We are a body of Christians and Non-Christians who stand together against the abuses and ethical violations of the Teen Challenge program, an oppressive cult masquerading as a Christian organization and thriving upon financial support from both the Federal Government and Donations. Please DO NOT support Teen Challenge monetarily or non-monetarily until they publicly acknowledge abuses and ethical violations, make appropriate changes, and submit to complete third-party regulation and monitoring.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
A Public Comment to Rich Scherber Regarding "Setting the Record Straight About the Minnesota Teen Challenge"
A Public Comment to Rich Scherber:
Re: "Setting the Record Straight About the Minnesota Teen Challenge"
Upon reading this article by Rich Scherber in the Huffington Post I had to submit a response. Unfortunately the commenting on the Huffington Post's page for this article has been closed sometime since the last comments were left by alleged former students who felt pretty strongly that they would be dead without Teen Challenge. I am happy that they were able to improve their lives (if they are real and not lying. They did say they know Rich Scherber personally). After going through the buggy Huffington Post "create an account" navigation a thousand times over I was unable to comment, so I've taken the liberty of posting my comment here, followed by the original article by Rich Scherber. I've also taken the liberty of adding my own commentary to point out the immense amount of untruth his article contains. Rich's "response" article seems to play on the hope that most people (and it's a statistically good bet) wont actually read both articles. I would have to assume this, because in reality he DOESN'T ACTUALLY RESPOND TO MOST of what Maia has addressed in her article. However he did respond to the mention of Teen Challenge policy, not allowing medication, although they knowingly harbor mentally ill residents along with other residents. Apparently Minnesota Teen Challenge is one of the few TC's who allow patients to use medication. Typically TC does NOT allow medication, even if it has been prescribed by a doctor. This kind of adherence to "faith-healing" practice is dangerous to say the least, putting all residents at risk. Mentally ill people can be unpredictable and uncontrollable at times. Uneducated Teen Challenge staff would generally not be qualified to handle these kind of situations.
Here is the comment that I intended to post to Rich Scherber's article, which follows thereafter. To his credit, Rich is definitely a company man. Please read on...
Re: "Setting the Record Straight About the Minnesota Teen Challenge"
Posted by teenchallengeboycott 07:05:03 AM EST
Hardly setting the record straight, Mr. Scherber. If it weren't so tragic it would be almost laughable how you dismiss the majority of points that Maia Szalavitz addresses in her original article, and rather regard yourself and your Teen Challenge chapter as victims of what you refer to as an unfounded and "inflammatory" article. In the meantime we wait patiently on behalf of victims across America, for Teen Challenge and spokespersons, like yourself to publicly address these very REAL allegations against Minnesota Teen Challenge and other TC programs across the nation. Though each chapter operates independently, they operate as part of the whole organization, and must maintain TC protocol and teachings in order to be an official TC facility, using the Teen Challenge name. In the end, its great that people are getting off drugs and alcohol, but we do not agree with your implication here that the end justifies the means. Another thing, that I should mention, while addressing such common TC apologetics, is that Teen Challenge reported success rates, a foundation upon which they boast the program's impact are in fact manufactured, having been shown by scholars to be falsified, through use of irrelevant and distorted statistical data. What is dangerous is that Teen Challenge has been distributing this manufactured information through the Church and venues where they are likely to have unquestioning support from those of faith. As a leader, it is your responsibility to verify information that you will be repeating and sharing with others, before doing so. With the ability to disseminate information through unquestioning supporters like yourself Mr. Scherber, it is no surprise that this false information is repeated so often.
