that we must follow or if he was just stating his opinion. And if he was just stating his opinion, he needs to understand that interns don't hear it as Ron sharing his heart-they hear it as Ron stating TRUTH.

    Anyway, I could probably write for days and days about all the creepy things that I experienced at the HA. I could also write for days about all the horrible ways I treated people as a result of the teaching I received there. I am not going to send in my true story, because I just want to let bygones be bygones. But it's late here and I just felt the need to share a few of my thoughts. Even if no one read this, it feels good to have processed a tiny bit. Like I said, it's been over 10 years and for the most part, I just want to get on with my life and forget about that time.

  67. Last Anon – No lingerie and the missionary position as the only acceptable sex position makes me laugh out loud.

    If anyone in leadership from the HA and/or TMM reads this – PLEASE do all interns a favor and hire Shannon Ethridge to speak about sex in marriage.

  68. "To those who are calling the REAL Honor Academy Alumni website 'fascist', I would hope that you would reread the policies there.
    The few policies that are in place are there to uphold a standard, not to keep you from healthy dialogue.
    The alumni boards will not delete your post if you disagree with the policies or teachings of the ministry. In fact, if you have grievances, that may be a good place to go to get the help that you are looking for."

    Have you read he rules for the Alumni site? Let me post them with my comments.

    Cursing: Some state that cursing is only wrong depending on the particular word usage. While we understand this may be a valid argument, we also understand that the usage of such language is offensive to most and not edifying to anyone. Therefore, you are asked to refrain from this language and choose a different set of adjectives to get your point across. This also includes usage of curse word variants by replacing one character with another.

    -This is an understandable rule that can be followed pretty simply and won't be damaging to follow.

    Sex: While the topic of sex may be pertinent to your particular relationship, you are asked that topics regarding sex be directed to individuals on a more personal nature. IE: in person, e-mail or phone.

    -So, anyone struggling with sex (pre-martial or otherwise) is not allowed to be discussed on the forums.

    Pornography, Masturbation, and related issues: We understand that with our human nature, some deal with particular struggles of this nature. Please talk to your local church leaders and/or accountability partners about such topics.

    -Again, anything related to sex and struggles one may be facing is not allowed to be discussed on the forum. Despite the fact that LOTS of Christians struggle with it– and MANY pastors have struggled with it.

    Alcohol: If there is any subject that has been beaten into the ground and caused strife and division amongst believers, this is one of them. Therefore, please refrain from having open discussions on your alcohol habits and preferences at Alumni Association sponsored events and/or on the Alumni website.

    -Again, Not only are you not allowed to discuss habits, but also struggles both on the forum or at an alumni event.

    Homosexual Behavior: Some Alumni have been blinded and have chosen a path of homosexual behavior. Those of you who have chosen this route are asked not to discuss this topic openly within the Alumni site and or Alumni Association sponsored activities. If you are wishing to receive help and or guidance, please contact your church leaders, a Teen Mania leader you may confide in, or an appropriate board member.

    -Again, struggling with this and talking about it on the alumni site is out of the question.

    NOTE: The Alumni Association Board reserves the right to monitor the content of the discussion board and to remove or edit any post which it deems to be in violation of the above-mentioned principles.

    So, essentially, any sin that TM determines to be a "deal breaker" is out of the question to be discussed at both forum and alumni events.

    How exactly does this foster a place of healing, or open discussion regarding the Word of God?

    Excuse me if I don't find the alumni forums particularly inviting. I struggle with a lot… as matter of fact, I am an atheist. But, I wouldn't dare discuss that on the alumni board because I prefer not to be preached at, etc.

  69. Candor,

    Shannon Ethridge did at one time (if she doesn't still) work at TM and spoke to the women's version of trailer club about sex. She had a special group called "Women at the well" for those that have struggled with sex or sexual abuse in the past.

  70. Well Anon' 10:33 – I read it. And I'm glad you shared. It's like people have completely forgotten what it was like there or something. I don't think there was one area of my life at T.M. (family core, work, friends, classes) where I didn't experience leadership that was out of control (with being in control. or having all the answers)
    Where people keep throwing out the 'not fully thought out statements' of "R.A.'s shouldn't remain anonymous." "this blog should not exist." "everyone is bitter." "this sight isn't helping anyone." I don't get it.
    Maybe I'm missing something COMPLETELY but the only ones that sound angry and bitter are the one's writing those comments. And maybe newer ones to the sight.
    Not thought out = not taken seriously.

