Sunday, June 12, 2005

A "Christian" Gulag in the Culture War

I feel very sad for this boy (his blog name is Zach and links to his story are everywhere). His parents have sent him to an ex-gay ministry for teens in Memphis sponsored by "Love in Action." Before he entered the "program" he posted on his blog a list of rules he will have to follow that he stumbled across by accident (see the above link). He is not allowed internet access now, so as far as I know he has not posted since he was admitted. The list is completely cult-like, garden variety brain-washing as someone else put it. A religious extremest anomaly? The sponsor of the "ministry" is Germantown Baptist Church, a prominent church in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Here are some highlights of what Zach has to look forward to:

For the first two or three days he is not allowed to talk to another human--no family, no friends, not even LIA staff folks. He is not allowed to journal ever. He can't listen to Bach or Beethoven (they are not considered Christian music, I guess Bach's Magnificat is satanic). He can't go to public bathrooms without his parents (he's sixteen). The parents can't tell him who has called to ask about how he is doing, not even when it is another family member. He has to wear a certain type of underwear and maintain a clone-like haircut. He is physically searched each morning. He can't discuss therapeutic issues at home even with his parents (which would scare the bejeebies out of me if I were them); all conversation has to be "positive".

There is much, much more.

The Moonies have nothing on these folks. I have mixed feelings about most ex-gay ministries, but I have a pretty one-sided view of this one. Pray for this kid and the others who are going to internalize so many negative messages about themselves at such an early age that they will need REAL counseling when its over.


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