According to their own information, Teen Challenge really has cracked the code to drug addiction, and since TC publicly admits to "rejecting medical" science in the field of addiction and recovery, it would seem that they MUST have some unique sort of divine formula. However, when we consider that upon admission to Teen Challenge every student has already successfully completed a full detoxification regimen along with the fact that the student is kept relocated for 1 to 1 1/2 years away from any influence of drugs or alcohol, TC can hardly take credit at all for getting ANYBODY "off drugs". In fact, one could easily argue that along with ample detox, a seasonal vacation to China could be just as effective, and comparable in cost. Upon that very premise, one could also argue it fraudulent to claim TC is even really a rehab, rather than a radical extremist (RE) Christian cult, which more appropriately categorizes Teen Challenge by definition and by their publicly stated mission to convert souls. As I previously mentioned, you have not addressed the allegations of abuse and negligence that have been made against Teen Challenge programs for years, not just by one Huffington Post journalist, but by hundreds (maybe thousands) of victims, left scarred either emotionally or physically from their treatment in the Teen Challenge program. As I mention again later, we wait patiently for a direct response to these allegations, "inflammatory" as they may be. Furthermore comments I have relegated to the narrative comments in the article posted below. For those who would like to know more about the abuses, negligence, and ethical violations taking place (for years) in Teen Challenge facilities across America, find detailed affidavits, allegations, reports, and stories on our blog sites:
TEEN CHALLENGE : ABUSE IN THE NAME OF GOD
CHALLENGING TEEN CHALLENGE
BOYCOTT TEEN CHALLENGE 2014
The above is a commentary on the following article by Rich Scherber, of the Huffington Post.
Setting the Record Straight About the Minnesota Teen Challenge
by Rich Scherber
(Notes in Red are my own comments and not intended to represent Rich Scherber in any way, I have not altered Rich Scherber's writings)
The article presents a very inaccurate and inflammatory(IF IN FACT 3.5 Billion in fraud associated with TEEN CHALLENGE IS "inflammatory" THEN WE APOLOGIZE, WE WILL MAKE SURE YOU DO BETTER NEXT TIME) portrayal of Minnesota Teen Challenge which we would like to address. (Addressed.)
Minnesota Teen Challenge is a leading and respected treatment center in Minnesota, ("Leading", perhaps, but to say "Respected" is debatable, to say the least) part of a large network of Teen Challenge centers across the United States. Each program is independently controlled and autonomous in operation and methodology.(UNTRUE. SEE TEEN CHALLENGE NATIONAL SITE: AN INDEPENDENT CHAPTER IS TO FOLLOW TEEN CHALLENGE PROTOCOL, METHODOLOGY, and TEACHINGS IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED A "TEEN CHALLENGE" ) As such, it is entirely improper to attribute alleged incidents and practices at one center as being common to all. (UNTRUE. ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE AND NEGLIGENCE SPAN THE ENTIRE NATION - We've BEEN RECEIVING DIRT ON ALMOST EVERY FACILITY FOR MINORS AND WOMEN THAT EXIST IN AMERICA, SOME OUTSIDE THE US, AS WELL. MALE FACILITIES AND PROGRAMS ARE NO EXCEPTION)
