Kidnapped for Christ

Kidnapped for Christ is a new documentary about an Evangelical reform school located in the Dominican Republic called “Escuela Caribe.” It seems to function as a boot camp for Evangelical teens whose parents believe them to be straying. It looks like the crew was allowed pretty much full access for making this film. We’ve heard horror stories about these places before, and the documentary seems to bear them out.

The film centers on the story of David, a straight-A student from Colorado who was sent to Escuela Caribe in May of 2006 after coming out to his parents as gay. Like many others, David was taken in the night without warning by a “transport service” and was never told where he was going or when he would be brought back home. While at Escuela Caribe, David had no way of communicating with any of his friends or family back home until the filmmakers arrived and he decided to ask them if they would smuggle out a letter that he had secretly written to his best friend. Once word got back to David’s community about what had happened to him, many people sprung to action and formed a plan to get him released. Getting David out of this school, however, turned out to be a much more difficult task than anyone had thought, and the trials they went through to get David released revealed just how far Escuela Caribe would go to prevent a student from leaving.

Here’s the trailer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOR77tWVxKc&feature=player_embedded

Via Joe.My.God. If you’re interested in the larger issue, visit the NHYM Alumni page:

We are a group of former students who have reconnected through the Internet and wish to publicize our experiences with New Horizons Youth Ministries. We range in age from our teens to our 40s, and attended “The Program” between 1970 to 2005. New Horizons purports to help adolescents through “Christian milieu therapy” but in fact does more harm than good. Most of our complaints center on Escuela Caribe, the boot camp located in the Dominican Republic, where we witnessed and experienced physical and emotional abuse and had our communications to and from our families censored to keep us from divulging the truth. We are now free to do so, and hope to dissuade more parents from subjecting their children to the trauma we lived.

  • vasaroti

    Did the US Ambassador to the DR get involved or the local police force?
    I can see this getting into a hairy discussion about the rights of minors.

    • Theresa

      Many alumni who are now adults and have graduated from college and have their own families have contacted officials in the DR as well as Indiana. Criminal charges can only be placed in a certain time frame. Most of the students released are so fearful of being sent back that they do not mention their abuse till years later. Spanking children is still legal in Indiana. The Dominican Republic does not monitor child abuse. Parents need to consider these things before selecting a school to send their children to. But really, sending your child because they are gay? That is one aspect that fundamentalist christian parents will lose on as some kids are placed with state funds through the court system. Here are more stories from alumni. Some have formed their own group committed to sharing the history of New Horizons and monitor staff activity. nhym-alumni.org/ Many of the most abusive staff of Escuela Caribe & New Horizons teach in colleges & practice psychology in the state of Indiana.

  • Francesco

    Is it possible to remove patria potesta (don’t know if you say it the same way in english, basically is the authority of the parents over the children) from the parents if they cause physical or emotional trauma via those camps? I probably won’t leave a children with parents taht could do that to him.

    • Custador

      In the UK you certainly could.

    • Michael

      In the U.S., social services can take children from abusive parents, and this situation might be extreme enough to warrant that. Also, in rare cases, minors who are old enough and self-sufficient can petition for emancipation from their parents.

      • Theresa

        The state of Indiana where New Horizons (name now changed to Crosswinds/Lifeline) is based sometimes places youth in the school. Indiana is extremely conservative and religious.

    • Siberia

      Here in Brazil you can as well. Children can also request if they are old enough.

  • FO

    Is this legal? oO

    • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

      I seriously doubt it. Even with parental consent, I’m not sure how moving US children to other countries against their own wishes and without their knowledge of where they are going can really be legal. It smacks of human trafficking. How did they get them through an airport without the TSA utterly freaking out? Any child, even a newborn baby, can’t leave the country without a passport and they will look very skeptically at somebody who is not their parent trying to drag them kicking and screaming onto a plane.

      • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

        Of course that’s assuming the parents are taking them there themselves, but from the descriptions it sounds like it is hired goons who do the actual transporting. That is very, very shady.

        • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

          *aren’t taking them there themselves.

          Can we get an edit function yet?

      • Schaden Freud

        “Extraordinary rendition” is the phrase that springs to my mind.

      • Tsu Dho Nimh

        Look at a map. The Dominican Republic is conveniently close to Florida. You could have a private plane there in a few hours, with the immigration details taken care of by the parents so the kid never sees anyone who could help.