  71. RA,
    You are being ridiculous and hypocritical.
    You say that Jesus-loving people are called to admit their wrong doing and ask forgiveness, however you clearly have not forgiven the HA, nor have you admitted to yourself that you hold ANY kind of responsibility for the way you are feeling.
    You are becoming a parody of yourself and not saying anything new anymore.
    You don't like your experiences at the Honor Academy, we get it. Now what do you want to get from this complaining?… it clearly isn't healing, because you are doing nothing to aid in that.
    Are you seeking some sort of financial restitution?

  72. Anon – If you are tired of the "complaining" then why are reading the blog????

  73. Way to stir it up RA! My hats off to you for being so courageous!

    Last anon, RA completely opened up the door for processing this part of my life. It has been so healthy and such a huge relief! It is healing. Completely.

  74. Nunquam Honorablus | March 20, 2010 at 4:51 am | Reply

    ((Long post is long.))

    Wait, since when did this become a "he said she said"?? RA has MULTIPLE videos posted, straight from the horse's mouth. I believe he's even posted the ENTIRE class, so nobody cries "OUT OF CONTEXT".

    I think RA has done everything to show TM for what it really is, and has even defended them from time to time when some of us commentors got out of hand and went TOO far in our accusations. *raises hand*

    And yes, Shannon Ethridge had previously worked there, but her teachings were sometimes a little too sexually intense and not necessarily conducive to the environment.

    I think Shannon's passion is well-placed in certain places, but I do agree that it may not have been best for her to teach at TM (I know that there were some girls who found it very uncomfortable, while others benefited from her straightforwardness. Take it for what you will).

    And seriously, Anon? Because somebody speaks out against an organization and exposes them, they're unforgiving?

    This is not an issue between TM and RA.

    This is an issue between TM and those who have left the HA spiritually wounded.

    RA's not doing it for himself.

    Let me say that I have personally benefited enormously through this blog, as I've said a hundred times. I am SO THANKFUL for the posts here! And the friends/acquaintances/pseudoparents I've made along the way 😉

    I love how most (not all, cause there are those of you that are pretty cool about your words) people who come in defense of the HA are the angriest posters on this site! Really now? If you make an angry/frustrated comment, you're only bitter if you disagree with TM?

    Double standards are lame, guys. :/

  75. I have been reading this blog since it started and have never commented before. I have been out of the internship for over 10 years, and frankly prior to starting to read this blog I only thought of TM and my time there rarely. Unlike many of those who have told their stories on this blog – mine is somewhat differant. I never felt abused – I did feel taken advantage of.

    I had a great work placement that I really enjoyed and I generally loved my work at TM – I did think that they expected more out of the few in my department then should have been appropriate. I worked way more then 40 hours a week, every week.

    RA mentioned at one point I believe that those that had good family support ect. generally faired better at TM. I have to agree with that – I never looked to the leadership at TM to give me approval or validation as a person or follower of God (I did seek their approval on my work.)

    I had grown up highly involved in ministry in a couple of differant churches. Because of that I had seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of ministry before I ever arrived at TM. I wasn't suprised by some of the not so good things that I saw, just as I wasn't awed by the good that I saw. I always thought that the whole "beat your body" thing was stupid, and I generally enjoyed the worship experiences. I agreed with some of the teaching and I disagreed with some of it (and tuned it out.)

    So all that to say – I am not mad at TM – I don't think that I was abused or harmed in some way by my time there. However over the years I have actively discouraged people that I know and those from my home church (where my parents still attend) to not go on TM trips, or do the internship. I can see with the wisdom of age – now that I am well into my 30's 🙂 that TM does lack balance in a number of areas. I have concerns about how some of my friends where treated. I did email Dave Hasz and Ron Luce about some of my concerns about a year or so after I left and then about 3-4 years ago I replied to a thread on the alumni site about some concerns about the direction of TM, I don't remember all that was said, but I thought that it was generally very respectful of Tm and the leadership, but was questioning the direction some things at TM where taking. I distictly recall Dave Hasz writing a very forceful post about how we should not be questioning them and then the thread was removed.