Minnesota Teen Challenge's beliefs and practices bear no resemblance to the portrayal in the article.(We ASSUME THAT THE TERMS "ABUSE" AND "NEGLIGENCE" DO NOT APPEAR OFTEN IN TEEN CHALLENGE MISSION STATEMENTS, HOWEVER IT IS WIDELY ACCEPTED THAT THE NO CONTACT POLICIES, CORE BELIEFS/PERSPECTIVE, AND AUTHORITARIAN/OPPRESSIVE APPROACH THAT TC TAKES TOWARD THEIR STUDENTS IS NOT CONGRUENT WITH HEALTHY GROWTH OF INDIVIDUALS AND ALSO CREATES AN ENVIRONMENT THAT IS CONDUCIVE TO ABUSES AND VIOLATIONS LIKE THE ONES WE HAVE TO REPORT OVER AND OVER AGAIN. THAT IS OUR ARGUMENT. OF COURSE, WE DO NOT EXPECT PUBLIC ENDORSEMENT OF SUCH NEGLIGENCE. FURTHERMORE, NUMEROUS REPORTS DOCUMENTED BY AFFIDAVITS, SWORN STATEMENT, AND TESTIMONIES PAINT A PICTURE THAT QUITE ACCURATELY BEARS RESEMBLANCE TO MAIA SZALAVITZ'S PORTRAYAL OF YOUR ORGANIZATION AS A WHOLE. THOUGH WE UNDERSTAND THAT TEEN CHALLENGE OPERATES THROUGH INDEPENDENT CHAPTERS, WE HOLD THE ENTIRE ORGANIZATION RESPONSIBLE FOR HOLDING STANDARDS THAT WOULD PREVENT FURTHER ABUSES AND NEGLIGENCE. I HOPE THAT IN THE FUTURE, THIS ISSUE WILL BE DIRECTLY ADDRESSED. )
1. It is important to note that the federal earmark sponsored by Congressman Ramstad -- approved with bipartisan support in Congress, including Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) and Congressman Keith Ellison (D) -- was designated for Minnesota Teen Challenge's Know the Truth drug and alcohol abuse prevention program. This program is completely separate from our recovery program and is entirely non-religious in nature. ( ( WE ARE NOT SO QUICK TO ACCEPT THE SEPARATION REPORTED BETWEEN THESE ORGANIZATIONS. HERE'S WHY: Teen Challenge as a whole operates with the primary objective of proselytizing, or converting those of one belief system to another, in this case a twisted version of radical extremist Christianity. Any organization that is founded and operated by Teen Challenge will also exist primarily to satisfy this agenda. The reason such blatant untruths are told with such confidence is that the radical Christian Extremists that operate these programs do not think anyone else understands how far they are willing to go to grow beyond current limitations, and manipulate the legal system to their own benefit. Because of the heat TC has taken in the past for taking Federal Funds as a religious entity, KnowTheTruth was founded as a "separate" entity, with a different mission statement, but only on paper. The truth is that Teen Challenge and their following has proven they are willing to lie and bend the "rules" to satisfy their goals and agenda. We do not say this blindly. If you follow the money, it all leads to the same place. FURTHERMORE. THE "KNOW THE TRUTH' WEBSITE ITSELF DIRECTLY ASSOCIATES ITSELF IMMEDIATELY WITH THE TEEN CHALLENGE PROGRAM AND ALSO IMMEDIATELY IDENTIFIES ITSELF AS "A TEEN CHALLENGE PROGRAM". HERE IS THE EXACT QUOTE TAKEN FROM THE WEBSITE DESCRIPTION AS TAKEN WORD FOR WORD FROM ITS GOOGLE REGISTRY; "Know the Truth is the teenage substance abuse prevention program of Minnesota Teen Challenge. We work with our communities to help prevent teenage ... ")) This widely respected program has been presented to more than 30,000 junior and senior high school students across the state of Minnesota. (ALLOW ME TO IMPART A SMALL BIT OF MY OWN THOUGHTS, I THINK IT IS INDEED A NOBLE THING TO GO OUT AND TRY TO HELP KIDS GET OFF DRUGS AND STAY OFF OF THEM. IT'S A MISSION THAT RESTS DEARLY ON SO MANY OF OUR OWN HEARTS. WE KNOW THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE THAT HAVE USED THE TEEN CHALLENGE PROGRAM AS A GREAT STEPPING STONE INTO A NORMAL AND HEALTHY LIFE, AND SO PLEASE DON'T EVER MISUNDERSTAND OUR INTENT. OUR VIGILANCE IS FOR THOSE WHO WOULD MISUSE SUCH A WORTHY AND NOBLE CAUSE FOR A SUBVERSIVE AGENDA, SUCH AS EMPOWERING A RADICAL BELEIF SYSTEM, "FORCING" SOMEONE TO ABIDE BY A BELEIF SYSTEM, ETC. LET ME SUMMARIZE THIS STATEMENT BY SIMPLY SAYING, WE STAND ALERT FOR THOSE WHO FRAUDULENTLY WOULD MANIPULATE OTHERS USING EMOTIONALLY TRIGGERING CAUSES SUCH AS THIS. WE DO NOT PRESUME TO BE THE JUDGE OF WHO IS AND WHO ISN'T VIOLATING THESE ETHICAL STANDARDS. WE LEAVE THAT TO YOU, WE MERELY SEEK TO PROVIDE EVIDENCE AND SPEAK FOR THE TRUTH...SORRY FOR THE TANGENT, NOW BACK TO THE TOPIC AT HAND... )
