1/01/2009

Forced to Pay for Conversion Therapy

Jesus Loves TortureImage by WeMeantDemocracy
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Under George W. Bush the "Faith Based Initiative" was supposed to fill in the gaps in government services by letting churches get our tax dollars to provide those services. For soup kitchens, meals on wheels, shelters and other programs it seemed like a win-win situation. Of course, the slick Evangelical community quickly saw this as the goose that laid the golden egg and began to pervert the naive and poorly thought out plan to support their own social agendas.

Case in point, Minnesota Teen Challenge an ersatz gulag supposedly for teens dealing with addiction but in reality a front for Conversion Therapy and torture in the name of God. Now they're after half a million of our tax dollars in a last minute appeal to lame duck George W. Bush.

The great folks at Progressive Puppy have it covered:

Minnesota Teen Challenge is a Pentecostal drug and alcohol abuse treatment program, one of George W. Bush's beloved faith-based initiatives that purports to help teenagers overcome dependency. MTC believes that by recruiting youngsters into the Assemblies of God ministry, they will be cured of their addiction. According to Teen Challenge, "Addiction is a sin, not a disease."

Maia Szalavitz writes on Huffington Post: Consequently, the program does not allow the use of medication. Beyond this, it humiliates and attempts to "break down" people with addictions, using techniques that I have covered extensively elsewhere that are known to do more harm than good. Since half of all addicts have a co-existing mental illness which often requires medication, banning it is not exactly evidence-based practice. And since there are medications that can help treat particular addictions, this is even more absurd.

Truth Wins Out sheds some light on the operation: The Teen Challenge network apparently offers no reputable professional counseling; instead, its amateur employees program youths with church ideology while blaming teens’ problems on “Satanic” influences such as Halloween and Harry Potter. It offers no well-designed tracking of success and failure rates; its reports and supposed success stories appear to consist of isolated anecdotes and head counts which exclude youths who failed to complete a treatment program.

The evangelical program that's seeking half a million of your tax dollars works closely with Exodus International, the so-called ex-gay therapy group that brings misery to countless thousands each year by convincing them that they can "pray away the gay." The Official Teen Challenge Student Handbook instructs students to "conduct themselves in a manner pleasing to God" and strictly forbids any "homosexual behavior" (as opposed to, one must presume, "heterosexual behavior"). And Teen Challenge, which has earned the name of Jesus Gulag, really, really gets hysterical over Halloween: "Halloween is a day set up totally for Satan. The more people who go out dressed as demons, ghosts, witches and goblins, the more glory Satan receives."

For those youths who won't get with the program, a little food deprivation soon has them back on their knees... in prayerful thanksgiving, of course.

For those of us still reeling from Obama's fast and warm friendship with Rick Warren this little tidbit about a link for this program with the new administration should be doubly chilling. From the Truth Wins Out article cited above:

Treatments, by the way, reportedly include up to a year of residency in isolation, denial of medical treatment, and relentless assaults upon Jewish and other non-evangelical faith perspectives. Supporters include U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s rumored choice for drug czar, former congressman Jim Ramstad.

So, there you have it. Our government is using our tax dollars to support a "program" that teaches one kind of religion, abuses children, and eschews every best practice used in professional recovery in favor of torture and witchdoctery. Meanwhile, Obama's possible choice of drug czar has ties to this group meaning yet another Obama link to the very people who seek to torture and oppress LGBT people. Change we can believe in? Eh, not so much.
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