    I truly am sorry that so many of you really suffered at TM – I wish that would not have been the case. I hope that each of you are able to process your thoughts and feelings and are able to be at peace. I hope that Ron Luce and the Board take this serious. I hope that Ron and Dave both find people completely outside of the TM bubble that are able to speak into their lives, and really challenge them, not just affirm them. I know that it was really helpful to me and my leadership when I was able to hear someone say to me "what the crap?"

    RA – good luck – it looks like you have stirred up a hornets nest – may there be some eye opening and some honest reflection on the parts of the leadership at TM.

  76. Nunquam Honorablus | March 20, 2010 at 5:06 am | Reply

    Anon 11:52- I like you; I think you're neat 🙂

  77. *slightly awed more recent intern than most.*
    Yeah, I second Nunquam (whom I think is pretty great themselves.) Anon 11:52. You're like really wise.
    I'm SUPER thankful for the older interns commenting from both sides. I feel like I'm getting a more full perspective. Please, keep the insights coming because they really help to not get lost in the crazyness of some of the other "N.F.T.O.S."
    I've noticed a big difference between the newer alumni as well as more recent staff members, interns who are IN the H.A. and old alumni who have not been at T.M. for a few years, and the ones who have been out 10 or more years.
    So far. The ones who have been out the longest I like the best. 🙂

  78. Exsample – Random CCMer who commented earlier about being a "writer for a prominant media outlet." I totally thought that was legit at first. Just cause… I never use blogs!
    We need older wisdom around! 🙂

  79. Dear RA and all others so deeply hurt by HA, its practices, the leadership, the rules, and so on…

    Being that HA was never forced upon anyone, and all were free to leave, but for whatever reason, coninuted in an intership, they were completely against, tell me.. What exactly do you want to be done????

    Im sorry you had a negative experience, but again, interns were always FREE to go! As it was with ESOAL, working… In everything, you could have left, but stayed right? Okay, so wether that was due to fear or peer pressure or guilt, you CHOSE to stay. Therefore accepting what was to come of a program you were very well acquainted with. So anything that followed, you had and have to accept and take the good and the bad. Again, if it was that awful, you could have left..and didn't. Thats no ones fault, but yours. It could have all ended, the second you walked away. No more excuses please..thank you!

    Ultimately, everyone will one day answer to the Lord for their own actions. The blame game and finger points will be meaningless. The Lord wont care that the reason you held on to bitterness and spoke ill of others in leadership over you (or enabled others to do so), was bc they hurt you or whatever it is you feel. None of it is justifiable. (I'm sure you know that, but just a friendly reminder in case you forgot for a second)

    All that being said,
    please, tell me and everyone else out here, what do you hope to accomplish?? I know we are all incredibly interested to hear!!!

    **If you say online recovery/support of some kind, no offense, but thats BS bc I hardly see positivity…as of now anyways**

  80. Anon – Unfortunately, you are very uninformed about human nature, psychology and the role authority plays in our decision making process. TM routinely tells interns how to behave, and if they violate that standard (whatever it is) they have "sinned against God" and incur the wrath and disapproval of their leaders and peers. This leads them to believe that God's wrath and disapproval are also on them. THIS IS CALLED SPIRITUAL ABUSE.

    I'm sorry you can't be troubled to read the MANY posts that cover this topic. Instead you barge in here and act like a know-it-all. How much experience do you have with recovery groups in general? How about addictions, abuse or brokenness? Sounds like zero to me.

    So before you come in with guns blazing and shoot from the hip, do a little research about what you are talking about.

    And I don't think anyone here is refusing responsiblity for the part they played in it. If anything most of us have taken ALL the blame for far too long. Within the recovery process, it is helpful to examine why we allowed ourselves to be taken advantage of. However, as naive 18 year olds – we bear a very small part of the blame. And part of this site is owning what is ours and defining what is NOT ours and what we do NOT own.

    Now, if you want to be a part of this discussion, please read the comment policy and some more of this blog before you comment again. Otherwise, I will delete you next time.

  81. Anon – You even mentioned a perfect example in your comment. "People are free to leave ESOAL." They are physically free to leave ESOAL but most people who ring out feel intense regret and condemnation even when they have legitimate medical needs. They might be physically free to ring out but there are severe emotional and spiritual repurcussions. THIS IS CALLED SPIRITUAL ABUSE.

  82. I for one have experienced incredible healing in just the past few days. . .

    RA- you have an understanding of mental health and wholeness which is uncommonly accurate. I can not begin to explain how refreshing it is to me to be validated in my very guttural response to the way that the HA worked when I was there 10 years ago.