2. Minnesota Teen Challenge does not recruit members into the Assemblies of God denomination as a means to cure addiction. We are an independent 501c3 charitable organization that is non-denominational in nature and we do not recruit participants to join any particular church or denomination. (WHILE IT MAY BE TRUE THAT THEY DO NOT RECRUIT FOR ANY DENOMINATION PERSAY, THEY DO RECRUIT FOR THE RELIGION THEREOF, WITH A PUBLIC MISSION STATEMENT DIRECTED AT THE CONVERSION OF SOULS. AS TO DENOMINATIONAL TIES, ASSEMBLIES OF GOD LISTS TEEN CHALLENGE AS ONE OF THEIR OWN MINISTRIES ON THEIR WEBSITE, HOWEVER TC MAINTAINS NON-DENOMINATIONAL STATUS SO AS TO NOT BURN ANY CROSS-DENOMINATIONAL BRIDGES OF FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION)
3. Minnesota Teen Challenge employs qualified licensed chemical dependency counselors(Attaining this Licensing requires only forty hours of training and no formal education whatsoever) While it is true that, "Qualifiied" is a relative term, it seems like a bit of a stretch to me.) and operates a program licensed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services.(COINCIDENTALLY, SO DOES BURGER KING) We follow the same rules and procedures for client care as all other treatment programs in the state. (This referring to regulations as far as health code i.e. no rusty water, clean housing environment, etc. Also, there are federal minimum regulations for residential treatment facilities, which are very slim, as most facilities in fact are subject to more code and regulation per categorization of facilities. )
4. Minnesota Teen Challenge does not use forced labor backed by the threat of food deprivation and does not use humiliation or other abusive tactics.(REGARDING THE FORCED LABOR, IT FOLLOWS AS THIS IS AN ALLEGATION AGAINST STAFF AT THE WEST FLORIDA TC, NOT THE MINNESOTA TC, HOWEVER PLEASE ALLOW US TO NOTE THAT MINNESOTA TEEN CHALLENGE IS STILL ON OUR "DANGEROUS GROUP WATCH LIST". WE WILL RELEASE MORE INFORMATION UPON FURTHER INVESTIGATION. ) All clients are treated with dignity and respect and they voluntarily participate in the program. Our program is regularly reviewed by city, county, and state officials to ensure quality care is being provided. An independent research study indicated that 83% of those surveyed rated the quality of our program as "very good" or "outstanding." (NO CITED SOURCES. TEEN CHALLENGE IS FAR TOO NOTORIOUS FOR THEIR USE OF FALSIFIED STATISTICS AND MANIPULATION OF PRESS COVERAGE. WE ARE SIMPLY SKEPTICAL OF THE CREDIBILITY OF ANY STATISTIC TC CLAIMS IN REGARD TO THEIR PROGRAM. PLEASE SEE OUR BLOG: http://teenchallengeusa.blogspot.com for more information.)
5. Minnesota Teen Challenge does allow its clients to use medications and we do recognize that many addicts have a co-occurring mental illness. (If this is true, then it is certainly the exception, rather than the rule, and we are happy to say a step in the right direction for Teen Challenge. Of course as implied between both Huff Post articles, MOST Teen Challenge programs do NOT allow students to use medication, even those mentally ill who share residence with others. Teen Challenge staff is not amply educated, or qualified to deal with this kind of situation. It becomes slightly clearer why Rich Scherber would want to distance his TC from others in the network.) In fact, we employ nurses to help monitor client's medications and work side by side with community mental health providers.
