Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A review of Kidnapped for Christ...

Yesterday, after watching the most recent episode of Counting On, I decided to watch a documentary called Kidnapped for Christ.  This film, which was released in 2014, was produced and directed by Kate S. Logan.  The film was mostly shot during a seven week period in 2006, when Logan was in the Dominican Republic visiting Escuela Caribe, a school run by New Horizons Youth Ministries out of Marion, Indiana.

Official trailer...

At the time she began shooting the film and interviewing staff and students there, Kate Logan was unaware of the school's controversial nature.  Logan was herself a student at an evangelical Christian university and did not intend to create an expose of Escuela Caribe.  But then she got to know a seventeen year old named David whose parents had used a teen transport company to have him escorted from their home in the middle of the night.  Although David was a model student with excellent grades, a talent for drama, and a promising future, he was gay.  That was unacceptable to David's parents.

Logan also interviewed two girls who were at the facility.  Beth was sent to the school because of a "debilitating anxiety disorder".  Tai was sent there because of behavioral problems that were brought on by childhood abuse.

After she'd spent some time at the school, which by 2006 had been operating in the Dominican Republic for several decades, Logan started to realize that some of the methods employed there were abusive.  For instance, participants who misbehaved were required to do push ups, squat thrusts, or run "Casitas".  Sometimes, they would be forced to do intense physical labor or get "swats", basically a spanking with a wooden paddle.  Logan also noticed that the participants were subjected to emotional abuse.

David sent a letter back with Kate Logan.  He asked her to give it to one of his best friends, who would then share it with her parents.  When Logan shared the letter with the friend, who happened to be attending the same university where Logan was a student, things started happened.  A small cadre of David's friends and adult supporters banded together to try to get him out of Escuela Caribe.  Although David was about to turn 18, he was concerned that school officials would try to hold him there beyond his 18th birthday.

I decided to watch this movie after it was mentioned in the Duggar group I joined.  I had not heard of Kidnapped for Christ before yesterday, but I have a lot of time on my hands and I'm fascinated by documentaries, especially about cults.  "Teen help" programs are also a pet interest of mine.  About fifteen years ago, I went through an intense research phase of these kinds of programs desperate parents employ to "help" their teens.  Many of them, now mercifully shut down, were abusive in nature.

Escuela Caribe, which closed in 2012, did not sound like the worst of some of the programs I've researched.  Yes, there was a lot of physical punishment and humiliation involved with their "approach", but some of the programs run by the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS) and fundamentalist Christian schools such as Mountain Park Baptist Boarding Academy seemed much worse.  One reason why they seemed worse is that there's no way someone like Kate Logan could have had access to those schools.  Escuela Caribe apparently initially welcomed Logan to talk to students and film them.  That would not have happened at the other schools.

However, even though Escuela Caribe was evidently not among the "worst" of the teen help schools, it still did significant damage to a number of former participants.  Some people who had been at the school ended up with symptoms of PTSD.  And, of course, there's also the disturbing idea that a school can "cure" someone of being homosexual.  On the other hand, there are some former participants who feel that school saved their lives.  One of the people Logan interviewed for this film left the program with a positive impression.

Kidnapped for Christ is very well produced and informative.  It's well worth watching if you have interesting in the topic of "teen help" boarding schools or even evangelical Christianity.  Although I can understand that many parents are frustrated by teenagers who act out or get into trouble, I think that for the most part, these kinds of programs cause more problems then they solve.  They're also very expensive and usually run by people with no actual qualifications.  At one point, Logan pointed out that the tuition for Escuela Caribe was more than what one would pay for a year at Harvard University.

Anyway... if you can watch this film and it sounds interesting, I think you should.


  1. Did David's group of supporters get him out?

    Watching this would probably scare me, but I'll probably watch it at some point.

    I needed to seek treatment in a residential facility for much of my senior year of high school, but my dad stayed there with me the first two nights, and I was told that if I hated it after two weeks, I could leave. at any other time when I was upset about anything that went on there, I was told that if I still felt the same way in a week, I could leave, and my parents tried to get there ASAP for a visit as well. I got to visit home somewhat regularly, and my parents came regularly for overnight visits. None of the patients at my facility were there because they had displeased their parents. We were allowed to have fun. There were a few rogue staff members who mistreated people, but they were canned.

    That worries me about residential care. I was in a facility at which I had a cell phone and a computer daily contact with my parents, yet still there were two employees who were fired for mistreating kids while I was there. The level of abuse much be terrible when kids are at a facility where they don't have freedom to communicate with parents or other outsiders at will. My assumption is that the reason it's in Central America is because it's easier to get away with abuses such as corporal punishment there, although you mentioned worse facilities in the U.S.

  2. I've watched twenty-four minutes of "Kidnapped for Christ." My overall feeling so far is anger. Every time the blond woman with the lisp and nervous laugh speaks, I want to hit her. I get that her laugh is almost a tic, but I'm so infuriated that she could think any of this is remotely funny. And the bit about David asking Matt to relay information to his friends that he "didn't drop off the face of the Earth" and then Matt ratting on him. What the fuck was wrong with what David did? he didn't ask for drugs to be smuggled in or with help in escaping or even for his friends to know his specific whereabouts. He just wanted them to know, for the most part, that he was still alive.

    When David is in a white shirt and tie, he so resembles a Mormon missionary. His total affect is so very much like the average non-jock Mormon adolescent male that it's jarring to me. I've been around a whole lot of Mormons and have a large sampling with whom to compare him.

    Not too much is known at this point about precisely how sexual preference occurs. It seems to be largely, with males, anyway, biological but perhaps not for certain hereditary. This has me wondering if a large segment of the LDS-for-many-generations male population is possibly gay but in denial. On the other hand, David isn't particularly flamboyant in his mannerisms. Perhaps he's merely one of the less-effeminate gay males. He's far from macho, but I have a whole lot of cousins who present similarly to the way he does whom I've never particularly wondered about in terms of homosexuality. I have the one LDS cousin whose gayness is impossible to disguise, but in terms of the sexuality of the others, I never really gave it much thought.

    I'll watch a little more of the video until I get tired.

  3. I've just clicked back onto the video, and the gray-haired woman is speaking now. She has a frontal lisp, too, though her tongue goes to the roof of her mouth instead of so far forward as the blonde woman's does. perhaps they should have brought a speech therapist in briefly for the staff. Frontal lisps aren't usually that tough to correct (lateral lisps are much more difficult). it makes me sad to see an adult go through life with a front lisp because it can almost always be fixed relatively easily. Perhaps someone tried and failed in either of both of their case, but I doubt it. Frontal lisps are the easiest articulation disorder to remedy. If an adult has one, it usually means no one tried for long and hard enough to fix it, or they got no help at all.

  4. I thought they looked like missionaries, too. It kind of gave me the creeps.


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