    You could very well be a professional counselor of some sort to have your depth of insight so thorough and thoughtful. I totally applaud you for the incredible Compassion and Courage that you are demonstrating through this website. I pray that God would bless all the works of your hand both privately and publicly.

    You are a healer.

    I am so grateful to you for being obedient to God in this. It can not be easy, although your heart is clearly one of truth.

    Although I have a concern about negativity. . . I think it is misunderstood as a whole. When we committed to never speak negatively of anybody who has worked for the ministry, past, present, or future, we in fact were being bound to an unhealthy secrecy. I remember being told to confront those who offended me. This was not an open dialogue, this was a free place to attack me and my character and send me off to "never speak of it again". This is toxicity at it's worse. It pains my heart to read the stories here of others who went through this inner crucifixion, and yet it gives me hope to know that the resurrection is also possible!

  83. If a situation is negative, an extreme example being rape, is speaking of rape in essence negative? So if I were raped would I be negative to go to court and testify there? Wouldn't I actually be doing something POSITIVE with an event that was EVIL/NEGATIVE?

    I have been deeply contemplating the way that TMM operated in the name of the gospel. Something that my church teaches is that the ends does not justify the means. I think interns were greatly wounded in the name of freeing others from their slavery. That terrible conditional love was what I experienced at the Internship in the name of giving unconditional love to people in other cultures. It sort of reminds me of the Alcoholic parent who has all the neighbors fooled but harangues his family all night.

    To illustrate this I remember when I was petting a cat. It was the sweetest little thing, it just purred and purred, rolled up in a little ball on my lap and was just so sweet! Until another cat came around and this cat jumped off of me, and started ATTACKING the other cat's eyes. I was so angry! Stupid cat! God spoke to me immediately. "Do you think I am fooled when humans do this to each other?"

    How can TMM justify teaching the interns a performance and shame based gospel when they travel all over the world to set the captives free???

  84. RA

    You're right. I have no had the opportunity to read all the previous blogs and comments before. I apologize for not doing so. Unfortunately, reading all things prior is no realistic. So yes, I did just jump it. I didn't realize I had to do so.

    Question. Are you a psychologist or have you studied Psych?? Have you lead a legitimate Recovery Group and not an open discussion blog. I'm not asking if you had read of few books and articles and then speak from experience. I'm asking if you have spent countless of hours studying and so on, to where you would be in any position to make any educated statements about recovery and the human tendencies?? Bc if not, you are in no more qualified to speak of this than me or someone else.

    You said: "Instead you barge in here and act like a know-it-all."
    -I'm not acting like a know it all, nor was that my intention. I was simply commenting as stating my opinions..as have many!

    You also said: "So before you come in with guns blazing and shoot from the hip, do a little research about what you are talking about."
    -Again, I definitely didn't come come in like that. I simply commented. I'm actually very calm and happy right now. Next time, maybe try not to just to the conclusion that someone comes in trying to start a fight, bc I'm sure they're just sharing as have you and everyone else. As for the research you want me to do, dont you worry. I have a minor in Psych and I have worked and interned with several recovery groups. So I did just that recently.

    You: "TM routinely tells interns how to behave, and if they violate that standard (whatever it is) they have "sinned against God" and incur the wrath and disapproval of their leaders and peers. This leads them to believe that God's wrath and disapproval are also on them."
    -TM has rules and guidelines they expect all to abide by. Hence week of the ring, and you standing in agreement with all to come and accepting all. Actually, I'm even pretty sure that the whole wk leading up to the Commitment Banquet, Dave makes sure communicate that if you have any hesitations at all, no speak with someone and refrain from committing. AGain, no force being used. When an intern breaks a set rule or guideline, of course they tell you made a mistake and you have sinned. Thats a given..wether they make a point to tell you, or not. What are they suppose to say?? For that yr at HA, they are the leaders and authority, and of course they need to implement discipline. The "disapproval of their leaders and peers"..again, thats a given. Of course ppl will be disappointed. Why? Bc when someone messes up wether intentional, or not, if effects everyone around you. Dont your parents feel disappointed when you fail to follow there rules? Is it that awful for them to be disappointed, knowing you should know better. With that, no one can make you feel guilty or whatnot, anymore than you allow it. So many times, it's an internal issue as well.