6. A 2007 independent scientific research study conducted by the Wilder Foundation and nationally recognized researcher, Dr. Patricia Owen revealed that 74% of 2005 graduates had been abstinent in the previous six months. (I remember this study. They took this poll based on the honor system. Literally the poll consisted of asking them if they had been using, requiring NO followup or accountability, which is quite unusual for Teen Challenge. We found this particular study quite suspicious. I would also propose that this "poll" operates with an obnoxiously large margin of error (even if we disregard that these graduates came from a coercive conditioning program designed at the core to use GUILT to mold minds. Psychology experts agree and endorse the possibility that this kind of conditioning would be well ingrained by the end of 18 months of mental programming and could easily influence any answers they provide, especially if they know that the information will get back to Teen Challenge.) Furthermore, what happened to the 86 percent rate Teen Challenge claims for its successes? With the margin of error from such a misleading study, we could be looking at a negligible success rate altogether, which would almost certainly be mitigated by other circumstances to categorize success itself. )Additionally, 87% of graduates stated that their circumstances today would be a lot worse if they hadn't gone through the Teen Challenge program.(THIS IS PROBABLY TRUE FOR THE ONES THEY INTERVIEWED. THIS WAS QUITE AN EASY POLL TO FIX . CLEARLY WE HAVE A 15 PLUS MARGIN OF THOSE WHO WOULD HAVE GONE TO JAIL, SO THEIR ANSWER IS SECURED IN THE FAVOR OF THE TC PROGRAM, FURTHERMORE, WE KNOW THAT THIS SURVEY DID NOT INCLUDE ANYONE ON OUR LIST OF VICTIMS and "SURVIVORS" OF TC ABUSES, THEREFORE THEIR INPUT WAS NOT CONSIDERED IN THIS POLL. ONCE ALL OF THAT FACTORS IN, THIS CLAIM IS HARDLY SURPRISING OR IMPRESSIVE.)
7. Minnesota Teen Challenge does not engage in illegal discrimination of applicants with differing beliefs and our application process makes it clear that those with different or no religious belief are eligible for employment. (ONE COULD SAY THAT IT IS ALMOST POINTLESS TO DEBATE WITH SPOKESPERSONS FOR THESE ORGANIZATIONS, FOR IN THE END THEY ARE CORNERED AND FORCED TO LIE TO PROTECT THEMSELVES. OF COURSE THEY CAN'T LEGALLY SAY THAT THEY HIRE ONLY CHRISTIANS, ALTHOUGH IT'S CERTAINLY TRUE. AGAIN REMEMBER THIS IS A RADICAL CHRISTIAN CULT, NOT JUST THE AVERAGE PEOPLE YOU GO TO CHURCH WITH ON SUNDAY (Although you might very well go to church with some of them on Sunday). WE DON"T HOLD THIS AGAINST THEM THOUGH. WE RESPECT THE DESIRE OF THOSE OF LIKE BELIEFS TO GRAVITATE TOWARD EACH OTHER. IN THIS CASE, WE SIMPLY QUESTION THE BELIEFS THEREIN.)