        And a few thousand bucks to the local town cops and council would ensure that there is not problem for the camp.

        • Theresa

          I was sent unwillingly to Escuela Caribe/ New Horizons by my parents. I was dragged in by my wrists and handed off to the stewardess who knew my parents were sending me. My parents gave the airline permission to be my guardian while on flight- just like parents who send their kids on airlines to visit grandparents or other relatives. The school takes temporary guardianship of the students while in their care. And really, no student knows how bad it will be until they are there. At least we have a website up now and are informing people. Knowledge of the program is a huge part of helping other kids that might be sent.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    until the filmmakers arrived and he decided to ask them if they would smuggle out a letter that he had secretly written

    O Noez! They haz violated the Prime Directive!

    • Michael

      How could that violate the Prime Directive if they were already best friends?

      • penguintamer

        prime directive being “cameras shouldn’t interfere with the show”?

  • zach

    fuck that shit.

    • Fentwin

      Thats a quote from Plato if I recall correctly.

  • RebeccaESF

    I am sick to my stomach…. Years ago, when I still had some semblance of “faith”, I gave money to this organization to sponsor my evangelical cousin who worked there. She was a counselor and “house mother” type person. I was told that this school was for delinquent children. The culture shock boot camp method made sense to me at the time. I was thinking of delinquent children, though, not gay kids or faith-questioning kids. And I certainly didn’t know anything about kidnapping. I’m going to send this link to my parents and get a hold of the film ASAP. I am also told that they use spanking as a punishment…. Who spanks a teenager?!?!

    • kholdom0790

      I doubt these people would see any difference between delinquents and gay/possibly atheist kids.

    • Theresa

      Kids were not spanked, they were beat with a leather strap that left horrific black and blue marks. Doug Brown, Tim Blossom, Phil “Chuck” Redwine, Jeff Valerio & Budd Teare participated in these beatings and still practice as either therapists, ministers, professors or counselors. I knew of kids who were in so much pain when they left their “session” and have observed their bruises. Of course they could not talk about it or were threatened with more beatings. But no one is willing to do anything about things that happened in the 1980′s and 1990′s. I have heard that some beatings occurred later.

  • http://www.partlysunnyblog.com PartlySunny

    Years ago, I saw a documentary about rescuing someone from a cult and then deprogramming them. THIS reminds me of the cult. Break them down and brainwash them into believing your ideas. But no, no. It’s a “religion” so it’s all okay.

  • Ruthie

    I’ve read about stuff like this before. 10 years ago there was a story about a similar program in one of the teen mags I was subscribed to, about some girls who had been similarly hauled off. Two had been imprisoned — there’s no other word for it — in camps based in the United States and one was based in Mexico. Things like this have been going on for a long time. Unfortunately if you’re stuck in a compound with no contact with the outside world you can’t ask for legal counsel or emancipation or whatever, and for most of these kids, since it was their parents who did it in the first place, there’s very little they can do even if they manage to contact someone putaide about it. It’s super sad and scary.

  • Adn

    Why can’t you just grow up? This is all bullshit. Ain’t truth at all. Don’t you think for a second that people in DR and the government would find out about it if IT WOULD BE TRUTH AT ALL? Come on!

    • Elemenope

      This sounds suspiciously like:

      1. Bad things can’t possibly happen because
      2. People would know that bad things were happening and would stop them therefore
      3. Bad things can’t possibly happen

      The circularity is downright painful.

    • Custador

      Ignoring evidence is an art form for you, huh?

    • Azel

      Or ignoring logic…in such a case, I would bet that government services would be quite slow to act, because it is an act of both parents and they are entrusted with their children education. And even if governments services decide to act, the parents can run circles around them.
      (The situation is quite different if one of the parents doesn’t agree with this decision, but no sign of social services’ raid nor of parents going in jail is a sign that none of the parents complained…or if they did, the social services didn’t find the camp)

      • Adn

        I live near Escuela Caribe brainy and I know my country

        • Elemenope

          Nothing ever bad happens in my country. I should know, it’s my country!

          • UrsaMinor

            A sound logical principle. I’ve never been mugged or shot, therefore I can assure you with absolute confidence that muggings and shootings do not occur in the U.S. You may ignore the irresponsible, sensationalist news media that report otherwise. It’s all a lie.