  85. You: "However, as naive 18 year olds – we bear a very small part of the blame."
    -I feel like you adding in naive is an excuse for your current actions. Naive or not, 18 is still an adult. As a adult you pick and you chose what you will take part in. As a adult, if you continue on a path, that is something of your choosing and with that, you accept consequences.

    You: "Now, if you want to be a part of this discussion, please read the comment policy and some more of this blog before you comment again. Otherwise, I will delete you next time."
    -I did read your comment policy and I did not violate anything in there. Unless there are some that are listed elsewhere? So if I have not broken any of your policy, why feel the need to threaten to delete me?? Am I not allowed to state my opinion?? Or am I only allowed to do so, if my opinion is biased or leaning more towards what you like?? That doesn't seem very open. Just conditional. Very conditional at that.

    Lasty by you: "They are physically free to leave ESOAL but most people who ring out feel intense regret and condemnation even when they have legitimate medical needs. They might be physically free to ring out but there are severe emotional and spiritual repurcussions."
    -Intense regret and condemnation from WHO?? "Severe emotional and spiritual repurcussions"..from WHO??? I'm honestly baffled by this statement! I cant speak for everyone else, but for me, the only way I could have felt regret was if I knew I could have gone longer but didnt. Yes, I was pressured to continue by my peers and leaders bc many times I didnt think I could do more. But it was with that pressure and encouragement that I rose above and pushed myself harder to accomplish more than I would have, had I been alone. When I rang out, I was asked if I could continue and so on. My response was an honest no. Lovingly, my Major brought me to Dave and the bell. He asked me the routine questions..I answered..and rang the bell. Then he shook my hand, said job well done, and my Major and Lt hugged me and encourage me and continued to tell me how proud they were of me.
    SO the very last thing I felt was regret or emotional damage. I know countless and dozens and dozens of others, who feel the exact same way, and had the same, if not better experiences. When ppl said they felt regret, it was only when they regretted not puching themselves harder or continuing on for more time..

    Then again, we all have different experiences…

  86. You know as I was reading through the comments on this post, that "media outlet" anonymous made me realize something. Which is that sooner or later there will be someone who hates the HA enough to talk to a reporter. Or some reporter with too much time on his hands, and way too much tenacious curiosity will start looking into that thing they call ESOAL. Understand this all of you, even without a spin, ESOAL will be seen as picture-perfect proof of allegations against the HA. A media frenzy will spring up, and Teen Mania's ability to operate will be hampered. That is assuming that no successful legal action is taken. Teen Mania knows this, which is why it had Heath, and now Randy as a grand inquisitor whose prime directive is to "make this problem go away". Of course when Randy said that to me, what he meant by "this problem" was me.
    Is that bitter? It was long ago, and other pains and trials have become much more immediate. I understand better now the choice to bind oneself to an organization, to make your stand, here with these people, to the bitter end regardless of what may come. I was faced with that choice, and while I chose differently, and believe that it was the only thing that I could do in righteousness, I do not blame Randy for having tied his fortunes to TM. And if I had made that initial decision to bind my allegiance to an organization, I can see further to how I could have done what he did. So I am not bitter anymore, I do not think, in any case I have asked myself whether I wanted to dedicate my life to the destruction of Teen Mania, and I have found the answer in my own heart is no. It is not my calling. God is still making use of them, in a way. But while God makes use of all things and all people, He also holds them accountable for what they have done. And if you say I should not speak of what I have seen and heard…

    Luke 12:1-5
    Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: "Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.

    "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

    And again to the Loyalists. Be careful.
    The people on this site do not want to turn their bitterness and hurt into hatred, and anger. If they did, I doubt they would be here. But every attack you make will only strengthen their resolve. The voices that have started to cry out here will not be silenced. You also should think of what you will do if you silence RA. You may find that you have shot Dr. King, only to have Malcom Xs take his place.

  87. Anon at 1:18am – "Unhealthy secrecy" – that is an EXCELLENT definition of what is going on at the HA.

    Anon at 1:22am – The parallel to the alcholic father is a good one…Many families look great on the outside and are model citizens, but inside they are abusive.

  88. Curious George | March 20, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Reply

    To the last Anon @ 2:05
    Where's the love?

  89. Anon at 2:05am – I am not a trained psychologist, nor have I ever claimed to be. I have participated in the Celebrate Recovery program (which I highly recommend). I have also co-led one of their recovery groups with a licensed professional counselor. These are the experiences I draw from as I write and moderate this blog.