8. Our staffing levels reflect the fact that we operate eight separate residential programs in seven locations that provide round the clock care with food services, etc., as well as a respected drug prevention program with a dedicated staff.(I CAN'T HELP BUT FEEL LIKE THIS IS A FILLER STATEMENT. NO REAL INFORMATION PROVIDED HERE OTHER THAN PERHAPS HOW MANY PROGRAMS THEY OPERATE AND SOME GOOD THINGS THEY DO. )
We are very troubled that such an inflammatory article, (THE ARTICLE WAS DIRECT AND CONFRONTATIONAL, BUT I HESITATE TO SAY IT WAS "INFLAMMATORY", HOWEVER WE FIND THE REPORTS THAT WE HAVE SEEN OF TEEN CHALLENGE FACILITATED CHILD ABUSE, NEGLIGENCE, NEGLIGENT HOMOCIDE, RAPE, AND MOLESTATION QUITE INFLAMMATORY INDEED.)beginning with the inaccurate headline(UNTRUE - QUITE ACCURATE HEADLINE RATHER ), can be disseminated without the subject of the story having an opportunity to respond to any questions or concerns. (INTERESTING POINT, HOWEVER YOU MUST AGREE THAT THE "SUBJECT", OF A JOURNALISTIC ARTICLE IS NOT TRADITIONALLY NOTIFIED SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY ARE INVOLVED IN THE STORY BEING TOLD. THE EXCEPTION WOULD BE IF THE JOURNALIST FELT THAT AN INTERVIEW WITH THE INVOLVED SUBJECTS WAS IMPORTANT FOR ACQUIRING NEW INFORMATION. I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF A JOURNALISTIC ARTICLE BEING "PRESENTED" TO ALL INVOLVED PARTIES FOR THEIR "PRE-APPROVAL" OF HOW THEY ARE PORTRAYED. WHAT YOU PROPOSE NOT ONLY WOULD VIOLATE JOURNALISTIC INTEGRITY ALTOGETHER, BUT IS INCREDIBLY TELLING OF THE LEVEL OF CONTROL, AND LACK OF CREDIBILITY THAT YOU AND YOUR ORGANIZATION HAVE RITUALLY MAINTAINED REGARDING INFORMATION ABOUT TEEN CHALLENGE. WE ARE THANKFUL ON BEHALF OF EVERY VICTIM OF TEEN CHALLENGE ABUSES THAT THE INTERNET BRINGS NEW AWARENESS AND PUTS THE POWER ONCE AGAIN BACK INTO THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE>)
While we recognize that not everybody will agree with our religious viewpoint,(YES HE REALLY DID IT FOLKS; HE PULLED THE RELIGION CARD This is not about religion. WE DO NOT HATE GOD, OR CHRISTIANS. WE TRULY LOVE ALL PEOPLE AS GOD WOULD HAVE US DO. WE DON"T HATE TEEN CHALLENGE. WE HATE WHAT HAS HAPPENED PATTERNISTICALY TO VULNERABLE VICTIMS, WHO HAVE NO RECOURSE OR APPEAL. It's about unethical practices by the Teen Challenge program regardless of what you believe. PERIOD.) we hope that we can all agree that assisting people overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol is a worthy goal.(We may agree on that minor point, but we cannot agree that the "End Justifies the Means" as You Imply Here.) We do appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight. (AS WE ALSO APPRECIATE THE OPPORTUNITY TO DO LIKEWISE, AND WE WAIT PATIENTLY FOR YOUR (TEEN CHALLENGE'S) PUBLIC ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND INCORPORATION OF APPROPRIATE CHANGES. ONLY THEN WILL WE MUTUALLY CONSIDER THE RECORD SET STRAIGHT. )
Rich Scherber is a pastor and Executive Director of Minnesota Teen Challenge. He overcame drug use many years ago as a young man after a profound spiritual awakening that changed his life. He holds a master's degree in Education.
A NOTE FOR THOSE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE "Speak Out Against Teen Challenge" PROJECT, OR "BOYCOTT TEEN CHALLENGE".
We are a body of Christians, along with those of other beliefs who have joined together to stand strongly against the abuses and ethical violations that have taken place time and time again in Teen Challenge facilities and programs. We believe that many actually do benefit from being taken away from the environment in which they struggle with drugs or alcohol. We do believe that many people who have been helped by Teen Challenge are sincere in their approval of the program, but those who have been victimized by the abuses and negligence of this program have been barely heard. Even if the Teen Challenge success rates had not been falsified, and even though the organization has done good things, which we quickly acknowledge, it does not make up for or wipe away the sins that stain their questionable history of oppression and ethical violations. We are all responsible. Until Teen Challenge acknowledges these abuses and violations, makes changes accordingly, and submits to outside regulation and third party monitoring in every state we will not rest. Our goal is to educate others and prevent any future tragedies.
If you or a loved one is a victim of Teen Challenge abuses or negligence, please share your story so that others may be spared! You are not alone! firstname.lastname@example.org