        • Custador

          Yes, because no developing nation in the world has ever accepted the presence of citizens from a rich nation doing shady shit on their turf, have they? I could give a flying fuck that you “know [your] country”, you’re not in that place – But quite a lot of people who have been in that place are telling very consistent stories of kidnap and abuse. You need to downgrade your view of how heavy your personal opinion weighs against that, because let me tell you: Not heavy. Not heavy at all.

          • Adn

            I should be more clear… My bad.

            I AM a student at EC. How am I writing to you if I’m kidnapped?
            Get a better story!

            • Custador

              Obvious bullshit is obvious.

            • Adn

              That’s what stupid people do. Talk and talk and talk AND talk about stuff they don’t know because they want to feel like their existence isn’t that empty.

              Poor little children! You are just stealing money from innocent people to do a documentary about children kidnapped by the invisible force of IDIOCY. Hooray!

            • Elemenope

              So, if you are a student at EC, why did you claim before that you merely lived near EC? If it were true, you would have said off the bat that you were a student there. Normally I’m not given to calling BS on people’s personal reports online (because there usually isn’t enough info), but seriously that screams convenient lying bullshit to me.

            • Custador

              As opposed to, for example, looking up your IP address and noting that its physical address is 180km (by road) away from Escuela Caribe, you mean? Yeah, that’s what a stupid person would do before calling your bullshit, right enough. GTFO, liar for Jeeebus.

            • Custador

              @ ‘Nope: Yep. The mark of a childish liar – Retreating back into different versions of reality as each previous one is exposed as nonsense. If Adn was actually a student at Escuela Caribe, then he’d have said so right off. Now, if he’d have claimed to be a teacher there, I might even have believed him. Especially considering his reference to the money being “stolen” from Escuela Caribe by the documentary makers, actually. That suggests there’s maybe a financial interest in it’s continued torturing of white evangelical kids on his part.

        • Jared Cantrell

          I did not live near Escuela Caribe, i lived IN Escuel Caribe. I was woken up at 3 am by two men with guns in my home in Indianapolis and “escorted” all the way to Jarabacoa. I was beat with leather straps, left with no clothes in solitary confinement, forced to work mindless tasks such as move rocks back and forth, and was physically assulted many times by various staff there. This included chocked, thrown up against walls, pushed down, slapped, and hit. I am over it now, this was in 2001, but let me tell you it has been a long road. Anger towards my parents was a primary factor that led me into much diffiuclty post-program, but the reality is that they didn’t know what was really going on down there so I can’t really blame them.

  • A

    Tan to’ borracho!

  • http://KIDNAPPEDFORCHRIST@ leoonard

    FILTHY FUCKIN PARENTS

  • http://KIDNAPPEDFORCHRIST@ leo Donohoe

    assholes

  • http://KIDNAPPEDFORCHRIST@ leo Donohoe

    A…….what yhe fuck are you doing lying about going to school there you fucking ass hole.

  • Sara

    I remember reading a similar story in a magazine about these types of camps. Teens are literally dragged from their beds at night and forced to go to these hellhole camps to “cleanse their souls” via physical and emotional abuse. Any behavior deemed inappropriate is met with swift and severe punishment (this includes trying to contact the outside world, talking about ANYTHING other than God and the Bible, or doing anything without permission). The goal of this camps is to turn kids into mindless slaves of these peoples’ religious ideals. Luckily, many of them have been shut down due to evidence of this abuse and the horrible living conditions the teens were forced to live in. Hopefully more shut downs and arrests are to come.

  • http://KIDNAPPEDFORCHRIST@ leo Donohoe

    lock up the parents and teachers and leave the children with their relatives that love them.

  • Freddy Fish

    The parents do it out of love. Those kids should find a good lawyer and try to sue parents. Big sum of money, jail time and at least make sure their name will get out there. Just say it’s out of love and religion, justify it. :)

  • Brian

    You know, regardless of the parents’ motivations, they should also be brought up on charges. Shouldn’t it ring an alarm bell that you have to send your kid OUT OF THE COUNTRY to attend such a camp, like maybe what they’re doing is ILLEGAL in the US? Parents are responsible for the well being of their children, and being too lazy or naïve to do the proper research when your child’s life is at stake is neglect at its best, and abuse at its worst. And if the child is physically or psychologically harmed, it’s abusive. Because the parents paid someone to do this to their child, that also makes it a conspiracy to cause harm.

  • John Kern

    There is much abuse inflicted on children by well meaning parents. The real cancer here is homophobia and shame. And the bizarre notion that Jesus would have hated gays.

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