    I'm really suprised to hear you have worked with recovery groups in real life. Are you as graceless with them as you are with us? (i.e. calling our recovery group here "BS") When you speak like that, how else am I supposed to take your comments except as coming out with "guns blazing" and being a "know-it-all"?

    "I feel like you adding in naive is an excuse for your current actions. Naive or not, 18 is still an adult."

    You are showing your age here. Anyone in their mid-20s and beyond can usually recognize how little they knew and how vulnerable they were as an 18 year old. Your brain isn't even done developing until your early 20s!! How exactly are 18 year olds adults? Legally, perhaps. But are they financially self-sufficient? What life experience and maturity do they have? They haven't done anything "adult." All they've done is graduate from high school.

    In addition, an interns relationship with Dave Hasz is not peer-to-peer. There is a HUGE power differential at play here. Even Dave teaches that people in spiritual authority bear more responsibility and judgment than those under their leadership.

    You violated the comment policy by calling the "negativity" on this blog BS, excuses, etc. This is the same attitude behind "Suck it up and start being a better Christian." Also, read the link "Why Its Ok to Be Angry"

    I'm glad you don't personally feel spiritually abused. I'm guessing that's either because you are one of the lucky ones or you are not old enough yet to see the damage that's been done. If you want to argue about ESOAL or other abusive things, why don't you go ahead and comment on this specific posts. I don't want to get any more off topic on this particular thread.

    Overall, I'm shocked and glad you are studying psychology. You are going to learn a lot.

  90. Liz (Engskow) Davila | March 20, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Reply

    I think the point that interns are not forced to stay is a very interesting one.

    Interns are legally adults, but I wouldn't say they are independent (especially financially – which is a big deal … when I was there, we weren't paid and we were prohibited from getting any kind of part-time job). The way HA was set up when I was there, most interns were dependent on TM for housing, food, etc., We didn't really have control over our lives, or schedules, or menus. I remember I wasn't even allowed to go home for my 20th Birthday the first year I was there. Looking back, I now see that I should have just stood up to them, but I was young and it was my first time away from home and I felt what I now believe was an unhealthy amount of loyalty to TM.

    Also, I don't know if things have changed, but when I was at the HA, there was little to no interaction with the outside world. No TV, no radio and our schedules were SO busy that we never really had time to cultivate any friendships outside of TM.

    I don't think any of these items are abusive in and of themselves, but I think that the exclusivity of the program and amount of control placed over the interns can create an atmosphere for abuse to take place – easily.

    As for RA's anonymity, I don't think it's that big of a deal. I am pretty much in line with what RA is saying. So, if you want a face and a name, use mine. I think RA's a little more emotionally charged at times than I would choose to be, but I think the foundation of RA's statements are correct.

    I think RA's anonymity is key because if RA shares his/her identity, there is not doubt in my mind that a character assassination will ensue. And that's not what this is about.

    Candor – thank you for your kind words! I am sorry, I do not remember who you are. I was at TM for 4 years and you are correct that I had several conversations like that.

  91. @Watchman Trent–There was actually a minor "expose" called "God's Warriors" on CNN. It was a bit silly, because they were just confused by the military metaphors of things like "Battlecry," so it was pretty ineffective criticism.

  92. when I was there we were only allowed to watch Fox news. I don't think anyone here has mentioned (that I have seen, anyway) that Dave told us how to vote, too. so yeah. good ole' manipulation. This is probably another can of worms that no one wanted opened, but here's the thing. No political party can perfectly reflect Jesus, so voting based on one or two issues only and following that party no matter what, as if it were a manifestation of the Holy Spirit is ignorant and dangerous. There, I said it.

  93. I wasn't trying to be funny about having found 'true' honor. If that's funny to ya, Phil, then I'm concerned about you.

    Anyway, to anyone being ridiculous about 'omg you guys are all just whiners and complaining and there's no healing GOING ON EVER….' I want you to realize that there are MANY MANY recoveries that have happened because of this blog.

    'Just wipe the dust on your feet and move on'…. good night! Just shut up if you think Jesus would tell someone that.

    Many of the teachings at HA were poison. You can't just wipe poison off your feet and "move on". You need to tell someone the symptoms. You need prescribed medicine. You need an antidote, you need to get your stomach pumped, YOU NEED TO PURGE THE POISON. But if we don't have a safe place to go to PURGE said poison, then you ARE GOING TO DIE. It could be slow, it could be socially/mentally/emotionally, but the poison will eat you inside out. I'm not saying all the teachings at HA are BS, but enough of it is that the people suffering need a place to go to get it sorted through.

    Realize the symptoms of the poison.

    Talk it out and GET it out.

    My sister is so much more emotionally healthy now that she's become a part of this blog. The healing has already started, I'm sorry if that breaks your glass minds.

    Anyone else who hasn't started on the healing progress, just stay on board. It's coming. 🙂 And again, if you didn't "suffer" at HA… why are you even here? People clearly have, are, and will continue to suffer if the system and doctrine isn't revamped. I'm not saying 'put a sugar coating on the word of God' but what HA is teaching is HARDLY Biblical.

    So yeah, before any of you start calling this site a whine-fest, read the friggen stories. I haven't read ONE that was all 'TM is evil and awful and omg they need to die in a fire!1!1!'. They are usually quite FAIR to TM/HA.

    If you're too elite to tolerate people in the medical ward, then get back on the front lines and stop wasting energy here.

  94. Philip Estigoy | March 20, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Reply

    Cessna,
    What was funny was not that you said you had found true honor, what was funny was that I misread it as true HUMOR, and got confused for a minute. It was laughing at myself, not you.

  95. Ahhh okay Philip XD I'm somewhat dyslexic so I read it as honor again lol

  96. @Trent – WHAT?! I may be miss understanding your first paragraph. But are you saying, you got so mad at T.M. and talked to a reporter and Heath & Randy discussed that you were a 'Problem.' and took care of you by dismissing you?
    I am so not following that first paragraph.
    But I'm very interested to hear what happened. XD

  97. Cesna I did not see your – "XD" before I posted my comment. hahahaha. 🙂

  98. Grin.
    No, I did not talk to a reporter. I did not try and start a crusade against the HA or Teen Mania. I considered it after I was out when I looked back at the place. But I had honor before I came to the HA and so even when they expected me to walk away I kept my given word. I even graduated, with the form of my honor intact. It took me almost 3 months to realize that in preserving the form of my given word I had sacrificed the substance of my own honor.
    The main point of that post was to try and get the Loyalists who come to this site and bash on RA and these people, to realize that this is a rather tame, and incredible Christ-like response for the world we live in. I want to make them aware that you cannot put the genie back in the bottle. There is no profit in simply trying to force RA to shut up, because certain percentage of those who are left, will inevitably choose a less Christ-like response and pursue it.
    Now, people might ask, why am I concerned about that, if I am one of the ones who got burned. Well, I am concerned about the honor and glory of the Name of the God I serve. If Teen Mania breaks in some kind of "expose" fashion, if it spins out into lawsuits, and the whole thing comes crashing down with the eyes of the world watching, that will bring shame to the name of Christ.
    At this point I do not really care whether Ron goes broke, or comes to a realization of what has happened in his organization, or whatever. The problem is that if we, the Church, Christians do not deal with this eventually it will be dealt with in more public fashion.
    And as to the CNN thing, if I recall correctly, they were on the campus with the approval of the administration. They saw what the HA wanted them to see. And it still sparked some furious debates, and was in general a bad thing, which is why the HA has never let something like that happen again.

  99. OH! Dude. That's so insightful! Really, our God must be honored.
    "Jesus, I pray that you would reveal the mystery of Your peace to our hearts and help us to honor You in every comment, every post, and love one another. You recieve the glory Father."
    That was just brillian Trent. Thank you!

  100. *Brillian.

  101. Ha!
    *Brillian(t)
    wow.

  102. RA-

    You are doing the Lord's work by speaking the truth in a frank and truthful manner…

    As for those that are saying that because RA has chosen to remain anonymous, the blog can't be taken seriously….answer me this…who wrote the book of Hebrews?

    Maybe we should edit it out of our Bibles until we know exactly who wrote it?

  103. And forget ever calling the police line with anonymous tips….I know, who would have ever thought that our own police forces would take anonymous tips seriously, I mean, what are they thinking?

  104. Well if Teen Mania doesn't take this whole blog seriously – I do have 8 hours of ESOAL raw footage in my garage and a 2 hour and 40 minute edited film of that very ESOAL. I live in NYC – so I guess I could march on down to each network and make a pitch for a great news cast. I guess that would only be a last resort if the organization want's to blow all this off.

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